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Comments about ‘Official LDS essay details violent acts against and by Mormons during 1800s’

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Published: Tuesday, May 20 2014 12:00 p.m. MDT

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OneWifeOnly
San Diego, CA

Thank you for publishing this story. As I have recently begun working with family genealogy I learned my ancestors were murdered, without explanation, during the time frame discussed in the essay. It has been impossible for me to reconcile the fact that they must have been murdered by fellow Mormons. I have found it difficult to locate balanced source materials discussing the subject to provide context to my search for understanding. 30 years ago none of this was ever discussed. It seems like only in the past few years the church has opened the door to allow open discussions about this terrible history.

I can’t help but notice parallels to today’s current events while reading through the essay. For example: “…American tradition of extralegal vigilantism, in which citizens organized to take justice into their own hands when they believed government was either oppressive or lacking.” Sounds a bit like the confrontation reported from Nevada between Cliven Bundy and BLM or the protest in Utah organized by San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman. These individuals describe themselves as a militia. I wonder how they reconcile their religious teachings to their actions.

Cinci Man
FT MITCHELL, KY

Violent response to undesirable events were common throughout this continent in the 1800's. There was as much lawlessness in the south as there was in the west. Family History has brought that to our awareness. I imagine there are skeletons in the closets of many Americans that include murder and other tragedies. I'm glad that the Church has seen fit to publish what historical records reveal. I regret things done by my ancestors and to them as well. We have grown as a civilization in the area of law and order.

jliddle
Dayton, NV

You say: "One example of context in the essay is the explanation of the existence of community militias, like the Mormon Battalion in Nauvoo, Ill., and those of cities and counties in Missouri." I think you actually mean the Nauvoo Legion.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Vigilantism in early America filled a vacuum on the frontier where government institutions struggled to get onto a sound footing. In under-policed locales where settlers were at the mercy of a vicious criminal element, the only basic law enforcement might be what settlers were able to provide for themselves. This was the rationale of decent and ordinarily non-violent men with families to protect. In some instances, vigilantism was quite literally the precursor to stable government.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

"....Another example is the context of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, when Latter-day Saints in southern Utah slaughtered 120 men, women and children on a wagon train emigrating from Arkansas to California in September 1857...."
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Juanita Brooks, in her superb study, attributed the tragedy to an atmosphere of war. A large contingent of the U.S. Army was on the march to Utah with intentions that were unknown to the Mormons. That naturally left every man to imagine the worst. Throughout the territory, everyone was on edge late that summer. Some writers cite religious fanaticism as the trigger. I lean towards Brooks’ explanation of war hysteria as the greater cause of a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened.

The Army expedition to Utah was ill-considered in Washington. That of course doesn’t excuse rash decisions made by local Church leaders in Southern Utah.

Dragline
Orem, UT

It is laudable for the LDS church to put these atrocities into context on all sides: Haun's Mill, Mormon extermination orders, and the Mountain Meadow Massacre. It is impossible to understand the era completely from our perspective, but we need to understand these acts in context with the Missouri compromise resulting in armed militias of slavers and freemen trying to reduce each others population, then moving to "Bleeding Kansas," and finally to the biggest atrocity of the century, the Civil War.

But it is also important to learn from these lessons. Religious intolerance is unacceptable. Fear is not a reason for violence against innocents. Neither is self-preservation.

But maybe most of all--whether your commander is William Quantrill before Lawrence, Kansas, Colonel William Jennings before Haun's Mill, or Isaac C. Haight and John D Lee before the final day of the massacre outside of Cedar City--when the order comes down to "Do your duty," it does not mean slaughtering innocent men, women, and children. The answer to "Do your Duty," would be to step off your horse and die with them. Christianity, on all sides, is about sacrifice.

Brahmabull
sandy, ut

I want to see a list of all of the murders in the NAME of god and religion. That list would be quite lengthy in my estimation. At the very least, religions aren't innocent regarding violence toward non-believers.

MoreMan
San Diego, CA

If you want context... read the Nauvoo Expositor. Just Google it. Easier to find than this essay on LDS.org.

J.D.
Aurora, CO

Good grief! Another thing I didn't believe until now. Why does it take these things being released by others on the internet to push the Church to talk about them? So frustrating.

UtahBlueDevil
Durham, NC

Glad to see an honest discussion about these events now happening. People are people, and they will do things out of emotion, far too often. which often lead to tragic outcomes. It happened then, and continues to happen today.

The romanticized view of the "good old days" only takes away from the true sacrifice and struggle these people endured to ensure that future generations had a better chance at life.

AerilusMaximus
Berryville, VA

@ Brahmabull

Neither is Science. How many people died when the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan during WWII?

How much harm is caused by HFCS? Are these not scientific inventions?

Science has facilitated more death and destruction in recent history (last 100 years) than religion has.

That being said I don't want anyone to think that I am in any way, shape, or form a science hater.

I just think that the argument that religion has caused so much harm in recent history is laughable!

RFLASH
Salt Lake City, UT

Religion can bring a lot of good to people's lives, but sometimes it causes serious problems. I think that the people who use God as an excuse to kill know within that it is wrong. I can not imagine taking the life of another person! History is what it is and we shouldn't be afraid to learn the truth.

FanOfTheSith
Vernal, UT

I think the known saying, "it takes two to dance" when it comes to wrong doing applies here. The two sides aren't perfect and they clashed in the middle of a "violent arena" committing deplorable acts because of mistrust and lack of understanding.

The Caravan Moves On
Enid, OK

@ OneWifeOnly - San Diego, CA - "Thank you for publishing this story. As I have recently begun working with family genealogy I learned my ancestors were murdered, without explanation, during the time frame discussed in the essay. It has been impossible for me to reconcile the fact that they must have been murdered by fellow Mormons....."

Whoa! Whoa! So how do you make the jump from "murdred" to "must" have been "murdered by fellow Mormons"?

That's a heavy accusation to throw around (Mormon or not) so please expound, logically, or don't point that accusatory finger at all. Thank you.

The Caravan Moves On
Enid, OK

@J.D. - Aurora, CO - "Good grief! Another thing I didn't believe until now. Why does it take these things being released by others on the internet to push the Church to talk about them? So frustrating."

J.D.:

1) Mountain Meadows has been known before the internet. If one wanted to know, it would not have taken much research to verify that it actually occured. The big debate is who, on the LDS-leadership side, directed the tragic slaughter? That would have been harder to verify but not the reality of the tragedy as a whole.

2) Why is this frustrating to have the Church put this on their website now? There are things in everone one's life we wouldn't want broadcast. Do think that Peter announced anywhere and everywhere he went that he once denied the Savior, not once but THREE times? I'm betting "no". This incident is the same type in that it does not reflect highly on the Church and I don't blame the Church for not making it at center front for the last 100+ yrs. If one has a solid testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, this will not rattle you.

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