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Saints Mountain Meadows Massacre Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
November 15, 2020 8:44 pm

Saints Mountain Meadows Massacre Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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November 15, 2020 8:44 pm

A 6-part series on the Mountain Meadows Massacre reviewing the book No Unhallowed Hand, the second volume of the 4-part historical series published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever
Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever
Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever
Viewpoint on Mormonism
Bill McKeever

Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a Biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM.

We continue looking at the book Saints, No Unhallowed Hand. This is a history book that was published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2020 and covers the years 1846 to 1890. In last week's shows, we were talking about what was known as the Mormon Reformation. It was a call for the Latter-day Saint people to get back in line and living lives righteously, which would eventually allow them to be exalted into the celestial kingdom of God.

There were a lot of fiery sermons that were being preached, even to the extreme of the preaching of a doctrine known as blood atonement, where the sinner himself was to shed his own blood in order to atone for various sins. Now we move into the book on page 246 that talks about this season of reformation eventually winding down. We're still in the year 1857. It says on page 246 that the Saints once again grew frustrated with the federally appointed officials in the territorial government.

Now let's recap this. The Mormons have moved out west. They've settled in the Salt Lake Valley. And really, Eric, I guess it wouldn't be improper to say that their form of government was more like a theocracy, maybe a modified theocracy at best. Brigham Young still claims that he has respect for the Constitution of the United States, but the book certainly doesn't seem to hide the fact that they had their own set of laws in the territory, the territory they, the Mormons, called the territory of Deseret. So when it says here that early in 1857, Utah's legislature petitioned James Buchanan, the newly elected president of the United States, to grant them greater freedom to appoint their own government leaders. But then what does it say in the next paragraph? Quote, We will resist any attempt of government officials to set at naught our territorial laws or to impose upon us those which are inapplicable and of right not enforced in this territory, end quote.

Now notice the language here, Eric. We will resist any attempt of government officials to set at naught our territorial laws. That's pretty telling, it seems, because they're admitting in this book that Brigham Young had his own rules in the territory. And no doubt this is going to cause a conflict with the government in Washington, D.C., because remember, this is a territory of the United States now, and the territory has to comply with the laws of the United States.

The Mormons think that they can have their own laws here, and this admits our territorial laws. What does it go on to say, though, in the next paragraph that begins on page 247? The local government officials, meanwhile, were equally frustrated with the Saints' disdain toward outsiders, intimidation of federally appointed leaders, and lack of separation of church and state in the territorial government. In March, some officials resigned their appointments and returned east with stories of the Saints' plural marriages and seemingly undemocratic government. Now, it seems to be admitting to us, and again, this is this honesty that we get from this book.

It's not a complete honesty, at least when it comes to a lot of details. But they are admitting here that these appointed government leaders were finding it frustrating to try to deal with the Latter-day Saints because of, I have to assume, what we read in a previous paragraph, their territorial laws. They were not complying with the laws of the United States. And so what happens is these federally appointed leaders find themselves being intimidated by the locals, and you can imagine that this is probably going to happen.

The locals are not going to like the leaders being appointed from Washington, and the leaders being appointed from Washington are not going to like how they're being treated by the locals in this territory. So it says that in March, this would have to be March of 1857, some officials resigned their appointments and returned east with stories of the Saints' plural marriages and seemingly undemocratic government. Keep in mind, folks, that in 1852, the Mormon Church had a session of conference in which Orson Pratt, a Mormon apostle, was given the quote-unquote honor of announcing plural marriage publicly.

It was no longer going to be a secret. Now, the Mormons had been practicing plural marriage up until 1852 when it was announced publicly, but now it was no secret at all. And you can imagine these appointed government leaders coming into the territory from Washington, D.C. are now seeing polygamy actually being flaunted by the Latter-day Saints.

It's illegal in the United States to have more than one wife. Brigham Young doesn't care. He's ruling his own territory the way he wants to rule it.

Well, you can understand why this is going to bring some conflict between the Latter-day Saints and Washington, D.C. But it's interesting how they use the phrase, the seemingly undemocratic government. Seemingly undemocratic government? Brigham Young has the iron fist in the territory here, so I think the word seemingly, maybe they should have put that in quotation marks, I don't know, but it seems like that's kind of a stretch. Certainly it was an undemocratic type of government. And this theocracy is not going to be able to be combined with a constitutional republic, which our government actually is.

So you can see why conflicts are going to eventually take place. It goes on and says, early that summer, after the snowy plains thawed and mail routes reopened, the Saints learned that their strongly worded petition and reports of their treatment of former territorial officers had deeply alarmed and angered President Buchanan and his advisors. The president viewed the Saints' action as rebellious, and he appointed new men to the vacant offices in Utah. Eastern newspapers and politicians, meanwhile, demanded that he use military action to oust Brigham as governor, quell the Saints' rumored rebelliousness, and see that the new federal officials were seated and protected. So let me ask, Eric, based on what you just read, how do you think that's going to settle with the locals in Utah at this time?

They really do want to get away from anything having any control from government officials. And so they really wanted, as you mentioned earlier in the show, the theocracy that would come through Brigham Young, and they would be able to do things the way that they thought were best. It should be said, though, in my opinion, and for what I've read on this subject, I am not doubting at all that some of the complaints of these officials who left Utah to go back and complain about Brigham Young and the Mormons were probably exaggerated in some areas. I'm not doubting that.

Certainly, when you feel offended, you have a tendency to embellish the story to make your opponent look worse than they really are. But I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same when it came to Brigham Young describing the federal government. So you've probably got hyperbole going both ways, and that's going to cause problems. Now, it says on page 247 that Buchanan saw as his duty to establish federal authority in Utah, at the time the United States was experiencing significant tensions over the matter of slavery.

And that's true. Buchanan's got enough on his plate without having to worry about a bunch of guys over in the territory out west. He's got a civil war that's brewing on his hands here, and certainly in the next election, Buchanan's going to lose, and the twin relics of barbarism is going to come into effect.

That is slavery and polygamy. So you can see that there's a lot of tension that's growing. But then on page 248, there's this telling paragraph. Eleanor attempted to reunite with her children, and Parley followed soon after to assist her. In May 1857, however, Hector hunted Parley down and brutally killed him. And that's true.

But what you don't really learn from all this are all the details behind this. Hector McLean understandably was upset with what Parley Pratt had done regarding his wife. He ends up marrying his wife Eleanor as a plural wife. Now, though it says it here that his murderer Hector McLean was the estranged husband of Eleanor McLean, one of Parley's plural wives, you have to really read that sentence carefully to understand what's going on. He's not divorced from Eleanor. She is not divorced from Hector. She is still the lawful wife of Hector McLean, but yet Parley Pratt, a Mormon apostle, marries her as one of his plural wives. You can understand why Hector might be upset about this. Now, I'm not trying to defend Hector at all. It sounds like from what I've read about the guy, he was a jerk. He was an alcoholic, an abuser, no doubt.

But still, you have laws that you have to attend to in our constitutional republic. And maybe Parley is just trying to help her and the children out. But do you have to marry the woman and take her as a plural wife to be able to help her? That's what I've been told when visiting the Brigham Young home, the Beehive House in downtown Salt Lake City. I've asked that very question because I was told that the reason why Brigham Young practiced plural marriage was he needed to take care of wives who had lost their husbands during the persecution period. And I think you raise a good question. He has to marry them in order to take care of these women?

That sounds a bit extreme. But the next sentence I think we need to address, it says that Parley's murder shocked Brigham and the Saints, though I have no doubt it probably shocked many Latter-day Saints. I tend to say that I don't think it really shocked Brigham Young.

In fact, there seems to be some evidence to show that Brigham probably wasn't surprised at all. There was a book written by a historian by the name of John Turner. And in this book, he relates some information regarding Parley Pratt's behavior. What did Turner say?

This is a book called Brigham Young, Pioneer Prophet, and this is pages 270 and 271. Young later suggested that Pratt had deserved his fate, alluding to Pratt having taken additional plural wives without authorization in the mid 1840s. Young explained that, quote, brother Parley's blood was spilt. I glad of it for it paid the debt he owed for he hoard, end quote.

For he hoard. And it sounds like Brigham Young was not at all surprised. So when the book Saints says on page 248 that Parley's murder shocked Brigham, I don't think the facts actually support that statement. Visit our website at where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-27 15:46:07 / 2024-01-27 15:51:02 / 5

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