Early Church History: Oaks and Veazey

I’ve been reading a book by Apostle Dallin Oaks called Carthage Conspiracy.  Oaks is a lawyer, former Utah Supreme Court judge, former dean of the University of Chicago Law School, and president of BYU from 1971-1980 (updated 8/9/2009).  He wrote the book in 1975, and analyzes the trial of the assassins of Joseph Smith.  I plan to do a future post on the book, but let me say that when we look at Mayor(s) Daley and Gov. Blagojavich (sp?), it seems that crooked Illinois politics are alive and well, just as they were in the days of Joseph Smith.  The trial was a travesty, though I admit that Mormon unwillingness to assist the prosecutor in convicting these murderers did not help matters.  Apostle John Taylor, who was shot in the melee, went into hiding rather than testify.  Certainly this didn’t help the Illinois prosecutor in trying to convict the murderers.

I want to look at one specific incident in the book describing events in Missouri, and contrast LDS views with CoC views on the topic.  I want to review a specific statement from Prophet/President Veazey.  While Pres Veazey wasn’t addressing any particular events, I think the event I want to illustrate could have been something he might have been referring to.

At the beginning of the book, Oaks discusses the events in Missouri.  Mormons were kicked out of Jackson County, Missouri, and a non-Mormon legislator, Alexander Doniphan brokered a deal in which the Mormons were required and restricted to Caldwell County, Missouri (location of Far West).  While I am sure Doniphan was a fine man, and I welcome his willingness to come to the aid of Mormons, it strikes me as odd to suppose that the Mormons would remain so small as to be contained in just one county.  Certainly the ACLU would have found such a compromise problematic, wouldn’t it?

When Mormons started spilling over into Daviess County, page 10 tells us that,

In the fall the Mormons, still Democrats from their Kirtland days, made preparations to vote at Gallitin, the Daviess County seat; the Whigs reacted by organizing to keep them from the polls.  The resulting fight between the Whigs and the Mormons at Gallatin initiated a series of belligerent acts by both parties and brought on armed conflict that verged on civil war.

Soon after this, armed Missourians by the hundreds laid siege to two outlying Mormon communities, demanding that the inhabitants withdraw to Far West in Caldwell County.  Joseph Smith made an appeal to Governor Lilburn Boggs to relieve the siege at one of these towns, DeWitt, but was told that Mormons must fight their own battles.  Angry at this, and tired of legal harrassments, dissent, and persecution, the prophet told his people the he would endure no more.  A Mormon army rode into Daviess County and drove the mobbers out, finding sustenance by sacking dwellings and stores in two or three towns.  The governor immediately declared the Mormons in rebellion and called the militia to arms.  Thousands from surrounding counties seized their muskets and hastened toward Far West.

At Haun’s Mill, a nearby Mormon village, an army of two hundred angry Missourians, encouranged by the governor’s proclamation to drive out the Mormons or extreminated them, massacred eighteen unarmed men and a boy who had not followed the prophet’s urging to gather at Far West….

It is apparent to me that cooler heads were not prevailing.  Governor Boggs response to Joseph to fight his own battles was terrible advice.  When Joseph did, Boggs did not apparently see how his own advice was to blame to enflaming the situation.  On the one hand, I can completely sympathize with Joseph’s actions, especially in light of all the previous persecution to this point.  On the other hand, ran-sacking dwellings on the way to rescue those in DeWitt wasn’t exactly acting in a peacemaking role either.  While Mormons tend to highlight the “self-defense” nature of the conflict, I can’t say that ransacking houses was the wisest course of action, especially in 20/20 hindsight.

I was interested in Pres Veazey’s recent address on church history. (It’s part 3.)  While not specifically addressing this incident Oaks just described, I think it is interesting to see the recent CoC statement which seems to take a different view of this episode.

Despite how our story has often been told, we no longer can claim, that we were just the innocent victims of violence during the church’s early years.  While our forebears were certainly the targets of persecution on various occasions, more than once they provoked, and even initiated violence.

In the pressure filled years of the early church, violence, and militancy overtook Christ’s message of reconciliation, forgiveness, and peace.  To move ahead with integrity in our emphasis on sharing the peace of Jesus Christ, we must repent of and learn from the violent episodes in church history.  Only through honest examination, including identifying any remaining signs of these tendencies within the movement, can we continue on the restoring path of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit to which God calls us.  And we can take these steps, because we know that our history does not have to be without blemish to reveal the hand of God working in the movement.

Ironically, one of the primary principles of scripture is that God’s grace and God’s power is revealed most clearly by its working in an through humanity, especially human weakness and sin.  Viewing our history through this lens allows us to be affirming, honest, and sympathetic.

It is apparent to me that the CoC is a much more pacifist organization that the LDS church.  What do you make of Pres Veazey’s statement?  On the one hand, I think Pres Veazey is correct.  On the other hand, I greatly sympathize with Joseph Smith and the early saints, and I don’t believe I would have kept “turning the other cheek” to all these hostilities.


35 comments on “Early Church History: Oaks and Veazey

  1. Of course it was unwise for Mormons to take the offensive in the Daviess County conflict, even though Governor Boggs said that would be necessary in order for them to save themselves, and Mormons should not have ransacked the stores and some farms in the process. In doing so, Mormons only provided a pretext for Missourians to perpetrate further abuses against them.

    As to Veazy’s message, it is unclear why a message about peace and reconciliation needs to be prefaced with a statement that implies that Mormons weren’t really persecuted to the extent that the traditional narratives hold. It can be true that Mormons should not have reacted as they did in certain circumstances without having to also say that the persecution narratives are inaccurate. The Mormon attacks on some Daviess county farms and a couple of stores in 1838 was a reaction to severe and unjustified persecution and forced expulsion from Jackson County five years before in 1833, and an expression of frustration that five years of their best effort pleas and negotations had failed to secure just compensation for the wrongs perpetrated against them and the perpetrators of those wrongs had not been brought to justice (and never would be). These factors should make Mormons’ actions in taking the offensive for a brief period in 1838 understandable from a human point of view. This does not mean that these actions were justified from an ethical point of view but the actual context (which Veazy is actually glossing over in this statement) should make clear that such actions were in response to the dire persecutions that form the traditional persecution narrative.

    Another point is that Veazy seems to be attributing views to those who espouse the traditional persecution narratives that they do not necessarily hold. Most informed Latter-day Saints, for example, who affirm the traditional persecution narratives are indeed aware of Danite actions that should be condemned by any observer. None of that excuses the unfairness, hardships and persecutions that the Latter-day Saints experienced during the 1830s in Missouri, or later in Nauvoo.

    As such, I do not really think that the traditional persecution narratives need to be amended all that much, as Veazy implies. First, those narratives do not discount or ignore the Mormons’ own contributing actions to escalating the violence — even Oaks’ piece, as you point out, focuses on that, and there is hardly a more “orthodox” or “traditional” source. Veazy seems to be implying, and we often see the suggestion put forward in the Bloggernacle, that by remembering the horrible abuses suffered by their physical or spiritual ancestors, Mormons are not adequately taking account for the actions of Danites in Daviess County. Second, traditional Mormon persecution narratives do not excuse Danite actions, do they? I don’t think so. Finally, the Mormons who experienced the abuse at the hands of their fellow American citizens and neighbors in Missouri passed on the memories of their own experiences as victims of such persecution. These narratives take their validity from this fact and are indeed true — so why should they be deemphasized in favor of a higher emphasis on a few isolated incidents of Mormon retaliation which, although not justified in an ultimate sense, are understandable on a human level as acts of retaliation for a truly egregious situation?

  2. JF: I think it’s important to note that President Veazy was not talking to an LDS audience and therefore the fact that LDS may be very balanced in their views of the traditional persecution narratives is not necessarily relevant. Secondly, I don’t read the implication that the Mormon’s “weren’t really persecuted to the extent that the traditional narratives hold” as you say. I don’t think he’s discussing the extent or the reality of the persecution, but bunking a notion that Mormon’s were merely passive victims – a notion with which it seems you agree.

  3. re # 2, I think it accurate to say that the great majority of Mormons who suffered severe persecution and the loss of everything they owned — and who had to bury loved ones as a result — were indeed “merely passive victims”. An argument to the contrary doesn’t seem very realistic. Such a reality in way no ignores the existence of Danite bands that sacked some farms and a few stores in Daviess County.

  4. “Most informed Latter-day Saints, for example, who affirm the traditional persecution narratives are indeed aware of Danite actions that should be condemned by any observer.”

    I doubt this. I’ve been a member of the Church my entire life and my extended family longer than me. I had never heard of the Danites until I read Rough Stone Rolling and I’m pretty sure they never have either. I doubt the Danites are ever mentioned in any official publications, but I’m not sure about this. If they are, I can’t recall ever seeing them mentioned.

    Personally, I don’t have any reason to doubt all the stories of persecution and hardship committed against Mormons that I’ve heard about my entire life. I believe it happened. However, I definitely grew up believing that Mormons — Joseph Smith in particular — had a pretty squeaky-clean record that in no way could have ever provoked the persecution. I have a much different view now. Now, I’m not saying that it was in any way justified. But having studied the history a little deeper, things don’t seem as one-sided as I thought they were for almost 30 years. The horrible acts committed against Mormons were not always right in my mind, but it has certainly become more understandable and not simply all to blame on all those “evil anti-Mormons.” Learning about the polygamy cover-up and destruction of the printing press (along with theories for why it was destroyed, which MH covered in an interesting post a while back), certainly forces me to look at things from a wider perspective. I could even envision being just as skeptical and anti-Mormon back then, now having gotten a glimpse from “the other side.”

    I like Veazey’s statement. I would say that to use the word “provoked” is pretty provocative, but I don’t think it’s entirely wrong. He could have perhaps said that the harsh reaction, persecution, rapes, murders, etc, committed against Mormons were unjustified — no matter what we did to “provoke” them — but I think that he’s taking an Obama-like approach: reminding us that things aren’t always so black and white, that our record as a Church isn’t so squeaky-clean, and that we may have had a hand in making the conflict much worse than it ever should have been.

    “I think it accurate to say that the great majority of Mormons who suffered severe persecution and the loss of everything they owned — and who had to bury loved ones as a result — were indeed “merely passive victims”.

    I agree, John F. They were indeed innocent victims. However, I’m not sure that what they suffered could not have been avoided were it not for the actions of certain Mormons, whether it be Joseph Smith’s practice/denial of polygamy, Brigham Young’s fiery rhetoric, the blood oath that may have played a significant roll in Mountain Meadows, etc. For instance, the average Joe Mormon probably knew nothing of polygamy in its early practice. Even some of Joseph’s closest counsellors were kept in the dark. And yet the fallout would later have direct (and tragic) consequences for much of the rank and file membership.

  5. I would agree with BTC that Steve was not specifically speaking about things that happened after 1844 or to an LDS audience, and I would further emphasize that his speech has more to do with attitudes in the Community of Christ toward peace and war that prevail today.

    As MH noted, there is a strong (and perhaps growing) movement toward pacifism among the leadership of the CofChrist. The previous prophet signed a letter circulated among the denominations of the Christian left urging a non-military response to the 911 attacks. There have been publications in the Saint’s Herald magazine by one of the Apostles apologizing to the Muslim world for injuries by Christianity dating back to the Crusades. We work actively on the legislative agenda of the largest Quaker lobbying group in the nation. And so on.

    The leading authorities are actively studying scriptural bases for positions on war and peace and can be expected to bring some kind of report to the 2010 world conference, barring only the extreme crowding of the legislative agenda already. There may even be something brought in the way of a “Section 164” to the D&C that would speak to the subject of war and peace.

    As of today, the most general statement of the issues being considered by the church is found at “http://www.cofchrist.org/wc2007/legislation07/H-1.asp”

  6. John, thanks for you insights. Now that I think about it, I think Veazey was probably addressing the Danite problems more than this specific incident. While I agree that informed Mormons probably understand that Mormons may have retaliated unwisely, I would estimate informed Mormons to make up at most 10% of the general church-going population. As such, I think most Mormons would be surprised (as FD was) that Mormons may have participated in ransacking homes and stores in Daviess County or elsewhere.

    While I understand that Mormons weren’t completely blameless, I guess what bothers me in the JS trial as well as on some anti-Mormon blogs is that the Mormons somehow deserved what they got. Some act as if Gov Boggs was completely blameless, yet I find his actions as inflaming the conflict. Others try to excuse the Haun’s Mill Massacre, while promoting the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and that just isn’t fair either.

    I find the CoC position on pacifism as very interesting. The narrator did a comparison of the CoC and LDS positions after the 911 attacks. If I may straddle the fence a bit, I like both positions. I am not a pacifist like Ghandi, or the CoC, yet I greatly admire their position. I guess I am not convinced that such a pacifist approach works in the long run, though Ghandi’s pacifism certainly was transformational.

    I really like the idealistic approach of the CoC, but the realist in me likes the LDS approach.

  7. I could even envision being just as skeptical and anti-Mormon back then, now having gotten a glimpse from “the other side.”

    The key is, however, would you have burned your neighbors out of their homes or participated in pushing through the Quincy Convention of October 1845, demanding that Mormons leave the city they had built (Nauvoo). I would hope not, even if you could convince yourself to be an anti-Mormon.

  8. Hopefully not, John. I’d like to think I would have recognized the brutal and unjustified treatment of Mormons and taken a stand against it. But to be fair, I just don’t think I could/would have done all that would have been asked of me if I had been an apostle or counsellor to Joseph Smith back then (not that I would have been, being a woman 🙂 ). 3 of 4 years ago, I would have said I would have followed Joseph no problem, since I “knew” the history and how unfairly the Mormons were treated, as I had been taught at church Now I’m pretty sure I would have “apostasized” and stayed east like Emma. 🙂

  9. You know this is such an interesting line of thought–how would we have reacted? While FD and I are on the same page regarding polygamy, at this early juncture, polygamy was not an issue. A greater issue in Jackson County was the Mormon position opposing slavery, as well as the great influx of Mormons, and consecration society. While I think there were some problems with implementing consecration, I would think I would have given it the “college try”. At this early point in time, I can’t see any real issues to apostatize.

  10. I totally support the early saints defending themselves. If they needed to ransack to stay alive and fight for their families and freedoms, then that’s what they had to do.
    The BoM is full of instances of rightous people rising up and fighting their oppressors.
    Nephi wasn’t commanded to tie Laban up until they had a chance to get away.

    Just sayin….

  11. Bruce:

    While I would describe my own position as Christian realism — in which I would personally try to figure out the lesser of two evils using both prayer and game theory 😀 — many in the Community of Christ would argue for the pacifist position and argue that the events with Laban are evidence of inferior spiritual understanding on the part of either Nephi or Joseph Smith.

    I think it is the “in your face” nature of the killing that gets to them rather than the principle of preserving one’s history and faith even if you have to kill to do it.

    I note that with some irony, since we have recently been having discussions in our denomination over whether the staff cuts required by declining incomes for the church should extend to the historian/archivist office. People who are strongly pacifist are arguing, without consciously realizing it, that it was more important to preserve our history than to serve the poor, even though they ALSO believe that poverty kills.

    What we do not see, we seem to be unable to be horrified by.

  12. Let’s not forget the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and their pacifist beliefs. The BoM doesn’t condemn their pacifist beliefs, but rather embraces them, and even indicates that more people joined them than were killed by the Lamanites.

  13. Agreed. The Book of Mormon presents a very complex view of war and peace issues, recommending either violence ot martyrdom, and every variation in between. It’s one of the reasons I say it’s amenable to the teaching of Christian Realism, because that’s the view that’s “situational” enough to incorporate such divergent methods under a principle of love of all people and obedience to the guidance of God, even while recognizing that the “heroes” are also flawed.

  14. How you could possibly do a post like this without mentioning Danites or serious Mormon looting and aggression in Missouri? It shows that either a) you’re all truly ignorant or b) you don’t mind bold-face lies.

    I mean, you threw it a bone to cover your butt, but come on! This is why no one respects Mormon apologetics.

  15. Tiredmormon, you’re obviously not a regular around here. 🙂

    Congratulations, MH. Not only are you an anti-Mormon, but you’re also now an apologetic. 😀

  16. tiredmormon, do you make it a habit to insult people the first time you comment? if so, please move on to another blog. I can handle disagreement but not inflammatory comments, especially by someone bent on name-calling.

  17. mh:

    May I interject another note in, what is fast becoming, a discordinate symphony.

    Is this not a “teachable” moment we all can take advantage of? The TiredMormon has expressed a need to communicate, based on his/her frame of reference of reality. Perhaps the tired one is correct on a matter or two.

    I could, with reason, say: “How could you possibly do a post like this, without using the power of revelation”.

    Which could, possibly, negate everything TiredMormon brought up.

  18. I don’t think tiredmormon wants to be taught. If he does, he can strike a different tone. My teaching moment means that I expect respect here, and if he doesn’t want to be respectful, he is not welcome here. He is welcome to be disrespectful elsewhere. Sxark, perhaps you can teach him some manners on your blog.

  19. I hate coming in late to a discussion (been real busy last 2 days).

    John F: I think you totally missed the point of Veasey’s address. He is not glossing over the LDS plight, he merely stated that the LDS church is not as blameless as it has claimed publically.

    You also claim that the victims that lost all their belongings and had to bury loved ones, were passive victims and that any argument to the contrary is unrealistic.

    Well here is an argument to the contrary:
    Anyone that believes that these victims sat passively by while all their belongings were destroyed and loved ones were being killed is drinking a new brand of kool-aid than I have ever heard of. A passive victim is someone who either cannot or chooses not to defend themselves.

    To think these people chose not to defend themselves is very unrealistic.

    John F: You also state that DHO “focuses” on LDS blame. This is a disingenuous statement. That doesn’t even come close to what DHO’s focus was with this story. I believe you may have mistakenly used the wrong word there, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. We all know DHO’s focus was on the LDS plight and that he sprinkled it with token blame. Personally I would feel better about his presumptuous statements if they were cross referenced. He seems to take a lot of liberties with what people said and felt at the time.

  20. I suppose DHO refers to Elder Dallin H Oaks. (Some of these abreviations confuse me.)

    Bishop Rick, I did a post on Alexander Doniphan (I hyperlinked it in the original post.) I quoted from page 100 of Michael Quinn’s book, Origins of Power. I think it bears repeating.

    From page 100,

    When one of the Missouri militiamen found ten-year-old Sardius Smith’s hiding place, he put “his rifle near the boy’s head, and literally blowed off the upper part of it,” testified survivor and general authority Joseph Young [brother of Brigham] shortly thereafter. Other Missourians used a “corn-cutter” to mutilate the still-living Thomas McBride. When the survivors found the elderly man, his corpse was “literally mangled head to foot.”

    Most of the people killed at Haun’s Mill were unarmed. Sardius Smith was hiding. Certainly this was a pretty passive response, and certainly the mobbers were guilty of atrocious crimes: using a corn-cutter to mutilate Thomas McBride.

    Now, of course the Mormons did fight back, and were guilty of some things too in Missouri. But these two instances show some incredibly heinous acts, and I think fit the “passive” label pretty well. These mobbers were blood-thirsty, and I hope you are not defending these actions in particular.

  21. Bishop Rick, I also want to point out that Oak’s purpose was to write about the trial of the assassins–not to document all things prior to the martyrdom. I’m not sure what you wanted him to footnote. He footnoted the trial quite well, and I’ll do a post on that as soon as I finish the book.

  22. Once the sword of war is raised, as any combat vet can attest, [Vietnam,1968,USMC]
    military and religeous etiquette, has a tendency to fall by the wayside.

    Fingerpointing, on both sides, have elements of truth. Who has more truth than the other?

    Of interest, is the LDS First Presidency message,in Conferece Report, April 1942 –
    which will show, the Mission Statement of the Church as well as conduct expected of LDS members who join the military. Also, the decision by the LDS leadership against the deployment of defensive missles in Utah in the 1980’s, shows a pasifist approach. And, its my understanding, that the LDS church will go forth, thruout the world [only] by pasifist means.

  23. My point was not that there were no passive victims, but I do object that this was the norm, because it clearly was not. The problem with history is that it is almost never written by an objective observer and is thereby skewed in favor of the reporter’s partiality.

    MH: The incidents you describe make my blood boil. Please don’t EVER accuse me of defending such acts regardless of who performed them. They make me sick and are indefensible…just like MMM was indefensible. There is NO excuse for senseless killing of innocent people in any circumstance.

  24. MH: Pretty much the entire quoted section from Oaks book begs for countless references. I don’t think there is a single sentence there that isn’t pure conjecture (without references), which is interesting when you consider Oaks background.

  25. Bishop Rick,

    Oaks has 110 footnotes in chapter 2. I didn’t put them in the post, but I’ll add them here, as well as some other authors who talked about the same things.

    ” In the fall the Mormons, still Democrats from their Kirtland days,”

    referenced by Bushman in RSR and Michael Quinn, Origins of Power

    ” made preparations to vote at Gallitin, the Daviess County seat; the Whigs reacted by organizing to keep them from the polls.”

    referenced by Quinn, and I believe Bushman too.

    ” The resulting fight between the Whigs and the Mormons at Gallatin initiated a series of belligerent acts by both parties and brought on armed conflict that verged on civil war.” [Footnote 19–Hill, “Role of Christian Primitivism” 205-210]

    referenced by Quinn. Quinn details that the Whigs and Democrats both turned on the Mormons when neither party could count on the Mormon vote, as does Bushman.

    ” Soon after this, armed Missourians by the hundreds laid siege to two outlying Mormon communities, ”

    referenced by Quinn and Bushman,

    “demanding that the inhabitants withdraw to Far West in Caldwell County.”

    Alexander Doniphan made a deal to have the Mormons, who were kicked out of Jackson County, settle in Caldwell County. This is referenced in many sources, and the compromise limited the Mormons to Caldwell County. Hence the Whigs were reacting somewhat defensively, and legally, because of the Doniphan Compromise. However, I ask how constitutional it is to legally prohibit a religious group from living somewhere. For example, do we have the right to tell Muslims where they can and can’t live? Can we quarantine Muslims or Jews to one county? While I respect Doniphan for trying to help the Mormons stay in Missouri, this was a law fraught with constitutional problems. I can’t imagine such a law being declared constitutional in a court of law today. Perhaps it was constitutional in the slavery era of the 1830’s (after all, slavery was declared constitutional), but I think it’s pretty ridiculous to try to contain a religious group to one county. Do you disagree?

    “This is because of the Joseph Smith made an appeal to Governor Lilburn Boggs to relieve the siege at one of these towns, DeWitt, but was told that Mormons must fight their own battles.” [Footnote 20–Smith, History of the Church, III, 153, 157]

    Quinn references several of Joseph’s appeals to Boggs, and we know Joseph tried to get Boggs to intervene on several occasions, and was always rebuffed. Certainly it is pretty well documented that Boggs did not handle this situation with the Mormons very well, and he should bear a great deal of blame for mishandling the episode. Do you disagree?

    ” Angry at this, and tired of legal harrassments, dissent, and persecution, the prophet told his people the he would endure no more. A Mormon army rode into Daviess County and drove the mobbers out, finding sustenance by sacking dwellings and stores in two or three towns.” [Footnote 21–See the letter of Phineas Richards to Wealthy Richards, January 21, 1839, in the Coe Collection at Yale University. See the testimonies of Apostles Hyde and Marsh in Senate Document 189. Cf. “Book of John Whitmer,” 22, a type-written manuscript in the Church Archives; and Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life’s Review (Independence, Mo.” Zion’s Printing and Publishing Co., 1947), 38-39, 42.]

    Quinn goes into great deal on this, and is probably more critical than Oaks, but they do agree on this. This probably was the Danites, referenced by both Quinn and Bushman.

    ” The governor immediately declared the Mormons in rebellion and called the militia to arms. Thousands from surrounding counties seized their muskets and hastened toward Far West.” [Footnote 22–Smith, History of the Church, III, 175-176.]

    Do we really need to reference the Extermination Order?

    ” At Haun’s Mill, a nearby Mormon village, an army of two hundred angry Missourians, encouraged by the governor’s proclamation to drive out the Mormons or exterminate them, massacred eighteen unarmed men and a boy who had not followed the prophet’s urging to gather at Far West–

    Do we really need to reference Haun’s Mill?

    As for Oaks book, once again I want to reiterate. His book dealt with the prosecution of the assassins. He briefly touched on the Missouri problems for context, and I don’t find much conjecture here. I counted up the total footnotes for the book–there were 782 for the whole book. Perhaps you can provide some references refuting some of Oak’s conjectures?


    Bishop Rick, in comments on another blog, a very inflammatory commenter from England (EJ), basically said the Mormons got what they deserved in Haun’s Mill, as well as the other atrocities committed against the Mormons (specifically Parley P Pratt’s murder.) I am glad to hear you make a statement condemning these actions here, because I don’t recall such a strong condemnation over there (which is part of the reason I wanted to hear you condemn it.)

    I’m willing to say that the Mormons mishandled some of these situations, but in some of your previous comments, you have seemed to have felt the violent acts against Mormons were justified. Maybe I am misunderstanding your position, but you certainly never talked about your blood boiling in regards to EJ’s outrageous comments. Perhaps I mistook your silence for acceptance of EJ’s words. Certainly Tara and I were the only ones there who took exception to EJ’s bigotry, as you seemed to turn a blind eye to his hateful comments, which I took as tacit acceptance on your part.

  26. First things first – Where are all the commentators?

    Regarding the references, you put in way more work than was necessary. You could have just said the page you quoted was well referenced, but that you chose not to include the footnotes. I would have gladly accepted that.

    I said the statements made by Oaks in the quoted section were conjecture if they were not referenced…and I stand by that. With references, however, they are no longer viewed as conjecture. Can you see that? (a much more positive question BTW than, “Do you disagree?”)

    EJ’s comments cannot compare to actual acts that happened. I don’t put them in the same category. It was the acts that made my blood boil, not the words. He was passionate about what he said, just like Sxark is. Can’t really condemn either one. Get annoyed? Sure, but more power to them both for having opinions. EJ had no tact, but then again, he freely admitted that and I don’t think he ever got offended by all the slander sent his way.

    I remember he offered to carry Tara’s groceries. She was torn between liking him alot and being totally disgusted by him…like an enigma, wrapped in a diaper or something.

    Regarding Parley Pratt, I believe EJ was referencing the stories that state his killer was angry that Pratt tried to marry his wife polygamously. He probably also assumed that the victims at Haun’s Mill had probably done something prior. (But that would be conjecture, wouldn’t it?)

    EJ was certainly over-the-top. So much so, that he made me laugh. Not necessarily because he was funny, but because he dared say some of the stuff he said. I still laugh thinking about it.

    Look, bottom line is that I have let bygones be bygones. I thought you had too.

  27. Send me a note at bishopr77 at yahoo dot com.
    I have a manuscript that I think might interest you, but don’t have you’re email address.

  28. BR:

    I’ve been lurking, but honestly have nothing more to add. When I saw Haun’s Mill, it was as an adolescent young man pre-Viet Nam and there was nothing there but a little plaque (remembered perhaps poorly) as near a small stream like any I’d seen all my life in Michigan.

    Wars weren’t televised then, and in the movies people died without blood or guts.

    I was more stunned this week when I saw the Work and the Glory movie on local cable in which I actually realized emotionally that there had been fighting with gunfire in the Kirtland Temple that WAS the site of two of the more powerful spiritual experiences of my own life. What non-Mormon do we blame THAT violence on?

  29. The important issue, is that today, both the LDS and CoC church’s abhor war as a means to settle disputes. It only appears that the LDS church may be more supportive of war, bacause one of it’s tenents is to follow the laws of the land and be subject to the leaders of the land where they reside.

  30. If there was any provocation from the early saints, it certainly did not warrent the violent over-reaction of the people in the area.

  31. Bishop Rick, I guess it would be funny if EJ knew he was exaggerating, but he believed everything he said. I guess that’s why I didn’t view it as funny, and he wouldn’t acknowledge even the slightest amount of exaggeration in any of his comments. You thought he was funny–I thought he was an intolerant jerk.

    FireTag, I saw the first “Work and the Glory” and hated it. Your almost review makes me want to take a look at that episode–which one is it?

    That whole scene with guns and knives in the Kirtland Temple has to be one of the most inconceivable episodes I can ever imagine. I remember reading that in RSR, and thinking, “I’ve never heard of this before–I can’t believe it actually happened!”

    I can think of a psycho going into the DC Temple with a gun because he wanted to pray. I think it happened once here in Utah too. But the Kirtland Temple scene seems almost like Waco, though it didn’t turn out so bad. I know the Kirtland Temple was different than LDS temples, but even when we hear about the abortion doctor who was gunned down at church, we find it startling. It’s hard to believe a nearly identical scene happened in Kirtland. At least nobody was killed.

    FireTag, does the CoC discourage members from joining the military? If not, do you see that position changing?

  32. I know that the church HAS members in the military and provides a special office of ministry to them. My own Mission Center President accepted full time church appointment following a stint as a Colonel in the USAF, and at one point (probably his last assignment) was in a high staff position at NATO HQ.

    I know the church will also cooperate with anyone seeking to achieve conscientious objector status in the US. But, there are so many different nations the church must deal with, I’m just not up to date on official church policy. I’ll look it up.

    Yes, this may change toward support of a more general teaching of pacifism at some point, but nothing is definite.

    I believe it was Work and Glory III.

  33. I found the official statement more quickly than I expected:


  34. FireTag, thanks for the links. I wonder if the LDS church has a similar position on conscientious objectors. My guess is that they don’t have an official position. It seems that because of the renegade status of the early church, the LDS have taken almost a 180 degree turn and go out of their way to show their patriotism now.

  35. One thing that may not be apparent to some readers – when Veazy is speaking about Latter Day Saint history, he’s most notably speaking about his own faith movement’s history (shared by the two groups over it’s early years) and not criticizing the present LDS church. I am a Community of Christ member who had family present at Hauns Mill during the massacre, Our understanding of the skirmishes show that there were things both sides could have done to have deescalated the conflict.

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