Strident Mormon Teachings
Mormons, such as John D. Lee, who participated in the Mountain Meadows massacre, felt justified by strident Mormon teachings during the 1850s. However, historians debate whether that justification was a reasonable interpretation of Mormon theology.
For the decade prior to the Baker–Fancher party's arrival there, Utah Territory existed as a theodemocracy led by Brigham Young. During the mid-1850s, Young instituted a Mormon Reformation, intending to "lay the axe at the root of the tree of sin and iniquity", while preserving individual rights. Mormon teachings during this era were dramatic and strident.
In addition, during the prior decades, the religion had undergone a period of intense persecution in the American Midwest, and faithful Mormons moved west to escape persecution in midwestern towns. In particular, they were officially expelled from the state of Missouri during the 1838 Mormon War, during which prominent Mormon apostle David W. Patten was killed in battle. After Mormons moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, the religion's founder Joseph Smith, Jr. and his brother Hyrum Smith were assassinated in 1844. Just months before the Mountain Meadows massacre, Mormons received word that yet another apostle had been killed: in April 1857, apostle Parley P. Pratt was shot in Arkansas by Hector McLean, the estranged husband of one of Pratt's plural wives, Eleanor McLean Pratt. Mormon leaders immediately proclaimed Pratt as another martyr, and many Mormons held the people of Arkansas responsible.
In 1857, Mormon leaders taught that the Second Coming of Jesus was imminent, and that God would soon exact punishment against the United States for persecuting Mormons and martyring Joseph Smith, Jr., Hyrum Smith, Patten and Pratt, all of whom were considered by Mormons to be prophets. In their Endowment ceremony, faithful early Latter-day Saints took an oath to pray that God would take vengeance against the murderers of the prophets. As a result of this oath, several Mormon apostles and other leaders considered it their religious duty to kill the prophets' murderers if they ever came across them.
The sermons, blessings, and private counsel by Mormon leaders just before the Mountain Meadows massacre can be understood as encouraging private individuals to execute God's judgment against the wicked. In Cedar City, the teachings of church leaders were particularly strident.
Thus, historians argue that southern Utah Mormons would have been particularly affected by an unsubstantiated rumor that the Baker-Fancher wagon train had been joined by a group of eleven miners and plainsmen who called themselves "Missouri Wildcats", some of whom reportedly taunted, vandalized and "caused trouble" for Mormons and Native Americans along the route (by some accounts claiming that they had the gun that "shot the guts out of Old Joe Smith") They were also affected by the report to Brigham Young that the Baker–Fancher party was from Arkansas, and the rumor that Eleanor McLean Pratt, the apostle Pratt's plural wife, recognized one of the party as being present at her husband's murder.
Other articles related to "strident mormon teachings, mormons, mormon":
... Mormons, such as John D ... in the Mountain Meadows massacre, felt justified by strident Mormon teachings during the 1850s ... justification was a reasonable interpretation of Mormon theology ...
Famous quotes containing the words teachings, strident and/or mormon:
“... there are no chains so galling as the chains of ignoranceno fetters so binding as those that bind the soul, and exclude it from the vast field of useful and scientific knowledge. O, had I received the advantages of early education, my ideas would, ere now, have expanded far and wide; but, alas! I possess nothing but moral capabilityno teachings but the teachings of the Holy Spirit.”
—Maria Stewart (18031879)
“Women of my age in America are at the mercy of two powerful and antagonistic traditions. The first is the ultradomestic fifties with its powerful cult of motherhood; the other is the strident feminism of the seventies with its attempt to clone the male competitive model.... Only in America are these ideologies pushed to extremes.”
—Sylvia Ann Hewitt (20th century)
“If you excommunicate one of us there will be 10 more to step up and take her place. Excommunicate those 10 and there will be 100 to take their places.”
—Lynn Knavel Whitesides, U.S. Mormon feminist. As quoted in the New York Times, p. 7 (October 2, 1993)