Mountain Meadows Massacre - Criticism and Analysis of The Massacre - Historical Theories Explaining The Massacre - Strident Mormon Teachings

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.

Read more about this topic:  Mountain Meadows Massacre, Criticism and Analysis of The Massacre, Historical Theories Explaining The Massacre

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Mountain Meadows Massacre/Archive 16 - Criticism and Analysis of The Massacre - Historical Theories Explaining The Massacre - Strident Mormon Teachings
... 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 ...

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