Hypocrisy in the Rockies

By Max Chugg

On Sunday, September 14, 1873, James, Ellen and Willie White, with Mr. Walling, Sis. Hall and Bro. Glover left their homes for a camping trip in the Colorado mountains. In those horse and buggy days, it was a necessity to plan the trip well to ensure that transport and accommodation arrangements were adequate and that sufficient provisions were available for the duration of the trip.

The stock of provisions should have been particularly important to the group because of their special dietary needs. Mrs. White, their spiritual leader, had been extolling the need for vegetarianism for at least the previous decade, having previously written that "since the Lord presented before me, in June, 1863, the subject of meat eating in relation to health, I have left the use of meat."1 In the intervening years she added to this testimony with numerous other "inspired" statements such as:

"We, from principle, discard the use of meat"2

This comment alone absolutely precludes the use of meat, because Mrs. White also was "shown" that "Those who will not eat and drink from principle, will not be governed by principle in other things".3

According to Mrs. White, the eating of meat is not only damaging to health and moral principles, it is also very damaging to spiritual experience. The following counsel was addressed to "backsliders" who have not aligned their dietary habits with her "inspired" counsel":

"You place on your table butter, eggs, and meat, and your children partake of them. They are fed with the very things that will excite their animal passions, and then you come to meeting and ask God to bless and save your children. How high do your prayers go?" 4

"One family in particular have needed all the benefits they could receive from the reform in diet, yet these very ones have been completely backslidden. Meat and butter have been used by them quite freely".5

To improve their lot, these people need to follow the example of Mrs. White, who gave an assurance that "No butter or flesh-meats of any kind come on my table."6

Mrs. White often emphasized that meat eating was not just a health issue, but also a moral issue. When Mrs. White was confronted with a "sister" who did not follow the dietary restrictions proposed by Mrs. White, she explains that the woman is not fully "converted":

We are very sorry that the converting power of God has not reached this sister's table habits, because all connected with her will feel the influence of this half conversion."7

To summarize, those who eat meat are:

  • Not governed by principle
  • Not blessed by God
  • Backslidden
  • Half-converted

With the above information firmly in mind, it is time to become a spectator as the little group heads into the mountains on their camping trip. The account comes directly from the diary of Mrs. White, and is readily available from the White Estate's web site.

A Condensation of Manuscript 1467

The party commenced their journey to the mountains on Sunday, September 14, 1873. They left home at about 11 o’clock, and drove about six miles before having dinner. After an hour’s rest, they recommenced their journey, and finally camped for the night around nine o’clock.

Next morning , Monday, they had breakfast and moved on. But the wagon broke an axletree and they had to camp at that spot. They sent the axletree away for repairs and Mr. Walling was to bring it back on Wednesday.

By Thursday there was no sign of the axletree, but they fed some travelers who were returning from the park where they had found nothing to eat but squirrels and pork.

The following Monday, a week after the breakdown, Willie leaves to get supplies or the axletree, because they cannot move until the wagon is repaired. The horses are running out of grain and their supply of provisions is fast decreasing. That day Mrs. White records that "Willie and Brother Glover returned today. Brother Glover was on his way with the new axletree when Willie met him…….We were glad to see them and made preparations to start the next morning for Grand Lake in Middle Park."

Next morning they "rose early and packed up bedding and provisions for a start on our journey". "After six or eight miles' travel on foot it was a good rest to climb up upon the bedding and ride". They "camped for the night in a plain surrounding a cluster of willows. We cut plenty of grass for our beds."

Next day (Wednesday) they resumed their journey and stopped at Grand River for dinner. They arrived at Grand Lake about five o'clock.

Next day (Thursday) they got settled and Brother Glover went fishing. He caught a few fish and shot a duck, but lost it in the water.

On Friday the wind was too strong for fishing, so Bro. Glover went hunting, but walked for 10 miles and "found no game". "Willie shot two gray squirrels to make broth for Brother Glover." The next day, after sunset, Bro Glover again went hunting and caught 16 fish. "We urged him to dress them and take them home to his children."

Sunday morning Brother Glover left camp for supplies, because "we are getting short of provisions". They got Bro Glover the best they could for his meals along the way. A young man from Nova Scotia arrived, having walked 20 miles with a quarter of a deer upon his back. He gave them a small piece of the meat, which they made into broth, then Willie shot a duck, which "came in a time of need for our supplies were rapidly diminishing".

On Monday James used a scythe to cut feed for the horses and Willie pitched the hay into the wagon. On Tuesday some men arrived with supplies and to get more fish

Feasting on Meat in the Rockies

Mrs. White and her party left home on Sunday, September 13, broke their wagon’s axletree the next day, and it was sent away for repairs. The following Thursday, all of the party except Bro. Glover is still camped around the wagon and meets up with people who are emerging from the area that is their destination. They feed these people because they have had nothing to eat but pork and squirrels. Surely this should have acted as a clear warning of the probable outcome if Mrs. White’s party continued their journey without first replenishing their now heavily depleted supply of provisions.

One week after the axletree broke, Willie was sent to get supplies or the axletree. He soon returns in company with Brother Glover, who had the axletree, but obviously no supplies, because it was clear that Willie could only bring one or the other. The day appears to have been spent repairing the wagon.

At this point, with the wagon repaired, they must have realized that they were no longer carrying enough provisions to meet their needs until fresh supplies could be obtained. This knowledge and the timely warning provided by the starving travelers they had fed should have left them in no doubt that it would be totally irresponsible to move on with inadequate supplies. Yet that is exactly what they did, and within a very short time their shortage of provisions reached the level of an "emergency".

On the day of their arrival at their destination it must have been apparent that the supply of provisions was almost exhausted, and an "emergency " situation was upon them. Because the good weather would not obstruct traveling, it would have been reasonable to expect that they would take immediate steps to obtain suitable provisions. Instead we discover that the group has brought along their hunting and fishing equipment. In a short space of time, Brother Glover has caught a few fish, and also shot a duck, which was not eaten only because it was lost in the water. Why was it necessary to shoot the "unclean" duck8 when he already had "clean" fish? As we are to discover, Willie has also planned for this "emergency", as he also has a gun, and demonstrates considerable skill in the art of hunting, something that is not usually learned overnight.

Next day, Friday, Bro. Glover again went hunting, but found no game. Willie had better luck, and shot two gray squirrels to make broth for Brother Glover.

On Saturday Bro. Glover caught 16 fish. With the larder supposedly bare, and Bro. Glover subsisting on squirrel broth for a day, it would be reasonable to expect that there would be a massive fry-up immediately, but that is not what happened. Sister White urges Bro. Glover to take the fish home to his children! This surprising suggestion is a clear indication that the distance between the camping spot and Bro. Glover’s home is reasonably short, otherwise the fish would be inedible by the time they arrived at his home. Before Bro. Glover commences his journey on Sunday morning, the apparently empty larder produces enough food for his journey. If the larder was not empty on Sunday, why had Bro. Glover been living on squirrel broth since Friday evening?

Presumably Bro. Glover accepted the advice of Mrs. White and took his 16 fish with him, because the next food we see the Whites consuming is some deer meat that is given to them by a traveler. No doubt this was a welcome addition to the menu because the Whites were obviously partial to venison, and later, when "old brother White was breaking down" (probably 1880 or 1881) Mrs. White got him venison every day.9 The venison is quickly supplemented by a duck that Willie shoots. Yet again the question arises – why did this "prophet" feed her party on duck, which, in the eyes of some in the SDA church, is unclean meat, when they could have been eating the "clean" meat of the large number of fish sent to Brother Glover’s children?

It would appear that the meat diet had a beneficial effect, because the next day James and Willie are not out fishing, as might be expected under the circumstances, but cutting hay and loading it into their wagon. It is at this point that the "emergency" is relieved when some men arrive with provisions, presumably for the Whites, but the purpose of the visit of these men really seems to have been to catch more fish.

This apparently was not the end of the White’s appetite for duck. In October 1873, only a couple of weeks later, the Whites are again camping in the Rockies, again with provisions in short supply, and once again Willie supplements their rations with duck. This time he shot two of them.10 Then, four months later, on February 15, 1874, Mrs. White reported that "...they had dropped meat entirely."

The problem with this 1874 statement is that this resolve was short lived. The White Estate, with remarkable understatement, says "THERE IS EVIDENCE OF SOME LAXNESS IN THE 1870'S AND 1880'S WHICH ALLOWED A LITTLE MEAT TO APPEAR ON HER TABLE WHEN IT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN ESSENTIAL."11

A comment made by Mrs. White in 1887 appears to be singularly applicable to her own case:

"If the main dependence of the cook is meat, she will encourage meat eating, and the depraved appetite will frame every excuse for this kind of diet.12

What better example could be found of framing any excuse for the eating of meat, for a depraved appetite, than Mrs. White’s own behavior? She admits that she and her son ate duck on 27 September, 1873, because of shortage of provisions, and of again eating two ducks for an identical "reason" a couple of weeks later, in October, 1873.

Obviously the 1874 report that Mrs. White had dropped meat entirely did not remain true for very long. The quote from M.R. 852 indicates that the "laxity" commenced in the 1870’s and continued into the 1880’s. In 1894 she again reports that "Since the camp meeting at Brighton (January 1894) I have absolutely banished meat from my table".13 We can only wonder how many more times meat was banished from her table after 1894!

A Species of Hypocrisy

Mrs. White is judged by her own words:

"I do not preach one thing and practice another. I do not present to my hearers rules of life for them to follow while I make an exception in my own case.... "14

"Above all things, we should not with our pens advocate positions that we do not put to a practical test in our own families, upon our own tables. This is a dissimulation, a species of hypocrisy."15

“And every prophet teaching the truth, if he doeth not what he teacheth, is a false prophet.”16


1. White, Counsels on Diet and Food, p. 482.

2. White, Testimonies Vol. 2, p. 367.

3. White, Healthful Living, p. 76.

4. White, Testimonies Vol. 2, p. 362.

5. Ibid., p. 362.

6. Ibid., p. 487.

7. White, Manuscript Releases Vol. 20, p. 3, 1897.

8. Many Adventists of that era considered duck to be an unclean meat. Even to this day there is still some discussion on the subject because the duck, although it has wings, lives primarily on the water. The Jewish Mishnah lists duck as a clean meat.

9. A.G. Daniells, 1919 Conference Transcript.

10. White, Manuscript 12, 1873.

11. White Estate, Manuscript Release No. 852: The Development of Adventist Thinking on..., page 2, paragraph 5.

12. White, Healthful Living, page 97.

13. White, M.R. No. 852, p. 2.

14. White, Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 305.

15. White, Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 468.

16. Didache 11:10, translated by J.B. Lightfoot.

Category: Contradictions
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