Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Chapter 12

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Response to claims made in "Chapter 12: Wars and Rumors of Wars"

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 12: Wars and Rumors of Wars"

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Response to claim: 256 - Was Brigham considered a "king" over the territory?

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

Was Brigham considered a "king" over the territory?

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

It is for the author to demonstrate this assertion. He provides no source. The burden of proof is on him.



Response to claim: 257 - "At the outset of their confrontation with America, the Mormons clearly had an advantage"

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

 Author's quote: "At the outset of their confrontation with America, the Mormons clearly had an advantage."

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 cited quotes say nothing about this at all. It is for the author to demonstrate this assertion. He provides no source. The burden of proof is on him. The Saints, however, had been driven repeatedly from different states. They faced several lean years with poor harvests. They were threatened during the Utah War by 1/6 of the US army. It is not clear in what way the "Mormons clearly had an advantage."



Response to claim: 260, 569 (HB) 567n16 (PB) - Did Brigham Young call for blood atonement in order to punish Washington politicians?

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

Did Brigham Young call for blood atonement in order to punish Washington politicians?

Author's sources:

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 speaks about the choice between being "trodden under foot...and die," or self-defense. He says nothing about blood atonement.

Question: Did Brigham Young call for blood atonement in order to punish Washington politicians?

Brigham speaks about the choice between being "trodden under foot...and die," or self-defense. He says nothing about blood atonement

Two of Brigham's speeches in the Journal of Discourses are cited by critics of the Church as evidence that he called for "blood atonement" upon the heads of Washington politicians. There is, however, no evidence in these discourses to support this claim. It should be remembered that the United States was sending troops to Utah to put down a supposed rebellion. Brigham is announcing that like other Americans before them, they will not let their lives and rights be trampled. But, there is no call for attack or blood atonement, much less any mention of "Washington politicians."

Journal of Discourses Vol. 2

Nothing in the Journal of Discourses from 18 February 1855 speaks of blood atonement. The entire page reads:

A portion of this congregation have been brought up in America, and are more or less acquainted with the Constitution, with the Constitutional rights of the people, with the institutions of the country, with the State governments, laws, &c.; and if they have paid particular attention, and have heard brother Bullock read my written discourse, so that they could understand it, they know whether their minds, feelings, and judgments coincide with mine, upon the views that have just been presented.

For one, I can say they are true; they are the sentiments of this people, so far as they are acquainted with the principles of the government of the United States; though a part of our present community have not been reared under the benign influences of the institutions of our parent government. But as far as they understand, I will venture to say that these are the sentiments of all the Latter-day Saints.

In my conversation, I shall talk and act as I please. Still I am always aware, when speaking in public, that there are those present who are disposed to find fault with this people, and to try to raise a prejudice against them; and they will pick up isolated words and sentences, and put them together to suit themselves, and send forth a garbled version to prejudice the world against us. Such a course I never care anything about; for I have frequently said, spoken words are but wind, and when they are spoken are gone; consequently I take liberties in speaking which I do not allow when I commit my sentiments to writing.

The discourse that has just been read, pointing out the path this people have walked in, is merely a brief summary of our experience, of what we have borne, and of what we believe.

Before the Book of Mormon was printed, and immediately after Joseph Smith obtained the plates, and the revelations he received concerning this record being the record of the Nephites, and of the Lamanites, who are the fathers of the present aborigines of our country, and in which the Lord told him that He was about to set to His hand the second time to gather Israel, the war commenced against him; this was long before the book was printed. I will now tell you all a secret, although it has already been read to you; it is this, Christ and Belial are not friends, they are enemies. We ask where Christ's Church is. My conclusive answer is, if the Latter-day Saints do not constitute the Kingdom of God on the earth, the Church of Jesus Christ, it is no where to be found upon it. It is easily proved by the Scriptures that no other church, professing to believe in the Old and New Testament, bears hardly a resemblance to the ancient true Church in the fulness of the doctrines of the Lord Jesus.

So far as morality goes, in many instances I have no complaints to make. Thousands and millions of people live according to the best light they have, but the Holy Priesthood is not on the earth, unless the Latter-day Saints have it. It is the Priesthood again given to the children of men—shall I say it out? ["Yes."] That raises the devil, and makes all hell angry; and the servants of the devil will run to and fro, and publish his lies about Christ and his Church on the earth. They are not angry with me or with you; and the professors of Christianity, the priests, are not angry with us, but they are filled with wrath and indignation with themselves, and with the Almighty. Why are they angry? Because they are men, and like other men. If a man sees his house about to fall, if he sees something or other continually gnawing, and gnawing, and picking, and operating upon the foundation, and discovers that by and bye his house must fall, perhaps when he is asleep, or when he is gone from home, and destroy his women and children, he is all the time worried, and in a stew; all the time watching with a fearful looking for the time when it will crumble to pieces. This is the difficulty with the professing Christian world. Is it so with the Infidel? No, he does not care anything about the matter; but those sweet, loving, blessed Christians, the priest in the pulpit, and the deacon under it, and the sage followers of their own nonsense and the traditions of their fathers are the ones who are at war with the Eternal Priesthood of God.[1]

Brigham speaks of the world being "at war" against Christ's Church, but says nothing about blood atonement, or any action by the Saints at all. There is no mention of "Washington politicians."

Journal of Discourses Vol. 5

On 7 October 1857, Brigham said the following:

The time has arrived when we have either to be trodden under foot by our enemies and die, or to defend ourselves and our rights; and which will it be? Every man and woman feel their hearts fail them when they think of submitting to the oppression and unlawful abominations practised by our enemies, and sought by them to be introduced into our society; and we will not submit to such wicked and unlawful treatment, whether it comes from United States or united hell, for the terms are synonymous as the Government is now conducted. I tell you and I tell our enemies that we are here, and we intend to stay here. [The congregation responded, Amen."] They have a job on hand, if they persist in their efforts to deprive American citizens of their rights. I told Captain Van Vliet that I did not care how many troops they sent. "Why," said he, "The United States, with an overflowing treasury, can send out ten, twenty, or fifty thousand troops." I replied, "I do not care anything about that." The Captain then asked whether I had counted the cost; and I said, "Yes, for this people I have; but I cannot estimate it for the United States; for if they actually persist in their present tyrannical course, before they get through they will want to let the job to sub-contractors." They do not know the Captain of the armies of Israel; and although they profess to believe in him, they do not realize that he is about to hold a controversy with them for their iniquity.[2]


Response to claim: 266, 570n39 (HB) 568n38 (PB) - Did Heber C. Kimball promise that after the Civil War ended, that Latter-day Saints would become the "sole rulers over every other government"?

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

Did Heber C. Kimball promise that after the Civil War ended, that Latter-day Saints would become the "sole rulers over every other government"?

Author's sources: Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 9:7.

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 asserts that the Saints will be free from oppression, but he says nothing about replacing every other government.

Question: Did Heber C. Kimball promise that after the Civil War ended, the Latter-day Saints would become the "sole rulers over every other government"?

Heber asserts that the Saints will be free from oppression, but he says nothing about replacing every other government

Heber C. Kimball said:

As for the condition of the nations that brother Wells has been speaking of, we shall never secede from the Constitution of the United States. We shall not stop on the way of progress, but we shall make preparations for future events. The South will secede from the North, and the North will secede from us, and God will make this people free as fast as we are able to bear it. They send their poor miserable creatures here to rule us. Why, it would be upon the same principle that this Church and authority should send some poor curse to rule me and my family in my own house. We need good men that are capable of ruling us, and we have them in our midst. Take any man there is here, and I would rather have him come and rule me and this people than have any of those poor creatures that come here. What do they know? Nothing, only to come here and undertake to lead this people astray and pollute them. They would pollute everyone, if they had the power, or everyone that would yield to them. We have to submit to this, and to bear it with patience. But let me tell you, the yoke is now off our neck, and it is on theirs, and the bow key is in.

The day is not far distant when you will see us as free as the air we breathe, and we will be ruled by those men whom God Almighty appoints (emphasis added).

Heber asserts that the Saints will be free from oppression, and that their rulers will be those whom God appoints. He says nothing about replacing every other government.


Response to claim: 267, 570-1n39-47 (HB) 568-9n39-47 (PB) - Was Joseph Smith's "Civil War prophecy" a false prophecy since "in 1832 a civil war beginning with South Carolina would have surprised no one"?

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

Was Joseph Smith's "Civil War prophecy" a false prophecy since "in 1832 a civil war beginning with South Carolina would have surprised no one?"

Author's sources:
  • Paul H. Peterson, "Civil War Prophecy," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 1:288. direct off-site
  • DC 130:12-13
  • The Seer, 1854 (cited in main body text)
  • The Pearl of Great Price, 1851 (cited in main body text)
  • "South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification," November 24, 1832, in Paul Leicester Ford, The Federalist: A Commentary on the Constitution of the United Sates by Alexander Manilton, James Madison and John Jay.
  • "President Jackson's Proclamation Regarding Nullification," December 10, 1832, in Ford,.
  • Carol Bleser, ed Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of James Hummond, A Southern Slaveholder. Cited in James David, "Response to K.."
  • John Farkas, "False Prophecies Of Joseph Smith."
  • The Evening and Morning Star cited or quoted from the Morning Courier and New York Enquirer in June, July, August, December 1832; January, February, March, May, June (1833) and April 1834. The author notes that Jerald and Sandra Tanner propose a theory by which Joseph Smith formulated the "Civil War prophecy."

FairMormon Response

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

Joseph reiterated aspects of the prophecy and added new detail in 1842. The Church published the prophecy in 1851, well after any events of 1832. Only four years before the Civil War, the Mormons were mocked for believing Joseph's prophecy about a war between the states.

Question: What is Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War?

The prophecy was given 25 December 1832 and is given in Doctrine and Covenants 87:1-8

1 VERILY, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls;

2 And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.

3 For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.

4 And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.

5 And it shall come to pass also that the remnants who are left of the land will marshal themselves, and shall become exceedingly angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.

6 And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations;

7 That the cry of the saints, and of the blood of the saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies.

8 Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen. (D&C 87:1-8)

Attempts to explain away this prophecy fail on multiple grounds. It is no surprise that nineteenth-century members of the Church consistently saw the Civil War as a fulfillment of prophecy, and evidence of Joseph Smith's prophetic gifts.


Question: Was Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War invalid because a civil war was "inevitable," and "anyone" could have predicted it?

There is no evidence that Americans were predicting a Civil War between 1832-1851

So, was the prophecy "so obvious" that anyone could have predicted it? The critics must prove this contention.

Where is the evidence that most Americans were predicting a Civil War between 1832-1851? Why was Orson Pratt ridiculed if this was obvious to everyone? This seems a desperate attempt by the critics to dismiss a "hit" by Joseph. Everything can look obvious in retrospect if one doesn't know history.

There is, in fact, good contemporary evidence that this prophecy was mocked by prominent authors only 4 years before the Civil War began

A newspaper article from 1857 reported a garbled version of the prophecy, but the author's scorn is clear:

New beauties are being revealed in the Mormon faith almost every day, and new prophecies of Joe Smith fulfilled. When any event of state occurs, or any remarkable circumstance happens, some of the Mormon apostles find a prophecy of Joseph’s (probably dated twenty-five years ago), which has just been fulfilled by the occurrence. These prophecies are never spoken of until after the occurrence. The fact is, the leaders frame the prophecy themselves after its fulfillment. Joe Smith did at one time prophecy that before the year 1860, the Union would be divided, the havoc of war spread over our glorious Republic, battles be fought whose equal was never before known, father would be arrayed against son, and brother against brother, and that our glorious Republic would be stained with human blood from North to South, the Constitution be trampled upon, and the Government fall to the ground; and then would the little band of Mormons rear the standard of their creed aloft, and proclaim to the world that the millennial year had been ushered in, and the reign of Christ begun. (emphasis added)

But methinks the Mormons can entertain but little hope of the fulfillment of that prophecy, as the Union has stood the strongest test and did not even shake. But when I shall see the above prophecy come to pass, I shall probably then change my mind about the truth of the revelation. At present, I see no chance of its verification within the time specified.[3]


Response to claim: 269, 571n48-49 (HB) 569n48-49 (PB) - If the Civil War prophecy is true, then why is it that war was not brought to "all nations" as Joseph said it would be?

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

If the Civil War prophecy is true, then why is it that war was not brought to "all nations" as Joseph said it would be? Marvin Cowan said that "[T]here is no more relationship between the Civil War and World Wars I and II than there is between the Spanish-American War and the Vietnam War!"

Author's sources:
  • Jeff Lindsay, web site.
  • Marvin Cowan, Mormon Claims Answered. (no page provided)

FairMormon Response

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

This revelation was not just about the American Civil War.

Question: Was Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War invalid because "war was not brought to all nations" by the Civil War and/or claiming there is "no link" between the Civil War and later conflicts?

The Civil War was, indeed, a bloody war, resulting in about 204,000 battle casualties plus another 225,000 military personnel who died of disease

Significantly, the prophesy warns of "the death and misery of many souls." The Civil War was, indeed, a bloody war, resulting in about 204,000 battle casualties plus another 225,000 military personnel who died of disease. This number actually well exceeds the American battle deaths (128,000) in World War I. In World War II, there were 396,637 battle deaths.[4]

Here are some figures concerning another war (World War I).

Authoritative tables give the grand total of all armies mobilized at 59,176,864. Direct military deaths out of this number are set down as 7,781,806; the wounded at 18,681,257; prisoners and missing 7,080,580; making a total of direct military casualties of 33,434,443. This is only a statement of military casualties however. The same authority sets down the number of civilians as being greater from famine, disease, and massacres than those who fell in the military operations. Of these two classes are named: civilians who were killed by direct military causes, and those who died from indirect causes. Of the first class the number was 100,082; and the second--those who died from indirect causes, among the Armenians, Syrians, Jews, and Greeks--massacred or starved by the Turks--are numbered at 4,000,000. The deaths numbered beyond the normal mortality of influenza and pneumonia induced by the war is placed at 4,000,000. The Serbians who died through diseases, or massacre, numbered 1,085,441. Making the total of deaths in these two classes 9,085,441, so that with military deaths and civilian deaths, resulting from the war, make a grand total of 16,967,329 deaths. And of the more than 18,000,000 who were wounded in battle 30% or about 6,000,000, were made permanent human wrecks.[5]:1:302

Following the Civil War, many nations entered into alliances and secret agreements in order to protect themselves from other nations

Following the Civil War the nations, in their great alarm because of the new methods of warfare which were being developed and their fear of other nations, entered into alliances and secret agreements in order to protect themselves from other nations. At the outbreak of the World War, these alliances had reached proportions never before known, and during the war other alliances were made until nearly every nation on the earth had taken sides with the Triple Alliance or the Triple Entente. It was during the period of the World War, 1914-1918, Great Britain made her appeal to the nations to come to the defense of the standard of Democracy. Her pleadings were heard round the world. And what is still more remarkable, the entire procedure conforms exactly to the prediction made by Joseph Smith, viz: "they shall also call upon other nations in order to defend themselves against other nations." A plurality of nations aligned and allied on both sides of the deadly conflict.[6]:2:125

This revelation was not just about the American Civil War

The revelation makes that very clear by first stating in verse one, "thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass." Notice that the word used is wars (plural), not war (singular), thereby "suggesting not one war but a continuum of conflict. Thus, like chapter 24 of Matthew, this scripture covered things both imminent and distant."[4]Of course, in our own time, we could add the war in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, civil wars in Central America, Lebanon, the British-Argentine conflict, Desert Storm, etc.

In our several Indian uprisings since the close of the Civil War, many see the fulfillment of that part of the prophecy which declares that the "remnants who are left of the land [the American Indians] will marshal themselves, and shall become exceeding angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation."[5]:1:303

World history since 1861 demonstrates that armed conflict widened and persisted since the American Civil War. There is nothing in the prophecy that claims that the Civil War must be the direct cause of on-going war, merely that on-going war will occur. And, it will happen after "Great Britain" "shall...call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves":

2 And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.

3 For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations. (D&C 87:2-3)

This is an excellent description of WW I and II, during which war was "poured out" into global battles. And, since WW II war and strife has not ceased.

An on-line database of armed conflict demonstrates that there has not been a single year since the end of the Civil War in which a war or armed conflict did not begin, and many of these wars lasted for multiple years (or even, in some cases) decades. (Click here to download a PDF from this on-line database listing the wars from 1865-1950.)


Response to claim: 269, 571n50 (HB) 569n50 (PB) - The Civil War did not result in slaves rising up against their masters as the prophecy predicts

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

*The Civil War did not result in slaves rising up against their masters as the prophecy predicts. The author notes that "Some slaves actually fought for the Confederacy." The endnote qualifies the statement made in the main text: "It must be noted that there is some degree of controversy surrounding the assertion that Blacks fought for the Confederacy. Much of the disagreement may be semantic in nature—e.g., What exactly do the terms 'slave,' 'Black,' or 'fight' mean?"

Author's sources:
  • Walter Williams, "Blacks Who Fought For the South," Washington Times.
  • Edward Spencer, "Annals of the War".
  • Kristen Peterson, "Black Confederates: Slaves or Soldiers?"Las Vegas Sun, August 19, 2000. (opposing view)

FairMormon Response

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

This is incorrect.

Question: Was Joseph Smith's 1832 prophecy of the Civil War invalid because slaves did not rise up against their masters in the Civil War?

Of the 2,653,000 soldiers enlisted on the side of the Union, 186,397 were colored, and many of them saw active service in the field against their former masters

In the part taken by negroes in the war between the states, many see the fulfillment of the prediction of the revelation that "slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war;" for of the 2,653,000 soldiers enlisted on the side of the Union, 186,397 were colored, and many of them saw active service in the field against their former masters.[5]:1:302-303[7] However, the prophecy does not tie slave rebellions directly to the Civil War. After discussing the call on other nations for assistance, the prophecy reads:

4 And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war.(D&C 87:4)

The phrase "it came to pass," and related forms generally indicates a transition in subject or time. The prophecy is clear that the revolt of slaves will come "after many days," which in scriptural language (remember Jesus' second coming was "near," and "even at the door") generally suggests a fairly long period of time.

The prophecy also could refer to past race riots in the U.S. and other countries, uprisings in African nations against their governments, the liberation of peoples under dictatorships throughout the world, or some future liberation of those forced to fight against their will for totalitarian regimes.


Response to claim: 270, 571n51 (HB) 569n51 (PB) - Sandra Tanner said that the prophecy "was probably inspired by the fact that South Carolina had already rebelled before the revelation was given"

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

Sandra Tanner said that the prophecy "was probably inspired by the fact that South Carolina had already rebelled before the revelation was given."

Author's sources: Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism—Shadow or Reality?, 5th edition, (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987), 190.

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 troubles in South Carolina, but a rebellion was averted. The Church and its members continued to publicize the prophecy well after things calmed down.

Question: Did the Church cover up the fact that the Civil War prophecy was made during the 1832 rebellion in South Carolina?

No American statesman in 1832 believed that the doctrines of secession then talked of would result in a great civil war

It is claimed that Mormons "cover up the fact that the 'prophecy' was made in the midst of an earlier rebellion in December 1832. That rebellion ended quietly a few months later."[8]

This claim, however, is false. Gil Scharffs noted that critics "are correct when they say Joseph Smith announced the Civil War prophecy when rebellion in South Carolina was threatening. A large 1832 rebellion never materialized and the threat ended a few months later."[9]

No American statesman in 1832 believed that the doctrines of secession then talked of would result in a great civil war. None of them had the foresight to see that a great rebellion would occur, beginning in South Carolina; that it would terminate in the death and misery of many souls; that the Southern States would be divided against the Northern States; that the Southern States would call on Great Britain, and that war would eventually be poured out upon all nations. No one foresaw that this would be the result except Joseph Smith--when but twenty-seven years of age--and he saw it only by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. To be required to believe that the prophecy was merely the fortunate conjecture of a more than ordinary astute mind, requires a greater amount of credulity than to concede the inspiration of the Prophet; and then the question would still remain, why is it that sagacious minds in other generations have not paralleled this astuteness of Joseph Smith's? Why did not some of the brilliant minds in the Senate or House of Representatives in 1832 make such a prediction? There was not a lack of brilliant minds in either Senate or House at that time, yet none seemed equal to the task.[10]

The fact that there were rumors of war is in fact a fulfillment of prophecy itself! (Matthew 24:6-7) The question is not were there rumors of war, but the question should be, did the events take place just as Joseph Smith said they would. As soon as Joseph uttered the words "Thus saith the Lord" he was tied to the prophecy being true or false, and if the events did not happen as he said, then, and only then, could it be declared a false prophecy.

Wars would shortly come to pass, beginning with the rebellion of South Carolina, which would eventually terminate in war being poured out upon all nations and in the death and misery of many souls

It was because of this fact that the Lord made known to Joseph Smith this revelation stating that wars would shortly come to pass, beginning with the rebellion of South Carolina, which would eventually terminate in war being poured out upon all nations and in the death and misery of many souls. It may have been an easy thing in 1832, or even 1831, for someone to predict that there would come a division of the Northern States and the Southern States, for even then there were rumblings, and South Carolina had shown the spirit of rebellion. It was not, however, within the power of man to predict in the detail which the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, what was shortly to come to pass as an outgrowth of the Civil War and the pouring out of war upon all nations. It must be conceded that no one, except Joseph Smith, ever entered into such detail in relation to this conflict or stated with such assurance that the time would come when all nations would be involved in war, The revelation begins with these words: "Verily, thus saith the Lord, concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls; and the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place." This, certainly, is a bold prediction which no one, other than Joseph Smith, dared to make.[6]:2:123


Question: After the end of the rebellion in South Carolina, did the Church not mention the Civil War prophecy for many years?

Joseph Smith reiterated the prophecy in 1842, and added more detail, 19 years before the Civil War

12 I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina.

13 It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me, while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25th, 1832. (D&C 130:12-13)

Orson Pratt preached about the prophesy in 1832, 29 years before the Civil War

Orson Pratt testified that he began preaching the prophecy soon after it was given. In 1870, he said:

I went forth before my beard was gray, before my hair began to turn white, when I was a youth of nineteen, now I am fifty-eight, and from that time on I published these tidings among the inhabitants of the earth. I carried forth the written revelation, foretelling this great contest, some twenty-eight years before the war commenced. This prophecy has been printed and circulated extensively in this and other nations and languages. It pointed out the place where it should commence in South Carolina. That which I declared over the New England States, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and many other parts in the East, when but a boy, came to pass twenty-eight years after the revelation was given.

When they were talking about a war commencing down here in Kansas, I told them that was not the place; I also told them that the revelation had designated South Carolina, "and," said I, "you have no need to think that the Kansas war is going to be the war that is to be so terribly destructive in its character and nature. No, it must commence at the place the Lord has designated by revelation."

What did they have to say to me? They thought it was a Mormon humbug, and laughed me to scorn, and they looked upon that revelation as they do upon all others that God has given in these latter days—as without divine authority. But behold and lo! in process of time it came to pass, again establishing the divinity of this work, and giving another proof that God is in this work, and is performing that which He spoke by the mouths of the ancient prophets, as recorded in the Book of Mormon before any Church of Latter-day Saints was in existence.[11]

Thus, Orson Pratt indicates that not only did he preach regarding Joseph's prophesy in 1832, but that he was ridiculed for it. He would also remember:

Now I am aware that it is almost impossible for even some of the Latter-day Saints to get that confidence and that strong faith in the events which God intends to accomplish on this land in the future to believe in such a thing, to say nothing about outsiders, that do not believe a word of it. Outsiders do not believe it any more than they believed me when I was a boy and took that revelation which was given in 1832, and carried it forth among many towns and cities and told them there was to be a great and terrible war between the North and the South, and read to them the revelation. Did they believe it? Would they consider that there was any truth in it? Not in the least, "that is a Mormon humbug" they would say. "What! this great and powerful nation of ours to be divided one part against the other and many hundreds of thousands of souls to be destroyed by civil wars!" Not a word of it would they believe. They do not believe what is still in the future.[12]

The Church printed the prophecy in the Pearl of Great Price in 1851, ten years before the Civil War

The Church also printed the prophecy in the Pearl of Great Price in 1851, and continued to publicize it until the Civil War. Clearly, they did not keep it "under wraps" until the Civil War became inevitable.[13]

Orson Pratt also included the full prophecy from December 1832 on the front page of his publication The Seer in April 1854, seven years before the Civil War

Orson Pratt also included the full prophecy from December 1832 on the front page of his publication The Seer in April 1854, with interpretation and editorial comment for 6 pages.[14] There are also many extant manuscript copies of the prophecy, in the handwriting of men who left the church before Joseph Smith died, and some who didn't (WW Phelps, Thomas Bullock, Willard Richards [who died before the Civil War], Edward Partridge, Algernon Sidney Gilbert, Frederick G. Williams).[15]

The Philadelphia Sunday Mercury quoted the prophecy in 1851, ten years before the Civil War

Robert Woodford's Ph.D. thesis also located a an article in a Philadelphia paper quoting the revelation from 1851, with comments, from May 1861; it was reprinted in England a month later:

Philadelphia Sunday Mercury, Sunday May 5, 1861

A MORMON PROPHECY

We have in our possession a pamphlet, published at Liverpool, in 1851, containing a selection from the ‘revelations, translations and narratives’ of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. The following prophecy is here said to have been made by Smith, on the 25th of December, 1832. In view of our present troubles, this prediction seems to be in progress of fulfilment, whether Joe Smith was a humbug or not:

‘A REVELATION AND PROPHECY BY THE PROPHET, SEER, AND REVELATOR, JOSEPH SMITH. Verily thus saith the Lord…. Amen [complete text quoted]’

The war began in South Carolina. Insurrections of slaves are already dreaded. Famine will certainly afflict some Southern communities. The interference of Great Britain, on account of the want of cotton, is not improbable, if the war is protracted. In the meantime, a general war in Europe appears to be imminent. Have we not had a prophet among us?[16]

Clearly, members of the Church did not hide the prophecy, and spread it far and wide among themselves and among others from the 1830s until its fulfillment in the 1860s.


Response to claim: 270 - "Because the Saints saw the Civil War as a fulfillment of prophecy, its horrors actually brought them some degree of emotional satisfaction and comfort"

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

 Author's quote: "Because the Saints saw the Civil War as a fulfillment of prophecy, its horrors actually brought them some degree of emotional satisfaction and comfort."

Author's sources: Author's opinion.

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 implies that the Saints took joy in the death and destruction of the Civil War. The Saints saw the Civil War as:
  • prophesied by Joseph Smith
  • God's just punishment for the nation who had allowed them to be repeatedly driven and dispossessed without protecting their freedom of religion or property
  • poetic justice for those who had appealed to states' rights to allow the persecution of the Saints to go unredressed.
  • a consequence of wickedness among the American nation, and the spirit of the Lord being withdrawn from striving with them.
  • a sad and tragic event which they had sought to change, but which could not be averted because of a refusal for the nation to heed ample prophetic warnings given over an extended period.



Use of sources: Attitude of Saints to Civil War prophecy

Response to claim: 270, 571n52 (HB) 569n52 (PB) - Why did Orson Hyde say: "Do I believe that the United States will be divided? yes, I do; and the prayers of all the Saints throughout the world should be to that effect"?

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

Why did Orson Hyde say: "Do I believe that the United States will be divided? yes, I do; and the prayers of all the Saints throughout the world should be to that effect"?

Author's sources: Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses 6:13.

FairMormon Response

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

Orson Hyde said this because the United States was sending an army against the Saints, based on false information.



Use of sources: Hyde on US to be divided

Why did Orson Hyde say: "Do I believe that the United States will be divided? yes, I do; and the prayers of all the Saints throughout the world should be to that effect"?

Orson Hyde said this because the United States was sending an army against the Saints, based on false information

Orson Hyde's words in context read:

Do I believe that the United States will be divided? Yes, I do; and the prayers of all the Saints throughout the world should be to that effect; for they wage war against the kingdom of God, and have fallen upon that stone with an army; and let them be broken, even according to the words of Jesus.

"If the army now invading Utah should be overthrown," says an unbeliever, "are you not fearful that a much larger one will be sent to chastise you?" No, sir; I am not. If we honour our God by keeping his law, no army of this world can ever prevail against us; and the greater its numbers, the greater and more complete its overthrow. If the Red Sea be not the trap in which the enemy will be caught, there will be a snow or hailstorm, a whirlwind, an earthquake, fire from above or from beneath, or the sword of the Lord and of Brigham. I only fear that we may not live so that God will hear and answer our prayers. If we get any important petition granted by any legislative body, we must have some influence enlisted in its favour; and if we expect God to grant our petitions, we must so live before him as to have influence with him. To have influence with the king is next to being king ourselves.

We do not desire to shed the blood of our enemies. We have never desired it. But our prayers should be, that the power and strength arrayed against us may be broken by the providence of God, or by the arm of his power; that they may be smitten with confusion and darkness; that the means they may adopt for their success may be providentially overruled for their overthrow; that they may be wasted away like the early frosts, and be scattered about like chaff before the wind, until, as the martyred Joseph said, just before he was murdered by Governor Ford's mob, there shall not be a potsherd of them left. This prayer should not be confined to our enemies on our immediate borders; for they are only the blind tools of a power that has decreed our overthrow; but should extend, with increased faith and zeal, to that very power that handles these tools.

On Joseph's prophecy, see Potsherd prophecy


Response to claim: 271 - Was the death of "Col. Johnston," in the Civil War (of "Johnston's army" in Utah) on April 6 interpreted by Latter-day Saints as a sign of divine judgment?

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

Was the death of "Col. Johnston," in the Civil War (of "Johnston's army" in Utah) on April 6 interpreted by Latter-day Saints as a sign of divine judgment?

Author's sources: No citation is 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

It is for the author to demonstrate this assertion. He provides no source. The burden of proof is on him.



Response to claim: 271, 572n54 (HB) 570n54 (PB) - Was Utah's second governor, John W. Dawson, who replaced Governor Cummings in 1861 beaten by Latter-day Saints?

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

Was Utah's second governor, John W. Dawson, who replaced Governor Cummings in 1861 beaten by Latter-day Saints "so severely that he never fully recovered from his injuries?"

Author's sources:
  • No citation is provided for the claim regarding the beating.
  • Alfred Cumming, letter dated March 1, 1860, Alfred Cumming Papers.

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

Dawson had attempted to seduce a Mormon woman. It was not unusual for nineteenth-century citizens to deal out punishment, especially for sexual crimes. Those responsible were guilty of previous crimes, and were pursued by the law.



Question: Was Utah's second governor, John W. Dawson, beaten by Latter-day Saints?

The attack upon Dawson may have been extra-legal justice by males offended by his treatment of a female relative, and had nothing to do with the Church

One cannot blame this event on the Church, or on the "Mormons" generally.

Dawson was beaten not because he was the governor, but because he "was accused of making improper advances to one of the Mormon women, and on new-year's eve of 1861 was glad to make his escape from Zion, being waylaid at Mountain Dell on his return journey and soundly beaten by a party of saints."[17] Some charged that Dawson had done this on his own, while the anti-Mormon T.B.H. Stenhouse wrote that Dawson "was almost immediately a victim of misplaced confidence, and fell into a snare laid for his feet by some of his own brother-officials....Governor Dawson had been betrayed into an offense, and his punishment was heavy," thus arguing that other federal officials framed Dawson for some misconduct.[18]

The Journal History reports that "Gov. Dawson has threatened to shoot Stenhouse if he published anything about his wishes to sleep with Tom Williams' wife when she raised the fire shovel on him, and his offer to compromise for $3000 for her not to tell. She has made affidavit and seen Pres. Young."[19]

The beating is described by one historian:

At Hank's Mail Station, the first night out of Salt Lake City, Dawson was attacked by what at the minimum was described as a "gang of rowdies."52 Dawson was robbed, kicked and beaten quite seriously. One of the alleged assailants was Wood Reynolds, said to have been related to the lady reputedly involved. The whole band seems to have been of a wild, if not criminal, element. One of the supposed culprits, Lot Huntington, was shot by a deputy sheriff in January, 1862, while attempting to escape. John P. Smith and Moroni Clawson were killed by police in Salt Lake City while similarly occupied. Others were tried and punished. Reportedly the men killed had committed other robberies and "their tragic taking off was not regretted by the general community."[20]

Dawson was accused of a crime or indiscretion of some sort; he may have been guilty or have been framed by non-Mormon federal officials. The attack upon him may have been extra-legal justice by males offended by his treatment of a female relative—a common occurrence in nineteenth-century America, especially for sexual crimes. With the governor apparently fleeing the territory, offended males may have felt they would have no other opportunity to call him to account. In any case, those who carried out the assault were pursued by the law, and had been engaged in other criminal activity.


Response to claim: 271, 572n55 (HB) 570n55 (PB) - Did Brigham Young state that too much education would be damaging to children?

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

Did Brigham Young state that too much education would be damaging to children? Young had stated:

We should never crowd and force the minds of our children beyond what they are able to bear. If we do we ruin them for life."

Author's sources: Brigham Young. Quoted in Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 1833-1898, under January 1, 1861, vol. 5, 536.

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 was highly in favor of education; he was not, however, in favor of "whipping," "forcing" or "confining" young minds and bodies "beyond what they are able to bear."

Question: Did Brigham Young claim that too much education was damaging to children?

Brigham was giving instruction on the building of schools

Brigham said:

Concerning the Education of Children I will say that not withstanding the drivings of this people I do not believe that you can go into any City in the world & pick up 100 Children promiscusly and put them by the side of our Children that are as well educated as the same number of our Children gathered up promiscusly in the Territory of Utah. There are some people & Countries who force & whip their Children into an Education but we should never Croud & force the minds of our Children beyond what they are able to bear. If we do we ruin them for life. I would rather my children would spend their Early life sliding down Hill, skating, riding Horses till they were 20 years old & not go to school one day than to clog & force the mind while young with intricate studies. It strains & cripples the mind for life & ruins the man. You never see a child that is Confined while young to Close rooms & hard study & followed up to manhood that ever becomes a master spirit or qualifyed to transact difficult business in after life (emphasis added).

Brigham was highly in favor of education; he was not, however, in favor of "whipping," "forcing" or "confining" young minds and bodies "beyond what they are able to bear"

In this sense, he was well in line with what educational thinkers and reformers of the 19th century were saying:

...as the historian Kenneth Gold has pointed out, the early educational reformers were also tremendously concerned that children not get too much schooling. In 1871, for example, the US commissioner of education published a report by Edward Jarvis on the "Relation of Education to Insanity." Jarvis had studied 1,741 cases of insanity and concluded that "over-study" was responsible for 205 of them. "Education lays the foundation of a large portion of the causes of mental disorder," Jarvis wrote. Similarly, the pioneer of public education in Massachusetts, Horace Mann, believed that working students too hard would create a "most pernicious influence upon character and habits....Not infrequently is health itself destroyed by over-stimulating the mind." In the education journals of the day, there were constant worries about overtaxing students or blunting their natural abilities through too much schoolwork.

The reformers, Gold writes:

strove for ways to reduce time spent studying, because long periods of respite could save the mind from injury. Hence the elimination of Saturday classes, the shortening of the school day, and the lengthening of vacation—all of which occurred over the course of the nineteenth century. Teachers were cautioned that 'when [students] are required to study, their bodies should not be exhausted by long confinement, nor their minds bewildered by prolonged application.' Rest also presented particular opportunities for strengthening cognitive and analytical skills. As one contributor to the Massachusetts Teacher suggested, 'it is when thus relieved from the state of tension belonging to actual study that boys and girls, as well as men and women, acquire the habit of thought and reflection, and of forming their own conclusions, independently of what they are taught and the authority of others."[21]

For an extensive analysis of Brigham's positive views on education, see Hugh W. Nibley, Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints (Vol. 13 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by Don E. Norton, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1994), chapter 15-16. ISBN 0875798187. direct off-site direct off-site


Response to claim: 273, 572n59 (HB) 570n59 (PB) - Did Heber C. Kimball say that the United States government was "dead, thank God, dead"?

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

Did Heber C. Kimball say that the United States government was "dead, thank God, dead"?

Author's sources: *Harding. Quoted in Eugene E. Campbell, Establishing Zion: The Mormon Church in the American West, 1847-1869, 292.

FairMormon Response

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

The claim comes from territorial governor Stephen E. Harding. [22] There is no other source, though since the Saints saw the Civil War as a tragic but inevitable result of the nation's wickedness and refusal to grant freedom of religion and redress to the Saints, it is certainly possible that Kimball said this or something like it.



Response to claim: 276 - The author states that when the Civil War ended, "the Mormons...had not sent a single soldier into the conflict, but instead had prayed for Christ's return and the establishment of Zion"

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

The author states that when the Civil War ended, "the Mormons...had not sent a single soldier into the conflict, but instead had prayed for Christ's return and the establishment of Zion."

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

It worth remembering that the author earlier made a very notable omission regarding the Saints trek westward: He makes no mention of the Mormon Battalion, who were conscripted during the harshest time during the exodus west from July 1846 to July 1847 during the Mexican-American War.



Response to claim: 278 - "Blacks were emancipated (1860s), which in less than a hundred years would result in a backlash against Mormonism's racist spirituality"

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

 Author's quote: "Blacks were emancipated (1860s), which in less than a hundred years would result in a backlash against Mormonism's racist spirituality."

Author's sources: Author's opinion.

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

Does the book mean to imply that the rest of the country was not racist in the late 1860s? The Civil Rights Movement didn't occur until the 1960s—about 100 years later. The author makes no mention of the fact that the "Curse of Ham" was a Protestant invention that was used to justify the practice of slavery. Instead, he portrays "the Mormons" as being behind the times for the next hundred years. This section fails to mention that most Protestant denominations did not have integrated congregations for the next hundred years at least.



Notes

  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:179.
  2. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:331.
  3. "O.P.M.," "Mormonism and its Origin, Number 4," The Golden Era San Francisco (18 October 1857). [Thanks to Ted Jones for this reference.]
  4. 4.0 4.1 Neal A. Maxwell, Sermons Not Spoken (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985), 66.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965). GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 1947).
  7. "American Civil War: Slavery during the war," wikipedia.org (accessed 15 Jan 2009) off-site
  8. The God Makers, 224, lines 21-24; cited by Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth about ‘The God Makers’ (Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1989; republished by Bookcraft, 1994), Chapter 15. Full text FairMormon link ISBN 088494963X. direct off-site
  9. Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth about ‘The God Makers’ (Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1989; republished by Bookcraft, 1994), Chapter 15. Full text FairMormon link ISBN 088494963X. direct off-site
  10. Brigham H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 3 Vols., (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909[1895, 1903]), 1:319. ISBN 0962254541.
  11. Orson Pratt, (10 April 1870) Journal of Discourses 13:135.
  12. Orson Pratt, (27 December 1868) Journal of Discourses 12:344.
  13. Paul H. Peterson, "Civil War Prophecy," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 1:288.
  14. Editor [Orson Pratt], "A Revelation and Prophecy by the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, Joseph Smith," The Seer 2/4 (April 1854): 241–247.
  15. Robert Woodford, The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants, Ph.D. Dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1974, 1104–1124.
  16. Woodford, "The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants," 1110, 1111 (figures 12 and 13) [figures contain photocopy of the masthead of each newspaper, and the article itself].
  17. Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah (San Francisco, CA: The History Company, Publishers, 1890), 604.
  18. T.B.H. Stenhouse, Rocky Mountain Saints: a full and complete history of the Mormons, from the first vision of Joseph Smith to the last courtship of Brigham Young (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1873), 502.
  19. Journal History, 576.
  20. E.B. Long, The Saints and the Union: Utah Territory During the Civil War (Urbana, Chicago, and London: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 48.
  21. Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success (New York: Little, Brown, and Co., 2008), 253–254.
  22. U.S. State Department, Territorial Papers, Utah 1853-73, M12, roll 1, National Archives; cited in Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball, 264.