Idol Chatter

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‘September Dawn’s’ Mormon Terrorists

posted by mkress

SeptDawn070823.jpgA group of religious fanatics led by a bloodthirsty leader who preaches the violence of “blood atonement” ruthlessly murders a group of peaceful travelers. This, in a sentence, is the plot of “September Dawn”, starring Jon Voight and opening Aug. 24. The year is 1857, the date is Sept. 11, and the killers are Mormons massacring a wagon train of families heading West to California. It’s a tragedy that became known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre, one of the darkest moments in Mormon history, whose details remain shrouded in mystery. Now it’s the subject of a film that, sadly, fails on two fronts: as history and as a movie.
The movie purports to answer one lingering historical question: Was the massacre the work of a renegade group acting on their own, or were they acting on orders from on high–specifically, orders from Brigham Young, the Mormon leader and Utah governor?
In the real world, there’s no scholarly consensus on this question, since the evidence is mostly circumstantial and conjectural. Most historians seem to think Young wasn’t involved, but others make a case that he ordered the bloodshed. (There’s a great overview of the debate here.)
But no need to get into nuances, at least not in this movie.
The Brigham Young of “September Dawn” is shown railing against the “Gentiles”–non-Mormons–and approving the massacre plan. He is depicted as a vengeful, violent leader, but then again, the movie depicts all Mormons as hateful and violent, save one romantic soul who falls in mad, passionate love-at-first-sight with a young woman from the wagon train. The film focuses on their Romeo and Juliet romance, which provides some of the cheesiest and unintentionally laughable moments in a movie full of them.


SeptDawnRomance070823.jpgIn “September Dawn,” the westward wagon train pulls into Utah, then a theocratically-run territory headed by Young. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, they’re looking only to buy provisions and rest for a couple of weeks. The local Mormon leader, Bishop Samuelson (played by Voight), is kind to them until hearing that some of the travelers are from Missouri, where Joseph Smith and many other Mormons were killed. Almost immediately, he turns against them and leaves to seek counsel from Young, leaving his love-struck son to keep an eye on the settlers.
Stirred up by Samuelson’s preachings, the Mormons are easily whipped into a homicidal frenzy. At one point, the film juxtaposes two pastors–Bishop Samuelson and the wagon-train’s minister–praying at their respective dinner tables. They each start out uttering similar phrases about God and thankfulness. But soon Samuelson’s prayer devolves into a damn-the-Gentiles-to-hell rant that asks God for success in their massacre and curses “these children of Satan,” while the pioneer minister’s prayer remains a let’s-all-get-along ode to peace and brotherly love, thanking the Mormons for their hospitality.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre was obviously a ruthlessly bloody and unforgivably shameful act, and the movie does a decent job of portraying the lambs-to-the-slaughter deaths of the settlers, who believed the Mormons were helping to protect them against the Indians. The pioneers surrendered their weapons to the Mormons and willingly followed them into an open field, making the massacre all the more cowardly and horrific.
Unfortunately, that’s about all that the movie does well. The only sense we get for why Bishop Samuelson turned so violently against the obviously peaceful travelers is his lust to revenge the Mormon treatment in Missouri. We see much more of him and Young ranting about “blood atonement” than we do the atmosphere of violence and fear swirling around all things Mormon at the time.
Blood atonement is the idea that some sins are so heinous that even the blood of Christ can’t atone for them, leaving no choice but to pay for them with one’s own life. Young did, indeed, preach blood atonement, though it’s not clear that it was ever put into practice–and it applied only to sinful Mormons, not Gentiles. It’s easy to see how such teachings create an atmosphere of “righteous” bloodlust in which a massacre becomes possible, but that’s a far cry from pinning direct blame on Young, as the movie does.
While the movie hits us over the head, repeatedly, with Young’s and Samuelson’s violent preaching, we see almost none of the historical context in which the massacre took place. There’s some talk–but very little dramatic depiction–of the persecution that the Mormons faced in the U.S., of their trip West after being driven out of Missouri, and of the impending war, eventually averted, between Utah’s Mormons and the U.S. Army, which was on its way to attack. Not that any of this forgives a massacre of innocents, and the movie does at least mention much of this, but it doesn’t explore this context nearly enough or give it the dramatic emphasis it needs, preferring instead to take the easy, sensationalized route of turning Brigham Young into some sort of 19th-century terrorist leader.
Why was this movie made now? There’s the obvious fact that this Sept. 11 marks the 150th anniversary of the massacre, and Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president has put Mormonism on the current events and pop-culture maps like never before. Both of these, I am sure, were factors. But this movie is also clearly intended as some sort of parable about the more recent Sept. 11 tragedy. With the coincidence of the date too delicious to pass up, the filmmakers seem to have decided this was their chance to tell the story of religiously fanatic murderers without wading into the dangerous territory of potentially offending Muslims.
The filmmaker, Chris Cain, admits as much in the film’s production notes: “The story is so pertinent today because people look at recent events worldwide that are born of religious fanaticism as if it is something new. They should know that 150 years ago, it happened right here on American soil.”
I can’t argue with his sentiment, but there’s no excuse for simplifying and sensationalizing history (or for cheesy and bad acting), and certainly not for smearing a religion and one of its revered leaders. Perhaps there’s a meaningful movie to be made from the Mountain Meadows Massacre, but, parable or not, this isn’t it.
See for yourself: Watch a “September Dawn” clip here.



  • William Rennick

    Yes sir. Much easier to malign an entire group of people based on the actions of a few people (well 150 years ago) than to have the guts to portray the current daily explosions of children with bomb backpacks. Hollywood knows no mormons will blow themselves into pizza toppings in nightclubs or discoteks.

  • Anonymous

    Much easier to malign an entire group of people based on the actions of a few people (well 150 years ago) than to have the guts to portray the current daily explosions of children with bomb backpacks.
    Just as it’s nice ans simple to malign all Muslims (there’s a billion or more of them, ya know) based on the actions of an infinitesimal percentage of radicals.
    Oh snap – hard to take the moral high ground, innit?

  • Becky Long

    I think it is great that the truth is finally coming out about this horrible event. You act as though the Mountain Meadows Massacre is something that everyone is already aware of. The Fact is, the LDS Church did not acknowledge their involvement until only a month and a half ago in an attempt to ward off the implication of this movie. If you ask me, this film has already done some good. Now if they would just provide the letter that Brigham Young supposedly dispatched to save these people… yeah, right.

  • Jettboy

    “the LDS Church did not acknowledge their involvement until only a month and a half ago”
    Yes, and that is why the LDS Church helped put up a memorial of the event about five or more years ago. And the president of the LDS Church gave a recognition of the tragedy around that same time when it was dedicated. Oh, and long before a month and a half ago one of the 12 Apostles, the next to the top of the leadership, said on the PBS program “The Mormons” how terrible it was that Mormons had done that horrific action. You can see that one for yourself.
    Take your bigotry somewhere else.

  • B.A. Baker

    Pres Hinckley did not apologise. Yes, they say it was terrible. But anyone can say that. To apologise and ask the ancestors for forgiveness for that act of long ago has not been done.

  • Rev. Tracie Voss

    “Why was this movie made now? There’s the obvious fact that this Sept. 11 marks the 150th anniversary of the massacre, and Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president has put Mormonism on the current events and pop-culture maps like never before. Both of these, I am sure, were factors…”
    When I first heard about this film, I couldn’t help but wonder the same thing. With all of the news hype about Mitt Romney, a casual observer would think that the Mormons of the world are some sort of sex-obsessed cult. My former landlady, who was an absolutely rabid Christian to the point of psychosis, received a regular periodical dedicated solely to the purpose of Mormon-bashing. The irony is that it was published by a Christian group, which would imply that they follow Christ. I seem to remember His saying something about all of us being brothers and sisters, and how everyone was welcome at his father’s table.
    When did Mormons become the new, trendy group to hate? In my experience, they’re peaceful people. While I can’t claim to be a Mormon myself and know little about their theology, I can honestly say I’ve never met a Mormon I didn’t like. They’re nice people. They tend to be involved in their communities. They’re not violent or rude. They don’t use drugs or drink. They don’t even use caffeine.
    I’ll go way out on a limb and say that most Muslims are also peaceful people, even if it’s not trendy to think that or say that right now. Some of the most beautiful poetry in the world was written by Muslims. (If you don’t believe me, just Google “Rumi,” “Omar Khayyam,” or “Hafiz.”) Better yet, go to the Muslim forums on Beliefnet, read some of the literature in the Islamic Texts section of Sacred Texts Archive (http://www.sacred-texts.com/index.htm) or find someone who truly lives this faith, get to know them as a human being, and make a new friend.
    Beliefnet is a wonderful resource for reaching out and understanding other faiths. If approached with an open mind, there’s a lot of information to be learned. From my experience, we’re all far more similar than different.

  • Elizabeth

    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 didnt 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. http://www.wadhome.org/lee/. 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.

  • Karen

    Well, that is a point. It takes more than a year to film a movie. For the filming and release of this movie to have something to do with Romney, they would’ve had to know about both his choice to run, and the level of success of that run (enough to spend the millions that it takes to make a movie) more than a year ago.
    Sorry, but that seems a bit unlikely. It is more likely that it was just a coincidence.

  • Bob Morwell

    Jospeh Smith was not killed in Missouri.
    Smith and the Mormons were driven from Missouri and took refuge in Quincy, IL during the winter. They then established a community which Smith named Nauvoo further north. Smith was killed by a lynch mob in the town of Carhage, IL (not Missouri) after being arrersted on charges of sedition.
    Briham Young then assumed leadership, Nauvoo was abandoned and the Mormons trekked to Utah.

  • Joseph T. Manzo

    This movie was a total let down. I looked forward to the film that would expose the Mormon cult for what it really is and what it has done. Instead it wasted time on a love story when it could have revealed Mormon beleifs and crimes. In no way are Mormons Christian.
    Mormon Missionaries may ask you if you have read the Book of Mormon that they gave you. Then they will ask you if you believe it.
    You can find all about what the Mormon’s really did at Mountain Meadows in the book (Mormonism Unveiled) that John D. Lee wrote prior to his exacution for his part in that crime. The book the (American Massacre) by Sally Denton also does a fine job reverling the historical facts of the Massacre.
    John D. Lee’s book exposes him and the others involved as what they were; cowboy gangsters who ran land schemes extorting money from fellow Mormons as they moved from state to state, and staging ambushes with Indians to rob wagon trains they were hired to excort to California that finally lead to the Mountain Meadows massacre on September 11, 1857.

  • Pastor Bill Langill jr.

    Wow
    This period in American History is full of stories of needless violence, but then again American History is a very violent affair. So what does this movie prove about Mormons in general or specific? Excuse this pastors french if I say “not a dam thing”. Divide and conquer it is the oldest trick in the book, when will we ever learn to live in love?
    Pastor Bill Langill jr.

  • G> Randall King

    First, let me thank Pastor Langill for his sensible response to September Dawn. I have yet to see the film but I intend to. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as well as a motion picture and theatre professor. I hope that anyone who believes that Mormons are not Christian will take the time to attend one of our church meetings. The experiance will put to rest any doubt of our devotion to Christ and our belief that He is the only begotten Son of God in the flesh and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that this is so when he returns, which personally, I believe is not far in our future.
    I served a two year proslyting mission for the church at my own expence (consider: why would anyone do that?), sent a daughter who wished to do the same and am personally aquainted with literally hundreds who have done the same. To my knowledge none of these missionaries have pronounced any kind of death threat for not reading the Book of Mormon. Actually, reading that book with an open heart can result in great joy and life change to the reader just as reading the Bible will.
    The Mountain Meadow’s Massacre did happen. From the small amount of information I have about “September Dawn” I’m inclined to have doubts about both the historical veracity of the film and the intents of the hearts of those who wrote and produced the film. Having read the history of this incident and can say that Brigham Young had nothing to do with it and when he was appraised of the heinous act set in motion legal proceedings that resulted in the execution, by firing squad, of at least Bishop Lee and perhaps others. I am not knowledgable of any further punishments.
    I am a convert to the LDS church having joined in 1961. At that time we were literally disowned by a number of family members who have since mellowed and restored family connections. But, while they were reacting rather badly the made comments to us such as “I prayed about it but I already knew it was false.” This referred to Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon as well as the church in general. I have witnessed the continual inability of some who will believe anything an uniformed or misinformed person or pamphlet etc. has to say about us. It does not seem to occur to them that discussion of LDS beliefs with LDS members or clergy is far more likely to yield the truth. Of course the same was done to our Saviour Jesus the Christ.
    Let me close (sorry, or get close to closing) by asking why the savagery of so-called “Christian” mobsters and murderers receives no notice. Our brethern and sisters endured an unending round of murders, rapes,theft, destroyed property etc during the early years of the church. And this in the US, land of freedom and liberty. It is an unbelievable fact that these same Mormons answered the call of our government to provide a battalion (approx. 500 men) to undertake the longest trek in United States military history during the Mexican War. This occured while an “Extermination Order” was in effect in the state of Illinois which order was only recently withdrawn.
    Thank you for this opportunity to, perhaps, educate some to the facts. My only direct response to the hideous falsehoods of some of those who have commented just cause me to respond with, “…just when you think you’ve heard it all… The answer to all these questions is read and research responsibly, ponder and pray. Mormonism will stand up to that process any day.
    PS: Joseph Smith was taken to court at least twenty times but was aquited every single time.

  • Teresa

    Christians do not believe that Christ had many or any wives
    Mormons do
    Christians do not believe that God the Father had a physical body
    Mormons do
    Christians do not believe that we will one day become a God or Godess of any world
    Mormons do
    Christians do not believe Christ can in flesh to North or South America
    Mormons do
    Christians do not believe becoming eternally pregant
    Mormons do
    Christiand do not believe in baptism for the dead or proxy baptism
    Mormons do

    I lived in Utah for 22 years and the more I learned the more I knew that I was in the wrong place
    When I attempted to attend a church service that was supposed to be non-denominational as it was a military service, I was told to leave because it was a Mormon priesthood meetingall are not welcomeand questions are not welcomeI grew up with Mormon friends and learned a lot
    I pray often from my Mormon friends to know the Christ I know and The Father I know

  • Joseph

    The rosy picture that the Mormons paint of the religion that Joseph Smith made up is far from reality of what Smith’s religion is. People did not just pick on the Mormons as they went from state to state. They earned the dislike of their presence. Much like the Muslem religion the Mormon religion is a theocracy. They want to controll everyone and tried to do so. This did not lead to happy relations with their neighbors.
    Joseph Smith died after he shot and killed two other men. It may have been in self defence or not. I haven’t been able to find out one way or another, but he was not a martyr for his faith. Smith was a Mason and he incorperated Masonic rituals into his religion. This angered many Masons who are belived to be involved in his death. Brigham Young speculated that Smith had gone to far and thought that his enemies would soon get him. John D. Lee’s book (Mormonism Unveiled) hints at envolvement by Young in Smith’s death.
    Talking about history does not mean that you do not love your neighbor. We should remember history so we do not repeat the same mistakes.
    Christ started his church here on earth and said, (Mt.16:18…”and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”) Too many religions cause too many problems. Perhaps some day we will all come back to the church that Christ started.

  • Joseph

    Randall King claims that, “Joseph Smith was taken to court at least twenty times but was aquited every single time.” In the documented History of the Church (DHC) Smith tells of the one time he was tried in 1830 and acquitted with no mention of any other time. (DHC vol 1, pp88-96) He does not tell of the time in 1826 when he was convicted of “Glass-looking”. He used a looking glass like a seer to find treasure. He was convicted in Brainbridge, New York in Judge Neeley’s court on March 20, 1826. (J, Smith’s Brainbridge, N.Y. Trials by Wesley Walters. Modern Microfilm Co. Salt Lake City, Utah)

  • pagansister

    All religions have bloody historys. The LDS church is no exception. The Crusades (to convert the “Heathens”), the Catholic and Protestant fights in Europe, the Christians who felt the Native Americans were not Christian, thus it was their job to force it upon them…this occuring on U.S. soil like the Mountain Meadow’s Massacre.
    To me, any religion that thinks they are THE ONLY WAY to believe is very arrogant. That arrogance has caused much bloodshed in the past, and continues to cause pain, and death in the world…even with in the same faith.
    In the United States we are fortunate to be allowed to believe as we wish or NOT believe as we choose.

  • Randy Gavin

    I saw the movie and while it was difficult to watch at times it was a captivating story and was well done. Two of our party of five reported the next day that they could not sleep that night. It is chilling what was done and how ordinance like it was done. Mormons should not shun this movie. They should see it and allow it remind them of their responsibility for their own conscience. They cannot put the job of their conscience in the hands of anyone else on this earth whether that person claims to be a prophet or not. History will not honor them or forgive them for blindly following anyone.

  • Bill Kilpatrick, Lakeland, Florida

    I concur with the observation that the Mountain Meadows Massacre makes for a fascinating and compelling subject, but that September Dawn merely exploits it to make arbitrary connections between 9/11/57 and 9/11/01. That religion was involved in both events (or that they both happened on “9/11″) is a pretty lame basis for arguing that the Mormons were some kind of American Taliban.
    If anything, the Mormons were acting like Republicans.
    1. The attack on the wagon train was an act of revenge motivated by attacks against Mormons that had occurred throughout the 1830s and 1840s. Where the specter of 9/11 has been invoked to sell popular support for the war in Iraq, Mormons were being stoked by the memory of the Haun’s Mill Massacre, the driving of the Mormons from state to state and the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, two of the most beloved figures in early Mormonism.
    2. The attack on the wagon train was based on bogus intelligence. Like the people of Iraq, the travelers posed no threat to the Mormons. But in a case of profiling run amok, the Mormons noted that some of the travelers had come from Missouri, the site of the worst acts of violence against Mormons. There were even rumors that some on the wagon train had been responsible for the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.
    3. Attacks on Mormons in Missouri had been based on the idea that Mormons didn’t belong there. Just as Osama bin Laden objected to westerners present in Saudi Arabia, Missourians had objected to the influx of Mormons as “outsiders” whose culture, politics and religion were unwelcome in Missouri.
    4. Mountain Meadows has to be viewed within a larger context, that of Mormon fears – after being driven out of Missouri, after watching Joseph and Hyrum Smith murdered, and of the recent murder of a top-ranking Mormon official – of further attacks. The public statements of those who incited violence against the Mormons was such that the Mormons feared a continuation of these attacks.
    5. Just as the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and New York City were seen as attacks on the American way of life, the previous attacks on the Mormon city of Nauvoo and the burning of the Nauvoo Temple (the tallest and more revered structure within that city) were seen as attempts to destroy the Mormon way of life.
    6. Osama bin Laden, in calling for an attack against Americans, exploited anti-American and anti-semitic sentiments, arguing that the Americans were doing the bidding of Israel, a popular punching bag within the Muslim world. In similar fashion, Mormons saw themselves as a covenant people, adopted into Israel. Mormons often viewed themselves as “Israel,” considered their attackers “Gentiles” and looked back to a kind of diaspora and gathering in the “promised land” of the west. Political cartoons, published in papers across America, used propaganda techniques – not unlike those of Osama bin Laden – to sway public opinion into support for the war.
    7. Politics played a considerable role as Brigham Young was to the Mormons what George W. Bush was to America after 9/11. Both Young and Bush took upon themselves the fatherly role of soothing nerves and mobilizing public opinion. As territorial governor, Young – like Bush – endured a certain degree of domestic criticism for the failings of his administration. Like Bush, Young also deflected these criticisms by manipulating local fears of invasion, terror and the loss of all they’d come to know. Young’s grandstanding galvanized popular support but at the cost of fostering a rabid Mormon attitude toward the people back east, drawing upon stereotypes and prejudices to ensure a certain degree of political loyalty.
    8. To the extent that Mountain Meadows could be seen as a token, vicarious, attack on Missourians – by way of a symbolic target – it’s no less bizarre a choice than the invasion and occupation of Iraq when 16 of the 20 9/11 conspirators were from Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden was hiding out in Afghanistan or the border regions of Pakistan, and there was simply no logical nexus between Afghanistan and Iraq.
    9. In Utah, as in Afghanistan, the adage, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” was taken seriously. While U.S. forces kept American casualties to a minimum by seeking out the Northern Alliance – as the group most committed to killing “the bad guys” – Mormon settlers agitated the local Paiute Indians, convincing them to attack in order to keep the area safe.
    10. Just as the Iraqi invasion has produced the horrors of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, Mormons were only too conscious of similar humiliations and depradations being acted out against them. The attempt, in Missouri, to feed a jailed Joseph Smith human flesh – as well as the murder of Joseph and Hyrum while in jail – presented issues of concern from Mormons.
    11. Like George W. Bush, Brigham Young did not alway know when to stop short of encouraging open revolt. Brigham’s rhetoric, designed to galvanize at home and deter abroad, had a similarly swaggering and reckless “attitude” – similar in tone to that of George W. Bush.

  • Bill Kilpatrick, Lakeland, Florida

    “The rosy picture that the Mormons paint of the religion that Joseph Smith made up is far from reality of what Smith’s religion is. People did not just pick on the Mormons as they went from state to state. They earned the dislike of their presence. Much like the Muslem religion the Mormon religion is a theocracy. They want to controll everyone and tried to do so. This did not lead to happy relations with their neighbors.”
    I reject this attempt to explain anti-Mormon violence as the product of a “made up” religion or a case of Mormons getting what they deserved. While Mormons are sometimes simplistic in their black-and-white, good-versus-evil analysis of why the first Mormons were picked on, anti-Mormon explanations that blame the victim are no less simplistic.
    If you want an explanation for the tensions between Mormons and their neighbors, one free of sectarian bias, take a look at what happened when the Rajnishis bussed thousands of homeless to Antelope, Oregon until they outnumbered the locals, took over city hall and renamed the town to Rajneesh Purim.
    The Rajnishis were not hated because Satan sought to destroy their own true way, nor did they deserve to be hated. The tensions between themselves and the locals were what you’d expect whenever a group moves into an area, has radically different beliefs and practices, draws in thousands of people who think and act like they do, until the balance of power has shifted. This is an incredibly upsetting situation that is neither good nor evil, just tremendously dislocating for people who have lived in the area and are used to being in charge.
    And that’s before both groups begin to behave in group-oriented ways. One can see a similar dynamic at work when an area receives an influx of outsiders who have a different ethnic background. Almost overnight, fears spread of a “takeover.” Attempts are made to preserve the status quo, even to the point of manipulating the process to disenfranchise the new group. Panic and paranoia cause groups of people to view each other as competitors rather than partners.
    The cause of such tensions is not “Mormonism” but the Constitutional right to travel across state borders – which is not a bad thing at all, but a good thing with the possibility for these unlikely, occasional moments of chaos. Throughout the South, during the last several decades, there has been an urbanization of areas once very Dixie but now populated by people from New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. In Florida alone, the change in culture has been enough to set some folks off, including that lone sniper who sat by the interstate and picked people off as they were driving across the border.
    “Joseph Smith died after he shot and killed two other men. It may have been in self defence or not. I haven’t been able to find out one way or another, but he was not a martyr for his faith.”
    This is an ignorant, malicious statement. Think what you want about Joseph Smith but the man was, of course, killed for his beliefs. Joseph Smith had been charged with treason for doing nothing more than ordering – as mayor of the Mormon city of Nauvoo – the destruction of a printing press whose defamatory rhetoric was thought to present a clear and present danger to the safety of the residents of Nauvoo. In our day and age, the destruction of the press would not be considered appropriate – as the Supreme Court ruled, during the Nixon administration, against prior restraint – but this was Illinois in the 1840s, and the destruction of a libelous press, especially on grounds of a clear and present danger to the peace, was hardly uncommon.
    Be that as it may, Smith – who was now charged with the capital offense of treason for doing something as yawnable as destruction of private property and censorship of the press – turned himself in. He did so on the promises of protection from Illinois Governor Ford, who posted an armed unit of guards around the jail to prevent an attack on Smith. But according to those who were there, that unit was later disbanded, leaving the jail completely vulnerable to attack.
    Joseph Smith did, in fact, shoot several men the day of his death, but only because his friends, who saw Smith being left with only one guard, smuggled in a revolver. Smith did not use the gun to break out of jail, but held onto it should an attack materialize. If you’re going to compare this situation to a movie, it’s not Charles Bronson’s Breakout; it’s more like Assault on Precinct 13. The men Smith shot at (and probably hit) were attackers, who stormed the jail, with blackened faces, overpowered the guards and were shooting their way into the upper room being used as a cell. When Smith fired his revolver, these attackers had already shot and killed his brother, had shot another man lying under a bed and were in danger of killing the one man left (other than Smith) who had not been injured.
    This shooting you speak of was, of course, self-defense, as Smith was trying to prevent the murder of himself and his two visitors – in the moments immediately following the shooting of his brother. What would you have done? If I were in jail and people were storming it to kill me and everyone with me – and I had access to a firearm – I’d use it without hesitation. What, other than religious bigotry, would lead someone to suggest that not doing so is somehow unreasonable? It’s okay to storm a jail and murder someone inside, but it’s not okay, if you’re in the jail and all your friends are in jeopardy for their lives, to defend yourself against attack?
    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
    I do not claim that it was a good idea for Joseph Smith, even as mayor of the city of Nauvoo, to have shut down a press critical to the Mormons, though I certainly understand the pressure to do something where the press is being used to foment a mob attack against the city. But that’s because I’m a big believer in Free Speech, including the right of individuals to burn the flag, protest unjust wars, made controversial statements and peddle their religion without state license or permit. Smith’s act was, at most injudicious and unconstitutional (at least under today’s standards). But it was hardly treason, let alone a good reason for mob violence, vigilantism and the state’s collusion in his murder. To say that Joseph Smith was not a martyr for Mormonism, because he tried to protect those who were with him during a lawless attack, is to get so caught up in the debate over Mormonism, that you throw objectivity and fairness out the window.
    “Talking about history does not mean that you do not love your neighbor. We should remember history so we do not repeat the same mistakes. Christ started his church here on earth and said, (Mt.16:18…”and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”) Too many religions cause too many problems. Perhaps some day we will all come back to the church that Christ started.”
    If you’re going to “remember history so we do not repat the same mistakes,” maybe you should not end with a statement like “Too many religiouns cause too many problems.” Whether you believe, as the Catholics, that Christ’s church never left the Earth, or (as the Protestants) that the Apostasy (spoken of by Paul) could be cured by studying the Bible, or (as the Mormons) that a complete Restoration was necessary to fix what got broke before or during the Middle Ages – there’s no reason for any group to decide that another group has no right to exist. Otherwise, you end up with something called The Crusades, or The Inquisition, or The Holocaust.
    If you “remember history,” you’ll remember that tolerance for different beliefs is always a better solution than, say, The Salem Witch Trials.

  • Joseph

    The Salem Witch Trials, The Holocaust or Smiths death has nothing to do with Catholics. The Protestants are responsible for the Witch Trials. The Holocaust was committed by Nation Socilist (Nazi) who believed in the occult, denounced the Church and said they were god men. Most cults believe they are gods or will become gods. It is believed that Joseph Smith was killed by former Mormons and Mason’s because he had incorperated Mosonic Rites into his religious services.
    The Holy Inquisition had set up rules that we use today in our own courts. The inquest (inquiry, investigation) to deceide if a crime was comited. Informing the acused before trial of the charges. Stiff punishment for witnesses who gave false testimony. Those who hate the Church that Christ started have found it rewarding to spread lies about the Inquisition and Crusades to make themselves look good. With the problems we have today with Islam, do I have to justify the Crusades?
    A martyr is someone who voluntarily suffers death for his religion. Killing two men before he was killed does not make Joseph Smith a martyr by definition.
    All that I know about the Mormon religion is mainly from Mormon sources. If I am incorrect let me know. Don’t be mad at the truth.

  • Bill Kilpatrick, Lakeland, Florida

    “All that I know about the Mormon religion is mainly from Mormon sources. If I am incorrect let me know. Don’t be mad at the truth.”
    Joseph, what you “know” about the Mormon religion may, in fact, come from “Mormon sources,” but I’m not replying to what you “know.” I’m replying to what you’ve written. As I’ve already done that for what you’d written previously, I’ll focus on what you’ve said in reply. You wanted me to “let [you] know” if you were “incorrect.” Well, here goes …
    “The Salem Witch Trials, The Holocaust or Smiths death has nothing to do with Catholics. The Protestants are responsible for the Witch Trials. The Holocaust was committed by Nation Socilist (Nazi) who believed in the occult, denounced the Church and said they were god men.”
    Hitler was a Catholic, or at least he claimed to be, but the Catholic Church is not on trial, nor is its own shortcomings the issue. I repeat the point I made, which was about the contradiction between your admonition to “remember history” and your claim that there are “too many religions causing too much trouble”: There’s no reason for any group to decide that another group has no right to exist. Otherwise, you end up with something called The Crusades, or The Inquisition, or The Holocaust.
    If I’m not making my point clear enough, allow me to elaborate. The Crusades were fought to remove Muslims from the Holy Land. They involved the embarrassingly simplistic claim that the Muslims were the bane of all that was good, the veritable minions of Satan. In truth, Islam is not without flaws of its own, and the aggression it justified in the name of its own “one true faith” gave Europeans plenty of reason to beat the Muslims out of Europe, which they eventually did. But this fool’s errand, of establishing European colonies in Palestine, is nothing to be proud of. It certainly did not produce victory, just a couple of centuries of carnage. That European peasants were taught to view Muslims as the scum of the Earth is evident in the massacres freely wrought by these “Christian warriors.” In fact, the “liberation” of Jerusalem involved the wholesale slaughter of both Muslims and Jews, not during the invasion but afterwards, during the occupation-and-pacification phase of the First Crusade. If you think the Crusades are something to be proud of, you need to go back and “remember” a little more history, because you frankly haven’t learned enough of it.
    As for the Inquisition, this is another horror of which I am surprised to hear you justify. The Inquisition was a crackdown on “heretics,” which is another way of saying that it was the legal machinery used for suppressing dissent and freedom of thought. The worst of these, the Spanish Inquisition, was really an act of national paranoia, aimed at “conversos” from Judaism and Islam. In 1492, after the Reconquest of Spain from the Moors, the Alhambra Decree ordered all Jews and Arabs to leave Spain. When many converted to Christianity, there was a later outcry that these “conversos” weren’t sincere, and so the legal machinery was used to root out the fakers – because in the new Spain, you were Catholic or nothing. It was also used against Protestants. People were tortured. People were burned to death.
    You can’t justify the horrors of the Inquisition by arguing that it helped develop the Constitutionalism we now enjoy. There’s no meaningful comparison between the American Constitution – which respects freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure, the right against self-incrimination, the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment – and the practices of the Spanish Inquisition. It was precisely because of the Spanish Inquisition – and similar abuses of power – that British constitutionalism developed. If I wanted to find a source for the rights we enjoy today, I would look to the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights – NOT the Spanish Inquisition. To pretend otherwise is to betray a repugnant ignorance, the type that can only come from propaganda and indoctrination.
    If tolerance for Catholicism, which represents a minority of Christians within a largely Protestant America, has emboldened Catholics to such shamelessness, they – along with Mel Gibson – need a date with history. Library cards for everyone! Vatican II, which right-wing Catholics consider some kind of sell-out, was motivated by the kind of inescapable shame that motivated Pope John Paul II to make a series of public apologies. For while Catholicism can be a beautiful tradition, with billions of decent adherents, there is no defense for the Inquisition that could justify its horrors. Furthermore, the whole point in bringing it up was that this legal machinery – this sausage grinder that chewed up people on the basis of what they were perceived to believe – was motivated by the conviction that there can be but one faith, and anyone who doesn’t follow it must be eliminated from the homeland.
    As for the Holocaust, the point was not to blame it on the Catholics – though Catholicism’s antisemitism started a long and inglorious tradition leading to Germany’s “final solution.” It was not that Hitler presented himself as a good Catholic, and preyed upon the antisemitism of fellow Germans, who were taught to view the Jews with loathing and disgust. It was simply that the Holocaust is the ultimate expression of the idea that one group can eliminate those who aren’t like them. This idea – which was there in the Crusades, and there in the Inquisition, and there again in the Salem Witch Trials – was taken to full application by the Nazis.
    You seem to think that because you view Smith’s death through the light of your feelings about Mormonism (being the cult you consider it to be) that my reply is equally motivated by a similar disrespect for Catholicism. But the problem is much bigger than any particular religion – or even than religion itself. The killing fields of Cambodia were filled by Maoists who thought the world would be better without intellectuals. Turkey’s slaughter of Armenians – which it continues to deny – is the 20th-Century’s first genocide, one with a Muslim twist. We could also talk about China’s suppression of Falun Gong. The point would remain the same – that getting rid of people who don’t think like you do (whether it’s for political, religious or philosophical reasons) is a bad thing. All forms of it – whether we’re talking about the Nazis, the Catholic Church, English suppression of the Puritans, Puritan suppression of dissenters or Maoist and Stalinist oppressions of their political opponents – are wrong and terrible and inhumane.
    As someone who has lived in Utah, I would also add that it’s wrong when Mormons do it. I don’t see the Mountain Meadows Massacre as an attempt to kill off non-Mormons for their beliefs (to me, it was a revenge killing against a group who probably had nothing to do with Mormon sufferings in Missouri and Illinois) but Mormons, as the majority in Utah, are too quick to use that majority power to legislate their values, with little respect for the possibility that others might feel differently and might want the space to choose their own path.
    “Most cults believe they are gods or will become gods. It is believed that Joseph Smith was killed by former Mormons and Mason’s because he had incorperated Mosonic Rites into his religious services.”
    The “Masonic connection” is but one of many ideas put forth to explain why Joseph Smith was killed at Carthage Jail. While it’s true that Joseph Smith offended Masons by incorporating Masonic rituals and symbolism into Mormon ritual and symbolism, the idea that Joseph Smith was bumped off by a Masonic Mafia is more hype than history. It’s as much a slur against the Masons as it is against the Mormons.
    Freemasonry claims to go back to the days of Solomon, when stone-cutters built his famous temple in Jerusalem, but there’s simply no evidence to trace it back beyond the trade guilds of the Middle Ages. In fact, the best evidence suggests that the Freemasons weren’t even “masons” at all, but businessmen, politicians and influential thinkers who embraced the secularist values of the Enlightenment. Giving lip service to the Deist idea of a God who created the universe as a great machine, to be studied and copied in the formation of better human institutions, the Masons were targeted by the Catholic Church – and excommunicated as a “secret society.” But these folks were a “secret society” largely because of opposition from Catholicism.
    To believe that the Freemasons took out a hit on Joseph Smith, you have to buy into that anti-masonic claptrap that sees the world as controlled by a cabal of Literatti. Next, you’ll be telling me to watch out for the Council on Foreign Relations. But where were the Freemasons back in the 1830s, before Joseph Smith began to mingle with them and get into all this trouble? Who drove Smith from New York to Pennsylvania or from Pennsylvania to Ohio? Who drove him from Ohio to Missouri and from Missouri to Illinois? It wasn’t the Freemasons.
    Nor were the Mormons mistreated because of their unorthodox incorporation of Masonic ritual and symbolism. Mormons were feared and hated because they were outsiders who would descend upon a community in such numbers that it became almost impossible not to ruffle feathers. When, as it would turn out, their beliefs proved to be so different, it was almost inevitable that sparks would fly. Mormon solidarity, sometimes because of previous persecution, helped reinforce a kind of “us versus them” mentality aggravating the situation. For example, when Mormons began trading and associating with each other, much more so than with their new neighbors, it only widened the divisions.
    But make no mistake about it, when attacks materialized with all the viciousness of a Klan rally in full bloom, Mormons were, of course, persecuted for their beliefs. Of course, those beliefs cannot be divorced from the sociological differences between Mormon immigrants and the local groups who, themselves, felt besieged by these new outsiders.
    That Joseph Smith was killed for other reasons – including his political campaign (he was running for president), conflicts within the Mormon community (as a group with its own political in-fighting) and the fear, expressed by non-Mormons in nearby communities – that doesn’t change the fact that Joseph Smith died for the Mormon cause. He was killed. His brother was killed. The people who visited him (Willard Richards and John Taylor) were nearly killed. The Mormon City of Nauvoo was later threatened and ultimately attacked. The Nauvoo Temple was burned to the ground. Mormons were told to leave – and Brigham Young had to negotiate sufficient time to organize a trek across the prairie.
    If it were simply a spat between Smith and the Freemasons, none of this other stuff would come into play. Who killed those men, women and children at Haun’s Mill? It wasn’t the Freemasons, nor was it because of the connection between Mormonism and Freemasonry, which hadn’t yet existed. Joseph Smith’s murder was part of a much larger conflict between Mormons and local communities. He was most certainly killed for his beliefs, as well as what he stood for. In 1844, Joseph Smith was Mormonism, and the attack against him at Carthage Jail was a lawless act of murder that cannot be defended without compromising your principles.
    “A martyr is someone who voluntarily suffers death for his religion. Killing two men before he was killed does not make Joseph Smith a martyr by definitionWhe
    When Joseph Smith was charged with nothing less than treason for ordering, as mayor of Nauvoo, the destruction of a press that he believed to pose a clear and present danger to the community, his first inclination was to flee. He and Hyrum crossed the river into Iowa, their future uncertain. Joseph Smith knew what was going to happen if he should turn himself in. It was not a criminal offense to shut down a press, let alone treason. If anything, it was an act that could have led to a lawsuit – and possibly Smith’s impeachment from office. Turning it into treason was an indication that Smith’s enemies intended to get him.
    Smith’s departure had a profound effect upon the people of Nauvoo, many of whom felt betrayed, and many of whom wrote to Smith telling him as much. At his brother’s request, Smith returned but he was quite frank about his expectations. While promised, by Governor Ford, that he would have the state’s full protection while standing trial, Smith – upon placing himself in custody – said, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but my heart is as peaceful as a summer’s morn.” Given all that Smith could have done – including all of the places he could have gone to outside of Illinois – it’s simply not true to suggest that Smith didn’t deliver himself up voluntarily.
    As for Smith’s actions in the moments before his death, you have ignored the details, even after I summoned them here. The unit guarding the jail was ordered to stand down, leaving the jail – which consisted of a house with an upper room – completely vulnerable to attack. A large group, with blackened faces, stormed the jail, overpowering its solitary guard. As they ran up the stairs, trying to ram their way into the upper room, they began to shoot. While they were shooting through the door, others were shooting up from the ground below. It was a turkey shoot.
    Smith was not alone. He was there with three other men, including his brother, Hyrum. A visitor had smuggled into the room a single revolver, intended to provide Joseph Smith some form of protection should there be an attack on the jail. Armed with this revolver, as well as the support of three other men, Smith could have overpowered the solitary guard. He could have used that weapon to make his escape, especially since the door to his “cell” was unlocked. Smith instead kept the revolver for protection.
    When his attackers stormed the room, Smith and his brother attempted to hold off the attack while others sought the safety and protection of hiding under the beds. An attmpt was made to use a walking stick to deflect guns that were shoved through cracks in the door. This attempt was most likely abandoned when one of the attackers shot and killed Joseph’s brother, Hyrum.
    To me, it is pure hypocrisy and sectarian blindness to accuse Joseph Smith of any malfeasance in defending himself and others from a lawless, murderous attack in progress. Clearly, Smith was left to be murdered – and in fact, in the inquiry after the shootings, no one was ever found guilty of anything, including the abandonment of his post. The murder of Joseph Smith was an act of conspiracy. It was illegal and immoral, and Smith’s attempt to provide some protection – if not to himself than to the others in the room – was quite understandable.
    You don’t have to accept Joseph Smith’s claims – that he saw and spoke with God and Jesus, that he was visited by Moroni, that he translated the Book of Mormon from gold plates, that he was visited by Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, John and John the Baptist. You don’t have to accept the claim that he was commanded to build temples or take additional wives. You can reject just about anything and everything Joseph Smith claimed.
    But to reject the idea that Joseph Smith was killed for his beliefs is simply an act of disrespect and malice toward all things Mormon. Mormonism could be completely out of touch with either the Bible or reality but that would have nothing to do with whether Joseph Smith was killed for advancing beliefs that were considered, by some, to be both unusual and dangerous.
    To dismiss Smith’s martyrdom is to reveal a mixture of ignorance and malice that are unbecoming. One can disagree with one’s ideological opponents without becoming completely devoid of compassion, and even if compassion weren’t important, it’s at least important to avoid getting so caught up in polemics as to compromise one’s accuracy and intellectual integrity.

  • Joseph

    Comunicating with a Mormon is like trying to comunicating with someone who speaks a different language. The standard definiton of a martyr is (someone who voluntarily suffers death for his religion). Joseph Smith died after he shot and killed two other men. This does not meet the criterion for a martyr. Perhaps you have a different definition of a martyr. In talking with Mormons I have found that they hold a different definition for many religious terms perhaps your definition of a martyr is different.
    For the record I take no joy in the death of Joseph Smith or any other human being. The longer he stayed on earth the better the chance he may have been converted to the religion that God the Father sent his only begotten son Jesus Christ to start here on earth.
    The Catholic writer “Hilaire Belloc” starts with Jesus Christ as truth and his Church as the one true Church. With this premise in place anything contrary to it is a non-thuth. The Catholic Church is the Church who had the Apostle Peter was the first Pope. Peter and the next 33 Popes were martyrs for the Church.
    Studying the Chusades and the Holy Inquisitions one will find the virtue in them if he is looking for the truth and not falling victim to lies and propaganda.
    Hitler was a Catholic who never became a Catholic. He and the National Socialist were occultist. Hitlers grandfather was Jewish and Hitler delt openly with the Zionist.
    There have always been wars and there will be wars and rumors of war. At Mountain Meadows the Mormons went to war on unarmed Americans. That is what the movie “September Dawn” was about.

  • Bill Kilpatrick, Lakeland, Florida

    “Comunicating with a Mormon is like trying to comunicating with someone who speaks a different language.”
    You have my sympathies. Still, a comment like that comes off a tad reductionist. Why, after all, should either of us waste our breath engaging in dialogue if one of us is free to dismiss the other as speaking another language? If you feel comfortable playing the “but you’re a Mormon” trump card this early in the game, maybe there’s not much going on here in terms of dialogue. But if so, I don’t think it’s because I, or anyone else speak a different language. I think it’s because making derogatory generalizations is so much easier than making intelligent discussion.
    “The standard definiton of a martyr is (someone who voluntarily suffers death for his religion). Joseph Smith died after he shot and killed two other men. This does not meet the criterion for a martyr. Perhaps you have a different definition of a martyr.”
    I agree that a martyr is someone who voluntarily suffers death for his religion – or Webster puts it, someone who “voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion.” By extension, it’s one who “sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle.”
    It’s not a case of having different definitions but of application. In addition to St. Peter, who was reportedly crucified upside down, you want the definition to stretch enough to cover the next 33 Catholic Popes. You want, however, to tighten it up when it comes to Joseph Smith whom you think was a fraud. Having rejected Smith’s claims, you deny him the respect of a martyr – even if he died for principles with which you disagree – choosing instead to argue that Smith’s actions, in defending himself and others during a lawless attack, somehow disqualify Smith from status as a martyr.
    I’m sorry but I not only fail to see your logic; I actually think it’s you who are speaking another language now, for it is you who would add stipulations and provisos to the common definition of a martyr. If a man holds to a belief, is persecuted for that belief, is given an opportunity to recant his belief but holds to it and ultimately suffers death for it, no reasonable person would argue that such a person is not a martyr. But you would add an additional layer of qualifications not inherent in the definition of the term. You would add that such a man or woman could not – while being viciously attacked – make any attempt on repelling the attack. Otherwise he or she would not be a “martyr,” as you define the term.
    But where does it say that martyrdom requires passivity, or even docile cooperation with one’s murderers? The Catholic Church certainly did not think along these lines when it sent men off to fight in the Crusades, promising them forgiveness of their sins and eternal life, should they die in the service of the cross. Were the Crusaders, then, not martyrs because they died with swords in hand, even when outnumbered and when their presence on foreign soil was motivated by a sense of duty to the faith? You would gladly declare them martyrs, because you justify the Crusades, but add these provisos and stipulations for Joseph Smith who fired a revolver in the direction of ruthless mob of attackers who stormed the jail after he voluntarily turned himself in to stand trial on charges he considered baseless and motivated by a hostility to his faith. You would deny Joseph Smith the right to defend himself against men who were shooting their way in, who had already killed his brother and who would have likely killed the other two men in the jail with him had he not done something.
    Let’s be clear about this. Joseph Smith did not die because “he shot two men.” He died because men wanted him dead, men who had persecuted the Mormons before this and would go on to persecute them after Joseph’s death. Let’s also be clear that the Haun’s Mill Massacre, in Missouri, had nothing to do with Freemasons. Nor did Governor Boggs’ Extermination Order, blaming civil unrest on the Mormons and licensing the public to shoot them on sight. Whatever fault you may list of Joseph Smith, none of them were punishable by death, nor did the mob of attackers have any legal or moral right to storm into a jail and attack those inside of it. These men shot and killed Hyrum Smith, who had not shot anyone. They shot and severely wounded John Taylor and grazed Willard Richards – neither of whom had done anything to deserve being shot by vigilantes.
    You can lay all this off on Freemasons – which is not atypical of the Catholic Church’s aggression against that organization – but the Freemasons were late in a story that had included persecutions a decade-and-a-half before. Nor is there any ambiguity as to why Joseph Smith turned himself in and what he thought would happen to him while in custody. Joseph Smith firmly believed that he would be killed but felt it critical to be true to his beliefs, even to the end. You do flips and twists to come up with reasons to deny martyrhood to Smith but I think the facts speak for themselves.
    “For the record I take no joy in the death of Joseph Smith or any other human being. The longer he stayed on earth the better the chance he may have been converted to the religion that God the Father sent his only begotten son Jesus Christ to start here on earth.”
    If you’re referring to the fact that Joseph Smith was not a Catholic, your argument is with a lot more people than the Mormons. As the current Pope Benedict has recently made clear, you folks don’t really consider the Protestants to be Christians.
    “The Catholic writer ‘Hilaire Belloc’ starts with Jesus Christ as truth and his Church as the one true Church. With this premise in place anything contrary to it is a non-thuth. The Catholic Church is the Church who had the Apostle Peter was the first Pope. Peter and the next 33 Popes were martyrs for the Church.”
    That’s a very quaint and mechanical way in which to judge the world. You assume that the Catholic Church is the “one true Church,” so anything that bursts that bubble must be “non-truth” – according to the venerable Hilaire Belloc. Of course, Mormons – along with many Protestants – would argue that if your “one true Church” contradicts the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, as found in the Bible, all the claims of “one true church” will not save it from the judgment that it is engaged in teaching “non-truth.”
    In fact, Paul spoke of a coming Apostasy, when truth would be taken from the Earth and men would be left to themselves. The Bible says nothing about a Papacy or a College of Cardinals. There were no archbishops in the original Church of Jesus Christ. There was no doctrine of Limbo. Jesus proclaimed himself the Way, the Truth and the Life and said that “No one cometh unto the Father but by me.” He did not authorize a cult of intercession, where one could pray to a saint and receive forgiveness. He did not create a cult of celibacy. He did not forbid meats.
    Who decided that Jesus must have been born in December, when he was most certainly born in the Spring? Who came up with the bright idea of papering over Pagan celebrations and baptizing them as Christian holiday? And while we’re at it, who came up with the idea that baptism – from the Greek “baptizo” (to dip or immerse) – should be conducted by sprinkling? Martin Luther was right to speak out against abuses for there is nothing in the teachings of Christ that authorize the sale of indulgences.
    You assume too much. In so doing, you confuse propaganda with logic. Reasoning from premises which have already been provided to you – regardless of how much they conflict with reason or scripture – does not lead you into the truth of all things. It merely provides you a convenient mindset to fall back to when you want to take a vacation from the facts.
    “Studying the Chusades and the Holy Inquisitions one will find the virtue in them if he is looking for the truth and not falling victim to lies and propaganda.”
    I don’t disagree with the criticism that liberal, politically-correct, historical revisionism has caked both the Crusades and the Inquisitions in such an air of kneejerk revulsion that finding the truth is that much more difficult. All forms of simplistic thinking conflict with the spirit of truth. But I see nothing holy about the Crusades or the Inquisitions. The former was a turf war over Holy Land. The latter was a witch hunt designed to repress those who dissented from your “one true church” – and one in which the innocent and the guilty were subjected to torture and abuse.
    Insinuating that I’ve fallen “victim to lies and propaganda” is not an argument. It’s not even close. It’s just more misdirection. You can label me all day long if you like, but doing so does not actually prove anything. Don’t confuse logic with rhetoric. If you can explain to me – or anyone, for that matter – what justification your “one true church” would have for starting the Crusades, let alone the Inquisitions, I’m all ears. Muslim aggression would justify kicking the Moors out of Spain but last I heard, Jerusalem was not part of Europe – nor was the slaughter of Muslims, Jews and Orthodox Christians anything worth calling “holy.”
    Perhaps you and I are speaking different languages when it comes to “holy” because my definition of the term does not expand to fit land grabs, slaughter or repression.
    “Hitler was a Catholic who never became a Catholic. He and the National Socialist were occultist. Hitlers grandfather was Jewish and Hitler delt openly with the Zionist.”
    “Hitler dealt openly with the Zionist?” What, exactly, is that supposed to mean? Mormons definitely have a different respect for Israel. While the Book of Mormon has a few passages that might be considered antisemitic, Mormons consider the Jews their brothers. If believing the Jews should be returned to their homeland makes one a “Zionist,” count me and every Mormon you know a “Zionist” because Mormons were dedicating Israel to the return of the Jewish people a hundred years before the creation of Jewish state.
    Unlike Catholics, Mormons do not have a tradition of passion plays. Mormons feel no connection to the Medieval practice of denying Jews land, rights and work. They find it repulsive that your “one true church” would work people up into a frenzy against the Jews, creating a tradition of antisemitism that would reach its peak in the Nazi attempt at creating a “final solution.” Catholicism did not give rise to the Nazis, though it certainly did precious little to oppose them. It did, however, have a hand in that tradition from which Hitler would decide that Jews were the enemy.
    “There have always been wars and there will be wars and rumors of war. At Mountain Meadows the Mormons went to war on unarmed Americans. That is what the movie ‘September Dawn’ was about.”
    No, Mountain Meadows was not an attack against America. It was not the World Trade Center attack, done by covered wagon. It was a community’s act of revenge, committed at a very stressful moment in American History. It was un-Christian. It involved heartless treachery. It most eerily involved a community-wide conspiracy to commit murder and then cover it up. It was Cedar City’s dirty little secret, but it was not Al Qaeda planning an attack on the eastern seaboard.
    The Mormons had a built-up supply of resentment. They’d been driven from state to state. They’d lost people on the Plains. They’d had a very tumultuous relationship with the federal government, which had becme their landlord a year after they’d moved out west. Most recently, Parley P. Pratt, a beloved apostle, had been murdered in Arkansas. It didn’t help that the Fancher-Baker party had come out of Arkansas, with some members whose ties to Missouri gave rise to rumors that the party had among its members some who might have taken place in the expulsion of Mormons from Missouri. It also didn’t help that the Mormons were currently locked in a battle with the federal government and were worried about being invaded and occupied by federal troops. There were fears, however paranoid, that these people were spies, that their trek through present-day Utah would offer the government advanced intelligence for just such an invasion.
    It didn’t help that Mormon rhetoric, and the various attempts to fight an attitude of apathy, wound people up. Mistakes were made, grievous ones at that. But Mountain Meadows was not a cautionary tale about those evil Mormons who lie in wait to kill us all. If that’s all you got from this story, you are too sectarian. You need to look at the Gospel without all those battle lines.
    If anything, Mountain Meadows is a cautionary tale about revenge. Resentful people fantasize about payback. Scary is the situation when life gives you what you want, but not the wisdom to know what to want. Suddenly, these people had an opportunity to smack back against those who had persecuted them. The only problem was that there’s no evidence that any of the people they killed had anything to do with the injuries they had suffered. What’s more, the act of murdering one’s enemies was such an awful, un-Christian move that it required a whole town to make itself an accomplice to the worst of all crimes.
    If all you got out of this story was “bad, Mormon, bad” – you’ve not engaged enough of your heart. History is replete with stories of folks who felt they were entitled to a little “payback.” They include the Army at My Lai, in Vietnam, and at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. If anything, this story should be a reminder of our common humanity – and of our frailty as well.

  • Joseph

    Blog Response 9-7-07
    My-Oh- My!
    To begin with I think that it is important that we clarify the language issue so that we are talking about the same thing. It is not a “you’re a Mormon trump card” as you claim. However, you continue to find it hard to stick to the meaning of words. You say that you agree to the dictionary definition of a martyr, yet you wish to change the definition by way of application.
    Words have meaning and to chance that meaning changes what is discussed. Changing the meaning of words has led our Nation to allow the killing of over 40 million unborn babies. You made a well crafted argument, but to except your argument one would have to change the definition of martyr from who “voluntarily suffers death” to “someone holding a pistol and kills two attacking men”. Smith’s right to defend himself I have never questioned. No doubt all persons charged with a felony should be given a gun to defend themselves if a mob is coming to get them. However, this was not a Catholic mob. It was made up of former Mormons and angered Masons.
    Catholics did not attack Joseph Smith, but he and the religion that he made up has never stopped attacking the Catholic Church that Jesus Christ established, and you are no different. From the Holy Inquisitions to the Crusades you claim I defend the indefensible.
    In your reasoning you believe that the Crusaders attacked a peace loving Islamic population. Islam was not in existence till almost 600 years after Christianity was started. All the lands that the Christians took back were once Christian lands. Christianity did not try to destroy Islam. Christianity only wished to stop the advancing theocratic Islamic invaders wishing to take over Europe. As the Catholics fought Islam, the Protestants did nothing, but continued their cause. Then after the Catholics stopped Islam from taking over Europe the Protestants went on to vilify the Catholic for saving Europe. After the war with the Moors, Catholic Spain tried to stabilize the Nation after years of Islamic rule. The government of Spain used the Holy Inquisition (Court of Law) to insure fairness in order to remove traitors, spies, murderers, and told non-Catholics to leave the nation to bring stability to Spain. Less then a hundred were executed in the Spanish Inquisition that is claimed to be the worse of the Holy Inquisitions. At the same time in Protestant England thousands died at the hands of Henry the VIII. To further their Protestant cause constant Protestant propaganda vilified Catholic Spain that continues till today to perpetuate the myth about the Inquisition.
    It is interesting that you defend everyone who is against the Church that Jesus Christ started. Martin Luther wanted to destroy the Church not save it. The Zionist hates Christ and his Church and says so in their Talmud. Hundreds of millions of Christians died in World War II yet somehow the six million Jews who died are more important. Are the Jews of today the Jews of the Bible? Jesus warned in John 5:43 (I am come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive.) Is this a warning to the Jews about the end times? The Talmud, devil worshipers, witches, and Freemasonry all attack the Catholic Church. Who else would they attack? Freemasonry leader and Confederate General Albert Pike was the writer of the Morals and Dogma of the ancient and accepted rite of Freemasonry. He was sentenced to hang for war crimes that included murdering and torturing prisoners. President Andrew Johnson was president after Lincoln death. Pike was a higher degree Mason then Johnson and when Pike asked for a pardon Johnson granted it. The Light Bearer that Pike professes to follow throughout his Morals and Dogma book is defined as Lucifer. In the internet world all the secrets of secret organizations are there to view.
    However, you don’t stop there, it seem that you dislike Catholic Church doctrine. When Jesus Christ started his Church and he started with Peter, Mt. 16:18 (…and upon this rock (Peter) I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.) We have Christ’s assurance that his Church will last. Christ started his Church with Peter and it has continued with an unbroken line of Popes to the present. Peter and the next 33 Popes were martyred. All church doctrine on faith and morals is infallible, Mt. 28:20 (I am with you always, until the end of the world.) and in Lk. 10:16 (He who hears you, hears me.). Doctrine of the Church is the revealed teachings of Christ. You confuse things like eating meat on Friday and the theory of Limbo with doctrine. They are not doctrine. All Catholic doctrine is openly available for all to see and any Catholic book or website can explain the foundation of its authority. Anyone, even non-Catholics are welcomed to attend Mass.
    You question Catholic doctrine, but I question Mormon doctrine. Most of it is contrary to the bible. Mormons believe that god was once a man here on earth. Mormons believe that they will become gods. Therefore they believe in many gods. They believe that marriage here on earth continues in heaven while Jesus Christ made it clear that it did not when the Pharisees tried to trap him. Whole books have been written about the difference from Mormon doctrine and Christian doctrine, but I don’t have the time to go into it all. Catholic doctrine has always been the same, because it is the revealed teachings of Christ. Mormon doctrine is constantly changing.
    Your philosophical musing about why the Mountain Meadows Massacre happened leads me to believe that you recognize that the event was a crime that should not have happened yet you still defend the indefensible. Indefensible, because the order to commit this planned murder of unarmed American men, women, and children came from the highest authority in the Mormon Church, Brigham Young. Young gave the order to Mormon John D. Lee who tells his story in the book (Mormonism Unveiled.) A book that does not read like a religious book, but more like a book about cowboy gangsters who run land schemes and extorted money from fellow Mormons as they moved from state to state. Then they would set up fake ambushes with Indians to rob wagon trains that they were hired to escort to California. It was simply criminal activity left unchecked till it finally got too far out of hand when Young gave the order to for the massacre.
    It all comes down to good and evil. Christ has his doctrine and Satan has his. Do you follow Christ and his Church with the guarantees that he gave us about his Church: or do you follow another Church hopping that they are leading you to God. It is the duty of all Catholics to help covert all to the Catholic Faith. Believers or non-believers Mormon and Jew; there are no grandfather or escape clauses; the apostles could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if there were. God sent his only begotten son here to earth to establish his Church.

  • Bill Kilpatrick, Lakeland, Florida

    “My-Oh- My!”
    My-oh-my, indeed!
    “You continue to find it hard to stick to the meaning of words. You say that you agree to the dictionary definition of a martyr, yet you wish to change the definition by way of application.”
    Not at all. I accepted Webster’s definition of a martyr and then showed how Joseph Smith qualified by one. There’s no way to “change the definition by way of application.” It’s possible, however, to “change the definition” by tacking on all kinds of qualifiers, which is what you have done.
    “Words have meaning and to chance that meaning changes what is discussed. Changing the meaning of words has led our Nation to allow the killing of over 40 million unborn babies.”
    I’m sorry. Is the subject now about abortion? I’ve read Roe v. Wade. Have you? What word do you think was changed? Was it privacy? Was it due process? Was it fetus?
    “You made a well crafted argument, but to except your argument one would have to change the definition of martyr from who ‘voluntarily suffers death’ to ‘someone holding a pistol and kills two attacking men.’”
    I thank you for the compliment, which is proof that two people can disagree without necessarily being disagreeable, but I disagree with your criticism. It is not a change in the definition of “martyr” to argue that Smith’s murder made him a martyr.
    Joseph Smith made many claims – that he was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon was scripture, that he was restoring the original Gospel of Jesus Christ – which people were free to accept or reject. But going back to the 1830s, Joseph Smith was attacked for his beliefs, not “attacked” in the sense of being criticized or ridiculed, but beaten, tarred-and-feathered, threatened and driven from state to state.
    When Smith was charged with treason for shutting down a printing press that he, as mayor of Nauvoo, feared would incite a mob attack on the town – not unlike what would later happen at Rosewood, Florida (where the people of the town were massacred and the buildings were razed to bury the evidence) – he fled the state, rather than submit himself to a trial held in the neighboring town of Quincy, where his fate would be decided by his enemies. He toyed with the idea of leaving for the West. He rationalized the decision by arguing that the people of Nauvoo would be safer without him.
    But he came to the decision that he couldn’t run away from destiny. His brother, Hyrum, had a rosy idea of what would happen. Joseph did not. Joseph knew he’d be killed. He knew the promises of protection were bogus. He was melancholy about it. His statement, upon surrendering, was reflective of this: “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall be said of me—He was murdered in cold blood.”
    Joseph Smith was prepared to die, which is why he never tried to escape Carthage Jail, which was little more than a two-story building with an upper room for a cell. But as events began to make it clear that there would be no trial, that Joseph and Hyrum would simply be dangled like bait, there were many urgings for the two to flee. There was even a pistol smuggled in. But that pistol was never used to further any escape. Joseph and Hyrum stay put, along with John Taylor and Willard Richards, who were there for moral support.
    Joseph Smith had placed himself in a position to be tried, convicted and executed for “treason” over what amounted – at most – to a questionable abuse of office, an impeachable offense, not a capital crime. He was not, however, under any moral or legal obligation to let men in blackened faces storm the jail and kill everybody who was with him. Joseph Smith sealed his fate the moment he turned himself in but he acted with manly determination in protecting the lives of Willard Richards and John Taylor. I don’t think his actions, in protecting this friends, have any bearing on whether he was martyred for his beliefs.
    “Smith’s right to defend himself I have never questioned. No doubt all persons charged with a felony should be given a gun to defend themselves if a mob is coming to get them. However, this was not a Catholic mob. It was made up of former Mormons and angered Masons.”
    Nice sarcasm but I reject your contention that this was a mob “made up of former Mormons and angered Masons.” I don’t pretend to know the religious specifics of those men in blackened faces who stormed the “jail,” but neither should you. William Law, the editor of the Mormon Expositor, the paper shut down by Smith, was a former Mormon apostle who had been excommunicated. He made it his life’s calling to bring Smith down, but it’s unlikely he could have (or would have) organized a mob to kill Smith – unless you believe that being a Mormon dissenter made him dangerous and cold-blooded. The man hated Joseph Smith but I respect his convictions enough not to insinuate that he was a murderer just because he opposed Joseph Smith. Nor do I give any credence to the kind of anti-Masonic bigotry that has infected your thoughts. The Masons pulled the plug on Nauvoo’s charter and blackballed all of the Mormons in the Nauvoo Lodge but neither Mormonism nor Freemasonry ever took a view to the other comparable to Catholicism’s war on Freemasonry.
    No, given the history of Mormonism, in Illinois as elsewhere, I suspect the crowd involved in the murder of Joseph Smith were locals, angry with the Mormons and eager to get rid of their titular head. Whether they were Catholics or not is irrelevant to the definition of martyrdom.
    “Catholics did not attack Joseph Smith, but he and the religion that he made up has never stopped attacking the Catholic Church that Jesus Christ established, and you are no different. From the Holy Inquisitions to the Crusades you claim I defend the indefensible.”
    I find it amusing that you would accuse me of changing the meaning of words while equating religious criticism with bullets shot through doors and windows. While some Mormons, like Bruce R. McConkie, have made public denunciations of Catholicism (to much chagrin), Joseph Smith criticized what had happened to Christianity in the period between the deaths of the apostles and the formation of Medieval Christianity. That criticism was based on changes in doctrine, authority and ecclesiastical structure. It hardly merits confusion with physically attacking the person of someone with whom you have religious differences.
    As for the rest of your comment, I reject the idea that Jesus set up the Catholic Church, many of whose traditions and rituals look less Biblical than Medieval. As for the “Holy” Inquisition and the Crusades, if you have come here to defend those atrocities, then you are certainly defending the indefensible. Even laying aside the sometimes shrill exaggerations of what went on, neither the Inquisitions nor the Crusades are worth defending.
    “In your reasoning you believe that the Crusaders attacked a peace loving Islamic population.”
    No, I never said anything of the sort. If you want to disagree with me, pick something I’ve said, not some straw-man argument I never made.
    I never said that Islam was peaceful or that the Europeans didn’t have a right to expel Muslim invaders from their lands but the Crusades were not fought in Europe, unless you think Jerusalem is part of Europe. They were fought over who would control the “Holy Land.” I don’t see any evidence that Catholic Europe had any more claim to the Jewish homeland than the Muslims. To me, it’s like two boys fighting over some girl’s tricycle. Whatever other issues either might have with the other, there’s no way to justify the fight over the tricycle.
    “Islam was not in existence till almost 600 years after Christianity was started.”
    Who cares?
    “All the lands that the Christians took back were once Christian lands.”
    There are no “Christian lands,” just people who are free to accept or reject the tenets of competing religions. You are speaking as if you had exclusive distribution rights. To the extent that Muslims invaded Europe, Europeans had the right to drive them back. But the Crusades were not fought over European freedom and independence. They were fought over control of the Holy Lands. We’re talking about issues that were centuries apart.
    “Christianity did not try to destroy Islam.”
    Nor did Islam try to destroy Christianity. Both Christians and Jews were considered “people of the book,” a status second only to Muslims because of a shared commitment to monotheism.
    “Christianity only wished to stop the advancing theocratic Islamic invaders wishing to take over Europe.”
    By invading and occupying Jerusalem? In which part of Europe should I look for Jerusalem?
    A”s the Catholics fought Islam, the Protestants did nothing, but continued their cause.”
    Here, you are as unfair to Protestants as you are to Mormons. While there have always been those who rejected Catholicism, or what was becoming such during the Middle Ages, “the Protestants” – as a distinct group – weren’t around during the Crusades, which took place centuries before the Protestant Reformation. Or didn’t they tell you that in catechism?
    “Then after the Catholics stopped Islam from taking over Europe the Protestants went on to vilify the Catholic for saving Europe.”
    Again, your criticisms against Protestants are just as unfair and uninformed as the ones you make against Mormons. The Crusades had nothing to do with protecting Europe from Muslims. They were about control of the Holy Lands. Furthermore, the Protestants did not “vilify the Catholic for saving Europe.” Protestants criticized Catholicism for all of the abuses that took place when Catholicism claimed, and enjoyed, a religious monopoly during the Middle Ages. Not one of Martin Luther’s criticisms had anything to do with the Crusades, let alone the driving of Muslim invaders out of Europe. He was upset about the sale of indulgences. The idea of telling people they could get a sin forgiven by giving money to the Church is repugnant and unbiblical – and something the Catholic Church recognized and did something about during the Counter-Reformation. It’s ridiculous to sit here and reduce Protestantism to an attempt to “villify the Catholic for saving Europe.”
    “After the war with the Moors, Catholic Spain tried to stabilize the Nation after years of Islamic rule.”
    That’s like saying the Germans were trying to “stabilize” Germany by going after the Jews. The creation of a “Christian” Spain was the justification for unifying its separate kingdoms under a single, unified, Catholic state. Political unification may well have stabilized Spain, by putting all of its Spanish-speaking peoples under the same laws, protected by the same crown and the same military. It prevented a Balkanization of Spain, as continued to happen in Italy and Germany up until the 20th Century. But expelling people because of their Jewish or Muslim ancestors did not “stabilize” anything. It threw havoc into the system. It uprooted whole communities. It was an act comparable to the Salem Witch Trials and the Red Scares. It was a crackdown inspired by paranoia, not stability.
    “The government of Spain used the Holy Inquisition (Court of Law) to insure fairness in order to remove traitors, spies, murderers, and told non-Catholics to leave the nation to bring stability to Spain.”
    That’s like saying McCarthy used the House Unamerican Activities Commission to ensure fairness and “remove traitors, spies” and “murderers” from Hollywood and the State Department. In fact, HUAC was a political maneuver, by Republicans, to attack the Democrats because the Republicans seven straight presidential elections in a row. But even HUAC didn’t involve the torture of people who were called to testify under threat of being blacklisted.
    “Less then a hundred were executed in the Spanish Inquisition that is claimed to be the worse of the Holy Inquisitions.”
    Even if I accepted your figure, which represents the number of Protestants who were burned to death as heretics, I find it amazing that you could be so blithe about the burning of 100 people (about as many people as the low figure of those killed at Mountain Meadows) – because they didn’t accept Catholicism. You’ve come here to shout “Mountain Meadows” as an indictment of Mormonism but you justify or downplay the torching of 100 Protestants for their rejection of Catholicism. To me, that’s a roving set of standards and proof that religion and objectivity often do not go hand in hand.
    In fact, I reject your figure, which drastically understates the number of victims of the Spanish Inquisition alone. While you mentioned the 100 Protestants (while omitting the fact that they were burned alive for rejecting Catholicism), you left out:
    –The 6 Marrano men and six women burned alive, in Seville, in 1481, for allegedly practicing Judaism.
    –The 39,912 Jews prosecuted for practicing Judaism at 2,000 Auto da Fe’s, many of whom were burned alive.
    –The 340,000 Jews who suffered during the Spanish Inquisition.
    –The Moriscos who were detained, tortured and executed.
    Even using the Vatican’s own figures – which document 44,647 cases, with an execution rate of 1.8%, we end up with a death toll of at least 800, a figure eight times that of your reductionist, apologist response. That’s not counting the number of people imprisoned, tortured, forced to “reconcile,” or the books burned, the lands confiscated and the families ripped apart – and over what? The right to believe as they chose and practice the religion of their choice?
    The Spanish Inquisition was so barbaric, using instruments of torture so cruel, that it was eventually denounced by Popes, and it was the Catholic Church which called for its end, not the least of which was because it had unleashed a series of abuses so infamous that it brought the Church into disrepute.
    “At the same time in Protestant England thousands died at the hands of Henry the VIII. To further their Protestant cause constant Protestant propaganda vilified Catholic Spain that continues till today to perpetuate the myth about the Inquisition.”
    If you expect me to defend religious persecution of minorities in England, you will be disappointed. Unlike you, I have neither the need nor the inclination to defend the indefensible. Henry VIII’s earlier denunciation of Martin Luther had earned him the title, “Defender of the Faith,” an irony when he would later replace Catholicism with The Church of England. The thousands of which you speak are those who were killed in England’s civil war over whether to remain Catholic or switch to Protestantism. What’s worse, at Henry’s death, his daughter’s – Mary and Elizabeth – represented different constituencies, bringing about successive civil wars over the religious stance of the country. Even Elizabeth’s eventual accession to the throne and her decision to declare England Protestant led to religious strife as England’s “Catholic Lite” became a point of contention between Anglicans and more radical Puritans.
    But for all those killed in an all-out civil war between Catholic and Protestant monarchs and factions, England’s religious wars hardly render what happened in Spain “the myth of the Inquisition.” For those who were burned alive, their books burned, their relatives and lovers left in prison, their family members tortured and their rights violated, the Spanish Inquisition was no “myth.” It was a cruel and unnecessary act of legalized barbarism.
    For the record, the Anglican Church has to live down what happened in England. Mormons have to live down what happened at Mountain Meadows. Catholics have to live down what was done in the name of the Catholic Church – during the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Spanish Conquest of America, et cetera. That’s the cross you bear. The point is that you are unbelievably brazen to come here and throw rocks at Mormonism for what a group of Mormons did, down in the hickest part of present-day Utah fifty years ago, when you stand in the midst of a glass house whose victims are countless and whose crimes are among the most revolting and violent in history.
    “It is interesting that you defend everyone who is against the Church that Jesus Christ started.”
    I reject your claim that Jesus started the Catholic Church, but even if I swallowed that claim – hook, line and sinker – I’m a long way away from defending “everyone who is against” Catholicism. I never airbrushed the Protestants, just said they had a right to their own religious beliefs and practices. You can only burn so many people before it becomes obvious that you can’t burn them all – nor should you. It is peculiarly un-Christian to imprison, torture and execute people for disagreeing with your message. If you claim to be the followers of Christ’s “one true Church,” try reading what he said or following what he did. Christ died for his beliefs; he didn’t kill others to force them or their families to come around.
    You say I “defend everyone who is against the Church” but I have defended no one, with the possible exception of Joseph Smith – and even then only to the extent of arguing that he merits mention as a martyr for his beliefs. The only other person I spoke of was Martin Luther. Even then, that wasn’t to “defend” Luther – who had issues you haven’t even brought up, such as his lack of concern for the serfs who were butchered during the Peasants’ War. Luther was, if anything, a stern, doctrinaire man who could be just as intolerant toward those who dissented from his views as the Church was toward him when he spoke out about its own failings. I find it rather odd that you would accuse me of defending a man whose extreme ideas regarding “justification by faith” were roundly rejected by Joseph Smith as defective and errant.
    “Martin Luther wanted to destroy the Church not save it.”
    If that’s what they’re teaching you in Catechism, you really need to read a book, preferably one that isn’t complete propaganda. Luther’s motivation was most certainly NOT to destroy Catholicism but to speak out against practices – such as the sale of indulgences – that were unbiblical and unsound. It was NOT his intention to start another church but to advocate changes within Catholicism. That his ideas were used, particularly by northern monarchs, as a means of breaking the influence the Church had upon political affairs in their own lands, does not – in and of itself – impute to Martin Luther a desire to “destroy the Church.” Get your facts straight.
    “The Zionist hates Christ and his Church and says so in their Talmud.”
    You didn’t just say that. So, all this time, I’ve been arguing with an antisemite? Even so, why would a Medieval Jew, living under persecution and repression – much of it stirred by the Catholic Church – not associate his treatment with “Christ and his Church,” especially when Christian barbarity had brought Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, into such disrepute?
    “Hundreds of millions of Christians died in World War II yet somehow the six million Jews who died are more important.”
    Oh my. You didn’t just say THAT! This discussion started out with your claim that Mountain Meadows was an indictment of all Mormons. Then, it became a forum for why Joseph Smith didn’t deserve to be a martyr. It hilariously became a defense of the Crusades and the Inquisition. Now it’s a forum for you to rail against the Jews?
    “Are the Jews of today the Jews of the Bible? Jesus warned in John 5:43 (I am come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive.) Is this a warning to the Jews about the end times? The Talmud, devil worshipers, witches, and Freemasonry all attack the Catholic Church.”
    So, if I understand you correctly, everybody is against the Catholics? And you’re lumping Jews into the box with “devil worshippers, witches and Freemasonry?” Ah yes, I’m beginning to understand now: All of these groups have been declared heretics by the Catholic Church – along with Mormons, the difference here being that Catholicism no longer holds the political clout necessary to imprison, torture and burn people at the stake. I guess Mormons – along with a lot of other people – should be grateful for the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Magna Carta, the Glorious Revolution, the English Bill of Rights, the American Revolution and the American Bill of Rights. Civil society has evolved, rendering such epithets as “heretic,” “witch,” “Mason” and “Mormon” as little more than noise.
    “Who else would they attack? Freemasonry leader and Confederate General Albert Pike was the writer of the Morals and Dogma of the ancient and accepted rite of Freemasonry. He was sentenced to hang for war crimes that included murdering and torturing prisoners. President Andrew Johnson was president after Lincoln death. Pike was a higher degree Mason then Johnson and when Pike asked for a pardon Johnson granted it. The Light Bearer that Pike professes to follow throughout his Morals and Dogma book is defined as Lucifer. In the internet world all the secrets of secret organizations are there to view.”
    You think Confederate General Albert Pike was pardoned because he was a Freemason and – by implication – some kind of Satanist? Oh my. Did it not occur to you that there were any other reasons why Pike would be spared execution? If not, let me give you a few to chew on. I’m no friend to either the Masons or the Confederates, but as it irks me to see history so badly raped and mauled, allow me to provide you with a few suggestions that don’t come from the icky, sticky, pages of some conspiratorial comic book:
    –Johnson was from Tennessee, a state that remained nominally neutral during the Civil War but more often than not because Tennesseans did not want their back yard used as the obvious location for a series of bloody battles between both sides.
    –Johnson sympathized with fellow southerners, many of whom felt dutybound to serve the South, even though the Confederate cause was doomed to begin with.
    –Following secession, all of the conflict and debate in Congress – along north/south lines – was replaced by sectional monopoly. By leaving the Union, the southern states had abdicated any voice in Congress. With the end of the war, and the return of the southern states to the Union, that period of sectional monopoly was about to end, leading to calls for greater hurdles before martial law was ceased in a state and its representatives accepted in Congress.
    –Lincoln wanted to effect Reconstruction and reunification as quickly as possible, but that put him at odds with the Radical Reconstructionists in Congress. His assassination prevented a fight between Lincoln and Congress.
    –When Johnson succeeded Lincoln, he inherited the impending war with Congress. While favoring higher hurdles than Lincoln proposed, Johnson – whose Tennessee background made him an easy target – ended up in a war over control of Reconstruction, a war that almost got him impeached.
    –As was the practice, Confederate officers were routinely convicted of treason for leading armies against the Union, but then pardoned, thereby allowing them to be disqualified for political service while avoiding prison sentences, let alone executions.
    –Pike was a noted Freemason, as was Johnson, but Pike was also a very interesting case. An early advocate of Native American rights, Pike was against the secessionist cause but accepted his Confederate comission because that was the political stance of his home state of Arkansas, a state he did not want to invade as a Union officer. Because of Pike’s familiarity with the Comanche, he was put in charge of Comanche recruits to the Confederate army (which needed as many soldiers as possible). Pike opposed the use of Native Americans but accepted assignment as their commanding officer. At Pea Ridge, when a number of Comanche confederates scalped Union casualties, Pike ordered an investigation but was censured by the Confederate command. Defending his honor, Pike published a detailed defense that was later rebuked by Jefferson Davis as inappropriate. When Pike resigned his commission, he was brought up on charges of treason and fled north, where he was accepted as a defector to the Union cause. After the war, however, Pike fled to Canada to avoid becoming a victim of the post-war witch-hunt, a witch-hunt that made him particularly vulnerable because of the charges that his men had scalped union soldiers.
    –In granting Pike a pardon, Johnson did something for Pike that he had routinely done for other Confederate officers. The only difference here was that Pike had picked up notoriety for the scalpings. But Pike’s reluctance to serve the Confederate cause, as well as his defection from it during the War, gave Johnson good reason to grant the pardon.
    –I am not arguing that Johnson did not take into account that Pike was a fellow Freemason, but the notion that Johnson pardoned Pike solely because of his connection to Freemasonry is ludicrous. Furthermore, to not see the pardon of Pike as motivated by a general desire to impeach Johnson is equally naive. Johnson was eventually put through impeachment, solely because he fired his Secretary of War, and only because Congress passed an unconstitutional law requiring the President to get Senate approval to fire any political appointee for which Senate confirmation was required for initial appointment. Johnson escaped removal from office by one vote.
    “However, you don’t stop there, it seem that you dislike Catholic Church doctrine.”
    It’s not a question of whether I “dislike Catholic Church doctrine.” I’m not a Catholic. Like a billion others in the Christian world who reject Catholicism as the “one true Church of Jesus Christ,” I reserve the right to reject doctrine that is either unbiblical or unreasonable. A person can disagree with the Catholic Church without being an anti-Catholic bigot or deserving this kind of demonization.
    “When Jesus Christ started his Church and he started with Peter, Mt. 16:18 (…and upon this rock (Peter) I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.) We have Christ’s assurance that his Church will last.”
    According to Matthew 16, Jesus did say, “and upon this rock I will build my Church.” The question is what he meant by that. The typical Catholic answer is that Jesus built his church upon Peter, whose name, Petros, means “rock.” The typical Protestant interpretation was that Jesus was using a play on words. If you look at the context of the passage, rather than simply referring to it as a prooftext, you’ll see that Jesus had brought up for discussion the whole question of who he was. He asked his disciples who different people thought he was. Then he asked them, “Whom do ye say that I am?” There must have been a noticeable, pregnant, pause before Peter spoke up and said, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the Living God.”
    Jesus’s response was, “Thou art Peter, and upon THIS rock, I shall build my Church.” Where Catholics assume he meant that Peter was that rock, Protestants believe that Jesus was referring to the witness of Christ. To them, the belief that “jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God,” is the foundation of the faith. Everything is built upon that one principle. As the subject was, “Whom do ye say that I am?” I find the Protestant answer to make more sense than the Catholic claim that Peter was just named as “first Pope.” I see nothing in the Gospels that says anything about a Papacy, let alone a college of cardinals. The New Testament Church was governed by a group of Twelve Apostles, not archbishops, not cardinals, not Popes. In fact, I find Paul’s later confrontation with Peter – when the latter got weak-kneed about eating with Gentiles when Jewish Christians came around – to be completely inconsistent with the idea of Peter as the perfect, infallible, vicar of Christ, whose utterances were to be given unquestioned creedance.
    The Mormon answer, which differs from both the Catholic and Protestant interpretations, is that the “rock” to which Christ referred, was personal revelation. Jesus, in fact, says, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father which is in Heaven.” This is the context for Christ’s claim that on THIS rock he would build his Church. Mormons are not opposed to the idea that Peter was chosen as the chief apostle but they see more in this exchange than the creation of a series of Popes. They see it as a lesson in personal revelation, that the most important proofs come by the witness of the Spirit.
    “Christ started his Church with Peter and it has continued with an unbroken line of Popes to the present.”
    You, yourself, should know that Papal succession – whenever it really began – has not been an uneventful string of Popes. The Avignon period, with the so-called Babylonian Captivity, is a good example of breakdowns in Papal succession. As much as anything, it has been a political – and not just a spiritual – process.
    “Peter and the next 33 Popes were martyred.”
    Peter was reportedly crucified upside down. Whether the next 33 Popes deserve to be called martyrs for dying in office is anybody’s guess.
    “All church doctrine on faith and morals is infallible, Mt. 28:20 (I am with you always, until the end of the world.) and in Lk. 10:16 (He who hears you, hears me.).”
    I don’t think the passages you quote quite add up to the conclusion you want to read from them. There is a huge difference between Christ’s promise that he would be with his disciples to the very end and your assertion that Catholic doctrine is always “infallible.” There’s plenty I could summon up from the Middle Ages that I would consider questionable at best.
    “Doctrine of the Church is the revealed teachings of Christ.”
    So you say, but saying hardly makes it so.
    “You confuse things like eating meat on Friday and the theory of Limbo with doctrine. They are not doctrine.”
    Usually, this is a tactic people accuse Mormons of. I think clerical celibacy and limbo are, in fact, doctrinal. I’ll take your word on “no meat Friday.”
    “All Catholic doctrine is openly available for all to see and any Catholic book or website can explain the foundation of its authority. Anyone, even non-Catholics are welcomed to attend Mass.”
    Yes, and plenty of us, while respectful of Catholics and protective of their right to belief and practice as they see fit, disagree with its tenets. We are not impressed when Catholics lay down the law and say, “Here’s the way it is.” You’ll find many folks who want to see where, in the Bible, it says such and such. Telling them that the Catholic Church is “infallible” in doctrine and morals just doesn’t do it for them.
    “You question Catholic doctrine, but I question Mormon doctrine.”
    As is your right. But it pays to be able to divorce your feelings about Mormonism from your assessment of a piece of history. When you mix them, you taint history with your objections to Mormonism.
    “Most of it is contrary to the bible.”
    I don’t think so, or at least not any more so than Catholicism’s post-biblical evolutions in doctrine and practice.
    “Mormons believe that god was once a man here on earth.”
    You make me laugh. First, that statement is not true. Mormons believe Genesis when it says that man was made in God’s image and likeness. They also believe Jesus when he told people to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” They believe John when he said: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
    And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3)
    Mormons believe that human potential is infinite and limitless, that with the guidance of the Spirit, human beings can become so much more than they are, and that the whole point of the Gospel is to lift and exalt humanity rather than allow it to decay into decadence. God’s longsuffering and patience – as exemplified in Christ’s atonement – make human growth possible, through God’s grace and man’s yielding to the enticings of the Spirit.
    Does that mean that we could become “gods?” Well, that’s a term with lots of baggage. Angels have been mistaken for gods. The Conquistadores, arriving with superior military technology, were mistaken for gods. What humanity shall become, as it is lifted out of the muck by some divine hand of grace, might well be described as “gods,” at least compared to what you see on TV when you watch an episode of C.O.P.S. But that’s a far cry from Greek gods, Roman gods or some other polytheistic fantasy involving deities over love, rain, the arts and war.
    The idea that humanity’s ultimate destiny is to be so much more than it is today has led to speculation that, if God means to raise us up to fellowship with him, whether it’s possible that God, himself, went through a similar process, and so on and so forth. But this is an inference, not Mormon doctrine. It is an inference that Mormon leaders spoke of when they felt free to theorize about what might be beyond all of this, at a time when nobody was listening to them anyway, for something as simple as The Book of Mormon.
    Mormons do not believe, nor have they ever believed, that God was a man who lived on this Earth, though Brigham Young once speculated as to whether – if God could have incarnated himself into the human race as Jesus, whether he might have done so as Adam. But Brigham Young’s musings on this issue have been roundly rejected as unsound.
    But I still find it humorous that somebody who believes that God was a man on this Earth, namely Jesus of Nazareth, would have the audacity to accuse someone else of thinking such a thing.
    “Mormons believe that they will become gods. Therefore they believe in many gods.”
    So much for your sermonette on not changing the meaning of words. Please do not lecture me on what Mormons believe when your attempts at it are so messed up. Belief in eternal progression is not polytheism. Belief that those around you could be exalted to glory beyond comprehension does not amount to polytheism. Mormons do not worship multiple gods.
    “They believe that marriage here on earth continues in heaven while Jesus Christ made it clear that it did not when the Pharisees tried to trap him.”
    Mormons believe that the true institution of marriage was meant “for all time and eternity.” I hardly find that an indictment of Mormons. I do, however, feel sorry for you if your conception of marriage is that it only exists for this life. Given the assymetry between time and eternity, I would find such a notion cruel and ridiculous. If I love my wife, why would I want to believe that, upon death, we are separated forever. What cruel nonsense is this?
    I read the same account you are referring to. Jesus was asked by the Saducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, what should happen if a man died without leaving children. Under Jewish custom, his brother was dutybound to marry her and have a child in his name. The man in the story had seven brothers, each of whom died without leaving any issue. So, according to the Saducee trap, “Who, in the resurrection, would be the husband to this woman, seeing they all had her?”
    Jesus’s response was evasive. None. Why not? Because they were all married for this life. In the heavens, they would be as the angels, neither giving nor being given in marriage. The subject was not marriage but the resurrection, something the Saducees rejected. Jesus could have punched holes in their doctrine but turned their premise upside down. By denying marriage to all of them, the problem went away, but that denial was based on the fact that the Jews did not have any doctrine of eternal marriage.
    Yet, after Job endured all his trials and tribulations, God blessed him. He doubled everything Job had.
    What did Job start with?
    2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.
    What did Job end with?
    “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.”
    If God doubled Job’s sheep, his camel, his oxen and his donkeys, why did God give Job exactly the same number of children as he had before – if Job’s family wasn’t meant to last forever?
    Just on the level of common sense, I find the idea of marriage as a “till death do us part” idea absolute stupidity and completely out of synch with happiness. If you prefer to be a eunuch in Heaven, have at it. But don’t be surprised when I look at my family and intend to keep them forever.
    “Whole books have been written about the difference from Mormon doctrine and Christian doctrine, but I don’t have the time to go into it all. Catholic doctrine has always been the same, because it is the revealed teachings of Christ. Mormon doctrine is constantly changing.”
    Evolving, actually. Look, I don’t care whether you accept or reject Mormonism. I really don’t. You have the right to make your own choice. But history isn’t about whether we like or dislike a group of people. History is about what happened – the good, the bad and the ugly.
    “Your philosophical musing about why the Mountain Meadows Massacre happened leads me to believe that you recognize that the event was a crime that should not have happened yet you still defend the indefensible.”
    When did I ever defend the Mountain Meadows massacre? How, exactly, does one defend a massacre? It was a crime? No, jaywalking is a crime. Mountain Meadows was an atrocity.
    But what you and various others lack the objectivity or perspective to see is that Mountain Meadows was an atrocity within a certain context. It followed certain dynamics about the human animal. It says something that should cause Mormons to shake and shiver, but only a partisan polemicist like yourself would miss the larger and deeper issue: That this sort of thing could happen again, if not among the Mormons than among someone else. If you put the circumstances back together, you will cook up another awful, nasty, brutal event such as this.
    “Indefensible, because the order to commit this planned murder of unarmed American men, women, and children came from the highest authority in the Mormon Church, Brigham Young.”
    THAT’S why Mountain Meadows is indefensible? Because you think it’s an opportunity to throw another right hook at Brigham Young, who is dead and buried? No, no, no, no, no.
    Mountain Meadows is indefensible because a community (be they Mormons, Presbyterians, Rajnishis or Unitarians) took out their anger and frustration on a group of travelers. They disarmed these travelers by using the threat of an Indian attack, then sicked the Indians onto these people, killing men and women indiscriminately and then taking their children to be raised among them. It is an awful, indefensible, horrific tragedy.
    Blaming Brigham Young for it hardly adds a feather. In fact, I think it does it such a disservice that you dishonor the dead. You care so much more for pinning this on Brigham Young. You ought to care about the disgraceful and infamous treachery of it all. Brigham Young is a footnote. As it is, there is no credible evidence that he ordered this. He may be to blame for whipping up the frenzy of xenophobia that led to it, but there is simply no credible evidence that Brigham Young wanted or directed it in any way.
    As someone who has spent a considerable time within the Mormon Church, I am much more disheartened at the fact that Mormons did this, and that the Church went to certain lengths to cover it up or minimize the bad publicity from it. I am disheartened that the only person ever punished for it was John D. Lee.
    “Young gave the order to Mormon John D. Lee who tells his story in the book (Mormonism Unveiled.) A book that does not read like a religious book, but more like a book about cowboy gangsters who run land schemes and extorted money from fellow Mormons as they moved from state to state.”
    John D. Lee’s defense was that Brigham Young told him to do it, an excuse nobody bought at his trial, and this was from the same community that followed his order to do it. I frankly find him without any credibility at all.
    “It all comes down to good and evil. Christ has his doctrine and Satan has his. Do you follow Christ and his Church with the guarantees that he gave us about his Church: or do you follow another Church hopping that they are leading you to God.”
    I agree. It really does come down to good and evil, which don’t need either the Catholics, the Protestants or the Mormons. Right is right and wrong is wrong. The moment one begins to bend one’s conception of morality to make it fit one’s loyalty to a group, that’s the moment things go south in a hurry.
    “It is the duty of all Catholics to help covert all to the Catholic Faith. Believers or non-believers Mormon and Jew; there are no grandfather or escape clauses; the apostles could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if there were. God sent his only begotten son here to earth to establish his Church.”
    I reject that claim. I reject it from you. I reject it from the Mormons. I don’t think the whole point of the life of Christ was to establish a church, giving power and authority to a group of bureaucrats to rule and reign at the expense and credence of others.
    I think one could do a whole lot better by reading the best books, discerning from them the important values of rights and wrong, and living the best life one can live, without judging others on the basis of their brand loyalty.
    If the folks at Mountain Meadows had thought like I do, there wouldn’t have been a Mountain Meadows. They could have done so much more by offering these people food, water, shelter and rest. They could have buried the hatched through love – something Jesus spoke of. Instead, they went out of their way to wreak vengeance – and against the wrong group.
    But that same kind of thinking could have stopped the Crusades, the Inquisition, the War of the Roses, the Hundred Years War, the Salem Witch Trials, the Haun’s Mill Massacre and the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage Jail.
    The lesson from Mountain Meadows is a fairly broad one. It has to do with forgiveness. It has to do with letting go off one’s brand and doing what is right. It’s about letting go of the same old stupidity that has plagued the human race – from the most ancient of times to 9/11, Gitmo and Abu Ghraib.

  • Joseph

    My you certainly like to write, eight pages in all. I may need a new printer if this keeps up. However, I find myself disappointed for the proportion is great, but the substance and significance has weakened.
    Don’t be disappointed I will try to reply in a couple of days. If God is willing that I do so.

  • Bill Kilpatrick, Lakeland, Florida

    I look forward to reading what you have to say. Even if we disagree, it is a friendly disagreement.

  • Bill Kilpatrick, Lakeland, Florida

    The scariest thing about Mountain Meadows is the fact that it could happen again, somewhere else, with any number of different nice-people-turned-murderers and wrong-place-wrong-time victims.
    It may be comforting to imagine that this was a “Mormon thing,” because that localizes the problem. As long as you can quarantine tragedy to some group of crazies who had a meltdown, you can convince yourself that it will never happen to you or someone you love. But that kind of thinking is just whistling past the graveyard.
    There are plenty of folks who hate the Mormon Church and who look at Mountain Meadows as, literally, a “smoking gun.” They already think Mormons are weirdoes, that they’re not proper Christians, that they were a criminal society full of evil polygamists and avenging angels. Mountain Meadows is everything they could want in their effort to cast all Mormons as witches, subversives, heretics – and now “terrorists.”
    But the real issues behind Mountain Meadows are broader, and much more chilling, than a horror movie starring the Mormons.
    Mountain Meadows wasn’t like September 11th, even if happened on the same day. It wasn’t like Oklahoma City. It wasn’t like London or Madrid or Baghdad on any given Tuesday. Mountain Meadows was like Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” the story of a community gone mad, but in a seemingly controlled and sensible way.
    In “The Lottery,” an entire village is engaged in a lottery of sorts, with each villager’s name written on small scraps of paper to be pulled from a small black box. Tradition and a belief in community has convinced nearly every villager that the lottery is critical to the survival of the community. It’s not until the end of the story that we discover that the person whose name gets pulled gets stoned to death.
    What happened at Mountain Meadows was not a terrorist attack like Oklahoma City or September 11th. It was a murder, pure in simple. The people of a rural Mormon community decided to murder the people on a wagon train on their way to California. Rabid Mormon detractors would have us believe that this was Mormonism, pure and simple, as if that’s what Mormons do. But where, in all of Mormondom, is there any parallel to Mountain Meadows? Not in Salt Lake City. Not in Wyoming or Idaho. Not in Nevada or the northern part of Arizona. Not in Juarez, Mexico. Not in Kirtland, Independence or Nauvoo.
    During the height of tensions between the Mormons and the U.S. government, a group of travelers from Arkansas made their way through Utah. There’s no indication that any of them posed any threat of any kind to the Mormons. But in the context of an impending invasion of the territory, and the recent murder of Mormon Apostle, Orson Pratt – while on a mission to Arkansas – which opened wounds that stretched back, past the destruction of the Nauvoo Temple, past the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, past the driving of Mormons from Missouri, past the Haun’s Mill Massacre, past the exile from Ohio – it was as much a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time as Reginald Denney’s attempt to drive his truck through Los Angeles during the Rodney King Riots that engulfed South Central.
    As described in “The Lottery,” when a community turns to murder, the most chilling part of it is how quickly people adopt the thinking of others once a critical mass of “right-minded people” sanction insanity – not unlike the idiotic invasion of Iraq.
    Just imagine the tortured logic behind the Massacre. “Orson Pratt was killed in Arkansas. People from Arkansas must be vile.” “Some aboard the caravan were from Missouri. All Missourians are evil and worthy of death.” John D. Lee was convinced that killing these people – regardless of whether they had anything to do with previous Mormon sufferings – was a divine opportunity to get in some payback.
    That’s like getting hit by a group of Saudis, trained in Afghanistan, and using the anger to rally support for an invasion of Iraq.
    If we really look at this with any objectivity at all, the Mormons aren’t Al Qaeda. They’re us.

  • Joseph

    Blog Response to posting by Kilpatrick 9-9-07
    My-My-My
    Sorry for the delay, but work comes before play.
    You persist in claiming that Joseph Smith died a martyr by way of “application”. However, I do not agree, by way of definition of the word martyr. You go on to defend Joseph Smith by claiming that he went as a, “lamb to the slaughter” for a crime that was not a capital crime. In all reality he was in jail for multiple felonies including treason which is a capital crime. He was charged with multiple felonies and was in jail. He had a gun and killed two men before he was killed himself. If he did not take the gun and kill two of his would be attackers then he could claim martyrdom and you would not have to demand his martyrdom by way of “application”. However, Joseph Smith was definitely a worldly man who had a lot to live for and he chose to defend himself by killing two men—not a martyr.
    I have read that Joseph Smith died without the BofM on him but he did have his copy of the Jupiter Talisman, part of his fascination with the occult. He also was convicted in Bainbridge, New York in Judge Neeley’s court on March 20, 1826 for the occult practice of “Glass Looking”.
    Speaking of the occult, you continue to defend Freemasonry. Freemasonry believes in many Gods. They put a Bible on display at their meetings when the members are Christians. However, they put a Qur’an if the members are Moslem. What ever religion the members are, that is the book that is displayed. In their Royal Arch ritual they form a triangle and call out “Johbulon” The word is a combination of three different gods. Despite your attempt to state the contrary Albert Pike was a Satanist, because to him and Freemasonry Lucifer “The Light Bearer” (Morals and Dogma of the ancient and accepted rite of Freemasonry) is just another God. Joseph Smith incorporated Masonic rituals in the Mormon Temple service. This was a violation of a Masonic oath that he took in lower degrees and angered many Masons at the time. I wonder is a “Light Bearer” called upon in the Mormon service.
    The movie under discussion was “September Dawn” that was about the Mormons part in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. During the discussion you throw out cluster bombs vilifying the Catholic Faith and when I challenge you on your misrepresentation you continue to mislead with specious arguments and facts. You disappointed me with your narrow view of history and historic events. You seem to have an attitude that shows that you may not be open to the truth.
    (Previous) Islam was not in existence till almost 600 years after Christianity was started.
    “Who cares?”
    Well perhaps the millions of Christians who were being attacked cared. You continually state in your view of the world that we should just all get along that everyone should be allowed to believe what ever they want. However, this doesn’t seem to apply for Catholics when they are forced into the Islamic religion.
    (Previous) Christianity only wished to stop the advancing theocratic Islamic invaders wishing to take over Europe.
    “By invading and occupying Jerusalem? In which part of Europe should I look for Jerusalem?”
    Christianity has always had a claim to Jerusalem. Ever hear of Christ and his Apostles that started Christianity? By the way, Christians and Catholics are the same thing. Catholic means universal for the Church Universal. More then 200 years before Islam in 385 St Jerome and St Paula founded the first Latin monasteries at Bethlehem. St. Jerome was the Catholic who put together the Bible, a Catholic Book for Catholics. They did not take over Jerusalem; they only had a presence there.
    (Previous) As the Catholics fought Islam, the Protestants did nothing, but continued their cause.
    “Here, you are as unfair to Protestants as you are to Mormons. While there have always been those who rejected Catholicism, or what was becoming such during the middle Ages, “the Protestants” – as a distinct group – weren’t around during the Crusades, which took place centuries before the Protestant Reformation. Or didn’t they tell you that in catechism?”
    Your overall view of history is lacking here. The Crusades lasted for centuries, and even though our politicians will not admit it, it continues today. The statement about the Protestants may read badly to someone who is not Catholic, but it is only a statement of fact. The Protestants were promoting their cause while the Catholics saved Europe. The Protestant movement was in existence during the Crusades. Leaders of the Reformation were unfavorable to the Crusades, and Luther declared that it was a sin to make war upon the Turks, because God had made them His instrument in punishing the sins of His people. Luther modified his first opinion and voiced support later on.
    (Previous) Then after the Catholics stopped Islam from taking over Europe the Protestants went on to vilify the Catholic for saving Europe.
    “Again, your criticisms against Protestants are just as unfair and uninformed as the ones you make against Mormons. The Crusades had nothing to do with protecting Europe from Muslims. They were about control of the Holy Lands. Furthermore, the Protestants did not “vilify the Catholic for saving Europe.” Protestants criticized Catholicism for all of the abuses that took place when Catholicism claimed, and enjoyed, a religious monopoly during the Middle Ages. Not one of Martin Luther’s criticisms had anything to do with the Crusades, let alone the driving of Muslim invaders out of Europe. He was upset about the sale of indulgences. The idea of telling people they could get a sin forgiven by giving money to the Church is repugnant and unbiblical – and something the Catholic Church recognized and did something about during the Counter-Reformation. It’s ridiculous to sit here and reduce Protestantism to an attempt to “vilify the Catholic for saving Europe.”
    Perhaps not all Protestants vilify Catholics for saving Europe, but a vast majority is quick to use the Crusades and the Holy Inquisition as attacking points to vilify the Catholic Church. What do indulgences have to do with the Crusades? The Protestants didn’t start the Reformation because of indulgences it was just an excuse they used to give creditability to the land grab that took place when they took Church property. One only has to attend any Protestant service or watch television to see that they preach the indulgence in their own way. I have no beef with the Protestants for they are Christians. My statements are just frank statements as I see history.
    Now you move on to the Holy Inquisition, or as some people call it Catholic Kryptonite. It’s not just another cluster bomb that can be defended against. It is the ultimate weapon to stop even the most devoted Catholics in there tracks. The propaganda that has been used to attack the Holy Inquisition is so vast that one has to do a great deal of studying to even start to defend the Myths against the Holy Inquisition. Most of what is said about the Inquisition is deceptive, misleading, false and spurious. And correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to be doing all of those things to make your argument.
    (Previous) Less then a hundred were executed in the Spanish Inquisition that is claimed to be the worse of the Holy Inquisitions.
    “Even if I accepted your figure, which represents the number of Protestants who were burned to death as heretics, I find it amazing that you could be so blithe about the burning of 100 people (about as many people as the low figure of those killed at Mountain Meadows) – because they didn’t accept Catholicism. You’ve come here to shout “Mountain Meadows” as an indictment of Mormonism but you justify or downplay the torching of 100 Protestants for their rejection of Catholicism. To me, that’s a roving set of standards and proof that religion and objectivity often do not go hand in hand.”
    You took that sentence out of context and changed what I really said. What I said was, “The government of Spain used the Holy Inquisition (Court of Law) to insure fairness in order to remove traitors, spies, murderers, and told non-Catholics to leave the nation to bring stability to Spain. Less then a hundred were executed in the Spanish Inquisition that is claimed to be the worse of the Holy Inquisitions. At the same time in Protestant England thousands died at the hands of Henry the VIII. To further their Protestant cause constant Protestant propaganda vilified Catholic Spain that continues till today to perpetuate the myth about the Inquisition.” I never said a hundred Protestants were burned to death.
    “In fact, I reject your figure, which drastically understates the number of victims of the Spanish Inquisition alone. While you mentioned the 100 Protestants (while omitting the fact that they were burned alive for rejecting Catholicism),you left out:
    –The 6 Marrano men and six women burned alive, in Seville, in 1481, for allegedly practicing Judaism.
    –The 39,912 Jews prosecuted for practicing Judaism at 2,000 Auto da Fe’s, many of whom were burned alive.
    –The 340,000 Jews who suffered during the Spanish Inquisition.
    –The Moriscos who were detained, tortured and executed.
    In fact you said that, “The Protestants” – as a distinct group – weren’t around during the Crusades, which took place centuries before the Protestant Reformation.” so how can you make this statement. Then you beguile us with the figures, how can I dispute the figures? What hate filled anti-Catholic book did you get these figures out of. 340,000 Jews in Spain at that time, did every Jew in the world live in Spain?
    It seems that you have been holding out on the facts. You claim to have the Vatican’s own figures that no more than 800 people died during the Spanish Inquisition, and yet you continue to go on and on with lies of thousands of people being burned alive. I still stand by my figures of around 100 who were traitors, spies and murderers. Your figures I suspect are from all the Inquisitions over the centuries. Here is another concept that you fail to grasp. The Catholic Church had no power to execute anyone; the secular authorities did the executions. The Holy Inquisition was in place to insure that a fair trial was given to the accused. Many accused of crimes by the Spanish government turned Catholic and demanded a trial by the Holy Inquisition so that they were assured a fair trial.
    The great American Marine and war hero Joe McCarthy has been added to your list of people you do not like. I have always admired that great man who single handedly took on the Commies in Hollywood and stopped them. Were have you gone Joe we could us you today to clean up Hollywood. Pick the Commie and count the bodies, the Communist evil was far worse then anything that tail gunner Joe may have done wrong.
    To make yourself feel good you go on to defend the Jews. You do so by twisting what I said and then you brand me an anti-Semite. When I refer to the Talmud you say that I said Jew. The Talmud is a book the Jews are people. Words have meaning. Frank discussion about the number of deaths of Christians compared to Jews doesn’t mean that I diminish the outrage of their murder; I only make the point that they diminish the death of Christians by not mentioning outrage for the Christians who were murdered.
    (Previous) Words have meaning and to chance that meaning changes what is discussed. Changing the meaning of words has led our Nation to allow the killing of over 40 million unborn babies.
    “I’m sorry. Is the subject now about abortion? I’ve read Roe v. Wade. Have you? What word do you think was changed? Was it privacy? Was it due process? Was it fetus?”
    Was not the answer I was hoping for? I see no outrage in you about 40 million babies by abortion in America. Are you a Mormon? I figure that you are a Mason, but I am not sure if you are a Mormon. Perhaps you are, much like Mitt Romney who is not against abortion until he needs to be because he is running for office.
    Pro- life priest Father Paul Marx once pointed out that a great number of abortion doctors were Jewish. Some started chains of abortion clinics. I figured that Father Marx was trying to shame the Jewish people into doing something to stop them. Goggle Jewish/abortion doctors. There you will find no condemnation of Jewish abortion doctors or even deny that Father Marx is wrong. What you will find is that they condemn Father Marx as an anti-Semite.
    I have come to the conclusion that you’re just a cage rattler who enjoys condemning the Church that Christ started. I’ll keep you in my prayers, nothing special just the generic ones.

  • Bill Kilpatrick, Lakeland, Florida

    “You persist in claiming that Joseph Smith died a martyr by way of ‘application.’”
    I have no idea what you’re talking about. I persist in stating that Joseph Smith died a martyr because he was killed for his beliefs.
    “However, I do not agree, by way of definition of the word martyr.”
    A martyr is not someone who is killed for his beliefs?
    “You go on to defend Joseph Smith by claiming that he went as a, ‘lamb to the slaughter’ for a crime that was not a capital crime. In all reality he was in jail for multiple felonies including treason which is a capital crime.”
    Joseph Smith described himself as going “like a lamb to the slaughter,” a point I brought up to show that Smith, in turning himself in, believed that he would be killed while in custody. He believed that it was his time to die. He did not believe the promises of protection. He did not believe he would ever see trial. When he crossed the river to return to Illinois, he went with a heavy heart and the conviction that he was going to his death.
    As for whether treason is a capital crime, there’s no dispute. But exactly what did Joseph Smith do that ever amounted to treason? Was it treason to act, as the mayor of the Mormon city of Nauvoo, a city surrounded by hostile locals, to shut down a press that Smith feared to be not only defamatory to himself but inciteful? We can argue abut whether it was constitutional to engage in prior restraint – or whether it was an abuse of power – but even if injudicious, Smith’s behavior hardly amounted to treason. Treason, as defined by the Constitution, consists of levying war against the United States, or in giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Shutting down a paper – even if it didn’t pose a clear and present danger of imminent violence – may be a number of things, but it’s not treason.
    “He was charged with multiple felonies and was in jail.”
    Multiple felonies? Like what?
    “He had a gun and killed two men before he was killed himself.”
    We’ve been over this. You’re ignoring the points I’ve made. You’re reverting to the same misleading statements, mere factoids of propaganda.
    Joseph Smith had a gun in his possession at the time of the attack, a gun that was smuggled into the jail because the “jail” was simply a two-story building and the unit of guardsmen placed around the jail had been mysteriously dismissed, leaving the jail wide open to attack.
    Joseph Smith never used the gun to effect any kind of escape. He remained in that jail, a sitting duck, as the sun went down and the attack became imminent.
    If Joseph Smith “killed two men,” it’s because a lynch mob of armed men, in blackened faces, attacked the jail, overwhelming the one guard on duty. Some of them stood outside and shot up through the second-story window, with no regard for the lives of the four men who were in the “jail cell.” Others ran up the stairs, then pressed and shot their way into the room, some of them shooting through the door, some poking gun barrels into the crack of the door and firing at random.
    If Joseph Smith “killed two men” then boo hoo for the murdering thugs who had no respect for the law, no respect for life and no respect for the right of free men to believe as they see fit. You mourn two thugs who were killed trying to perpetrate a murder. You’d happily make martyrs out of them if only to argue that Joseph Smith was no martyr.
    If Joseph Smith “killed two men” it was because all efforts to hold the door had failed, the attackers continued shooting into the room, one or more of those same attackers had shot shot and killed his brother, Hyrum, and – if the attack continued – Willard Richards and John Taylor (who was shot and bleeding to death) would not survive. Joseph Smith had promised to protect these men.
    It makes no difference to me whether you believe Joseph Smith’s claims. It’s your right to question them, just as much as it is mine. But to turn this into something else is really pathetic. After that ad hoc decision to fire the gun into the crowd of attackers, Joseph Smith lept to the window, cried, “O Lord, my God” and offered himself as a target. In doing so, he saved Willard Richards and John Taylor, both of whom survived the attack precisely because it was over once Joseph and Hyrum were dead.
    “If he did not take the gun and kill two of his would be attackers then he could claim martyrdom and you would not have to demand his martyrdom by way of ‘application.’ However, Joseph Smith was definitely a worldly man who had a lot to live for and he chose to defend himself by killing two men—not a martyr.”
    You know nothing about it. You keep speaking of “martyrdom by way of application,” but it is you who want to change the definition of the word. A martyr is someone who dies for his beliefs. Joseph Smith was one such case. You want to take facts you don’t like and insert them into the definition backwards, as if to say a martyr can’t die under these circumstances. You’re only doing this because you have Mormon issues much larger than the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. You’re just toying with me.
    “I have read that Joseph Smith died without the BofM on him but he did have his copy of the Jupiter Talisman, part of his fascination with the occult.”
    You have “read” it? Well, if that were proof of anything, I’d be impressed. Do you remember WHERE you read it? Do the names, Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, ring a bell? Didn’t you get this argument straight out of the anti-Mormon screed, “Mormonism 101?” Didn’t you get it from page 255? Were you going to just plagiarize part of the book or did you want to quote the whole passage? Let me help you:
    >
    Did it ever occur to you to check your sources, or do you just swallow whole whatever gives you license to dismiss the beliefs of others? In an article titled, “The Jupiter Talisman Myth,” Sam Katich dissects the myth at length. Look it up. One thing you’ll learn if you “read” this article is that, in 1984, Richard Lloyd Anderson “located and published the itemized list of the contents of Joseph Smith’s pockets at his death.” The list, published in 1885 in the Daily Democrat (a newspaper in Ottumwa, Iowa) includes $135.50 in gold and silver, a gold finger ring, a gold pen and pencil case, a penknife, a pair of tweezers, one silk and one leather purse, a small pocket wallet, an IOU for $50, and a receipt for a $1,000 note. There’s no mention of any Jupiter Talisman.
    As for whether Joseph Smith had the Book of Mormon on his person, it’s not listed because you can’t stuff a Book of Mormon in your pocket. Joseph Smith did, in fact, have a Bible and a Book of Mormon during his time in Carthage Jail. That you would give credence to such misdirection raises questions about your gullibility or your sincerity. You need to do better than this.
    “He also was convicted in Bainbridge, New York in Judge Neeley’s court on March 20, 1826 for the occult practice of ‘Glass Looking.’”
    Again, you don’t know what you’re talking about. There are eight different versions of a trial that supposedly took place in 1826, but little agreement on the specific charges, the nature of the testimony or the verdict. Even if you could show, by good evidence, that Smith was actually “convicted” for “glass-looking,” I’m not sure what it would actually prove.
    Joseph Smith, himself, admitted in his 1844 autobiography that, in 1825, he went to work for Josiah Stoal, who was apparently trying to find Spanish bullion. The gold-digging scheme was, as we now know, typical of the area at the time. Stoal apparently hired Smith, whose family was in financial straits, to help him look for good places to dig. Smith believed Stoal sought him out because of Smith’s reputation as a self-proclaimed prophet. Smith also admitted that he worked for Stoal for a month – because it was work – but that he prevailed upon Stoal to give up the enterprise.
    The use of divination – including the employment of peep stones and divining rods, to look for buried treasure – was commonplace, not just in upstate New York, but throughout large chunks of America. Superstition mingled with Christian faith in ways that are now looked upon as hoakey but which were, at the time, considered sensible by a lot of people. In his 1844 biography, Smith articulated his regret at giving his enemies an opportunity to cast him as a gold-digger, as if Joseph Smith had been standing on a street corner reading palms.
    There’s a document floating around, purporting to show that Joseph Smith was, in fact, convicted, but it’s of questionable authenticity. Like the Hoffman documents, it’s an awfully convenient little Shroud of Turen – and I’m simply very skeptical. If you want to go over the nuts and bolts of this thing, we can do that. What you’ll find is that what you state, as fact, is a mush of disputed claims and questionable evidence.
    “Speaking of the occult, you continue to defend Freemasonry.”
    I do? I thought I was just pointing out the many lies you keep repeating about the Freemasons, lies based on a vaunted sense of their importance in history. Don’t get me wrong: George Washington was a Freemason, as were many in the generation that brought us the American Revolution, but it’s more of a throwback to the Deism of the Enlightenment period than one of those one-world conspiracies designed to subject us all.
    “Freemasonry believes in many Gods.”
    You think they’re polytheists? I see no evidence of that. At most, they’re unintentional Unitarians. They believe in God. They believe that all these names for God are just names for God.
    “They put a Bible on display at their meetings when the members are Christians. However, they put a Qur’an if the members are Moslem.”
    I’m not sure how many Muslims would describe themselves as Freemasons, or how many places in the Muslim world would welcome the Freemasons, but I’ll bite: Who cares?
    “What ever religion the members are, that is the book that is displayed.”
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    “In their Royal Arch ritual they form a triangle and call out ‘Johbulon’ The word is a combination of three different gods.”
    If you say so. I’m not a Freemason so I don’t claim to know what they do in their “temples” or what it all means. But if I’m not mistaken, the word is “Jahbulon,” not “Johbulon.” And it’s not a “Royal Arch ritual” so much as “Royal Arch Masonry,” which is a separate Masonic school or tradition. As for whether the word is “a combination of three different gods,” I’ve read plenty of suggested meanings, including the idea that all three syllables are taken from three Hebrew words meaning, together, that God is the one true God (Jah), high (bal) and mighty (on).
    Personally, I don’t know what the Masons are up to with all of this, but I’m skeptical that you are, either. Maybe it’s a ritual of support for the idea of God – using a name that doesn’t mean anything in any specific tradition, so as to avoid taking sides in sectarian conflicts. Maybe it’s just token theism, just deism protecting itself from charges of closet atheism. Personally, I don’t care. I don’t get worked up about what people do in their social circles.
    “Despite your attempt to state the contrary Albert Pike was a Satanist, because to him and Freemasonry Lucifer ‘The Light Bearer’ (Morals and Dogma of the ancient and accepted rite of Freemasonry) is just another God.”
    We started with a discussion of a movie, which then became a trashing of Mormonism, which then became a trashing of Joseph Smith and the claim that Joseph Smith was no martyr. Now, we’re onto your claim that Albert Pike was a Satanist? Why does this all sound like some conspiracy theory beginning to unwind?
    By the way, “Lucifer” is a Latin word. It’s not Greek and it’s surely not Hebrew. It’s the Latin translation (from your Vulgate) of a reference, in Isaiah, to the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. The Hebrew word is Heylel, “shining one.”
    But I’m drifting here. The point I should be making is that you’ve fallen prey to the Taxil Hoax. Your reference to the great smoking-gun quote, attributed to Pike, is actually a scam concocted by the prankster, Leo Taxil. Or didn’t you know that?
    “Joseph Smith incorporated Masonic rituals in the Mormon Temple service. This was a violation of a Masonic oath that he took in lower degrees and angered many Masons at the time. I wonder is a ‘Light Bearer’ called upon in the Mormon service.”
    Wonder all you want, or fill your head with nonsense. I don’t have to. I’ve been to the Mormon Temple. Those who confuse Mormon temple ordinances with Freemasonry don’t know what they’re talking about. While one may argue that first-generation Mormon leaders – many of whom practiced Freemasonry – filled their world with familiar Masonic symbols and imagery, Mormon Temples have a very different message from that of Freemasonry.
    “During the discussion you throw out cluster bombs vilifying the Catholic Faith and when I challenge you on your misrepresentation you continue to mislead with specious arguments and facts.”
    If I remember correctly, you took an isolated incident – the Mountain Meadows Massacre – and turned it into a sweeping indictment of Mormonism. I said that what happened at Mountain Meadows was part of a problem that has continued to plague the human race, that of communities going a little nutty and lashing out against perceived enemies – whether within or without. I mentioned the Salem Witch Trials, the Red Scare, Rosewood, The Crusades, The Spanish Inquisition, The Spanish Conquest, The Killing Fields of Cambodia, et cetera.
    You took issue with my reference to “Catholic” misadventures like The Crusades, The Spanish Inquisition and The Spanish Conquest – defending the indefensible. If you consider these a “vilification of the Catholic Faith,” maybe you need to come to terms with history.
    “You disappointed me with your narrow view of history and historic events. You seem to have an attitude that shows that you may not be open to the truth.”
    Yeah, go ahead. Call me names. Tell yourself that doing so is a fit substitute for an actual argument.
    “You continually state in your view of the world that we should just all get along that everyone should be allowed to believe what ever they want. However, this doesn’t seem to apply for Catholics when they are forced into the Islamic religion.”
    No. The idea that people should “get aong” and allow each other to “believe whatever they want” is called tolerance. I didn’t invent that, but I believe in it. As for the Catholic right to push back when they’ve been wronged, I have no issues with it. The problem is that you’re comparing apples with oranges. Muslims invaded Europe. I clearly stated that Europe had a right to push the Muslims out. But you, instead, argue that Muslim aggression in Europe somehow justifies a European invasion of the Middle East. You can’t use self-defense to justify the invasion and occupation of a completely different part of the globe.
    “Christianity has always had a claim to Jerusalem.”
    Christianity is a religion. Professing that religion does not give you property rights. If you think it does, maybe you’re part of the problem.
    “Ever hear of Christ and his Apostles that started Christianity?”
    Because Jesus lived in Israel, and was crucified in Jerusalem, Europeans who convert to Christianity can invade it?
    “By the way, Christians and Catholics are the same thing.”
    I don’t deny that Catholics are Christians. I wouldn’t be so crass as to deny them their Christianity because they worship a certain way or have a tradition different from other Christian sects. But to claim that Catholics are the only Christians is to take a very narrow view of Christianity. I reject your assumption that only one form of Christianity is valid, or that the rest of the world has to have your permission to follow the teachings of Jesus.
    “Catholic means universal for the Church Universal.”
    Yes, I know. It’s a Greek word that was used to give the western church a brand name, just as Orthodox (which means “right thinking”) was used to give the eastern church a brand name. But just because you adopt a name and say your tradition is “universal,” that hardly makes it so. There are lots of Christians who don’t follow your tradition, which means your faith is not quite as “universal” as you claim. Maybe that’s why your faith has spent so much time dirtying its hands by torturing and killing those who exercised the right to think and worship differently from you. If John Paul II could apologize for such folly, surely you could follow your Pope and enter the 21st Century.
    “St. Jerome was the Catholic who put together the Bible, a Catholic Book for Catholics.”
    Get over yourself. The Bible is not a “Catholic Book for Catholics.” The Old Testament, or Tanakh, is a “Hebrew Book for Hebrews.” The New Testament is a “Greek book for Greeks.” You belong to the Microsoft of religion.
    “Your overall view of history is lacking here. The Crusades lasted for centuries, and even though our politicians will not admit it, it continues today.”
    I’m the one lacking a view in history? The fact that the current east-west divide has its parallel in The Crusades does not mean that the Crusades have been ongoing from Medieval times to the present day.
    “The statement about the Protestants may read badly to someone who is not Catholic, but it is only a statement of fact. The Protestants were promoting their cause while the Catholics saved Europe. The Protestant movement was in existence during the Crusades.”
    While there have always been people of integrity who have resisted the movement to consolidate Christianity into some kind of “Christian militant,” the Protestant Reformation is generally thought of as beginning with Luther, in 1517, and ending with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. As the Crusades took place between the years 1095 and 1291, it’s historically obtuse to say that the Protestants were “promoting their cause while the Catholics saved Europe.” You really should read a book.
    “Perhaps not all Protestants vilify Catholics for saving Europe, but a vast majority is quick to use the Crusades and the Holy Inquisition as attacking points to vilify the Catholic Church.”
    I don’t know of any Protestants who villify Catholics for pushing Muslim invaders out of Europe. But what do you expect when it comes to the Crusades – two centuries of unnecessary bloodletting over who gets Jerusalem? – and the Inquisition, which tortured and executed those who were judged guilty of thought crime? If you can’t see the horrors and barbarism in such activities, I hardly think I can help you.
    “What do indulgences have to do with the Crusades?”
    What do indulgences have to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If there really was a man named Jesus, and this Jesus died for the sins of the world, it was not so Catholics could sell forgiveness on the open market. Luther was right to criticize the Sale of Indulgences, and Johann Tetzel’s marketing scheme to pay for the rebuilding and remodeling of St. Peter’s Basilica. What was that line Tetzel used to use? “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.” How utterly cynical and corrupt! Protestants point to these and other practices – including the Avignon Papacy – as evidence that Medieval Christianity had become corrupted. And obviously, you Catholics must have agreed because the Protestant Reformation was followed by the Catholic Counter-Reformation.
    “The Protestants didn’t start the Reformation because of indulgences it was just an excuse they used to give creditability to the land grab that took place when they took Church property.”
    While Protestants are slow to admit that politics had a role to play in the Protestant Reformation, you Catholics are too quick to dismiss the entire movement as a cynical land grab. First of all, I agree that the division between Catholic southern Europe and Protestant northern Europe is hardly coincidental. Northern nation-states, in Scandinavia and the British Isles, broke away as much for national independence as anything else. King Henry VIII, who had criticized Luther (and earned the title, “Defender of the Faith”) eventually severed ties with the Catholic Church because he feared that the Pope, brother of the King of Spain, was ruling against his request for a divorce out of a desire to see his dynasty fall. Attempts to control the state, by religious leaders, in places like Germany, were enough to suggest that maybe northern Europe would be better off with religious home rule.
    That said, it’s awfully dismissive to suggest that all Protestants were just in it for some kind of “land grab” against Catholic churches. You have to stop seeing religion as a blank checking, giving you property rights to other people’s countries. There are no “Catholic countries,” just places where Catholics outnumber Protestants and others. If you want to change the percentage of Catholics within a country, do it the honest way: Sell your wares. Don’t try to do it by taking over the government and forcing your religion down our throats.
    Ultimately, people have the right to make their own choices. And given the sacrifices made by many early Protestants, it’s an insult to suggest that these people were just in it for the “land grab.”
    “One only has to attend any Protestant service or watch television to see that they preach the indulgence in their own way.”
    If you mean that too many televangelists equate tithes and offerings with forgiveness, I’d be hard-pressed to disagree. If, on the other hand, you think Protestants sell forgiveness in a way that’s equal to buying an indulgence, I’m not sure I’d agree.
    “I have no beef with the Protestants for they are Christians. My statements are just frank statements as I see history.”
    Fair enough.
    “Now you move on to the Holy Inquisition, or as some people call it Catholic Kryptonite. It’s not just another cluster bomb that can be defended against. It is the ultimate weapon to stop even the most devoted Catholics in there tracks.”
    You mean Catholics have a hard time selling the “Holy” part of an “Inquisition” that charged people with believing the wrong thing, and then tortured and executed those who refused to give up their “heretical” beliefs? Who could find fault with that? It sounds like Jesus had his own Deathstar.
    “The propaganda that has been used to attack the Holy Inquisition is so vast that one has to do a great deal of studying to even start to defend the Myths against the Holy Inquisition.”
    Historical ignorance and infantile popculture don’t make exceptions for something as tabloid-like as the “Holy” Inquisition.
    “Most of what is said about the Inquisition is deceptive, misleading, false and spurious. And correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to be doing all of those things to make your argument.”
    You want me to tell you where you’re wrong when you make a blank statement accusing me of being “deceptive, misleading, false and spurious?” I think you’re wrong when you make that kind of accusation.
    What I said was, “The government of Spain used the Holy Inquisition (Court of Law) to insure fairness in order to remove traitors, spies, murderers, and told non-Catholics to leave the nation to bring stability to Spain. Less then a hundred were executed in the Spanish Inquisition that is claimed to be the worse of the Holy Inquisitions. At the same time in Protestant England thousands died at the hands of Henry the VIII. To further their Protestant cause constant Protestant propaganda vilified Catholic Spain that continues till today to perpetuate the myth about the Inquisition.”
    “I never said a hundred Protestants were burned to death.”
    No, you said, “Less then a hundred were executed in the Spanish Inquisition that is claimed to be the worse of the Holy Inquisitions.” Would you care to explain the difference?
    “In fact you said that, “The Protestants” – as a distinct group – weren’t around during the Crusades, which took place centuries before the Protestant Reformation.” so how can you make this statement.”
    It’s not rocket science. The Crusades took place between 1094 and 1291. The Protestant Reformation began around 1517. Do the math. There’s a period of more than two centuries between the end of the Crusades and the Reformation.
    “Then you beguile us with the figures, how can I dispute the figures? What hate filled anti-Catholic book did you get these figures out of. 340,000 Jews in Spain at that time, did every Jew in the world live in Spain?”
    Believe it or not, every person who grieves over ancestors tortured is not anti-Catholic, just advocating the dignity of their people who were repressed and tortured during a very dark time. You ask whether every Jew in the world lived in Spain. Of course not, but if you know anything about the Sephardim – or Sephardic Jews – they represented a major division of Jewry. In 1492, when the Alhambra Decre was given – as an “Edict of Expulsion” – as many as 800,000 Jews left Spain. The punishment for staying was death. How Christian!
    “It seems that you have been holding out on the facts.”
    You don’t like my numbers so now my honesty is in question. How Christian!
    “You claim to have the Vatican’s own figures that no more than 800 people died during the Spanish Inquisition, and yet you continue to go on and on with lies of thousands of people being burned alive.”
    What makes them lies? Is history supposed to shut up because somebody, in the Vatican, has published low numbers designed to minimize the scope and scale of the tragedy? How can you stand to even argue about the numbers, as if the concept of arresting, trying and punishing people for believing differently from yourself is somehow okay?
    “I still stand by my figures of around 100 who were traitors, spies and murderers.”
    You stand by a figure of 100 when your own Vatican says 800? Are you more Catholic than the Pope?
    “Your figures I suspect are from all the Inquisitions over the centuries.”
    If you want to simplify the argument by challenging me to find more people killed during the Spanish Inquisition than your number of 100, do you think it should make any real difference?
    Have you ever heard of Hernando de Pulgar? He was there. He was a contemporary to Ferdinand and Isabella. He estimated the number of people burned at the stake to be 2,000. The Archivo Historico Nacional estimates that there were 49,002 judgments between 1560 and 1700, with an execution rate of 1.9% (931 burned at the stake). According to Garcia Carcel, the number processed were about 150,000. If 2% were executed, about 3,000 would have been put to death. The Vatican Archives indicate that 44,647 were tried for heresy with a death toll rate of 1.8% to arrive at that Vatican figure of 800.
    These are not from all the inquisitions over the centuries. But even if it were, how many deaths – because of individual disbelief – are enough?
    “Here is another concept that you fail to grasp. The Catholic Church had no power to execute anyone; the secular authorities did the executions. The Holy Inquisition was in place to insure that a fair trial was given to the accused. Many accused of crimes by the Spanish government turned Catholic and demanded a trial by the Holy Inquisition so that they were assured a fair trial.”
    But a fair trial of what? Heresy? Do you think it makes any difference to me that the Catholic Church didn’t actually set people on fire – just tell the locals which ones to light up?
    “The great American Marine and war hero Joe McCarthy has been added to your list of people you do not like. I have always admired that great man who single handedly took on the Commies in Hollywood and stopped them.”
    That explains a lot. How many commies did HUAC actually catch?
    “Were have you gone Joe we could us you today to clean up Hollywood.”
    Spoken like a rabid defender of Inquisitions.
    “Pick the Commie and count the bodies, the Communist evil was far worse then anything that tail gunner Joe may have done wrong.”
    If you’re talking about Stalin, Pol Pott and the other fine young savages, you’ll get no argument from me. But if you’re telling me that McCarthy’s blacklisting of New Dealers who had gone to socialist meetings back in the 30s somehow saved America, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
    “To make yourself feel good you go on to defend the Jews.”
    To make myself feel good? I defend the Jews because they’re human beings. I defend them because the Jews are a great people. I defend them because Jesus was a Jew, not a Jew-hater, and I don’t happen to think his true followers would cast aspersions on the Jews. If you have a problem with the Jewish people, your bigotry against Mormons is small potatoes.
    “You do so by twisting what I said and then you brand me an anti-Semite.”
    I don’t have to twist very hard with someone like you.
    “When I refer to the Talmud you say that I said Jew. The Talmud is a book the Jews are people. Words have meaning.”
    They also have consequences, mein herr.
    “Frank discussion about the number of deaths of Christians compared to Jews doesn’t mean that I diminish the outrage of their murder; I only make the point that they diminish the death of Christians by not mentioning outrage for the Christians who were murdered.”
    You think a discussion of the Holocaust somehow diminishes the death of Christians when it focuses on the number of Jews killed as a result of Nazi antisemitic bigotry?
    “I see no outrage in you about 40 million babies by abortion in America. Are you a Mormon?”
    Most, but not all, Mormons are pro-life, erring on the side of regulation. But even Utah, with its failed attempt at overturning Roe v. Wade, can’t come close to the kind of absolutist politics that bans all abortions and then goes after birth control. It never ceases to amaze me that folks like you open a vein about abortion but then oppose sex education and birth control.
    If you want to do something about abortion, give kids education and the means to protect themselves from pregnancy. Support changes in the law that protect women who do get pregnant – by banning discriminatory practices in the workplace, by going after deadbeat dads, by valuing mothers and their children once out of the womb.
    I don’t see solutions from folks like you. I see the politics of symbolism. I see chest pounding and rhetoric about “changing Roe” instead of taking advantage of its structure to flesh out what states can do, short of compulsion, to promote life. You want to charge, arrest and punish women who aren’t ready to have a baby, just as you support and defend the right of the medieval church and state to arrest and support people who weren’t ready to become Catholics.
    Big surprise!
    I figure that you are a Mason, but I am not sure if you are a Mormon.”
    Pro- life priest Father Paul Marx once pointed out that a great number of abortion doctors were Jewish. Some started chains of abortion clinics. I figured that Father Marx was trying to shame the Jewish people into doing something to stop them. Goggle Jewish/abortion doctors. There you will find no condemnation of Jewish abortion doctors or even deny that Father Marx is wrong. What you will find is that they condemn Father Marx as an anti-Semite.
    I have come to the conclusion that you’re just a cage rattler who enjoys condemning the Church that Christ started. I’ll keep you in my prayers, nothing special just the generic ones.

  • Bill Kilpatrick, Lakeland, Florida

    “I figure that you are a Mason, but I am not sure if you are a Mormon.”
    Keep guessing. You’re getting about as warm as Greenland.
    “Pro-life priest Father Paul Marx once pointed out that a great number of abortion doctors were Jewish.”
    And a fair number of priests are pedophiles. Do gross generalizations work better when we’re knocking Jews?
    “Some started chains of abortion clinics.”
    Yeah, my wife likes to use the drive-thru so she can order onion rings while she waits.
    “I figured that Father Marx was trying to shame the Jewish people into doing something to stop them. Goggle Jewish/abortion doctors. There you will find no condemnation of Jewish abortion doctors or even deny that Father Marx is wrong. What you will find is that they condemn Father Marx as an anti-Semite.”
    Gosh, I wonder why.
    “I have come to the conclusion that you’re just a cage rattler who enjoys condemning the Church that Christ started.”
    Some might say that of you. Perhaps when we all grow up, we can discuss some issues without making snide remarks about each other. I heard there was a good book full of suggestions along those lines. I think they call it “The Bible.” If you pick one up, check out the Sermon on the Mount. It’s really cool stuff. Some people actually measure the value of their faith by how well they follow it.
    “I’ll keep you in my prayers, nothing special just the generic ones.”
    Try loving your enemies. Then, maybe your prayers will matter.

  • Bill

    I am continually amazed at how polarizing films like this can be. Any documentation put out by the church regarding this event will show that they had nothing to do with the incident and paint church leaders as the most pious men in the world while this movie portrays the exact opposite. Truth is often somewhere in the middle.
    As pretty much every single comment I’ve read has indicated that this movie is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the religion, perhaps a review of the facts that the movie DOES point out is in order.
    150 years ago, the church, along with the rest of this country, was in a much less civilized time. Realistically, humanity was only a few scant years from killing each other with knives and swords. The men that led the early church were products of their time and they were working on building a kingdom of their own on earth. Anyone who has studied church history, and not the polished history that is presented to the membership, but external documents of the day, showed that the church leaders worked no differently than that of other historical oligarchies.
    Despite negative and ‘dark’ tone of the movie, the church leadership DID utilize the Danite gangs to enforce it’s will, the temple ceremonies do extract promises from it’s membership under duress and fud, and the members of the church are conditioned practically from birth by repetition of beliefs.
    The core system of conditioning members to devout and often fanatical belief is still used today, although with every generation the church does change a little bit more into a ‘mainstream’ religion. And although the religion was a bit more ‘hellfire and brimstone’ back then, the same basic tools to shape individual beliefs are still used today.
    While the typical American attitude is to scoff at the idea of a misunderstood reward of ’72 virgins’ for a follower of Islam, the same bias exists against current church members for their belief in celestialization and becoming gods of their own worlds. Each religion has it’s own rewards for doing your duty and being faithful until the end. To deny that the Arkansas party may have been viewed as enemies of the young church and as a latter-day saint of that era, it is not a stretch to understand how to ‘do your duty’ could be interpreted.
    The character that I found the most interesting was Micah Samuelson played by Taylor Handley. He was presented as simply living the life that he was taught without any reservations until seemingly out of nowhere his actions are in direct conflict with his own internal moral compass, at which point he pretty much self-destructs. I really felt the conflict within him and have seen the same sort of internal struggle in modern day lds youth who have been pressured into serving missions, not knowing what they are doing, some tend to have ‘accidents’ and get sent home.
    All in all the movie was quite dark and overly dramatized (good guys wear white, bad guys wear black and always angry, etc, etc), but as far as the influences of the church leadership on the actual events, I feel it was probably a fair representation.

  • Anonymous

    The movie has an agenda other than to report historical fact.

  • History man

    September Dawn …I give it a big 0. Too fiction.

  • Saddly

    We are all familiar with the small horse like animal that makes Hee-Haw-Hee Haw-Haw noises. Id’ say that the movie is full of propaganda and HEE-HAW HEE-HAW noise!

  • Bill Kilpatrick

    This could have been an excellent film, if it had had a script and a director with any sense. The Mountain Meadows Massacre is a fascinating chapter in American history, one worthy of a big-screen telling, but you can’t treat history as if it’s propaganda – and that goes for everybody, regardless of their politics or their personal beliefs.

  • Bill Kilpatrick

    The Elizabeth sequel – “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” – was just as bad, but this time the intended target was Catholicism, which was equated with Al Qaeda.

  • Anonymous

    History will never changes nor will the people. There will always be massacres in our world. If it isn’t the paranoid Mormons of the 1800′s it will be someone else of today. There are people who still hate Mormons. I find them quite harmless. However, there will always be someone out there who will find fault with all religions. It looks as though the movie “September Dawn” would like to raise up new modern day Witch-Hunts for the Mormons of today…It’s like the dark ages. I suppose that the descendants of the Mormons who particapated in the MMM are next in line for the witch-hunt. We need a little more innocent blood. :((

  • Anonymous

    Bill; actually it was protestants that were viewed as an Al Quieda.
    one thing like always is that no mormon ever wants to be responsible for anything questioned, and it is everyone else that is stupid (just to sum up what seems to be the overall opinion of LDS.
    i have never in my days, seen so much arrogance from a group of believers that want the respect of others looking for faith, and the truth of Christ. i say Mormons fall short and look pretty bad when they have to argue to protect history of their shady beginnings.
    If it means so much to a Mormon to be respected, then be respectful, not antagonizing and insulting. The problem is it seems that the religion they follow, thinks it is better and more deserving and would go so far as to downplay a movie about what actually happened as being dumb. Or lame.
    Does it matter really, how good the acting was? It was about telling a bloody story, and yes it has to do with religion which is always a war starter. If someone wants to be Mormon, let them. But Mormons have no right to be condescending to an anti mormon because they don’t even like their own history. That is laughable.
    i guess the mormons on this blog were all there though and know for a fact it was all false.
    Hey folks, blood atonement was real, it was Young’s idea, and it was started over the blood spilled by Smith and his men. You can’t go around and have sex with who ever you want, and burn down printing presses, and demand to be your own country in an already free country without it actually catching up to you. Young had no right to order a mass killing. The same as any one ordering the killing of any religion, because it isn’t what someone else believes. Instead of denying, they would do better to explain how far they have come. They only lose credibility further with these comments.

  • Bill Kilpatrick

    “Bill; actually it was protestants that were viewed as an Al Quieda.”
    Not quite. If the Mormons of Cedar City had actually viewed the wagon train as a threat, you could make the argument that they saw these people as a kind of Al Qaeda. But even in the paranoia and fear, in the days before Johnston’s Army occupied Utah, the motive behind the attack was not fear. It was revenge. Mormons had been killed in Missouri and Illinois. A Mormon leader had just been murdered in Arkansas. These people saw an opportunity for payback and took it out on the members of the wagon train, people who probably had no connection at all the abuses suffered by the Mormons in Missouri and Illinois. It’s a reminder of how blind revenge can be – and how wrong.
    “one thing like always is that no mormon ever wants to be responsible for anything questioned, and it is everyone else that is stupid (just to sum up what seems to be the overall opinion of LDS.”
    I’m talking about a movie. You’re airing your opinion of Mormons.
    “i have never in my days, seen so much arrogance from a group of believers that want the respect of others looking for faith, and the truth of Christ.”
    I’ve met my share of arrogant Mormons, but I wouldn’t say they stand out. Earlier in this posting, I had an unpleasant exchange with a Catholic, who ranted and raved about how his church is the “one true church of Jesus Christ.” I don’t think arrogance has as much to do with a specific dogma as with an attitude of rudeness.
    “i say Mormons fall short and look pretty bad when they have to argue to protect history of their shady beginnings.”
    Mormons, like any other group, have a right to object to misstatements about their history, beliefs and practices. There is nothing unusual or unreasonable about that. As for “shady beginnings,” there’s enough of that to go around.
    “If it means so much to a Mormon to be respected, then be respectful, not antagonizing and insulting. The problem is it seems that the religion they follow, thinks it is better and more deserving and would go so far as to downplay a movie about what actually happened as being dumb. Or lame.”
    This movie IS dumb and lame, not because it treats the Mountain Meadows Massacre but because it reverts to caricature rather than exploring a fascinating American tragedy. There is no justification for the massacre, though there is a context worth discussion. The point is not that it was okay for Mormons at Cedar City to kill innocent and unarmed men and women. It’s that if you’re going to do a movie about this sort of thing, it would be nice to do something more than simply exploit the tragedy as if it were a Lifetime Original Movie. This is not the first “massacre” film involving Jon Voigt that was so simple it stunk. The movie, Rosewood, covered the massacre of an entire African-American community in Florida, but also failed to tell the story well.
    “Does it matter really, how good the acting was?”
    Yes, if you’re talking about a movie, acting counts.
    “It was about telling a bloody story, and yes it has to do with religion which is always a war starter. If someone wants to be Mormon, let them. But Mormons have no right to be condescending to an anti mormon because they don’t even like their own history. That is laughable.”
    I have no idea what you’re talking about. Nor is this about whether Mormons “like their own history.” It’s important, whoever you may be, to respect history enough to tell it like it was, regardless of whether you wish people had made better choices. Mormons should be among the first to denounce what happened at Mountain Meadows, even if people like yourself use it as ammunition to denounce all Mormons everywhere.
    The history of religion is a history of people hurting one another over differences in beliefs, practices and tradition. This is a chapter involving Mormon wrongs. Other chapters would include the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Spanish Conquest, the Hundred Years’ War, the War of the Roses, the Salem Witch Trials and the bloodshed in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. There’s nothing wrong with showing that Mormons can murder as well as anyone else. In fact, I find it an interesting irony that Mormons, after suffering as much as they did from others, were as quick to do the same to others.
    But this issue in this thread is not whether there should have been a film about Mountain Meadows. I support the concept. I wanted this film to rock. My complaint is that it didn’t. It was as bad as Elizabeth: The Golden Age – whose ten-cent villains were Catholic Spaniards. Stupid filmmaking is what it is, regardless of dogma.
    “i guess the mormons on this blog were all there though and know for a fact it was all false.”
    Truth or falsity is not the issue. I would take exception with a number of errors and misrepresentations presented in this film, but I’m not a nun standing outside The Last Temptation of Christ, nor am I Jew objecting to The Passion of the Christ. I’m a movie viewer who thinks the storytelling in this film is so wooden, it’s simply not entertaining. Hamdhanded speeches and a witless overacting don’t make a good movie, regardless of how many facts it does or does not get right.
    “Hey folks, blood atonement was real, it was Young’s idea, and it was started over the blood spilled by Smith and his men.”
    So, this is your idea of how to discuss a movie? Just open it all up to statements bashing the Mormons?
    “You can’t go around and have sex with who ever you want, and burn down printing presses, and demand to be your own country in an already free country without it actually catching up to you.”
    I presume you’re talking about Joseph Smith and that you’re arguing he had it coming, but even if you were right (a big “if”), what does that have to do with Mountain Meadows or the quality of this film?
    “Young had no right to order a mass killing. The same as any one ordering the killing of any religion, because it isn’t what someone else believes.”
    You and I at least agree on one thing: Brigham Young did not have “a right to order a mass killing.” But whether Young actually ordered the attack is subject to a great deal of debate. Young denied ever doing so. John D. Lee said he did, but John D. Lee was on trial and his defense was to blame Brigham Young. An all-Mormon jury, from the same Mormon community that carried out the killings, found Lee’s claims unbelievable.
    Young’s responsibility for this, if blame should be laid at his feet, has to do with things that are beyond dispute – such as Young’s inflammatory rhetoric in the days leading up to the Massacre. Young did a lot of saber rattling, in the hope of deterring a federal invasion. His mistake was in not considering the effect this would have on those in the Mormon community who would take out their frustrations on those moving through Utah on their way to California.
    “Instead of denying, they would do better to explain how far they have come. They only lose credibility further with these comments.”
    I think YOU lose credibility when you depart from a movie review to make broadside attacks on the Mormons. Clearly, you don’t like Mormons, which is reflected not only in your uncritical support for this film but in using this review as a forum to spout anti-Mormon rhetoric.
    As for “denying,” you fail to understand that the issue is not whether Mormons committed atrocities at Mountain Meadows. I’ve made no attempt to argue self-defense. I’ve not even claimed fear of any kind. In my opinion, this was an act of revenge, pure and simple, though one its leaders cloaked in the piety of religious fervor. There is no need to deny Mountain Meadows. Instead, it should be a reminder – both to Mormons as well as to anyone who thinks they could never commit atrocities – that anger can make you do things you don’t want to do.
    If only Mountain Meadows were better reported in American History, maybe American forces – at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo – might have thought twice before shaming the country with their misdeeds. Maybe if Mountain Meadows were better known, we wouldn’t have had the My Lai Massacre, where American soldiers decided to “destroy this village to save it.” We need more cautionary tales like this, but we need them told well. It was, after all, a movie – not a political ad.

  • Me

    That Heavenly Father sits back and allows His power and authority to be envoked in the slaughter of innocent lives, while His prophet flatulates “Vengence is Mine saith the Lord” and Heavenly Father is unable to speak up telling the prophet how the church needs to apologize is totally unbelievably inconcievable that anyone could possibly worship such laziness incompetant uncaring unconcerned view of Heavenly Father.

  • Bill Kilpatrick

    I guess it depends on whom you choose to believe. John D. Lee, the Mormon bishop down in Cedar City who organized the holy lynch mob – before he was tried, convicted and executed by his neighbors – said it was Brigham’s idea. They didn’t buy it. Mormon sources in Salt Lake have produced witnesses and documentation to show that Brigham not only opposed the massacre but sensed what was going to happen, sent a man with the message, “Leave these people alone,” but was unsuccessful. His messenger arrived too late to stop it.
    I suppose one could argue that Brigham wasn’t much of a prophet for not realizing, earlier, what was going to happen in Cedar City. Then again, with the Mormon Church’s tradition of ordaining ordinary men to serve as bishops of local congregations, it’s a wonder there haven’t been more cases of out-of-control amateurs running wild with authority.
    One can easily forget that, in 1857, the west was still pretty “wild.” Wyatt Earp was only 9 years old. It would be two years before the 59ers – including Buffalo Bill – flooded the Rocky Mountains, looking for gold. It was three years before John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, the first run of the Pony Express, four years before Nevada was even a territory, six years before the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, six years before Arizona was even a territory, seven years before the U.S. Cavalry’s slaughter of 400 Indians at the Sand Creek Massacre, nine years before Jesse James committed the first daylight bank robbery in U.S. history, a full decade before Seward’s purchase of Alaska.
    It would be 12 years before completion of the transcontinental railroad, 13 years before women in Utah got the right to vote, 19 years before Wyatt Earp’s work as a deputy in Dodge City, 20 years before Crazy Horse and Billy the Kid’s first kill, 21 years before the Lincoln County War, 23 years before Black Bart’s Oregon stagecoach robbery, 24 years before Billy the Kid’s escape from a New Mexico jail and the gunfight at Tombstone’s OK Corral, and 25 years before the shooting of Jesse James.
    The Mormon massacre of a wagon party at Mountain Meadows was pretty messed up, for a people who were supposed to be so tight with God, but it was hardly the beginning or the ending of violence west of the Mississippi. It makes the Mormons look like a bunch of Branch Davidians. Still, a single episode of postal-worker payback in the middle of 7 decades of being chased, slaughtered and laughed at, is the very definition of a no-brainer. These were people who’d been chased across five states, lost men, women and children to the Haun’s Mill massacre, had a governor issue an “extermination order” against them, had their homes and barns burned to the ground, had their temple destroyed, had their prophet shot and killed – along with his brother – while awaiting trial for “treason,” and had no state or federal official protect them from mob violence with the godfearing people of Illinois threatened to kill them all if they didn’t sell everything – at a nickel on the dollar – and leave the state for good. Yet, the same federal government that wouldn’t protect them in Missouri or Illinois, decided to come after them in the Mormon War. If these people had moments of militancy, it’s because they were living on the edge.
    Is it an indictment of “Heavenly Father” that God didn’t intervene to stop Mormons at Cedar City from adding fresh numbers to the list of innocent victims of the atrocities of the criminally insane? The same God who didn’t protect the non-Mormons at Mountain Meadows didn’t protect the Native Americans from slaughter and enslavement by Catholic Conquistadores. Nor did God do much to protect the Africans sold into slavery under a Christian banner. Nor did he lift a finger to save the six million Jews who prayed for deliverance from the Holocaust. If Mountain Meadows is an indictment of the Mormon God, it is but one of many moments in history when a host of Baby Jessicas have been hurled down a thousand wells, but noone cared to organize a rescue party.
    We honor the dead because we can, and if we don’t, who will?

  • Crawler

    Not all Mormon, pioneer family diaries have been released to the public. So Bla bla bla about something else. It’s amazing there are so many who know so much about nothing!…LOL!

  • Sandy

    I agree with the “me” person. I am a Baptist, but like a lot of the Mormons who are my friends.

  • T Jones

    Well, as much as Bill above would like to believe, there simply is no market in America for his hateful spew anymore. Maybe people were a bit more naive in centuries past but not to the extreme that the movie portrayed. It’s pretty clear Cain lost touch with reality and was either driven by his own personal anti-mormon agenda or gave himself to those who were.
    Cain had an opportunity to dramatize a historical event but squandered it on his lust for box office receipts. Frankly, America’s response to his tripe-filled film is heartening. They read the premise and clearly smelled PU. It’s nice to see that people have begun to think for themselves and are not so easily tricked into spending hard-earned cash on con-men’s lies.

  • Jeff

    I totally agree with T Jones. Well said. I’m not a Mormon but understand the Mormon views quite well. I have good many friends who are very good christians, and are as well MORMONS, and which their church is also named after.
    How many of you out there claim to be Christians , but don’t live a life as such. Hypocrites! You need to research your own christian history before criticisizing another.

  • susan sellers

    True doctrine does not appeal to those that are set on the things of this world. The Church of Jesus Christ is true.

  • hawks4

    susan sellers first off merry Christmas
    if the lds faith is true can you answer a couple questions for me
    1) in the d&c section 132 it is a revelation given to joseph smith from god.
    it says that it is a new and everlasting covenant and if ye abide not that covenant then ye are damned.
    this is talking about poligomy (multiple wives).
    if this is a true prophesy then the god the lds beleive in is not all knowing becouse he did not know that it would come to a end.
    or the god of the lds is a liar becouse he knew it would not be everlasting and just said it anyways
    or joseph smith made it up to get away with having many wives.
    2)d&c 114it is a revelation given to joseph smith about david patten
    it tells david patten to settle up all his business as soon as possiable becouse next spring he is to go on a mission next spring to testify of my name and bear tidings unto all the world.
    then the last part of the prophesy says if you lose faith you will be replaced.
    well the prophecy was given in april 1839 david patten died october 1839 in the battle of crooked river.
    now you will say he lost faith and was replaced he was shot in the chest charging the mormon enemy i dont know about you but i am not going to take a bullet to the chest for a faith i dont beleive in
    so another false prophosey.
    3) if the lds church does not beleive in the trinity the why does the book of mormon theach it.
    alma 11 38-39
    now zeerom saith again unto him is the son the very eternal father? 39 and amulek said unto him yea he is the very eternal father
    mosiah 15 1-5
    vewrse 4 and they are one god yea the very eternal father of heaven and earth.
    2 nephi 32:21 and now behold this is the doctrine of christ and the one true doctrine of the father and of the son and the holy ghost wich is one god with out end
    why does all the other lds doctrine contridict the most correct book on earth?
    4) if the book of mormon was translated by the power of god through joseph smith why are there over 3500 changes in it?
    did god have bad grammer not know how to spell?
    i have read the book of mormon the bible d&c teachings of the prophet joseph smith and they all contridict what the bible teaches and what the lds doctrine teach.
    the bible says God is unchanging it says he is the same for all eternity.
    read the teachings of the prophet joseph smith page 348 it talks of Jesus taking Gods place and God being exhalted even higher. so the god joseph smith teaches of is not to his full power or glory yet nor is Jesus wich in he book of mormon says that they are one person?
    5) the lds church teaches that murderers can not get in to the highest kingdom of heaven then where is the appostle Paul? he persecuted christians (killed) would he not be in heaven with God?
    Moses killed a guard and he was the a man with good favor in the eyes of the Lord, is he not with God?
    6) the lds faith teaches works for salvation but the bible says it is by grace and faith we are saved.
    thank you and have a merry Christmas
    God bless

  • Wolfdawg1

    WOW!! I came upon this way after the fact and I wanted to respond to pagansister.
    I, being a follower of Jesus Christ, think it is a horrible and very sad thing what people throughout the ages have done, in His Name, to turn people against true Christianity! He never forced anyone to believe in Him. As the Bible states…it saddened Him…but he never forced anyone! You truly have the freedom to believe how and what you want to believe in.
    I would just ask you to read His words. Do not base His nature on what all of the man made religions portray. Ask Him to show you and then honestly seek Him as you read His words.
    Blessings,
    Wolfycat.

  • Mary Brule-Tilley

    Hello,
    My name is Mary and I’ve been looking long and hard for Mr. Bill Kilpatrick. I believe he is now married; however, I dated him for a short period of time when I was 18 years old! I have never forgotten him or the lovely memories he left me with. If this is the same Bill Kilpatrick and he actually remembers who I am, please contact me at the above email address. I’d be glad to hear from you and know how you’re doing. It was a blessing to know you then and I hope things are going well with you and your life. I heard you were or still are a missionary. God Bless,
    Mary E. Brul’e-Tilley

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