From the days of Joseph Smith, the inauguration of the Danites to Mountain Meadows the law of atonement weighed heavy on the minds of many in the Church. Congregants heard it preached from the pulpit and some even witnessed it firsthand. While the rhetoric in these ‘latter-days’ has toned itself down, the fact remains that blood atonement played its part in the history of Mormonism; regardless of how often or loud Church leaders deny it.
I’m confident some of their threatening sermons were just threats to keep people in line, however, with that being said I’m equally confident the Church employed measures to keep control by publicly putting their threats into action. John D. Lee is a classic example.
We’ve listed a few of their comments here.
Jedediah M. Grant, March 12, 1854:
“Then what ought this meek people who keep the commandments of God to do unto them? ‘Why,’ says one, ‘they ought to pray to the Lord to kill them.’ I want to know if you would wish the Lord to come down and do all your dirty work.” Many of the Latter-day Saints will pray, and petition, and supplicate the Lord to do a thousand things they themselves would be ashamed to do. * * *
I wish we were in a situation favorable to our doing that which is justifiable before God, without any contaminating influence of Gentile amalgamation, laws, and traditions; that the people of God might lay the ax to the root of the tree, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit might be hewn down.
“What! do you believe that people would do right and keep the law of God by actually putting to death the transgressors? Putting to death the transgressors would exhibit the law of God, no matter By Whom it was done. That is my opinion.”
Deseret News; “We would not kill a man, of course, unless we killed him to save him…” –Jedediah M. Grant, July 27, 1854
Choose Your Place of Atonement
Journal of Discourses 4:49-50; “Some have received the Priesthood and a knowledge of the things of God, and still they dishonor the cause of truth…I say, that there are men and women that I would advise to go to the President immediately, and ask him to appoint a committee to attend to their case; and then let a place be selected, and let that committee shed their blood. We have those amongst us that are full of all manner of abominations, those who need to have their blood shed, for water will not do, their sins are of too deep a dye.” – Jedidiah Morgan Grant, Salt Lake City, September 21, 1856
Matthew 7:1-3; “Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”
Brigham Young’s Destroying Angel, 1964, p. 284; “It was one of the hot‑beds of fanaticism, and I expect that more men were killed there, in proportion to population, than in any other part of Utah. In that settlement it was certain death to say a word against the authorities, high or low.”
Blood Atonement for Thieves and Apostates
Journal of Discourses 1:73; “…the best way to sanctify ourselves, and please God our heavenly Father in these days, is to rid ourselves of every thief, and sanctify the people from every vile character…It would have a tendency to place terror on those who leave these parts [Utah], that may prove their salvation when they see the heads of thieves taken off, or shot down before the public… I believe it would be pleasing in the sight of heaven to sanctify ourselves and put these things out of our midst.” – Orson Hyde, Salt Lake City, April 9, 1853
Hebrews 10:26, 30; “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.”
Hebrews 12:14; “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”.
Death to Traitors
Journal of Discourses 4:375; “I have not a doubt but there will be hundreds who will leave us and go away to our enemies. I wish they would go this fall: it might relieve us from much trouble; for if men turn traitors to God and His Servants, their blood will surely be shed, or else they will be damned, and that too according to their covenants.” – Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City, August 16, 1857
Mormonism Unveiled – Confessions of John D. Lee;“The Mormons believe in blood atonement. It is taught by the leaders, and believed by the people, that the Priesthood are inspired and cannot give a wrong order.” (p 279) “It is the belief of all that I ever heard talk of these things — and I have been with the Church since the dark days in Jackson County — that the authority that orders is the only responsible party and the Danite who does the killing only an instrument, and commits no wrong (p279)…. Punishment by death is the penalty for refusing to obey the orders of the Priesthood.” (p 281) John D. Lee Diaries
”I do not believe everything that is now being taught and practiced by Brigham Young. I do not care who hears it. It is my last word… I have been sacrificed in a cowardly, dastardly manner.” – Last words and the execution of John D. Lee as reported by his attorney, William W. Bishop, in Mormonism Unveiled; or the Life and Confession of John D. Lee, p 388
Journal of Discourses 7:298; “Has Jesus done anything that will bring salvation to you and me? The chief of what he has done is that he has revealed the plan of the Gospel – the scheme of human redemption, and manifested himself among his brethren; and we may say he has done a great deal more, for he has shed his blood for it. So have others shed their blood. But whose blood has cleansed you and me? It is said that the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sins. Then why is it that we remain sinners? It is simply because the blood of Jesus has not cleansed us from sin – because it has not reached us.” – Amasa M. Lyman,
Journal of Discourses 7:299; “… We may talk of men being redeemed by the efficacy of his [Christ’s] blood; but the truth is that that blood has no efficacy to wash away our sins. That must depend upon our own action.” – Amasa M. Lyman, 1859
No Such Doctrine
Bruce McConkie’s response to Thomas McAffee’s enquiry about blood atonement in Mormon history; “There simply is no such thing among us as a doctrine of blood atonement that grants a remission of sins or confers any other benefit upon a person because his own blood is shed for sins. Let me say categorically and unequivocally that this doctrine can only operate in a day when there is no separation of Church and State and when the power to take life is vested in the ruling theocracy as was the case in the day of Moses. From the day of Joseph Smith to the present there has been no single instance of so-called blood atonement under any pretext.
Anything I have written or anything said by anyone else must be understood in the light of the foregoing limitation. Brigham Young and the others were speaking of a theoretical principle that operated in ages past and not in either their or our day. As I recall, Brigham Young’s illustrations were taken from the day of Moses and the history of ancient Israel and could not be applied today.
There is no such a doctrine as blood atonement in the Church today nor has there been at any time. Any statements to the contrary are either idle speculation or pure fantasy. It is certainly not the current teaching of the Church and I have never in over 60 years of regular church attendance heard a single sermon on the subject or even a discussion in any church class.”
Mormon Doctrine, p. 92; “From the days of Joseph Smith to the present, wicked and evilly‑disposed persons have fabricated false and slanderous stories to the effect that the Church, in the early days of this dispensation, engaged in a practice of blood atonement where under the blood of apostates and others was shed by the Church as an atonement for their sins… there is not one historical instance of so‑called blood atonement in this dispensation, nor has there been one event or occurrence whatever, of any nature, from which the slightest inference arises that any such practice either existed or was taught…. But under certain circumstances there are some serious sins for which the cleansing of Christ does not operate, and the law of God is that men must then have their own blood shed to atone for their sins.” – Bruce R. McConkie
New York & Other Cities to be Laid Destitute
Journal of Discourses 12:244; “New York … will be only a sample of numerous other towns and cities on the face of this continent. Now I am aware that it is almost impossible for even some of the Latter‑day Saints to get that confidence and that strong faith in the events which God intends to accomplish on this land in the future to believe in such a thing … But there are some in this congregation who will live, to behold the fulfillment of these other things, and will visit the ruins of mighty towns and cities scattered over the face of this land destitute and desolate of inhabitants.” – Orson Pratt, Salt Lake City, December 27, 1868
The Seer, p. 223; “The people of Utah are the only ones in this nation who have taken effectual measures… to prevent adulteries and criminal connections between the sexes. The punishment, for these crimes is death to both male and female. And this law is written on the hearths and printed in the thoughts of the whole people.” – Orson Pratt
Death for Seducing Neighbor’s Wife
Journal of Discourses 1:97; “The principle, the only one that beats and throbs through the heart of the entire inhabitants of this Territory, is simply this: The man who seduces his neighbors wife must die, and her nearest relative must kill him!” – George A. Smith, Salt Lake City, October 1851
Revelation 21:8; “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Death for Murder & Adultery
Answers to Gospel Questions 1:189; “President Charles W. Penrose, speaking of capital punishment, has said:
This divine law for shedding the blood of a murderer has never been repealed. It is a law given by the Almighty and not abrogated in the Christian faith. It stands on record for all time—that a murderer shall have his blood shed. He that commits murder must be slain. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” I know there are some benevolent and philanthropic people in these times who think that capital punishment ought to be abolished. Yet I think the Lord knows better than they. The law he ordained will have the best results to mankind in general.(Penrose, Charlesw., Blood Atonement, pp.25-26.)
President Penrose then continues: Well, is there any other sin that a man may commit which is worthy of death? I think there is. I will refer you to one in the Book of Leviticus, 20th chapter and 10th verse. “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”” – Joseph Fielding Smith
Murderers Shall be Put to Death
Doctrines of Salvation 1:133; “But man may commit certain grievous sins-according to his light and knowledge-that will place him beyond the reach of the atoning blood of Christ. If then he would be saved he must make sacrifice of his own life to atone-so far as in his power lies-for that sin, for the blood of Christ alone under certain circumstances will not avail. …Do you believe this doctrine? If not, then I do say you do not believe in the true doctrine of the atonement of Christ. This is the doctrine you are pleased to call the “blood atonement of Brighamism.” This is the doctrine of Christ our Redeemer, who died for us. This is the doctrine of Joseph Smith, and I accept it….To these I will add: “Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses…” – Joseph Fielding Smith
Doctrines of Salvation 1:135; “Joseph Smith taught that there were certain sins so grievous that man may commit, that they will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of Christ. If these offenses are committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins even though they repent. Therefore their only hope is to have their own bloodshed to atone, as far as possible, in their behalf. This is scriptural doctrine, and is taught in all the standard works of the Church.” – Joseph Fielding Smith
Danites and Joseph Smith’s Denial
Today we’re exploring the extracurricular activities of the Church and what if any knowledge Joseph Smith had of this group. You’ll notice how he denies they exist and also how he knows they exist, but isn’t complicit in any wrong doing. Yeah…okay…
The Restored Church, pp 197-198; “Such a band as the “Danites” did exist, as historians affirm; but that Joseph Smith had nothing to do with it and exposed the participants when he became aware of it, is equally well-confirmed…The organization had been for the purpose of plundering and murdering the enemies of the Saints.” – William E. Berrett
History of the Church 3:181-182; “…let no one hereafter, by mistake or design, confound this organization of the Church for good and righteous purposes, with the organization of the “Danites,” of the apostate Avard, which died almost before it had existed.”
History of the Church 6:165; “The Danite system alluded to by Norton never had any existence. It was a term made use of by some of the brethren in Far West, and grew out of an expression I made use of when the brethren were preparing to defend themselves from the Missouri mob, in reference to the stealing of Macaiah’s images (Judges chapter 18)—If the enemy comes, the Danites will be after them, meaning the brethren in self-defense.” – Joseph Smith
Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, v. 1, p. 14; “The day of your deliverance is not far distant for the judgments of the Lord are already abroad in the earth and the cold hand of death will soon pass through your neighborhood, and sweep away some of your most bitter enemies… The day is fast hastening on when the restoration of all things shall be fulfilled.” –
Joseph Smith letter to Colesville, New York LDS members, in Newel Knight Journal, pp. 132‑136
Joseph Prefers Decapitation Over Hanging
History of the Church 5:296; “I replied, I was opposed to hanging, even if a man kill another, I will shoot him, or cut off his head, spill his blood on the ground, and let the smoke thereof ascend up to God; and if ever I have the privilege of making a law on that subject, I will have it so.” – Joseph Smith
James 1:22-24; “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”
Temple Lot Case, p. 98; “[My life was in danger] if I remained there, because of my protest against the doctrine of Blood Atonement and other new doctrines that were brought into the Church.” – William Smith, brother of Joseph Smith, Jr.
Apostates become Eunuchs
Wilford Woodruff’s Diary, June 2, 1857, vol. 5 pp 54-55*; “June 2, 1857: I spent the day in the office. President Young called in the afternoon also George A. Smith. We conversed upon various subjects…Bishop Blackburn was present—the subject came up of some persons leaving Provo who had apostatized. Some thought that Bishop Blackburn and President Snow were to blame. Brother Joseph Young presented the thing to President Young. But when the circumstances were told, President Brigham Young sustained the brethren who presided at Provo. He said they had done (right). The subject of eunuchs came up and Joseph said that he would rather die than to be made a eunuch. Brigham said the day would come when thousands would be made eunochs in order for them to be saved in the Kingdom of God.” – Wilford Woodruff [sic]
1 John 2:18-19; “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
Decapitation for Mixing White Seed w/ Cain’s Seed
Wilford Woodruff’s Personal Diary 4:97; “And if any man mingle his seed with the seed of Cain the only way he could get rid of it or have Salvation would be to come forward and have his head cut off and spill his blood upon the ground ‑‑ it would also take the life of his children.”
Ephesians 4:29; “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Blood of Christ Insufficient
Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 385; “There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it; and the judgments of the Almighty will come, sooner or later, and every man and woman will have to atone for breaking their covenants”
1 John 1:7; “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”.
Brigham’s Bowie Knife & Treat to Nasty Apostates
Journal of Discourses 1:83; “I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath [sic] my bowie knife, and conquer or die! [Great commotion in the congregation, and a simultaneous burst of feeling, assenting to the declaration] Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put to the line, and righteousness to the plummet! [Voices, generally, ‘go it, go it.’] If you say it is right, raise your hands! [All hands up.] Let us call upon the Lord to assist us in this, and every good work!” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, March 27, 1853
Javelin through Heart
Journal of Discourses 1:108; “Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them. You would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the Kingdom of God. I would at once do so, in such a case; and under the circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands…. There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it.” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, May 8, 1853
Romans 12:19; “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Death to Thieves
Journal of Discourses 1:109; “If you want to know what to do with a thief that you may find stealing, I say kill him on the spot, and never suffer him to commit another iniquity.” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, May 8, 1853
Exodus 20:13; “Thou shalt not kill.”
Journal of Discourses 2:179; “I will tell you how much I love those characters. If they had any respect to their own welfare, they would come forth and say, whether Joseph Smith was a Prophet or not, ‘We shed his blood, and now let us atone for it;’ and they would be willing to have their heads chopped off, that their blood might run upon the ground, and the smoke of it rise before the Lord as an incense for their sins.” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, February 18, 1855
Cut Throats of Miserable Scoundrels
Journal of Discourses 2:311; “To diverge a little, in regard to those who have persecuted this people and driven them to the mountains, I intend to meet them on their own grounds. It was asked this morning how we could obtain redress for our wrongs; I will tell you how it could be done, we could take the same law they have taken, viz., mobocracy, and if any miserable scoundrels come here, cut their throats. (All the people said, Amen.)” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, July 8, 1855
Loyalty or Death
Journal of Discourses 3:226; “The time is coming when justice will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet; when we shall take the old broad sword and ask, ‘Are you of God?’ and if you are not heartily on the Lord’s side, you will be hewn down.” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, March 2, 1856
Habakkuk 2:4; “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”
Deseret News; “Will you love your brothers and sisters likewise, when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood? That is what Jesus Christ meant.” – Brigham Young, April 16, 1856
Some Sins Require Blood Atonement
Journal of Discourses 4:54; “It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit. As it was in ancient days, so it is in our day; and though the principles are taught publicly from this stand, still the people do not understand them; yet the law is precisely the same. There are sins that can be atoned for by an offering upon an altar, as in ancient days; and there are sins that the blood of a lamb, of a calf, or of turtle doves, cannot remit, but they must be atoned for by the blood of the man. That is the reason why men talk to you as they do from this stand; they understand the doctrine and throw out a few words about it. You have been taught that doctrine, but you do not understand it.” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, September 21, 1856
Loving Your Neighbor with Blood Atonement
Journal of Discourses 4:220; “I have known a great many men who have left this Church for whom there is no chance whatever for exaltation, but if their blood had been spilled, it would have been better for them. The wickedness and ignorance of the nations forbid this principle’s being in full force, but the time will come when the law of God will be in full force. This is loving our neighbour as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it. Any of you who understand the principles of eternity, if you have sinned a sin requiring the shedding of blood, except the sin unto death, would not be satisfied nor rest until your blood should be spilled, that you might gain that salvation you desire. That is the way to love mankind.” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, February 8, 1857.
1 Thessalonians 4:6; “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.”
Enemies Should Count Cost
Journal of Discourses 5:236; “Our enemies had better count the cost; for if they continue the job, they will want to let it out to subcontractors, before they get half through with it. If they persist in sending troops here, I want the people in the west and in the east to understand that it will not be safe for them to cross the Plains. … I have been told that the first company of packers that went through here this season, on their way from California to the States, shot at every Indian they saw between Carson Valley and Box Elder; and what has been the result? Probably scores of persons have been killed; animals have been taken from nearly all the emigrants that have passed on that road; and the Indians in that region have now more stock than they know how to take care of; and they come into settlements with their pockets full of gold. The whites first commenced on the Indians; and now, if they do not quit such conduct, they must stop traveling through this country; for it is more than I can do to keep the Indians still under such outrageous treatment.
The people do not realize what they have done by driving us into the midst of the Lamanites.” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, September 13, 1857
Galatians 5:21; “Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Miscellaneous LDS Teachings & Other Statements
Ether 8:19; “For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man.”
D&C 42:79; “And it shall come to pass, that if any persons among you shall kill they shall be delivered up and dealt with according to the laws of the land; for remember that he hath no forgiveness; and it shall be proved according to the laws of the land.”
LDS Blood Atonement Shouldn’t be Taken Literally
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol.15, No.4, p.96 in electronic files; “The doctrine of blood atonement has had a checkered career which by itself could provide a rewarding study of the vagaries of Mormon literalism. Unfortunately, the doctrine appears to be the result of an overly literal interpretation and elaboration of certain scriptures such as Hebrews 9:22 which states that “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Accordingly, the doctrine [blood atonement] asserts that those who commit certain grievous sins such as murder and covenant-breaking place themselves beyond the atoning blood of Christ, and their only hope for salvation is to have their own blood shed as an atoning sacrifice.”
Hebrews 9:14; “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Leviticus 22:19; “Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.”
First of all the passage in Hebrews should be taken literally. Secondly, the passages of Mormon teachings that have taught about blood atonement should also be taken literally because they were literally taking the lives of people for revenge or to fulfill the false prophecies of Joseph Smith and company.
Contradictory Teachings in Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p 131; “The doctrines of the Church affirm that the Atonement wrought by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is efficacious for the sins…However, if a person thereafter commits a grievous sin such as the shedding of innocent blood, the Savior’s sacrifice alone will not absolve the person of the consequences of the sin. Only by voluntarily submitting to whatever penalty the Lord may require can that person benefit from the Atonement of Christ.
… Brigham Young, taught that in a complete theocracy the Lord could require the voluntary shedding of a murderer’s blood… Since such a theocracy has not been operative in modern times, the practical effect of the idea was its use as a rhetorical device to heighten the awareness of Latter-day Saints of the seriousness of murder and other major sins. This view is not a doctrine of the Church and has never been practiced by the Church at any time.
…This claim distorted the whole idea of blood atonement-which was based on voluntary submission by an offender-into a supposed justification of involuntary punishment. Occasional isolated acts of violence that occurred in areas where Latter-day Saints lived were typical of that period in the history of the American West, but they were not instances of Church-sanctioned blood Atonement.”
Mormonism: its rise, progress, and present condition, 1858, 1870 ed., p. 273; “I married Jesse Hartly, knowing he was a ‘Gentile’ in fact, but he passed for a Mormon, but that made no difference with me, although I was a Mormon, because he was a noble man, and sought only the right. By being my husband, he was brought into closer contact with the members of the Church, and was thus soon enabled to learn many things about us, and about the Heads of the Church, that he did not approve, and of which I was ignorant, although I had been brought up among the Saints; and which, if known among the Gentiles, would have greatly damaged us. I do not understand all he discovered, or all he did; but they found he had written against the Church, and he was cut off, and the Prophet required as an atonement for his sins, that he should lay down his life. That he should be sacrificed in the endowment rooms; where human sacrifices are sometimes made in this way. This I never knew until my husband told me, but it is true. They kill those there who have committed sins too great to be atoned for in any other way. The Prophet says, if they submit to this he can save them; otherwise they are lost. Oh! that is horrible. But my husband refused to be sacrificed, and so set out alone for the United States: thinking there might be at least a hope of success. I told him when he left me, and left his child, that he would be killed, and so he was. William Hickman and another Danite, shot him in the canyons; and I have often since been obliged to cook for this man, when he passed this way, knowing all the while, he had killed my husband. My child soon followed after its father, and I hope to die also; for why should I live? They have brought me here, where I wish to remain, rather than to return to Salt Lake where the murderers of my husband curse the earth, and roll in affluence unpunished.” – Miss Bullock of Provo, Utah, quoted by Mary Ettie V. Smith
New York Tribune; “Concerning two captured Confederate commissioners in Utah, Brigham Young said he: “would put them where they would never peep. He [Brigham Young] uttered this sentiment with such a wicked wording of the lower jaw and lip, and such an almost demon spirit in his whole face, that quite disposed to be incredulous on those matters…” – July 15, 1865
Reminiscences of Early Utah, 1914, pp. 154-155; “In the excavations made within the limits of Salt Lake City during the time I have resided there, many human skeletons have been exhumed in various parts of the city…. I have never heard that it was ever the custom to bury the dead promiscuously throughout the city; and as no coffins were ever found in connection with any of these skeletons, it is evident that the death of the persons to whom they once belonged did not result from natural causes, but from the use of criminal means.” – R.N. Baskin
Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 5, 1994, p. D1; “In the past decade, potential jurors in every Utah capital homicide were asked whether they believed in the Mormon concept of ‘blood atonement.’”
Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 5, 1994, p. D1, D5; “Just last month, attorneys for condemned child-killer James Edward Wood in Pocatello, Idaho, argued that his defense was undermined by a visit from local [Mormon] church leaders who talked to him about shedding his own blood….
“His [Wood’s] attorneys contend Wood is a victim of a Mormon belief in ‘blood atonement.’ … Judge Lynn Winmill… heard hours of testimony during the past week about Mormon doctrine on apostasy and forgiveness of sin. Wood’s lawyers even asked the bishop who presided over the church court that excommunicated Wood about secret temple rituals involving symbolic throat and slashing or disembowelment, but Winmill did not require him to respond.”
Utah Historical Quarterly, Jan. 1958, p. 62, note 39; “To whatever extent the preaching on blood atonement may have influenced action, it would have been in relation to Mormon disciplinary action among its own members. In point would be a verbally reported case of a Mr. Johnson in Cedar City who was found guilty of adultery with his step-daughter by a bishop’s court and sentenced to death for atonement of his sin. According to the report of reputable eyewitnesses, judgment was executed with consent of the offender who went to his unconsecrated grave in full confidence of salvation through the shedding of his blood. Such a case, however primitive, is understandable within the means of this doctrine and the emotional extremes of the [Mormon] reformation.” – Dr. Gustive O. Larson, BYU Professor
LAM Articles with Further Info