Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Mormon Doctrine Of Blood Atonement


“I [am] 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, Jr., History of the Church, volume 5, page 296, 1949)

“[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.”
(Apostle William Smith, brother of Joseph Smith, Jr., Temple Lot Case, page 98)

“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, Journal of Discourses, volume 2, page 179, February 18th, 1855)

“The time has been in Israel under the law of God, the celestial law, or that which pertains to the celestial law, for it is one of the laws of that kingdom where our Father dwells, that if a man was found guilty of adultery, he must have his blood shed, and that is near at hand.”
(Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, volume 4, page 219)

“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, Deseret News, April 16th, 1856)

“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 or rest until your blood should be spilled, that you might gain the salvation you desire. This is the way to love mankind.”
(Brigham Young, Deseret News, April 16th, 1856)

“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, Journal of Discourses, volume 1, page 83)


“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, Journal of Discourses, volume 1, pages 108-109)

“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. I will prove by my works whether I can mete out justice to such persons, or not. I would consider it just as much my duty to do that, as to baptize a man for the remission of his sins.”
(Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, volume 1, pages 108-109)

I know that there are transgressors, who, if they knew themselves and the only condition upon which they can obtain forgiveness, would beg of their brethren to shed their blood, that the smoke might ascend to God as an offering to appease the wrath that is kindled against them, and that the law might have its course.”
(Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, volume 4, page 43)

“Now take a person in this congregation who has knowledge with regard to being saved... and suppose that he has committed a sin that he knows will deprive him of that exaltation which he desires, and that he cannot attain to it without the shedding of blood, and also knows that by having his blood shed he will atone for that sin and may be saved and exalted with the God, is there a man or woman in this house but what would say, ‘shed my blood that I may be saved and exalted with the Gods?’”
(Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, volume 4, pages 219-220)

“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 [the blood of Christ] can never remit.”
(Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, volume 4, page 54)

“This is loving your 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.”
(Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, volume 4, page 220)

“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.”
(Apostle Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, volume 4, page 375)

“It is not fully comprehended why it was necessary that Jesus Christ should leave the heavens, ... and come upon the earth to offer himself up a sacrifice; ... why this should be, why it was necessary that his blood should be shed is an apparent mystery.... What sins of the world did he take away? We are told that it is the sin which Adam committed.”
(Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, volume 10, pages 114-115)

“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.”
(Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, page 223)

“I say, there are men and women that I would advise to go to the Presidency immediately, and ask him to appoint a committee to attend to their care; and then let a place be selected, and let that committee shed their blood. We have 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 too deep a dye... I believe that there are a great many; and if they are covenant breakers we need a place designated, where we can shed their blood... Brethren and sisters, we want you to repent and forsake your sins. And you who have committed sins that cannot be forgiven through baptism, let your blood be shed, and let the smoke ascend, that the incense thereof may come up before God as an atonement for your sins, and that the sinners in Zion may be afraid.”
(Apostle Jebediah M. Grant, 2nd counselor to Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, volume 4, pages 49-51)

“We would not kill a man, of course, unless we killed him to save him...”
(Apostle Jebediah M. Grant, Deseret News, July 27th, 1854)

"I 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.”
(Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, volume 1, page 73)

“... 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.”
(Apostle Amasa M. Lyman, Apostle, Journal of Discourses, volume 7, page 299, 1859)

“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.”
(Apostle Amasa M. Lyman, Apostle, Journal of Discourses, volume 7, page 298)

“... inasmuch as the blood of Christ was shed for original sin unconditionally, but for the remission of actual sin conditionally.”
(Apostle Charles W. Penrose, Journal of Discourses, volume 21, pages 81-82)

“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!”
(Apostle George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, volume 1, page 97)

“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 blood shed to atone, as far as possible, in their behalf. This is scriptural doctrine, and is taught in all the standard works of the Church.”
(Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, volume 1, pages 135-136, 1954)

“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. 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.... Punishment by death is the penalty for refusing to obey the orders of the Priesthood.
“I knew of many men being killed in Nauvoo by the Danites. It was then the rule that all the enemies of the Prophet Joseph should be killed, and I know of many a man who was quietly put out of the way by the orders of Joseph and his apostles while the Church was there. It has always been a well understood doctrine of the Church that it is right and praiseworthy to kill every person who speaks evil of the Prophet. This doctrine was strictly lived up to in Utah...”
(Elder John D. Lee, Brigham Young’s adopted son and member of the Danites, John D. Lee Diaries)

“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, in Nelson Winch Green, Mormonism: its rise, progress, and present condition…, 1858, 1870 edition, page 273)

“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, Reminiscences of Early Utah, 1914, pages 154-155)

“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.”
(DaniteWilliam Hickman, Brigham Young’s Destroying Angel, 1964, page 284)

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...”
(New York Tribune, July 15th, 1865)

“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, November 5th, 1994, page D1)

“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.”
(Salt Lake Tribune, November 5th, 1994, page D1, D5)

“Accordingly, the doctrine 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. In his writings, Joseph Smith only hinted at the doctrine, Brigham Young successively denied and asserted it, Joseph F. Smith ardently defended it, and in more recent years, Hugh B. Brown repudiated it and Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie both have vigorously defended it in principle while staunchly denying that the Church has ever put it into actual practice, whereas most other General Authorities have prudently preferred to remain silent on the subject. It should be noted that the whole notion of blood atonement is so obviously linked to the Mormon literal mind-set that it does not seem to admit of a mitigated, symbolic interpretation and is either accepted or rejected outright, depending on one’s level of literalistic belief.”
(Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, volume 15, number 3, page 93)

“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, Utah Historical Quarterly, January 1958, page 62, note 39)

“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 whereunder 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, Mormon Doctrine, page 92)

“Well, if I understand Elder McConkie [in the above quote], he was saying that, although earlier Church leader’s never believed, preached, or practiced blood atonement, we actually do believe in it and would practice it if we had the legal and political power to do so. (Even thought we didn’t when Brigham Young presided over the theocratic territory of Deseret.)”
(Keith Norman, Mormon scholar, Sunstone, August 1990, page 11)

No comments: