Discuss this article or ask questions at the LDS.net Forums.
Dallin H. Oaks
Dallin H. Oaks is a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was set apart as the first counselor in the First Presidency on January 14, 2018. He serves with Russell M. Nelson, president of the Church, and Henry B. Eyring, second counselor. Oaks and Nelson were both sustained as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 7, 1984.
Dallin H. Oaks was born in Provo, Utah on August 12, 1932. His father died of tuberculosis when he was only eight years old, and three years later he began working to help his mother. His first job was to sweep at a radio repair shop. It was this first job that led the young boy to become interested in radios. Before he was sixteen years old, he had earned his radio/telephone license and gotten a job working for a radio company. Soon after, he was working regularly as an announcer. It was while Elder Oaks was announcing a high school basketball game that he met June Dixon. They later married on June 24, 1952, while both were attending college at Brigham Young University.
Elder Oaks worked steadily to earn a degree in accounting and then attended the University of Chicago Law School. His wife recalls him saying that although there were plenty of students at the law school who were smarter than he, none of them worked any harder than he did. Elder Oaks graduated with honors and earned the opportunity to serve as a clerk for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court. At the completion of this internship, Elder Oaks and his family moved back to Chicago, where he entered into a private law practice.
In 1961, Elder Oaks was called to be the mission president of the Chicago stake and was also offered the opportunity to teach at the University of Chicago. Two years later Elder Oaks accepted a calling as second counselor in the Chicago South Stake Presidency. Along with his responsibilities in the Church, Elder Oaks had many responsibilities in other areas of his life. He was well known in his profession, and had served as the assistant state’s attorney for Cook County, Illinois, as the acting dean of the law school, as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, as a legal counsel to the Bill of Rights Committee for the Illinois Constitutional Convention, and as an executive director of the American Bar Foundation.
In 1970, Elder Oaks was asked by the Church to be the new president of Brigham Young University. While serving as the president, he focused on academic excellence and became a spokesman for private colleges and universities nationwide as the president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities.
On January 1, 1981, Oaks was sworn into the Utah Supreme Court, and he continued to be offered many important federal jobs. At the April 1984 General Conference, when he was sustained as a new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Gordon B. Hinckley also announced: "With reference to Dallin Oaks, I should like to say that while we nominate and sustain him today, he will not be ordained to the apostleship, nor will he be set apart as a member of the Council of the Twelve, nor will he begin his apostolic service, until after he completes his present judicial commitments, which may require several weeks. He is absent from the city, and necessarily absent from the conference. We excuse him." When he received this calling, he resigned from the Utah Supreme Court, so that he would be able to focus all of his attention on serving in the Church. This strong desire to serve has never wavered. Just after his calling was announced, the Washington Post’s Supreme Court reporter called Elder Oaks, because he was a likely candidate for the United States Supreme Court. The reporter wanted to know if Elder Oaks' new calling would mean that he would no longer be available for the position in the Supreme Court. Elder Oaks answered that he was no longer available. He further explained that even an appointment in the Supreme Court did not take precedence over the service he had just been called to give.
Quotes from Elder Dallin H. Oaks
- "Many of our challenges are different from those faced by former pioneers but perhaps just as dangerous and surely as significant to our own salvation and the salvation of those who follow us.... The wolves that prowled around pioneer settlements were no more dangerous to their children than the drug dealers or pornographers who threaten our children. Similarly, the early pioneers’ physical hunger posed no greater threat to their well-being than the spiritual hunger experienced by many in our day."
- “Following the Pioneers,” Ensign, Nov. 1997
- "Weakness is not our only vulnerability. Satan can also attack us where we think we are strong—in the very areas where we are proud of our strengths. He will approach us through the greatest talents and spiritual gifts we possess. If we are not wary, Satan can cause our spiritual downfall by corrupting us through our strengths as well as by exploiting our weaknesses."
- “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct. 1994
- "The first principle is that our efforts to promote temple and family history work should be such as to accomplish the work of the Lord, not to impose guilt on his children. Members of this church have many individual circumstances—age, health, education, place of residence, family responsibilities, financial circumstances, accessibility to sources for individual or library research, and many others. If we encourage members in this work without taking these individual circumstances into account; we may do more to impose guilt than to further the work."
- “Family History: 'In Wisdom and Order',” Ensign, June 1989, 6-8
- "At the end of the day the owner of the vineyard gave the same wage to every worker, even to those who had come in the eleventh hour. When those who had worked the entire day saw this, 'they murmured against the goodman of the house' (Matthew 20:11). The owner did not yield but merely pointed out that he had done no one any wrong, since he had paid each man the agreed amount. Like other parables, this one can teach several different and valuable principles. For present purposes its lesson is that the Master's reward in the Final Judgment will not be based on how long we have labored in the vineyard. We do not obtain our heavenly reward by punching a time clock. What is essential is that our labors in the workplace of the Lord have caused us to become something. For some of us, this requires a longer time than for others. What is important in the end is what we have become by our labors."
- “The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, November 2000, 32-34
- Elder Dallin H. Oaks
- Dallin H. Oaks on religious freedom
- Interview with Dallin H. Oaks regarding religious freedom
- Elder Oaks testifies on Capitol Hill