Ahead of ‘September Dawn,’ Mormons revisit a dark period

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At a time when the Mormon Church is drawing heightened public visibility because of Mitt Romney's presidential bid, the church is grappling more openly with one of its darkest chapters.

The "Utah War" has largely faded from American memory as the Mormon Church – and the public's acceptance of it – evolved. But one incident from that time stubbornly lingers and is now the subject of a fictionalized film that opens in theaters Friday.

On Sept. 11, 1857, Mormons aided by native American allies massacred about 120 unarmed men, women, and children bound for California by wagon train. The slaughter took place amid war hysteria: The US Army was marching toward Utah to confront Mormon leaders.

After covering up the Mountain Meadows massacre for years, the church is supporting an exhaustive Mormon research effort to leave no stone unturned. The findings, unflattering in spots, are being broadcast worldwide in the latest edition of the church's magazine.

"It's clear that at very important levels the church is opening itself in ways that it had not felt comfortable with [before]," says Sarah Barringer Gordon, a law professor and religion expert at University of Pennsylvania. "People [in Utah] really understand – perhaps as they hadn't until the last five, six years or so – that there's a need and a possibility for real investigation and acceptance of a painful past."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons

Posted August 26, 2007 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Abu Daoud wrote:


Recent article here about the similarites of Mormonism and Islam actually:
Islam and Mormonism

August 26, 6:54 pm | [comment link]
2. dpchalk+ wrote:

Besides “interesting,” it is also ironic in the extreme that one now-accepted cult (the mormons) are being covered by another now-accepted cult: viz the Christian Scientists.

August 26, 11:23 pm | [comment link]
3. Katherine wrote:

I do think there are similarities between the Islam and the Mormon experience, although there are differences also.  Islam’s “revelation” is once and for all time, unchangeable both as to faith and, according to the conservative imams, as to civil law.  Mormonism, on the other hand, has been highly malleable.  Whenever one of the early teachings proved difficult, the President would have another revelation and the teaching changed.  This is ongoing today.

I think the Mormon willingness to confront this ugly incident with honesty is good.

August 26, 11:50 pm | [comment link]
4. Abu Daoud wrote:

Thank you Katherine.  The similarities are in regards to the origins of the two religions.  Another very significant difference is that Mormons call themselves Christians, which is of course not something Muslims do.

August 27, 1:09 am | [comment link]
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