Subject: Anyone remember the EVIL of PLAYING CARDS??
Date: Nov 07 13:21 2003
Author: Baura

The Coke-Word of Wisdom threads reminded me of how playing cards were also railed against from the pulpit. I recall one of Joseph Fielding Smith's "Answers to Gospel Questions" was a defense of the ban on playing cards or "face cards" as they were called sometimes.

In the Mormon corridor "Rook" cards were popular as they weren't "face cards" and weren't evil. Back then if you played strip poker with ROOK cards when you were young you were probably a Mormon.

Subject: YES, I was going to...
Date: Nov 07 13:27
Author: Reggie
Mail Address:

respond in that other thread too.

My TBM family avoided "face" cards for years and years. They used to play all the time as a family. Now they apparently have forgotten as it's one of their favorite family events. Every weekend - sometimes after church. Oh my!

How about growing a garden? They gave up that one too.

Subject: Re: YES, I was going to...
Date: Nov 07 13:33
Author: Mari
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OMG, don't remind me of that horrible grow your own garden movement! Try keeping it watered in CA ,it was the most expensive stuff we ate considering time,labor,water,etc. Yuck,yuck,double yuck!

Subject: Even as a hardcore TBM, I just never understood...
Date: Nov 07 13:49
Author: MySongAngel
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the "evils" of gambling. Sure, it can get out of hand, but I'll spend maybe $10 on the nickel slot machines. I just never could quite accept that that was 'evil'. That always bugged me. Irresponsible or a waste of time maybe, but evil? I guess that's money that could be going to Mormons,Inc. Maybe that's why they're so uptight about it.

Subject: It wasn't just gambling...
Date: Nov 07 13:54
Author: Baura

Gambling was preached against yes but there was something supposedly evil about "face cards." Owning a pair of dice to play Monopoly of Parcheesi was perfectly OK. Owning a deck of "face cards" to play bridge or go-fish was seriously suspect.

Subject: I think this cooled down by my generation.
Date: Nov 07 14:17
Author: MySongAngel
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I remember a girl I went to school with that wasn't allowed to play with cards. My sister's friend is also not allowed to play with cards. However, these people are looking fanatical nowadays, even to TBM's.

Subject: Yes!! My ultra-TBM roommate at BYU was opposed to face cards
Date: Nov 07 14:10
Author: chanson
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But she was the only one in our section of the dorm who had any problem with them. (I think in 1989 TBMs playing with face cards was a bit like TBMs drinking Coke today...) All of our little group of friends would play Hearts constantly, and my roommate would always watch but refuse to join in. She repeatedly tried to convince us to play Hearts with "Rook" cards, but she was unsuccessful.

I remember thinking that the rule against face cards was a pretty stupid rule. I heard two justifications for it, neither of which makes sense if Rook cards are okay:

(1) face cards are used in gambling, so we should avoid the appearance of evil by not playing even non-gambling games with them

(2) face cards are based on Tarot cards, which are used in fortune-telling and black magic.

For #1, I don't see how playing a game with face cards could appear significantly more evil than playing exactly the same game with cards that look slightly superficially different. And as for #2, Rook cards are obviously based on face cards and therefore are also based on Tarot cards.

Subject: The only reason I can think of for a problem specifically with face cards...
Date: Nov 07 14:16
Author: Schiavona
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Would be the connection with Tarot cards. The modern deck of playing cards is essentially a stripped-down and simplified version of the old tarot card decks. Four suits, "court" cards - meaning face cards -, but the elimination of the "upper arcana" (cards like "Death", "The Magician", etc.). Wouldn't want to have that connection with an occult object, now would we? It's kinda like the Catholic church's former obsession with Ouija boards.

The irony is all the other occult aspects of Mormonism, both in its formation, and to this day.

Subject: I heard it a few times.
Date: Nov 07 14:30
Author: brefots
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I read it a few times that card games were evil. But nobody took it seriously except old weirdoes that nobody listened to anyway. It was interpreted to mean card games where money where involved. I played lots of different card games with my siblings, and with other Mormons as well.

I don't understand this "face card" and "rook cards" thing. Was it evil to play cards with Jacks, Queens and Kings? That sounds pretty ridiculous.

Subject: I bring it up whenever the TBM family plays Euchre
Date: Nov 07 14:38
Author: Jackson
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Euchre was learned from the Mormon Boy Scout troop. The whole family (except me) loves it. I'm not much of a card player, but the rest of my TBM family loves it. I rub it in whenever I can about how they are playing with the tools of the devil.

Subject: When I first moved to Utah Valley
Date: Nov 07 15:06
Author: elee

at age 10, I was informed by the kids in my ward that they weren't allowed to play with me because I drank Coke and played with "face cards".

To this day, I can't figure out how they knew we had decks of cards in our house. Oh well. Their loss. :)

Subject: edit...The Evils of Playing Cards & the Devil's Workshop of idleness come from much older Christian influences
Date: Nov 07 15:27
Author: SusieQ#1

This is not just a Mormonism notion. It is taken from the preachers of the times -- 1800's -- some of which were my own relatives.

The idea was that if you had time to play cards, you were committing the sin of idleness and the Devil had you in his grip.

Tarot Cards, from which "face cards" comes from, are still considered evil and unacceptable in many places.

An instructor tried to use Tarot card in an adult education college course here, and even as part of JC Jung's psychology (incorporating them as an interpretative tool for dreams) it was quickly stopped as "nary-fairy" nonsense by the administration.

Christian Puritan influences held that if you played cards, you would gamble away your families income (and not giving the church their tithes and offerings) and that was obviously not a righteous endeavor and would go on down the sinful path to drinking alcohol and then become an blight on society ..etc....!!

Early Mormonism had quite a time with too much imbibing, and the minutes of the meetings of the early members leadership meetings shows that they were often dispatched to talk to brother and so... for drinking too much and beating his wife etc.

All this goings on while Joseph Smith said he taught the people correct principles and they governed themselves! :-)

I can remember my great grandma, a ministers wife who was now a bit senile, in about 1951 whacking her cane on the floor and yelling at the top of her lungs that the cards were the Devil's Workshop while my 3 yr old brother playing with a few cards he found in the house. He soon found out it would drive her crazy and could get quite a reaction out of her, so he would play with two or three cards, just out of the reach of her cane!!

Subject: Solitaire?
Date: Nov 07 15:33
Author: ddallin
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Soooooo I shouldn't be playing solitaire on my computer? Damn, and I so wanted to move the red ten onto the black jack.

Seems no kind of solitaire is proper to the morg.

Subject: My relatively TBM mom loved bridge...
Date: Nov 07 15:36
Author: Bright Aqua
Mail Address:

She played it every day during her lunch break from work. She didn't think there was anything wrong with it - they weren't gambling - and wrote a long thoughtful letter to the FP asking about it. She was disgusted when she received a form letter from the Presiding Bishop that just said to do what the leaders taught.

She continued to play bridge. If she were still alive, I think she'd be part of our ex-mo community... She was really upset that she had put so much time and effort into the letter (btw she wrote great letters!), just to receive a bad Xeroxed form letter. It was obviously an often-asked question, hence the canned response. This was about 1990, I think.

Subject: Face Cards in Hinckley Hall
Date: Nov 07 16:13
Author: Axe Hero
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I was a TBM Nazi with regard to face cards. When I was a freshman at Breed'em Young living in Heleman Halls, I remember once when a card game started up down the hall, I got out my copy of Mormon Doctine, stood on a chair beside the card game, and quoted something like this: " A deck of cards in the hands of a faithful Latter-Day Saint is a mockery upon religion." It was all good fun, but deep down I was serious. We'd never had face cards in my house.

By the time I was a returned missionary, a junior at BYU, and well on my way out of the church, my three roommates and I had a running game of spades that latest two whole semesters. We played every night while watching M*A*S*H reruns. See? Cards are evil. And here I am today.


Subject: Re: Face Cards in Hinckley Hall
Date: Nov 07 21:58
Author: Ansel
Mail Address:

My first night in Hinckley Hall, I got to know some of my dorm rats but staying up playing poker until 4 a.m. I was a wide-eyed convert with a bunch of ambitious good-boy Mormon goals. In short, Hinckley Hall was a cesspool (mid-70's). Lots of non-Mormon athletes since it was close to the athletic facilities and generally, they were better behaved than the Mormon athletes. I got a quick education that many 18 year old Mormon males didn't know a damn thing about their religion and was appalled but now I gratefully acknowledge they were sewing the seeds of my eventual apostasy.

Subject: This is one of the reason I, a nevermo, started coming to this site. My son and good friend were given a 20 minute...
Date: Nov 07 16:21
Author: curious2no
Mail Address:

lecture on the evils of cards by a mutual Mormon friend's father. They were all about 16 years old and hanging at the Mormon friends house one evening. I think my son's friend had some cards in his backpack and they started to play some card game. The father came in, and from their description, gave them an intense 20 minutes lecture of how cards would lead them down the road of evil.

This and one other equally disturbing episode led me to looking into Mormonism. This was after living over 17 years in Tempe, AZ. I knew next to nothing about Mormonism, although I had lots of acquaintances who were Mormon. I had a live-and-let-live attitude. When my son and his friend were being told they were bad and dragging down there Mormon friends, I got curious. I should note that my son and his friend were involved in school activities, didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't swear (at least around me), and just all round nice kids.

Now, I'm addicted to this site!

Subject: Re: Anyone remember the EVIL of PLAYING CARDS??
Date: Nov 07 17:10
Author: Yvette
Mail Address:

I can appreciate what Curios2 said, Mormons are quick to blame others. We had a typical Mormon family move in a few houses down with more kids than they could handle, while we only have three. Our 5yr old girls played together until a year later, when this family had internal problems. Then their daughter wasn't allowed to play with our daughter anymore because supposedly our daughter made their daughter meaner. And we were Mormons but evidently not Mormon enough for their taste because we had the good sense to limit our kids. And our daughter was taught to speak her mind, not cower to authority. I was greatly relieved when they moved away to Utah about 6 mos later, It turned out the whole state of California wasn't TBM enough for them. Some people....

Subject: our girl's camp "what to bring" list this past year said NO PLAYING CARDS!
Date: Nov 07 17:26
Author: marilla
Mail Address:

So I guess this would include Rook. When asked about it, we were to tell the girls that it was because playing cards wasted time. Funny thing though - most of the girls never would have thought about bringing cards anyway - since the advent of video games, it seems that not many kids play cards anymore.

Subject: Re: Anyone remember the EVIL of PLAYING CARDS??
Date: Nov 07 17:32
Author: foxystoner
Mail Address:

yup. my mom still tries to enforce this w/my younger siblings. my fanatical Mormon aunt sent her some internet quote on it and gave her a big guilt trip.

Subject: Face cards??? as a Magic the Gathering player
Date: Nov 07 18:23
Author: elfling
Mail Address:

You should see some of the faces on these cards, especially if you play a black deck

Subject: Here's a walk down memory lane... from the 1st edition of Mormon Doctrine
Date: Nov 07 19:17
Author: Archimedes
Mail Address:

by Bruce R. McKonkie.

See Apostasy, Gambling, Recreation. President Joseph F. Smith has stated the position of the Church with reference to card playing in these words: "Card playing is an excessive pleasure; it is intoxicating and, therefore, in the nature of a vice. It is generally the companion of the cigarette and the wine glass, and the latter lead to the poolroom and the gambling hall... Few indulge frequently in card playing in whose lives it does not become a ruling passion... A deck of cards in the hands of a faithful servant of God is a satire upon religion... Those who thus indulge are not fit to administer in sacred ordinances... The bishops are charged with the responsibility for the evil, and it is their duty to see that it is abolished... No man who is addicted to card playing shall be called to act as a ward teacher; such men cannot be consistent advocates of that which they do not themselves practice.
"The card table has been the scene of too many quarrels, the birthplace of too many hatreds, the occasion of too many murders to admit one word of justification for the lying, cheating spirit which it too often engenders in the hearts of its devotees...
"Card playing is a game of chance, and because it is a game of chance it has its tricks. It encourages tricks; its devotees measure their success at the table by their ability through devious and dark ways to win. It creates a spirit of cunning and devises hidden and secret means, and cheating at cards is almost synonymous with playing at cards." (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., pp. 328-332.)
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.

So, there you have it, from the horse's... mouth. Cards are evil because they are fun, and anything that is fun must be evil. Plus, you might actually try to win a game of cards, which apparently is evil in and of itself. Not to mention the evil of taking precious time away from one's quest to serve Mormon, Inc.

Subject: they were banned from girls camp last year....
Date: Nov 07 20:00
Author: Lindsay_Helm
Mail Address:

when I was forced to attend girls camp last year, my DW (dumb women's) leader told us we couldn't bring face cards. so being the sly trouble-maker that I am, I brought three decks of playing cards and two pinochle decks. we played poker, and more poker, and then a little more. two of the decks got taken away. I never got them back! damn evil witch'd think stealing would be worse than playing a harmless game, wouldn't you?

Subject: One of the BIG explosions in our house was when my youngest
Date: Nov 07 21:45
Author: Primrose
Mail Address:

son was playing cards with my brothers kids at our dinning room table on day. My sister in-law was also playing and my brother threw a fit and swiped the cards off the table and told them to get in the car they were going home.
He said our son was evil and teaching his kids evil games. I KNOW his kids and my sister in-law played cards before this happened. The Bad thing was his kids and my sister in-law let my son take the blame and never admitted they played when my brother was not around.
Just one of the falling outs with my TBM brother down the years.

Subject: In Mesa, it is still very frowned upon
Date: Nov 07 23:01
Author: AZgirl

My TBM mom buys the Looney-Tunes "face cards" and she thinks that is a little better. But she would NEVER have those evil Bicycle cards in her home! I asked her why and she said because the prophet told us not to! I chuckled and said, OK! I think she realized how silly it was, but still won't change her stance.

Some of my TBM friends (and we are 30) still won't use them...only Rook!

Subject: Yes
Date: Nov 08 00:05
Author: conformist
Mail Address:

My mom told us how bad they were. I remember being confused and scared when my grandma was playing them with my grandpa.

Subject: I know this sounds really clueless, but what on earth are "rook decks"?? (spoken as a true never-Mo) n/t
Subject: Re: I know this sounds really clueless, but what on earth are "rook decks"?? (spoken as a true never-Mo) n/t
Date: Nov 08 09:06
Author: Switz1

Rook is a game in and of itself played with a special deck of cards. Similar to Bridge.

Subject: More Joseph Fielding Smith Stuff . . .
Date: Nov 08 06:17
Author: SL Cabbie

Right out of Man, His Origin and Destiny" . . .

I read his pronouncements about playing cards at the same time as his statements about evolution, and since I knew he'd missed the boat on evolution, it followed he was gonzo on the subject of playing cards . . . plus my jackmo parents had bridge playing friends until my mother couldn't stand any more of my dad's criticism (she's pretty sensitive and a hopeless player while pop can count to thirteen most of the time) . . .

Bridge turned out to be a great way to hook up with bright non-Mormons in Salt Lake, and hang playing for money; we played for ego! Masterpoints and one's name in the newspaper . . .

I've told the story before about an old partner of mine who taught math at BYU-Hawaii. He used to play bridge under an assumed name because when he won, his name would wind up in the newspaper . . .

I haven't heard anything lately from the elders on the subject of playing cards, just gambling which is a big no-no of course . . . I would expect there's still some leftover cultural stigma

Retired BYU Sportscaster Paul James is an excellent bridge player; sat down against him just the other night . . .

Subject: Area presidency guidelines - No "Macarena", no Coke, no Church activities on Monday nights
Date: Nov 08 10:51
Author: Jack
Mail Address:

As I was reading the Coke thread, I thought of some letters from the Brazilian Area Presidency. (Letters that I had easy access to at the time, when I was either ward clerk, ward financial secretary, ward mission leader, or some other leadership position.)

* No Coke in Church buildings
In the late 80s/early 90s, a letter from the Area presidency sent to all units in the country prohibited cola drinks in Church activities. Members were not told that cola drinks were totally forbidden, but thy did get told that it was not okay to bring Coke to ward or stake functions.

* No "Macarena" in Church dances
In the late 90s, a letter about youth activities/dances explicitly mentioned that "inappropriate" music and dance such as "Macarena" were not allowed in Church dances.

* No activities whatsoever on Monday nights
In the mid 90s, there was another letter that prohibited ANY Church activities on Monday nights. (All Church buildings, Institute buildings, etc should be locked on Monday nights, so everyone could be home for FHE.) In other parts of the world, I saw things going on Monday nights - such as group FHEs for young adults in Church premises. But in Brazil it was totally forbidden. Young Adult leaders were allowed to organize group FHEs, but not in Church property. (But it was okay in someone's home.)

Apparently, headquarters in Utah do not want to deal with many "minor" issues (such as the ones mentioned), but some Area presidencies go out of their way in order to implement policies for all kinds of petty topics. They love to exercise their tiny dose of power and control...


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