Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter


‘September Dawn’ & Mormonism: Your Responses

posted by mkress

SeptDawn070823.jpgSometimes, arguing about a movie or TV show becomes a debate over some aspect of faith, society, and life. So much for dismissing entertainment as “just a movie/TV show” that is inherently lacking in larger meaning. The best debates on Idol Chatter take just this route, and there’s a fascinating one happening in response to my (largely negative) review of “September Dawn,” a movie dramatizing the 1857 Mountain Meadow Massacre, when a group of Mormons killed 120 innocent settlers passing through Utah. A man named John D. Lee was the leader of the Mormon murderers and the only person tried–and put to death–for the crime.
The discussion has veered into an exploration of Mormon history and the nature of fanaticism. You can read it all here, but one comment in particular is worth drawing extra attention to.


A Beliefnet reader named Elizabeth writes:

I am a direct descendent of John Doyle Lee. I grew up in the Midwest in a family that is a couple of generations removed from Mormonism. We were told when we were young that we had a great, great something grandfather who was an “Avenging Angel” for the Mormons. We were told that he killed people who crossed up the church or Mormons that left the church. I have to say that I chalked it up to family folklore and really didn’t give it much thought. About 15 years ago there was an increased interest in geneology and family trees by some members of my extended family. With that we were introduced to the John Doyle Lee story and family tree.
We also found that the Mormon descendents of Lee look at him as a great man who was falsely accused and “scapegoated.” I have read the main books on Lee and the massacre, and while he may have very well been scapegoated, he had a long history of doing exactly what the church elders told him to do. Maybe the story of Mountain Meadow is so awful because it is true. As for the references to Mitt Romney in this and other blogs, when was the movie filmed? Give me a break. This story has not been hidden away in history. Pick up almost any detailed book on history of the American West and you will find it. Let the movie play out and die. It is the hype that will keep it going. I for one have no desire to see it. Like other movies about historical events, I know what happens. Give me a movie with a twist or new story. I get my history from books.



  • Jackie Clements

    It saddens me when film producers make a movie but don’t include all of the facts. Therefore, the “movie crowd” takes it for truth because it is “based” on a true story and their research of the truth goes no further than the movie.
    I would highly recommend to anyone to search out the truth of the Mountain Meadow Massacre before watching the movie, “Pre-dawn”.

  • Research History

    September Dawn is a fiction movie and cannot be used for teaching history. In my opinion it is a Blatant propaganda film to defame Mormonism. The Fancher websites’ show it as being the truth. They as well want war with modern day Mormons who were not envolved in this very bad part of Mormon history. The fancher family website supports the film 100% because the film favors their families only, as well as that of others who were in the wagontrain. It’s completely a one-sided film. They also leave out the TAUNTING of the Mormons from the Mascared group. Truly interesting that the movie was made by ant-Mormons, haters, apostates and excommunicated people. Now tell me, how one sided can this be? I give the September Dawn movie a big double O when it come to authentic history and truth.

  • Fr

    I think Hollywood made another big history mistake in making September Dawn. The “Tudor” HBO special was bad enough. I feel our producers in the film business need a history lesson. Do they know the difference between Arkansas hillbillies and Mormons? Not so, the movie roles were reversed in the acting. I was wondering how Christopher Cain got the Arkansas group mixed-up with the (SHOULD HAVE BEEN ROLE) for the Mormons. This movie was far from true. I hope that my children never see this piece of fictional non-history trash. What in the world were they thinking? Too many liars out there. What happen to Christians? This movie needs to be band from ever being sold in stores. Looks like the innocent (NOT) wagontrain had something to do with all this mudd slinging in this film.

  • Love-History

    I think it is awful that there are so many people out there who are into stone throwing the Mormons of today over a massacre that happened 150 years ago. There are 2 sides to every story. None of us today lived during the M M M. So, we cannot really make a good assessment or judgment of what really happened. I noticed in the movie that they left out the taunting that certainly went on during that time from the Arkansas group past through Utah. This movie was no doubt made for propaganda only, with little truth. As far as history, which I study, I kept wondering while watching the movie, when I would actually see what I had studied. Clearly the movie was completely one sided. I’m not Mormon, but I hate to see people slander a religious groups like the Mormons. Will people on our planet ever learn and find something better to do with their lives rather than set out with so much vengeance, hate, chaos and to create contentions of war in our world.. Enough is enough. I give the September Dawn Movie a big 0

  • Titus

    Regarding this so called attack on Mormons via the portrayal of them in this film: I think the accusation is baseless. For one, a people should not hide from their history. Are we to simply pretend that it did not happen? Two, one of the lessons I learned from the film is that a whole people cannot be judged by the actions of the few. So I think intelligent thoughtful people would not condemn all Mormons because of this movie and frankly who cares what the ignorant think. Nor would I condemn all Germans for their past aggressions and violations of humankind and virtue because of WWII. Or the many horrifying actions of the Christians…etc… It should tell us that religion is a powerful tool and it can be twisted and interpreted into almost anything. It is the leaders, interpreters, and persuaders that should be held accountable. Personally I think religion is all-together very dangerous. Religion brought the Roman Empire down (that and z Germans :) ) and put mankind into darkness for 1000 years (The Dark Ages and Medieval.) People should hold their own philosophical beliefs and determine what is right and wrong from what they would want done unto themselves. Certainly not from person that claims to have received personal communiqué from some divinity. Ha! It’s actually quite simple and it is something the ancients (Greeks and Romans) understand but somehow was lost.
    Thankfully the Age of Aquarius is upon us and perhaps a new dawn.

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