MORMONISM'S EARLY SECRETSArticle Hyperlinks
Quinn's Rebellion - Quinn and Controversy - A Real Hornet's Nest - Sealing Men to Men - Death of the Doctrine - Mormon Blood Atonement - Extracts From Letters - A Response to Foster - Sexual Abuse Update
In the late 1950's we began publishing materials relating to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly know as the Mormon Church. We were absolutely astounded at some of the material that came through our own research and the work of other people. Three and a half decades later new and important information regarding Mormonism is still coming to light. In fact, it is pouring forth so rapidly that we are unable to keep up with the flood of material that has become available.
As each chapter unfolds it becomes more and more evident that Mormonism has changed a great deal since Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon in 1830. Unfortunately, the Mormon Church suppresses a great deal of important material that reflects badly on the church. Much of this material is kept hidden away in the Church Historical Department and in the First Presidency's vault. This suppressive attitude has been criticized by many of the church's historians.
Dr. D. Michael Quinn, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church in 1993, was at one time considered to be one of the church's top scholars. He published articles for the church's official publication, The Ensign and also wrote for Brigham Young University Studies.
Quinn obtained a Ph.D. in history at Yale University and was formerly professor of American social history at the church's Brigham Young University. Unfortunately for Quinn, he dug too deeply into the secret documents in the Church Historical Department. Quinn was able to see these documents because he had an inside track at the Historical Department under Dr. Leonard Arrington, who was formerly Church Historian.
In a speech Quinn gave in 1981, he noted that he had "spent a decade probing thousands of manuscript diaries and records of Church history" that he "never dreamed" he would view. (On Being a Mormon Historian, a lecture given by D. Michael Quinn, Brigham Young University, Fall 1981)
When Dr. Quinn began publishing some of his more critical research -- especially that regarding how the church secretly sanctioned the practice of polygamy after the Manifesto -- some church leaders were incensed. In the book, Faithful History, edited by George D. Smith, page 109, Quinn wrote the following:
"In June 1986 the staff of the church historical department announced it was necessary to sign a form which Elder Packer declared gave the right of pre-publication censorship for any archival research completed before signing the form. I and several others refused to sign the form and have not returned to do research at LDS church archives since 1986."
In 1994, Quinn published his book, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power. This, of course, was very distressing to the leaders of the church and to many of those associated with Brigham Young University and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS). Quinn's second volume was published in 1997. It is entitled, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Vol. 2.
Dean C. Jessee is a scholar who is well known to students of Mormon history. He is currently serving as a research historian in the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History at Brigham Young University. For many years, however, Jessee worked at the Church Historical Department and had access to a vast number of sensitive documents.
When Michael Quinn's first volume was published, Jessee expressed concern that Quinn had given too much attention to the "messy" matters researchers encounter when studying early Mormon history. He also wrote "that the story he tells is not as free from speculation and faulty interpretation as his bold writing style and abundant source notes would imply." (Journal of Mormon History, Fall 1996, pages 164-165)
Nevertheless, Dean Jessee acknowledged that Quinn did, in fact, have access to important church documents and that he did "painstaking research." Jessee wrote the following in his review:
"Few historians have been in a better position to study the Mormon past than D. Michael Quinn. With degrees in English and history, including a doctorate at Yale, employment in the LDS Church Historical Department and wide-ranging access to its holdings, a dozen years of teaching history at BYU, and painstaking research in seventy-five repositories (he lists them), Quinn has spent a substantial part of his life studying Mormon history. This book and a second volume to follow are the outgrowth of research that led to a master's thesis, continued through a doctoral program, and is the crowning accomplishment of thirty years work....
"The Mormon Hierarchy is a valuable contribution in terms of identifying sources and understanding the groundwork of the organizational structure.... While Hierarchy has laid important groundwork, the definitive study remains to be written." (Ibid., pages 162, 168)
Over the years Dr. Quinn has often found himself faced with serious problems with church leaders and officials at Brigham Young University. Around the time of his excommunication he was informed of a threat against his life. While Quinn did not link this threat with the Mormon Church itself, he believed that the rhetoric regarding his work had encouraged someone to threaten his life.
QUINN AND CONTROVERSY
As far as we know, Dr. Quinn had no problems with church officials in his early years as a historian. Ironically, however, he did find himself in a controversy with us in 1977, when he became involved in plot to undermine our work. The Church Historical Department had been receiving many letters and inquiries regarding the truthfulness of our research, and it had become clear that something had to be done to refute our credibility -- especially the material found in our book, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?. It was secretly decided that the Historical Department would distribute a booklet attacking our work. Interestingly, D. Michael Quinn was designated to write the pamphlet. The booklet was published under the title, Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Distorted View of Mormonism: A Response to Mormonism -- Shadow or Realty?.
The publication of the pamphlet turned out to be a real disaster because those involved did not dare reveal that the Church Historical Department was responsible for its publication. Consequently, neither the name of the author nor the publisher was mentioned anywhere in the book. In addition, the publication was distributed in a clandestine fashion. Wilfrid Clark, who worked at Zion Bookstore, told us he received an anonymous letter containing a key to a room at a self storage company. He went to that location and picked up 1,800 free copies of the booklet!
Our response to this work appeared in a publication entitled, Answering Dr. Clandestine: A Response to the Anonymous LDS Historian. In this booklet we identified Quinn as the author. Even Lawrence Foster [a non Mormon who is very critical of our work] had to admit that, "The Tanners convincingly link the anonymous critique to D. Michael Quinn and the LDS Historical Department..." (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1984, p. 510)
While a number of Mormon scholars affiliated with Brigham Young University and FARMS eventually came to detest Michael Quinn's writings, they still continued to cite Quinn's attack on us in their publications. We feel that they must have known that Quinn was the author. Interestingly, however, the long-kept silence regarding this matter was finally broken by Brigham Young University Professor Louis Midgley. Midgley identified "D. Michael Quinn" as the author in the FARMS publication, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 7, Issue 1, 1995, page 236.
Although we strongly disagreed with many of Quinn's conclusions regarding our work, in our response we wrote: "We feel that he is probably one of the best historians in the Mormon Church. His dissertation written for Yale University is a masterpiece" (see Answering Dr. Clandestine, page 5).
Dr. Quinn is a real enigma to many people. Although he has been excommunicated from the church, he believes in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's First Vision. He, in fact, seems to feel that he has a calling to tell the truth about Mormonism no matter where it leads. In an interview with a newspaper reporter Quinn emphasized that he is still a believer: "When Michael Quinn was asked about his relationship to the LDS Church, he still describes himself as a 'true believer.' " (The Herald Journal, February 10, 1997)
A REAL HORNET'S NEST
Michael Quinn stirred up a great deal of animosity when he published an article in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought entitled, Male-Male Intimacy among Nineteenth-century Mormons: A Case Study. The Herald Journal for February 10, 1997, reported: "Quinn's views drew such fierce criticism in Cache Valley that the former Brigham Young University historian was uncertain whether his Friday visit would draw a hostile crowd." Fortunately for Quinn, there were no problems.
Although Dr. Quinn has published a great deal of important information regarding early Mormonism, we have a real problem with this particular article. Quinn wrote the following about Joseph Smith:
"And as taught by their martyred prophet himself, it was acceptable for LDS 'friends to lie down together, locked in the arms of love to sleep and wake in each other's embrace.' " (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Winter 1995, page 110)
In a footnote at the bottom of the same page, Michael Quinn spoke of "the tenderness involved in same-sex bedmates as advocated by the Mormon prophet."
When we first read these comments we were very surprised. We had never encountered anything like that before in our research regarding Mormon Church history. We did notice, however, that Quinn gave a reference to Joseph Smith's History of the Church. A careful examination of the context revealed that the quote was not referring to "same-sex bedmates," but instead to death, burial and the resurrection! It was a speech given by Joseph Smith on April 16, 1843, at the funeral of Lorenzo D. Barns. We take the following from Joseph Smith's History:
"It has always been considered a great calamity not to obtain an honorable burial... If tomorrow I shall be called to lie in yonder tomb, in the morning of the resurrection let me strike hands with my father, and cry, 'My father,'... When we lie down we contemplate how we may rise in the morning; and it is pleasing for friends to lie down together, locked in the arms of love, to sleep and wake in each other's embrace.... when the voice calls for the dead to arise, suppose I am laid by the side of my father, what would be the first joy of my heart? To meet my father, my mother, my brother, my sister; and when they are by my side, I embrace them and they me...." (History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 361)
A year after Michael Quinn published his article, George L. Mitton wrote a letter to the editor of Dialogue. His conclusions regarding Quinn's article were similar to ours. Mitton, however, went even further:
"The language Quinn cites is from a funeral sermon on the resurrection, where Joseph advocated that family and friends should be buried near each other if possible, lying down in nearby graves, so that they may wake at the resurrection to rejoice together and embrace in celebration of God's goodness and love. He is referring to family members who are our dearest friends, and describing a scene of intense family joy. The 'arms of love' is a scriptural allusion -- the imagery of godly love as the Lord extends it at the resurrection and otherwise...." Those who wish to know more about this issue should read George L. Mitton's letter to the editor in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Winter 1996, pages v-ix.
Mitten demonstrates that similar terms are found in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. For example, in one of Joseph Smith's early revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants we read that "God" told Oliver Cowdery to be "diligent in keeping the commandments... and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love." (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 6, verse 20)
In the Book of Mormon we find a similar expression: "But behold the Lord hath redeemed my soul... and I am encircled in the arms of his love." (2 Nephi 1:15) It seems clear then that the use of the words "in the arms of love" have nothing to do with "same-sex bedmates." While Quinn made a serious error, we find it hard to believe that he deliberately set out to deceive. It seems more likely that he merely misunderstood the context.
Quinn also suggested that Evan Stephens, "director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the turn of the twentieth century, provides a case study in the use of social history sources, as well as being a prime example of the early Mormon celebration of male-male intimacy." While Quinn implies that Evan Stephens may have been a homosexual, there is no way to know for certain at this late date. We feel that it is unwise to speculate about the matter.
SEALING MEN TO MEN
As most people who are familiar with Mormonism know, dedicated Mormons believe in sealing women to men and children to their parents for all eternity. Few people, however, are aware of the fact that the early Mormons sealed living men to other men in an unusual ceremony known as "the law of adoption." Thus a man could have any number of men adopted to himself as his sons for eternity. For example, in June, 1896, Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president of the church, gave a synopsis of his work in the ministry since 1834. He wrote the following in his journal: "I officiated in Adopting 96 Men to Men." (Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 1833-1898, typescript, edited by Scott G. Kenney, 1985, Vol. 9, page 408) In another synopsis for the years 1834-1885, he revealed: "I had 45 Persons Adopted to me." (Ibid., Vol. 8, page 352)
While we cannot agree with Michael Quinn's interpretation of Joseph Smith's speech given at the funeral of Lorenzo D. Barns, it is interesting to note that even before the Mormons left Nauvoo to come to Utah, they were sealing men to men. An article concerning the law of adoption appeared in the Mormon Church's publication The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, June, 1843, Vol. 4, pages 17-19. This was a year before Joseph Smith was murdered. Gordon Irving, who worked for the Historical Department of the church, wrote: "No consensus exists with regard to the date when the first adoptions were performed... It is certainly possible, perhaps probable, that Joseph Smith did initiate certain trusted leaders into the adoptionary order as early as 1842." (Brigham Young University Studies, Spring 1974, page 295)
Although we have not found any evidence that immoral activities were involved in the sealing of men to men, the practice certainly could have opened a door for those predisposed to homosexual temptations. It seems obvious that the men who were sealed to one another were likely to have closer contact with one another than those who did not enter into the practice. (We do know that in recent times some missionaries who were constantly in close contact with their companions yielded to homosexual activities and were sent home from their missions.) In any case, the historian Hubert Howe Bancroft gave this information about the law of adoption:
"The father may be either younger or older than the son, but in any case assumes the character of guardian, with full control of the labor and estate of the adopted son. Many young men give themselves over to the leaders as 'eternal sons,' in the hope of sharing the honor of their adopted parents." (History of Utah, page 361)
Gordon Irving tells of a case where two men could not agree on a sealing ceremony because they both wanted to be the father: "In his short autobiography, Albert K. Thurber recalled that in 1850 Benjamin F. Johnson approached him and 'in a round about way proposed for me to be adopted to him.' Thurber put him off by telling him, 'I thought it would be as well for him to be adopted by me.' " (Brigham Young University Studies, Spring 1974, page 304)
The noted Mormon historian Juanita Brooks discussed the law of adoption in a book written in 1962. Mrs. Brooks revealed that when a man was adopted to another man it was not considered improper for him to take his surname:
"At this time another ceremony was instituted, which... was significant and important while it lasted. This was the adoption of young men and their wives to one of the leaders. The idea behind it was that in establishing the Kingdom of God upon the earth there should be also a celestial relationship. If the Prophet Joseph were to become a God over a minor planet, he must not only have a large posterity but able assistants of practical skills. Brigham Young had been 'sealed' to Joseph under this law; now he in turn had some thirty-eight young men sealed to him.
"Of this number, John D. Lee was second.... All of the men thus joined in the covenant seemed brothers in one sense, and for some of them Lee developed a genuine affection. Among others, jealousies grew up as they competed for favor.
"In the same way, Lee had eighteen or nineteen young men with their wives adopted to him... He often spoke of them as George Laub Lee, W.B. Owens Lee, Miles Anderson Lee, James Pace Lee, Allen Weeks Lee, William Swap Lee." (John D. Lee: Zealot - Pioneer -Builder -Scapegoat, page 73)
George Laub, who was sealed to John D. Lee, wrote: "... I and my wife Mary Jane with many others was adopted into John D. Lee's family, this I took upon myself the name of Lee in this manner, George Laub Lee and my wife's name Mary Jane Laub Lee in such a way that it cannot be seaparated [sic]... by covenanting before God... this was done in the hous[e] of the Lord across the alter as was prepared for this Purpose of ordinances." (Ibid., page 74)
In his new book, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Vol. 2, page 492, footnote 39, D. Michael Quinn indicated that the idea of a man taking another man's surname did not last too long: "When he was adopted to Apostle Willard Richards, Thomas Bullock recorded that he changed his 'name to Thomas Bullock Richards.'... However, within two years this name-adoption practice ended, and men such as Lee and Bullock stopped referring to themselves by their adopted surnames."
Early Mormon documents clearly reveal that the law of adoption led to a great deal of jealousy, and confusion among the men. Gordon Irving acknowledged that the sealing of men to men led to contention:
"Difficulties began when it became apparent that adoption gave one a special status and that not all the adopted enjoyed the same status....
"Adoption as a system of social organization was troubled not only by fathers who demanded too much of their sons, but also by some of the children who in turn expected too much from their fathers.... In theory the importance of adoption lay in the validation of one's sonship in the family of God. But some were more interested in being fathers and exercising authority over others than they were in being sons of God. Kingdom-building, or the gathering together of a large number of people over whom one could rule in eternity, enjoyed a good deal of popularity. Brigham Young complained: were I to say to the elders you now have the liberty to build up your kingdoms, one half of them would lie, swear, steal and fight like the devil to get men and women sealed to them. They would even try to pass right by me and go to Jos[eph]....
"Adoption might have worked among the strong willed men who had joined the Church had they submitted to the 'quiet spirit of Jesus.' However, the decision of the saints to assert their 'selfish independence' destroyed any possibility that an authoritarian, hierarchical system such as adoption could function successfully among them." (Brigham Young University Studies, Spring 1974, pages 299-303)
On April 6, 1862, President Brigham Young claimed that the practice of sealing men to men was "a great and glorious doctrine." Nevertheless, he acknowledged that it could be very dangerous and may even send some "to hell":
"By this power men will be sealed to men back to Adam, completing and making perfect the chain of the Priesthood from this day to the winding up scene. I have known men that I positively think would fellowship the Devil, if he would agree to be sealed to them. 'Oh, be sealed to me, brother; I care not what you do. You may lie and steal, or anything else, I can put up with all your meanness, if you will only be sealed to me.' Now this is not so much weakness as it is selfishness. It is a great and glorious doctrine, but the reason I have not preached it in the midst of this people, is, I could not do it without turning so many of them to the Devil. Some would go to hell for the sake of getting the Devil sealed to them." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 9, page 269)
Brigham Young's grandson, Kimball Young, had a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and served as chairman of the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University. Dr. Young made some interesting comments regarding the rolls of men and women in Brigham Young's time:
"To understand the role and status and the accompanying self-images of men and women in polygamy, we must recall that Mormondom was a male-dominated society. The priesthood -- which only men could hold -- was in complete control and celestial marriage, either monogamous or polygamous, exemplified the higher status of men. Women were viewed as of lesser worth, to be saved through men holding the priesthood.
"The self-image of the woman reflected her inferior status. Alice Johnson Read, after hearing a sermon by Brigham Young, put the matter in her journal thus: 'The Principle is that a woman, be she ever so smart, cannot know more than her husband if he magnifies his priesthood... God never in any age of the world endowed woman with knowledge above the man.' And Daisy Barclay, herself brought up in a plural family, remarks: 'Polygamy is predicated on the assumption that a man is superior to a woman... [The] Mormon tradition follows that of the early Hebrews. It teaches [a] woman to honor and obey her husband and look upon him as her lord and master.' As a daughter of the second wife of Isaac Lambert once complained, 'Mother figures you are supposed to spend your life taking care of a man, and he is God.'
"That this masculine principle went deep, and far more fantastically than the Saints could comprehend, is shown in a sermon by Brigham Young, reported by John Read. In a letter to one of his wives Read said that Brigham referred to some future time 'when men would be sealed to men in the priesthood in a more solemn ordinance than that by which women were sealed to men, and in a room over that in which women were sealed to man in the temple of the Lord.'
"Here is evidence of deep, psychological Brüderschaft. There are obviously latent homosexual features in this idea and its cultural aspect has many familiar parallels in other religions. Most Saints, including Brigham Young himself, would have been much shocked by such an interpretation. Yet the Mormon system, with all its ecclesiastical trappings and military controls, like other organizations of this sort, had strong homosexual components. This is true of armies; it is true of priestly orders in all religions; and certainly in many aspects of the occupational guides of the Middle Ages." (Isn't One Wife Enough? The Story of Mormon Polygamy, 1954, pages 278-280)
In a discourse President Brigham Young gave on September 4, 1873, he remarked that, "we can seal women to men but not men to men, without a Temple." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16, page 186)
As Juanita Brooks noted above, Brigham Young himself was sealed to Joseph Smith and in turn had some thirty-eight young men sealed to him. While we have no idea how many men President Young was eventually sealed to, it must have been a significant number.
Ironically, although Brigham Young, the second president of the Mormon Church, was married to dozens of wives he made this revealing comment about his relationship with women:
"There are probably but few men in the world who care about the private society of women less than I do." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 5, page 99)
President Young and other early Mormon leaders were convinced that women were inferior. Consequently, they often had a difficult time getting along with them. Apostle Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal the following comment made by Brigham Young:
"The man is the head & God of the woman, but let him act like a God in virteous [sic] principles & God like conversation..." (Wilford Woodruff's Journal, Vol. 3, page 131)
On a number of occasions Brigham Young frankly admitted that he was a dictator. For example, he once commented: "I sometimes say to my brethren, 'I have been your dictator for twenty-seven years -- over a quarter of a century I have dictated this people; that ought to be some evidence that my course is onward and upward." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 14, page 205)
On another occasion Young declared: "Now ask the Father in the name of Jesus whether I am telling you the truth about temporal things or not... the man whom God calls to dictate affairs in the building of his Zion has the right to dictate about everything connected with the building up of Zion, yes even to the ribbons the women wear, and any person who denies it is ignorant." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, page 298)
At one time relations became so strained in Brigham Young's own family that he publicly threatened to set all his wives free if they did not submit to his authority:
"Now for my proposition; it is more particularly for my sisters, as it is frequently happening that women say they are unhappy. Men will say, 'My wife, though a most excellent woman, has not seen a happy day since I took my second wife;' 'No, not a happy day for a year,' says one; and another has not seen a happy day in five years....
"I wish my own women to understand that what I am going to say is for them as well as others... I am going to give you from this time to the 6th day of October next... then I am going to set every woman at liberty and say to them, Now go your way, my women with the rest, go your way. And my wives have got to do one of two things; either round up their shoulders to endure the afflictions of this world, and live their religion, or they may leave, for I will not have them about me. I will go into heaven alone, rather than have scratching and fighting around me. I will set all at liberty. 'What, first wife too?' Yes, I will liberate you all.... I want to go somewhere and do something to get rid of the whiners...
"I wish my women, and brother Kimball's and brother Grant's to leave, and every woman in this Territory, or else say in their hearts that they will embrace the Gospel... Tell the Gentiles that I will free every woman in this Territory at our next Conference. 'What, the first wife too?' Yes... And then let the father be the head of the family, the master of his own household... let the wives and the children say amen to what he says, and be subject to his dictates...
"Let every man... say to your wives... if you stay with me you shall comply with the law of God, and that too without any murmuring and whining. You must... round up your shoulders to walk up to the mark with out any grunting.
"Now recollect that two weeks from tomorrow I am going to set you at liberty. But the first wife will say, 'It is hard, for I have lived with my husband twenty years, or thirty and have raised a family of children for him, and it is a great trial to me for him to have more women;' then I say it is time that you gave him up to other women who will bear children. If my wife had borne me all the children that she ever would bare, the celestial law would teach me to take young women that would have children.... Sisters, I am not joking, I do not throw out my proposition to banter your feelings... But I know that there is no cessation to the everlasting whining of many of the women in this Territory... if the women will turn from the commandments of God and continue to despise the order of heaven, I will pray that the curse of the Almighty may be close to their heels, and that it may be following them all the day long....
"Prepare yourselves for two weeks from tomorrow; and I will tell you now, that if you will tarry with your husbands, after I have set you free, you must bow down to it, and submit yourselves to the celestial law.... remember, that I will not hear any more of this whining." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, pages 55-57; also printed in the church's newspaper, Deseret News, Vol. 6, pages 235-236)
The reader will notice that Brigham Young spoke of the possibility that "brother Kimball's" wives might leave him. Heber C. Kimball served as first counselor to President Brigham Young. Interestingly, Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball's great-great-grandson, stated that Heber, "had or was sealed to forty-three wives," but he had to admit that "Sixteen wives separated from him during his lifetime for various reasons..." (Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer, page 307)
This, of course, is a real indictment against Joseph Smith's doctrine regarding polygamy; a doctrine which was perpetuated by Brigham Young and his successors. It was secretly practiced until the early part of the twentieth century, which was many years after the so-called Manifesto.
Brigham Young claimed that after Joseph Smith's death he "went to see Joseph" in a dream. Young said that he spoke with Joseph about the law of adoption. See "Manuscript History of Brigham Young," February 23, 1847)
Hosea Stout heard Brigham Young tell of his experience and recorded the following in his diary:
" 'I want you all to remember my dream for I [sic] it is a vision of God and was revealed through the spirit of Joseph.' " (On the Mormon Frontier, The Diary of Hosea Stout, edited by Juanita Brooks, Vol. 1, pages 237-238)
John D. Lee, who was a member of the secret Council of Fifty, noted in his journal that in a speech Brigham Young made it clear that obedience to the law of adoption was essential for those who would obtain salvation:
"I have gathered a number of families around me through the law of adoption and seal of the covenant according to the order of the priesthood and others have done likewise, it being the means of salvation to bring us back to God." (Journals of John D. Lee, 1846-47 and 1859, edited by Charles Kelley, pages 80-81)
A very shocking concept which was related to the law of adoption is found in Wilford Woodruff's journal. Woodruff later became the fourth president of the church. Woodruff was at a meeting where Brigham Young and Apostle Orson Pratt addressed the people. Fortunately, he made a report of the proceedings. The following is recorded in his journal with the original spelling retained:
"Many other interesting & important items were presented by President Young much to our edifycation. Meeting was dismissed & met again at 2 oclok & was addressed in a vary edifying manner by O Pratt & treated upon the same principles spoken off by Br Young. Among his remarks He said that as all the ordinances of the gospel Administered by the world since the Aposticy of the Church was illegal, in like manner was the marriage Cerimony illegal and all the world who had been begotten through the illegal marriage were Bastards not sons & Hence they had to enter into the law of adoption & be adopted into the Priesthood in order to become sons & legal heirs of salvation." (Wilford Woodruff's Journal, Vol. 3, August 15, 1847, page 260)
By teaching that civil marriages were invalid the early Mormon Church leaders were opening up a door that would entice many of their people into adultery and polygamy. John D. Lee, who was the second man sealed to Brigham Young, gave more information on this subject:
"About the same time the doctrine of 'sealing' for an eternal state was introduced, and the Saints were given to understand that their marriage relations with each other were not valid. That those who had solemnized the rites of matrimony had no authority of God to do so. That the true priesthood was taken from the earth with the death of the Apostles and inspired men of God. That they were married to each other only by their own covenants, and that if their marriage relations had not been productive of blessings and peace, and they felt it oppressive to remain together, they were at liberty to make their own choice, as much as if they had not been married. That it was a sin for people to live together, and raise and beget children, in alienation from each other." (Confessions of John D. Lee, photomechanical reprint of the original 1877 edition, page 146)
On page 165 of the same book, Lee gave more information regarding this important issue:
"In the Winter of 1845 meetings were held all over the city of Nauvoo, and the spirit of Elijah was taught in the different families as a foundation to the order of celestial marriage, as well as the law of adoption. Many families entered into covenants with each other -- the man to stand by his wife and the woman to cleave unto her husband, and the children to be adopted to the parents. I was one of those who entered into covenants to stand by my family... to cleave to them through time and eternity. I am proud to say I have kept my obligations sacred and inviolate to this day. Others refused to enter into these obligations, but agreed to separate from each other, dividing their substance, and mutually dissolving their former relations on friendly terms. Some have mutually agreed to exchange wives and have been sealed to each other as husband and wife by virtue and authority of the holy priesthood. One of Brigham's brothers, Lorenzo Young, now a bishop, made an exchange of wives with Mr. Decker... They both seemed happy in the exchange of wives. All are considered aliens to the commonwealth of Israel until adopted into the kingdom by baptism... This doctrine extends much further. All persons are required to be adopted to some of the leading men of the Church."
Although there were undoubtedly many Mormon men who truly felt they were doing God's work when they were sealed to one or more of the brethren, the evidence clearly shows that the law of adoption was a very selfish doctrine. It was used by many as an opportunity to gain glory and power over others. According to Mormon doctrine, those who obtained many men would have greater kingdoms in the hereafter. They would not only have the men they were sealed to for all eternity, but they would also obtain the women and children of these men to rule over.
The following statements by the Mormon leaders are found in John D. Lee's journal under the date of February 17, 1847:
"...Dr. Richards (the Historian) addressed the collection. Said.... One item that caught my attention was this thing of jealousy, fearing that some now is rising or gaining power and influence faster than what I am. Therefore jealousy will arrise which causes an envious feelings in our bosom and we imagine that man is lexeering [electioneering] and using unlawful measures to gain an influence.... Elder G. A. Smith said he and Bro. Amasa Lyman have just returned from a mission... but he durst [not] say as Bro. Pratt and Woodruff has, that he had not lextioneered, for I have with all my might... But there is one thing that I don't like to see and that is this thing called jealousy stirring up family disturbances and broils because we are afraid that some man is gaining favor and I am not advancing as fast as they are. And in order to keep back or stop their influence we go to those that have been sealed and discourage them saying why dident [you] come with me where none but the respected are? Was you not as capable of holding the keys of presidency yourself as Bro. Lee... suppose I was to jump every man and be sealed to the great God and have 3 only sealed to me. I don't think my kingdom would be very large or my glory very great.... I could get no more. I should be dependent on the exertion of those who were sealed to me. But was I sealed to the most obscure individual in this church and I had 10s of 10,000 sealed to me, would not my glory be greater than it would be was I sealed to headquarters with my 3 only? Certainly it would.... let jealousy stop and be united that we may speedily build up the kingdom of God on the earth, &c." (Journals of John D. Lee, February 17, 1847, pages 91-94)
Mormon historian Gordon Irving observed that the sealing of men to men did not work out very well:
"Mormon leaders must have hoped that family life in adoption would bring their people together and enhance the Church's efforts to make a new life for the Mormon community in the West.... it could clearly be seen by the spring of 1848 that it had failed to produce the anticipated benefits.
"Adoption might be good doctrine, but it had failed to work as a principle of social organization. With confusion at home and abroad, Church leaders saw fit to discontinue the effort to make the ties of adoption the basis of organization for the Mormon community.... Once Mormon leaders abandoned adoption as experiment, their publicly expressed interest both in the doctrine and the practice appears to have fallen off sharply for some time. Even so there are indications that adoption was not altogether forgotten by the general membership of the Church. Between 1849 and 1854 the 'waiting list' of those desiring to join Brigham Young's family increased by 175 names....
"As time went on, Mormon leaders began again to preach adoption from the pulpit. Adoption into the family of God that one might be a legal heir to exaltation was still very much a part of Mormon doctrine. As unpleasant memories of the experiences of the 1840s faded, Brigham Young and others increasingly stressed the importance of adoption in Mormon theology." (Brigham Young University Studies, Spring 1974, pages 303-305)
DEATH OF THE DOCTRINE
Although the sealing of men to men who were not of their own lineage seemed to revive for a season, it eventually suffered a death blow. Charles Kelly, who edited the Journals of John D. Lee, wrote: "Like many other Mormon doctrines, it was but a passing fad, and is now ignored and forgotten." (see page 88, note 87) In 1894, Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president of the Mormon Church, publicly repudiated the doctrine of adoption and claimed that a man should be sealed to his own father. Woodruff stated that in the past some of his male friends had been sealed to him. He acknowledged, however, that he felt uneasy about the matter:
"I have not felt satisfied, neither did President Taylor, neither has any man since the Prophet Joseph who has attended to the ordinance of adoption in the temples of our God. We have felt that there was more to be revealed... Revelations were given to us in the St. George Temple, which President Young presented to the Church of God. Changes were made there, and we still have more changes to make... We have felt, as President Taylor said, that we have got to have more revelation concerning sealing under the law of adoption. Well, what are these changes? One of them is the principle of adoption. In the commencement of adopting men and women in the temple at Nauvoo, a great many persons were adopted to different men who were not of the lineage of their fathers, and there was a spirit manifested by some in that work that was not of God. Men would go out and electioneer and labor with all their power to get men adopted to them. One instance I will name here: A man went around Nauvoo asking every man he could, 'You come and be adopted to me, and I shall stand at the head of the kingdom, and you will be there with me.'... Men are in danger sometimes in being adopted to others, until they know who they are and what they will be.... President Young was not satisfied in his mind with regard to the extent of this matter; President Taylor was not. When I went before the Lord to know who I should be adopted to... the Spirit of God said to me, 'have you not a father, who begot you?' 'Yes, I have.' 'Then why not honor him?' 'Yes,' says I, 'that is right.' I was adopted to my father... I want every man who presides over a temple to see performed from this day henceforth and forever, unless the Lord Almighty commands otherwise, is, let every man be adopted to his father. When a man receives the endowments, adopt him to his father; not to Wilford Woodruff, nor to any other man outside the lineage of his people.... I have had friends adopted to me. We all have, more or less. But I have had peculiar feelings about it, especially lately. There are men in this congregation who wish to be adopted to me. I say to them to-day, if they can hear me, Go and be adopted to your fathers, and save your fathers... A man may say, 'I am an Apostle... and if I am adopted to my father, will it take any honor from me?' I would say not.... You will lose nothing by honoring your fathers and redeeming your dead." (Millennial Star, Vol. 56, pages 337-341)
On April 8, 1894, George Q. Cannon, a member of the First Presidency of the Mormon Church, also repudiated the law of adoption:
"...in the minds of many there has been a feeling of doubt in regard to the principle of adoption as has been practiced among us.... I well remember... the spirit that was manifested by many at the dedication of the temple at Nauvoo when the ordinances were administered there. Some men thought to build up kingdoms to themselves; they appeared to think that by inducing men and women to be adopted into their families they were adding to their own glory. From that day until the present, I have never thought of this subject of adoption without having a certain amount of fear concerning it.... There is no true principle of the Gospel that will produce division.... And this revelation that God has given to His servant, the President of our Church, removes all the danger which seemed to threaten us through an imperfect understanding of the manner in which the law of adoption should be carried out....
"Why should a man come to one of the Apostles and be sealed to him and then trace his genealogy through him and his ancestors, and neglect his own?" (Millennial Star, Vol. 56, pages 354-358)
It is apparent, then, that the law of adoption, which Brigham Young called "a great and glorious doctrine" and "the means of salvation left to bring us back to God," was repudiated by later Mormon leaders. As noted above, President Wilford Woodruff publicly revealed that he had "peculiar feelings about it, especially lately." George Q. Cannon proclaimed he had "a certain amount of fear concerning it." He also used the phrases, "endless confusion" and "great confusion" when speaking of what could happen under this strange doctrine.
A comparison of Brigham Young's teaching with that of Wilford Woodruff plainly shows that the early Mormon leaders were not led by revelation. The Mormon prophet Brigham Young said:
"...I will answer a question that has been repeatedly asked me... should I have a father dead that has never heard this gospel, would it be required of me to redeem him and then have him adopted into some man's family and I be adopted to my father? (I ans. no.)... were we to wait to redeem our dead relatives before we could link the chains of the P.H. [i.e., the priesthood] we would never accomplish it." (Journals of John D. Lee, page 89)
Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president of the church, contradicted Brigham Young:
"...let every man be adopted to his father. When a man receives the endowments, adopt him to his father; not to Wilford Woodruff, not to any other man outside the lineage of his fathers. That is the will of God to this people.... I say let every man be adopted to his father..." (Millennial Star, Vol. 56, pages 337-341)
President Brigham Young claimed to have a revelation concerning the doctrine of sealing men to men. Wilford Woodruff, on the other hand, had a revelation to do away with the practice. Under the date of April 6, 1894, President Woodruff wrote that God had given him, "a Revelation which was received by my Councillors..." (Wilford Woodruff's Journal, Vol. 9, page 296)
The opening of that conference led to the demise of Brigham Young's teachings concerning the sealing of men to men who were not of the same lineage. D. Michael Quinn wrote: "...Wilford Woodruff announces revelation which ends the practice of adopting men to LDS leaders.... His published sermon is only available text of the revelation." (The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Vol. 2, page 795)
The reader will remember that John Read wrote an interesting letter regarding President Brigham Young's vision of some future time "when men would be sealed to men in the priesthood in a more solemn ordinance than that by which women were sealed to men, and in a room over that in which women were sealed to man in the temple of the Lord."
Young's dream for the church was shattered when President Woodruff received his revelation abolishing the sealing of men to men.
Gordon Irving made this observation regarding the doctrinal change:
"President Woodruff was declaring publicly that not only should the Saints be sealed to their own parents but that henceforth they had to be sealed to them if they were to be sealed at all....
"The immediate response of the general Church membership appears to have been strongly favorable. The only real problem was what to do about the more than 13,000 souls, most of them dead, who had already been adopted to persons other than their natural parents. After some consideration the First Presidency and the Twelve ruled that these people should be sealed to their own parents but that the old records should be left standing. Any possible problems would be straitened out in the hereafter." (Brigham Young University Studies, Spring 1974, pages 312-313)
As we will show below, the practice of sealing men to men and of acquiring many families to rule over is not compatible with the teachings of Jesus. Unfortunately, the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith taught his people that men could become Gods and have their own worlds which they would rule over. In the Mormon publication, Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, pages 613-14, Smith's teachings are set forth:
"First, God himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves, that is the great secret... I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity.... God himself; the Father of us all dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did... You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves... No man can learn you more than what I have told you."
Smith's teachings regarding the plurality of Gods greatly excited many of the Mormon men. They could picture themselves as Gods having their own world which they could rule over. Moreover, Smith also declared that faithful Mormons could have many wives (see the church's Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132, verses 1-4, 19-20, 34-35, 37-38, 39, 52, 60-62). In addition to all this, while the Mormons were still in Nauvoo they were informed of the sealing of men to men. It did not take long for a man to realize that through adoption he could obtain a large number of men, women and children who would become part of his kingdom and add to his eternal glory.
The doctrines which we have mentioned above obviously led to selfishness and pride. They are, in fact, diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Bible. For example, in Matthew 20:24-28 we read:
"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
In Matthew 23:10-12 we find this important admonition:
"Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
It is clear from the Bible that Jesus taught humility rather than trying to build a kingdom for oneself. In Matthew 18:3-4 Jesus stated:
"...Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
For more detailed information regarding the sealing of men to men see our books, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?, pages 480-483, and The Case Against Mormonism, Vol. 1, pages 17-26.
MORMON BLOOD ATONEMENT
Fact or Fantasy?
It is a well-known fact that the early Mormons suffered a good deal of persecution at the hands of the Gentiles -- i.e., non-Mormons. The prophet Joseph Smith and his brother were murdered by a cowardly mob that took the law into their own hands. A number of Mormons lost their lives during these early years. Unfortunately, however, many Mormon historians have overlooked the other side of the story.
During the early years of Mormonism it was frequently alleged that the leaders of the church sanctioned the practice of putting both Gentiles and Mormon apostates to death. In 1969-70, we made a detailed study of the charges and published our conclusions in a book entitled, The Mormon Kingdom, Vol. 2. The evidence that we marshalled convinced us that many of the claims were genuine. Since doing this research we found even more evidence to verify that there was a conspiracy to destroy dissenters and other people that the Mormon leaders hated.
While many Mormon scholars would like to scoff at those who have seriously studied this matter, there is incontrovertible proof that Brigham Young, the second prophet of the Mormon Church, publicly preached a doctrine called "blood atonement." Although one might think that the name of this doctrine came from the atonement of Jesus on the cross, the truth of the matter is that it relates to people being put to death. Brigham Young explained this in a sermon given on September 21, 1856:
"There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas, if such is not the case, they will stick to them and remain upon them in the spirit world.
"I know, when you hear my brethren telling about cutting people off from the earth, that you consider it is strong doctrine; but it is to save them, not to destroy them....
"And further more, I know that there are transgressors, who, if they knew themselves, and the only condition upon which they can obtain forgiveness, would beg of their brethren to shed their blood, that the smoke thereof might ascend to God as an offering to appease the wrath that is kindled against them, and that the law might have its course. I will say further; I have had men come to me and offer their lives to atone for their sins.
"It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit.... There are sins that can be atoned for by an offering upon an altar, as in ancient days; and there are sins that the blood of a lamb, or a calf, or of turtle doves, cannot remit, but they must be atoned for by the blood of the man." (Sermon by Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, pages 53-54); also published in the Mormon Church's Deseret News, 1856, page 235)
On another occasion Brigham Young made this chilling statement regarding a person's obligation to spill the blood of those who committed serious sins:
"Now take a person in this congregation who has knowledge with regard to being saved... and suppose that he is overtaken in a gross fault, that he has committed a sin that he knows will deprive him of that exaltation which he desires, and that he cannot attain to it without the shedding his blood, and also knows that by having his blood shed he will atone for that sin, and be saved and exalted with the Gods, is there a man or woman in this house but what would say, 'shed my blood that I may be saved and exalted with the Gods?'
"All mankind love themselves, and let these principles be known by an individual, and he would be glad to have his blood shed. That would be loving themselves, even unto an eternal exaltation. Will you love your brothers and sisters likewise, when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood? That is what Jesus Christ meant....
"I could refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain, in order to atone for their sins. I have seen scores and hundreds of people for whom there would have been a chance... if their lives had been taken and their blood spilled on the ground as a smoking incense to the Almighty, but who are now angels to the Devil... I have known a great many men who have left this Church for whom there is no chance whatever for exaltation, but if their blood had been spilled, it would have been better for them....
"This is loving our neighbor as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it.... if you have sinned a sin requiring the shedding of blood, except the sin unto death, would not be satisfied nor rest until your blood should be spilled, that you might gain that salvation you desire. That is the way to love mankind." (Sermon by President Brigham Young, delivered in the Mormon Tabernacle, February 8, 1857; printed in the Deseret News, February 18, 1857; also reprinted in the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, pages 219-220)
These are only two of many "blood atonement" sermons preached by Mormon leaders. Sandra Tanner, one of the authors of this newsletter who is also the great-great-granddaughter of Brigham Young, was greatly shocked when she read Young's sermons. This, in fact, was an important factor in her decision to leave the Mormon Church.
In 1958, Gustive O. Larson, Professor of Church History at the church's Brigham Young University, acknowledged that blood atonement was actually practiced. He related the following:
"To whatever extent the preaching on blood atonement may have influenced action, it would have been in relation to Mormon disciplinary action among its own members. In point would be a verbally reported case of a Mr. Johnson in Cedar City who was found guilty of adultery with his stepdaughter by a bishop's court and sentenced to death for atonement of his sin. According to the report of reputable eyewitnesses, judgment was executed with consent of the offender who went to his unconsecrated grave in full confidence of salvation through the shedding of his blood. Such a case, however primitive, is understandable within the meaning of the doctrine and the emotional extremes of the [Mormon] Reformation." (Utah Historical Quarterly, January, 1958, page 62, note 39)
This may be the same case spoken of by John D. Lee, who was sealed to Brigham Young and was a member of Young's secret Council of Fifty:
"The most deadly sin among the people was adultery, and many men were killed in Utah for the crime.
"Rasmos Anderson was a Danish man who came to Utah... He had married a widow lady somewhat older than himself... At one of the meetings during the reformation Anderson and his step-daughter confessed that they had committed adultery... they were rebaptized and received into full membership. They were then placed under covenant that if they again committed adultery, Anderson should suffer death. Soon after this a charge was laid against Anderson before the Council, accusing him of adultery with his step-daughter. This Council was composed of Klingensmith and his two counselors; it was the Bishop's Council. Without giving Anderson any chance to defend himself or make a statement, the Council voted that Anderson must die for violating his covenants. Klingensmith went to Anderson and notified him that the orders were that he must die by having his throat cut, so that the running of his blood would atone for his sins. Anderson, being a firm believer in the doctrines and teachings of the Mormon Church, made no objections... His wife was ordered to prepare a suit of clean clothing, in which to have her husband buried... she being directed to tell those who should inquire after her husband that he had gone to California.
"Klingensmith, James Haslem, Daniel McFarland and John M. Higbee dug a grave in the field near Cedar City, and that night, about 12 o'clock, went to Anderson's house and ordered him to make ready to obey Council. Anderson got up... and without a word of remonstrance accompanied those that he believed were carrying out the will of the "Almighty God." They went to the place where the grave was prepared; Anderson knelt upon the side of the grave and prayed. Klingensmith and his company then cut Anderson's throat from ear to ear and held him so that his blood ran into the grave.
"As soon as he was dead they dressed him in his clean clothes, threw him into the grave and buried him. They then carried his bloody clothing back to his family, and gave them to his wife to wash... She obeyed their orders.... Anderson was killed just before the Mountain Meadows massacre. The killing of Anderson was then considered a religious duty and a just act. It was justified by all the people, for they were bound by the same covenants, and the least word of objection to thus treating the man who had broken his covenant would have brought the same fate upon the person who was so foolish as to raise his voice against any act committed by order of the Church authorities." (Confessions of John D. Lee, Photo-reprint of 1877 edition, pages 282-283)
In the same book John D. Lee made this startling statement:
"I knew of many men being killed in Nauvoo... and I know of many a man who was quietly put out of the way by the orders of Joseph and his Apostles while the Church was there." (Ibid., page 284) Lee also revealed another very cruel practice which took place both in Nauvoo, Illinois, and in early Utah:
"In Utah it has been the custom with the Priesthood to make eunuchs of such men as were obnoxious to the leaders. This was done for a double purpose: first, it gave a perfect revenge, and next, it left the poor victim a living example to others of the dangers of disobeying counsel and not living as ordered by the Priesthood.
"In Nauvoo it was the orders from Joseph Smith and his apostles to beat, wound and castrate all Gentiles that the police could take in the act of entering or leaving a Mormon household under circumstances that led to the belief that they had been there for immoral purposes.... In Utah it was the favorite revenge of old, worn-out members of the Priesthood, who wanted young women sealed to them, and found that the girl preferred some handsome young man. The old priests generally got the girls, and many a young man was unsexed for refusing to give up his sweetheart at the request of an old and failing, but still sensual apostle or member of the Priesthood. As an illustration... Warren Snow was Bishop of the Church at Manti, San Pete County, Utah. He had several wives, but there was a fair, buxom young woman in the town that Snow wanted for a wife.... She thanked him for the honor offered, but told him she was then engaged to a young man, a member of the Church, and consequently could not marry the old priest.... He told her it was the will of God that she should marry him, and she must do so; that the young man could be got rid of, sent on a mission or dealt with in some way... that, in fact, a promise made to the young man was not binding, when she was informed that it was contrary to the wishes of the authorities.
"The girl continued obstinate.... the authorities called on the young man and directed him to give up the young woman. This he steadfastly refused to do.... He remained true to his intended, and said he would die before he would surrender his intended wife to the embraces of another.... The young man was ordered to go on a mission to some distant locality... But the mission was refused...
"It was then determined that the rebellious young man must be forced by harsh treatment to respect the advice and orders of the Priesthood. His fate was left to Bishop Snow for his decision. He decided that the young man should be castrated; Snow saying, 'When that is done, he will not be liable to want the girl badly, and she will listen to reason when she knows that her lover is no longer a man.'
"It was then decided to call a meeting of the people who lived true to counsel, which was held in the school-house in Manti... The young man was there, and was again requested, ordered and threatened, to get him to surrender the young woman to Snow, but true to his plighted troth, he refused to consent to give up the girl. The lights were then put out. An attack was made on the young man. He was severely beaten, and then tied with his back down on a bench, when Bishop Snow took a bowie-knife, and performed the operation in a most brutal manner, and then took the portion severed from his victim and hung it up in the school-house on a nail, so that it could be seen by all who visited the house afterwards.
"The party then left the young man weltering in his blood, and in a lifeless condition. During the night he succeeded in releasing himself from his confinement, and dragged himself to some hay-stacks, where he lay until the next day, when he was discovered by his friends. The young man regained his health, but has been an idiot or quite lunatic ever since....
"After this outrage old Bishop Snow took occasion to get up a meeting... When all had assembled, the old man talked to the people about their duty to the Church, and their duty to obey counsel, and the dangers of refusal, and then publicly called attention to the mangled parts of the young man, that had been severed from his person, and stated that the deed had been done to teach the people that the counsel of the Priesthood must be obeyed. To make a long story short, I will say, the young woman was soon after forced into being sealed to Bishop Snow.
"Brigham Young... did nothing against Snow. He left him in charge as Bishop at Manti, and ordered the matter to be hushed up." (Ibid., pages 284-286)
Mormons today would be appalled if such a dastardly deed was committed and would demand that the persons responsible be severely punished. Brigham Young, however, approved of many violent acts perpetrated by those he put in authority. Interestingly, D. Michael Quinn found documented evidence showing that President Young supported Bishop Warren S. Snow's cruel mistreatment of the young man:
"In the midsummer of 1857 Brigham Young also expressed approval for an LDS bishop who had castrated a man. In May 1857 Bishop Warren S. Snow's counselor wrote that twenty-four-year-old Thomas Lewis 'has now gone crazy' after being castrated by Bishop Snow for an undisclosed sex crime. When informed of Snow's action, Young said: 'I feel to sustain him...' In July Brigham Young wrote a reassuring letter to the bishop about this castration: 'Just let the matter drop, and say no more about it,' the LDS president advised, 'and it will soon die away among the people.' " (The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Vol. 2, pages 250-251)
On November 30, 1871, T. B. H. Stenhouse received a letter by an individual who was present at a meeting in Provo, Utah. The letter indicated that Bishop Blackburn was also strongly pushing for the emasculation of men who were disobedient to their leaders:
" 'Dear Stenhouse: I Have read carefully the accompanying statement about the "Reformation."... If you want to travel wider and show the effect in the country of the inflammatory speeches delivered in Salt Lake City at that time, you can mention the Potter and Parrish murders at Springville, the barbarous castration of a young man in San Pete, and, to cap the climax, the Mountain-Meadows massacre... Threats of personal violence or death were common in the settlements against all who dared to speak against the priesthood, or in any way protest against this "reign of terror."
" 'I was at a Sunday meeting in the spring of 1857, in Provo, when the news of the San Pete castration was referred to by the presiding bishop -- Blackburn. Some men in Provo had rebelled against authority in some trivial matter, and Blackburn shouted in his Sunday meeting -- a mixed congregation of all ages and both sexes -- "I want the people of Provo to understand that the boys in Provo can use the knife as well as the boys in San Pete. Boys, get your knives ready, there is work for you! We must not be behind San Pete in good works." The result of this was that two citizens, named Hooper and Beauvere, both having families at Provo, left the following night... Their only offence was rebellion against the priesthood.
" 'This man, Blackburn, was continued in office at least a year after this...
" 'The qualifications for a bishop were a blind submission and obedience to Brigham and the authorities, and a firm, unrelented government of his subjects." (The Rocky Mountain Saints, by T. B. H. Stenhouse, 1873, pages 301-302)
This is a very important letter because it throws additional light upon President Brigham Young's knowledge regarding emasculation in early Utah. According to Wilford Woodruff's journal, not long after Warren S. Snow's cowardly attack on Thomas Lewis, President Young discussed the matter of castration being used to save people:
"I then went into the president office & spent the evening. Bishop Blackburn was present. The subject Came up of some persons leaving Provo who had Apostatized. Some thought that Bishop Blackburn & President Snow was to blame. Brother Joseph Young presented the thing to presidet Young. But When the Circumstances were told Presidet Brigham Young sustained the Brethren who presided at Provo....
"The subjects of Eunuchs came up... Brigham Said the day would Come when thousands would be made Eunochs in order for them to be saved in the kingdom of God." (Wilford Woodruff's Diary, June 2, 1857, Vol. 5, pages 54-55)
In 1861, Apostle Orson Hyde met with Wilford Woodruff and indicated that he believed Warren Snow was guilty of stealing. Wilford Woodruff wrote the following in his journal:
"He spoke of his mission in sanpete and the unwise Course of Bishop Warren Snow, & George Pecock his first councillor. They have squandered a large amount of tithing funds, County taxes &c & Brother Hyde thinks from Testimony guilty of stealing many Cattle." (Ibid., Vol. 5, page 554)
It is astounding to think that the prophet of the Mormon Church would allow such a man as Warren Snow to function as a bishop in the church. Unfortunately, however, President Young went so far as to give him a special blessing. Wilford Woodruff recorded the following in his journal under the date of April 1, 1861: "Warren Stone Snow was Blessed By Presidet Young who gave him a very good Blessing." (Ibid., page 571) Moreover, in 1867, he was given the opportunity to preach in the Mormon Tabernacle (see Vol. 6, page 319).
In a public discourse President Young acknowledged that the church had use for some very mean devils who resided in early Utah:
"And if the Gentiles wish to see a few tricks, we have 'Mormons' that can perform them. We have the meanest devils on the earth in our midst, and we intend to keep them, for we have use for them; and if the Devil does not look sharp, we will cheat him out of them at the last, for they will reform and go to heaven with us." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, page 176)
Orrin Porter Rockwell was certainly one of Brigham Young's "meanest devils." Rockwell, who had served as a bodyguard for Joseph Smith, did not hesitate to shed blood. The reader will find a photograph of Rockwell on the first page of this newsletter. Bill Hickman was another ruthless man who killed many people. In his book Brigham's Destroying Angels, Hickman confessed that he had committed murders for the church.
In 1858, an extremely grotesque double murder was committed. Henry Jones and his mother were both put to death. These murders were obviously the direct result of Brigham Young's doctrine of "blood atonement."
Two months before Henry Jones was actually murdered, he was viciously attacked. Hosea Stout, a very dedicated Mormon defender, wrote the following regarding the first attack on Jones:
"Saturday 27 Feb 1858. This evening several persons disguised as Indians entered Henry Jones' house and dragged him out of bed with a whore and castrated him by a square & close amputation." (On the Mormon Frontier; The Diary of Hosea Stout, Vol. 2, page 653)
One would think that this would have ended the vendetta against Jones. Unfortunately, this was not the case. On April 19, 1859, the newspaper Valley Tan printed an affidavit by Nathaniel Case which contained a statement implicating a bishop and other Mormons who lived in Payson:
"Nathaniel Case being sworn, says: that he has resided in the Territory of Utah since the year 1850; lived with Bishop Hancock (Charles Hancock) in the town of Payson, at the time Henry Jones and his mother were murdered... The night prior to the murder a secret council meeting was held in the upper room of Bishop Hancock's house; saw Charles Hancock, George W. Hancock, Daniel Rawson, James Bracken, George Patten and Price Nelson go into that meeting that night.... About 8 o'clock in the evening of the murder the company gathered at Bishop Hancock's... They said they were going to guard a corral where Henry Jones was going to come that night and steal horses; they had guns.
"I had a good mini rifle and Bishop Hancock wanted to borrow it; I refused to lend it to him. The above persons all went away together... Next morning I heard that Henry Jones and his mother had been killed. I wnet [sic] down to the dug-out where they lived... The old woman was laying on the ground in the dug-out on a little straw, in the clothes in which she was killed. She had a bullet hole through her head... In about 15 or 20 minutes Henry Jones was brought there and laid by her side; they then threw some old bed clothes over them and an old feather bed and then pulled the dug-out on top of them....
"The next Sunday after the murder, in a church meeting in Payson, Charles Hancock, the bishop, said, as to the killing of Jones and his mother he cared nothing about it, and it would have been done in daylight if circumstances would have permitted it. -- This was said from the stand; there were 150 or 200 persons present. He gave no reason for killing them. And further saith not.
"Sworn to and signed before me this 9th day of April, 1859.
Judge 2nd Judicial District."
Those who murdered Henry Jones and his mother may have remembered President Brigham Young's sermon which was delivered just two years prior to these murders: "Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case; under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, page 247)
In his book, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Vol. 2, pages 241-261, Dr. Quinn presented compelling evidence showing that "blood atonement" was endorsed by church leaders and actually practiced by the Mormon people. Quinn gave the names of a number of violent men who served as "enforcers" for Brigham Young. In addition Quinn wrote:
"During this period Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders also repeatedly preached about specific sins for which it was necessary to shed the blood of men and women. Blood-atonement sins included adultery, apostasy, 'covenant breaking,' counterfeiting, 'many men who left this Church,' murder, not being 'heartily on the Lord's side,' profaning 'the name of the Lord,' sexual intercourse between a 'white' person and an African-American, stealing, and telling lies....
"Some LDS historians have claimed that blood-atonement sermons were simply Brigham Young's use of 'rhetorical devices designed to frighten wayward individuals into conformity with Latter-day Saint principles' and to bluff anti-Mormons. Writers often describe these sermons as limited to the religious enthusiasm and frenzy of the Utah Reformation up to 1857. The first problem with such explanations is that official LDS sources show that as early as 1843 Joseph Smith and his counselor Sidney Rigdon advocated decapitation or throat-cutting as punishment for various crimes and sins.
"Moreover, a decade before Utah's reformation, Brigham Young's private instructions show that he fully expected his trusted associates to kill various persons for violating religious obligations. The LDS church's official history still quotes Young's words to 'the brethren' in February 1846: 'I should be perfectly willing to see thieves have their throats cut.' The following December he instructed bishops, 'when a man is found to be a thief, he will be a thief no longer, cut his throat, & thro' him in the River,' and Young did not instruct them to ask his permission. A week later the church president explained to a Winter Quarters meeting that cutting off the heads of repeated sinners 'is the law of God & it shall be executed...' A rephrase of Young's words later appeared in Hosea Stout's reference to a specific sinner, 'to cut him off -- behind the ears -- according to the law of God in such cases.'...
"When informed that a black Mormon in Massachusetts had married a white woman, Brigham Young told the apostles in December 1847 that he would have both of them killed 'if they were far away from the Gentiles.' " (The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Vol. 2, pages 246-247)
While we do not have room for extensively quotations from Quinn's book, the following are some extracts:
"In September 1857 Apostle George A. Smith told a Salt Lake City congregation that Mormons at Parowan in southern Utah 'wish that their enemies might come and give them a chance to fight and take vengeance for the cruelties that had been inflicted upon us in the States.' Smith had just returned from southern Utah where he had encouraged such feelings by preaching fiery sermons about resisting the U.S. army and taking vengeance on anti-Mormons. Just days before his talk in Salt Lake City, members of Parowan's Mormon militia participated in killing 120 men, women, and children in the Mountain Meadows Massacre....
"Although most accounts claimed that the militia killed only the adult males and let their Indian allies kill the women and children, perpetrator Nephi Johnson later told an LDS apostle that 'white men did most of the killing.' Perpetrator George W. Adair also told another apostle that 'John Higbee gave the order to kill the women and children,' and Adair 'saw the women's and children's throats cut.'...
"As late as 1868 the Deseret News encouraged rank-and-file Mormons to kill anyone who engaged in sexual relations outside marriage....
"Under such circumstances the Mormon hierarchy bore full responsibility for the violent acts of zealous Mormon[s] who accepted their instructions literally and carried out various forms of blood atonement. 'Obviously there were those who could not easily make a distinction between rhetoric and reality,' a BYU religion professor has written.... It is unrealistic to assume that faithful Mormons all declined to act on such repeated instructions in pioneer Utah.... Neither is it reasonable to assume that the known cases of blood atonement even approximated the total number that occurred in the first twenty years after Mormon settlement in Utah.... LDS leaders publicly and privately encouraged Mormons to consider it their religious right to kill antagonistic outsiders, common criminals, LDS apostates, and even faithful Mormons who committed sins 'worthy of death.' " (The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Vol. 2, pages 251-53, 56-57, 60)
On pages 804-805, of the same book, Quinn reported concerning a murder committed in 1902:
"5 Apr., 'Clyde Felt has confessed to cutting the throat of old man Collins, at his request. The old man was a moral degenerate. The boy is a son of David P. Felt.' Grandson of former general authority, Clyde Felt is fourteen. Despite this blood atonement murder, LDS leaders allow [the] young man to be endowed and married in temple eight years later."
Although we cannot be certain, this may be the last known case of "blood atonement" committed by Mormons. It should be noted, however, that at least two groups (the Lebarons and the Laffertys) broke off from the Mormon Church and still hold to Brigham Young's teaching of "blood atonement." Consequently, they committed a significant number of "blood atonement" murders between 1972 and 1988.
While Dr. Quinn's book, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Vol. 2, presents plenty of evidence to establish the fact that "blood atonement" murders were committed by the early Mormons, Quinn did not have the space to deal at great length with this important issue. To compliment Quinn's excellent work we highly recommend our book, The Mormon Kingdom, Vol. 2. In this book we have actual photographs from the church's Deseret News confirming that church leaders strongly supported the doctrine of "blood atonement."
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS
"You have given me so much help in leaving Mormonism behind in my life & the lives of my two children. Thank you so much for your work." (Letter from Louisiana)
* * * * *
"It's been about fifteen years since we found your book, [Mormonism:] Shadow or Reality, and began the journey to come to grips with what Mormonism actually is. But even more importantly we came also to grips, by the grace of God, with the truth of His Word in scripture and in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.... Keep up the good work Sandra, and thank Jerald for us and for countless others like ourselves who see you both as keys in the hand of God to the opening of a doorway of truth and understanding that otherwise might never have been as available as your efforts have made it." (Letter from Arizona)
* * * * *
"The work you and your husband have done on Shadow [Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?] is amazing. My... Mormon husband has read parts and is busy figuring out ways to share information with Mormons in our vicinity. I owe you and Jerald a debt of gratitude. I never thought my husband would see the obvious things that I saw. However, the meticulous researching and presentation of this book leaves no option but to study the contents. Your cross referencing and use of source documents, together with photocopies of original material has made this invaluable. My husband is going to share the section on polygamy with his Mother. Thank-you once again -- your book is truly a Marvelous Work and a Wonder." (Letter from Australia)
A RESPONSE TO FOSTER
In our last newsletter we included a statement by Dr. Lawrence Foster criticizing our work. Foster claimed that we were deliberately trying to avoid an interview with him. Nothing could be further from the truth. We were actually looking forward to meeting with him. Unfortunately, in his response to us in the last newsletter, Foster continued to state that we were afraid to meet with him. He went so far as to claim that H. Michael Marquardt told him that "you were uneasy about meeting with me and had not yet decided whether or not you would agree to an interview."
When we asked Mr. Marquardt about this matter, he replied that this assertion was not true and authorized us to print the following: "I never told Foster that the Tanners were uneasy about meeting with him."
In the May 1996 issue of the Messenger we spoke of Foster's hypothesis that Joseph Smith may have been mentally ill. While we certainly have no strong objections to Foster's idea, we know that it is very offensive to Mormons. Unfortunately, it now appears that Foster wants to sugar-coat his statements about Joseph Smith's mental state. In his rebuttal to us he states: "Similarly my analysis of the complex sources of Joseph Smith's genius (Dialogue, Winter 1993) never refers to him as 'mentally ill' but instead stresses the complex psychological dynamics that may have contributed to his exceptional creativity." This statement gives the impression that we misrepresented Foster's position. While it may be true that Foster did not use the specific words "mentally ill" in his article, he very strongly implied that Joseph Smith had a serious mental problem. Foster's hypothesis is that Smith suffered from manic-depression, which is certainly a form of mental illness. In his article in Dialogue Foster wrote:
"In no area were Joseph Smith's manic qualities more evident than in his efforts to introduce and practice polygamy during the last three years of his life. The point at which Joseph Smith began systematically to introduce polygamy to his closest associates has strong suggestions of mania.... his subsequent surge of actitivity [sic] with the sixteen or more women with whom he appears to have sustained sexual relations as plural wives... is even more suggestive of the hypersexuality that often accompanies manic periods." (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Winter, 1993, pages 4, 7, 9-13)
Foster's statement that, "In no area were Joseph Smith's manic qualities more evident than in his efforts to introduce and practice polygamy" does not fit well with his watered-down statement in his rebuttal to us.
SEXUAL ABUSE UPDATE
In the November 1996 issue of the Salt Lake City Messenger we reported that Cherese Franklin was awarded $750,000 in damages in a sexual abuse case involving repressed memories. On appeal this case was overturned by a judge in Salt Lake City.
In our last newsletter we discussed the problem of child sexual abuse committed by bishops and other important leaders in the Mormon Church. Recently we received another letter from a woman reporting that she was abused by her father: "Some of your research is being sent to a related attorney regarding the Beckly W. VA. [case] Sad! My bishop father sexually abused me. I know about the damage."
Significantly, two other cases of sexual abuse involving prominent Mormons have recently come to light.
1 -- Lloyd Gerald Pond, 51, was originally charged with two counts of forcible sodomy on a 14-year-old girl he met at a Mormon ward. Pond was employed by the Mormon Church's public-relations department and "hosted a weekly nationwide radio program that promoted Mormon values..." (Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 4, 1997) Many people were publicly complaining that Pond would only get a slap on the wrist because he was a well-known Mormon. Fortunately, this turned out not to be the case. The Tribune reported: "Ignoring recommendations for probation, a 3rd District judge sent confessed child sex abuser Lloyd Gerald Pond to prison for up to 15 years." Ironically, Pond's radio work for the church included warnings "about the evils of child abuse and pornography..." (Ibid., Nov. 16, 1996)
2 -- The Idaho Falls Post Register reported the following on November 13, 1996: "A former state senator [Rex Furness] will be spending the next two months in jail for sexually battering his teenage granddaughter.... Furness will serve 60 days in the county jail, starting next week, and seven years probation....
"He was also very active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, holding various titles, including bishop until he confessed the acts to his church and surrendered his temple recommend.
"What he did not say in court was that the charge against him forced him to resign from the state senate."
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