Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel


Mountain Meadows Massacre, Saints

Document Type



Wayment: Lead us up to Mountain Meadows, maybe not focusing as much on the event itself but on the forces that lead up to that. What was happening?

Mason: The Mountain Meadows Massacre was the tragic culmination of several different historical forces in early Mormonism. I do not think you can dissociate what happened at Mountain Meadows from the experience of the Saints earlier, before they got to Utah. You have to understand it in the context of what happened to them, especially in Missouri and in Illinois. I teach courses on religion, violence, and peacebuilding, and we always try to understand what precipitated the violence. I think this is part of the act of the humanities scholar, but frankly, it is a deeply human act to try and empathize with another person even if we ultimately reject their actions or their worldview or some of the things they did. We have a responsibility to try and put ourselves in their shoes and empathize with them as much as possible, but that doesn’t necessarily excuse some of their behavior.