Jump to content

Mountain Meadow Massacre


Pahoran

Recommended Posts

In recent years there have been three new books on the Mountain Meadow Massacre. These were Will Bagley's Blood of The Prophets, Jon Krakauer's Under The Banner of Heaven and Sally Denton's American Massacre.

(Note that Krakauer's book is only secondarily about the MMM; its primary focus is on the Lafferty murders. His thesis is that religious people are essentially liable to fly into murderous frenzies just as soon as they can convince themselves that God wants them to do so, and therefore religion is a bad thing. The MMM is cited to prove that the Lafferty murders weren't just an aberration, but that religiously-motivated violence is inherent in Mormonism.)

Ever since the MMM occurred, the Church's enemies have used it as a stick with which to bash the Church. The first Lee trial failed to get a conviction primarily because the prosecuting attorney, the notorious anti-Mormon R. N. Baskin, failed to lead evidence against Lee, but wasted his time grandstanding about how Brigham Young was really behind it all. For him, as for many others, then and now, getting to the bottom of the massacre, and catching and convicting the actual culprits, was of only secondary importance; far more important was the massacre's utility as a weapon against the Church of Jesus Christ.

What trends have we seen in anti-Mormon usage of the MMM? I have noticed a number:

First, despite the attempts of all three books, above, to pin the responsibility for ordering the massacre on Brigham Young, this thesis seems to have little following these days. Far more common are attempts to entangle him indirectly--Brigham created the "climate" in which the MMM was possible; or to focus upon the aftermath--Brigham should have been diligently rounding up the culprits and handing them over to the authorities. The massacre as an expression of the latent violence underlying "Mormonism" seems to have caught on rather well. The recent comments have often played up a rather irrelevant coincidence of date--both the MMM and the Twin Towers happened on the 11th of September. This gives demagogues an excuse to try to link the two events in the popular mind. And of course, the old stand-by--that Latter-day Saints "defend" or "excuse" the massacre always seems to get some air time whenever the subject is raised.

Let us accept, as a starting point, that there are no Latter-day Saints who "defend" or "excuse" the massacre. I have never met or heard of a Latter-day Saint who thnks it was anything other than a monstrous crime. Let us take that as a given.

So, what is the utility of the MMM for the Church's critics? Does it have any impact upon the Church's truth claims? Why is it allowed to overshadow the Utah War of 1857-8, of which it was a part? Is it really reasonable to expect Brigham Young to be hunting down participants after he was replaced as governor? Does anyone really think that John D. Lee was an innocent sacrificial lamb?

Let's not let this thread go the way of the last one. Please keep focused upon the topic.

Regards,

Pahoran

Link to comment

I knew one of John Lee's granddaughters. She sure thought he was a sacrificial lamb. She was a faithful member of the Church, although she was hurt at what she saw as unfair treatment of her grandfather.

The utility of Mountain Meadow Massacre for the critics? Something that is "sexy" and gets attention. Conspiracies. Murder. Brigham Young. What more could you want?

Link to comment

I think pahoran that critics will use any church history that can be looked upon as a justification for their critical attitude toward the church. Also, some use it to lure away members with showing imperfections in the lds history.

The simple conclusion, if hay can be made in a turnip field, they will try to do so. That is their mission. And they will be successful because the human mind is such that it functions on questioning and so the point for the critic is to keep it questioning until success is achieved. Hence the MMM among other points of church history.

In some instances, one can compare it to a Screwtape/Wormwood relationship as decribed by CS Lewis in his book the SCREWTAPE LETTERS.

Link to comment
The utility of Mountain Meadow Massacre for the critics?  Something that is "sexy" and gets attention.  Conspiracies. Murder. Brigham Young.  What more could you want?

Conspiracy is sexy? Sometimes, I suppose. Murder? Not so much, for most people, I hope. Brigham Young? You've just lost *all* your credibility, dear Charity.

Edit: Sorry, lost my focus. The choir can now go back to singing to itself.

Link to comment

I guess a lot of us may be waiting for Thomas Alexander's presentation in Logan on the subject before making any comments.

Does anyone know how we can get a copy of that or where it might be published after next week?

I would love to know. Is anyone going to hear that, so that you can give us a report of what he said?

Link to comment

"Sexy" in quotes means attention grabbing, sensational, something to gossip about, and start unsubstaniated rumors. I didn't mean it to refer to polygamy. The word in quotes it has nothing to do with male female relationships. Sorry for the confusion.

Link to comment
"Sexy" in quotes means attention grabbing, sensational, something to gossip about, and start unsubstaniated rumors. I didn't mean it to refer to polygamy. The word in quotes it has nothing to do with male female relationships. Sorry for the confusion.

No problem, but the critics do sensationalize polygamy because it is 'sexy' at least in their minds...without understanding convenants and bible history.

Link to comment

Interesting topic, my personal take on it is:

1. Normal people don't just up and slaughter ~120 people men, women and children, for no good reason. It stands to reason that Brigham Young was fanning the flames of the faithful into a religious radical frenzy. Or at least there was a real frenzy being passed around.

2. LDS typically do excuse the MMM, I've heard several excuses on these boards:

A. It was the humane thing to do, after the men were killed it would've been inhumane to let the women and children live because they would've starved fending for themselves.

B. The people in the party that were killed were members of the mob that killed Joseph Smith (of course there is zero evidence for this), yet some people use this is an excuse, but any insinuation that the Mormon Church is responsible is brushed off.

C. The Mormons were living under an extermination order, (not true at the time)

D. It is wrong to judge them we don't know what they were going through, (however judging their actions is completely appropriate, random massacre is something people have a right to judge and speak agaisnt)

3. The MMM has no bearing on the truthfulness of the Church, people have to be judged seperately rather than an entire institution.

4. I believe Brigham Young was responsible for creating the climate where this could happen, but didn't order it. I don't think Brigham Young was an evil murderous despot.

5. After the fact the Church didn't behave in a way that was appropriate including detruction of a memorial to the slain at Mountain Meadows, which to me seems cold hearted at the least. (I know it said "vengeance is mine so saith the Lord", but if the Mormon Church bore no responsibility why would that matter?). I also do not think there was much effort in bringing the guilty in, there must've been 50-100 men participating. All from the area yet it was covered up.

I think Krakauer (spelling?) has a point, that religon for people typically turns into a "cause" for people. For people who focus on their religion as their identity and culture rather than their spirituality this can spell disaster. Look at Islam today, the Koran says there is no compulsion in religion, yet we don't see that from the radical Muslims murdering in cold blood for the sake of Islam. There's a difference between being a martyr for the faith, and being a killer for the faith, that some people have a hard time seperating.

But in the end you have to be able to seperate the actions of the people and the religion.

Link to comment

pantsman, you can parrot the critic line very well enough. Besides books written by critics, what other study have you done about the event?

Link to comment

1. I read in one contemporary account that no further prosecutions of the MMM were persued by the Feds because there was a general amnesty after the Utah war. BY tried to get them to persue the matter, but the Feds were not interested.

But I have not heard anyone mention this.

2. Lee's temple blessings were restored to him several years ago.

Link to comment

The MMM is just another event that critics of the church take out of context, spin as negativly as possible and then attempt to place all the blame on the leaders of the church.

The MMM was a horrible tradgedy, but not what the critics claim or want it to be. Brigham Young didn't attack a wagon train for the sport of it, which is really how it is portrayed by the critic.

There was mob mentality involved. The saints had just escaped severe persecution. This situation alone creates an environment where not everyone is thinking straight. There is intelligence suggesting the US Army is bearing down on the saints from the east, creating more hysteria, and then you have this wagon train threatening to raise an army in California and attack from the west. I think that in the minds of the perpetrators they were taking preventative action in self defense.

Using the MMM out of the time and setting is just another disengenuous attack on the Church.

Link to comment

Diggerdan has brought up the most salient point of all. The Saints at the time were hunkered down in a siege mentality. Not only were they expecting armies from the East and felt threatened from the West, the Saints had to keep the Piautes happy. The Saints were being threatened from all sides, in their view. The Fancher Party only did what they could to fan the flames of animosity so they could bring an army from California. The Fancher party didn't claim to be involved with Martyrdom of JS but they did claim responsibility for Parley P Pratt. They did make it known they were from Missouri and Arkansas and agreed with the Extermination Order and thought it should be carried out in the Territory. Is this any reason for killing them? No. With the problems and pressures surrounding the Saints at the time and place do I understand? Not entirely, but it can be seen as a reaction due to the siege mentality the Saints had at the time. It is not due to teachings of the CoJCoLDS but one could blame BY for fostering the siege mentality. How much blame? Minimal. He, BY, wanted them left alone and out of the Territory ASAP.

Dr Fatguy

Link to comment
Diggerdan has brought up the most salient point of all. The Saints at the time were hunkered down in a siege mentality. Not only were they expecting armies from the East and felt threatened from the West, the Saints had to keep the Piautes happy. The Saints were being threatened from all sides, in their view. The Fancher Party only did what they could to fan the flames of animosity so they could bring an army from California. The Fancher party didn't claim to be involved with Martyrdom of JS but they did claim responsibility for Parley P Pratt. They did make it known they were from Missouri and Arkansas and agreed with the Extermination Order and thought it should be carried out in the Territory. Is this any reason for killing them? No. With the problems and pressures surrounding the Saints at the time and place do I understand? Not entirely, but it can be seen as a reaction due to the siege mentality the Saints had at the time. It is not due to teachings of the CoJCoLDS but one could blame BY for fostering the siege mentality. How much blame? Minimal. He, BY, wanted them left alone and out of the Territory ASAP.

Dr Fatguy

There is no evidence of this...

There is nothing but inuendo that the Fancher party was threatening to "raise an army and attack from the West". The Pauites were a bunch of potato farmers, hardly a warring tribe. All this is is turning the victims into the aggressor, and the party that slaughtered them while feigning truce the victim.

Link to comment

The potato farmers you are speaking of kept the Spanish and their Indian allies out of the Utah for 200 years. Whether or not your assessment is correct, could the Mormons of 1857 have fought a war with the US Government and the Piaute, Goshute, and Ute Nations? Whether or not the army was threatened by the Fanchers is moot. The rumor was there. The Paiutes attacked first because the Fanchers had sold poisoned flour to some northern members of the tribe, from their perspective. The Saints in Iron County saw no way out after the potato farmers attacked. Whether or not there was an Army coming from the West is not the issue. The issue is, did the Saints think it a possiblity? I am not trying to excuse the actions of the Iron County Militia. I think it was hienous. What I am trying to do is demonstate what BY did to foster this situation. All he did was promote a siege mentality due to the sitiuation. The Iron County Militia and the local Piautes did the rest.

Dr Fatguy

Link to comment
The potato farmers you are speaking of kept the Spanish and their Indian allies out of the Utah for 200 years. Whether or not your assessment is correct, could the Mormons of 1857 have fought a war with the US Government and the Piaute, Goshute, and Ute Nations? Whether or not the army was threatened by the Fanchers is moot. The rumor was there. The Paiutes attacked first because the Fanchers had sold poisoned flour to some northern members of the tribe, from their perspective. The Saints in Iron County saw no way out after the potato farmers attacked. Whether or not there was an Army coming from the West is not the issue. The issue is, did the Saints think it a possiblity? I am not trying to excuse the actions of the Iron County Militia. I think it was hienous. What I am trying to do is demonstate what BY did to foster this situation. All he did was promote a siege mentality due to the sitiuation. The Iron County Militia and the local Piautes did the rest.

Dr Fatguy

LOL that is complete fabrication, where are coming up with this? Call for references, this is straight up slander of the fancher party. There is zero evidence the Pauite attacked first, zero evidence the Fancher party espoused any violence towards the LDS, zero evidence the Fancher party sold "poisonous flower to the Pauite", this is simply bad apologetics in its rawest form....

Please state your references for everything you stated so I can take a look at them.

Link to comment

This is an answer to the worst reading I have ever seen. Pantsman go back to school and learn to read. I didn't say the Fanchers had actually sold the flour, I stated the Piautes had said it was done. If the Piautes weren't attacking why were the fanchers at Mountain Meadow? Something stopped them there, DUH. Try reading Juanita Brooks' treatment of Mountain Meadow. She did the first historical treatment. She also wrote the biography of John D Lee. She is my source. What is yours? I doubt you have any. I am not trying to excuse the action. I am trying to understand what was going on.

To be clear, DO YOU THINK A SIEGE MENTALITY EXISTED AT THE TIME? IF NOT GIVE REFERENCES. WHERE DID I BLAME ANYONE OTHER THAN THE IRON COUNTY MILITIA AND THE LOCAL PIAUTE TRIBES? GIVE REFERNCES. IF YOU USE MY POSTS, NO ELIPSES. PLEASE GIVE US SOME UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE FANCHER PARTY STATED AS THEY MOVED SOUTH AND THE MORMONS WOULDN'T SELL THEM ANY SUPPLIES. Juanita Brooks disagrees with your assessment of the situation. She was the authority on the subject in scholarly circles. Please read her books. She was the one that petitioned David O McKay to re-instate John D Lee to full fellowship. It souds as if you are only reading a third of what I am writing. Go back and try again.

Dr Fatguy

Link to comment
But in the end you have to be able to seperate the actions of the people and the religion.

The problem Pantsman is not the event but just how the critics twist it in their favor. The critics use this event to lure people away from the faith. It is not a discussion of interpretation but a discussion by the critics to prove the church false. And it is here that we have the problem.

No one is perfect, including Brigham Young. And certainly the mormon pioneers were not perfect. But we all need to remember the reason why the saints came to Utah...it was to escape persecution. The saints had fear and if they commited this crime they reacted wrongly. Such is the human being. We are not perfect. Should it be used to prove the church false like the critics do? No.

Lets us delve into catholic history and I am sure that we will find imperfections and tragedies. But I would never claim that the catholic church is a fraud because of them.

Catholics both past and present are only human beings and as such, imperfect.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...