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Church Offers Official Apology For MMM


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CEDAR CITY â?? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a long-awaited apology today for the massacre of an immigrant wagon train by local church members 150 years ago in southwestern Utah.

Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve read the church's statement on assignment from the church's governing First Presidency during a memorial ceremony at the grave site of some of the massacre victims at Mountain Meadows, about 35 miles northwest of St. George. The statement also places blame for the Sept. 11, 1857, massacre on the local church leaders at the time and church members who followed their orders to murder some 120 unarmed men, women and children.

"We express profound regret for the massacre carried out in this valley 150 years ago today, and for the undue and untold suffering experienced by the victims then and by their relatives to the present time," Elder Eyring said.

"A separate expression of regret is owed the Paiute people who have unjustly borne for too long the principal blame for what occurred during the massacre," he said. "Although the extent of their involvement is disputed, it is believed they would not have participated without the direction and stimulus provided by local church leaders and members."

Seventeen children survived the massacre that culminated a four-day standoff between local Mormons and a train of Arkansas immigrants making their way to California.

Elder Eyring said that research by church historians, who are writing a book about the massacre that is to be published next year, found that church President Brigham Young's message "conveying the will and intent ... not to interfere with the immigrants arrived too late."

The research also found that the "responsibility for the massacre lies with the local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the regions near Mountain Meadows ... and with members of the church acting under their direction."

Several hundred descendants of the victims have traveled across the country to attend today's ceremony. Many of them had sought an apology from the church since the dedication eight years ago of a monument marking the burial site of some of the victims.

Some have also petitioned the church to transfer to the federal government ownership of the monument and surrounding lands the church has purchased to preserve the site that church President Gordon B. Hinckley has described as sacred ground.

In addressing the proposed land transfer, Elder Eyring said, "The church has worked with descendant groups ... to maintain the monument and surrounding property and continues to improve and preserve these premises to make them attractive and accessible to all who visit. We are committed to do so in the future."

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From Newsroom.LDS.org:

MOUNTAIN MEADOWS, NEAR CEDAR CITY, Utah 11 September 2007 One hundred and fifty years to the day that 120 emigrant men, women and children were massacred at Mountain Meadows in southern Utah, hundreds of people gathered today in a communal memorial service at the grave site, some 35 miles from Cedar City.

Elder Henry B. Eyring, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, represented the First Presidency at the service, which was organized by descendants of those on the California-bound wagon train who lost their lives.

Expressing â??profound regret for the massacre,â? Elder Eyring referred to the â??undue and untold suffering experienced by the victims then and by their relatives to the present time.â?

Calling for reconciliation, he said, â??May the God of Heaven, whose sons and daughters we all are, bless us to honor those who died here by extending to one another the pure love and spirit of forgiveness which His Only Begotten Son personified.â?

Elder Eyring said that a separate expression of regret is owed the Paiute people, â??who have unjustly borne for too long the principal blame for what occurred during the massacre.â?

He added that although the extent of their involvement is disputed, it is believed they would not have participated without the direction and stimulus provided by local Church leaders and members.

Elder Eyring said that new research had â??enabled us to know more than we ever have known about this unspeakable episode. The truth, as we have come to know it, saddens us deeply.â?

Elder Eyring acknowledged that the responsibility for the massacre rested with local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the regions near Mountain Meadows who also held civic and military positions and with members of the Church â??acting under their direction.â?

â??What was done here long ago by members of our Church represents a terrible and inexcusable departure from Christian teaching and conduct. We cannot change what happened, but we can remember and honor those who were killed here,â? he said.

â??Many of those who carried out the massacre were haunted all their lives by what they did and saw on that unforgettable day. They and their relatives have also suffered under a heavy burden of guilt. No doubt divine justice will impose appropriate punishment.â?

Referring to an obligation to understand and learn from the past, Elder Eyring said that a new book was about to be published by three authors who had been given full access to all relevant materials held by the Church in its archives.

In addition to placing responsibility for the massacre on local leaders at the time, the authors have also concluded from all the evidence that a message conveying the will and intent of Brigham Young not to interfere with the emigrants arrived too late to prevent the killings. Brigham Young was president of the Church and territorial governor at that time.

Elder Eyring said that since the dedication by Church President Gordon B. Hinckley of a monument to those who had fallen, the Church had worked with descendant groups to maintain the monument and surrounding property.

â??The Church continues to improve and preserve these premises and to make them attractive and accessible to all who visit. We are committed to do so in the future,â? Elder Eyring said.

Those at todayâ??s memorial service were also addressed by representative of various descendant groups and of the Paiutes.

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Will it be enough? ...

No. Too many of the people who have demanded that the Church of Jesus Christ apologize for the Mountain Meadows Massacre will never be satisfied by any apology that fails to lay blame for the massacre directly at Brigham Young's feet.

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From the Church's website:

Hundreds Gather to Honor Mountain Meadows Victims

One hundred and fifty years to the day that 120 emigrant men, women and children were massacred at Mountain Meadows in southern Utah, hundreds of people gathered today in a communal memorial service at the grave site, some 35 miles from Cedar City.

Elder Henry B. Eyring, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, represented the First Presidency at the service, which was organized by descendants of those on the California-bound wagon train who lost their lives.

Expressing â??profound regret for the massacre,â? Elder Eyring referred to the â??undue and untold suffering experienced by the victims then and by their relatives to the present time.â?

Calling for reconciliation, he said, â??May the God of Heaven, whose sons and daughters we all are, bless us to honor those who died here by extending to one another the pure love and spirit of forgiveness which His Only Begotten Son personified.â?

Elder Eyring said that a separate expression of regret is owed the Paiute people, â??who have unjustly borne for too long the principal blame for what occurred during the massacre.â?

He added that although the extent of their involvement is disputed, it is believed they would not have participated without the direction and stimulus provided by local Church leaders and members.

Elder Eyring said that new research had â??enabled us to know more than we ever have known about this unspeakable episode. The truth, as we have come to know it, saddens us deeply.â?

Elder Eyring acknowledged that the responsibility for the massacre rested with local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the regions near Mountain Meadows who also held civic and military positions and with members of the Church â??acting under their direction.â?

â??What was done here long ago by members of our Church represents a terrible and inexcusable departure from Christian teaching and conduct. We cannot change what happened, but we can remember and honor those who were killed here,â? he said.

â??Many of those who carried out the massacre were haunted all their lives by what they did and saw on that unforgettable day. They and their relatives have also suffered under a heavy burden of guilt. No doubt divine justice will impose appropriate punishment.â?

Referring to an obligation to understand and learn from the past, Elder Eyring said that a new book was about to be published by three authors who had been given full access to all relevant materials held by the Church in its archives.

In addition to placing responsibility for the massacre on local leaders at the time, the authors have also concluded from all the evidence that a message conveying the will and intent of Brigham Young not to interfere with the emigrants arrived too late to prevent the killings. Brigham Young was president of the Church and territorial governor at that time.

Elder Eyring said that since the dedication by Church President Gordon B. Hinckley of a monument to those who had fallen, the Church had worked with descendant groups to maintain the monument and surrounding property.

â??The Church continues to improve and preserve these premises and to make them attractive and accessible to all who visit. We are committed to do so in the future,â? Elder Eyring said.

Those at todayâ??s memorial service were also addressed by representative of various descendant groups and of the Paiutes.

-Smac

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The Church is and continues to be a class act when dealing with difficult situations. I cannot think of another organization of any type that has made better effort to accommodate in such situations without bending to critics who will be satisfied with nothing short that organizations' destruction.

Has the Church been perfect? Not at all. But unlike many other organizations, it tries to learn from the mistakes it makes and eventually make things right in an appropriate manner. I think the Church's track record is exemplary in this respect.

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No. Too many of the people who have demanded that the Church of Jesus Christ apologize for the Mountain Meadows Massacre will never be satisfied by any apology that fails to lay blame for the massacre directly at Brigham Young's feet.

I disagree with this. Yes, there are many that feel strongly that BY was to blame, but to most, the admission that it was the church "local leaders" is sufficient. Whether BY or the local leadership, at a time when there was not separation of church and state, this is admission enough of the responsibility of the church in the massacre.

Certainly a terrible event, and without doubt at a stressful time for the church, but nonetheless, ordered and carried out by local "Mormons." This is a step forward for the integrity of the church, as I was taught growing up that it was the "Indians" that did it. Personally, whether Brigham directly ordered it or not makes no difference. This apology will be appreciated by many, and I applaud the church for taking this step.

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Smac's link was right on target. I think that the lds church has apologized appropriately. One can not blame BY without absolute proof. However, the lds who commited the crime do bear direct responsibility. I must also say that the incident cannot be separated from the turmoil that the saints experienced at the hands of mobs before heading west. I think that MMM is directly related to the burnings and deaths that the saints experienced during JS's time.

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I don't read this so much as an apology as what is stated: an expression of regret. It may be a matter of semantics but there is no indication the "Church" is accepting responsiblity. This statement says what I thought had been expressed previously that the church regrets such an occurrence and expresses sorrow to the victims. It is clearly stated the responsibility was with local church leaders who were not acting in a Christlike manner and certainly on their own.

I do think it was very carefully and appropriately worded to express the great regret that church members had a part without assuming that Brigham Young ordered such a thing.

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Have the citizens of Hancock County apologized for killing Joseph and Hyrum? Will they ever? Or do they think that they weren't guilty of the crime committed 150 years ago, and shouldn't have to apologize for something they didn't do?

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The Church offered an official apology for MMM details in the link:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695209108,00.html

That's not an apology. It's a statement of regret with the finger of blame pointed solely at those directly responsible for the attack. It only sounds like an apology if you don't read too carefully. Of course, a statement of regret is more than Brigham Young ever issued. Rather, when he visited the site of the massacre he removed a monument that said "Vengeance is mine and I will repay," and said that it ought to read, "Vengeance is mine and I have taken a little."

Quick note: I don't at all believe that Young ordered the attack; the case for that is rotten. But I have no suspicion that he was sorry about the lives lost. And anyone who does not see in Young's teaching on blood atonement a deep spiritual madness and disregard for the value of life under the gospel, and who does not recognize that the spiritual fruit of such thinking could only be atrocity and death has no grasp of reality at all.

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Have the citizens of Hancock County apologized for killing Joseph and Hyrum? Will they ever? Or do they think that they weren't guilty of the crime committed 150 years ago, and shouldn't have to apologize for something they didn't do?

The difference between the two situations is that neither the Church nor its members are lobbying for an apology for those things done in the past.

I don't think that critics of the Church want to look very far past the MMM to historical motivations and causes. It could get messy very quickly for them.

I commend the Church for its efforts at resolving this appropriately and moving on. Some non-thinker in the comments on the Deseret News article mentioned the need for reparations; moving in such a direction would not be in the best interests of anyone involved.

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Quick note: I don't at all believe that Young ordered the attack; the case for that is rotten. But I have no suspicion that he was sorry about the lives lost. And anyone who does not see in Young's teaching on blood atonement a deep spiritual madness and disregard for the value of life under the gospel, and who does not recognize that the spiritual fruit of such thinking could only be atrocity and death has no grasp of reality at all.

Then again, there are those of us who have a more balanced perspective of what Brigham Young meant, taken from reading in context, and not cherry picking to force support for faulty, preconceived notions.

Nice emotional rant, soren. My advice is to come back from the dark side into the light.

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Then again, there are those of us who have a more balanced perspective of what Brigham Young meant, taken from reading in context, and not cherry picking to force support for faulty, preconceived notions.

Nice emotional rant, soren. My advice is to come back from the dark side into the light.

I have read every sermon delivered by Young on the subject in full. the doctrine in brief is that there are certain sins for which which the blood of Christ does not operate and that the blood of the sinner must be sacrificed in lieu of Christ's blood. This is to be undertaken by elders of the Church upon a voluntary victim, who is an LDS priesthood holders. On some occasions Young stipulated that this law was not in full force, but presupposed a theocratic kingdom not yet instituted.

Have I got anything wrong? Maybe I'm missing something?

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Have the citizens of Hancock County apologized for killing Joseph and Hyrum? Will they ever? Or do they think that they weren't guilty of the crime committed 150 years ago, and shouldn't have to apologize for something they didn't do?

C'mon Charity,

can't the focus of the thread remain with the church's statements with regard to MMM? Perhaps you could create a thread contrasting the two events, what was similar and what was different.

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C'mon Charity,

can't the focus of the thread remain with the church's statements with regard to MMM? Perhaps you could create a thread contrasting the two events, what was similar and what was different.

max, the idea was in apologizing for something you didn't do. Besides, I don't think "regret" is really an apology. "I"m sorry we did it" is an apology. "I'm sorry it happened" isn't. As usual, in the press, headlines don't always convey the content. But if those who are really into the victimization mode want to read it as an apology, they can.

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But I have no suspicion that he was sorry about the lives lost.
soren, according to Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, pg 239 when he heard of the massacre, "[t]he details were so gruesome that Brigham Young wept." Also from Woodruff's diary:
Brother Brigham, while [brother Lee was] speaking of the cutting of the throats of the women and children by the Indians down south, said that it was heart rending."

On pg 283 from a letter of BY's:

Yet I have neither doubt nor fear on my mind but the perpetrators of that tragedy will meet their reward. God will judge this amtter and on that assurance I rest perfectly satisfied.

If you are innocent, you may safely do the same; if you are guilty, better try the remedy [of hanging yourself].

There is no sense of approval or satisfaction in BY's writings that any were killed even when he first believed it was done by Native Americans.
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I have read every sermon delivered by Young on the subject in full. the doctrine in brief is that there are certain sins for which which the blood of Christ does not operate and that the blood of the sinner must be sacrificed in lieu of Christ's blood. This is to be undertaken by elders of the Church upon a voluntary victim, who is an LDS priesthood holders. On some occasions Young stipulated that this law was not in full force, but presupposed a theocratic kingdom not yet instituted.

Have I got anything wrong? Maybe I'm missing something?

I would say you are missing those "certain sins." They are, in short, "knowingly murdering an innocent."

So, it seems a little harsh and overblown to say that it is "a deep spiritual madness and disregard for the value of life" for Brigham to have believed someone should submit to the death penalty for murder.

-----------------

On the topic of the thread: John Taylor offered a great statement on the MMM, calling what it was. Our leaders will continue to do so.

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I have read every sermon delivered by Young on the subject in full. the doctrine in brief is that there are certain sins for which which the blood of Christ does not operate and that the blood of the sinner must be sacrificed in lieu of Christ's blood. This is to be undertaken by elders of the Church upon a voluntary victim, who is an LDS priesthood holders. On some occasions Young stipulated that this law was not in full force, but presupposed a theocratic kingdom not yet instituted.

Have I got anything wrong? Maybe I'm missing something?

Wrong? Simply the conclusions you jumped to in your previous post.

Your conclusion was that BY was not sorry for the lives lost. That's your conclusion, not supported by any specific statement to that effect from BY.

Your conclusion was that BY had "a deep spiritual madness and disregard for the value of life under the gospel". That's your conclusion, not supported by what BY did say concerning the lives of others.

Your conclusion was that anyone who didn't see it your way "has no grasp of reality at all." Kind of arrogant to hold your faulty conclusions as absolute truth and to pass judgment, not only on Brigham Young, but anyone who doesn't agree with you.

You conclude that BY's comments are doctrine. They're not. Your understanding of LDS doctrine and what constitutes it is faulty.

You are, indeed, missing something.

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