LDS Church's essay on past violence

For the “The Mormon church works to hide it’s history” folks here:

Peace and Violence among 19th-Century Latter-day Saints

Danites, Blood Atonement, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, among others. I learned some details I didn’t know before.

Very interesting, and thank you.

lol.

I love this. In an effort to try to appear honest and finally coming clean, this is written.

But, it is not totally truthful. Further, for ever bad act of violence, a lot of time is spent before and after justifying the action.

That is not coming clean,

And as to MMM, I personally believe BY ordered it. Back in those days, Mormons hardly breathed without BY telling them to.

But, even if he did not ORDER it, HIS comments and teachings is what led the Mormons to believe it was ok to do it.

Further, BY’s attitude in kicking over the memorial and talking about vengeance being done certainly speaks volumes.

No, there are no congrats here for telling us less than we already knew and justifying every bit of it.

Hi NeuroTypical - When was this article written? In 1990 I was in a Nevada History class at UNLV. The professor taught about the Mormon role in the MMM. Two Mormon students argued with the professor in front of the class (there was about 100 students), telling him he was lying and that they would not stand for it. The young man and woman stood up and left the class in a very dramatic fashion. The teacher said that happened to him every semester.

So, when did the Mormons claim responsibility for the MMM…???

Also, why do the Mormons always talk about persecution? If they say they are about forgiveness, why constantly bring it up? Not to mention, there is definitely another side to the story.

Have you ever studied the persecution of Christians by Nero? :eek:

Whether or not Brigham Young directly ordered the massacre may never be known. However, he seemed to have no problem with the bloody deed after the fact. When Young visited the site in 1861 Apostle Wilford Woodruff wrote in his diary:

May 25 [1861] A very cold morning much ice on the creek. I wore my great coat & mittens. We visited the Mt. Meadows Monument not up at the burial place of 120 persons killed by Indians in 1857. The pile of stone was about twelve feet high but beginning to tumble down. A wooden cross is placed on top with the following words, Vengeance is mine and I will repay saith the Lord. Pres. Young said it should be Vengeance is mine and I have taken a little. (The Mountain Meadows Massacre, by Juanita Brooks, University of Oklahoma, p. 182).

David Bigler adds:

One of Young’s escort lassoed the cross [on the burial site] with a rope, turned his horse, and pulled it down. Brigham Young “didn’t say another word,” recalled Dudley Leavitt. “He didn’t give an order. He just lifted his right arm to the square [a temple gesture], and in five minutes there wasn’t one stone left upon another. He didn’t have to tell us what he wanted done. We understood.” (Forgotten Kingdom, p.178)

Juanita Brooks observed:

While Brigham Young and George A. Smith, the church authorities chiefly responsible, did not specifically order the massacre, they did preach sermons and set up social conditions which made it possible… Brigham Young was accessory after the fact, in that he knew what had happened, and how and why it happened. Evidence of this is abundant and unmistakable, and from the most impeccable Mormon sources.

Knowing then, why did not President Young take action against these men?.. He did have the men chiefly responsible released from their offices in the church following a private church investigation, but since he understood well that their acts had grown out of loyalty to him and his cause, he would not betray them into the hands of their common “enemy.”…Someone assuredly warned all the participants, so that for many years they were all able to evade arrest.

The church leaders decided to sacrifice Lee only when they could see that it would be impossible to acquit him without assuming a part of the responsibility themselves… this token sacrifice had to be made. Hence the farce which was the second trial of [John D.] Lee. The leaders evidently felt that by placing all the responsibility squarely upon him, already doomed, they could lift the stigma from the church as a whole. (The Mountain Meadows Massacre, p. 219-220)

(from Utah Lighthouse Ministries)

Not sure how to answer that. We excommunicated Haight and Lee in 1870, and executed Lee around 1874. (To my mind, it’s a valid criticism to reply “Not enough, and not early enough”, but it’s an indication that Mormons were claiming responsibility.)

As I search lds.org for sources, I find these:

In December 1977, the church’s magazine The Ensign published this:

For a more balanced appraisal of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, one is well advised to rely on the thorough treatment by Juanita Brooks. (Mountain Meadows Massacre, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962.)

December 1990 is when we placed the memorial there.

I personally became aware of it in the mid '90’s, interacting with critics.

Probably the clearest and most widely-read taking responsibility, up to the article above, happened in September 2007 with Turley’s article which preceded his book.

Also, why do the Mormons always talk about persecution? If they say they are about forgiveness, why constantly bring it up? Not to mention, there is definitely another side to the story.

Have you ever studied the persecution of Christians by Nero? :eek:

Wait - did you just ask why mormons talk about prosecution, and in the next breath, you talked about Nero’s persecution of Christians? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but doesn’t it sort of beg the question on why you did it?

I don’t know that “the Mormons” “constantly” or “always talk” about it. I’m a Mormon, and I don’t. In the hundreds of different conversations about mormon things I have each year, mormons being persecuted make up maybe three or four of them. Is that “always” or “constantly”?

To directly answer your question, I bought up this article on CAF, not because I wanted to talk about persecution, but because I wanted to share a new article from my church, addressing LDS difficult history. It’s being discussed over at mormondialogue.org, and I’m sure various LDS critic boards are talking about it, so I thought I’d start a conversation here at CAF. It’s recent news.

And to directly answer your other question, I’ve read much history, and I’ve read the entire Fox’s book of Martyrs. Institutional persecution, and apologies generations later, are an interesting phenomenon.

And I must say, that I’ve had deep respect and admiration Pope John Paul II for several decades, and he was very big on apologies, sometimes for things that Catholics did centuries and centuries ago. A very noble thing, don’t you think, to apologize, even centuries after the fact, for crimes carried out by members, sometimes leaders, of your religion? Highly commendable.

[quote=TexanKnight]The difference is, the Martyrs, though persecuted, did not slaughter innocent families and kidnap their children. They did not raise armies and swear vengeance. They did not make blood oaths.
[/quote]

Bingo. Of course, a Mormon will never allow himself to understand this.

The article begins, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The virtues of peace, love, and forgiveness are at the center of Church doctrine and practice. "…and then the rest of the entire article is rationalizing violence and death as justified.

And still, no apology, just excuses.

Some things that stand out to me as revisionist history:

The claim that Smith was unaware of Danite activities is false. There was nothing in Nauvoo that he did not tightly control, and those he could not control, he excommunicated and drove them out of Nauvoo.

The claim that the poor, poor saints in Nauvoo were innocent sheep being slaughtered. Their own violent actions against the local community fueled the dispute between Mormons and non Mormons.

The claim that members of the Piute tribe participated in the MMM. False. It was non-Indian Mormons dressed up as Indians.

Then there is leaving out inconvenient facts of MMM.

  • The children who were not slaughtered were kidnapped, and scattered to various LDS families to raise as their own children! Kill the parents, keep the children to raise up as Mormons. When their relatives came looking for them and the Federal Govt. ordered the children returned to their relatives, Mormons had the nerve to demand payment for caring for the children for two years.

  • The Fancher property was looted. Wood and metal used as material for buildings in the Mormon communities. Gold being carried by those murdered was taken into custody by Brigham Young. The Fancher party was travelling with a large heard of livestock, which was also taken over by the Mormons.

  • When the Fancher party was in the Salt Lake City area, Young sent word along their route through Utah to not give non-LDS immigrants access to food for themselves or their livestock, and not assist them in any way.

-It was customary on immigrant trails to allow immigrants to graze their livestock on the land they passed through. How else do you think the many tens of thousands of immigrants made it west? To deny this was to doom the livestock of immigrants to starvation and the immigrant’s way halted, permanently.

So then, what do you do with a group of immigrants who you are not going to allow to feed their livestock in order that they can move on? Take them in? Feed them?

No, you murder them, steal their children and all their belongings and blame it in on the Indians…and then continue to blame the victims TO THIS DAY.

Young was not innocent of the events.He set them in motion.

After MMM, the dead were never buried by those who murdered them. Young never ordered the murderers to show remorse, or compensate the victims families, not even ordering them to bury the dead. The bodies of those murdered lay out in the open for two years, until Federal troops came and buried the remains in a mass grave.

Didn’t the USA Government put a bounty on Mormons, for some time? I understand it was not actually lifted until the 60’s ?
I also have it to believe that the LDS church members are one of the few groups of people to have ever had the US army, call a draw so to speak.

HMMM, did that mean that John D Lee atoned for the MMM with his own blood? Just thinking out loud.

There was no “draw”. It was a minor thing. Minor skirmishes. And the President had little support. So, The President offered a proposal. The peace commission offered a free pardon to the Mormons for any acts incident to the conflict if they would submit to government authority. This included permitting Johnston’s Army into the Territory.

BY agreed.

Had the USA truly wanted to wage war, it would have been ugly.

There was no bounty. A Governor ordered the extermination of LDS, which LDS use as evidence that people wanted them dead. The problem they have is, the same language was used by Mormons, in that, they sought the extermination of the governor.

In the usage of the word ‘extermination’, of the day, it was meant as “driving out”, not hunt down and murder. The law, like a lot of old laws, remained as a state statute until the mid 20th century. Not enforced. LDS Mormons (Brighamites) will claim the followers of Young leaving Nauvoo as evidence of being driven out. However, many Mormons (non Brighamites) remained in Missouri, and many LDS, after arriving in Utah and finding themselves disillusioned with Young and the desert he brought them to, returned to Missouri. They were never driven out. It is a narrative that LDS use, part of their group mythology, but not grounded in reality.

I also have it to believe that the LDS church members are one of the few groups of people to have ever had the US army, call a draw so to speak.

The context is, Young led his followers to what was then a Mexican territory. He led them out of the United States entirely, and set up a theodemocracy out in the middle of nowhere.

After the Mexican-American war, the Hidalgo-Guadalupe treaty was signed, which turned over a vast stretch of land in what is now the western US to the USA. Where the Brighamite Mormons had settled then became a Territory of the United States.

A territory of the U.S. at the time was governed by a federally appointed Governor, which was made for the Utah territory. But as these Governors were sent to UT, they found that they could not govern because the Mormons followed Young, absolutely, and believed they were under no obligation to obey Federally appointed executives.

Of course, the U.S. disagreed with this idea and so sent Federal troops to get the territory out of the control of Young, and what ensued is now known as the “Utah War”. Young whipped up an atmosphere of fear, telling his followers that the Federal troops were being sent to destroy them (they weren’t), and so the Utah Mormons prepared to defend themselves. The Nauvoo Legion was reformed, the people stock piled food and ammunition and prepared to burn everything rather than give it over to Federal troops.

An advance group of military personnel met with Young, to inform him of their mission: to escort the new Federal appointees, to act as the local law enforcement (a type of sheriff) only when called on by local authorities and to establish at least two and perhaps three new U.S. Army camps in Utah.

Young declared he would not allow the Army or the Federal appointees to enter Utah and declared martial law and became determined to stop the Federal troops from arriving in Utah. The Nauvoo Legion burned the grasses along the trail the Federal troops were taking, to halt their progress, burned Fort Bridger, so the Federal troops could not take possession of it, burned Army supply trains that were behind the main body of Federal soldiers and stole the livestock from the supply trains.

The Nauvoo Legion kept up these type of gorilla tactics, to the point the Army had to respond and one skirmish took place where no one was killed. The Mormons were successful in halting the Army at the burned out Ft. Bridger, where they wintered. The military leaders declared via a Grand Jury that Young and a group of Mormon militia leaders were committing acts of treason.

During the winter “break” (so-to-speak) the tensions relaxed and negotiations were reached between the Army and the Mormons. President Buchanan declared that if the Mormons accepted government authority over Utah, he would pardon all Mormon participants. The newly appointed territorial governor was allowed to take his position in Salt Lake.

The Army, however, was not allowed to enter Utah, and that tension remained. During the following spring and summer, additional Federal troops were sent to reinforce the Army and in Utah, Young grew the Nauvoo Legion and called for Mormon members to supply them with anything they had. He also had the Mormons prepared to leave the Salt Lake valley, with the intent of burning everything behind them. They evacuated south, to Utah Valley, burying the foundations and granite stones that were for the building of their temple, and making the building site look like a plowed field.

Meanwhile, Pres. Buchanan was under pressure from Congress to end the crisis. Buchanan sent a delegation to negotiate the entrance of the Army into Utah in exchange for a submission to government appointees, a promise to not interfere with religious practices, and a full pardon of all Mormons who were involved.

So the “Mormon War” ended, with no casualties, and the Army entered an abandoned Salt Lake valley. The following month the Mormons returned to Salt Lake and the Army settled at Camp Floyd, 50 miles south of Salt Lake. Purposely far removed from Salt Lake proper to avoid creating tension.

The consequence for Buchanan was, the Utah War was seen as an expensive blunder. The consequences for the Mormons were, months of neglecting their crops and other economic activities, that impacted them for a year or more.

Interesting post.
Thank you,

You’re welcome, KountC.

RebeccaJ, I’m at a loss to respond to your reading of this article. When I read it, I see quotes like the following.

And, tragically, at some points in the 19th century, most notably in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, some Church members participated in deplorable violence against people they perceived to be their enemies. This essay explores both violence committed against the Latter-day Saints and violence committed by them. While historical context can help shed light on these acts of violence, it does not excuse them.

Over the next few days, events escalated, and Mormon militiamen planned and carried out a deliberate massacre. They lured the emigrants from their circled wagons with a false flag of truce and, aided by Paiute Indians they had recruited, slaughtered them.

The militiamen sought to cover up the crime by placing the entire blame on local Paiutes, some of whom were also members of the Church.

A series of tragic decisions by local Church leaders—who also held key civic and militia leadership roles in southern Utah—led to the massacre.

I’m having a difficult time understanding how such comments “blame the victims to this day”

“As the wagon train traveled south from Salt Lake City, the emigrants had clashed verbally with local Mormons over where they could graze their cattle. Some of the members of the wagon train became frustrated because they had difficulty purchasing much-needed grain and other supplies from local settlers, who had been instructed to save their grain as a wartime policy. Aggrieved, some of the emigrants threatened to join incoming troops in fighting against the Saints.” [edit to add…after the “Saints” stole the Francher party’s cattle, they didn’t have any trouble feeding them.]

"verbal confrontations between individuals in the wagon train and southern Utah settlers created great alarm, particularly within the context of the Utah War and other adversarial events. "

My understanding is that the LDS church did not take full responsibility until 2007 and that the members would become very angry if it was ever talked about. So, I don’t see how they can skirt around it now (assuming this is a recent article).

Wait - did you just ask why mormons talk about prosecution, and in the next breath, you talked about Nero’s persecution of Christians? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but doesn’t it sort of beg the question on why you did it?

I am 49 years old and recently read a book that talked about Early Church persecution and persecution throughout the centuries. It is a book I bought myself and read by myself - I did not learn this as part of my catechism.

My guess is that the 18 year old students who walked out of class over hearing the Mormon involvement in the MMM may have heard this from a source other than a book they ordered off Amazon.

Why I brought this up:

  1. The Catholic Church does not bring up past persecution and never uses it as an excuse for violence. The Protestant English and the Irish Catholics come to mind. One has to really search to find this stuff out vs. the Mormons who bring it up a lot (I live in Utah and have hung around Mormons for 24 years). I sat through the hokey movie Legacy with my Mormon friend who cried through the whole thing because of the Mormon persecution.

  2. If the Mormons have ever felt persecuted, they should read how the early Christians were set on fire by Nero and used to light up his yard. All this because they claimed to be Christian. The Mormons were run out of places after causing scandal and committing crimes. I guess you can say I call it a slap in the face to those who died martyrs for standing up for Jesus Christ.

I don’t know that “the Mormons” “constantly” or “always talk” about it. I’m a Mormon, and I don’t. In the hundreds of different conversations about mormon things I have each year, mormons being persecuted make up maybe three or four of them. Is that “always” or “constantly”?

In my 49 years of being an Irish Catholic, I have NEVER heard anyone speak of persecution due to the faith of their ancestors.

To directly answer your question, I bought up this article on CAF, not because I wanted to talk about persecution, but because I wanted to share a new article from my church, addressing LDS difficult history. It’s being discussed over at mormondialogue.org, and I’m sure various LDS critic boards are talking about it, so I thought I’d start a conversation here at CAF. It’s recent news.

I understand, however I read the article and to me it was very much “we did this but we were provoked.”

And to directly answer your other question, I’ve read much history, and I’ve read the entire Fox’s book of Martyrs. Institutional persecution, and apologies generations later, are an interesting phenomenon.

And I must say, that I’ve had deep respect and admiration Pope John Paul II for several decades, and he was very big on apologies, sometimes for things that Catholics did centuries and centuries ago. A very noble thing, don’t you think, to apologize, even centuries after the fact, for crimes carried out by members, sometimes leaders, of your religion? Highly commendable.

I guess this is your way of saying “the Catholics do this too”? Please show me where the Catholics blamed others for their transgressions and used others as a scapegoat and I will draw the same parallels.

I appreciate your willingness to dialogue on this subject, but I am up to my eyeballs with the Mormon persecution card.

In other words, the Mormons were provoked and the idea of “turn the other cheek” did not seem to be in their hearts or minds.

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