Friday, June 29, 2007

Mormon Miscellaneous: Oath of Vengeance

Mormon Miscellaneous

Date: Sunday, 1 July 2007

Subject: Oath of Vengeance. Several books recently published claim
that a primary cause of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, 11 September
1857, was a solemn commitment made by the Saints in the Temple
endowment. According to some ex-Mormons in the 19th century, Saints
were required to enter into an oath - the Oath of Vengeance - to
avenge the blood of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum by hostile acts
upon the Nation, including murder. Various forms of this alleged Oath
were published in a significant number of publications in the 19th
century, and was kept alive in 20th century publications. It was
claimed that this was a traitorous oath, and some Mormons were denied
citizenship because of these allegations.

A number of writers and historians have accepted as fact that such an
oath was included in the Temple ceremony from the Nauvoo period until
1927. A careful examination of the issue has turned up substantial
sources which persuasively argue that no such Oath was required of
anyone in the Temple ceremony. The best evidence demonstrates that,
through some dishonest twisting by some ex-Mormons and a reluctance by
LDS leaders to discuss the Temple ceremony, that a false tradition has
emerged and gained strength that endowment participants for some 80
years took this alleged Oath of Vengeance. This tradition has become
so strong that a number of historians have accepted and promoted the
existence of such an Oath without so much as footnote acknowledging
the existence of a significant body of contrary evidence.

I will be presenting some of this evidence which I collected 20 years
ago for a paper I presented in 1987. Because these allegations have
not been examined, I have decided to prepare this paper and submit it
for publication.

Time: 5:00 - 7:00 pm MST

Host: Van Hale

Radio Station: KTKK 630 AM, Salt Lake City

Live Internet Streaming Audio can be accessed at: or mms://

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

1 Million Missionaries Have Served Mormon Church

1 Million Missionaries Have Served Mormon Church

June 25th, 2007 @ 1:09pm
by Associated Press

PROVO, Utah - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it
now has had a million missionaries serve for the church.

Church officials said they don't know who the millionth missionary is,
but they say they're confident they reached that mark.

Missionaries typically serve two-year missions for the church and
serve around the world.

They're known for their clean-cut look, riding bicycles and going
door-to-door to try to convert people into Mormonism.

The church currently has 53,000 missionaries serving in nearly 350
missions throughout the world.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mountain Meadows Movie opening postponed

Movie on the Mountain Meadows Massacre Gets Mixed Reviews
June 21st, 2007 @ 11:13am

Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio

A movie about the Mountain Meadows Massacre is sending a big ripple of
emotion through descendants on both sides of the story. Some
descendants say it puts the story into the right perspective, while
others say it's grossly inaccurate.

The movie quotes Brigham Young as saying, "I am the voice of God, and
anyone who doesn't like it will be hewn down."

You ask people on either side of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and
they all say the same thing. The movie "September Dawn" puts the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a very bad light.

In the movie trailer, the announcer says, "The reputation of one of
this nation's mightiest religious figures has been preserved and
protected until now." However, some descendants of the massacre say
the LDS Church needs to be put in a bad light over what happened.

Burr Fancher is a descendant of Alexander Fancher who led the group
killed in the massacre. He says, "It put the saddle on the right horse
as far as I'm concerned on who planned and ordered the massacre."

Fancher says the LDS Church has never officially apologized for it,
and he feels the church should not be the stewards of the Mountain
Meadows Monument. Fancher says the movie showed how fanatical Mormons
were at the time. He says, "I don't think it had anything to do with
[the] current-day Mormon Church, it had something to do with the
church in 1857."

But, some members of the LDS Church say that's not good enough.
Dorothy Lee says she hopes people don't believe what they see. She
says, "I'm a convert to the church. If I would have seen this movie
[before converting], I would have run in the opposite direction as
hard as I can go."

Dorothy's husband is Leroy Lee, the great-grandson of John D. Lee, the
only man tried and executed for the massacre. He says the writer's
account of his great-grandfather's involvement is way off. He says,
"They showed John D. Lee turn and shoot Alexander Fancher."

Plus, he says the overall message of the movie is clear. Mormons are
bad people. He says he's been trying to bridge the gap between the two
sides, and "September Dawn" will ruin that. "It will do damage. The
descendants who are anti-Mormon will be happy to see that movie,"
Leroy said.

Historians say members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints will hate the upcoming movie. What is it about the movie that
has some church members so angry?

The movie was originally set to open tomorrow, but the studio moved it
back to August 24, which they expect to be a less competitive date.

Ken Sanders Rare Books Owner, Ken Sanders, has seen the film. He says
every member of the LDS Church in the movie is an evil person.

Sanders says, "The only Mormon who isn't depicted as evil is the
conflicted son of the bishop."

Sanders says in addition to the cold blooded portrayal of the Mountain
Meadows Massacre, there's a scene where a man slits his wife's throat
so she would atone for her sins. He says the movie is told from an
anti-Mormon point of view. "We're going to forever argue over whether
Brigham Young knew about the massacre."

Sanders says there's also a scene supposedly in an LDS temple where a
naked man is washed by women in their temple robes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ensign article (Sept 2007) on the Mountain Meadows Massacre

The Mountain Meadows Massacre

By Richard E. Turley Jr.
Managing Director, Family and Church History Department

Richard E. Turley Jr.,  "The Mountain Meadows Massacre,"  Ensign,  Sep 2007

This September marks the 150th anniversary of a terrible episode in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On September 11, 1857, some 50 to 60 local militiamen in southern Utah, aided by American Indian allies, massacred about 120 emigrants who were traveling by wagon to California. The horrific crime, which spared only 17 children age six and under, occurred in a highland valley called the Mountain Meadows, roughly 35 miles southwest of Cedar City. The victims, most of them from Arkansas, were on their way to California with dreams of a bright future.

For a century and a half the Mountain Meadows Massacre has shocked and distressed those who have learned of it. The tragedy has deeply grieved the victims' relatives, burdened the perpetrators' descendants and Church members generally with sorrow and feelings of collective guilt, unleashed criticism on the Church, and raised painful, difficult questions. How could this have happened? How could members of the Church have participated in such a crime?

Two facts make the case even more difficult to fathom. First, nothing that any of the emigrants purportedly did or said, even if all of it were true, came close to justifying their deaths. Second, the large majority of perpetrators led decent, nonviolent lives before and after the massacre.

As is true with any historical episode, comprehending the events of September 11, 1857, requires understanding the conditions of the time, only a brief summary of which can be shared in this article. For a more complete, documented account of the event, readers are referred to the forthcoming book Massacre at Mountain Meadows. 1

Historical Background

In 1857 an army of roughly 1,500 United States troops was marching toward Utah Territory, with more expected to follow. Over the preceding years, disagreements, miscommunication, prejudices, and political wrangling on both sides had created a growing divide between the territory and the federal government. In retrospect it is easy to see that both groups overreacted—the government sent an army to put down perceived treason in Utah, and the Saints believed the army was coming to oppress, drive, or even destroy them.

In 1858 this conflict—later called the Utah War—was resolved through a peace conference and negotiation. Because Utah's militiamen and the U.S. troops never engaged each other in pitched battle, the Utah War has been characterized as "bloodless." But the atrocity at Mountain Meadows made it far from bloodless.

As the troops were making their way west in the summer of 1857, so were thousands of overland emigrants. Some of these emigrants were Latter-day Saint converts en route to Utah, but most westbound emigrants were headed for California, many with large herds of cattle. The emigration season brought many wagon companies to Utah just as Latter-day Saints were preparing for what they believed would be a hostile military invasion. The Saints had been violently driven from Missouri and Illinois in the prior two decades, and they feared history might repeat itself.

Church President and territorial governor Brigham Young and his advisers formed policies based on that perception. They instructed the people to save their grain and prepare to cache it in the mountains in case they needed to flee there when the troops arrived. Not a kernel of grain was to be wasted or sold to merchants or passing emigrants. The people were also to save their ammunition and get their firearms in working order, and the territory's militiamen were put on alert to defend the territory against the approaching troops if necessary.

These orders and instructions were shared with leaders throughout the territory. Elder George A. Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles carried them to southern Utah. He, Brigham Young, and other leaders preached with fiery rhetoric against the enemy they perceived in the approaching army and sought the alliance of Indians in resisting the troops.

These wartime policies exacerbated tensions and conflict between California-bound emigrants and Latter-day Saint settlers as wagon trains passed through Utah's settlements. Emigrants became frustrated when they were unable to resupply in the territory as they had expected to do. They had a difficult time purchasing grain and ammunition, and their herds, some of which included hundreds of cattle, had to compete with local settlers' cattle for limited feed and water along the trail.

Some traditional Utah histories of what occurred at Mountain Meadows have accepted the claim that poisoning also contributed to conflict—that the Arkansas emigrants deliberately poisoned a spring and an ox carcass near the central Utah town of Fillmore, causing illness and death among local Indians. According to this story, the Indians became enraged and followed the emigrants to the Mountain Meadows, where they either committed the atrocities on their own or forced fearful Latter-day Saint settlers to join them in the attack. Historical research shows that these stories are not accurate.

While it is true that some of the emigrants' cattle were dying along the trail, including near Fillmore, the deaths appear to be the result of a disease that affected cattle herds on the 1850s overland trails. Humans contracted the disease from infected animals through cuts or sores or through eating the contaminated meat. Without this modern understanding, people suspected the problem was caused by poisoning.

Escalating Tensions

The plan to attack the emigrant company originated with local Church leaders in Cedar City, who had recently been alerted that U.S. troops might enter at any time through southern Utah's passes. Cedar City was the last place on the route to California for grinding grain and buying supplies, but here again the emigrants were stymied. Badly needed goods weren't available in the town store, and the miller charged a whole cow—an exorbitant price—to grind a few dozen bushels of grain. Weeks of frustration boiled over, and in the rising tension one emigrant man reportedly claimed he had a gun that killed Joseph Smith. Others threatened to join the incoming federal troops against the Saints. Alexander Fancher, captain of the emigrant train, rebuked these men on the spot.

The men's statements were most likely idle threats made in the heat of the moment, but in the charged environment of 1857, Cedar City's leaders took the men at their word. The town marshal tried to arrest some of the emigrants on charges of public intoxication and blasphemy but was forced to back down. The wagon company made its way out of town after only about an hour, but the agitated Cedar City leaders were not willing to let the matter go. Instead they planned to call out the local militia to pursue and arrest the offending men and probably fine them some cattle. Beef and grain were foods the Saints planned to survive on if they had to flee into the mountains when the troops arrived.

Cedar City mayor, militia major, and stake president Isaac Haight described the grievances against the emigrant men and requested permission to call out the militia in an express dispatch to the district militia commander, William Dame, who lived in nearby Parowan. Dame was also the stake president of Parowan. After convening a council to discuss the matter, Dame denied the request. "Do not notice their threats," his dispatch back to Cedar City said. "Words are but wind—they injure no one; but if they (the emigrants) commit acts of violence against citizens inform me by express, and such measures will be adopted as will insure tranquility." 2

Still intent on chastening the emigrants, Cedar City leaders then formulated a new plan. If they could not use the militia to arrest the offenders, they would persuade local Paiute Indians to give the Arkansas company "a brush," killing some or all of the men and stealing their cattle. 3

They planned the attack for a portion of the California trail that ran through a narrow stretch of the Santa Clara River canyon several miles south of the Mountain Meadows. These areas fell under the jurisdiction of Fort Harmony militia major John D. Lee, who was pulled into the planning. Lee was also a federally funded "Indian farmer" to local Paiutes. Lee and Haight had a long, late-night discussion about the emigrants in which Lee told Haight he believed the Paiutes would "kill all the party, women and children, as well as the men" if incited to attack. 4 Haight agreed, and the two planned to lay blame for the killing at the feet of the Indians.

The generally peaceful Paiutes were reluctant when first told of the plan. Although Paiutes occasionally picked off emigrants' stock for food, they did not have a tradition of large-scale attacks. But Cedar City's leaders promised them plunder and convinced them that the emigrants were aligned with "enemy" troops who would kill Indians along with Mormon settlers.

On Sunday, September 6, Haight presented the plan to a council of local leaders who held Church, civic, and military positions. The plan was met with stunned resistance by those hearing it for the first time, sparking heated debate. Finally, council members asked Haight if he had consulted with President Young about the matter. Saying he hadn't, Haight agreed to send an express rider to Salt Lake City with a letter explaining the situation and asking what should be done.

A Five-Day Siege

But the next day, shortly before Haight sent the letter to Brigham Young, Lee and the Indians made a premature attack on the emigrant camp at the Mountain Meadows, rather than at the planned location in the Santa Clara canyon. Several of the emigrants were killed, but the remainder fought off their attackers, forcing a retreat. The emigrants quickly pulled their wagons into a tight circle, holing up inside the defensive corral. Two other attacks followed over the next two days of a five-day siege.

After the initial attack, two Cedar City militiamen, thinking it necessary to contain the volatile situation, fired on two emigrant horsemen discovered a few miles outside the corral. They killed one of the riders, but the other escaped to the emigrant camp, bringing with him the news that his companion's killers were white men, not Indians.

The conspirators were now caught in their web of deception. Their attack on the emigrants had faltered. Their military commander would soon know they had blatantly disobeyed his orders. A less-than-forthcoming dispatch to Brigham Young was on its way to Salt Lake City. A witness of white involvement had now shared the news within the emigrant corral. If the surviving emigrants were freed and continued on to California, word would quickly spread that Mormons had been involved in the attack. An army was already approaching the territory, and if news of their role in the attack got out, the conspirators believed, it would result in retaliatory military action that would threaten their lives and the lives of their people. In addition, other California-bound emigrant trains were expected to arrive at Cedar City and then the Mountain Meadows any day.

Ignoring the Council's Decision

On September 9 Haight traveled to Parowan with Elias Morris, who was one of Haight's two militia captains as well as his counselor in the stake presidency. Again they sought Dame's permission to call out the militia, and again Dame held a Parowan council, which decided that men should be sent to help the beleaguered emigrants continue on their way in peace. Haight later lamented, "I would give a world if I had it, if we had abided by the deci[s]ion of the council." 5

Instead, when the meeting ended, Haight and his counselor got Dame alone, sharing with him information they had not shared with the council: the corralled emigrants probably knew that white men had been involved in the initial attacks. They also told Dame that most of the emigrants had already been killed in these attacks. This information caused Dame, now isolated from the tempering consensus of his council, to rethink his earlier decision. Tragically, he gave in, and when the conversation ended, Haight left feeling he had permission to use the militia.

On arriving at Cedar City, Haight immediately called out some two dozen militiamen, most of them officers, to join others already waiting near the emigrant corral at the Mountain Meadows. Those who had deplored vigilante violence against their own people in Missouri and Illinois were now about to follow virtually the same pattern of violence against others, but on a deadlier scale.

The Massacre

On Friday, September 11, Lee entered the emigrant wagon fort under a white flag and somehow convinced the besieged emigrants to accept desperate terms. He said the militia would safely escort them past the Indians and back to Cedar City, but they must leave their possessions behind and give up their weapons, signaling their peaceful intentions to the Indians. The suspicious emigrants debated what to do but in the end accepted the terms, seeing no better alternative. They had been pinned down for days with little water, the wounded in their midst were dying, and they did not have enough ammunition to fend off even one more attack.

As directed, the youngest children and wounded left the wagon corral first, driven in two wagons, followed by women and children on foot. The men and older boys filed out last, each escorted by an armed militiaman. The procession marched for a mile or so until, at a prearranged signal, each militiaman turned and shot the emigrant next to him, while Indians rushed from their hiding place to attack the terrified women and children. Militiamen with the two front-running wagons murdered the wounded. Despite plans to pin the massacre on the Paiutes—and persistent subsequent efforts to do so—Nephi Johnson later maintained that his fellow militiamen did most of the killing.

Communication—Too Late

President Young's express message of reply to Haight, dated September 10, arrived in Cedar City two days after the massacre. His letter reported recent news that no U.S. troops would be able to reach the territory before winter. "So you see that the Lord has answered our prayers and again averted the blow designed for our heads," he wrote.

"In regard to emigration trains passing through our settlements," Young continued, "we must not interfere with them untill they are first notified to keep away. You must not meddle with them. The Indians we expect will do as they please but you should try and preserve good feelings with them. There are no other trains going south that I know of[.] [I]f those who are there will leave let them go in peace. While we should be on the alert, on hand and always ready we should also possess ourselves in patience, preserving ourselves and property ever remembering that God rules." 6

When Haight read Young's words, he sobbed like a child and could manage only the words, "Too late, too late." 7


The 17 spared children, considered "too young to tell tales," were adopted by local families. 8 Government officials retrieved the children in 1859 and returned them to family members in Arkansas. The massacre snuffed out some 120 lives and immeasurably affected the lives of the surviving children and other relatives of the victims. A century and a half later, the massacre remains a deeply painful subject for their descendants and other relatives.

Although Brigham Young and other Church leaders in Salt Lake City learned of the massacre soon after it happened, their understanding of the extent of the settlers' involvement and the terrible details of the crime came incrementally over time. In 1859 they released from their callings stake president Isaac Haight and other prominent Church leaders in Cedar City who had a role in the massacre. In 1870 they excommunicated Isaac Haight and John D. Lee from the Church.

In 1874 a territorial grand jury indicted nine men for their role in the massacre. Most of them were eventually arrested, though only Lee was tried, convicted, and executed for the crime. Another indicted man turned state's evidence, and others spent many years running from the law. Other militiamen who carried out the massacre labored the rest of their lives under a horrible sense of guilt and recurring nightmares of what they had done and seen.

Families of the men who masterminded the crime suffered as neighbors ostracized them or claimed curses had fallen upon them. For decades, the Paiutes also suffered unjustly as others blamed them for the crime, calling them and their descendants "wagon burners," "savages," and "hostiles." The massacre became an indelible blot on the history of the region.

Today, some massacre victims' descendants and collateral relatives are Latter-day Saints. These individuals are in an uncommon position because they know how it feels to be both a Church member and a relative of a victim.

James Sanders is the great-great-grandson of Nancy Saphrona Huff, one of the children who survived the massacre. "I still feel pain, I still feel anger and sadness that the massacre happened," said Brother Sanders. "But I know that the people who did this will be accountable before the Lord, and that brings me peace." Brother Sanders, who serves as a family history consultant in the Snowflake Fifth Ward, Snowflake Arizona Stake, said that learning his ancestor had been killed in the massacre "didn't affect my faith because it's based on Jesus Christ, not on any person in the Church."

Sharon Chambers of the 18th Ward, Ensign Salt Lake City Utah Stake, is the great-granddaughter of child survivor Rebecca Dunlap. "The people who did this had lost their way. I don't know what was in their minds or in their hearts," she said. "I feel sorrow that this happened to my ancestors. I also feel sorrow that people have blamed the acts of some on an entire group, or on an entire religion."

The Mountain Meadows Massacre has continued to cause pain and controversy for 150 years. During the past two decades, descendants and other relatives of the emigrants and the perpetrators have at times worked together to memorialize the victims. These efforts have had the support of President Gordon B. Hinckley, officials of the state of Utah, and other institutions and individuals. Among the products of this cooperation have been the construction of two memorials at the massacre site and the placing of plaques commemorating the Arkansas emigrants. Descendant groups, Church leaders and members, and civic officials continue to work toward reconciliation and will participate in various memorial services this September at the Mountain Meadows.


1. The book, authored by Latter-day Saint historians Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley Jr., and Glen M. Leonard, will soon be published by Oxford University Press.

2. James H. Martineau, "The Mountain Meadow Catastrophy," July 23, 1907, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

3. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled: The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee (1877), 219.

4. Mormonism Unveiled, 220.

5. Andrew Jenson, notes of discussion with William Barton, Jan. 1892, Mountain Meadows file, Jenson Collection, Church Archives.

6. Brigham Young to Isaac C. Haight, Sept. 10, 1857, Letterpress Copybook 3:827–28, Brigham Young Office Files, Church Archives.

7. James H. Haslam, interview by S. A. Kenner, reported by Josiah Rogerson, Dec. 4, 1884, typescript, 11, in Josiah Rogerson, Transcripts and Notes of John D. Lee Trials, Church Archives.

8. John D. Lee, "Lee's Last Confession," San Francisco Daily Bulletin Supplement, Mar. 24, 1877.

Papers reveal Newton's religious side

Papers reveal Newton's religious side

By Matti Friedman, Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Three-century-old manuscripts by Isaac Newton calculating
the exact date of the apocalypse, detailing the precise dimensions of
the ancient temple in Jerusalem and interpreting passages of the Bible —
exhibited this week for the first time — lay bare the little-known
religious intensity of a man many consider history's greatest scientist.

Newton, who died 280 years ago, is known for laying much of the
groundwork for modern physics, astronomy, math and optics. But in a new
Jerusalem exhibit, he appears as a scholar of deep faith who also found
time to write on Jewish law — even penning a few phrases in careful
Hebrew letters — and combing the Old Testament's Book of Daniel for
clues about the world's end.

The documents, purchased by a Jewish scholar at a Sotheby's auction in
London in 1936, have been kept in safes at Israel's national library in
Jerusalem since 1969. Available for decades only to a small number of
scholars, they have never before been shown to the public.

In one manuscript from the early 1700s, Newton used the cryptic Book of
Daniel to calculate the date for the Apocalypse, reaching the conclusion
that the world would end no earlier than 2060.

"It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner," Newton
wrote. However, he added, "This I mention not to assert when the time of
the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful
men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so
bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions

In another document, Newton interpreted biblical prophecies to mean that
the Jews would return to the Holy Land before the world ends. The end of
days will see "the ruin of the wicked nations, the end of weeping and of
all troubles, the return of the Jews captivity and their setting up a
flourishing and everlasting Kingdom," he posited.

The exhibit also includes treatises on daily practice in the Jewish
temple in Jerusalem. In one document, Newton discussed the exact
dimensions of the temple — its plans mirrored the arrangement of the
cosmos, he believed — and sketched it. Another paper contains words in
Hebrew, including a sentence taken from the Jewish prayerbook.

Yemima Ben-Menahem, one of the exhibit's curators, said the papers show
Newton's conviction that important knowledge was hiding in ancient texts.

"He believed there was wisdom in the world that got lost. He thought it
was coded, and that by studying things like the dimensions of the
temple, he could decode it," she said.

The Newton papers, Ben-Menahem said, also complicate the idea that
science is diametrically opposed to religion. "These documents show a
scientist guided by religious fervor, by a desire to see God's actions
in the world," she said.

More prosaic documents on display show Newton keeping track of his
income and expenses while a scholar at Cambridge and later, as master of
the Royal Mint, negotiating with a group of miners from Devon and
Cornwall about the price of the tin they supplied to Queen Anne.

The archives of Hebrew University in Jerusalem include a 1940 letter
from Albert Einstein to Abraham Shalom Yahuda, the collector who
purchased the papers a year earlier.

Newton's religious writings, Einstein wrote, provide "a variety of
sketches and ongoing changes that give us a most interesting look into
the mental laboratory of this unique thinker."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Church refuses to turn over Mountain Meadows monument

Mormon church, foundation at odds over Mountain Meadows monument

11:11 a.m. June 18, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY – Descendants of the 120-member Arkansas immigrant party slaughtered in southern Utah by pioneer Mormon settlers say their plea for federal stewardship of the Mountain Meadows mass grave site has been rejected by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Phil Bolinger and Scott Fancher of the Arkansas-based Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation say they got the news June 6 in a telephone call from Elder Marlin Jensen, who oversees the church history department.

"He told us that President (Gordon B.) Hinckley had turned us down. He doesn't think it's in the best interests of the church to allow federal stewardship in the meadows," said Bolinger, the foundation president who is related to 30 of those killed. "That really bit me bad."

Jensen declined an interview, but confirmed through spokeswoman Kim Farah that the church will not pursue federal stewardship of the site. A similar request was also rejected in 1999.

Descendants want the site in the hands of a neutral third party because they believe the institutional church is complicit in the murders.

"It's not right for the people who had complicity to the killings to be the grave owner," said Bolinger, who discussed the issue with Jensen on April 25 in Salt Lake City.

"I asked him, 'How you do you think the Kennedy family would feel if the Lee Harvey Oswald family had control of the Kennedy tomb?'"

History hangs the Sept. 11, 1857, event on southern Utah Mormon leaders and a small band of Paiute Indians, leaving the culpability of then-church president Brigham Young up for debate. An upcoming book from church historians takes the same position.

Headed to California, the wagon train led by Capt. Alexander Fancher and John Baker arrived in the Utah territory at the same time the federal government was mounting pressure on the Mormon church for its practice of polygamy and disregard for federal oversight.

They camped first near Salt Lake City and then headed south to the meadow, a well-known stopover on the old Spanish Trail. The immigrants were attacked and spent a week engaged in gun skirmishes before local Mormon Elder John D. Lee rode in on horseback with a white flag to negotiate their rescue.

Persuaded to walk single-file and unarmed from the valley, the immigrants were shot at close range, stabbed or beaten to death. Their bodies were not buried.

Seventeen children were spared, all of them under age six – young enough, some said, not to remember or speak of what they saw. The youngsters were adopted by local families and later returned to their relatives in Arkansas.

Lee was tried, convicted and executed for the massacre 20 years later and is the only person ever held responsible.

Today, the Mountain Meadows monument site is a 2,500-acre parcel in a rolling scrub-pine and sagebrush valley about 35 miles northwest of St. George.

The land is a patchwork of public and private holdings, some of which was passed down through families from pioneer ancestors.

There are four known mass grave sites and two memorials – the rock pyramid known as the Carelton Cairn on the valley floor and a memorial wall on Dan Sill Hill, which overlooks the valley and is inscribed with the known names of victims from the 29 different families on the wagon train.

The monument is already on the National Park Service's Register of Historic Places, but the designation doesn't guarantee public access or public input before construction or other site changes, foundation attorney Scott Fancher said.

Foundation members believe a higher designation, such as national monument status, would better protect the interests of all and salve the wounds of many Fancher party descendants, said Bolinger, of Hindsville, Ark.

"Federal stewardship of this grave site ... that's all it would take to put this to bed," he said.

Federal oversight might also have prevented the Aug. 3, 1999, maintenance work on the cairn when a church crew accidentally unearthed the remains of at least 28 men, women and children. A forensic evaluation was begun, but cut short on an order from Utah's then-Gov. Mike Leavitt, a descendant of some who participated in the massacre.

At a dedication ceremony of the rebuilt cairn that September, Hinckley said the church carries a moral responsibility to remember the victims, but fell short of acknowledging church complicity to the crime.

Mormon church leaders are committed to appropriately preserving the Mountain Meadows site, Farah said.

"The church has owned the monument site at Mountain Meadows for many years. The property is open to the public and considerable time and resources are allocated to ensure that the property is well-maintained, open to the public and that those who perished there are appropriately remembered," she said.

Farah also confirmed what Washington County recorder's office records show – over the past few months, the church has increased its holdings in the meadow. Since March at least two families have deeded their property over to the church.

"The church intends to administer and maintain this property in like manner, thereby preserving it from either residential or commercial development," said Farah.

Bolinger said the foundation, one of three descendant groups, shared concerns that residential development in fast-growing Washington County would damage the site. But he's rankled by the church's acquisition of more land and says he'll continue to push for federal stewardship.

"It's the highest honor we could pay these people," Bolinger said.

BYU Studies resources for PBS's "The Mormons"

BYU Studies has provided links to the following articles or books dealing with issues raised in PBS's "The Mormons."


The First Vision and Early Church History

Dean C. Jesse, "The Earliest Documented Accounts of Joseph Smith's First Vision," in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844 (2005).

  James B. Allen and John W. Welch, "The Appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith in 1820," in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, 1820–1844 (2005). ]

Richard L. Bushman, "The Visionary World of Joseph Smith," BYU Studies 37, no. 1 (1997).

Gordon A. Madsen, "Joseph Smith's 1826 Trial: The Legal Setting," BYU Studies 30, no. 2 (1990).

John Gee, "An Obstacle to Deeper Understanding," review of D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998).

James B. Allen, review of Grant H. Palmer, An Insiders View of Mormon Origins, in BYU Studies 43, no. 2 (2004).

Evidence for the Book of Mormon

John W. Welch, "Joseph Smith and the Past," The Worlds of Joseph Smith: A Bicentennial Conference at the Library of Congress, edited by John W. Welch ( Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 2006).

Margaret Barker, "Joseph Smith and the Pre-exilic Israelite Religion," The Worlds of Joseph Smith: A Bicentennial Conference at the Library of Congress, edited by John W. Welch ( Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 2006).

John Clark, "Archaeological Trends and the Book of Mormon Origins," The Worlds of Joseph Smith: A Bicentennial Conference at the Library of Congress, edited by John W. Welch ( Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 2006).

John W. Welch, "Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon," BYU Studies 10.1 (1969): 69–84.

John W. Welch, "The Narrative of Zosimus and the Book of Mormon," BYU Studies 22.3 (1982): 311–332.

Boyd F. Edwards and W. Farrell Edwards, "Does Chiasmus Appear in the Book of Mormon by Chance?" BYU Studies 43.2 (2004): 103–130.

Hugh Nibley, review of Zigael Yadin's Bar-Kochba, BYU Studies 14.1 (1973): 115–126.

Brown, S. Kent. "'The Place That Was Called Nahom': New Light from Ancient Yemen." Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8.1 (1999): 66–68. Maxwell Institute website

Aston, Warren P. "Newly Found Altars from Nahom." Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10.2 (2001): 56–61. Maxwell Institute website

2007 MHA Awards

  • Best Book -- "An Advocate for Women: The Public Life of Emmeline B. Wells, 1870-1920," by Carol Cornwall Madsen, published by BYU Press
  • Best First Book -- "God Has Made Us a Kingdom: James Strang and the Midwest Mormons," by Vickie Cleverley Speek, published by Signature Books
  • Best Biography -- "A Rascal by Nature, a Christian by Yearning: A Mormon Autobiography," by Levi S. Peterson, published by the University of Utah Press
  • Best documentary — dual awards to: "The Diaries of Charles Ora Card: The Utah Years 1871-1886," edited by Donald Godfrey and Kenneth Godfrey for BYU Religious Studies; and "On the Way to Somewhere Else: European Sojourners in the Mountain West, 1834-1930," by Michael Homer for Arthur H. Clark and Co.
  • Best International Mormon History Publication — "Taking the Gospel to the Japanese, 1901-2001," edited by Reid L. Neilson and Van C. Gessel, BYU Press.
  • Best Family/Community History — "Building the Kingdom in Samoa, 1888-2005: History, Personal Narratives, and Images Portraying Latter-day Saints' Experiences in the Samoan Islands," edited by R. Carl Harris, Peczuh Printing
  • Best Article — "Without Purse or Script in Scotland," by Polly Aird in "Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought" (Summer 2006).
  • Awards of Excellence — "Mormonism in Montana," by Brian Q. Cannon in "Montana: The Magazine of Western History" (Spring 2006) and "Mormonism and Guerrillas in Bolivia," by David C. Knowlton, Journal of Mormon History (Fall 2006).
  • Best Undergraduate Paper — "Daniel W. Jones and the Beginnings of Latter-day Saint Settlement in Arizona," by Christopher C. Jones, BYU.
  • Best Graduate Paper — "Raising the Dead: Mormons, Evangelicals and Miracles in America," by Matthew Bowman, Georgetown University.
  • Special Citations — James L. Kimball (retired) and Ronald G. Watt of the LDS Church Archives.
  • The Leonard Arrington Award went to Davis Bitton
  • The Thomas L. Kane Award went to Robert Goldberg of the University of Utah.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Glamour Magazine on FLDS Polygamy

Escape from polygamy
By Kathy Jo Nicholson with Jan Brown

I started sewing my wedding dress when I was 14 years old. Most girls
would never think of marriage at such a young age, but some of my
peers were already wives and mothers. I knew it wouldn't be long
before I was married off, just like my mother had been, to a man who
would eventually have three or more wives.

I was one of 13 children raised by our father and three mothers in a
fundamentalist Mormon community in Utah. The Fundamentalist Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) is not associated with
regular Mormonism (LDS). FLDS followers practice the "Principle" of
polygamy, which is now banned by the mainstream Latter Day Saints. The
idea behind polygamy in the FLDS is that a man must have at least
three wives in order to go to heaven. Young girls are "placed" with
husbands by the church leader, or Prophet. These spiritual marriages
are not legally binding, but in the eyes of FLDS members, they are
sacred. If a woman serves her husband faithfully, he may invite her to
join him in the celestial kingdom of heaven. But should a woman
disobey the Prophet and refuse a life of polygamy, she will be damned
to eternal hell.

My mother is the second of my father's three wives. On the surface it
appeared that everyone got along, but there were always underlying
tensions. I sometimes get a kick out of watching Big Love on TV
because the rivalrous wives remind me of my mothers. (The Big Love
characters' racy sex lives, however, do not ring true; in the FLDS,
sex between a husband and wife is meant to be strictly procreative.)
The first wife in a polygamist family is traditionally the husband's
closest friend and confidante, but sometimes her preferred standing is
usurped by the wife or wives who can still bear children. This is how
it was in my family. Take my father's first wife, "Aunt" Barbara (we
were taught to refer to our non-birth moms as aunts, so that outsiders
wouldn't suspect our family practiced polygamy): Aunt Barbara was
hard-working and efficient. You could count on her to bandage your
skinned knee or quiet the tears of a screaming infant. But my mother
was younger and prettier. She would dance on top of the picnic table
or pretend you were a princess waiting for Prince Charming. She made
my father feel vibrant and alive, and I could tell that he gave her
special treatment for many years—until he took a third wife. In the
polygamous ceremony, the most recently wed wife places the hand of the
new wife into her husband's hand. It was painful for my mom to give
way to a younger wife. She rarely laughed after that.

Of my 12 brothers and sisters, four are full siblings. They were my
best friends, my companions and my world. We fought like regular
children, but we bonded together as outcasts in our town, enduring the
taunts and stares of other kids who made fun of our strange Little
House on the Prairie clothing and funny braided hairstyles. I still
recall the pain of hearing them yell "Polyg! Polyg!" (slang for anyone
who came from a polygamous family) as I walked down the street, but
having my siblings with me made it easier to bear. I have fond
memories of cuddling together with my sisters and whispering late into
the night.

<the story continues here>:

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Shallow grave yields details of Mormon-Goshute massacre in Nephi

Shallow grave yields details of Mormon-Goshute massacre in Nephi

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The remains of seven American Indians unearthed
by a home builder show several were shot point-blank in the head by
Mormon settlers seeking revenge during a period of pitched violence in
1853, says scientists who plan to release their findings on Friday.

The bones were discovered by contractors digging in Nephi, about 70
miles south of Salt Lake City, last summer for a house that now stands
over the site.

The victims, all males about 13 to 35 years old, are believed to have
been Goshute Indians who were unwitting casualties of the Walker War,
a nearly yearlong clash between Mormons and other Indian tribes under
the leadership of Ute Chief Walkara.

"These Indians just happened to be in the wrong place," said Ron Rood,
an assistant state archaeologist who retrieved the bones, scraps of
clothing, copper ornaments and a lead bullet from inside a skull.

By one account, the Oct. 2, 1853, killings were in retaliation for the
ambush a day before of four Manti, Utah, farmers hauling wheat to Salt
Lake City by oxen. That attacked occurred at Fountain Green, about
halfway between Manti and Nephi.

Manti is about 30 miles southeast of Nephi, a gateway to the Wasatch Front.

The massacre occurred during a summer and fall of bloody conflict
between Mormon settlers fanning out from the Salt Lake valley and
raiding tribes.

"There were a whole series of tit-for-tat killings," he said.

Rood said his findings refute an account by a Mormon militia regiment
that the Indians approached Nephi refusing to drop their weapons and
attacked first, hitting a settler with an arrow.

"A discovery like this allows the victims to tell their story," Utah
state archaeologist Kevin Jones said.

Four of the victims were shot in the head. All of the victims showed
defensive wounds. The hands of one Indian were tied behind his back.
Several showed evidence of blunt-force trauma.

Their bodies were heaped into a shallow grave about 3 feet wide, Rood said.

The grave was covered by a cedar plank and several feet of sediment
from flash floods over the years. By last August it yielded to heavy
equipment digging a hole for a foundation.

Contractors stopped the excavation to call police and a medical examiner.

The event had been recorded in historical accounts as involving Isaac
Morley, a leader of 225 settlers sent to Nephi by Brigham Young, the
second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"We have the personal journals of two women who witnessed this event
and described it as a heinous act of murder," said Rood.

"This is a great example of archaeology and history coming together."

Rood teamed up with Derinna Kopp, a forensic anthropologist at the
University of Utah.

Their investigation will be the topic of a lecture Friday night at a
conference of the Utah Statewide Archaeological Society at Utah Valley
State College in Orem.

Springville, Utah, historian D. Robert Carter plans to set the stage
for Rood with an overview of settler and Indian conflict in Utah

Friday's lecture is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the McKay Events Center at UVSC.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Church News covers Mountain Meadows

As was announced at the Mormon History Association, the Church News will begin writing articles dealing with controversial aspects of the church. This week, it covered the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  I'm not aware that the church has admitted it's involvement in the massacre.  If so, it has been rare and sparse.  However this article is honest, frank and to the point.

The Church News is only partially available online (  Here is an excerpt as quoted at

On Memorial Day weekend, some 85 Mormon history enthusiasts paused at the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre to remember what may be the most troubling event in the Church's turbulent 19th century past — troubling because it involved Church members not as victims but as perpetrators of atrocities that claimed the lives of at least 120 men, women and children….

This is the sesquicentennial year of the massacre, which occurred Sept. 11, 1857.

On that day in 1999, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated a monument at the Mountain Meadows grave site….An informational marker…gives a brief account of the event:

"Led by Captains John T. Baker and Alexander Fancher, a California-bound wagon train from Arkansas camped in this valley in the late summer of 1857 during the time of the so-called Utah War. In the early morning hours of September 7th, a party of local Mormon settlers and Indians attacked and laid siege to the encampment…. A contingent of territorial militia joined the attackers. This Iron County Militia consisted of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) acting on orders from their local religious leaders and military commanders headquartered thirty-five miles to the north in Cedar City…."

In the initial attack [on the Arkansas emigrants], Isaac Haight, a stake president and militia leader in Cedar City, endeavored to incite Paiute Indians to attack the emigrant train because he had been denied permission by militia commander William Dame to use white men. The plan faltered, Brother Turley said, "in part because this was not the Paiutes' fight. They're promised some horses and guns, but they quickly withdraw."

The intent from the start was to blame the attack on the Indians, "but it was quickly determined that it was impossible to have it happen that way," he said, "so they brought in white men to finish up the job."

"After the initial attack, the emigrants pulled their wagons into a tight circle," he said.

The defensive action made them fairly invincible, Brother Turley explained, and they were able to drive off attackers. Running low on ammunition and being cut off from access to water, he said, "may have been a factor in their decision to accept what, in many ways, was a very bizarre set of terms for leaving the emigrant encampment."

Four days later, militia men marched down to about a half-mile from the encampment and were standing in a line, he said. John D. Lee (the only man ever tried and executed for his role in the massacre) went into the camp under a white flag to negotiate the terms under which the emigrants would be allowed to leave.

"He said, in effect: 'I've come to save you. You've been under attack by Indians. We've negotiated with them. They're angry at you, especially your men who've fired back at them and brought casualties to them. They're not angry at the women and children.'"

The terms were that the emigrants, supposedly to avoid a sign of aggression to the Indians, would put all their weapons in militia wagons, then load in wounded and younger children, and the militia would drive the wagons out first at the head of the line. Next, the women and older children would follow. Finally, the men would emerge, and each unarmed emigrant man, supposedly for protection, would line up next to an armed militia man.

"Those terms were not agreed to easily," Brother Turley noted. "The emigrants were suspicious. They already thought there was white participation. But if you look at it from their perspective and ask, 'What choices did they have?' you can see why they ultimately capitulated to the terms."

They proceeded north toward Jacob Hamblin's ranch house. When the women were on the east side of present-day Highway 18 and the men on the west, John Higbee gave the order "Halt!" At that pre-arranged signal, each militia man turned to the emigrant man on his left and shot him at close range, Brother Turley said.

It was anticipated that some of the captors might run, so horsemen were situated whose role was to herd the escaping emigrants so they could be butchered, he said.

He added that white men did most of the killing and that later, the numbers of Indians involved was exaggerated. "Phillip Klingensmith said that after he fired his piece at a man, a woman came running toward the men, and one of the men near him shot and killed the woman."

Once the firing began, he said, people started running, and they were being chased down and attacked. "Just a horrendous atrocity," he exclaimed….

Speaking the previous evening on the campus of Southern Utah University, where the tour members had gathered for dinner, Brother Turley's fellow author, Brother Walker, read portions from the upcoming book.

He thus laid out a scenario in which the Cedar City residents were caught up in a militant spirit fueled by memory of relatively recent wrongs against the Latter-day Saints while they were in Missouri and Illinois and by fear of the rumored approach of federal army troops toward the territory.

Other news came of an advancing emigrant train. "After the massacre, the participants and their neighbors, trying to explain what had happened, told stories of what they had heard about the Fancher train before its arrival," Brother Walker read. "They said the company included some of the saints' former persecutors from Missouri and Illinois, who abused Mormon settlers and the Indians along the trail, and intentionally poisoned an ox in some springs at Corn Creek."

The charges are difficult to sustain because of a scarcity of surviving contemporaneous records, Brother Walker noted….

"To sum up what happened," Brother Walker said, "emigrants come through Cedar City. There are confrontations. The local authorities hope to retaliate, to strike back at the emigrants. They are refused that option by military authorities in Parowan. And then they resort to a plan to use the Native Americans to effect a 'brush' upon the emigrants."

Events escalated from there.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bushman Interview: Mormonism and Democratic Politics: Are They Compatible?

Mormonism and Democratic Politics: Are They Compatible?

Monday, May 14, 2007
Key West, Florida

Some of the nation's leading journalists gathered in Key West, Fla., in May 2007 for the Pew Forum's biannual Faith Angle Conference on religion, politics and public life.

Richard Bushman, an emeritus professor at Columbia University and author of several books about Mormon history, discussed the relationship between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and American politics over the past two centuries. He addressed Mormonism's shift from 19th-century radicalism to 20th-century conservatism and the significance of this religious heritage for presidential candidate Mitt Romney. A lively question-and-answer session with journalists followed his presentation.

Other Forum resources on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints include an interview with two general authorities of the church and an analysis of public opinion on presidential politics and the Mormon faith.

Richard Bushman, Governeur Morris Professor of History emeritus, Columbia University

Michael Cromartie, Vice President, Ethics & Public Policy Center; Senior Advisor, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Read the interview here:

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Dialogue Summer 2007

Volume 40 No. 2 / Summer 2007
Levi S. Peterson, editor

The Theology of Desire, Part II
by Cetti Cherniak, pg. 1

Making the Absent Visible: The Real, Ideal, and the Abstract in Mormon Art
by Barry Laga, pg. 47

Follow Me, Boys
Fiction by Kristin Carson, pg. 133

Safe Haven for a Time
A review of Thomas Cottam Romney's The Mormon Colonies in Mexico
by Paul H. Wright, pg. 182

Blake Ostler on Mitt Romney & the Church

Blake Ostler, a Mormon philosopher and apologist is interviewed
regarding the church and it's position on several topics, as well as
Mitt Romney's candidacy. Click "Play Show" on this link to hear the

A summary of his interview follows.

Mormon Beliefs and the Candidacy of Mitt Romney
Blake Ostler, a Mormon, a lawyer, and author of a four-volume series,
Exploring Mormon Thought

The presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney has raised questions,
largely from evangelicals, about a Mormon for President. So this
interview explores Mormon beliefs on a variety of issues. Is there
anything to fear? Or are these questions simply the latest form of
religious bigotry?

On the most controversial of issues, polygamy, Ostler makes clear that
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the official name of
the Mormons) no longer sanctions polygamy, or plural marriage. Those
who practice it are excommunicated.

The official position of the LDS Church does not approve of gay
marriage, but finds nothing objectionable in a homosexual orientation
per se. When it comes to abortion, official teaching allows it in
some circumstances, believing that a decision is best left to the
woman in prayer consultation with her local bishop (the Mormon
equivalent of a pastor). This teaching notwithstanding, Mormons, by
and large, do not favor legal abortion.

Perhaps most central to the discussion at hand, the official policy of
the LDS Church says that office holders are not bound by the policies
of the church. When it comes to policy formation or legislation, they
are free to follow their consciences.

When it comes to gender equality, Ostler says the church believes
women are equal to men, but they fill different roles. Women may not
receive the Mormon priesthood.

Mormons believe in both separation of church and state and religious
freedom. The idea of Mormons seeking a "theocracy" is, according to
Ostler, "preposterous."

Ostler affirms that Mormons consider themselves Christian, and that
they accept the divinity of Christ in the context of the traditional
Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

He then discusses many of the unique aspects of Mormon theology: the
prophecy of Joseph Smith, the revelation of Christ to natives of North
America, the place of the Book of Mormon, baptism of the dead, human
deification and their belief that the New Jerusalem will be in North

However, he notes that these beliefs – however strange some of them
might seem to those outside the Mormon faith – are not relevant to the
aspirations of a political candidate. He notes that all religions
have beliefs that sound to those outside the fold – quite strange. As
an example, he says that the Christian belief that someone can be
buried in a tomb for three days and rise again is stranger than any
teaching that is particular to Mormonism. (N.B. Mormons also believe
in the resurrection of Jesus).

Ostler concludes by noting that the current public questioning of Mitt
Romney's Mormonism by some evangelicals is alienating many Mormons,
and if it continues, it may lead to a severing of alliances on the
Christian Right.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Latest Church Ad Campaign

The Latest Mormon Ad Campaign

The Mormons have long been actively advertising themselves on television. Their most recent campaign is kind of interesting. Conspicuously absent from the recent ads is any mention of the Book of Mormon. Instead it's all about Bible. And not just the Bible, the King James Bible.

Mitt Romney is a Mormon running for president. His natural base would be the Christian Right, but it will be something of a tough sell because to evangelicals, the Mormon church is not Christian but some other religion, possibly even a cult. Many in that movement will be reluctant, to say least, to support someone outside of mainstream Protestant Christianity.

This is what makes the ad campaign interesting. By downplaying the Book of Mormon and emphasizing the Bible, the Mormons are playing up common religious ground with the evangelicals. The choice of the King James Version furthers this. While most evangelicals don't care too much which translation of the Bible you use (so long as it's a respected one), there are still some hardliners out there who view the KJV as the one true English Bible, all others being perversions. So the thrust of the ads is seemingly to make the Mormons as a church more palatable to Christian conservatives. And if the church as a whole is more palatable, so will a member of that church running for president.

Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies

Book of Mormon Studies Center Joins Religious Education

By Kami Dalton - 31 May 2007


BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick
Laura F. Willes will lend her name to a new center for Book of Mormon studies at BYU.

BYU's Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship has received an addition to its organization.

President Cecil O. Samuelson announced the formation of the new Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies in April. The center began running immediately, according to Andrew C. Skinner, executive director of the Maxwell Institute.

Kent Brown, professor of ancient scripture, said the new center adds to similar research the Institute has been doing for years through its Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies.

"The Willes Center becomes a companion to FARMS," Brown said. "The goals are largely the same, or at least very similar."

Mark Willes, the former CEO of Times-Mirror, became interested in founding a center to help support Book of Mormon research after being called as a mission president. According to a press release, when he was called, President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled him to "just read the Book of Mormon."

According to a press release, Willes named it for his wife because she had "taught our children and our grandchildren and our missionaries to love the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon."

President Samuelson's announcement came at a luncheon attended by Mark and Laura Willes, and by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

According to a press release, Elder Oaks said "It's a remarkable combination to have the resources, the inspiration of what to do with them and the faith to do it, and that's the story of Mark and Laura Willes in bringing this Willes Center to Brigham Young University."

Sunday Talk Show: Will Bagley, M. M. Massacre, Utah War etc.

This ought to be particularly interesting now that a draft of the
church's "Tragedy at Mountain Meadows" book has been circulated and
reviewed by some historians. The church's book counters Bagley's
thesis that circumstantial evidence indicates that Brigham Young
ordered the massacre. It will be interesting to hear Bagley's
Mormon Miscellaneous
World-Wide Talk Show

Date: Sunday, 3 June 2007

Subject: My guest will be Will Bagley, independent historian and
columnist. His book, Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the
Massacre at Mountain Meadows, covers a period of Mormon history,
1856-1858, laden with controversy: the Reformation, blood atonement,
Utah War, murder of Parley Pratt, the Mountain Meadows Massacre and
the trials and execution of John D. Lee (1874-1877). Historians and
students are divided on some of the main issues and events of this era
and many of the lesser ones. His book adds to the controversy. This
promises to be a lively discussion. Listeners are inivited to
participate. Those who would like to pose a question to Will Bagley
may send me an email NOW, or during the talk show, at:

Time: 5:00 - 7:00 pm MST

Host: Van Hale

Radio Station: KTKK 630 AM, Salt Lake City

Live Internet Streaming Audio can be accessed at: or mms://

Salt Lake Call-in Number: 254-5855.

Outside of Salt Lake Number: 801-470-5855.

Internet Participation: Questions and response via email during the
program are welcomed at