Sunday, August 24, 2008

Did Joseph Smith Preach the Blood Atonement?

The following comment was recently left by an annonymous commenter in response to my post "Does Mormon Doctrine Allow For the Killing of Apostates and Non-Believers?".

"I am amazed anyone would consider this a "true Mormon doctrine". What nonsense. When was the last time anyone was killed for apostatizing?"

This person is just like any other who is completely ignorant of the fact, and probably shrugs it off as a lie of the devil.

Maybe this video will help clear things up for you...

This is some scary shit!

John D. Lee, as mentioned in this video as the destroying angel, lead the Mormon attack which resulted in the event we remember as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Although he was just following orders, he was put to death for it. Later, he was forgiven by the LDS church. Go figure.

Mormonism is a dangerous cult that does indeed believe that the sin of apostasy is punishable by death. Apostasy, lying, adultry, sex with a negro, and catch this, NOT RECEIVING THE GOSPEL. That means that technically, if the Mormon missionaries knock on your door and you tell them to take a hike, it is okay for them to kill you!

The fundamentalists are the worst, as they still practice Blood Atonement to this very day as you can see in this video. I just don't know how people can know about this stuff and still believe that "it's all true". The kingdom here on earth as established by the creator of the universe teaches that killing is perfectly okay. Yet that very same god gave the direct commandment to Moses on Mount Sinai, "Thou Shalt Not Kill".

Mormonism in all it's forms is a terrible cult disguised as a Christian religion. When you pull off the pure and white sheets, underneath is evil, darkness, and corruption.

People, you can no longer afford to be so naive. You need to educate yourselves about the true order of Mormonism.


Seth R. said...

And as we all know. Evangelicals and atheists NEVER have unhinged serial killers in their ranks. Right?


Mormon411 said...

I'm sure they have. But the difference is that Mormonism condones it as a godly practice. Christianity in general does not, and most atheists, contrary to popular belief do have morals too. If such a thing is done by Evangelicals and atheists, which I'm not denying that it has, it was an individual circumstance, and not a church-sanctioned hit. That's the difference. America kills people all the time in the name of national defense.

That just goes to show that while our society outwardly condemns killing, the fact is that it happens all the time and is done by those who condemn it. Even the Bible teaches that the wicked should die as is demonstrated by the flood account. God got tired of all the wicked people and wiped them out.

Unfortunately, it happens all the time, by believers and non alike.

Seth R. said...

You do realize you're talking about something that happened in the 1800s right?

I don't hear much from the Southern Baptists these days about how they used to have their own preachers leading angry mobs in song while lynched blacks hung overhead in the trees.

I don't hear atheists touting the Cultural Revolution either.

There are John D. Lee's in every organization. And there are episodes in almost every religion's past that they'd like to cover up.

This is part of human nature.

The idea of Blood Atonement was always a fringe doctrine in the Mormon Church. Considering everything we went through in that time period, I think the really remarkable thing is that the Mormons weren't ten times worse than they were.

There was stuff that went on in the Wyoming Range wars that rivaled in brutality anything the Mormons did.

I just read an account of how US soldiers freshly returned from massacring a Native American settlement boasted of killing women and children and wore the "the squaws vaginal skin" over their hats as hat-bands.

Lovely time period that most of America is doing its darndest to forget entirely. It often seems that only Mormons are still required to carry the cross of the ugliness of the later half of the 19th century. For the rest of America, it was the Civil War, and then "some other stuff too."

My religion, however, was forged in the midst of the brutality of a growing nation. We are never allowed to forget what an ugly century it was. The rest of America, on the other hand, does seem to have that luxury. And they exercise it frequently in making us the scapegoats for their own national guilt.

Seth R. said...

I left out something.

The US soldiers with the gruesome hats made their boasts to a packed crowd in Denver and got universal laughter and applause.

Mormon411 said...


Your point is noted and I don't deny that any of that took place. It's horrible and ugly. Humans have done horrible things to each other. It's been going on for thousands of years and probably will never stop.

The Bible itself is full of brutality as I pointed out last time. When Joshua conquered Jehrico he was commanded by god to destroy every living soul in the city: men, women, children, and even animals. Moses was equally as brutal.

As the only true church, however, you would think that such behavior would not be found. I am relieved to see that you are at least not denying that it happened. However, just because "everyone else is doing it" doesn't make it okay.

You should know that.

Seth R. said...

I do know that. But I just think you have to be careful about singling out one religion or group of people on grounds that are, in reality, common to all groups of people.

Mormon411 said...

It is common to nearly all groups. I totally agree with you. The only reason I single out Mormonism is because it was what I was raised with and I know it better than any other religion.

But seeing as how this is supposed to be god's literal kingdom on earth, doesn't it bother you, just a little, to think of a prophet, a man of god, ordering the execution of another child of god?

Of all places, this is where it shouldn't be found. If there was any chance of me ever changing my mind about the church, this is one of the issues that would prevent me from doing so.

If Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were murderers, then how could they possibly be prophets? Can't you see the writing on the wall?

Seth R. said...

Of course it bothers me. As well it should.

"If Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were murderers"

Every last one of us who has spent any time living in this world has blood on our hands. My modern lifestyle is only possible because others suffer and die for it. All of us are culpable.

Did Joseph or Brigham pull the trigger?


Did they contribute to an atmosphere that made others more likely to pull the trigger? In Joseph's case, maybe (his connection to the Danite raids is very, very tenuous). In Brigham's case, probably (I think it's up in the air whether he ordered it, but indisputable that he contributed to the angry atmosphere).

In either case, neither of the men are "murderers" in the way people usually use the word.

Assuming that both have blood on their hands, why would that exclude them from being prophets?

Please explain.

Mormon411 said...

Okay, I'm done with this conversation. You are supporting and condoning murder all in the name of your church being true.

This is a perfect example of why Mormonism is so dangerous. These people see absolutely nothing wrong with murder.

Yes, we all have blood on our hands, but if we don't eat, we will die. There is a difference between killing for survival and killing just because someone didn't follow our "divine" rules.

Seth R. said...

I am not. I asked you a question.

Where did I ever say I condoned the Massacre? I don't. I think it was wrong. I think it was an inhumane act. I think Brigham Young was wrong in how he handled it too.

You are jumping to conclusions about what I think here.

Of course, you are free to end this conversation whenever you want and I will accordingly buzz-off.

But I asked you a question. What does committing sin have to do with being a prophet?

Mormon411 said...

You're right, I did jump to a conclusion and I apologize.

I feel that I have answered your question but I'll restate.

"Assuming that both have blood on their hands, why would that exclude them from being prophets?"

To me it's very obvious. A man of god does not murder. Sure, I understand that prophets are only human too and they make mistakes just like anyone else, BUT that doesn't excuse murder or the ordering of a murder. The why, is just because it is plain unethical and it contradicts what a prophet is supposed to stand for. A prophet is supposed to be the standard for moral living. He sets the example for all others to follow. That is why.

Again, my apologies. I don't want you to buzz off and contrary to what you may think, I do value your opinion.

Seth R. said...

I don't disagree with any of that.

If a prophet murders, he is culpable. If he wrongfully calls on others to murder (for example, it's not self-defense or defense of others), then he should not be followed in that thing.

But that doesn't draw the full connection.

Let us say, for the sake of argument, that Brigham Young did order the massacre directly. It's not clear from the historical record that he did, but, just for our purposes, let's assume that he did.

Does this automatically discredit all his other religious teachings, accomplishments, and instructions?

I don't think it does.

There is no Mormon doctrine that a prophet is infallible.

Yes, I know that a lot of lay Mormons act like the prophet is infallible. He can never be wrong, according to them. If you try to suggest that he isn't infallible, some of them might get a bit huffy in Sunday School.


But there is no official and binding LDS doctrine of prophetic infallibility. The Mormon doctrinal understanding of a prophet is that he can, and does screw up.

You find this in the Bible. The entire Bible can be read as a bunch of deeply flawed men searching for God and finding Him. David murdered Uriah and stole his wife for himself. Appalling behavior - for which David was punished.

But that does not invalidate the beauty and power of the many Psalms that he wrote - which are still a part of scripture and valued by many, including me.

Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. Sometimes with women who were married to other men. Sometimes with women younger than 18. Distasteful conduct by today's standards (and certainly objected to even then).

But, even if you think he was not acting in God's name in that instance, does that invalidate his vision of the heavens or his view of Zion? Where is the logical connection?

The prophet Mormon says in Mormon 8:17, discussing the completed record:

"And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things; therefore, he that condemneth, let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire."

What you have there is an explicit admission that the Book of Mormon might be flawed. But does that automatically invalidate everything in it?

This is a rough spot to be in, I know. You feel that if one thing about the faith you thought you knew is wrong, the rest of it might be as well.

Maybe you feel agnosticism is the most rational position for you to take right now (I'm just assuming from the title header). I'm not going to criticize that position.

But despite what a lot of people in and out of the Church say, this isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. Just because one area of LDS belief doesn't work as expected does not logically mean that the rest of it is automatically invalid.

Just because David fell later does not mean he was never God's chosen king to begin with. Just because a prophet makes a mistake does not invalidate everything else he says.

Truth is truth. Even if the people bearing that truth kill people, it doesn't change whether it is truth, right?

Mormon411 said...


Your last comment was much clearer and I think that we agree on most of the discussion except the conclusion. Please keep in mind that my current position about the church does not only involve this issue. There are many things, which you may or may not be aware of, and the culmination of all those things lead me to my conclusion.

Let me restate to make sure that I understand you correctly. Are you saying that a prophet might make a BIG mistake and no longer be a prophet, but that doesn't discredit his work or past messages? I could buy that.

Assuming that Joseph and Brigham are guilty of murder, what is your view on their current situation? Are they in spiritual prison? Keep in mind that LDS believe that Joseph Smith will be at the gates of heaven and you can't get in without his conscent.

"There is no Mormon doctrine that a prophet is infallible."

The LDS believe that prophets are infallable because they have stated so clearly. A general conference speech is pretty much accepted as modern day scripture, and it has been said, in general conference, that god will not allow the bretheren to lead the saints astray. It is impossible. I don't know the reference right off hand but I can get it if you'd like.

I'm glad you brought up the King David point. What happened to David? Although he made a terrible mistake and felt horrible for it, he was never forgiven for it, at least that's what I was always taught. He went from prophet/king to pretty much outer darkness. That was always my impression. Now if murder is that serious to god, then again, I ask, why did Joseph and Brigham teach it as doctrine? It doesn't make any sense. Were you under the same impression about David that I was?

I'm also glad you brought up polygamy. Now polygamy itself was never an issue for me, but discovering that he did marry married women was very disheartening. I can see your point that it does not necessarially invalidate his message, BUT it does cast serious doubt upon his character and therefore his message in general. Again, this is behavior that a true prophet just should not be involved in.

So now we're up to two strikes, murder and adultry, both of which are among the worst sins a person can commit. So when does Joseph become accountable? I could accept and overlook a little slip up. But now we're talking about some pretty serious stuff. When does one begin to question his message in general, seeing as how his character is pretty much shot at this point?

"But despite what a lot of people in and out of the Church say, this isn't an all-or-nothing proposition."

I have to correct you in this statement because Gordon B. Hinckley once said very explicitly, that there is no middle ground. It's all or nothing. I don't have the exact quote or the reference on hand, but again, can find it if you'd like.

"Just because one area of LDS belief doesn't work as expected does not logically mean that the rest of it is automatically invalid."

I mostly agree with that statement as well; there are many more issues than just this one, however. In fact there are many. I don't know how much of my blog you've read, but I have tried to address most of them.

"Truth is truth. Even if the people bearing that truth kill people, it doesn't change whether it is truth, right?"

I don't know about that. If a person comes and says they are a prophet and then kills people, shouldn't that shed some light on their character and therefore their message as well? I mean, who is going to take a murderer seriously? No one in their right mind, I would think.

But then again, Moses and Joshua were notorious for slaughtering their enemies without mercy. So your point does have some validity but doesn't have me completely convinced.

Seth R. said...

Well, I don't want to be too heavy-handed on the point or pick a fight, because I think you are right, our points of disagreement are limited.

Few clarifications need to be made though:

We have no real reason to believe that David is in Outer Darkness. Murderers and adulterers, as a general matter in Mormon theology, go to the Telestial Kingdom. Outer Darkness is a very select crowd. Not sure David qualifies. Yes, he sinned while possessed of greater knowledge. But he did not "deny the Holy Ghost" as best I can tell. Furthermore, you have certain scriptures from David where he praises God (many of his Psalms were written after the murder of Uriah) and claims that God will not leave him in hell.

This suggests that there may be forgiveness for David in the end. I think there will be. And I like to think there will likewise be forgiveness for Joseph and Brigham if they are similarly guilty (I'm going to shelve arguments that they might not be as guilty as we are assuming for this discussion). It gives some hope for all of us, right?

You wrote:

"The LDS believe that prophets are infallible because they have stated so clearly."

Well, I know a lot of lay LDS believe this. But I have never heard it clearly stated. Even if it was, you would need to show me why I should take that General Conference statement as being of stronger force than accepted scripture. I also imagine you can find equal General Authority statements that prophets are NOT infallible.

As for the commonly stated proposition that "the Lord will never allow His anointed to lead the Church astray"... That's a nice sentiment, but how do we reconcile it with a passage in the Doctrine and Covenants that explicitly outlines the procedure for the remainder of the Quorum of the Twelve REMOVING a prophet from office?

Wish I could recall the exact chapter. I know the passage is there and have read it several times. But, our own scripture gives procedure for removing a prophet. That assumes there is a need to remove him, right?

Now, are General Conference talks "scripture?"

Personally, I'm not so sure. I tend to view most of those addresses as sort of "rabbinic commentary" on the scriptures. It is persuasive. It has the voice of authority. But I think it can only be binding insofar as it agrees with scripture. Most of the time when General Authorities in our Church speak, they do so without using "prophetic voice." I've even heard some clearly state that certain views are only their own opinion.

Do I pay attention to the talks? Yes. I take it very seriously. But in the end, I have to weigh it against what I know of the scriptures, and what the Lord has personally confirmed for me.

We have been repeatedly charged with the task of praying and studying for ourselves to gain a personal witness of the truth of EACH of the teachings in this Church. That is something we need to be doing and taking seriously. It is not appropriate for the membership of the LDS Church to simply agree to go along with whatever without actually struggling to gain their own witness of what is being offered.

There are several things in this Church I don't have a witness of, and more that I am unsure of. But there are a few core matters that I do have my own witness of. Those are enough to keep me around.

Mormon411 said...

Sorry for the delay in my reply. It was a busy day and my kids first day of school.

Very interesting comment. You are definitely not a typical Mormon. As you stated, and I agree, typical Mormons do believe that the prophet is infallable and that General Conference is literally modern day scripture.

The questions you're asking are questions that I should be asking! LOL. Precicely! If a prophet is infallable, why does the D&C outline the procedure for his removal? Great question. Maybe I'll write a blog about it.

Your last comment was especially interesting. There are many things about the church that you are unsure of. Please keep in mind that Hinckley said there is no middle ground. It's either all totally true OR is one of the biggest frauds in the world. Was he talking as a man or as a prophet? I guess no one really knows!

The next time you listen to General Conference, just try to notice how much of it is geared towards keeping members in. Lately it's all been about "staying strong" and "keeping your testimony" and "we just can't give in". Watch and you'll see.

Seth R. said...

There's a joke out there:

"The Catholic Pope is supposed to be infallible, but Catholics don't really believe that. While the Mormon Prophet is not infallible, but Mormons don't really believe that."

Mormon411 said...

I've never heard that, but it's a good one.