John Chivington was the swashbuckling Methodist minister who’s militant Christianizing and Abolitionist sermonizing got him driven out of the Kansas/Missouri conflicts of the mid 1800’s. “Bleeding Kansas,” it was called. His ecclesiastical overseers moved him to Nebraska territory for his own safety. When the Civil War broke out, in November of 1862 he turned down a US Army chaplain’s rank and took an officer’s commission. A “fighting” commission, rather than a “praying” commission, as he phrased it. He adopted the high, central Rockies and helped rush Colorado into statehood by first driving whole contingents of Rebel forces out of the region, and upon this epic foundation of fame and glory, Chivington next promoted himself into position as the primary agent of exterminating as much of the Cheyenne Nation as he could manage, men, women, and children. His crowning achievement was effected in November of 1864 and is today known shamefully as the “Massacre of Sand Creek.”
The Cheyenne, like many Native Americans, called themselves the “Human Beings.” Chivington didn’t think so.
Christian America is not short of God-blessed atrocities in the name of progress and Christian civilization. This is so obvious in retrospect, one would think the Christian apologist wouldn’t even bring up the Mormon question for fear of not only getting plastered with a deluge of historically undeniable persecutions they heaped upon the Mormons, but worse yet, of opening that black, fuming kettle of Born-Again butchery they inflicted upon the Native Americans in the same Christian, Holy Expansionist zeitgeist. Still, ever since the frontier heydays of Calvin’s little American holocaust, Christian historical revisionists have vainly sought to pull at least a single Mormon-on-Christian atrocity out of their magic, apologetic hats to “prove” the Mormons were up to something all along, and thus justify all their Christian paranoia and anti-Mormon violence.
The turd-polishing Christian-Nation shine-up specialists have always resorted to excusing their treatment of the Indians in America’s western expansion by countering with examples of Native American actions of equivalent revulsion. It’s the, they’re savages anyway–so tough-titty if they got treated like savages, defense. These Native incidents of course, were usually reciprocal, and very often in-kind responses to Christian initial aggression. But chronology is irrelevant when God is on your side and all the witnesses are either dead, can’t speak your language, can’t make their case in the public media, and have been banished to the an obscure wilderness where nobody will hear their complaints anyway.
And the truth is, particularly in the same Bible-Belt regions that still hate and abuse Mormons, the good Christians don’t treat Native Americans much better than they did when those territories and states were first opened. Tribes and reservations that ended up with casinos, fishing rights, oil, or otherwise fought themselves into industry that was self-sustaining or even massively profitable, are the objects of white Christian derision. America in large number, cries out in a country-wide chorus of pissing and moaning, as today’s good Christian citizens try to blow these tribes and their enterprises off at the knees, appropriate the client base of their gambling trade, pilfer their fish and game, steal their natural resources, cripple, and pick them to death until the good white Christians connive even that little bit of sovereignty away from them.
History is always written, and then revised, by the victors. In the case of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and the several Mormon Wars, the ultimate victors would be what even the devout Christian mainstream now calls the "Religious Right." These modern pretenders to Christian virtue use the aberrant and perplexing Mormon action at Mountain Meadows as undisputable proof of Mormonism’s “true” Satanic intent. This intent they claim, is simply to kill all the Christians and take all of their stuff.
The thing is, Christians believe everyone is trying to kill them off and take all their stuff. Christians believe all the stuff is theirs by Divine Right in the first place.
The 1857 Massacre at Mountain Meadows, as I will eventually elucidate in my own winding and convoluted fashion, is indeed the one act of uncalled-for and inexplicably motivated anti-Christian violence with which the Mormons have encumbered their otherwise admirable history of restraint. While it is undeniably a Mormon action against Christians, the exact reason or reasons for the Mormon-led eradication of some 120 Christian pioneers from Arkansas, and their rough, rednecked Missouri trail crew, as they passed through the remote, southern Utah Mormon settlements, it is far from clear. Was this action taken because they were Christians, or was it because they were a trainload of mouthy, pompous a-holes who had it coming? Did the Mormons simply side with their pissed-off friends, the local Native Americans, who had already taken the latter opinion? A harsh couple of questions those, and crudely put, yet, Christian America’s only widely embraced defense of generations of Mormon persecution honestly comes to the contention that Mormons are all mouthy, pompous a-holes and they had it coming. So in the case of Mountain Meadows, it is fair to ask, was this ultimately a case of “turn-about is fair play?”
What is clear however, is that neither Brigham Young as church president, nor any of the local Mormon authorities involved in the slaughter at Mountain Meadows, gleefully ran out and surrounded a Christian wagon train and shot them down as part of any program at any level in the LDS church to kill off all the Christians and take all their stuff. Mormons did not want their lives, their goods, their national sovereignty, they did not seek to destroy their Christian religion or any of the other related fables that anti-Mormonists have invented and fantasized into the narrative over the many generations that Christians have engaged in the anti-Mormonist hobby. The very clear and open position of Brigham Young and his followers was that they just wanted everyone else to piss off and leave them alone in their own state, to be loyal American citizens. That’s all. And still, for the anti-Mormonist’s paranoid abuse of Mormons through the years to be justifiable, Mormonism simply has to have a sinister underbelly. To this end, logic and facts aside, Mountain Meadows will forever be the only bit of unfabricated, empirical evidence “proving” the anti-Mormonist’s multi-generational claims of Mormon treachery, disloyalty, and lawlessness.
While the tragedy of Mountain Meadows cannot be denied, this complicated, bizarre, multi-party sequence of events, is proposed by the anti-Mormonists, to justify the entire 37 years of Christian oppression, rape, murder, torture and mayhem heaped upon the Mormons previous to this alleged strike back at their Christian tormentors. Mormons were indeed one of the several parties in conflict at Mountain Meadows. They clearly came out on top of the contest. Their tactics were underhanded and their motivation is suspect. But as in most issues that Christian antagonists raise against Mormonism, it’s not as clear as all that.
One of the most telling evidences of the less-than treasonous nature of the LDS church and its leadership in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, is the fact that Brigham Young was investigated and pardoned of all involvement less than a year afterward, while a new Christian governor had just been installed and arrived with an army intent upon destroying Mormonism. The new governor failed to see the panic and called the extermination project off. Nobody in Utah on-site or in Washington ever took any great interest in making a church-breaking case out of Mountain Meadows. It was investigated twice, two trials were held because the first ended in a hung jury. Ultimately, one local Mormon leader was determined to be the ringleader, he faced a firing squad, and that was that. Certainly, it remains a very personal tragedy for the descendants of the massacre. Advocates of the injured parties will perpetually claim that Brigham Young personally ordered the bushwhacking of an innocent wagon train of Christian pioneers. His motivation they ostensibly claim, is just that he’s an evil bastard. They will insist that John D Lee, the local Mormon bishop who was punished for the crime was a only a patsy and a scapegoat. But, with all due respect to those career anti-Mormonists who are still milking it today, the truly weird events at Mountain Meadows really did not, and does not say much about either the LDS church, its doctrines, or its patriotism.
Understanding the psychology of Mountain Meadows, attempting to analyze the motivations of Mormonism’s bad players in the debacle, will have to wait however. One has to fully grasp the early, frontier, American “Christian” phenomenon a little better first. To discover what motivated Mormonism’s counter-moves in the Christian war against them, you have to first peel back the well-crafted veneer overlaid upon the several histories anti-Mormonists have long promulgated, until you can first see how the Christian manufacturers of today’s American cultural identity have consistently varnished the facts to cover their own legacy of ugliness in any given event or conflict with them, be that with Mormonism, Native Americans, or any other party or sub-faction of their own body. You have to honestly, really get to know the allegedly peaceful, innocent, “God-fearing, patriotic Americans,” that period Mormons were dealing with in these highly sanitized Christian re-tellings of their dealings with “savages,” “traitors,” and “heretics” in the American West:
You need to think John Chivington, Butcher of Sand Creek, not Billy Graham or Mother Teresa.
Today we think of raving, fiery, fundamentalists as a crazy minority, but they were the mainstream Christians of the early Mormon periods. They brought their fanaticism to Joseph Smith in Upstate New York as a child. He rejected and offended them there, and they have ever since followed his movement all the way across the country, out to Utah Territory and beyond, dogging and harassing his work and his people. When early Mormonism sent missionaries to the Pacific Islands, its Christian tormentors stalked them from Island to island in canoes, warning off the natives, putting them in fear of hell and damnation–never mind if as a result it put the lives of Mormon missionaries at risk.
The same pious, oppressively sour Christian fundamentalists who first made Holy War on Mormonism, crammed the Temperance Movement down America’s throat, shoved it all the way into Lady Liberty’s gullet, and for 13 hellish years America choked for a drink while cranky crones from the Anti-Saloon League and other Temperance NAZI’s and dry boosters, ran enough of America’s political structure to maintain a boot at the nation’s throat to spare it from the refreshment of fermented fruits and grains.
The difference between prohibition and Mormonism, is that nearly everybody in the country wanted a drink, even if their wives or ministers, political or social circles compelled them to support condemning alcohol. Yes, America admitted, liquor has its down side, but still, the nation wondered in the end, why penalize the 90% of the population who were perfectly respectable moderate drinkers because the other 10% had some, usually slight, level of difficulty dealing with alcohol?
Most of early Mormon-era America suspected Mormonism had a theoretical down-side even if it didn’t personally affect them. But they had no motivation to do anything about it. Unlike alcohol however, Americans in general had no inherent, burning desire to be a Mormon. Mormonism had few bold advocates outside of its own. And when outside advocates became Mormons, they were then just numbered as Mormons and their broader social and political influence usually vanished in a puff of bigotry. The average American had no dog in the fight and was thus oblivious to the issue or went along to get along with prevailing anti-Mormon activists.
In the fight for alcohol, eventually the wet voters threw off their Temperance persecutors and the dry political factions came to be seen as a load of bitter, dower old bats who primarily resented their husbands having a local tavern in which to escape from them. The scales lifted from America’s eyes and the Temperance Movement was clearly seen to be nothing more than the overly-pious, Church-Police—State fantasy of a load of withered-up sourpuss preachers and unhappy, frumpy, bitter old crones who just had a problem with people enjoying life in general.
Temperance efforts existed in antiquity, but the movement really came into its own as a reaction to the pervasive use of distilled beverages in modern times. The earliest organizations in Europe came into being in Ireland in the 1820s, then swept to Scotland and Britain. Norway and Sweden saw movements rise in the 1830s. In the United States, a pledge of abstinence had been promulgated by various preachers, notably John Bartholomew Gough, at the beginning of the 1800s. Temperance associations were established in New York (1808) and Massachusetts (1813). The American Society for the Promotion of Temperance (1826) was interdenominational. Thanks largely to the lead from the pulpit, some 6,000 local temperance groups in many states were up and running by the 1830s.
The movement existed in a matrix of unrest and intellectual ferment in which such other social ills as slavery, neglect and ill-treatment of marginalized people, [Ed.note: Like Jews, Catholics, Indians and Mormons] were addressed by liberals and conservatives alike. Sometimes called the First Reform Era, running through the 1830s and ’40s, it was a period of inclusive humanitarian reform.
The first statewide success for the temperance movement was in Maine, which passed a law on June 2, 1851, which served as model for other states. Proponents suggested that it was motivated by a justified concern for the public welfare, but not all agreed. An anonymous letter which appeared in the United States Magazine and Democratic Review (May 1852) suggested that:
- The sphere of individual liberty must be shrunken, indeed, if it cannot enclose all that lies within a man’s skin, and the powers of the ruler, extensive indeed, if they can reach down the citizen’s throat and explore his digestive organs. It is not mere bombast to declare that the esophagus, the duodenum, lacticals, and capillary ducts of free-born Americans are, and of right should be, forever inviolable; and that if the Declaration of Independence does not avail to save the contents of our stomachs and bladders from chemical analysis and legislative discussion, it is full time to make another declaration that shall mean something.
The American Christians who gave us the Temperance Movement and Prohibition, were the same American Christians who also drove the anti-Mormon, anti-Catholic, anti-Indian, and every other anti-Movement. Mormonism arose in the same regions, religions, nations, sects and cultures as the Temperance Movement, and blossomed in the center of all these revivalists exercises. As Mormonism fled west, the revivalist fanatics expanded west to meet them again and again. They followed Mormonism like a pack of bickering dogs, snapping for scraps of Mormon prosperity, jealous of the Mormon progress in lands, congregations, and societies, from the Northeast to the Intermountain West.
To their delight, in the vast isolation of the American West, Mormonism finally exposed a few doctrinal ticks that its Christian detractors began to find America had a genuine, universal cultural disagreement with. If America’s forces of matronly prudishness and their exclusive ministers of piety and patriotism believed they could send you to prison for drinking a beer, these self-righteous Christian crusaders surely believed they could send you to prison for taking another wife or two. This is particularly true as I say, since the revivalist movement was driven in good measure by embittered old wives who’s husbands habitually found refuge from their dour personas in the nearest tavern.
The old Christian battle axes didn’t want hubby getting ideas—or exploring alternatives. They were on a unilateral mission to cleanse, purify, and reform American society. Then, they thought, the old man would find no quarter. Left with no place to hide, he would penitently return home to the domestic domination of his wife, and spend all his time helping around the house, and teaching his children to be good Christians.
In the case of Prohibition of course, "Church Lady," instead of stifling the carnal nature of America’s Christian manhood, gave America organized crime and the bootlegging, moonshining, and smuggling industries that went on to provide the blueprint for today’s illicit drug industry and international drug cartels. Church Lady inadvertently gave her old man the speak-easy, where he could not only have a drink with the lads, but frolic with a rising generation of hot, sexy young “flappers” and listen to “jungle music” from the latest bunch of negroes to make it big on the jazz circuit that these dens of alcohol and sex first gave a national stage to. Where the old hubby once relished only a quiet beer after work with his pals for a few hours before going home to face the wife, now he caroused all night with a packed house of drunken young men and women who had discovered sex, booze, reefer, morphine, ether, cocaine and jazz. Mr. Church Lady reveled with sinners and became addicted to an exhilarating sense of illegality. And if the old guy couldn’t get the flappers drunk enough to bed them, all he had to do is nod to the barkeep and an obliging escort would appear in moments for a small fee.
That made America a better place alright. Thanks Church Lady.
The general American male population may have resented the Puritanical anti-Mormon forces even more than the Mormons themselves, but figured that as long as the fun-killing Calvinists, the prudish Presbyterians, the wailing Wesleyans, and the battling Baptists with their ever-beckoning Arminian dunk tanks were harassing Mormons, they were leaving the good Christian menfolk alone to find safe haven in a backsliding man-cave in the urban wild wild west, with a good stiff drink, a fat cigar, and a hooker or mistress on each arm.
Even today, you’ll find the same spirit of obnoxious Christian “Temperance League” style aggression alive in the infamous Westboro Baptist congregation, who’ve made it their mission to go about the country spitting on the graves of war heroes, crashing funerals, screaming at their mothers, wives, fathers, brothers, families and survivors, telling them that God hates their dead loved one because military policy allows homosexuals to serve in the armed forces. It defies any logic to connect the Westboro bigots’ damnation of fallen war heroes–who may well be straight and Christian–to their theoretical proximity to some person in their ranks that might have been homosexual, even if you hate homosexuals. Protesting homosexuals, at their funerals in general, or picketing funerals of openly homosexual military heroes would make some sense along those lines. But that’s the way the Christian fanatical mind works.
Back at the height of anti-Mormonism of course, the Westboro Baptists would have been well armed, would have had all the local politicians and civil authorities in their camp, and come at their foes in the middle of the night with shotguns, pistols, rifles, kerosene and torches.
Alarmingly, the “Progressive,” the “Gay” or “Liberal,” allegedly educated and civilized public, ranks these Satanically inspired Westboro Baptists right alongside Mormons—the same Mormons the forefathers of the Westboro Baptists were raping and hacking up and burning and shooting into attempted extinction. Why? Because apparently elements of the LDS church in California recently rallied a political movement to put down a proposition that would re-define the term “Marriage,” to mean the social, domestic, and sexual union of essentially any two adults of either gender or any combination or permutation thereof. The irony of it all, is that up until fifty or so years ago, the religious comrades of the Westboro Baptist church were hanging “niggers and queers and Mormons” as they would term them, openly, in white sheets and pointy hats–while proudly voting Democrat.
Back in the day, it was the Mormons pleading the case against the KKK. The KKK was the enforcement arm of the Christian Democrat. It was the Mormons telling the government to get its nose out of their bedrooms. It was the Mormons who first took to the Supreme Court the proposition that civil government had no right to regulate and limit the institution of Holy Matrimony strictly along orthodox, western Christian social convention. And it was the Christian Democrats and their KKK-filled congregations and voter constituencies that packed the Supreme Court with judges who decreed that marriage is an entirely civil institution and can therefore be defined any way the civil authorities care to define it.
Little has changed with the historically Christian enemies of Mormonism since the KKK days. There’s still a KKK for one thing. They’re still down south in fair numbers and occasionally they still try to shoot, burn or beat Mormons out of the Bible Belt. When you have an entire religion, a comprehensive culture, like orthodox Christianity, that keeps telling its population from infancy that this or that identifiable minority is directly serving Satan, when you tell your children that some easily marked boogieman is trying to rob them of their rightful inheritance of land and power in America, eventually somebody is going to take a pop at the nearest servant of Satan or try to kill the boogieman.
You can’t blame the generations of America’s Bible-thumping offspring raised to hate non-Christians, or gays or blacks or foreigners, or in this case, Mormons, because it makes perfect sense to them to stick it to the Mormons or their other cultural demons, before, as they imagine, the Mormons or any other of their feared hellish hordes, stick it to them. They spend their entire lives in a self-inflated bubble of paranoia, waiting, waiting, and still waiting for this or that conniving foe to suddenly rear its seemingly docile head and strike.
For some reason however, even those who have received a higher education, those with elevated degrees in “thinkology,” are unable to make any distinction between Mormonism, the KKK, and fundamentalist wackos like the Westboro Baptists. And so, even those who pretend to be classical Liberals, dedicated to honest journalism, to accurate, as opposed to reconstructed history, usually go into Mormon news, Mormon history, or Mormon theology, determined to make the facts conform to their pre-determined image of Mormonism as a generic, book-burning, small-minded, delusional cult of Christian Fundamentalist zealots. The fundamentals of Mormonism however, come down to accountability to man, civil law, and God. Mormonism is all about the Constitution being a Divine document, and America being ordained by God as a place of free worship and civil liberty.
The fundamentals of historic Christianity are: I’m saved no matter what I do. Everyone else is a child of Satan. I am the mortal arm of God’s will. I am his protector and avenger.
Liberals have their suspicion of danger exactly backward, and we see this also in their failure to recognize the danger of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. In fact, the Left seems quite eager to embrace the Palestinian, the Arab, the Muslim guerrilla causes. The US for example, backed the Afghan “Freedom Fighters” in their struggle to throw off Soviet Oppression of their religion, but then the Mujahedeen won their freedom and morphed into the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The Right realizes, too late, that they got fooled. Liberals must know that if given the chance, most of their pet Islamic poster-children at the drop of a hat would love to impose Sharia Law and start beheading Liberals–starting with the most vocal opponents to the allegedly repressive LDS church, the Gay Rights crowd. Godless Liberals, Gay Liberals, Christian Liberals, it wouldn’t matter: they’re all going to be dead under Sharia law. Then the Muslim fanatics would move on to the Conservative Christians as well. We’re all infidels to the Islamic Jihadists and subject to systematic persecution, prosecution, and imposed conversion or extinction.
The Left excuses the inherent civil rights and misogynist values of historic Arab and other Islamic cultures, it even encourages and finances rebellion across the continents to replace pluralistic secular governments in the middle east with Islamic theocracies. I can’t explain how they think this works to their benefit, but Liberals then accuse Mormonism of embracing a similar culture as if it’s a very bad thing
The “enlightened” Left is far more inclined to just leave Muslim society to treat its people according to barbaric local custom, than tolerate Mormonism, because in Mormonism’s case, espousing traditional family values and conventional sexual morality, is billed as the most wicked form of oppression and bigotry. Mormons not wanting to re-define the English word “Marriage” and instead use some other label like “Domestic Union” or “Domestic Partnership,” for instance, in the mind of the lunatic Left, is the moral equivalent of dragging “fags” through the public square, chained behind a well-armed and ruggedly manned Toyota pickup to make an example of them for the rest of the village.
See, it’s not Mormonism that kills homosexuals. Sharia Law does that. The Left’s favorite Egyptian and Palestinian heroes do that. And, who else does that? Rednecks. Christian rednecks, the traditional enemies of Mormonism. How many gay victims have Mormon missionaries dragged through the streets to their deaths so far?
Christian rednecks however, have done that and worse to Mormon missionaries. Rednecks hate Mormons because their minister says they’re devilish heretics. They worship a phony Jesus, not the real Jesus. Leftists and neo-Liberals hate Mormons because they don’t embrace the gay lifestyle and at one time banned negroes from holding priesthood office, or at one time "enslaved" multiple wives and currently still "enslave" women in underling roles. Mormons are neither fish nor fowl in this contemporary American Left-Right scenario. They are neither like their Islamic, Jewish, or Christian religious fellows, all of whom justify themselves via the same sort of “join or die, and you’re all going to hell,” Biblical theology. You cannot second-guess Mormonism from a Liberal/Conservative, Christian, or even Jewish or Islamic mindset. It’s a whole other thing. It’s a Joseph Smith thing. It is a religion and culture frozen in the enlightened, Jeffersonian, “Great Architect of the Universe” era. And even in the context of their original social, religious, and political environment, as enlightened, classical Liberals, there too they were the odd-man-out of nearly every national issue. They have been, still are, and probably always will be, the common enemy of all.
But it’s Mormons the American Left now singles out for persecution. Not Islamo-fascists. Not fag-baiting Baptists who disrupt military funerals for no logical reason. No, oddly enough, it’s redneck bikers mostly without a gay-activist bone in their bodies coming out to those disruptions to put themselves between the foaming Baptists and the fallen heroes—not the Gay Pride crowd or the Leftist Sons of Berkeley. No, all the gay-loving, hippy-wannabees are out picketing Mormon temples instead. They seem little interested in putting down openly antagonistic mobs of actual homophobes carrying “God hates Gays” banners. Maybe this is because the Lefties all know the Mormons won’t drag them out of bed, tie them to a fence, light their genitals on fire, and beat them to death. Maybe it’s because they suspect there’s a good chance that rednecks of the Westboro Baptist church and its friends will.
The danger America faces is not in having a so-professed Mormon prophet because he might go loony and make Mormons do weird things. Anyone who’s seriously studied the actual content of Mormon canon and doctrinal literature would laugh at this notion. Mormonism has a nearly two-hundred year long history of growing more and more placid, innocuous and uneventful. The real danger to American society is having a ruling population of Christians who believe everyone else is going to hell and non-Christians have no right to any place in a Christian America. They don’t need a prophet. They don’t need governing councils or quorums or a consensus vote on anything. Any crazy Christian bumpkin can grab a Bible, call himself “saved” and “called” to the ministry, make up his own rules, gather a sympathetically warped congregation, and he’s instantly in the business of dominating American life and culture according to whatever demented world view comes into his head. All he has to do is claim it stems from some delusional read of the Bible. That’s Al Qaeda. It’s a snake with thousands of heads that just keep growing back no matter how many you lop off trying to defend yourself from it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Christiancomes into his head. All he has to do is claim it stems from some delusional read of the Bible. That’s Al Quaeda. It’s a snake with thousands of heads that just keeps growing back no matter how many you lop off trying to defend yourself from it.
You fire up a movement. You get everyone jazzed. Then you point the mob at a target and let them figure out how to accomplish the goal of dominating competitors. You can call it the Tea Party, or Occupy Wall Street, or anything you want. But once set in motion, a very few key, usually unseen players can manipulate the monster to attack their chosen targets and direct it anywhere they want. Your local minister gives a fiery sermon against homosexuals, and a few weeks later some punks tie a gay guy to a fence and light him on fire. It’s connected, but then it’s not connected, and you can’t really stop it once it starts. There is nobody in charge, or at least, no single person or organization in charge of all of it all at once.
Joseph Smith called that a “Mobocracy.”
The hereditary enemies of Mormonism are the self-proclaimed, good Christian forces of Biblical American purity that gave us the Civil War, and before that, the Missouri Bushwhackers and the Kansas Jayhawks who murdered and raided, burned and pillaged each other like rabid animals, after they’d “purified” themselves of the Mormon “threat.” The good, solid Christian Americans who posed Mormonism as a danger to Missouri and Illinois, and indeed the sovereignty of the United States of America, were almost to the man, a few years later seceding from the Union and leading the Christian South in outright rebellion and wholesale war against the Constitution. These are the "Christians" Mormons turned against at Mountain Meadows.
Early anti-Mormonism, like Prohibition, was a fanatical, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant phenomenon. Like the Temperance Movement, anti-Mormonism started in the furious religious revivalism of the early 19th century, and took nearly a hundred years to achieve it’s ultimate goal, in the one case, the outlawing of alcohol, in the other case, the extermination, or at least political and social castration of Mormonism.
“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814
One would think that at least the political Left and the legitimately “enlightened” would immediately recognize a common enemy in those who claim the Constitution was intended to found and enforce a national, neo-Calvinist, militant, Christian fundamentalist theocracy. But the historical tar brush has been laid on so black and so sticky, and the coating of dark goo has been so long painted upon Mormonism, that even the most intellectually and spiritually astute today actually see some sort of moral equivalency in the anti-Mormon claim that Mormonism might be up to something underhanded, that Mormonism is perverted Christianity, Satan’s fake church, and therefore whatever America’s Christian Patriots have inflicted upon the LDS church and its people over the years, is only due to Mormon provocation.
Mormonism existing is a provocation.
Then too, I suppose it is easy to believe that early anti-Mormon persecution was over-rated if you’re also a Holocaust denier. If you believe Hitler only killed a few hundred-thousand Jews and not 7 million, so that’s no big deal. Or if you believe Israel blew up the World Trade Center on 9/11 with remote-controlled aircraft and there never were any real hijackers or passengers aboard. People believe that stuff. A lot of them. However, a more likely truth, one supported by voluminous, well-documented confession, admission, and boasting of the anti-Mormon forces themselves, is that Mormonism’s Christian neighbors wanted to enslave black people, administer the law, courts, and all civil government directly from their interpretation of the Bible, effectively give their chosen preachers and ministers of God a civil theocracy, and repress anyone who didn’t support them. Fair is fair. Critics of Mormonism are correct. Mormons could not get along with those sorts of neighbors. Neither could you. Neither could the vast majority of Americans today.
Ask the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and the other “civilized,” or rather, “Christianized” eastern Native American tribes about not being able to get along with their neighbors. They were the first to get to know the same “God-fearing” Christian hillbillies and good American patriots the Mormons seemed to have trouble getting along with a generation later. Even after converting to Christ, attending worship regularly, building houses, running farms, wearing “civilized” clothes their white Christian conquerors insisted they wear, after surrendering their children to white schools, after learning the white man’s language and customs and manners, the good white Christian folk of Georgia, Tennessee, the Carolinas, the entire eastern seaboard, one day just decided they didn’t like “Injins” living amongst them and drove these Born-Again Native Christians, their brothers in Christ, out of their ancestral homelands at gunpoint, into the dead of winter with nothing but the clothes on their backs, to die in the unopened western wilderness.
The “Indian Removal Act of 1830” was the brainchild of “Hickory” Andrew Jackson, an Irish-American Presbyterian and patron saint of the Tennessee hillbillies for whom he’d specifically cleared out the eastern Indian tribes. Presbyterians were hard-core Calvinists, theological arch-enemies of Mormonism, and Jackson’s “Scots-Irish” stock became the ethnic root of the term “redneck.” Jackson was the instigator of a near-genocidal American national policy of exterminating or otherwise neutralizing the heathen savages of any non-white, non-Christian race, creed or color. President Andrew Jackson and Congressional fellows, wanted to progressively secure their new land from coast-to-coast for the Manifest Destiny of good, white, Christian patriots.
The westward-moving white Christian settlers often shot Indians on sight, friend or foe. They didn’t stop to ask, as it wasn’t considered relevant. Christian “civilization” continually headed farther west to claim new Indian land, and if the Indians retaliated, the settlers cried to the army, and the US army, led by Christian patriots like John Chivington, rode into Native American villages in places like Sand Creek Colorado, and slaughtered men, women and children indiscriminately to teach Native America the New Christian Order of things.
John Chivington was the American Christian renaissance man of his day. He became a serious influence on regional Illinois religion and politics almost immediately after his 1844 ordination. He started his adventures in religion and war just as his fellow Illinois Christians, with some help from like-minded Missouri crusaders, were murdering Joseph Smith. Chivington served his first clerical duties in post-Joseph Smith era Illinois as the last of the Mormons were being beaten down, scraped up, and mopped out of the state. Caught up in the excitement of westward Christian expansion, Chivington ended up in a very volatile Kansas Territory. An avid Abolitionist, he soon found himself on the losing side of the question and he got driven out into Nebraska Territory by Missouri bushwhackers and pro-slavery Kansas thugs much the same way Joseph Smith had been run out of the same area by the same people for the same reason–once again, Andy Jackson’s sainted Tennessee hillbillies and their visions of slaves, plantations, wealth, and power.
When the Civil War broke out, Colorado’s territorial governor, William Gilpin, offered Chivington a commission as a chaplain, but he declined the "praying" commission and asked for a "fighting" position instead. In 1862, Chivington, by that point a Major in the first Colorado Volunteer Regiment, played a critical role in defeating confederate forces at Glorietta Passin eastern New Mexico, where his troops rapelled down the canyon walls in a surprise attack on the enemy’s supply train. He was widely hailed as a military hero.
Back in Denver after the defeat of the Confederacy’s Western forces, Chivington seemed destined for even greater prominence. He was a leading advocate of quick statehood for Colorado, and the likely Republican candidate for the state’s first Congressional seat. In the midst of his blossoming political prospects, tensions between Colorado’s burgeoning white population and the Cheyenne Indians reached a feverish pitch. The Denver newspaper printed a front-page editorial advocating the "extermination of the red devils" and urging its readers to "take a few months off and dedicate that time to wiping out the Indians."
Chivington took advantage of this dangerous public mood by blasting the territorial governor and others who counseled peace and treaty-making with the Cheyenne. In August of 1864, he declared that "the Cheyennes will have to be roundly whipped — or completely wiped out — before they will be quiet. I say that if any of them are caught in your vicinity, the only thing to do is kill them." A month later, while addressing a gathering of church deacons, he dismissed the possibility of making a treaty with the Cheyenne: "It simply is not possible for Indians to obey or even understand any treaty. I am fully satisfied, gentlemen, that to kill them is the only way we will ever have peace and quiet in Colorado."
Several months later, Chivington made good on his genocidal promise. During the early morning hours of November 29, 1864, he led a regiment of Colorado Volunteers to the Cheyenne’s Sand Creek reservation, where a band led by Black Kettle, a well-known "peace" chief, was encamped. Federal army officers had promised Black Kettle safety if he would return to the reservation, and he was in fact flying the American flag and a white flag of truce over his lodge, but Chivington ordered an attack on the unsuspecting village nonetheless. After hours of fighting, the Colorado volunteers had lost only 9 men in the process of murdering between 200 and 400 Cheyenne, most of them women and children. After the slaughter, they scalped and sexually mutilated many of the bodies, later exhibiting their trophies to cheering crowds in Denver.
Like the anti-Mormon engagements in Missouri and Illinois, in which ordained ministers openly led militia charges intent upon extermination, the Sand Creek Massacre was proudly rallied together by a well-known Christian a-hole sporting an ordination to the ministry. Chivington was nick-named the “Fighting Parson,” originally for shooting it out with his pro-slavery critics in Kansas. But his exploits with his volunteer, mob-militia in Colorado, were clearly a strategy he learned in the Missouri and Illinois anti-Mormon extermination attempts. At Sand Creek he rode ahead of his troops, gloriously blessing their atrocities as they cleansed the land of heathen filth:
I saw the bodies of those lying there cut all to pieces, worse mutilated than any I ever saw before; the women cut all to pieces … With knives; scalped; their brains knocked out; children two or three months old; all ages lying there, from sucking infants up to warriors … By whom were they mutilated? By the United States troops …
—- John S. Smith, Congressional Testimony of Mr. John S. Smith, 1865
Fingers and ears were cut off the bodies for the jewelry they carried. The body of White Antelope, lying solitarily in the creek bed, was a prime target. Besides scalping him the soldiers cut off his nose, ears, and testicles-the last for a tobacco pouch …
—- Stan Hoig
Jis to think of that dog Chivington and his dirty hounds, up thar at Sand Creek. His men shot down squaws, and blew the brains out of little innocent children. You call sich soldiers Christians, do ye? And Indians savages? What der yer ‘spose our Heavenly Father, who made both them and us, thinks of these things? I tell you what, I don’t like a hostile red skin any more than you do. And when they are hostile, I’ve fought ’em, hard as any man. But I never yet drew a bead on a squaw or papoose, and I despise the man who would.
—- Kit Carson
Today, there are few Americans of any serious religious or political stripe who would ever excuse, much less praise, the dark and evil deeds of so-called “Christian Soldiers” like John Chivington. And nobody pretends that they didn’t work this savagery openly in their day, and with the blessing of Christian America and its most prominent and respected Christian clergy. Today, most Christians even shy away from their historically boasted claims to a complete and exclusive Christian license to do with America as they please in the name of God by force of arms. Or as Chivinton once said:
By the grace of God and these two revolvers, I am going to preach here today.
But then, Chivington made this boast in conjunction with preaching Abolitionism to southern hillbilly rednecks, and his Northern Abolitionist fans, the victors who wrote the now canonized media accounts and attendant histories, made him into a hero for it. Joe Smith made the same arguments without guns and Missouri put him in jail for it. Missouri burned and bloodied his people for it. In Illinois he ran for president on an abolitionist ticket and a mob of proto-KKK hooligans killed him for it. And when Joe Smith pulled a couple of pistols and tried to defend himself in that action, today’s Mormon Holocaust deniers actually try to say that Smith’s manly response proves he’s not a martyr. Joe Smith went out fighting for his life they claim, so that essentially makes him just as guilty as the mob of Christians who killed him, and no real hero at all.
The point isn’t whether or not Joe Smith surrendering to an obviously hostile conspiracy against him, even though he was quite at liberty to flee their wrath, is really “going like a lamb to the slaughter,” as he put it. The point is, the ancestors of the Christians playing these semantic games today, are the ones who killed Joseph Smith even though he had submitted to their promises of protection, justice, and a fair trial. He was trapped, helpless, and undefended, (as they presumed) and was innocent in the eyes of the law.
So whatever poor Joe Smith was, the real question is, what does that make the Christians who promised him justice and a fair hearing, and instead, promoted, authorized, and gleefully celebrated his death by such treachery? What does that make of the modern Christian anti-Mormonist who would seriously even descend to this desperately low-level of quibbling? It makes their forefathers murderers, and them, apologists for murderers.
Most Christians now confess the sinful nature of their treatment of Native Americans in the founding of the United States. Most modern Christians repent of their disgraceful treatment of African slaves in the New World. And some of them even realize they compounded the simple evil of killing off Indians to take their lands, by then building slave-driven cotton plantations powered by tortured Africans, and justifying it by way of a well-considered Biblical argument executed in the name of Jesus Christ. I’d even wager that most Christians today willingly concede that the white, Anglo-European, Christian colonization of most of the undeveloped world was carried out in an oppressive, cruel, and shameful fashion. How odd it is then, that so damned few of these same modern, allegedly enlightened Christians, even the most liberal of them, will admit that those same 19th and 20th century Christian forces of world colonization, their ancestral heroes of Christian domination and subjection, treated Mormons in exactly the same belligerent, aggressively oppressive, cruel, and shameful fashion in which they treated any other “heathens” around the globe as they expanded their religious, political and social empires.
…Silas Soule, a commander of a cavalry company who refused to attack the Cheyenne at Sand Creek, testified against Colonel Chivington. His testimony was key in the committees findings that the attack on Sand Creek was "a cowardly and coldblooded slaughter, sufficient to cover its perpetrators with indelible infamy, and the face of every American with shame and indignation." Silos Soule never had the opportunity to hear the committees findings because he was shot near his home in Denver by Charles W. Squiers of the 2nd Colorado Cavalry. Sadly, the Indian Peace Commission led to the forced relocation of native peoples to Indian reservations and did not result in the criminal prosecution of Colonel Chivington. Instead, the state of Colorado named a city after Chivington to honor his "heroic" military campaigns during the civil war.
While Christian America was gleefully celebrating the butchery of Chivington’s glorious “victory” against unarmed Cheyenne women and children at Sand Creek, the Mormons were hiding out in the mountains next-door, attempting to shelter themselves from the same Christian bastards who had repeatedly threatened them with the same Holy Christian slaughter and extermination from region to region in the New World, as they fled their pious Christian persecutors. Mormonism had already suffered the same sort of grisly Christian gore-fest that Chivington later imported to the Rocky Mountains. The clergy-led cruelty and mutilation at Haun’s Mill and the Siege, rape, plunder and pillage of Far West were probably the very models for Chivington’s tactics against Native American Populations in Colorado. Christian America had sworn that all impediments would fall before the comprehensively expanding Christian franchise on the North American Continent, and by God, Christian warriors like Chivington were eager to join the fight.
Surely, Christianity disagreed violently with itself upon the issue of slavery. Christianity was however, fairly united in its views upon the continued threat of both the Mormon and Indian presence in its empire. In my reading at least, nobody else has historically been discerning enough to see the overt connection between the times and fates of these two American cultural deviants. But these two peoples were historically joined at the hip:
In the beginning, Appalachian Bible-thumping rednecked hicks chased out the local Indians with fire and sword, leaving them to struggle and die in the unsettled wilderness to their west, simply so they could take Native American lands and resources, and be free of their heathen presence. Then the hillbillies imported and birthed and filled up Appalachia with so many new rednecked hicks that they could no longer find land and fortunes in the piney woods of Georgia, or the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky, the Carolinas and eastern environs. A new generation of hicks became even more determined to make good on the God-promised American dream. They moved west to buy cheap land and construct their fantasized cotton plantations full of slaves and outbuildings. In Missouri, then the far west, they found Yankee and foreign Mormons moving in, buying up their land, outbidding them, driving up the prices, and out-competing them in agriculture and industry. They had a great friend in their patron saint Andrew Jackson, who was now president of the United States. They had a governor who depended upon their raggedy-arsed hillbilly votes. So once again, they simply drove the Mormon heretics out of their state by fire and sword, canon and ball, like their parents had done to the Indian heathens.
Now, don’t take just my word on it when I call the anti-Mormonists of the Missouri, Nauvoo, and Utah Mormon war or Mountain Meadows eras hicks and hillbillies. Even pro-hillbilly Christian historians and Journalists openly acknowledge the huge rift between the educated, industrialized, Northeastern American, and Northern European Mormons who actually wore shoes and shirts even on hot days, and the anti-Mormon country rubes they politely called “Old Settlers” from over in Tennessee and other regions of the eastern American woods and weeds, in their rope-tied, gunny-sack trousers and flour-sack shirts, desperate to escape their low social status and poverty in the settled United States.
(But you can’t escape stupid. It followed them everywhere they went.)
Main article: Andrew Jackson 1829 presidential inauguration
Jackson was the first President to invite the public to attend the White House ball honoring his first inauguration. Many poor people came to the inaugural ball in their homemade clothes. The crowd became so large that Jackson’s guards could not keep them out of the White House, which became so crowded with people that dishes and decorative pieces inside were eventually broken. Some people stood on good chairs in muddied boots just to get a look at the President. The crowd had become so wild that the attendants poured punch in tubs and put it on the White House lawn to lure people outside. Jackson’s raucous populism earned him the nickname "King Mob".
Driven even farther west by these Born-Again cretins, the Mormons and Indians ended up in the Intermountain West, living mostly happily amongst themselves for a while. But then, the California and Oregon Territories became the new west. America’s Christian revolutionary forces had expanded their WASP-only program across the whole continent. That put the Mormons and the Indians once again smack in the middle of Christian America’s road to California gold and intercontinental mastery.
To Christian America’s leadership, both the native “savages” and the heretical Mormons were not human beings with God-given rights, to bargain or reason with. These ungodly creatures were merely seen as impediments to Christian rule. They were Satanically-inspired, soulless animals that could only be controlled by killing them all off. Again, the mobs that killed Mormons were not random street gatherings, they were directed, orchestrated, and very often led by Christian clergy, and this quite openly. The rape, torture and slaughter didn’t happen incidentally, it was the whole point. It was Christian terrorism.
For all its particular horror, Sand Creek was not unique in the long history of Christian conquests. In John Chivington, we do not have an aberration. John Chivington was an immensely popular, mainstream, period, frontier-Christian minister who was given unanimous civil and military authority to execute Christian America’s mandate upon the non-Christian. He did what Christianity has always done when given civil and military authority to enforce its demands upon others.
The Sand Creek massacre is a pattern of Christian behavior that arises inevitably out of the fundamental Christian belief that Christians are superior to and have dominion over all other life forms, human or otherwise. It is a pattern of behavior openly and proudly repeated from Constantine to the Inquisition, to Calvin’s Geneva, to the Salem Witch Trials, to open warfare against Mormons and Indians in Christianity’s “final solution” to both problems in the American west.
While Indians were hated, feared, dehumanized, and despised by white Christian settlers and their clerical puppet masters, to period Christianity, even worse than that, Mormons were race traitors and heretics.
But then again, in a pragmatic sense, what really inflamed the anti-Mormon violence, the true source of the political and legal desperation to be rid of them, what ultimately got them driven into the wilderness of Utah, is simply that Mormons were in the road. Mormons and Indians were impeding progress. Most of America agreed upon that much. And that’s what enabled the violent fanatics to have their way with them both. Cleaning up the west was deemed a necessary outgrowth of America’s Manifest Destiny. You couldn’t stop that. God was behind that. Much of America felt sorry about it all, but resigned: Let the Mormons fight it out for themselves. Let the Indians adjust or die off.
Unfortunately, Mormons were not just pesky outsiders who kept occupying land that the good Christian common folk wanted. Mormons took even crap land and built small empires in the wilderness at an alarming pace. The Native American populations were no such threat to the “natural order” of the new nation. They were rapidly being culturally nullified and whittled into isolated, politically and militarily powerless reservations where they were supposed to wither away into an ignominious extinction. The Mormons on the other hand, were flourishing no matter how brutally they were oppressed, and no matter where they were driven. They were smart. They knew the law, the Constitution. They were free and white. They had lawyers. They had rights and they knew it.
(Mormons also riled up the negroes and the Indians, and put all sorts of ideas about rights in their heads too.)
Mormonism’s Christian foes knew that Mormons were perfectly entitled under the Constitution to buy as much land as they wanted, and then build and grow their own booming religious community along the lines of their own faith and customs. That was the promise of the United States of America. That’s exactly what the Christians were trying to do. Indians, they had no rights, just out of a national sense of conquering white bigotry. White, Christian America didn’t have to negotiate with them about anything if it wasn’t in a charitable mood at the given moment. But the only way to rid a Christian America of the Mormon pests was to prove somehow that Mormonism was a demonstrable threat to Christian liberty, and an enemy of Constitutional rule. White-on-white persecution was far more difficult to rationalize.
For generations, America’s Calvinist legal approach against Mormonism amounted merely to repeating attempts in various legal venues to prove that anyone claiming to talk to God was inherently dangerous, and should be wiped from the face of the map therefore by force of arms. The operative claim was simply that Mormons were loyal to their prophet, not the United States of America, and therefore could not be trusted. It was the same reasoning used in America’s white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant anti-Roman Catholic gambit. Whether or not they were doing anything imminently threatening, illegal, or un-Constitutional was irrelevant. It was just a matter of time it was claimed, before Christian America woke up to find itself the prisoner of Mormonism. (Or in the latter case, a slave of the Pope.) Once that paranoid fear had been sold to the general public, the anti-Mormonists assumed, any excuse or pretext for immediate, terminal action against the Latter-day Saints would suffice. It turned out in the end however, that the American public wasn’t buying that proposition very much outside the inbred southern, fundamentalist hillbilly factions who kepts habitually making their homes around the various Mormon settlement. To most of America, Mormons just didn’t seem all that dangerous and disloyal. In fact, to some, Mormons seemed quite productive, peaceful, and reasonable.
In the words of Brigham Young:
"I love the government and the Constitution of the United States, but I do not love the damned rascals that administer the government."
It wasn’t long however, before the crazed revivalists of American Christianity occupied Utah Territory in full force and vigor. Its crusaders grabbed hold of the issue of Mormonism’s Biblically justified practice of plural marriage and whittled it into a stout bludgeon. With this one weapon alone, nothing more than a few words on a piece of paper, Christian America beat Mormonism all to hell with it in the courts, Congress, and legislatures.
(Actually, there is no proscription of plural marriage in the Bible. It’s a Roman social custom the Church just picked up and it stuck. But Christianity doesn’t just rule out of the Bible, it has to be their Bible, and their interpretation of their Bible. Whoever they are at the time…)
When Mormonism looked to the Supreme Court to defend its marriage practices, the Supreme Court decided no, religious belief can’t be regulated, but religious practice can. It decided that Freedom of religion only extends insofar as said religion complies with accepted western social custom, and civil authority has every right to regulate or define matrimony according to prevailing social custom. In that day of course, this meant according to historical, Protestant Christian convention.
But prevailing social custom has changed radically since then, hasn’t it? Calvin doesn’t rule the streets of America any more—unless it’s Calvin Klein. Think about it you Lefties out there:
I’ll see your gay marriage and raise you two wives….
Unlike its final solution to the “Indian Problem,” the forces of America’s Christian status-quo preserved their dominance over Mormonism through the pen, not the sword. After Mountain Meadows, after the Utah War, outraged Christian clergy and a few pandering politicians back east rallied themselves into a flurry of protest over the Mormon assault upon free, white, "innocent" Christian citizens of the United States. For many reasons none of this outrage caught on nationally. The dirty secret of that is, nobody in civilized America felt obliged to start a full-scale war with Brigham Young out in the boonies over a few wagonloads of Arkansas hillbillies and a handful of Missouri pukes. Coldly stated, but entirely true. Consequently, no great national Christian vengeance was returned on behalf of the only casualties of the Utah war of 1857, 120 adult-only members of the California-bound immigrant Fancher Party, consisting mostly of the Arkansas-based Fancher and Baker families, and their hired Missouri trail hands.