Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Under the Banner of Heaven/Chapter 1

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Response to claims made in "Chapter 1: The City of the Saints"

A FairMormon Analysis of: Under the Banner of Heaven, a work by author: Jon Krakauer

Response to claims made in Under the Banner of Heaven, "Chapter 1: The City of the Saints"

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Response to claim: 3 - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "presents itself as the world's only true religion"

The author(s) of Under the Banner of Heaven make(s) the following claim:

It is claimed that the Church "presents itself as the world's only true religion."

Author's sources:
  1. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), . ( Index of claims )

FairMormon Response


Response to claim: 5 - Mormons consider themselves to be God's "favored children"

The author(s) of Under the Banner of Heaven make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that "Mormons" consider themselves to be God's "favored children." The book then quotes the phrase: "a peculiar treasure unto me above all people."

Author's sources:
  1. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), . ( Index of claims )

FairMormon Response

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

  • As noted in the chapter introduction from the LDS edition of the King James Bible: "The Lord covenants to make Israel a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." It is unclear why the author uses this scripture to support his claim that "Mormons" consider themselves to be God's "favored children."


Response to claim: 5 - Mormon leaders have "worked very hard to persuade both the modern church membership and the American public that polygamy was a quaint, long-abandoned idiosyncrasy"

The author(s) of Under the Banner of Heaven make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: The LDS leadership has worked very hard to persuade both the modern church membership and the American public that polygamy was a quaint, long-abandoned idiosyncrasy practiced by a mere handful of nineteenth-century Mormons.

Author's sources:
  1. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), . ( Index of claims )

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The following is from the introduction to the official Priesthood and Relief Society lesson manual for 2008-2009, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith:

This book deals with teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith that have application to our day...This book also does not discuss plural marriage. The doctrines and principles relating to plural marriage were revealed to Joseph Smith as early as 1831. The Prophet taught the doctrine of plural marriage, and a number of such marriages were performed during his lifetime. Over the next several decades, under the direction of the Church Presidents who succeeded Joseph Smith, a significant number of Church members entered into plural marriages. In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto, which discontinued plural marriage in the Church (see Official Declaration 1). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints no longer practices plural marriage. (emphasis added)


Response to claim: 5 - Religious literature does not mention Joseph Smith's marriage to "at least thirty-three women, and probably as many as forty-eight"

The author(s) of Under the Banner of Heaven make(s) the following claim:

Religious literature does not mention Joseph's marriage to "at least thirty-three women, and probably as many as forty-eight."

Author's sources:
  1. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), . ( Index of claims )

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The details of Joseph's polygamy are not generally taught in LDS Sunday School classes, but some "religious literature" does mention Joseph's plural marriages. [1]


Response to claim: 5-6 - Joseph Smith's youngest wife was "just fourteen years old when Joseph explained to her that God had commanded that she marry him or face eternal damnation"

The author(s) of Under the Banner of Heaven make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that LDS literature does not mention that Joseph's youngest wife was "just fourteen years old when Joseph explained to her that God had commanded that she marry him or face eternal damnation."

Author's sources:
  1. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), . ( Index of claims )

FairMormon Response

  • Helen Mar Kimball's story is here told only with reference to a second-hand, dubious, hostile anti-Mormon version instead of Helen's numerous first-hand accounts.


Response to claim: 6 - Joseph Smith is claimed to have taught that "a man needed at least three wives to attain the 'fullness of exaltation' in the afterlife"

The author(s) of Under the Banner of Heaven make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith is claimed to have taught that "a man needed at least three wives to attain the 'fullness of exaltation' in the afterlife." The author provides the following quote to support this claim:

"all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same...and if ye abide not that covenant, then are yet damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory."

Author's sources:
  1. D&C 132

FairMormon Response

3 Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same. 4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.


Response to claim: 6n - "Mormons esteem three books of scripture above all others"

The author(s) of Under the Banner of Heaven make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: Mormons esteem three books of scripture above all others

Author's sources:
  1. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), . ( Index of claims )

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Members of the Church use four books of scripture: the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.This type of error demonstrates how poor Krakauer's grounding in LDS thought and history is.


Response to claim: 7 - Polygamy continued to be practiced after the Manifesto was issued

The author(s) of Under the Banner of Heaven make(s) the following claim:

Polygamy continued to be practiced after the Manifesto was issued.

Author's sources:
  1. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), . ( Index of claims )

FairMormon Response

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


Polygamy practiced after the Manifesto

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Notes

  1. For example, the practice of plural marriage is detailed in canonized scripture (DC 132:) which every member is encouraged to study. The study manual for Sunday School lessons based on this scripture reads, in part, "The Prophet Joseph Smith and those closest to him, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, were challenged by this command, but they obeyed it." [Lesson 31: “Sealed … for Time and for All Eternity”, Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 176 (emphasis added). off-site] CES manuals for college/university students also discuss Joseph and plural marriage; see, for example, "Chapter 20: Doctrinal Developments at Nauvoo," Church History in the Fulness of Times Institute Student Manual: Religion 341 through 343, 2nd edition, (Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 1989-2003).( off-site.