Never Forget. Never, Ever, Forget.


Try, for at least a moment, to envision the horror that these innocent people experienced during the last minutes of their mortal lives.


As with most Americans who were old enough on that day to know what was going on, it’s etched into my memory.  I remember it in great detail.  (I alluded to part of my experience of the morning a few days ago, here, without even thinking of the approaching anniversary.)


I fear, often, that we’re relapsing into complacency.  That must not happen.


But we must also not forget the ease with which basically good people can be induced to do terrible things.  In that regard, I think of another terrible event that has its anniversary today: the Mountain Meadows Massacre, certainly one of the blackest stories in the history of Mormonism.  If the people who carried it out had been conventionally evil villains, it would have little to teach the majority of us.  But they weren’t.  They were good people.


The Oxford University Press volume Massacre at Mountain Meadows, by Ron Walker, Rick Turley, and Glen Leonard, is, to date, the best treatment of the subject (though the works of Juanita Brooks retain much of their value and shouldn’t be forgotten).  In it, the authors lay out the inexorable logic that led to that great evil.  I kept thinking, as I read it, that it was, in many ways, reminiscent of a Greek tragedy — and not only with respect to the obvious victims.  I found myself wanting to scream out “No! No!  Don’t go down this path!  Stop while you still can!”


That event, too, should never be forgotten.



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  • GoodWill2

    Brigham Young introduced into the LDS temple ceremony of his day the taking of a sacred, secret oath to seek “revenge” against all those who killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith. He flagrantly taught the doctrine of “blood atonement”: the concept that some sinners had to be killed in order to be “saved”. The idea that “good people” should ever kill others in order to “save” them (and thus do “the Lord’s work”) was introduced to the Church by Brigham Young. Brigham Young is responsible for introducing the ideas and attitudes that fostered the Mountain Meadows Massacre and militant piety of the type now infesting Islam. (Fortunately most of Brigham’s followers weren’t as “faithful” as some Muslims today.)

    But “Thank God for living prophets who can never lead us astray!” You disagreed that the Church hasn’t slid into apostasy ever since the saints rejected “the fullness of the priesthood” by neglecting to finish the temple in Nauvoo, as commanded “or else” (see D&C 124:28 & 32) and by turning against their prophet, ultimately leading to his death.

    Which teachings of Joseph’s “divinely-appointed” immediate successor have not been subsequently repudiated and denounced?

    Plural marriage being essential for salvation? Gone.
    Blood atonement? Gone.
    Adam-God doctrine? Gone.
    Blacks not receiving the priesthood? Gone.

    The “yankee guesser” popularized the practice of plural marriage (something meant only for “gods”). This act alone led to great whoredoms, adultery (in mind if not in body) and mischief among the saints. (It was our own version of “72 virgins in heaven”, but on earth!) Indeed, if there ever were a people described by 3 Nephi 16:10, who needed to follow 3 Nephi 30:2, it was the saints of Brigham Young’s day. And us.

    No apostasy, indeed!

    Really, Dan, it’s nice to believe that the saints “prevailed” and “all is well”. But the evidence points otherwise.

    • DanielPeterson

      You level a large number of serious accusations, GW2. One might, in fact, justly describe your comment above as something of a laundry list.

      I vigorously reject all of them.

      But it would take several full academic articles (if not a few books) to set forth the evidence and analysis that I see as relevant. Most of these have actually already been published, but I suspect that fact won’t move you.

      And your accusations are essentially irrelevant to the blog post above.

      • GoodWill2

        DP: “But we must also not forget the ease with which basically good people can be induced to do terrible things.”

        Your statement (above) actually sums up nicely the gist of my comment. (But, I admit, I combined my response to two of your recent posts into a single reply. They were somewhat related.)

        What is it you “reject” exactly? My thesis is that false doctrines, taught and practiced, lead “basically good people” to do “terrible things” — like commit whoredoms, lie and deceive, and (to a very limited extent) murder. Is not this “relevant” to your blog post above?

        The “history of Mormonism” as taught to the saints (and to potential converts) utterly ignores important (deprecatory) facts. The suffering of those known as “pioneers” is portrayed almost as a “victory march”, not the damning justice of a chastening God who drove His wayward people “into the wilderness” after they rejected His prophets, changed His ordinances, and violated His commandments.

        After all, we are the proud descendants of the “faithful” at Nauvoo! The chosen seed of Abraham! And all that.

        • DanielPeterson

          Greetings, Denver Snuffer!

          • GoodWill2

            Actually, I am an ardent supporter of the efforts of both Daniel Peterson and Denver Snuffer! How familiar are you with his (for lack of a better term) “witness” and interpretations of LDS history? Why do you reject them?

            (I’m just throwing out grist now for you to use in a future blog post or two. I would appreciate reading your insights on the subject.)

          • GoodWill2

            Plus I’m still waiting for those “sacred verses”!

          • DanielPeterson

            I’ll put together something one of these days.

          • DanielPeterson

            Patience! The wait won’t be long.

    • kiwi57


      “Brigham Young introduced into the LDS temple ceremony of his day the taking of a sacred, secret oath to seek ‘revenge’ against all those who killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith.”

      That is an absolute falsehood. The so-called “oath” was a promise to pray for divine retribution, not to “seek ‘revenge’.”

      The “Blood atonement” libel is and always was exactly that: a libel.

      There aren’t any honest critics of Mormonism, anywhere, who profess that it actually reflects upon the nature of LDS life and teaching.

      • GoodWill2

        Well, “absolute falsehood” may be overstating it a bit, don’t you think?

        I wasn’t there (between 1845 and the early 1930s) to “covenant and promise [to]…pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and [to]…teach the same to [my] children and to [my] children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.”

        Isn’t “pray…to avenge” the same thing as “seek revenge”? It was called the “oath of vengeance”, wasn’t it?

        Definition of “revenge”:

        1. To inflict punishment in return for (injury or insult).
        2. To seek or take vengeance for (oneself or another person); avenge.

        Well, look at that! “Revenge” is defined as “seek[ing]…vengeance”!

        I could have been more precise, I guess; thank you for clarifying that. The word “retribution” wasn’t mentioned in the oath. Does that mean your assertion was “absolutely false”?

        Which teaching of our Lord, by the way, was the “oath of vengeance”? Was it “bless them that curse you”? Or “do good to them that hate you”?

        Or maybe it was “pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you”?

        That’s it! Clearly praying for “divine retribution” upon one’s enemies is surely praying for them! That’s quite a gospel you’ve got there!

        The teachings and practices of the gentile church (described in 2 Nephi 28), who preach of Zion, are truly amazing and inspired, aren’t they?

        • kiwi57


          “Isn’t ‘pray…to avenge’ the same thing as ‘seek revenge’?”

          Since you asked: No. It’s actually the exact opposite, because it leaves the responsibility for exacting vengeance in the Lord’s hands.

          “It was called the ‘oath of vengeance’, wasn’t it?”

          Only by those seeking to sensationalise and misrepresent it.

          I wonder who they would be?

          I don’t know whether you’ve actually read the Bible, but your cherry-picked proof-texts only tell part of the story:

          Revelation 6:
          9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

          10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

          Sure sounds like “praying for vengeance” to me.

          • GoodWill2

            It sure does.

            Meanwhile, our Lord taught us to pray for others that they might be brought to repentance and receive forgiveness, not vengeance.

            But you go right ahead and do what you think is best.

      • GoodWill2

        To kiwi57:

        Couching your reference to “blood atonement” in the present tense (i.e., “actually reflects upon the nature of LDS life and teaching”) ignores the fact that the doctrine certainly was a prominent teaching of Brigham Young during the “reformation” period of Mormon history, when BY (and others) preached “hell fire and damnation” to “wake up” a backsliding populace and “inspire” them with direful pronouncements and consequences for sin, including capital punishment for sins not quite completely covered by the atonement of Christ (a doctrine that is utterly repudiated by the LDS Church today). It is a fanciful notion to presume that all that preaching had no effect upon the “nature of LDS life and teaching” then, even if it doesn’t today.

        You can walk away from the History of the Church, the Journal of Discourses, etc.

        But please don’t rewrite them.

  • brotheroflogan

    One benefit (which can also be a drawback) of having a heirarchical faith is that when one element goes rogue and commits a bad act, the heirarchy can give authoritative condemnation which can ameliorate hatred towards the group. Islam lacks that, so if a muslem condemns a suicide attack, it gets little press. But if the pope condemns an act of a priest, then that carries weight.
    On the other hand, if the leader encourages the act or fails to condemn it, the whole church falls into disrepute.