|The Mountain Meadow Massacre|
The LDS was invented in the early nineteenth century by convicted fraudster Joseph Smith and is based on a novel, written in a pastiche of the same seventeenth century English that the King James translation from Latin of the Christian Bible was written in. It is thought that Smith either believed God spoke this form of English and personally wrote the Bible in it, so naturally, any novel purporting to be written by God would be written in the language God spoke, or that, correctly as it turned out, the people he was aiming to con with it would believe God spoke and wrote like that, and were so more likely to believe his scam.
I have mentioned this particular faith-enabled massacre for money before in Religion Kills where I list many such massacres, but this adds the detail.
The event takes place some time after Joseph Smith had been shot by outraged citizens and had been replaced as autocratic leader of the LDS by serial polygamist and habitual adulterer, Brigham Young, who moved the faithful to Utah. This account is taken from Victor J. Stenger's excellent book, The New Atheism - Taking a Stand for Science and Reason and was itself based on a book by Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven.
So, the next time you see a grinning, open-handed Mormon with perfect teeth and hair looking to sign you up to his novel-based superstition, created for money by a convicted confidence trickster, in return for a tenth of your future earnings, bear in mind what his religion can be used for, just like any other religion which the unscrupulous use to control people for their own self-aggrandizement and power.
THE MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE
Brigham Young took over the leadership of the LDS and moved the faithful to the territory of Utah. He ruled with an iron hand and officially sanctioned polygamy in 1852. He reportedly had dozens of wives, sixteen of which gave birth to his fifty-seven children. Needless to say, he has many descendants, including pro-football hall-of-famer Steve Young. Although appointed governor of the territory, Brigham Young ruled a theocracy that ignored federal laws such as those against polygamy in the territories. His militia, the Nauvoo Legion, harassed federal agents working in Utah. When President James Buchanan installed a new governor for the territory, Young declared martial law and a federal army headed for Utah to wrest control of the territory from Young.
Krakauer tells the story of the Mountain Meadows massacre, which took place in Washington County at this time, in 1857. Unaware of the tense situation in Utah, an unusually large and wealthy wagon train from Arkansas with 140 individuals, nine hundred head of cattle, and a prize racehorse worth many hundreds of thousands of today's dollars crossed into Utah on its way to California. They were also rumored to be carrying a strongbox filled with thousands of dollars in coins. It was known as the Francher Party. They entered into desperate country. A plague of crickets and drought had put many Saints on the edge of starvation. Their religion taught that stealing from the godless was righteous, so the wagon train looked ripe for picking. Furthermore, an important Mormon apostle, Parley Pratt, had just been savagely killed in Arkansas, near where the Francher train originated, and the Mormons were seeking revenge.
As the wagon train entered Utah, Apostle George A. Smith, first cousin to Joseph and general in the Nauvoo Legion, held a powwow with hundreds of Paiute Indians about twenty miles from Mountain Meadows. He told the Indians that the Americans had a large army just to the east of the mountains and intended to kill all of the Mormons and Indians in the Utah territory. Smith urged the Indians to get ready for war against all of the Americans and to "obey what the Mormons told them to do-that this was the will of the Great Spirit."
The Indian agent and interpreter at the powwow, Mormon John D. Lee, said twenty years later that he always believed General Smith had been sent there to incite the Indians to exterminate the wagon train and "was sent from that purpose by the direct command of Brigham Young."
After a five-day battle with Indians and, it is believed, Mormon militiamen dressed as Indians, Lee approached the wagon train with a proposal that they give up their weapons in return for safe passage. Having little other choice, they agreed and the women and children were sent ahead. The men of the party were led away by militiamen and each one was shot or clubbed to death. The militiamen guarding the women and children, disguised as Indians, killed all but seventeen children under age five - too young to be able to witness against the Saints. These were taken in by Mormon families. All told, about fifty men, twenty women, and fifty children or adolescents were killed.
After a minimal burial in shallow graves that scavengers easily uncovered in days, the Saints gathered round and offered "thanks to God for delivering our enemies into our hands." After twenty years of cover-ups in which attempts were made to pin the blame on the Indians, John D. Lee, who had become the wealthiest man in southern Utah with several homes and eighteen wives, was eventually hunted down and placed on trial in Beaver, Utah. No other participant was ever brought to justice. In what Krakauer likens to the 0. J. Simpson verdict, the jury deadlocked and Lee was not convicted.
This caused a national outcry that led Brigham Young to cynically stop blaming the Indians and put the fall onus on Lee as a scapegoat. At a second trial in 1876, Young screened the jurors and Lee was found guilty of first-degree murder. Lee spent his last days awaiting execution writing his life story, Mormonism Unveiled, which posthumously became a national best seller. Lee was executed by firing squad on March 23, 1877.[My emphasis]
Victor J. Stenger. The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason
(Kindle Locations 1337-1361). Kindle Edition.