Mormon Reformation, American History


On December 12, 1889, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement that proclaimed, "We denounce as entirely untrue the allegation which has been made, that our church favors or believes in the killing of persons who leave the church or apostatize from its doctrines." It went on to explain that the Church abhorred the shedding of human blood except as a capital crime penalty resulting from a legal, public trial. This manifesto came in response to the "gross misrepresentations of the doctrines, aims and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." During this critical period when the Church was trying to procure federal favor and statehood, popular artists and authors lambasted Latter-day Saints as violent religious fanatics. Fictional heroes from Sherlock Holmes to Buffalo Bill Cody wrestled Danites and outwitted Brigham's "avenging angels," while polygamist leaders were portrayed as licentious hypnotists who lured maidens into their harems. How did Utah Territory, a relatively peaceful place, acquire such a scandalous reputation? A principal source for these rumors was the muchmisunderstood Mormon Reformation, which lasted from 1856 to 1857.