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Dear Gramps,

What is the Mormon Church’s stance on using face cards? I know that Joseph F. Smith said in a conference talk about 20 years ago that we should not, but it was in terms of gambling. There are now so many ways to become addicted to gambling that have no reference to face cards, and there are so many ways to use/play with face cards that have no relationship to gambling. Thanks.





Dear George,

First of all, anything said by Joseph F. Smith would have occurred much more than 20 years ago since he died in 1918.  You might be referring to the following quote by him regarding this subject:

“While a simple game of cards in itself may be harmless, it is a fact that by immoderate repetition it ends in an infatuation for chance schemes, in habits of excess, in waste of precious time, in dulling and stupor of the mind, and in the complete destruction of religious feeling. These are serious results, evils that should and must be avoided by the Latter-day Saints. Then again, there is the grave danger that lurks in persistent card playing, which begets the spirit of gambling, of speculation and that awakens the dangerous desire to get something for nothing.”


Here’s what Elder Bruce R. McConkie had to say on the subject:

 “Members of the Church should not belong to bridge or other type of card clubs, and they should neither play cards nor have them in their homes. By cards is meant, of course, the spotted face cards used by gamblers. To the extent that church members play cards they are out of harmony with their inspired leaders. Innocent non-gambling games played with other types of cards, except for the waste of time in many instances, are not objectionable.”(Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.113)

We may infer from the above that the reason that the General Authorities of the Mormon Church discourage playing with face cards is two-fold. One, since those are the types of cards that are used in gambling, use of the cards may lead to that practice. That is no idle concern. To many there would never be any temptation to gamble because one was familiar with face cards. But to others, even those active in the church and with significant ecclesiastical responsibilities, it may be a severe temptation. More than one home has been broken up and the family brought to financial disaster because of this practice.The other objection is that it is merely a waste of time. If one wishes to waste time in this manner there are other types of cards with which innocent games may be played that would not tend to gambling. The statement by Elder McConkie that playing cards is a waste of time in many instances would suggest that there may circumstances in which it would not be a waste of time.I would imagine that Elder McConkie would have been referring to appropriate times for diversion, play, and sociability.





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