Friday, May 11, 2012


The principal issue that Mitt has avoided discussing is his wealth and one way that other wealthy candidate has dealt with this issue is by discussing their philanthropic contributions to charity. Mitt has been unable to do so because his principal contributions have been to the Mormon Church, and he has been reticent to talk about it because some Americans still do not accept Mormonism.

It has been difficult for journalist to write about Mitt’s Mormon religion for fear of coming across as a religious bigot, but it needs to be addressed.

If a candidate for the office of the presidency was a snake or serpent handler it would be very important to discuss this if only to insure that his choice for a vice president was exceptionally qualified.

Snake handling is a religion ritual in a small number of Pentecostal Churches in the U.S.  Usually characterized as rural and part of the holiness movement. Most snake handlers are found in the Appalachian Mountains and other parts of the Southeastern United States, especially in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Ohio. In 2001 there were about 40 small churches that practiced snake handling, and in 2004 there were four snake handling congregations in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.

Practioners are encouraged to handle snakes as evidence of salvation. Worshipers quote the Books of Mark and Luke to support the practice. Behold I give onto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any mean hurt you. Another key scripture used to support their belief is Acts 28:1-6, which tells that Paul while in Malta was bitten by a venomous snake and suffered no harm.  The snake story about Paul is interesting because there is no evidence of the existence of poisonous snake son Malta in the past.

The founder of modern snake handling, George Went Hensley, died from a fatal snake bite in 1955. In 198 snake handling evangel list John Wayne Brown died after being bitten by a timber rattler at a holiness church in Alabama. Another snake handler died in 2006 in a church in Kentucky. In July 2008, 10 people were arrested and 125 venomous snakes were confiscated as part of an undercover sting operation. The practice is legal in West Virginia, but the states of Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee have passed laws against the use of venomous snakes and other reptiles in a place that endangers the lives of others.

What if a candidate for the presidency was a Jehovah’s Witness, which is a Christian Denomination which like Mormonism has beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity?  Their beliefs are based on their interpretation of the bible with a preference for their own translation, “The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.” The religion grew out of a bible study group which was formed in 1870 by Charles Taze Russell, who during the course of the study disputed many of the creeds, doctrines, and traditions of mainstream Christianity. They believe that the destruction of the present world system at Armageddon is imminent and that the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth is the only solution for all of mankind’s problems.

They refuse military service,   do not celebrate birthdays, do not salute the flag, do not stand for the playing of the national anthem, and do not celebrate holidays like the fourth of July or religious holidays like Easter or Christmas which they consider to have pagan origins. They do not believe in blood transfusions for themselves or their children.

Another religion which would present some issues for a candidate for the presidency would be Christian Scientist which was founded in 1879 in Boston Massachusetts by Mary Baker Eddy, author of a book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The traditional bedrock of the church is healing through prayer without material means and their rejection of medicine. They deny the Deity of Jesus and teach that God is not the creator of the finite.

So a president who was a Christian Scientist would certainly would have no need for health care of any type for that matter any insurance companies since healing would be by prayer and medicine would be non essential.

By now you get the picture and I won’t have to discuss Scientology which would require volumes.

The Mormon Church states that in the early 1800’s, it’s first prophet Joseph Smith, had revelations that restored Christianity to it’s true path, a course correction necessary because previous Christian Churches had corrupted the faith ( so Matthew, Mark, Luke, Peter, Paul, Thomas, the Old and New Testament are incorrect, and therefore all other Christian Churches are incorrect). Smith bequeathed to the church volumes of revelations continued in scriptures   used only by Mormons: “The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” ” The Doctrines and Covenants”, and “The Pearl of Great Price”.  Traditional Christians   do not recognize any of those as scriptures.

Smith taught that the Garden of Eden was on the American Continent, and near present Independence Missouri and that Adam built an alter there. The remains of the alter and a tower were allegedly found by Mormons in 1838. Smith prophesied that the Lord’s second coming would be in independence Missouri. The church teaches that Mormons existed in heaven with God, the Heavenly Father as spirits, before becoming human. Marriage is strongly encouraged as only married can reach the highest heaven, The Celestial Kingdom, the only heaven of the three heavens where one can live in the presence of God and live with their wives through eternity.

A New York Times article entitled, The Theological Differences behind Evangelical Unease with Romney, dated January 15, 2012, Stated that although Mormons consider themselves Christian, there are major theological differences between the Mormon faith and Christianity, with one of the most fundamental one being that traditional Christian believe in the trinity, that God is the father, the son and the holy spirit all rolled into one. Mormon’s reject this as a non biblical creed that emerged in the fourth or fifth centuries. Mormon’s believe that God,   the father and Jesus are separate physical beings, and that God has a wife whom they call Heavenly Mother. It is not just the Evangelical Christians that object to these ideas.

That’s just not Christian said the Rev. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary, a liberal Protestant Seminary in New York City, God Jesus are not separate  physical beings. That would be an anathema. At the end of the day, all the other stuff doesn’t matter except the divinity of Jesus!

Another major difference concerns the afterlife,  Early Mormon Apostles  gave talks asserting that human beings would  become like Gods and inherit their own Planets., language now regularly subject to ridicule by critics of Mormonism.  Kathleen Flake, a Mormon who is a professor of American Religious History at Vanderbilt Divinity School explained that the planet notion has been de-emphasized in modern times in favor of a less concrete explanation.  People who die embark on an” eternal progression” that allows them to partake in God’s glory. “Mormon’s think of God as a parent” she said, God makes the world in order to give that world to his children. It’s like sending your child to Harvard, (although they never have had much of a football team). God gives his children every possible opportunity to progress towards this higher life that God posse.  When Mormon’s say, “Heavenly Father,” they mean it. It is not a metaphor.  It is the blurring of the lines between God, Jesus and human beings that is hard for Christians to accept, Mormon Professor of Communications at BYU, Lane Williams explains, “It’s not that we’re right and they’re wrong kind of approach, but it’s as though we feel that we have a broader circle of truth.”

As part of having a broader circle of truth, Mormons believe that a person can be baptized after death and that a person can be converted to Mormonism after death without his or his relatives consent.

The Mormon Church announced recently that slain Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl was posthumously baptized last year by proxy in a Twin Falls Idaho, Temple. The practice of performing unauthorized posthumous baptisms of Jewish people led to a 1995 agreement between Jewish Leaders and the Mormon Church. But recently the church had to apologize after learning that the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal had been posthumously baptized. They also acknowledged that three dead relatives of holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel were almost baptized. President Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham was baptized after her death.  Posthumous baptisms are common among Mormons. The purpose is to ensure that ancestors can join church members in the afterlife, but church rules stipulate that only direct descendants of the dead can submit their names for the sacrament. The Mormon Church had previously announced that they had baptized Ann Frank, Elvis Presley and of all people Adolph Hitler. The Church also allows proxy marriages of deceased relatives so that they can be converted into the Mormon faith and be with the family in the afterlife. The Mormon Church has a well known collection of genealogical records for the purpose of tracing ancestroria l backgrounds which can be used to baptize and marry your ancestors, for a slight fee of course.

What puts this all into question is the fact that Joseph Smith was arrested in Norwich New York in 1826 and tried and convicted of being a disorderly person.  Joseph Smith was involved in a scheme where he would look into a stone and divine the presence of minerals or gold. Initially defenders of the church expressed plausible deniability because of the supposed lack of documentation. However arrest warrants, court transcripts, and legal bills from four separate charge filed against Smith have been produced showing his involvement in glass looking or treasure seeking. He was found guilty of parting a local farmer of his money in a less than honest scheme, commonly known as money digging or glass looking. In that hearing Smith admitted that his “peep-stoning” practice was all a fraud and he promised the judge that he would give it up and do honest work. The judge let him off based on his promise.

 It was reported that the activity brought rebuke from his soon to be father in law, Isaac Hale. It is also historically recorded that Joseph Smith was removed from membership in a local Methodist Church because of the activity and the trial results. Joseph Smith was a border in the home of Isaac Hale and he asked permission to marry Isaac’s daughter Emma but was refused permission because of Smith’s conviction and the type of work he was doing.

On January 18, 1827 Smith and Emma Hale eloped against her father’s wishes and when they returned Isaac Hale allowed them to live in an old cabin on his property. A few months thereafter, Smith began to tell tales of a vision in which an angel directed him to a buried book of golden plates, inscribed with characters which he called reformed Egyptian.  He claimed that he could translate them, according to his father in law by reading reflections in a seer stone at the bottom of his hat.  The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret the plate which at the time were hidden in the woods, was the same manner as when he looked for the money-diggers with the stone in his hat, according to an affidavit given by Isaac Hale.

On March 26, 1830, four years after his conviction he published the Book of Mormon and established the Church of Christ on April 6, 183o and in 1831 he and his wife moved to Jackson County, Missouri, where he planned to eventually build the city of Zion. In 1833 alarmed by the life style of the church, non Mormon settlers expelled them from Jackson County.  Smith then moved to Kirkland Ohio, where he began building a temple. The Kirkland era ended in 1838 after the failure of a church sponsored bank caused wide spread defections. Smith who was the treasurer of the Kirkland Anti-Bank                                                         was tried and convicted in October 1837 by an Ohio Jury for violating the 1816 Ohio Banking law.  He was fined $1000 (the equivalent of about $90,000 in today’s dollars.

During the fall of 1838 tensions escalated into what is known as the 1838 Mormon War. A Mormon Church council had expelled many of the oldest and most prominent leaders of the church, who were excommunicated for various reasons due to land purchases.  Smith believed that his faith’s survival required greater militancy against anti Mormons and Mormon traitors; a covert operation called the Danites was formed to intimidate Mormon dissenters and oppose anti Mormon Militias units.  Speeches were made and printed in pamphlets, promising a war of extermination if Mormons were attacked. This produced a flood of anti Mormon rhetoric in Missouri newspapers. Violence erupted on August 6, 1838 when non Mormons tried to prevent Mormons from voting. This was the start of the 1838 war.  Non Mormon vigilantes raided and burned Mormon farms.                                                                                                                                 

Meanwhile under Smith’s general oversight and command, the Danites and other Mormon forces pillaged non-Mormon towns. Mormons attacked the Missouri state militia in an attempt to rescue some captured Mormons. The governor of Missouri ordered that the Mormons be exterminated or driven from the state. Non Mormon vigilantes surprised and killed 18 Mormons in the Haun’s Mill massacre, effectively ending the war. On November 1, 1838 the Mormon's surrendered and agreed to forfeit their property and leave the state. Smith was court marshaled for treason and nearly executed but for the fact that it was argued that he was a civilian. He was transferred to a jail in Liberty, Missouri to await trial, escaping on April 6, 1839.

 Between November and April some eight thousand  displaced  Mormons migrated east into Illinois establishing a new city, Nauvoo(Hebrew meaning “to be beautiful”) in a swampland on the banks of the Mississippi River  Smith introduced Temple ceremonies meant to seal families together for eternity, as well as the doctrines of eternal Progression or exaltation . He created a council of fifty, which had the authority to decide which national or state laws Mormons should obey. They represented a future theodemocratic “Kingdom of God” on earth. He began revealing the doctrine of plural marriage to a few of his closest friends, including a benefactor, Dr. John C. Bennett, who began using it as a license for free love. When embarrassing rumors of “spiritual wifely” arose, Joseph Smith forced Dr. Bennett to resign his position as Mayor of Nauvoo.  In return Bennett wrote lurid exposes of life in Nauvoo.
By mid-1842 opinion had turned against the Mormons, with the editor of the Warsaw Signal, Thomas C. Sharp criticizing them for political and military aspirations. The City of Nauvoo had an autonomous Militia with actions limited only by state and federal constitutions, with Joseph Smith being the Lieutenant General and Dr. John Bennett being the Major General. After an unknown assailant shot at the Missouri Governor on May 6, 1842, anti Mormons in Illinois reported that Joseph Smith had predicted the Governors death.  Smith’s body guard, Porter Rockwell was suspected. He was arrested, tried and acquitted.

 The governor of Missouri ordered Joseph Smith extradited and Smith went into hiding believing that he would be murdered if he was taken to Missouri.  Smith avoided extradition when a U.S. Attorney for Illinois gave his opinion that the extradition was unconstitutional.  Another extradition attempt was made in June 1843 when the Illinois Governor, Thomas Ford agreed to turn Joseph Smith over to Missouri on the old charge of treason.  Smith was arrested by Missouri officers but released on a writ of Habeas Corpus. While this ended Missouri’s attempt to extradite Joseph Smith, it cause significant political fallout in Illinois.
In December 1843, Smith petitioned congress under the authority of the Anointed Quorum to make Nauvoo an independent territory with the right to call out federal troops in its   defense.  Smith then wrote the leading   presidential candidates and asked what they would do to protect the Mormons. When he failed to receive a response Joseph Smith decided to run for president as a third party candidate.  Joseph Smith asked the Council of Fifty to select a site for a large Mormon settlement where Mormons could live under theocratic law beyond government control, in effect establishing a global theodemocracy.  One of the council’s first acts was to elect Joseph Smith as prophet, priest and king of the millennial monarchy.

By the spring of 1844 a crisis developed between Joseph Smith and a half a dozen of his closest Mormon associates, including William Law, Smith’s trusted counselor and Robert Foster, a general of the Nauvoo Militia who said that Smith had proposes marriage to their wives. About eight of Smith’s wives were also   married to other men (four were Mormon Men in good standing, who in a few cases acted as a witness in Smith’s marriage to their wives).  Typically these women continued to live with their first husband, not Smith.  Some accounts say Smith may have had sexual relations with some of his other wives and fathered children by one or two of them.  These   dissidents published a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor on June 7, 1844 which criticized Smith and called for reforms within the church. The newspaper   decried Polygamy and Smith’s doctrine of exaltation and other controversial doctrines such as his new doctrine of many Gods. The newspaper gave   the opinion that Smith, as both mayor and president of the church held too much power and that Smith had corrupted women by forcing, coercing or introducing them into plural marriage. The newspaper   promised to present evidence of its allegations in succeeding issues.  Fearing exposure Smith and the city council declared the newspaper a public nuisance and ordered the Nauvoo militia to destroy the printing press.
Destruction of the printing press provoked a call to arms by Thomas C. Sharp, Editor of the Warsaw Signal, who stated the Smith had violated freedom of the press, and raised issues of inciting riot and treason.  Smith fearing an uprising called out the militia, an organization of 500 men  on  June 18th and declared martial law. THe City of Carthage mobilized it’s small detachment of state militia. Illinois Governor Thomas Ford threatened to call a larger militia unless Smith and the city council surrendered. Smith initially fled across the Mississippi River but then returned and surrendered to the Governor, along with his brother Hyrum and fifteen city council members and some friends and were  charged with  inciting a riot.

Subsequently Smith and his brother were charged with treason. The members of the city council were each released on $500 bail, but Smith and his brother remained in custody since treason was a capital offense.
On June 27, 1844 a mob of some 200 men, their faces painted black with wet gun powder rushed the jail and killed Smith and his brother.  Five men, Thomas C. Sharp, Mark Aldrich, William N. Grover, Jacob C Davis and Levi Williams were tried for the murders.  All five were found not guilty by a jury. The defense was led by Orville Hickman Browning, who later served in the U.S. Senate and was one of the founders of the Republican Party.

After the death of Joseph Smith, a succession crisis occurred, Hyrum Smith would have been the logical successor but for his death.  Some members considered that Joseph Smith III should have been the successor. Brigham Young, president of the Quorum of twelve, claimed authority had been handed to him by Smith to the quorum of the twelve. Sidney Rigdon was the senior surviving member of the first presidency, a body which had led the church since 1832. At the time of Smith’s death, Rigdon had been estranged from Smith due to differences in doctrinal beliefs. James Strang claimed that Smith had designated him as the successor in a letter he had received a week before Smith’s death.
A schism resulted with each claimant attracting followers. The majority followed Brigham Young  and they migrated to the Utah territory after spending two years in Nebraska. Rigdon’s  followers  became  known as the Rigdonites  and some of them later established The Church of Jesus Christ . Strang’s followers established the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Joseph Smith III followers established the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints, which later changed its name to Community of Christ.

Brigham Young and his band of followers  spent 2 years in Nebraska, before migrating  to the Utah territory where a territorial government was formed in 1850 with Young becoming its first governor.  The Principle of “separation of church and state” carried little weight. The laws of the territory reflected the views of only one person, Brigham Young.  He publicized polygamy the previously secret practice in 1852; he supported a theocracy and advocated the violent doctrine of blood atonement.
When drought and grasshopper infestation produced desperate economic conditions in Utah, Brigham Young concluded that the problem stemmed from the loss of righteousness   among his people. In early 1856 he launched the Reformation, a campaign to arouse religious consciousness.  Mormon leadership urged spiritual repentance and rebaptisms.  All those not willing to make the necessary religious sacrifices were invited to leave the Utah Territory.  The most troubling aspect of the Reformation was the doctrine of blood atonement.   Brigham Young asked his followers to kill Mormons who committed unpardonable sins. “If our neighbor…wishes salvation, and it is necessary to spill his blood upon the ground in order that he be saved, spill it.”  It is not surprising that practitioners of such a religion grow suspicious of persons outside of their religious community. The fanaticism led to violence and the infamous Mountain Meadow Massacre, one of the four largest mass killings of civilians in the United States. 

 By 1857, tensions again escalated between Mormons leadership and Utah and the federal government reached the boiling point, largely as a result of accusations involving polygamy and the theocratic rule of the Utah Territory by Brigham Young.  Worried that a federal army might be sent their way, the Mormon dominated Utah legislature enacted legislation reactivating the territorial militia, calling it the Nauvoo Legion. Federal officials in Utah complained of harassment and destruction of records by Mormon citizens. On April 15, 1857, a federal judge, the U.S. Marshall and the territorial surveyor fled the state, convinced that they were about to be killed.  
In 1857 President James Buchanan sent an army to Utah, which Mormons interpreted as open aggression against them and fearing a repeat of Missouri and Illinois, they prepared to defend themselves. Brigham Young embarked on an effort to rally Indian support for the Mormon cause, support that he saw as critical in the battle to come.
 On September 1, 1857, Brigham Young met with southern Indian Chiefs, encouraging the Indians to seize “all the cattle” of emigrants that traveled on the south route (through southern Utah to California). The meeting increased the likelihood of a violent encounter between Indians and emigrants. Young had been working on such a plan even before September 1, having sent George  A. Smith, south with instructions to let the Indians know that Young considered emigration through Utah a threat to the well-being of both Mormon and Indian residents of the territory.

In this period of paranoia, anger and hostility, a wagon train later known as the Fancher party  left Arkansas on what they planned would be a long migration to California. Two weeks before the wagon train left Arkansas , a Mormon Apostle, Parley Pratt,  (the great ,great grandfather of Mitt Romney),  was murdered  by a non Mormon angered over Pratt’s taking of his wife.  When this information reached the Utah Territory,  it inflamed  the hostility all ready existing against non Mormons  and some even accused the  Fancher  Party  not only of involvement in the murder but also in the killing of Joseph Smith and his brother.
On the same day that Brigham Young spoke with the Paiute leaders, the  Fancher Party consisting of 140, men women and children camped about seventy miles north of Mountain Meadows. Rumors spread that the Fancher Party had committed all sorts of manufactured sins and depredations: tormenting women, swearing, insulting the Mormon Church, brandishing pistols and even poisoning cattle.  Isaac Haight, second in command of the Nauvoo legion and President of the Cedar City Stake called a meeting,  where he stated that it was the ”the will of authority to arm Paiute Indians and incite them to “kill all or part of the party.

On the evening of September 6, 1857, the Wagon Train crossed over the rim of the great basin and encamped at mountain meadow.  The following morning, there was gun fire with the first victim being a child who was shot by a group of 40 to 50 Indians and Mormons disguised as Indians.  Gun fire was returned and and soon the gun fire turned into a siege which lasted three days.   Over the next three days Mormon reinforcements arrived on horseback and reported to Haight and his immediate superior, William Dame, the head of southern Utah forces. Dane reportedly reiterated his determination not to let the immigrants pass:  “My orders are that all the immigrants (except the youngest children) must be done away with.”

On September 11, Legion officers devised a plan to end the siege. Most of the Paiutes had grown tired of waiting and had left except for a handful.  Major John Higbee told John D. Lee and William Bateman to act as decoys to draw out the immigrants from the protection of their wagons. Carrying a white flag they marched across the meadow and spoke to the entrenched members of the Fancher party who by this time were exhausted from fatigue and thirst.  The desperate emigrants agree to the terms that they would not be harmed if they gave up their arms, wagons and cattle.
A member of the Nauvoo Legion took the reins of one of the wagons that was loaded with some of the youngest children.  Women and some of the most seriously wounded emigrant men were loaded into the second wagon.  John D. Lee positioned himself between the two wagons as they pulled out. Following the two wagons,  the women and the oldest children walked behind.  After the wagons had moved on, Higbee ordered the emigrant men to begin walking in single file.   An armed Mormon guard escorted each emigrant man.  When the escorted men had fallen behind the wagons and women and older children about a quarter mile, Higbee gave the order, “Halt, do your duty!” Each of the Mormon guards shot and killed the defenseless men at their side.  Meanwhile on the other side of the hill that the wagons had crested, Nelphi  shouted the order  to begin the slaughter of the women and older children.  Men rushed at the defenseless  emigrants from both sides . It was over in just a few minutes  and 120 members of the Fancher party were dead. The youngest children seventeen or eighteen in all with the oldest one being 6 years and 11 months  were gathered up, to later be placed in Mormon homes.  All but one were  later gathered up by federal authorities and returned to relatives.

 The next day Colonel Dame, and Lt Colonel Higbee visited the site  with John Lee and  Phillip Klingsmith. Lee in his confession described the field on that day. “The bodies of  men, women and children had been stripped entirely naked, making the scene one of the most loathsome and ghastly that can be imagined. The men agreed that Mormon participation in the massacre had to be secret.
The bodies were left  unattended and at the mercy of wild animals. In May 1859 the U.S. Army buried the remains of 34 bodies  in a rifle pit , and erected  a cairn at the site.

Aware of the sensitivity of the events at Mountain Meadow, Mormon officials  from Brigham Young  on down worked to shift the blame for the massacre to the Paiutes or the emigrants themselves. By November John D. Lee had completed  an account  of the massacre  attributing all the killings to the Paiutes and sent the report to Brigham Young . Young as Superintendent of the Indians along with his other duties  prepared a report.  
Federal troops  who were unable to control the Utah Territory without engaging the Utah Militia until June 26, 1858,  marched into Salt Lake under a deal brokered by Brigham Young which included a pardon for those acts considered part of the rebellion. However a U.S. District Judge, John Cradlebaugh ignored the former governor's report and pursued an aggressive investigation. After several months of the investigation the judge issued arrest warrants for John D. Lee, Isaac Haight, and John Higbee for the murders at Mountain Medows. Angered by his discovery that the massacre was ordered by order of council, the judge wrote a letter to President Buchanan seeking his commitment to secure convictions for the guilty.

The federal case was dropped when the U.S. Marshall was unable to serve the warrants without protection of federal troops which were not available.

On the eve of the civil war, the federal government had major issues to contend with and the prosecution of the Mountain Meadow massacre was placed on a back burner. In 1871 as a result of a series of newspaper articles on the subject, Phillip Klingensmith, a former Mormon Bishop appearing in a Nevada court, confessed about his role, swearing out a complete account of the massacre. Mormon control of Utah justice system however prevented any prosecution there.

It was only when the jurisdiction in the Utah Courts was redefined in 1874,  was it possible to proceed with the prosecution of those responsible. Arrest warrants were issued for nine men, Lee, Higbee, Haight, Dame, Klingensmith, a Stewart, Wilden and Jukes, however only John D. Lee was arrested on November 7, 1874. Dame was arrested shortly thereafter however, it was decided to try John D. Lee first since he was considered the most likely to be convicted.

The trial of John D. Lee commenced on July 23, 1875 in federal district court . Brigham Young provided four attorneys for Lee's defense team. These attorneys quickly became involved in internal conflict, with two of them wanting to provide the strongest defense possible even if it meant implicating higher Mormon officials while the two other attorneys wanted to protect all higher officials.
After a description of the massacre, witnesses described various aspects of a plan by Mormon Officials to make life difficult for emigrants travelling through Utah. Several witnesses testified that they had been ordered not to sell grain or provisions to the Fancher Party. Another witness testified that he had been excommunicated for trading cheese for a bed quilt. Other witnesses testified about the fiery sermons of George A. Smith and other church leaders, warning of threats posed by emigration through the state.The star prosecution witness was Phillip Klingsmith who described the entire scenario leading up to the massacre including the actual killing, with Lee and the other men acting on orders from Higbee. The Lee jury was unable to reach a verdict with eight Mormons and
one former Mormon voting to acquit and three non Mormons voting to convict.

Lee's second trial did not resemble his first trial with new witness with enhanced memories putting Lee in the middle of the killing. The prosecution no longer attempted to raise the issue that Lee was one of many, following the orders of higher ups.

The change in the strategy was that a deal had been brokered between a new U.S. Attorney with the understanding that someone had to be convicted of the massacre and that since a unanimous jury verdict could never be reached in the case without Brigham Young's cooperation.. The deal was that an all Mormon jury was to be empanelled , Brigham Young's deposition would be placed into evidence, present evidence that would tend to exonerate higher Mormon officials and after trying Lee, promised that no one else would be prosecuted.

Lee was found guilty after witness testified to what they had seen him do, but those same witnesses had no memories when asked to name other Mormons that had participated in the massacre.

On March 23, 1877, John D. Lee was executed by a firing squad at the site where the Mountain Meadow massacre had occurred. Lee wrote a confession and gave it to his attorney who had it published it and it became an immediate best seller.

Brigham Young  in 1877, died two months after Lee's execution from appendicitis  and thereafter he was followed by a succession of LDS presidents who resisted efforts by congress to outlaw polygamony or as the Mormons referred to it, plural marriages.  In 1878 in the case of Reynolds v United States, the Supreme Court held that religious duty was not a defense for practicing polygamy. In September 1890, Church presidentWilford  Woodruff issued a manefesto that officially suspended the practice of polygamy but did not dissolve existing plural marriages.  The practice continued after the manefesto and did not cease until Utah requested statehood and was required  to prohibit polygamy to gain admission. The church today seeks to distance itself from fundamintalists groups that continue the practice.

In 1999, a backhoe operator unearthed a mass grave , but before forensic anthropologists had an opportunity to study them the governor (one of the murders decendants) ordered the bones reburied.

In 1998, Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the LDS Church, decided to buld a monument at the location of the original cairn . On September 11, 1999, the monument which has the names of all the people who are known to have been killed there, was dedicated. President Hinckley told the assembled crowd, "The past cannot be recalled . It cannot be changed. It is time to leave the entire matter in the hands of God." That's as close an admission or an apology that has ever been given.

In 2011 the Site of the Mountain Meadow Massacre became a National Historical
Monument,as a result of request by decendents of the victims and members of the LDS Church.

So how does Mitt Romney fit into this? Well for starters:
Many Mormon  practitioners migrated to Mexico in order to continue
to practice polygamy including Mitt Romney's  grandfater, Miles Park Romney who had five wives.

Mitt's father, George was born in Mexico (when he ran for president in 1968, there was some concerns about his birth place but since his parents were U.S. citizens, the issues were resolved, however the birthers continue to raise the issue about President Obama even though he was born in Hawaii).

The story about Romney's relatives who continue to reside in Mexico was aired on Rock Center with Briam Williams on January 9, 20012.  Some 40 members of  the Romney family continue to reside in Chihuahua, Mexico. The question that was not asked is whether the clan continues to practice polygamy. Maybe that was a condition for granting the interview.
 Mitt has said that his family members had fled the United States for Mexico to escape persecution, when in fact they fled not because of persecution but prosecution for continuing to practice polygamy.

Fist Bump !

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