Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

Mormon Studies Review


Kathleen Flake


religious diversity, early mormonism


A long-awaited publication, The Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844–January 1846 does not disappoint. It comprises contemporaneous notes, most of them verbatim, of deliberations by a religious council charged with devising a millennial government for the Mormon faithful and the non-Mormon righteous. Minutes gives a uniquely intimate view of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ efforts to account for religious diversity in its idealized kingdom of God to be organized in preparation for Christ’s return. Council members became demoralized by the death of founder Joseph Smith, and the record quickly turns into an account of the Council’s efforts to respond to, survive, and escape the dangers and betrayals within and without the church between 1844 and 1846. As documentation of Mormonism’s practical and principled abandonment of the United States, it is unparalleled.