Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Chapter 11

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Response to claims made in "Chapter 11: Bloody Brigham"

A FairMormon Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods, a work by author: Richard Abanes
Claim Evaluation
One Nation Under Gods
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Response to claims made in One Nation Under Gods, "Chapter 11: Bloody Brigham"

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Response to claim: 225 epigraph, 553-558n1 (PB) - A letter from Aaron DeWitt talks about murder and plunder in Utah

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

A lengthy letter is printed in its entirety in the endnotes. The author says that the letter from Aaron DeWitt was written to his sister Elizabeth Durrant on January 31, 1875 and slipped into a time capsule. The letter talks about murder and plunder in Utah. Source for the letter is an online web address at Saint's Alive (Ed Decker's site): www.saintsalive.com/mormonism/murder.html.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Even a hostile historian cited by Ed Decker grants that the majority of DeWitt's letter "is the standard 19th Century Gentile charge against the Mormons— largely dismissed in light of later scholarship—and Dewitt's repetition of the horrors of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the murder of the Morrisites lend nothing to the historical record except (and it is a major exception) that a pioneer settler of Logan believed them...." (emphasis added).



Question: Did Aaron DeWitt, an ex-Mormon in Utah, receive threats to his life from the Church?

DeWitt may have sincerely believed he was at risk, but we must not turn his suspicion (or even paranoia) into historical fact without further evidence

The violent "Utah theocracy" portrayed by critics of Mormonism seems strangely impotent in his case—probably because it is fictitious. DeWitt can show us that at least some apostate Mormons believed the omnipresent anti-Mormon propaganda regarding Utah, but it provides little evidence to substantiate those claims: even when its author claims to be someone who was at risk of that same Mormon violence and intimidation.

DeWitt was a lapsed Mormon, known for a letter to his sister in a time capsule, as well as journals and poems.

Avoiding material helpful to the Church

D. Michael Quinn writes that:

Two years later [in 1875] LDS apostate Aaron DeWitt was a principal witness in the murder trial of Thomas E. Ricks, Cache Valley’s sheriff and high priest quorum president. Accused of murdering a horse thief in his custody as sheriff, Ricks was acquitted. Upon his return to Logan, DeWitt said that ‘the local Mormon leaders had threatened his life,’ and one account even claimed that ‘the [high] council decided to take his life, and appointed a time, but one of them proved traitor and went and told him [DeWitt], so he was on guard and thus saved his life.’

Quinn's citation for this claim reads as follows:

Ian Craig Breaden, ‘Poetry, Polity, and the Cache Valley Pioneer: Polemics in the Journal of Aaron DeWitt, 1869-96,’ Utah Historical Quarterly 61 (Fall 1993): 329, for circumstances of Ricks killing prisoner Elisha David Skeen, and 335 for quote.

Quinn requires the reader to search out the cited article to learn about the circumstances behind the death of the horse thief. If we may judge based upon Quinn's practice through his books on the "Mormon Hierarchy," if these details had painted the Church or its members in a bad light, he probably would have included them. Unsurprisingly, the circumstances are somewhat exculpatory, since the rustler had escaped from jail in Salt Lake, and was allegedly shot while trying to escape from the sheriff's custody:

The presence of cattle and other livestock, such as horses, attracted rustlers, and one of these, Elisha David Skeen, had become notorious within the Mormon communities along the Wasatch Front. Skeen came to Cache Valley in 1860 after escaping from the Utah County jail, which held him on charges of assault and challenging to duel. Thomas E. Ricks, the sheriff of Cache County, arrested Skeen in late June after the rustler had stolen several horses. Betraying "the Polity ruling the land where they stay," Ricks shot Skeen five times as the prisoner allegedly attempted to escape from the Cache jail. DeWitt heard the shots and ran to the scene in time to see Skeen die. [329]

Page 335, also cited by Quinn, describes the prosecution of Ricks as "overzealous," a detail which Quinn likewise requires the reader to learn through checking the original source:

In March 1875 Thomas E. Ricks came to trial in Salt Lake City for the shooting death of Elisha David Skeen in 1860. As one of the primary witnesses for the overzealous prosecution, Aaron DeWitt put his life in jeopardy by testifying against Ricks, who lived near DeWitt in Logan. Despite evidence that suggested Ricks's guilt, on March 23, 1875, the jury decided for his innocence, and by March 28 Ricks had returned to Logan and continued unquestioned in his duties as a member of the High Priests Quorum. DeWitt also returned to Logan and soon after claimed that the local Mormon leaders had threatened his life.

DeWitt's inconsistency

Despite DeWitt's claim to be at risk from the Mormons, he was not afraid to publicly oppose the Church and its policies even before the murder trial:

By 1872 DeWitt obviously believed he had given enough of his money and spirit to the LDS religion, felt ready to "live and live upright," and signed a petition against statehood for Utah, a petition that the Deseret News printed. With this his apostasy became open, and the following year DeWitt lent the use of his home and bakery (by now abandoned) which only six years previously he had lent to the Cache Stake quorum—to St. John's Episcopal Church, recently formed in Logan by Bishop Daniel S. Tuttle. [334]

And, despite DeWitt's fears, he had legal protection:

Despite DeWitt's suspicions of Mormon treachery, by 1874 his situation as a non-Mormon began to improve considerably. The Poland Act "transferred to federal officials the duties of the territorial attorney general and marshall; and gave federal judges considerable leeway in the selection of jurors. . . ." Congress had begun to fear the power that the Mormons had consolidated in Utah, and the passage of the Poland Act in response to that concern directly affected the life of Aaron DeWitt. Historian A. J. Simmonds wrote, "In practice [the Poland Act] meant that every potential jury would be chosen from a list that was one-half Gentile or Apostate and one-half Mormon. And on July 23, 1874, Aaron DeWitt was chosen as a Federal venireman in the first jury selection under the Poland Act."23 The gentile community of Cache suddenly found it had political power, power that continued to grow until 1896 and statehood

DeWitt remained in Cache Valley, and ran for election against a Mormon candidate in 1888. He was defeated, but it seems implausible that if the Mormon "Danites" wanted him dead, he would be able to live unmolested from 1872-1888. DeWitt alleges his danger and the risk to his life--yet, he lived for at least 16 years as a known apostate in Cache Valley without suffering harm. He reported no attempts on his life known to him, merely hearsay from "an account" (in Quinn's terminology) who claimed that "the council decided to take his life, and appointed a time, but one of them proved traitor and went and told him, so he was on his guard and thus saved his life" [335]. What Quinn does not tell us is that this report was from Reorganized Church (RLDS) Apostle W. H. Kelley, who certainly had reasons to portray the LDS in a negative light.[1] Kelley also reported that DeWitt carried a revolver "to defend himself against his neighbors." However, the trial had been the following winter--it seems strange that a council able and willing to plot the murder of a man would be stymied by its victim simply being "on his guard" or carrying a revolver (which can hardly have been unusual in that time and place).

Why did DeWitt himself not give such an account in his journal, or before the courts once greater federal power was exerted in Utah? He wrote his sister and included all sorts of claims about Mormon abuses (e.g., the Mountain Meadows Massacre), but everything is second hand. He is a witness to none of it, and if ever there was a time to tell of his own brush with Mormon vigilante justice, this was it. He claimed that "if you did not behave and act the hypocrite, the bishop would send the Danites to use you up and send you across lots to that bright brimstone home we read about." And yet, despite his open disaffection, no bishop or Danites came for Aaron DeWitt.

DeWitt's whole claim (and that of the critics who use him to attack the Church) rests on an insistence that the Church controlled everything in Utah, and could break the law with impunity. How did he manage, simply by being vigilant, to elude such a powerful group for so long--even while a visible and vocal apostate? His continued existence with no first-hand account of a threat to his life is a powerful argument against his claim.

Even a hostile historian grants that most of DeWitt's claims are false

A.J. Simmonds is a historian hostile to the Church. But, as even he notes of DeWitt's letter to his sister:

The bulk of Dewitt's letter is the standard 19th Century Gentile charge against the Mormons— largely dismissed in light of later scholarship—and Dewitt's repetition of the horrors of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the murder of the Morrisites lend nothing to the historical record except (and it is a major exception) that a pioneer settler of Logan believed them and was moved by them, could accept those stories as basically true and act upon that acceptance—that those stories did not contain any incident that contradicted anything that in the ten years of pioneers between 1857 and 1867 he had learned of LDS Society, of individual Mormons, and of what they were capable either collectively or individually in "defense" of their faith. (emphasis added)

Simmonds (who participated in counter-cultist Ed Decker's Saints Alive Capstone Conference, and published in his anti-Mormon journal) is obviously straining to keep DeWitt's value for anti-Mormon polemic by arguing that these claims were found by DeWitt to be potentially "basically true" and "not contain[ing] any incident that contradicted anything that...he had learned of LDS society." But, Simmonds has already granted that most of these claims were false. Thus, DeWitt's credulity tells us something, but it tells us far more about DeWitt and the process of apostasy than it does the 19th century Mormon frontier.

DeWitt was anxious to condemn the Mormons, and yet he could add essentially nothing new--despite his "familiarity" with the Mormons and Mormon culture, he could add no first-hand account of new atrocities, or even second-hand ones. He had to rely on the same tired accounts that pepper 19th-century anti-Mormon propaganda—which even Simmonds has granted are largely without foundation.

Simmonds ignores that a rational assessment of such charges and claims against a former religious group is unlikely once one has become a confirmed apostate. Simmonds ignores that it was likely DeWitt's hostility to his former co-religionists that made these claims seem true, not their inherent plausibility or consistency with the evidence. DeWitt was also struggling (as apostates in all religious traditions do) to justify himself and his behavior to himself and his sister—he had to explain why he had joined the Church, why he had stayed for so long even though it was a deception, and why he had remained silent or inactive if all the horrors he reported of his former faith were true. His is a classic apostate exit narrative.[2]

Simmonds himself, in his zeal to condemn the Church, likewise falls victim to the same shoddy reasoning.



Response to claim: 227-228 - Broughton D. Harris, Lemuel G. Brandebury and Justice Perry Brocchus and other federal officials fled Utah because they feared for their lives

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Broughton D. Harris, Lemuel G. Brandebury and Justice Perry Brocchus and other federal officials fled Utah because they feared for their lives.

Author's sources: *David L. Bigler, Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847-1896, 57-58.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

This is false.



Question: Did federal officials flee Utah because they feared for their lives?

There is no evidence that the first federal appointees were threatened or at risk of their lives

Some, despite disagreeing with the Mormons and their administration, did not flee Utah, and suffered no consequences as a result. The St. Louis Republican criticized those who had left as having abandoned their posts, and noted that the judges' report did not suggest that any laws had been broken:

It will, at the first reading, strike everyone that the defense of these returning officers is fatally insufficient in the outset, in this: there is no overt act or crime charged or alleged to have been committed. The judges of the United States court go there, are well received, and from the time of their arrival to their coming away, no attempt is alleged to have been made, to infringe upon their jurisdiction, or refuse obedience to their decisions. On the contrary, as far as the statements go, there seems to have been a disposition to submit to their decisions, as in the case of the secretary and the funds in his hands (italics in original).[3]

Critics of Mormonism rely on the early testimony of some of the first federal officials appointed to Utah territory, and accept their testimony uncritically, despite the fact that virtually all historians' opinions are against the conclusion drawn.

Identifying the actors

  • Lemuel H. Brandebury - federal judge and territorial court chief justice
  • Perry Brocchus - federal judge and member of territorial supreme court
  • Broughton D. Harris - territorial secretary, had "$24,000 of territorial funds, as well as the seal and records of Utah."[4]

Secondary players

  • Henry R. Day - territorial Indian subagent
  • B. D. Harris - secretary of state
  • Jacob H. Holeman - territorial Indian agent

Things with the new federal appointees began badly

Young's relationship with the non-Mormon officials was damaged from the start when he began a census and called for an election of legislators before the arrival of the non-Mormon officials. Since the Secretary of State was supposed to supervise the census-taking and certify the validity of the election, Young appeared to have acted precipitously.

However, the non-Mormon territorial officials were slow in arriving. Chief Justice Brandebury arrived on 7 June 1851, and Secretary Harris, with Indian agents Stephen B. Rose and Henry R. Day, reached Salt Lake on 19 July, accompanied by Mormon representatives Almon W. Babbitt and John M. Bernhisel. Unwilling to wait for Secretary Harris's arrival, Young instructed his assistants to begin taking the census on 14 March 1851. He felt this was necessary in order to establish legislative and judicial districts and was anxious that an election be held so that territorial representatives could travel to Washington before inclement weather developed. Although the first Monday in August had been designated as election day, Young suggested that the election be held in May in Iron County while he was visiting there. He recommended that Bernhisel be named territorial representative, which recommendation was followed.[5]

Judge Brocchus was also disappointed in his desire to become territorial representative, and was upset to learn that John M. Bernhisel had already been elected.[6]

Historians have not been kind to these first federal appointees

Historian Howard Lamar described Brandebury and Brocchus as "political hacks" and concluded, "Had Fillmore searched the length and breadth of the land he scarcely could have found men less suited to deal with the Saints than the two non-Mormon judges" (Larson 1971, 8 n. 18). Brocchus, the last of the officials to arrive in Utah, arrived on 17 August 1851. In early September he was invited to speak at a general conference of the church. He showed a severe lack of tact by chastising the congregation for their religious beliefs and practices for nearly two hours, until in reaction the congregation became disorderly.[7]

Hubert Howe Bancroft wrote:

The authorities were kindly received by the saints; and had they been men of ability and discretion, content to discharge their duty without interfering with the social and religious peculiarities of the people, all would have been well; but such was not their character or policy. Judge Brocchus especially was a vain and ambitious man, full of self-importance, fond of intrigue, corrupt, revengeful, hypocritical.[8]

Judge Brocchus' speech

After Judge Brocchus' two-hour harangue of the Mormons, during which he attacked their beliefs and insisted that they should appeal to state governments for redress (though they had already done so for Missouri and Illinois and failed), Brigham Young replied:

Judge Brocchus is either profoundly ignorant, or willfully wicked, one of the two. There are several gentlemen on this platform who would be glad to prove the statements referred to in relation to him, as much more, if I would let them have the stand. His speech is designed to have political bearing. If I permit discussion to arise here, there may be either pulling of hair or a cutting of throats. It is well known to every man in this community, and has become a matter of history throughout the enlightened world, that the government of the United States looked on the scenes of robbing, driving, and murdering of this people and said nothing about the matter, but by silence gave sanction to the lawless proceedings. Hundreds of women and children have been laid in the tomb prematurely in [p.212] consequence thereof, and their blood cries to the Father for vengeance against those who have caused or consented to their death....I love the government and the Constitution of the United States, but I do not love the damned rascals who administer the government.

I know [U.S. President] Zachary Taylor, he is dead and damned, and I cannot help it. I am indignant at such corrupt fellows as Judge Brocchus coming here to lecture us on morality and virtue. I could buy a thousand of such men and put them into a bandbox. Ladies and gentlemen, here we learn principle and good manners. it is an insult to this congregation to throw out such insinuations. I say it is an insult, and I will say no more.

After some reflection, a mellowed Young sent the judge a conciliatory letter suggesting an exchange of apologies...:

Dear Sir, —Ever wishing to promote the peace, love, and harmony of the people, and to cultivate the spirit of charity and benevolence to all, and especially towards strangers, I propose, and respectfully invite your honour, to meet our public assembly at the Bowery, on Sunday evening next, at 10 A.M., and address the same people from the stand that you addressed on the 8th inst., at our General Conference; and if your honour shall then and there explain, satisfy, or apologize to the satisfaction of the ladies who heard your address on the 8th, so that those feelings of kindness which you so dearly prized in your address can be reciprocated by them, I shall esteem it a duty and a pleasure to make every apology and satisfaction for my observation which you as a gentleman can claim or desire at my hands.

Should your honour please to accept of this kind and benevolent invitation, please answer by the bearer, that public notice may be given, and widely extended, that the house may be full. And believe me, sir, most sincerely and respectfully, your friend and servant,...

P.S.—Be assured that no gentleman will be permitted to make any reply to your address on that occasion.

Brocchus refused the invitation, asserting that his speech "in all its parts were the result of deliberation and care" and that he did not feel he had said "anything deserving the censure of a justminded person."[9]

The federal officials leave Utah

Soon thereafter, many of the appointees would leave the state, including Brandebury, Brocchus, Harris, and Day:

Brocchus decided to vacate the territory but before leaving told the governor [Brigham Young] that he wanted to "bury the hatchet, shake hands and forget the past." He also asked Young to apologize to those whom he might have offended. Young announced the apology in a meeting the following day, 28 September, and two days later informed Brocchus by letter that his apology would be accepted if he agreed to control his tongue and cease to vilify "those who must everlastingly be your superiors."[10]

Said Brigham later:

The expression, "Old Zechariah Taylor is dead and in hell, and I am glad of it," which the returning officers, in their Report, alleged was said by me, I do not know that I ever thought of, until I heard Brocchus himself mention it on the stand in the Old Bowery. When he made the statement there, I simply bore testimony to the truth of it. But until then, I do not know that it ever came into my mind whether Taylor was in hell or not, any more than it did that any other wicked man was there. I suppose he is where all the ignorant wicked are gone, and where they will continue to go.[11]

Inconsistencies in the stories

Brandebury, Brocchus, Harris, and Day would leave Utah, and later claim that they left because of "the lawless and seditious conduct of the inhabitants of Utah, and Day said specifically that he could 'no longer take the abuse that was being given to the United States and its officials by the Mormons.'"[12]

However, Holeman remained, and while he "complained of the Mormons taking Indian lands [and] also accused Young of using his office and government funds to further Mormon colonization," he seems to have been in no fear for his life.[13]

Brigham Young's office journal would also report on August 18, 1860 of a member's visit to the east:

Bro[ther] G. Cannon observed that many persons of distinction whom he had seen were favorable to mormonism. he had seen Brandebury who was when here associated with Brochus and Harris, he believed Brandebury repented of the course he had taken when in Utah.

There would be no reason for Cannon to lie; the journal was not for public consumption or public-relations purposes. Why would Brandebury have something of a 'change of heart,' if his life had been threatened while in Utah?

The appointees' report that the Mormons were seditious and threatening their lives certainly affected attitudes in the east

But, the new president (Millard Fillmore) did not seem to accept that the appointees were being entirely truthful, and worked with Utah's territorial representative to find appointees that would better interface with the Mormons.[14]

Note on secondary source: Bigler

Some critics of Mormonism rely frequently on Bigler's Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847—1896 (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1998).

Bigler's work has a prevalent anti-Mormon bias and presentist approach. As one reviewer noted:

Bigler claims that previous historians, presumably LDS ones, have been "too close to the events [of Utah history] to treat them without bias" (p. 16). If this is the case, Bigler does not correct bias so much as invert it....Forgotten Kingdom's assertions apply a seemingly inequitable bias or go contrary to established understandings of well-scrutinized historical patterns. In every instance, Bigler's interpretive choices paint an unfavorable portrait of Latter-day Saints.

Forgotten Kingdom seems to display a problematic interpretive bias in the opposing ways in which it interprets specific similar historical events. In cases where Mormon actions might seem questionable, the worst possible interpretations are often given and Mormons are condemned. In cases where the actions of federal officials might seem questionable, the best possible motives are often assumed and Bigler provides friendly justification.[15]

Also see use of Bigler with similar misrepresentation in:


Response to claim: 228, 559n16-18 - David H. Burr reported that "Mr. Troskolowski," had been "assaulted and severely beaten by three men under the direction of one Hickman, a noted member of the so-called Danite Band"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

David H. Burr reported that "Mr. Troskolowski," had been "assaulted and severely beaten by three men under the direction of one Hickman, a noted member of the so-called 'Danite Band.'" Was the beating order by LDS leaders because Troskolowski was attempting to ensure that twelve-year-old Emma Wheat escaped a planned marriage to a polygamist?

Author's sources: *David H. Burr, letter to Thomas A. Hendricks, General Land Office, August 30, 1856, located in the annual land reports of the General Land Office for 1856 and 1857; cf. Nels Anderson, Desert Saints: The Mormon Frontier in Utah, 149.
  • Hirshon, 127

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author here references Hirshon's book, which received the 1970 Mormon History Association award for "worst book." [16]



Response to claim: 231 - The author claims that the "Mormon reformation" a period of subjugation and brutal acts of violence designed to purge the Church

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that the "Mormon reformation" a period of subjugation and brutal acts of violence designed to purge the Church.

Author's sources: No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The "Mormon Reformation" was a reform or spiritual rejuvenation movement that began among the Utah Saints in the mid-1850s. Ironically, noted one historian, "[m]ore has been written about its excesses (real and imaginary) than about what actually happened. Stenhouse's anonymous chapter on the Reformation and Blood Atonement was typical. Even church historian B. H. Roberts devoted twice as much space in discussing blood atonement in connection with the reform movement than he did to the Reformation itself."[17]



Response to claim: 232, 559n32 - Who were Brigham Young's "Destroying Angels"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Who were Brigham Young's "Destroying Angels"? Were Porter Rockwell and 'Wild' Bill Hickman the most notorious of these "Destroying Angels?"

Author's sources: *Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Brigham Young and Wild Bill Hickman," Salt Lake City Messenger (#77), February 1991.
  • Hope A. Hilton, "Wild Bill" Hickman and the Mormon Frontier, 65, 113.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The cited pages of Hilton's work only describes Hickman as a military leader during the Utah War receiving instruction from Brigham, and a letter he wrote to Brigham denying an accusation. It says nothing about being one of "Brigham's enforcers." The author's only other source is Jerald and Sandra Tanner. They rely heavily on Hickman's Brigham's Destroying Angel.


Response to claim: 233, n36-39 - Brigham taught "blood atonement"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Brigham taught "blood atonement."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Brigham taught it, but it was not put into practice.



Question: What is "blood atonement"?

If a person thereafter commits a grievous sin such as the shedding of innocent blood, only by voluntarily submitting to whatever penalty the Lord may require can that person benefit from the Atonement of Christ

From the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:

The doctrines of the Church affirm that the Atonement wrought by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is efficacious for the sins of all who believe, repent, are baptized by one having authority, and receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. However, if a person thereafter commits a grievous sin such as the shedding of innocent blood, the Savior's sacrifice alone will not absolve the person of the consequences of the sin. Only by voluntarily submitting to whatever penalty the Lord may require can that person benefit from the Atonement of Christ.

Several early Church leaders, most notably Brigham Young, taught that in a complete theocracy the Lord could require the voluntary shedding of a murderer's blood-presumably by capital punishment-as part of the process of Atonement for such grievous sin. This was referred to as "blood Atonement." Since such a theocracy has not been operative in modern times, the practical effect of the idea was its use as a rhetorical device to heighten the awareness of Latter-day Saints of the seriousness of murder and other major sins. This view is not a doctrine of the Church and has never been practiced by the Church at any time.

Early anti-Mormon writers charged that under Brigham Young the Church practiced "blood Atonement," by which they meant Church-instigated violence directed at dissenters, enemies, and strangers. This claim distorted the whole idea of blood atonement-which was based on voluntary submission by an offender-into a supposed justification of involuntary punishment. Occasional isolated acts of violence that occurred in areas where Latter-day Saints lived were typical of that period in the history of the American West, but they were not instances of Church-sanctioned blood Atonement.[18]

Reports of "blood atonement" having occurred were exaggerated and sensationalized

As one historian noted,

That the doctrine [of blood atonement] was preached by high officials is a matter of record; the intent of the sermons became a matter of conjecture; and the results therefrom set vivid imaginations working overtime. Blood fairly flowed through the writing of such men as Beadle in Life in Utah or the Mysteries of Mormonism and Polygamy, in Linn's The Story of Mormonism, and even Stenhouse's anonymous chapter on Reformation and Blood Atonement in his Rocky Mountain Saints. Numerous killings, including the Mountain Meadows massacre, were credited as the fruits of the doctrine....

Omitted from quotations used by the anti-Mormons were restraining clauses such as follow from Brigham Young:

. . . The time has been in Israel under the law of God that if a man was found guilty of adultery, he must have his blood shed, and that is near at hand. But now I say, in the name of the Lord, that if this people will sin no more, but faithfully live their religion, their sins will be forgiven them without taking life.

The wickedness and ignorance of the nations forbid this principle's being in full force, but the time will come when the law of God will be in full force.

The doctrine of blood atonement which involved concern for the salvation of those to be subjected to it, could have little meaning in the [p.62] Mountain Meadows massacre, or any other of the murders laid unproved on the Mormon threshold (emphasis added).[19]

There is evidence that some crimes were considered worthy of death, even in the apostolic age among Christians

Despite the critics' claims, there is evidence that some crimes were considered worthy of death, even in the apostolic age among Christians:

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him....[Chapter 5] If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not" (1 John 3:15; 1 John 5:16-18) (italics added).


Charles Penrose (1912): "Do you believe in "blood-atonement"?

Charles W. Penrose, Improvement Era (September 1912):

Question 9: Do you believe in "blood-atonement," or in other words, do you accept and believe in the principles taught in Brigham Young's sermon of 8th of February, 1857, Journal of Discourses, volume 4, pages 219, 220?

Answer: We believe in "blood atonement" by the sacrifice of the Savior, also that which is declared in Genesis 9:6. A capital sin committed by a man who has entered into the everlasting covenant merits capital punishment, which is the only atonement he can offer. But the penalty must be executed by an officer legally appointed under the law of the land.[20]


Question: Did early Mormon leaders teach that apostasy was the unforgivable sin, and that the only thing an apostate could do to redeem himself was to give his own life, willingly or unwillingly?

Accusations are unsupported which seek to establish these as activities promoted, condoned, or concealed by the Church or its leaders

While one is no doubt able to dig up examples of blood being shed by those of the LDS faith, accusations are unsupported which seek to establish these as activities promoted, condoned, or concealed by the LDS church or its leaders generally.[21]

As Gustave O.Larson noted in the Utah Historical Quarterly:

Denials of murder charges which rode in on the backwash of the Reformation gradually resolved into defensible positions that (1) some known killings of the reform period resulted from motives not related to blood atonement, (2) that in spite of extreme statements by some of its leaders the church did not officially condone taking life other than through legal processes, (3) responsibility for any reversions to primitive practices of blood shedding must rest upon fanatical individuals. The whole experience continued in memory as a reminder of ill effects growing out of good causes carried to extremes.[22]

The Deseret News reported the following on June 17, 2010, reporting the Church's recent statement on the subject of Blood Atonement:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released this statement Wednesday:

In the mid-19th century, when rhetorical, emotional oratory was common, some church members and leaders used strong language that included notions of people making restitution for their sins by giving up their own lives.

However, so-called "blood atonement," by which individuals would be required to shed their own blood to pay for their sins, is not a doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe in and teach the infinite and all-encompassing atonement of Jesus Christ, which makes forgiveness of sin and salvation possible for all people.[23]


Question: Were apostates secretly put to death by "blood atonement" during the administration of Brigham Young?

Despite a number of rhetorical statements in the late 1850s, there is no evidence that anyone was "blood atoned" at the orders of Brigham Young

Brigham Young spoke of a doctrine called "blood atonement." Despite a number of rhetorical statements by LDS leaders in the late 1850s, there is no evidence that anyone was "blood atoned" at the orders of Brigham Young or any other general authority. Contemporary claims for such actions uniformly come from anti-Mormon books and newspapers with lurid titles such as The Destroying Angels of Mormondom[24]and Abominations of Mormonism Exposed.[25]

The First Presidency issued an official declaration on the matter of killing apostates, as a form of blood atonement, in 1889. This declaration reads, in part:

Notwithstanding all the stories told about the killing of apostates, no case of this kind has ever occurred, and of course has never been established against the Church we represent. Hundreds of seceders from the Church have continuously resided and now live in this territory, many of whom have amassed considerable wealth, though bitterly opposed to the Mormon faith and people. Even those who made it their business to fabricate the vilest falsehoods, and to render them plausible by culling isolated passages from old sermons without the explanatory context, and have suffered no opportunity to escape them of vilifying and blackening the characters of the people, have remained among those whom they have thus persistently calumniated until the present day, without receiving the slightest personal injury.

We denounce as entirely untrue the allegation which has been made, that our Church favors or believes in the killing of persons who leave the Church or apostatize from its doctrines. We would view a punishment of this character for such an act with the utmost horror; it is abhorrent to us and is in direct opposition to the fundamental principles of our creed.[26]


Response to claim: 233, 560n37 - Did Brigham use the term "cutting off" from the earth as a "euphemism for killing"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Brigham use the term "cutting off" from the earth as a "euphemism for killing"?

Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:53.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Brigham's rhetoric was certainly charged, but his intent seems to have been to awaken people to a sense of their sinfulness, and to impress upon them the need for continued obedience and rededication to God, as well as the seriousness of repeated violations of their covenant relationship.

Question: When Brigham Young talked of "cutting off" from the earth, was he using a euphemism for killing?

Brigham's rhetoric was certainly charged, but his intent seems to have been to awaken people to a sense of their sinfulness

One critic of Mormonism claims that Brigham Young "confirmed that the term 'cutting off' from the earth had been previously used, and would continue to be used, as a euphemism for killing." [27] He cites Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:53. to support his claim.

Brigham's rhetoric was certainly charged, but his intent seems to have been to awaken people to a sense of their sinfulness, and to impress upon them the need for continued obedience and rededication to God, as well as the seriousness of repeated violations of their covenant relationship. While one cannot rule out the possibility that misguided fanatics (or those determined to justify murder for selfish reasons) used the rhetoric of blood atonement as justification for violent acts, this does not seem to have been the leaders' intent. Despite this, nineteenth-century anti-Mormon polemic loved invoking the idea of blood atonement to paint the Mormons as bloodthirsty fanatics.

Church leaders were attempting to stir people to repentance and reformation from spiritual sin during this period of time

This address, commonly cited in discussions of blood atonement was given during the so-called Mormon Reformation. Church leaders were attempting to stir people to repentance and reformation from spiritual sin and lassitude. Brigham's remarks, in context, read:

Will you spend your lives to obtain a seat in the kingdom of God, or will you lie down and sleep, and go down to hell?

I want all the people to say what they will do, and I know that God wishes all His servants, all His faithful sons and daughters, the men and the women that inhabit this city, to repent of their wickedness, or we will cut them off.

Thus, Brigham describes unrepentant sinners that will be "cut...off."

He continues:

I could give you a logical reason for all the transgressions in this world, for all that are committed in this probationary state, and especially for those committed by men.

There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas, if such is not the case, they will stick to them and remain upon them in the spirit world.

I know, when you hear my brethren telling about cutting people off from the earth, that you consider it is strong doctrine; but it is to save them, not to destroy them.

Brigham now describes being "cut off from the earth"

The critic wishes us to conclude that this means that the Saints (or the Church leaders) will be the ones to "cut off" such people, because of Brigham's previous line about how "we will cut them off." Yet, his next line further contextualizes this idea:

Of all the children of Israel that started to pass through the wilderness, none inherited the land which had been promised, except Caleb and Joshua, and what was the reason? It was because of their rebellion and wickedness; and because the Lord had promised Abraham that he would save his seed.

They had to travel to and fro to every point of the compass, and were wasted away, because God was determined to save their spirits. But they could not enter into His rest in the flesh, because of their transgressions, consequently He destroyed them in the wilderness.

Brigham presents examples of those have been thus "cut off from the earth," such as the children of Israel after they left Egypt

Brigham presents examples of those have been thus "cut off from the earth"—the children of Israel who wandered for forty years in the desert (Numbers 14:1-39). Yet, these sinners were not killed by the fellow Israelites or by God—they were simply "wasted away...[and] destroyed in the wilderness"—they were not permitted to enter into the promised land, or the Lord's rest.

Brigham continues:

I do know that there are sins committed, of such a nature that if the people did understand the doctrine of salvation, they would tremble because of their situation. And furthermore, I know that there are transgressors, who, if they knew themselves, and the only condition upon which they can obtain forgiveness, would beg of their brethren to shed their blood, that the smoke thereof might ascend to God as an offering to appease the wrath that is kindled against them, and that the law might have its course. I will say further; I have had men come to me and offer their lives to atone for their sins.

It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit. As it was in ancient days, so it is in our day; and though the principles are taught publicly from this stand, still the people do not understand them; yet the law is precisely the same. There are sins that can be atoned for by an offering upon an altar, as in ancient days; and there are sins that the blood of a lamb, of a calf, or of turtle doves, cannot remit, but they must be atoned for by the blood of the man. That is the reason why men talk to you as they do from this stand; they understand the doctrine and throw out a few words about it. You have been taught that doctrine, but you do not understand it.

Brigham's emphasis is again upon those who would voluntarily choose to submit to loss of life as an expression of contrition

Brigham's emphasis is again upon those who would voluntarily choose to submit to loss of life as an expression of contrition or remorse for grave sins which they have committed, especially those in severe and repeated violation of covenants made with spiritual knowledge (such as the children of Israel, who had seen many miracles, repeatedly lapsed back into sin and been forgiven, only to again distrust the Lord).


Response to claim: 234, 560n43 - Did Jedediah Grant create a list of "highly intrusive" questions so that he could probe members' personal lives?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Jedediah Grant create a list of "highly intrusive" questions so that he could probe members' personal lives?

Author's sources: Diary of John Moon Clements, under November 4, 1856, as quoted in Gene A. Sessions, Mormon Thunder: A Documentary History of Jedediah Morgan Grant, 220-221.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The "highly intrusive" list of questions is listed in the endnote, and sounds very much like a temple recommend interview today.

Many are analogous to modern temple recommend questions:

  1. Have you shed innocent blood or assented thereto?
  2. Have you committed adultery?
  3. Have you betrayed your brother?
  4. Have you borne false witness against your neighbor?
  5. Do you get drunk?
  6. Have you stolen?
  7. Have you lied? (This was expanded to include questions "made specific as to the use of fields, animals, lost property, strays, irrigation water, and to borrowing and branding"—see below.)
  8. Have you contracted debts without prospect of paying?
  9. Have you labored faithfully for your wages?
  10. Have you coveted that which belongs to another?
  11. Have you taken the name of the Lord in vain?
  12. Do you preside in your family as a servant of God?
  13. Have you paid your tithing in all things?
  14. Do you teach your family the gospel of Salvation?
  15. Do you speak against your brethren or against any principle taught us in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Book of Doctrine & Covenants, revelations given through Joseph Smith the prophet and the Presidency of the Church as now organized?
  16. Do you wash your body and have your family do so as often as health and cleanliness require and circumstances permit?
  17. Do you labor six days and rest or go to the house of the Worship on the seventh?
  18. Do you and your family attend ward meetings?
  19. Do you oppress the hireling in his wages? [28]

Expanded questions in conjunction with #7 above:

  1. Have you cut hay where you had no right to, or turned your animals into another person's grain or field, without his knowledge and consent?
  2. Have you branded an animal that you did not know to be your own?
  3. Have you taken another's horse or mule from the range and rode it without the owner's consent?
  4. Have you fulfilled your promise in paying your debts, or run into debt without prospect of paying?
  5. Have you taken water to irrigate with, when it belonged to another person at the time you used it? [29]

Those who administered the questions were cautioned:

In answer to the above questions, let all men and women confess to persons they have injured and make restitution, or satisfaction. And when catechizing the people, the Bishops, Teachers Missionaries and other officers in the Church are not at liberty to pry into sins that are between a person and his or her God, but let such persons confess to the proper authority, that the adversary may not have an opportunity to take advantage of human weakness and thereby destroy souls. [30]





Response to claim: 234-235, 560n45-46 - Did Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball encourage murder out of "love" in order to save people's souls?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball encourage murder out of "love" in order to save people's souls?

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is nonsense.



Question: Did Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball encourage members to kill apostates in an attempt to save their souls?

Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young did not encourage members to kill apostates, much less to do it "out of love"

The critical book One Nation Under Gods states that Brigham Young "encouraged faithful Saints to murder, out of 'love,' all unfaithful Mormons so their souls might be saved." Heber C. Kimball said "[T]his people will never, no never, prosper to a high degree until we make a public example of—what? Men, who have been warned and forewarned....[W]e will take them and slay them before this people. I am talking of those that will persist in this course of iniquity, and not about those who will repent and forsake their sins....They are worthy of death, and they will get it....If God forgives you, I will; but there will be a public example made of such characters, and the time is just at our doors." (paperback edition) [31]

However, when the quotes are seen in their complete context, the critics' claims collapse. They are situated during the Mormon Reformation.

Brigham emphasizes that the sinner must voluntarily submit to this penalty if it were to be applied: This is not a call for mayhem or murder

Brigham Young said:

We talk about the reformation, but recollect that you have only just commenced to walk in the way of life and salvation. You have just commenced in the career to obtain eternal life, which is that which you desire, therefore you have no time to spend only in that path. It is straight and narrow, simple and easy, and is an Almighty path, if you will keep in it. But if you wander off into swamps, or into brambles, and get into darkness, you will find it hard to get back....

And I will say that the time will come, and is now nigh at hand, when those who profess our faith, if they are guilty of what some of this people are guilty of, will find the axe laid at the root of the tree, and they will be hewn down. What has been must be again, for the Lord is coming to restore all things. The time has been in Israel under the law of God, the celestial law, or that which pertains to the celestial law, for it is one of the laws of that kingdom where our Father dwells, that if a man was found guilty of adultery, he must have his blood shed, and that is near at hand. But now I say, in the name of the Lord, that if this people will sin no more, but faithfully live their religion, their sins will be forgiven them without taking life.

...Now take a person in this congregation who has knowledge with regard to being saved in the kingdom of our God and our Father, and being exalted, one who knows and understands the principles of eternal life, and sees the beauty and excellency of the eternities before him compared with the vain and foolish things of the world, and suppose that he is overtaken in a gross fault, that he has committed a sin that he knows will deprive him of that exaltation which he desires, and that he cannot attain to it without the shedding of his blood, and also knows that by having his blood shed he will atone for that sin, and be saved and exalted with the Gods, is there a man or woman in this house but what would say, "shed my blood that I may be saved and exalted with the Gods?"[32]

As always with his discussion of blood atonement, Brigham emphasizes that the sinner must voluntarily submit to this penalty. This is not a call for mayhem or murder. And the context is that it is a FUTURE circumstance.

Note that the principle is not said to be "in full force" when Brigham spoke

All mankind love themselves, and let these principles be known by an individual, and he would be glad to have his blood shed. That would be loving themselves, even unto an eternal exaltation. Will you love your brothers or sisters likewise, when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shed[d]ing of their blood? Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood?

Now take the wicked, and I can refer to where the Lord had to slay every soul of the Israelites that went out of Egypt, except Caleb and Joshua. He slew them by the hands of their enemies, by the plague, and by the sword, why? Because He loved them, and promised Abraham that He would save them....

I could refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain, in order to atone for their sins. I have seen scores and hundreds of people for whom there would have been a chance (in the last resurrection there will be) if their lives had been taken and their blood spilled on the ground as a smoking incense to the Almighty, but who are now angels to the devil, until our elder brother Jesus Christ raises them up—conquers death, hell, and the grave. I have known a great many men who have left this Church for whom there is no chance whatever for exaltation, but if their blood had been spilled, it would have been better for them. The wickedness and ignorance of the nations forbid this principle's being in full force, but the time will come when the law of God will be in full force.

This is loving our neighbour as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it.[33]

Note that the principle is not said to be "in full force" when Brigham spoke. Thus, he cannot be advocating blood atonement in the present.

Heber is speaking of unrepentant adulterers. He, like Brigham, says the time is "near by," "just at our doors," but it is not now

The quote used in the hardback edition of One Nation Under Gods:

I feel the Lord designs the thing should move along and no blood be shed, because I do not consider God is so anxious that we should be bloodthirsty men as some may be. God designs we should be pure men, holding the oracles of God in holy and pure vessels; but when it is necessary that blood should be shed, we should be as ready to do that as to eat an apple. That is my religion, and I feel that our platter is pretty near clean of some things, and we calculate to keep it clean from this time henceforth and forever, and, as the Scripture reads, "Lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet." We shall do that thing, and we shall commence in the mountains. We shall clean the platter of all such scoundrels; and if men and women will not live their religion, but take a course to pervert the hearts of the righteous, we will "lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet," and we will let you know that the earth can swallow you up, as it did Korah with his host; and as brother Taylor says, you may dig your graves, and we will slay you, and you may crawl into them.[34]

I do not mean you, if you are not here. I mean those corrupt scoundrels. Well, this is just as brother Brigham has said here hundreds of times.

The quote used in the paperback edition of One Nation Under Gods:

I do think it is outrageous to unwisely expose so much filth as some of our Elders and Missionaries do. If a man is asleep and has besmeared himself, do not expose him, unless the necessity of the case requires it. I feel a good, wholesome spirit and a fatherly spirit to you, brethren; you know I do. But I want my brethren to take a course, if they find their brethren lying under blankets besmeared, not to pull the blankets off from them before they first get water and wash them; save them if you can. You hear us talk about it a great deal, and probably many do not believe one word we say, but this people will never, no never, prosper to a high degree until we make a public example of—what? Men, who have been warned and forewarned, but who will associate with the wicked and take a course to commit whoredom, and will strive to lead our daughters and our wives into the society of poor, wicked curses, with a view to gratify their cursed passions; we will take them and slay them before this people. I am talking of those that will persist in this course of iniquity, and not about those who will repent and forsake their sins. Are there men in our midst who will court other men's wives? Yes, and will take them right to the ungodly for them to seduce, and they will take our daughters and do the same. What are such men worthy of? They are worthy of death, and they will get it. That time is near by, and God has spoken from the heavens, and when certain things are about right, we shall make a public example of those characters. Do you see me? Do you see this Bible and Book of Mormon? If there were ten thousand of those books, I could raise them all to heaven, saying, it is as true as the contents of those books. Do you believe me, brethren? [Yes.] There is no doubt of it. But do all believe me? No. If God forgives you, I will; but there will be a public example made of such characters, and the time is just at our doors. Can we stop this iniquity, until that is done? No, no more than we can stop some from stealing. There is some stealing right in the midst of your reform, brethren.[35]

Heber is speaking of unrepentant adulterers. He, like Brigham, says the time is "near by," "just at our doors," but it is not now. Again, he cannot be advocating the present implementation of blood atonement, or the execution of adulterers who refuse to repent.

This is strong language, but Heber is encouraging people to repent now. He acknowledges that one cannot wipe out all vice and sin until the truly hardened and unrepentant are removed from society—no more than stealing can be avoided.

Heber does not want a public witchhunt, or obsession with vice. Rather, he wishes people to teach sinners privately, and "repent" and "forsake" their sins

What, then, does he want them to do now?

Don't you think it is a better course to take the gentlemen privately and talk over matters, and then take the ladies privately and instruct them, and not open the budget of the filth of their husbands before the wives, nor that of the wives before their husbands? Such filthy characters seem to be the most sanctimonious, the most holy and gracious. I wish you could know one thing, that is, that we know you and can see right through you. I wish all those kind of men and women would get away to the back side of the congregation, and not stick themselves right under my nose. And if we make a party they stick themselves there also, and want to be the head, back, and everything else. If they would take a proper course, they would never intrude upon decent society, until they had repented of and forsaken their abominations....

Heber does not want a public witchhunt, or obsession with vice. Rather, he wishes people to teach sinners privately, and "repent" and "forsake" their sins. There is no call for vengeance, extra-judicial murder, or blood atonement.

Heber calls for restraint and moderation

Heber reads passages from the Book of Mormon about the seriousness of sexual sin, and then says:

You who are tampering with the sin of adultery are sealing your damnation. Some are sitting right before me, with their locks as white as a sheet, who have tampered in these things. What have they done? They have done more hurt, more injury, and thrown more obstructions in the way of the work of God than they ever can restore. They have an atonement to make, there is a debt against them. Why? Because justice will require the debt to be paid. It is for you to arouse yourselves from these things and pay all you can, that there may not be much against you when the accounts are settled up. Bishops go to now and take the course I have suggested; take a course not to expose and ruin men, but let their private sins be privately acknowledged to the Bishop, and he has authority to report them to head quarters: then there can be a way of disposal—why? because God our Father has made a way. There is no situation or circumstance that ever a man was or will be in, but what there is a law touching his case.

Be cautious of your wild fire; I have touched on that, and I want the Bishops to be cautious about it, and not to be overbearing and hard on the people, nor require them to fast three days in the week, and keep them under the big sledge hammer continually. It will not answer. You should pour in a little wine and oil, and the good things of the kingdom of God, and that will temper the iron so that it will yield to the hammer....

Do right, and let the Bishops and Missionaries understand their duty, and they may be the means of palliating your sins and making you comfortable for life. There are women in this congregation who have, probably, been seduced by Elders, by High Priests and men in authority....

Brethren, don't you think the course you would take with a flock of sheep is better for this people, than it is to keep all the time hitting them on the head? It is well enough to hit a rap now and then, that is, to rap some of the old bucks and does that always want to stick their noses first in the salt. In accordance with my eccentric discourse, don't you see that I have not thrown out salt on the floor or on the grass to be wasted? I have given one sheep out there a lap, and another one there, returning to the centre, and don't you feel just as comfortable now as before you got the salt, and a little more so? That is the way to lead the people along, and do not gag them. You may take custard pie and cram it down a person's throat until it makes him vomit; doubtless some of you have crammed your little children until they have vomited the food you gave them.

Heber counsels moderation, private reconciliation of sinners, and avoiding trying to force people to change. He, like many prophets before him, however, also warns that unrepentant sin will eventually bring grave consequences. But, there is no call for his audience or others to implement those consequences.


Response to claim: 235, 560n47 - The author states that Heber C. Kimball claimed that the apostles killed Judas

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author states that Heber C. Kimball claimed that the apostles killed Judas.

Author's sources: *Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 6:125-126.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Heber did not claim the apostles carried out the killing. Heber's message is not about murder or the early apostles killing people—it is about the natural consequences of serious sin, and the need to keep covenants made with God, not with other mortals.

Question: Did Heber C. Kimball claim that the apostles killed Judas?

Heber did not claim the apostles carried out the killing, saying instead that he was "trodden under foot of men"

Heber did not claim the apostles carried out the killing, saying instead (all emphasis added to original):

Jesus said to his disciples, "Ye are the salt of the earth; and if the salt loses its saving principle, it is then good for nothing but to be cast out." Instead of reading it just as it is, almost all of you read it just as it is not. Jesus meant to say," If you have lost the saving principles, you Twelve Apostles, and you that believe in my servants the Twelve, you shall be like unto the salt that has lost its saving principles: it is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men." Judas lost that saving principle, and they took him and killed him. It is said page 126 in the Bible that his bowels gushed out; but they actually kicked him until his bowels came out.

The reference to the apostles is preparatory material; it introduces to whom Jesus said if they lost their savor, they would be "trodden under foot of men." Judas is described as being trampled, but the "they" referred to is not the apostles, but the "men," he will be trodden by; i.e., a generic group or mass of others.

Heber then continues:

I will suffer my bowels to be taken out before I will forfeit the covenant I have made with Him and my brethren." Do you understand me? Judas was like salt that had lost its saving principles—good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. It is just so with you men and women, if you do not honour your callings and cultivate the principles you have received. It is so with you, ye Elders of Israel, when you forfeit your covenants. Brethren and sisters, as the Lord liveth, and as we live and exist in these mountains, let me tell you the world is ripe, and there are no saving principles within them, with a very few exceptions; and they will gather out, and the rest of mankind are ready for destruction, for they will have no salt to save them. I know the day is right at hand when men will forfeit their Priesthood and turn against us and against the covenants they have made, and they will be destroyed as Judas was.

This is not a threat that Heber's bowels will "be taken out," but simply a vivid metaphor for describing the consequences of failing to keep his covenants, which he then extends to the entire congregation. What does Heber fear will be the cause and consequence of this covenant breaking?

Ye Elders, Apostles, Seventies, High Priests, Bishops, Priests, Teachers, and Deacons, never be guilty of that which you have been guilty of once before. If it were not for your ignorance, you would have been cut off from the earth; but, in consequence of your ignorance, I feel as though God would forgive you, if you will never do it again. But if you do it again, your time for repentance is past, and you do not again get pardon.

I do feel bad to think that men will enter into the new and everlasting covenant of our God, and then defile themselves with uncleanness. Is there a woman in this city that could have committed the sin of debauchery, if there had been no person to debauch her? No. Who is guilty? The man, who should have the saving principles of God Almighty in him; and he is the man who must pay the debt.

Again: If the woman would never consent, the man could not accomplish his vile purpose. You have been taught different all the day long. You have been taught, from your mother's womb that these things are wrong. Would the Devil have power to make you tell a lie, if you did not yield to him? No. When you consent to it, the Devil then has seduced you, debauched you, just as much as a man goes to work and debauches a woman after she has consented to him. We are agents to refuse or to accept. Who is the most to blame? The man holding the Priesthood of God.

Heber fears that if they again commit sexual sins, they will be unable to be forgiven, since they will have twice broken their covenants. This is taught in the Doctrine and Covenants:

23 And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.

24 Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out.

25 But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive;

26 But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out. (DC 42:23-26)

Heber's message is not about murder or the early apostles killing people—it is about the natural consequences of serious sin, and the need to keep covenants made with God, not with other mortals

Heber concludes:

I talk about these things because I am led so to do. They may be considered small things, but they are the things that destroy this people—that is, all that will be destroyed. You can lose your saving principles as much as salt or sugar can. Sugar can be placed in a state that it will become sour—have no sweetness about it; and bread will become sour through the power of leaven put into it; and if the leaven was not sour, it could not sour the bread. When sugar becomes sour, it has lost the saving principles of sugar, just the same as salt. Be cautious that you do not receive filthy leaven. Stop your tattling, your lying, and mischief-making....

I want you to understand that you make covenants with God, and not with us. We were present and committed those covenants to you, and you made them with God, and we were witnesses. When you got your endowments, did you not make a covenant not to speak against the anointed? And every woman that received this ordinance made a covenant with her husband that she would be true and faithful to him, be a guardian angel to him, and watch over his pillow by night and by day, and be true to her God and to the anointed.


Response to claim: 235, 560-561n50 - Did 19th century Utah have a long list of crimes that were worthy of death?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did 19th century Utah have a long list of crimes that were worthy of death?

Author's sources: The author includes a long list of crimes that "called for death." This list is from the Tanners, although the Tanners are not credited for the entire list: They are cited once under the "Intermarriage" entry.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The list of crimes alleged to be "worthy of death" is inflated.



Brigham Young (1866): "There is also a man down the street who tried to exhibit the endowments to a party who was here. You will see what becomes of that man. Do not touch him."

Brigham Young,

There is also a man down the street who tried to exhibit the endowments to a party who was here. You will see what becomes of that man. Do not touch him. He has forfeited every right and title to eternal life; but let him alone, and you will see by and by what will become of him. His heart will ache, and so will the heart of every apostate that fights against Zion; they will destroy themselves. It is a mistaken idea that God destroys people, or that the Saints wish to destroy them. It is not so. The seeds of sin which are in them are sufficient to accomplish their destruction.[36]


Question: Did the concept of "blood atonement" include a long list of crimes that were considered "worthy of death"?

The historical record shows that in reality people were not being killed for committing the crimes listed by the critics

Critics have created a long list of crimes for which they claim the 19th century church required death through blood atonement. The critics conflate blood atonement with capital punishment in order to promote the idea that the 19th century church was willing to kill anyone who disobeyed the law.

There is no doubt that Brigham Young had strong words for those who committed crimes. One should note, however, that although Brigham had very distinct (and rather harsh) opinions on what should be done, he always deferred to God's opinion. The historical record shows that in reality people were not being killed for committing the crimes listed by the critics. Critics wish to conflate the concept of "blood atonement" with a variety of comments mined from various sources in order to portray the 19th century church as a bloodthirsty, violent organization.

Blood atonement: what is it?

Main article: Blood atonement

Blood atonement is a concept taught by Brigham Young and several other early Church leaders. It states that:

1. There are certain sins of apostasy that may not be covered by Christ's atonement. Such apostasy would involve church members who had already been endowed and made covenants in the temple.

2. That a person willing to repent of such sins might need to be 'willing allow their own blood to be shed to do so.

Critics expand "blood atonement" to include a list of unrelated crimes

Critics of the Church like to mine statements from early church leaders to make it appear that "blood atonement" was being applied to others for a variety of crimes against their will. The following table lists the crimes that the some claim were "worthy of death," and the sources that they use to support this assertion.

Crime that some claim was "worthy of death" Critics' use of sources
Murder History of the Church, 5:296. Volume 5 link; Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 136. Mormon Doctrine, [1st ed.] 1958, p.314
Adultery and immorality JD 3:247. .wiki; JD 7:20. .wiki; JD 6:38. .wiki; JD 7:19. .wiki; JD 1:97. .wiki
Stealing Times and Seasons, vol. 4, pp.183-84; History of the Church 7:597; JD 1:108-9. .wiki; JD 1:73. .wiki
Using the name of the Lord in vain Journal of Hosea Stout, vol. 2, p.71; p.56 of the typed copy at Utah State Historical Society
Not receiving the Gospel JD 3:226. .wiki
Marrying an African JD 10:110. .wiki; Wilford Woodruff's Journal, January 16,1852; Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1973, p.26
Lying "Manuscript History of Brigham Young," December 20, 1846
Counterfeiting "Manuscript History of Brigham Young," February 24,1847
Condemning Joseph Smith Quest for Empire—The Political Kingdom of God and the Council of Fifty in Mormon History, p.127; Daily journal of Abraham H. Cannon, December 6, 1889, pp.205-6


Question: Was murder a crime that was "worthy of death" among 19th century Mormons?

The allegation that murder was a crime worthy of death is based upon a quote from Joseph Smith during a Nauvoo City Council meeting

Joseph Smith said,

In debate, George A. Smith said imprisonment was better than hanging. I replied, I was opposed to hanging, even if a man kill another, I will shoot him, or cut off his head, spill his blood on the ground, and let the smoke thereof ascend up to God; and if ever I have the privilege of making a law on that subject, I will have it so.[37]

The quote above shows that Joseph preferred certain other modes of execution to hanging

It is apparent that Joseph Smith had an opinion regarding what should be done with a man who kills another. The quote above shows that Joseph preferred certain other modes of execution to hanging. However, this statement says little regarding the crimes for which this punishment would be applied, other than the statement "even if a man kill another."

The idea that murderers ought to be executed for their crimes is certainly not new or unique to Joseph Smith's time. Even today there is an ongoing and vigorous debate regarding the merits of capital punishment. The question here is whether or not this issue relates to blood atonement. Recall that the concept of "blood atonement" required that an apostate be willing to sacrifice his own life. This does not seem to relate to Joseph Smith's expressed preference regarding forms of execution.

It appears to have been Bruce R. McConkie who connected the form of execution with blood atonement

In his first edition of Mormon Doctrine, which was later recalled, Elder McConkie stated:

As a mode of capital punishment, hanging or execution on a gallows does not comply with the law of blood atonement, for the blood is not shed.[38]

Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

...the founders of Utah incorporated in the laws of the Territory provisions for the capital punishment of those who wilfully shed the blood of their fellow men. This law, which is now the law of the State, granted unto the condemned murderer the privilege of choosing for himself whether he die by hanging, or whether he be shot and thus have his blood shed in harmony with the law of God; and thus atone, so far as it is in his power to atone, for the death of his victim. Almost without exception the condemned party chooses the latter death.[39]

The Tanners conclude that "[a]s long as the Mormon church teaches the doctrine of blood atonement there is probably little chance of Utah using a gas chamber or electric chair for the condemned murderer." Utah, however, replaced hanging with lethal injection in 1980. This provided two choices to the condemned: firing squad or lethal injection. If the condemned failed to make a choice, lethal injection was to be employed.[40]


Question: Were adultery and immorality crimes that were "worthy of death" among 19th century Mormons?

This assumption is based upon a well-known "javelin" quote from Brigham Young

Among the various references used to "prove" that adultery is "punishable by death," the critics employ a well known quote from Brigham Young. Here is the quote as the Tanners present it:

Let me suppose a case. Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case; and under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands....

There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it ... (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p.247).

As is always the case with the Tanners' work, it is always a good idea to fill in the parts that they omit in order to find out what Brigham was actually talking about. Here is the same quote with the parts mined by the Tanners highlighted.

A few of the men and women who go into the house of the Lord, and receive their endowments, and in the most sacred manner make covenants before the Almighty, go and violate those covenants. Do I have compassion on them? Yes, I do have mercy on them, for there is something in their organization which they do not understand; and there are but few in this congregation who do understand it.

You say, "That man ought to die for transgressing the law of God." Let me suppose a case. Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case; and under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands. But you who trifle with your covenants, be careful lest in judging you will be judged.

Every man and women has got to have clean hands and a pure heart, to execute judgment, else they had better let the matter alone.

Again, suppose the parties are, not caught in their iniquity, and it passes along unnoticed, shall I have compassion on them? Yes, I will have compassion on them, for transgressions of the nature already named, or for those of any other description. If the Lord so order it that they are not caught in the act of their iniquity, it is pretty good proof that He is willing for them to live; and I say let them live and suffer in the flesh for their sins, for they will have it to do.

There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it; and the judgments of the Almighty will come, sooner or later, and every man and woman will have to atone for breaking their covenants.

It is clear that the point of Brigham's story is not to claim that adultery was "punishable by death"

There are a few things that are important to note.

  1. Brigham is talking about the breaking of covenants. The adultery example was used to illustrate a point.
  2. Brigham was talking about having compassion for those people.
  3. Brigham's reference to the use of a javelin was taken directly from Numbers 25:6-9.

And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand. (Numbers 25:6-9)

It is clear that the point of Brigham's story is not to claim that adultery was "punishable by death." Brigham was relating a modern, literal interpretation of the Old Testament account of Phineas.[41]


Question: Was stealing a crime that was "worthy of death" among 19th century Mormons?

The critics who claim that stealing was a crime worthy of death are misrepresenting the words of Brigham Young. This is the way critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner present the quote. Note the portions of the quote that have been omitted:

If you want to know what to do with a thief that you may find stealing, I say kill him on the spot, and never suffer him to commit another iniquity... if I caught a man stealing on my premises I should be very apt to send him straight home, and that is what I wish every man to do.... this appears hard, and throws a cold chill over our revered traditions ... but I have trained myself to measure things by the line of justice.... If you will cause all those whom you know to be thieves, to be placed in a line before the mouth of one of our largest cannon, well loaded with chain shot, I will prove by my works whether I can mete out justice to such persons, or not. I would consider it just as much my duty to do that, as to baptize a man for the remission of his sins (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, pp.108-9).

Looking at the first part of that quote, with some of the missing parts restored, and the Tanners' quote mining highlighted:

If you want to know what to do with a thief that you may find stealing, I say kill him on the spot, and never suffer him to commit another iniquity. That is what I expect I shall do, though never, in the days of my life, have I hurt a man with the palm of my hand. I never have hurt any person any other way except with this unruly member, my tongue. Notwithstanding this, if I caught a man stealing on my premises I should be very apt to send him straight home, and that is what I wish every man to do, to put a stop to that abominable practice in the midst of this people.

I know this appears hard, and throws a cold chill over our revered traditions received by early education. I had a great many such feelings to contend with myself, and was as much of a sectarian in my notions as any other man, and as mild, perhaps, in my natural disposition, but I have trained myself to measure things by the line of justice, to estimate them by the rule of equity and truth, and not by the false tradition of the fathers, or the sympathies of the natural mind. If you will cause all those whom you know to be thieves, to be placed in a line before the mouth of one of our largest cannon, well loaded with chain shot, I will prove by my works whether I can mete out justice to such persons, or not. I would consider it just as much my duty to do that, as to baptize a man for the remission of his sins. That is a short discourse on thieves, I acknowledge, but I tell you the truth as it is in my heart.[42]

Notice how Brigham's statement that he has never harmed a man except with his tongue is carefully excised from the quote by the critics

Also notice that there is no mention of blood atonement, apostasy, or a willingness to give one's life to atone for some grievous sin. Brigham is simply expressing his disgust with thievery.

Brigham's remark was made in 1853—the Saints were in the midst of a serious struggle for subsistence in the Salt Lake Valley. Famine was often a real threat in these years. Those who thieved from their neighbors under such conditions put others' well-being and even lives at risk. If livestock were stolen, for example, this reduced a man's ability to plow his fields or do other animal-powered work. Such theft also took food and dairy animals from poverty-stricken settlers. Supplies, machinery, hardware, tools, or other items imported at great effort from the east could not be easily replaced in the Territory, even had the Saints had the money to do so.

The frontier was also known for lawless behavior among some, far from military or police power. Under these conditions, thievery could well result in the suffering and death of victims and others in their communities—hence Brigham's determination to stamp it out.


Question: Was using the name of the Lord in vain a crime that was "worthy of death" among 19th century Mormons?

Brigham is claimed to have said that "the penalty will be affixed and immediately be executed on the spot," but he does not state what the penalty is

Critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner use a second hand quote to "prove" that Brigham Young considered taking the name of the Lord in vain to be worthy of death:

In the journal of Hosea Stout, Brigham Young is recorded as saying: "... I tell you the time is coming when that man uses the name of the Lord is used the penalty will be affixed and immediately be executed on the spot ..." (Journal of Hosea Stout, vol. 2, p.71; p.56 of the typed copy at Utah State Historical Society).

As with any Tanner quote, it is best to see the quote in full context before proceeding further:

If ever we live to see the kingdom of God set up we shall see the judgment poured out upon that man who seeks to overthrow the kingdom, for righteousness shall be put to line. I [Brigham Young] would also caution you against using the name of God in vain; it has been used too much and will be with us; like the ancients of old, they forbade them the frequent use of the same. For I tell you, the time is coming when that man [who] uses the name of the Lord [and] is used, the penalty will be affixed and immediately be executed on the spot. Why should we use it in our private and public conversation--the ancients have given us an example of reverencing they had for the name of the deity by calling the priesthood not after God, but after Melchizedek. It must be held sacred, nor must it be the common practice from this time and hencefor. If we do not purify ourselves we shall be devoured by our enemies. Even if we are gathered into the wilderness He will there destroy them either by famine or by Indians, who will be brought upon us and thereby destroyed.[43]

Notice that Brigham says "the penalty will be affixed and immediately be executed on the spot." Brigham does not state what the penalty is. He is not saying that the person who takes the Lord's name is vain will be "executed on the spot," although that is what the Tanners apparently hope to achieve with this quote.

Brigham's actual words: "Some who do take his name in vain may be called gentleman, but it is a mistake, they are not gentlemen"

It is interesting that the Tanner's had to dig into secondary sources to make their point. There are plenty of primary sources in which Brigham's own words on the subject of "taking the Lord's name in vain" were recorded:

No gentleman takes the name of the Deity in vain. Some who do take his name in vain may be called gentleman, but it is a mistake, they are not gentlemen. A gentleman carries himself respectfully before the inhabitants of the earth at all times, in all places and under all circumstances, and his life is worthy of imitation.[44]


Question: Was "not receiving the Gospel" a crime that was "worthy of death" among 19th century Mormons?

The critics of the Church would like us to believe that Brigham was literally talking about killing those who were opposed to the Gospel

The Tanners use the following quote from Brigham Young to conclude that those who do not receive the gospel should be killed:

The time is coming when justice will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet; when we shall ask, 'Are you for God?' and if you are not heartily on the Lord's side, you will be hewn down.[45]

The critics would like us to believe that Brigham was literally talking about killing those who were opposed to the Gospel. The first thing to note is that the Tanner have removed a phrase from the quote without indicating it's absence. The actual quote says:

The time is coming when justice will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet; when we shall take the old broad sword and ask, "Are you for God?" and if you are not heartily on the Lord's side, you will be hewn down. (emphasis added)

Brigham is clearly not advocating that anyone who does not receive the gospel should be put to death

One wonders why the critics felt they needed to remove the reference to "the old broad sword"—Perhaps it is because this phrase clearly indicated that Brigham was speaking figuratively rather than literally? Consider also, that just prior to the statement shown above, Brigham said:

I would rather that this people should starve to death in the mountains, than to have the Lord Almighty hand us over to a cursed, infernal mob. I would rather go down to the grave in peace than to fight a mob, unless the Lord would give me enough Saints to fight and kill the poor devils; in such case I wish to live and fight them.[46]

Brigham is clearly not advocating that anyone who does not receive the gospel should be put to death.


Question: Did Brigham Young say that race mixing was punishable by death?

Brigham Young said that race mixing was punishable by death

Yes, Brigham Young did makes statements to this effect. One of the most well known is this one from March 8, 1863:

Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. The nations of the earth have transgressed every law that God has given, they have changed the ordinances and broken every covenant made with the fathers, and they are like a hungry man that dreameth that he eateth, and he awaketh and behold he is empty. [47]

It was a complex issues (after all, laws against interracial marriage still existed in a number of states until June of 1967 (Utah was not one of them), when the Supreme Court finally argued that they were unconstitutional - a hundred years after some of Brigham Young's comments). President Young's views were connected to his views on priesthood and sealings, they were affected by his own cultural upbringing, and they were affected by changes that happened in the late 1840s. Among these was the challenge of black men actually marrying white women in the Church, and the stir this caused among certain groups of Church membership. While there were a couple of instances where violence actually happened (and several cases of interracial marriage),

Brigham Young didn't ever actually try to have someone killed for doing this, and this was typical of Young's over the top rhetoric that he used from time to time at the pulpit

Brigham Young didn't ever actually try to have someone killed for doing this, and we assume that some of this (although based in racist attitudes that were prevalent in American society and held by Brigham Young) was typical of Young's over the top rhetoric that he used from time to time at the pulpit for effect.


Question: Was lying a crime that was "worthy of death" among 19th century Mormons?

It is obvious that Brigham had strong words for "the wicked," but this quote has nothing to do with death by "blood atonement"

Jerald and Sandra Tanner propose that lying is "worthy of death" based upon a statement made by Brigham Young. According to the Tanners:

Brigham Young made this statement in 1846: "I ... warned those who lied and stole and followed Israel that they would have their heads cut off, for that was the law of God and it should be executed" ("Manuscript History of Brigham Young," December 20, 1846, typed copy; original in LDS church archives).

The quote in context:

I instructed the Bishops to hold meetings where the Saints might assemble, confess their sins, pray with and for each other, humble themselves before the Lord and commence a reformation that all might exercise themselves in the principles of righteousness; and, if those who had received the Holy Priesthood did not abide their covenants and walk uprightly before the Lord and their brethren, that those who did would be taken away from their midst, and the wicked would be smitten with famine, pestilence and the sword, and would be scattered and perish on the prairies. I said I would prefer traveling over the mountains with the Twelve only than to be accompanied with the wicked and those who continued to commit iniquity; and warned those who lied and stole and followed Israel that they would have their heads cut off, for that was the law of God and it should be executed.

Brigham is talking about thieves and liars, and he is expressing his desire that harsh judgment be brought upon them

It is obvious that Brigham had strong words for "the wicked." Brigham Young himself once said on March 2, 1856:

I will tell you what this people need, with regard to preaching; you need, figuratively, to have it rain pitchforks, tines downwards, from this pulpit, Sunday after Sunday. Instead of the smooth, beautiful, sweet, still, silk-velvet-lipped preaching, you should have sermons like peals of thunder, and perhaps we then can get the scales from our eyes. This style is necessary in order to save many of this people.JD 3:22 .wiki

What is not obvious in this quote is what relationship this is supposed to have to "blood atonement." Brigham is not talking about apostates who willingly wish to sacrifice their lives to atone for their sins—He is talking about thieves and liars, and he is expressing his desire that harsh judgment be brought upon them. It is also important to note that, despite the harsh words and rhetoric, the historical evidence shows that people didn't get their throats cut for committing such crimes.


Question: Was counterfeiting a crime that was "worthy of death" among 19th century Mormons?

There is no historical evidence that any such punishment was ever applied to such perpetrators

Critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner use a quote from Brigham Young to imply that the penalty for counterfeiting is death by "blood atonement."

Brigham Young declared: "I swore by the Eternal Gods that if men in our midst would not stop this cursed work of stealing and counterfeiting their throats should be cut"[48]

The quote in context:

Wednesday, 24 -- I met with the brethren of the Twelve. We investigated several orders purporting to be drawn by J. Allen, Lieut. Col., signed by James Pollick; which I requested should be burned. I swore by the Eternal Gods that if men in our midst would not stop this cursed work of stealing and counterfeiting their throats should be cut.

There is no doubt that Brigham had harsh feelings toward those who committed crimes. And again, there is no historical evidence that any such punishment was ever applied to such perpetrators.


Question: Was condemning Joseph Smith a crime that was "worthy of death" among 19th century Mormons?

If everyone who condemned Joseph Smith were "worthy of death," there would have been few critics left

Critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner really have to stretch on this one, since if everyone who condemned Joseph Smith were "worthy of death," there would have been few critics left! This was obviously not the case during the 19th century, and the only support that the critics can gather for such a far-fetched idea is a second-hand quote from Brigham Young and a single entry in Apostle Abraham H. Cannon's journal. Cannon's journal says:

Bro. Joseph F. Smith was traveling some years ago near Carthage when he met a man who said he had just arrived five minutes too late to see the Smiths killed. Instantly a dark cloud seemed to overshadow Bro. Smith and he asked how this man looked upon the deed. Bro. S. was oppressed by a most horrible feeling as he waited for a reply. After a brief pause the man answered, "Just as I have always looked upon it—that it was a d—d cold-blooded murder." The cloud immediately lifted from Bro. Smith and he found that he had his open pocket knife grasped in his hand in his pocket, and he believes that had this man given his approval to that murder of the prophets he would have immediately struck him to the heart.[49]

The only other evidence offered by the Tanners is a second hand quote said to have come from Brigham Young. Norton Jacob claims that Brigham said:

A man may live here with us and worship what God he pleases or none at all, but he must not blaspheme the God of Israel or damn old Jo Smith or his religion, for we will salt him down in the lake.[50]

The Tanners take the story about Joseph F. Smith's emotional reaction to hearing of the death of Joseph and Hyrum, along with an alleged quote from Brigham Young from a second hand source, and ridiculously expand this to mean that "blood atonement" requires death for anyone who condemns Joseph Smith. The evidence for such an assertion by the critics is practically non-existent, and one must assume that they added this for the simple reason that they wanted to make the list of "crimes" that they relate to "blood atonement" more impressive.


Response to claim: 235 - "Blood began to flow profusely in Utah not long after the reformation was launched"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Blood began to flow profusely in Utah not long after the reformation was launched."

Author's sources: No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is absurd nonsense.



Response to claim: 236, n52 - Brigham said: "I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath my bowie knife"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

After "relating a dream wherein he had slit the throats of two men 'from ear to ear' with a bowie knife" Brigham said: "I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath my bowie knife, and conquer or die...Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put on the line, and righteousness to the plummet."

Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:83.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

On p. 238, the author claims apostates were forbidden to leave Utah, yet in this speech Brigham tells violent apostates to leave Utah. Which is it? Was Brigham forcing apostates out with threat of violence, or forbidding apostates from leaving? Brigham has nothing violent to say about those who leave the Church, or say "Damn Mormonism, and all the Mormons," or who want to leave. Those of whom he is wary are those who remain among the Saints, "became violent with" the Saints, and who seek to "run out and bring in all the devils they possibly could." Brigham is announcing that the Saints will no longer tolerate violence and aggression from their enemies.

Response to claim: 236-237, 563n53 (HB) - "every reprobate received the same penalty. As Brigham instructed his flock: 'If any miserable scoundrels come here, cut their throats'"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:


  • "Apostates certainly were viewed as the worst of sinners, although every reprobate received the same penalty. As Brigham instructed his flock: 'If any miserable scoundrels come here, cut their throats.'" (HB)
∗       ∗       ∗
  • "Apostates certainly were viewed as the worst sinners, although every reprobate, risked similar justice. Young once said: "It was asked this morning how we could obtain redress for our wrongs; I will tell you how it could be done, we could take the same law they have taken...and if any miserable scoundrels come here, cut their throats." (PB)

    Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:311..

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Brigham was using hyperbole.



Question: Did Brigham Young advocate that apostates have their throats cut?

Nowhere in this statement of Brigham's is he advocating the cutting of anyone's throat

The book One Nation Under Gods claims that "Apostates certainly were viewed as the worst sinners, although every reprobate, risked similar justice. Young once said: 'It was asked this morning how we could obtain redress for our wrongs; I will tell you how it could be done, we could take the same law they have taken...and if any miserable scoundrels come here, cut their throats.'" [51]

We note that the paperback corrects the erroneous statement that Brigham "instructed" people to "cut their throats." Here is the more complete quote from Brigham's discourse, in context (the portion ONUG quotes is in bold):

It was asked this morning how we could obtain redress for our wrongs; I will tell you how it could be done, we could take the same law they have taken, viz., mobocracy, and if any miserable scoundrels come here, cut their throats. (All the people said, Amen.) This would be rooting out that treatment to wicked men, which they had measured to innocent persons. We could meet them on their own ground, when they will not honor the law, but will kill the Prophets and destroy the innocent. They could drive the innocent from their homes, take their houses and farms, cattle and goods, and destroy men, women, and children, walking over the laws of the United States, trampling them under their feet, and not honoring a single law. Suppose I should follow the example they have shown us, and say, "Latter-day Saints, do ye likewise, and bid defiance to the whole clan of such men?"

So, was Brigham giving instructions? No! When the matter was put before him, regarding what should be done to those who had come and robbed, murdered and destroyed (he had just been asked that morning), Brigham said "here's how we COULD approach it," so to speak. "Suppose I should follow the example they have shown us," he says. "I will tell you how it COULD be done." These were not instructions, by any means. Nowhere in this statement of Brigham's is he advocating the cutting of anyone's throat.


Response to claim: 237, 561n54 (PB) - Did Brigham not care what the U.S. thought about "killing evil doers"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Brigham not care what the U.S. thought about "killing evil doers"?

What do you suppose they would say in old Massachusetts….What would they say in old Connecticut?"" They would raise a universal howl of, 'how wicked the Mormons are; they are killing the evil doers who are among them; why I hear that they kill the wicked away up yonder in Utah.'...What do I care for the wrath of man? No more than I do for the chickens that run in my dooryard.

Author's sources:
  • Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:50.
  • Note the typographical error in the quote "the Mormons" as opposed to "those Mormons" in the original source, indicating that the author's version of the quote may have been copied from a secondary source.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Consider the full title of Brigham's discourse:FAITH—PRACTICAL RELIGION—CHASTISEMENT—NECESSITY OF DEVILS. The "necessity of devils" relates to the subject discussed here.

Brigham actually said:

We must have those amongst us who will steal our fence poles, who will go and steal hay from their neighbor's hay stack, or go into his corn field to steal corn, and leave the fence down; nearly every ax that is dropped in the kanyon must be picked up by them, and the scores of lost watches, gold rings, breast pins, &c., must get into their hands, though they will not wear them in your sight. It is essentially necessary to have such characters here.

After we had given the brethren such a scouring two or three months ago, about returning lost property when found, one or two men brought in two or three rusty nails of no value, which they had picked up; this was tantamount to saying to brother Sprague, "If we had found your purse, or if we had found Brigham's purse, we would see you, in hell before we would return it." We wish to impress upon you the necessity of your bringing the ax you find, the hay fork, or any other lost property which you find, to the person who is appointed to take charge of such property, that the owners may again possess it. But if you should pick up a piece of rotten wood, and bring it to brother Brigham, or Dr. Sprague, with a show of honesty, and in derision of the counsel you have received, it would be like saying, "If we could find or steal your purses, you should never see them again. We are poor, miserable devils, and mean to live here by stealing from the Saints, and you cannot help yourselves."

Live here then, you poor, miserable curses, until the time of retribution, when your heads will have to be severed from your bodies. Just let the Lord Almighty say, "Lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet," and the time of thieves is short in this community. What do you suppose they would say in old Massachusetts, should they hear that the Latter-day Saints had received a revelation or commandment to lay "judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet?" What would they say in old Connecticut? They would raise a universal howl of, "How wicked those Mormons are; they are killing the evil doers who are among them; why I hear that they kill the wicked away up yonder in Utah." They do not kill anybody down there, do they?

As for the inhabitants of the earth, who know anything about the "Mormons," having power to utter worse epithets against us than they do, they have to get more knowledge in order to do it; and as for those enemies who have been in our midst, feeling any worse than they do, they have first to know more; they are as full of bad feeling now as they can hold without bursting. What do I care for the wrath of man? No more than I do for the chickens that run in my dooryard. I am here to teach the ways of the Lord, and lead men to life everlasting, but if they have not a mind to go there, I wish them to keep out of my path.(emphasis added)

Response to claim: 237, 562n55-56 (PB) - The author claims that Brigham Young had a man named Alonzo Bowman killed simply for "innocently asking about LDS beliefs and the facts behind the Saints' troubles"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Brigham Young had a man named Alonzo Bowman killed simply for "innocently asking about LDS beliefs and the facts behind the Saints' troubles"

Author's sources: Quoted in Nelson Winch Green, Mormonism: its rise, progress, and present condition. Embracing the narrative of Mrs. Mary Ettie V. Smith, 273-275.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

There are no primary sources to support this story. Mary Ettie V. Smith's narrative is highly suspect. The man's name is actually Walter Alonzo Clark Bowman



Response to claim: 238, 562n57-59 - The author claims that Orson Hyde ordered Jesse Hartly shot and killed for the crime of "falling in love with, and marrying, a Mormon"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Orson Hyde ordered Jesse Hartly shot and killed for the crime of "falling in love with, and marrying, a Mormon" Mary Ettie V. Smith is not a reliable source.

Author's sources:
  • Quoted in Nelson Winch Green, Mormonism: its rise, progress, and present condition. Embracing the narrative of Mrs. Mary Ettie V. Smith, 309.
  • Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:83.
  • William Hickman, Brigham's Destroying Angel: Being the Life, Confession, and Startling Disclosures of the Notorious Bill Hickman, 97-98.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

It was no crime for a non-Mormon to marry a Mormon. On p. 238, the author claims apostates were forbidden to leave Utah, yet in this speech Brigham tells violent apostates to leave Utah. Which is it? Was Brigham forcing apostates out with threat of violence, or forbidding apostates from leaving?

William "Wild Bill" Hickman would later say that his purported autobiography, Brigham's Destroying Angel, was "a lie from the wild boar story onward." [52] The story occurs on pages 29–30. In any case, the referenced pages say nothing about a murder of anyone, much less 'Jesse Hartly', who a text search does not reveal mentioned anywhere in the book.

In the endnotes, the author quotes Brigham's "bowie knife" comment once again.



Response to claim: 238, 562n60 (PB) - Were William Parrish and his son murdered as they attempted to leave Utah because leaving Utah was "forbidden"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Were William Parrish and his son murdered as they attempted to leave Utah because leaving Utah was "forbidden"?

Author's sources:
  • Bigler, Forgotten Kingdom, 131-132.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

On p. 236, the material referenced by the author tells violent apostates to leave Utah. Which is it? Was Brigham forcing apostates out with threat of violence, or forbidding apostates from leaving?

Question: Were William Parrish and his son murdered as they attempted to leave Utah because leaving Utah was "forbidden"?

No guilty parties were ever found

The Los Angeles Star reported that Indians had supposedly killed Parrish and two others; it noted too that "rumor had it [that Parrish]...'had a difficulty with the authorities about removing property which he had previously 'consecrated' to the church.'" [53] No guilty parties were ever found. [54]

The only "leader" accused was Parrish's bishop. [55] If a local leader did commit an act of murder, this proves nothing about Brigham Young or other general leaders ordering it, or that this is a representative example of how Utah Mormons dealt with apostates.


Response to claim: 239, 563n63-64 - The author asserts that Richard Yates was killed for the sin of "trading with government personnel"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author asserts that Richard Yates was killed for the sin of "trading with government personnel"

Author's sources: *Hickman, 124-125.
  • Stout, in Brooks, vol. 2, 643.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

William "Wild Bill" Hickman would later say that his purported autobiography, Brigham's Destroying Angel, was "a lie from the wild boar story onward." [56] The story occurs on pages 29–30. Aside from its implausibility, then, this reference has been denied by Hickman.



Response to claim: 241, 563n65-66 - Were Henry Jones and his mother murdered by Nathaniel Case, Porter Rockwell and "other church officials"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Were Henry Jones and his mother murdered by Nathaniel Case, Porter Rockwell and "other church officials"?

Author's sources:
  • Stout in Brooks, vol. 2, 653.
  • Nathaniel Case, affidavit of April 9, 1859, sworn before John Cradlebaugh, Judge 2nd Judicial District, Utah, reprinted in The Valley Tan, April 19, 1859. Quoted in Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Blood Atonement: Fact or Fantasy?," Salt Lake City Messenger (#92), April 1997, 13.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Case was the testator; he denied having anything to do with the murder. Stout's journal mentions only that some people had castrated Henry Jones; it says nothing about murder of him or his mother. Jones and his mother were accused of incest; Joseph Hancock was eventually found guilty of second degree murder.

Response to claim: 242-243, n67-71 - Were "innumerable crimes" committed because of the speeches of Brigham Young and other LDS leaders?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Were "innumerable crimes" committed because of the speeches of Brigham Young and other LDS leaders?

Author's sources:
  • Baskin, Reminiscences of Early Utah, 150.
  • Harold Schindler, Orrin Porter Rockwell: Man of God, Son of Thunder, 268-279.
  • Bigler, 309.
  • Hickman, 210.
  • Baskin, 154-155.
  • Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, Chapter X-XVI.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

There is no evidence to support this claim. William "Wild Bill" Hickman would later say that his purported autobiography, Brigham's Destroying Angel, was "a lie from the wild boar story onward." [57] The story occurs on pages 29–30. Aside from its implausibility, then, this reference has been denied by Hickman. Bigler, the author's source distorts and misrepresents LDS history on numerous counts.



Question: Did Brigham Young create a 'culture of violence' in 19th century Utah with his incendiary speeches?

The available evidence shows that beyond a few well-publicized murders, Utah was a relatively murder- and violence-free community

Brigham Young is often accused of creating a 'culture of violence' with his incendiary speeches. That accusation would be hard to prove, given the comments below. He makes reference, in 1866, to a man who exhibited the garments to some non-members. Brigham's suggestions to the audience is interesting:

There is also a man down the street who tried to exhibit the endowments to a party who was here. You will see what becomes of that man. Do not touch him. He has forfeited every right and title to eternal life; but let him alone, and you will see by and by what will become of him. His heart will ache, and so will the heart of every apostate that fights against Zion; they will destroy themselves. It is a mistaken idea that God destroys people, or that the Saints wish to destroy them. It is not so.[58]

This claim is generally based on taking anti-Mormon accounts uncritically, and relying on anecdotal evidence. Winnowed to its kernel," writes historian Thomas Alexander, "Bagley's argument [like Abanes' and most other critics in this vein] rests on the proposition that Mormon Utah was a society of officially sanctioned and publicly practiced violence." But, does the data reflect this? Alexander continues:

Statistics of murders for the nineteenth century are difficult to come by, as I learned with the help of Kathryn Daynes and Craig Foster. The available evidence shows, however, that beyond a few well-publicized murders, we have every right to believe that compared with surrounding territories, Utah was a relatively murder- and violence-free community. Historians regularly cite such murders as the Potter-Parrish homicides of 1857 and the killing of J. King Robinson and S. Newton Brassfield in 1866 as evidence of Utah's violent character. Instead of making generalizations from juicy anecdotes, historians ought to use statistical and comparative methodology to interpret these events.

Although we do not have good statistics on murders for the nineteenth century, we do have statistics on lynchings. Unfortunately, the series begins in 1882 rather than in 1847. Lynching is defined as the taking of life by mob action without legal sanction. It does not include such things as murders committed in robberies or other such violent acts, but it would include murders perpetrated for such reasons as blood atonement. These statistics reveal that during the late nineteenth century Utah was one of the least violent of the American West's nineteen states and territories. With 7 lynchings—one of an African American—between 1882 and 1903, Utah had a better record than all the other jurisdictions except Minnesota (6) and Nevada (5). Montana (85), Colorado (65), New Mexico (34), Arizona (28), and even Iowa (16) exhibited a great deal more violence….

Although we lack a thorough comparative study of murders in Utah and other western areas, the available statistical information contradicts Bagley's [and the other critics'] impression of Utah society. The best evidence we have at this time is that Bagley is wrong when he insists that "what made Utah's violence unique in the West was that it occurred in a settled, well-organized community whose leaders publicly sanctioned doctrines of vengeance and ritual murder." In fact, barring further evidence to the contrary, the best evidence we have at this point is that Utah was one of the least violent jurisdictions in the western United States.[59]

Contemporary observers that were not writing hostile anti-Mormon polemics recognized the truth of this as well

This portrayal goes counter to the accounts of contemporary observers and the understanding of historians who have investigated the matter of crime in nineteenth-century Utah. In fact, if anything distinguished Deseret from elsewhere in the West, it was its reputation for well-established and fair courts (administered by LDS bishops) and a remarkably low level of violence—vigilante, criminal, or otherwise.[60]

Legal historian D. Michael Stewart underscored this when he remarked, "extralegal violence was rare compared to that found in other frontier communities."[61]

Non-member Franklin Buck described the difference between southern Utah and his own town of Pioche, Nevada in 1871:

In Pioche [Nevada] we have two courts, any number of sheriffs and police officers and a jail to force people to do what is right. There is a fight every day and a man killed about every week. About half the town is whisky shops and houses of ill fame. In these Mormon towns there are no courts, no prisons, no saloons, no bad women; but there is a large brick Church and they keep the Sabbath—a fine schoolhouse and all the children go to school. All difficulties between each other are settled by the Elders and the Bishop. Instead of every man trying to hang his neighbor, they all pull together. There is only one store on the co-operative plan and all own shares and it is really wonderful to see what fine towns and the wealth they have in this barren country. It shows what industry and economy will do when all work together....The Devil [i.e., the Mormons] is not as black as he is painted.[62]


Response to claim: 244-245, 566n82 (HB) 564n82 (PB) - Did a prohibition of selling supplies to the Fancher party lead to the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did a prohibition of selling supplies to the Fancher party lead to the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Author's sources: On August 2, 1857, just one month before the massacre, Brigham Young wrote to [sic] a letter to church leaders telling them to make sure that no one sold as much as "one kernal" of food to the Saints "enemies" (Brigham Young letter to Bronson and Haight, August 2, 1857, MS 1234 LDSCA). (hardback and paperback)
∗       ∗       ∗
  • Will Bagley, Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, 111, 115. (added in paperback)
  • Eugene E. Campbell, Establishing Zion, 250, 317. (added in paperback)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

There were much more complex reasons for not selling supplies to wagon trains that were passing through.

Question: Did Brigham Young issue orders that no food or grain should be sold to "Gentiles" that were passing through Utah?

The full context of the letter from Brigham is totally and utterly lost in an effort to cast Brigham in the worst light possible

The critical book One Nation Under Gods mentions "Brigham's prohibition on trading with Gentiles." The author states that "on August 2, 1857, Young wrote a letter telling church leaders to make sure no one sold as much as 'one kernal' of grain to their enemies. The author cites "Brigham Young letter to Bronson and Haight, August 2, 1857, MS 1234 LDSCA." [63]

In attempting to identify reasons for conflict between Utah Mormons and non-Mormon emigrants and travelers, the author uses a letter from Brigham Young out of context and insert words into the text that don't exist. All this, without even having a complete copy of the text of the letter the he used as documentation. The author has twisted and contorted this letter to serve the purpose of placing Brigham in the light of being a ruthless governor, attempting to starve the "Gentiles," while stocking up on weapons and ammunition. The full context is totally and utterly lost in an effort to cast Brigham in the worst light possible. It is simply misleading to omit the underlying reasons for Brigham's instructions.

The critics' version of the letter from Brigham Young

When asked for a copy of the text of the letter from Young to Bronson, the author provided the following:

Bishop Bronson, Dear Brother,

I wish you to notify all Presiding elders within Millard County to have the Brethren in their district to save all their grain, nor let a kernal [sic] go to waste or be sold to our enemies. And those who persist in selling grain to the gentiles, or suffer their stock to trample it into the earth I wish you to note as such. Let the Bishops get all the grain not necessary for immediate use, into their hands, if possible…. Save your ammunition, keep your Guns and Pistols in order, and prepare yourselves in all things-particularly by living your religion-for that which may hereafter come to pass. Praying that God may add to you his blessing.

I am your Brother in Christ

Copy sent to president I.C. Haight for the Bishops and presiding Elders in and south of Iron County.

The author did not have a copy of the actual letter. He only had an abbreviated and incomplete copy obtained by someone else

Here is the complete letter (The author didn't know the contents of the omitted portion) from the Church Archives (with the omitted portion in ellipsis, above, written in BOLD ALL CAPS, below):

I wish you to notify all Presiding elders within Millard County to have the Brethren in their districts to save all their grain; nor let a kernal [sic] go to waste or be sold to our enemies. And those who persist in selling grain to the gentiles, or suffer their stock to trample it into the earth I wish you to note as such. Let the Bishops get all the grain not necessary for immediate use, into their hands, if possible; AND BY HAVING GOOD STOREAGES, TAKE MEASURES TO PRESERVE IT AS LONG AS MAY BE NECESSARY.

LET EVERY POUND OF WOOL BE USED TO THE BEST ADVANTAGE IN MANUFACTURING COMFORTABLE CLOTHING AS IT MAY HEREAFTER BE HIGHLY IMPORTANT TO US. Save your ammunition, keep your Guns and Pistols in order, and prepare yourselves in all things-particularly by living your religion-for that which may hereafter come to pass. Praying that God may add to you his blessing.

First, the intent of Brigham's orders was not to "starve" the travelers by withholding food. There was absolutely no malice involved, using this source as a reference. The obvious purpose was conservation and having the bishops store all the grain they could and not let "one kernal" go to waste, period. Of course, the reader wouldn't get this from the selective quoting the author uses or without the entire context and the omitted section about storing and preserving it as long as possible.

Second, there is no mention of "food." The author's assertion that food was implied by Brigham, as an item not to sell or trade with the emigrants, has no basis. This letter only mentions grain, which was used for feeding livestock or could be turned into flour for obvious food purposes. It has been pointed out by others that traveling emigrants would have had no use for grain as food. They didn't have mobile wheat grinders. The grain would have only been used for livestock. Had Brigham meant food, he would have included many other food items that were in the possession of the Utah residents. Brigham's deposition in John D. Lee's trial also demonstrates that was exactly what he was talking about.

Counsel and advice were given to the citizens not to sell grain to the emigrants to feed their stock, but to let them have sufficient for themselves if they were out

Was any counsel or instructions given by any person to the citizens of Utah not to sell grain or trade with the emigrant trains passing through Utah at that time? If so, what were those instructions and counsel?

[Brigham Young] Answer -- Yes, counsel and advice were given to the citizens not to sell grain to the emigrants to feed their stock, but to let them have sufficient for themselves if they were out. The simple reason for this was that for several years our crops had been short, and the prospect was at that time that we might have trouble with the United States army, then enroute for this place, and we wanted to preserve the grain for food. The citizens of the Territory were counseled not to feed grain to their own stock. No person was ever punished or called in question for furnishing supplies to the emigrants, within my knowledge." (The Mountain Meadows Massacre by Juanita Brooks, p. 286)

Third, this conservation and preparation effort was not limited to "food" and "weapons" as the author would have his readers believe. In the context of the letter, wool and clothing and storage of grain are also mentioned, giving us a larger picture that malice toward the "Gentiles" was not the intent; preparing for battle with and deprivation of the "Gentiles" was not the purpose. Conservation, preparing for hard times, and the imminent arrival of the Army were the purposes.


Response to claim: 245 - "The emigrants could not have known that two of the sins worthy of blood atonement were condemning Joseph Smith and/or consenting to his death"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "The emigrants could not have known that two of the sins worthy of blood atonement were condemning Joseph Smith and/or consenting to his death."

Author's sources: No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is total nonsense.



Response to claim: 245, 564n86 (PB) - "The prophet...already had decided the fate of the Baker-Fancher party...at a secret meeting in Salt Lake City with several Indian chiefs"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Author's quote: "The prophet...already had decided the fate of the Baker-Fancher party...at a secret meeting in Salt Lake City with several Indian chiefs."

Author's sources: David L. Bigler, Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847–1896 (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1998), 167. (bias and errors) Review

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

There is substantial evidence that Brigham Young did not order the massacre. Bagley (and, following him, the author of ONUG) have distorted the contents of the Huntington diary and ignored other evidence Bigler, the author's source distorts and misrepresents LDS history on numerous counts.

Response to claim: 245, 564n87 - Did Brigham promise the Indians that they could have all the cattle in the Fancher wagon-train "if they would do away with the entire company"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Brigham promise the Indians that they could have all the cattle in the Fancher wagon-train "if they would do away with the entire company"?

Author's sources: *Dimick B. Huntington, "Dimick B. Huntington Journal," under September 1, 1857.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

Brigham offered the natives the approaching army's cattle if they would scatter it.




Response to claim: 251, 565n103 - When Brigham Young visited the Mountain Meadows site in 1860 and saw the monument, did he order it to be demolished?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

When Brigham Young visited the Mountain Meadows site in 1860 and saw the monument, did he order it to be demolished?

Author's sources:
  •  Citation error The Wilford Woodruff journal date should be May 25, 1861.
  • Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 5:577 (journal entry dated (under May 25, 1860)). ISBN 0941214133.; cf. Brooks, Mountain Meadows, 183.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Wilford Woodruff (and John D. Lee) said nothing in his journal about Brigham Young ordering—or desiring— the destruction of the monument. Waite's book reports a rumor, and Leavitt's account is frank to admit that all Brigham did was "raise his arm to the square" (this gesture is used, for example, during LDS baptisms to indicate that the priesthood is being invoked, and a covenant made). Leavitt presumes that Brigham wanted the monument destroyed, but this was his supposition. It is completely unsupported by Woodruff, and it is completely inconsistent with Lorenzo Brown's witness of three years later that the monument was still standing.

Question: Did Brigham Young order that the Mount Meadows monument be destroyed?

Neither Wilford Woodruff, nor John D. Lee said anything in their journals about Brigham Young ordering the destruction of the monument

The critical book One Nation Under Gods claims that when Brigham Young visited the Mountain Meadows Massacre site in 1860 and saw the monument, that he "ordered the monument and cross torn down" and demolished. [64]

If Brigham Young had ordered the monument's destruction, this would be an unfortunate example of the fallibility of mortal prophets. The ability of Lee and others to hide their crimes for a time is not unexpected given LDS doctrine (DC 10:37).

Wilford Woodruff (and John D. Lee) said nothing in his journal about Brigham Young ordering—or desiring— the destruction of the monument. Waite's book reports a rumor, and Leavitt's account is frank to admit that all Brigham did was "raise his arm to the square" (this gesture is used, for example, during LDS baptisms to indicate that the priesthood is being invoked, and a covenant made). Leavitt presumes that Brigham wanted the monument destroyed, but this was his supposition. It is completely unsupported by Woodruff, and it is completely inconsistent with Lorenzo Brown's witness of three years later that the monument was still standing.

The author's claim that Wilford Woodruff's journal supports the destruction of the monument is absolutely unsupportable. It is certainly not a historical certainty that Brigham Young ordered the monument destroyed. The Leavitt account tells us only that some Church members interpreted Brigham's actions in that manner—we thus cannot rule out an intention by Brigham to have the monument destroyed, but historians are less skilled at mind-reading than even Dudley Leavitt would have been.

One Nation Under Gods gets the date and reference to Woodruff's diary wrong—the reference is to 1861, not 1860. But, there are more serious lapses.

Woodruff journal: There is no mention of Brigham Young tearing down the cross or demolishing the monument

The quote from Woodruff's journal reads simply:

25 A vary Cold morning. Much Ice on the Creek. I wore my great Coat & mittens. We visited the Mountain Meadow Monument put up at the burial place of 120 persons killed by Indians in 1857. The pile of stone was about 12 feet high, but begining to tumble down. A wooden Cross was placed on top with the following words: Vengence is mine and I will repay saith the Lord. President Young said it should be Vengence is mine and I have taken a little.

There is no mention of Brigham Young tearing down the cross or demolishing the monument—Woodruff noted that the monument was already "begining [sic] to tumble down," but said nothing about Brigham ordering it torn down.

Brooks: the monument was still standing three years after Brigham's first visit to the monument

The Brooks account is more on point. In favor of the claim that Brigham had something to do with the monument's destruction, Brooks cites:

  1. her grandfather, Dudley Leavitt, to one of his sons, who recorded it: "‘I was with a group of elders that went out with President Young to visit the spot in the spring of ’61. The soldiers had put up a monument, and on top of that a wooden cross with words burned into it, ‘Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, I will repay.’ Brother Brigham read that to himself and studied it for a while and then he read it out loud, ‘Vengeance is mine saith the Lord; I have repaid.’ He didn’t say another word. He didn’t give an order. He just lifted his right arm to the square, 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.’"
  2. Catherine Waite's book (which has a footnote which quotes from General Carlton) states that "this monument is said to have been destroyed the first time Brigham visited that part of the Territory" (Waite, The Mormon Prophet and his Harem, 71).

Brooks also cites the Lorenzo Brown diary from July 1, 1864 wherein he states that he passed by, and saw the monument still standing. This was three years after Brigham's first visit to the monument. It is possible that this was a rebuilt monument, but the description is strikingly similar:

went past the monument that was erected in commemoration of the Massacre that was committed at that place by officers & men of Company M Calafornia volunteers May 27 & 28 1864 It is built of cobble stone at the bottom and about 3 feet high then rounded up with earth & surmounted by a rough wooden cross the whole 6 or 7 feet high & perhaps 10 feet square On one side of the cross is inscribed Mountain Meadow Massacre and over that in smaller letters is vengeance is mine & I will repay saith the Lord. On the other side Done by officers & men of Co. M Cal. Vol. May 27th & 28th 1864 Some one has written below this in pencil. Remember Hauns mill and Carthage Jail….’[65]

Brigham H. Roberts adopted a similar view, writing, "later was destroyed either by some vandal’s hand or the ruthless ravages of time…. The destruction of this inscription is unjustly connected by the judge with President Young’s first visit to southern Utah after it was erected (1861)."[66]

Uncited material: John D. Lee says nothing about demolishing the monument

One Nation Under Gods does not mention the John D. Lee diary, which contains a second-hand account of Brigham Young proceeding "by way of Mountain Meadows." Lee says nothing about demolishing the monument.[67] He was to record Brigham's words as preserved by Woodruff six days later, so he clearly had an interest in the matter. An order for destruction or the actual event of destruction of the monument would arguably have been something he would have recorded had he heard about it.

Regardless of whether the Mormons actually dismantled the monument, later that same year (1861) there was torrential rain and snow that devastated parts of southern Utah and actually changed some of the landscape. If the monument was still standing prior to the heavy storms, it may not have been after the storms. In the following years, the monument was built up and torn down by various groups of people passing through.[68]


Question: What was Brigham Young's attitude toward the Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1861?

it is not known to what extent Brigham Young bought into different versions of the MMM story at different times

It should be kept in mind that it is not known to what extent Brigham Young bought into different versions of the MMM story at different times. The Iron County militia leaders spread a variety of propaganda which ranged from "The Indians did it", to "The Indians made us do it", to the massacred train were part of prior violent mob activity or "They were asking for it", to "They were threatening to bring an army back from California."[69] That sets up the background for an incident that occurred a couple of years later that Alexander covers:

Moreover, as late as 1861, Young still believed the stories of Baker/Fancher crimes which led to the massacre, in spite of his efforts to bring the perpetrators to trial. On visiting the massacre site in May 1861, Woodruff recorded Young's assessment that the plaque Carleton had erected on the mass grave which read: "Vengeance is mine and I will repay saith the Lord:' should read: "Vengence is mine and I (the Lord] have taken a little." Young clearly refused to take responsibility for the massacre. Later, the same month, Young told John D. Lee that the emigrants "Meritd their fate, & the only thing that ever troubled him was the lives of the Women & children, but that under the circumstances [this] could not be avoided."

Juanita Brooks and her co-editor of the John D. Lee diaries find the entry below to be evidence of Brigham Young's complicity in the post massacre cover-up.

Pres. Young Said that the company that was usede up at the Mountain Meadowes were the Fathers, Mothe[rs], Bros., Sisters & connections of those that Muerders the Prophets; they Meritd their fate, & the only thing that ever troubled him was the lives of the Women & children, but that under the circumstances [this] could not be avoided. Although there had been [some?] that wantd to betreyed the Brethrn into the hands of their Enimies, for that thing [they] will be Damned & go down to Hell. I would be Glad to see one of those traitors, though I [don't] Suppose that there is any here now. They have ran away, & when he came to the Monument that contained their Bones, he made this remark, Vengeance is Mine Saith the Lord, & I have taken a little of it.[70]

Brigham was angered that blame for this massacre was being placed on him and the whole church

Since Brigham Young did not know all the details of the massacre at this date, his determination to protect the Church from those who would use the actions of a few—which, because of the lies and half-truths he had been told, he probably believed to have been justified at this point—to attack or prosecute all members in the territory make his decision understandable.

He was angered that blame for this massacre was being placed on him and the whole church. While he did not yet know all of the details, he certainly knew that he and the majority of the Latter-day Saints were innocent. Furthermore, he did not like Carleton as Carleton showed great animosity and contempt toward the Mormons, writing an extremely mean-spirited report about the massacre site. (For more information see: Mountain Meadows: The Aftermath.)


Response to claim: 252, 565n109 (PB) - The author states that John D. Lee's "constant companion throughout his trial" was a Methodist minister, "even though Lee had been taught all his life that Christendom's ministers were satanically-inspired and corrupt"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author states that John D. Lee's "constant companion throughout his trial" was a Methodist minister, "even though Lee had been taught all his life that Christendom's ministers were satanically-inspired and corrupt"

Author's sources: Thelma Geer, Mormonism, Mama and Me, 171.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Mormons do not teach or believe that Christendom's ministers are "satanically-inspired and corrupt." The source cited by the author is an anti-Mormon work published by Thelma "Granny" Geer (second edition in 1980; expanded 4th edition by 1984; 5th edition 1986). Ms. Geer's book cover announces that she has appeared in two films, The Cult Explosion and The God Makers. It is not clear why the author, who clearly has pretensions to writing a 'scholarly' work, would use this type of polemic as a secondary source. Anti-Mormon literature is nothing if not self-referential.



Response to claim: 252, 565n111 (PB) - "To this day Mormons revere Young's destroying angels as well as the Danites"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "To this day Mormons revere Young's destroying angels as well as the Danites."

Author's sources: Quoted in Tony Yapia, "Statue Honors Pioneer Figure Rockwell," Salt Lake Tribune, September 11, 2000.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is an absurd claim.



Notes

  1. Kelley to Joseph Smith, III, letter, 26 June 1875.
  2. See David G. Bromley, "The Social Construction of Contested Exit Roles: Defectors, Whistleblowers, and Apostates," (19-48); Armaund L. Mauss, "Apostasy and the Management of Spoiled Identity," (51-74) in Bromley (editor), The Politics of Religious Apostasy: The Role of Apostates in the Transformation of New Religious Movements (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1998). For example, Bromley notes: "From the perspective of their opponents, Subversive organizations embody quintessential evil and are considered to pose a maximum degree of threat to the established social order. [One sees this clearly in DeWitt's claim that Mormons flaunted the law and could literally get away with murder.]...Because [such groups] are presumed to be so nefarious, the burden of proof in dispute resolution proceedings shifts to the organization [i.e., the Church] whatever the legal formalities....It is the avowed inability of the former member of a Subversive organization to have done otherwise, a claim which is accepted by the oppositional coalition, that distinguishes apostates from traitors....The archetypal account that is negotiated is a 'captivity narrative' in which apostates assert that they were innocently or naively operating in what they had every reason to believe was a normal, secure social site; were subjected to overpowering subversive techniques; endured a period of subjugation during which they experienced tribulation and humiliation; ultimately effected escape or rescue from teh organization; and subsequently renounced their former loyalties....Emphasis on the irresistibility of subversive techniques [and what is more irresistible than being isolated in Utah at risk of Danite murder?] is vital to apostates and their allies as a means of locating responsibility for participation on the organization rather than on the former member."
  3. Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 3:535-537. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  4. Michael W. Homer, "The Judiciary and the Common Law in Utah Territory, 1850-61," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 21 no. 1 (Spring 1998), 98-99.
  5. Eugene E. Campbell, Establishing Zion: The Mormon Church in the American West, 1847-1869 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1998), 210.
  6. Eugene E. Campbell, Establishing Zion: The Mormon Church in the American West, 1847-1869 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1998), 210.
  7. Edwin Brown Firmage and Richard Collin Mangrum, Zion in the Courts : a Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 215. ISBN 0252069803.
  8. Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah (San Francisco, CA: The History Company, Publishers, 1890), 465.
  9. Campbell, 211-12.
  10. Campbell, 213.
  11. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:185.
  12. Campbell, 105.
  13. Campbell, 105.
  14. Campbell, 218-220.
  15. Eric A. Eliason, "Review of: Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847–1896," FARMS Review of Books 12/1 (2000): 95–112. off-site
  16. "WORST BOOK: Stanley P. Hirshon, Lion of the Lord (New York: Knopf, 1969)." - Larry C. Porter (Executive Secretary-Treasurer, MHA), "Mormon History Association Awards," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 no. 3 (Autumn 1983), 127–128. Another reviewer wrote, "At least once a decade, it seems, someone publishes a book about the Latter-day Saints without taking the necessary "trouble" to adequately research the subject. Stanley Hirshon was judged guilty of this offense in 1969 and received from the Mormon History Association its "Worst Book" award for his volume on Brigham Young." – Kenneth H. Godfrey, "Not Trouble Enough, review of Trouble Enough: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon by Ernest H. Taves," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 19 no. 3 (Fall 1986), 139.
  17. Gustave O. Larson, "The Mormon Reformation," Utah Historical Quarterly 26/1 (January 1958): 45–46.
  18. Lowell M. Snow, "Blood atonement," Encyclopedia of Mormonism.
  19. Gustave O. Larson, "The Mormon Reformation," Utah Historical Quarterly 26/1 (January 1958): 60-62.
  20. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  21. Criticisms regarding "blood atonement" are raised in the following publications: Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 232-236 ( Index of claims ); "Achilles" [pen name for Samuel D. Sirrine], The Destroying Angels of Mormondom; or a Sketch of the Life of Orrin Porter Rockwell, the Late Danite Chief; Sally Denton, American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, (Secker & Warburg, 2003), 16. ; Contender Ministries, Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves. Answers; William Hall, The Abominations of Mormonism Exposed (Cincinnati: I. Hart & Co., 1853), ?.; Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised) (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 236. ( Index of claims ); Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 3)
  22. Gustave O. Larson, "The Mormon Reformation," Utah Historical Quarterly 26/1 (January 1958): 62.
  23. See Deseret News Thursday, June 17, 2010
  24. "Achilles" [pen name for Samuel D. Sirrine], The Destroying Angels of Mormondom; or a Sketch of the Life of Orrin Porter Rockwell, the Late Danite Chief, (San Francisco, 1878).
  25. William Hall, The Abominations of Mormonism Exposed (Cincinnati: I. Hart & Co., 1853), {{{pages}}}.
  26. Official Declaration, 12 December 1889, signed by the First Presidency (Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith), the Quorum of the Twelve (Lorenzo Snow, Franklin D. Richards, Brigham Young Jr., Moses Thatcher, Francis M. Lyman, John Henry Smith, George Teasdale, Heber J. Grant, John W. Taylor, M.W. Merrill, A.H. Lund, and Abraham H. Cannon), and counselors (John W. Young and Daniel H. Wells).
  27. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, page 233 (hardback and paperback).
  28. Gustive O. Larson, "The Mormon Reformation," Utah Historical Quarterly 26/1 (January 1958): 53-55.
  29. Glen M. Leonard, A History of Davis County, Utah Centennial County History Series, Allan Kent Powell and Craig Fuller, editors, (Utah State Historical Society, 1999), 65–66.
  30. Larson, 55; citing Andrew L. Neff, History of Utah, 1847-1869, Leland H. Creer, ed. (Salt Lake City, 1940), 550.
  31. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, page 234-235 (hardback and paperback)
  32. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:219-220.
  33. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4:219-220.
  34. Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 6:34-35.
  35. Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 4:173-174.
  36. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:262. (12 August 1866).
  37. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:296. Volume 5 link
  38. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1958, p.314.
  39. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 136.
  40. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IN UTAH, Utah History Encyclopedia
  41. Mike Parker, Did Brigham Young Say that He Would Kill an Adulterous Wife with a Javelin?, FAIR Web Site
  42. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:108-109.
  43. Diary of Hosea Stout (1810 - 1899)
  44. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 17:118.
  45. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:226.
  46. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:224.
  47. Brigham Young, (March 8, 1863.) Journal of Discourses 10:110.
  48. "Manuscript History of Brigham Young," February 24,1847, typed copy.
  49. "Daily journal of Abraham H. Cannon," December 6, 1889, pp.205-6.
  50. Klaus J. Hansen, Quest for Empire—The Political Kingdom of God and the Council of Fifty in Mormon History, (1967), p.127; Hansen in turn quotes Dale Morgan, The Great Salt Lake (New York 1947) p. 202.
  51. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 53, page 563 (hardback); page 561 (paperback).
  52. Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, A Book of Mormons (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1982), 123. See also Hope A. Hilton, "Wild Bill" Hickman and the Mormon Frontier (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1988), 127.
  53. Edward Leo Lyman, San Bernadino: The Rise and Fall of a California Community (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1996), 342–343.
  54. Thomas G. Alexander, "Wilford Woodruff and the Mormon Reformation of 1855-57," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 25 no. 2 (Summer 1992), 27–28.
  55. Lyman, 343 n. 37.
  56. Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, A Book of Mormons (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1982), 123. See also Hope A. Hilton, "Wild Bill" Hickman and the Mormon Frontier (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1988), 127.
  57. Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, A Book of Mormons (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1982), 123. See also Hope A. Hilton, "Wild Bill" Hickman and the Mormon Frontier (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1988), 127.
  58. (1866) Journal of Discourses 11:262. Also in Deseret News 15:315.
  59. Thomas G. Alexander, "Review of Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows," Brigham Young University Studies 31 no. 1 (January 2003), 167–. Citation reads: "James Elbert Cutler, Lynch-Law: "An Investigation into the History of Lynching in the United States," (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969), 180. On the lynching of an African-American, see Craig L. Foster, "Myth vs. Reality in the Burt Murder and Harvey Lynching," manuscript furnished by the author. I am indebted to Foster for sharing other material on lynching as well." Alexander is quoting from Bagley, Blood of the Prophets, 42.
  60. Eric A. Eliason, "Review of: Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847–1896," FARMS Review of Books 12/1 (2000): 95–112. off-site; citing Dale L. Morgan, The State of Deseret (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1987), 7—27.
  61. Eric A. Eliason, "Review of: Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847–1896," FARMS Review of Books 12/1 (2000): 95–112. off-site citing D. Michael Stewart, "The Legal History of Utah," in Utah History Encyclopedia, ed. Alan K. Powell (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1994), 323.
  62. Franklin A. Buck, A Yankee Trader in the Gold Rush: The Letters of Franklin A. Buck, comp. Katherine A. White (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1930), 234–36; cited by W. Paul Reeve and Ardis E. Parshall, "review of Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, by Will Bagley," Mormon Historical Studies (Spring 2003): 156.
  63. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 82, page 566 (hardback)
  64. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 103, page 567 (hardback); page 565 (paperback)
  65. Typescript of the Lorenzo Brown Journals is at Brigham Young University, page 294 of transcript; cited by Turley, Walker and Leonard, Massacre at Mountain Meadows, ?..
  66. {CHC1|vol=4|pages=176, note}}; also cited by Turley, Walker and Leonard, Massacre at Mountain Meadows, [citation needed]..
  67. Robert Glass Cleland and Juanita Brooks, eds., A Mormon Chronicle: The Diaries of John D. Lee 1848-1876, 2 vols. (San Marino, California: The Huntington Library, 1955. Reprinted Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1983), 1:311-312.(dated May 25th [24th, 1861]).
  68. James G. Bleak, Annals of the Southern Utah Mission (25 December 1861 and January-February 1862), 113-114.
  69. This section is derived, with permission, from David Keller, "Thomas Alexander’s Arrington Lecture on the MMM," fairblog (16 January 2008). Due to the nature of a wiki project, it may have had alterations and additions since that time.
  70. Robert Glass Cleland and Juanita Brooks, eds., A Mormon Chronicle: The Diaries of John D. Lee 1848-1876, 2 vols. (San Marino, California: The Huntington Library, 1955. Reprinted Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1983), 1:314.(dated May 25th [24th, 1861]).