The Mountain Meadows Massacre

For Brigham Young and his religion, the haunting consequences of mass murder at Mountain Meadows was undeniable. Like many great crimes of power, the criminals expected to get away with it. Young’s confidence was justified, for he was never indicted for any act connected to Mountain Meadows–and the only legal charge ever brought against him for these murders was drawn at his own request. But he could never escape the conviction of most of his contemporaries that he had masterminded an atrocity. Even if he burned every incriminating piece of evidence and persuaded every believing resident in the Utah Territory to swear that he had nothing to do with the horror at Mountain Meadows, Brigham Young could not change the past. He knew the full truth of his complicity in the crime. The Mormon prophet acted with the certainty that he was the instrument of God’s will, but he initiated the sequence of events that led to the betrayal and murder of one hundred twenty men, women and children.

-Blood of the Prophets – Will Bagley

Which reminded me of this encounter with the Church of the Latter day Saints by Martha Beck in her book “The Joy Diet”;

One day a local religious leader came to my house and told me outright that I had to stop making “inappropriate” statement.

“Here’s my position,” I told him carefully (I spoke more slowly than usual that year, trying to make sure before it came out of my mouth that everything I said was really true). “I respect the people who run the church. So far as I know, they’re very good men. But if one of them told me to do something that I believed in my heart to be wrong, I wouldn’t do it.”

He sighed uncomfortably. “Well, I understand,” he said. “But if you ever say that publicly, we’ll have to take action against you. And by the way,terrible things happen to children in this town whose parents aren’t in good standing with The Church. We can’t control what happens to you.”

In retrospect, this seems bizarre and creepy, like being targeted for assassination by the Brady Bunch (actually, come to think of it, that’s exactly how it felt at the time).

,The Joy Diet by Martha Beck

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