September 11th 2007 was the 150th year since that horrific day when 120 innocent men, women and children were brutally, senselessly murdered by the Mormon Priesthood in Southwestern Utah. The occasion was marked with several events to remember those whose lives were irrationally taken by religious fanaticism.
On Sunday, September 9th, a ceremony was held at the main mass grave site, known as the Carleton Cairn, where at least thirty-four sets of remains lie under a twelve foot conical shaped pile of rocks, called a cairn. This event was for the descendants and invited guests. Helen and I were invited by Phil Bolinger the President of Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation (MMMF) to attend this solemn event. Each of the victim’s names and ages were read. When a name was read, descendants were invited to stand and tell something about this person. Of the 120 victims, 90 were twenty-one years of age or younger. Placed on a table in front of the speaking platform were 137 white wooden crosses. Thirty were eighteen inch crosses with a black ribbon bow placed in the center of the cross for the thirty adults over age twenty-one that were murdered. There were 90 smaller, twelve inch crosses with a black ribbon bow for those 90 murdered individuals who were age twenty-one or less; and then seventeen small twelve inch crosses with red ribbon bows on them to signify the seventeen children under age seven that were spared and placed in Mormon homes until recovered two years later and returned to family members in Arkansas. After the names were all read and comments made about those murdered, the crosses were placed on the wrought iron fence surrounding the cairn. No cross has adorned the massacre site since the cross originally erected by Brevet Major Carelton’s men in 1859 was torn down when Brigham Young visited the site in 1861.
On Tuesday September 11th a formal ceremony marking the infamous day was held where approximately 450 people were in attendance. The ceremony began with the Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation leading a procession into the Carleton Cairn Site. The procession was lead off by two horsemen, one with the United States Flag and the other with the State of Arkansas Flag. These were followed by a Conestoga Wagon depicting the wagon train and twenty-nine pennants carried by descendants with the family names of the victims murdered by the Mormon Church Priesthood.
The American Flag, Arkansas Flag, Fancher Wagon, and family members carrying 29 pennants representing each of the family names that were victims of the massacre, approaching the massacre site on September 11, 2007.
Mormon Apostle Henry B. Eyring was in attendance and spoke on behalf of the Mormon Church. "We express profound regret for the massacre carried out in this valley 150 years ago today, and for the undue and untold suffering experienced by the victims then and by their relatives to the present time," Eyring said. He also made a statement of regret to the Paiute Indians, “who have unjustly borne for too long the principle blame for what occurred during the massacre.” Brigham Young expressly blamed the Indians for the massacre when he knew full well they were not the perpetrators of the crime! Lying for the Lord has shown itself to be acceptable behavior in the Mormon culture (Appendix Three of my upcoming book, When Salt Lake City Calls, is about this very thing, “Lying for the Lord”).
Regret is not an admission of guilt; it is simply an expression of sorrow that something happened. The Mormon Church has never offered an apology to the families of these victims for the killings; an apology would be an admission of guilt. The Church has joined with many people who say that the terrible events of the Mountain Meadows Massacre should be forgiven and forgotten. In that context, “forgive and forget,” the Mormon Church is ignoring its own doctrines. In the book “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” written by their own 12th Prophet, Spencer W. Kimball, in Chapter 13 it says: “The confession of sin is a necessary element in repentance and therefore in obtaining forgiveness. It is one of the tests of true repentance, for, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”” (pg 177). On page 178 of the same book it says: “Perhaps confession is one of the hardest of all the obstacles for the repenting sinner to negotiate. His shame often restrains him from making known his guilt and acknowledging his error. Sometimes his assumed lack of confidence in mortals to whom he should confess his sin justifies in his mind his keeping the secret locked in his own heart.”
It is the height of hypocrisy that the Mormon Church screams from the rooftops when acts of violence have been committed against Mormons; but, is dead silent when Mormons have committed acts of violence. The “persecution syndrome” is alive and well in Mormonism and we are reminded of it for any acts committed against them, yet without admission of any responsibility on their behalf, any acts of violence committed by Mormons should be forgiven and forgotten.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre was the first 9/11 and is one of the ugliest episodes in American History—yet the Mormon Church refuses to take the responsibility for this event and therefore, by its own doctrine, cannot be forgiven for this heinous act of unthinkable violence against unarmed, innocent men, women and children.
Phil Bolinger, President of MMMF addressed the crowd and read letters from the United States Senators and Congressman from the great State of Arkansas, the Governor, and all 50 State Representative to the Arkansas State Congress, voicing their request that the Mormon Church cooperate with the MMMF in turning the Mormon Church owned property, where the four mass graves that hold the victims of this horrific event lie, over to the Federal Government so the remains of the victims can be properly interred and the area can be turned into a National Monument. The Mormon Church refuses to do so saying “it is not in the best interest of the Church.” Again, how can the Mormon Church be forgiven if they won’t even accept responsibility for the act, and won’t cooperate to make right this terrible wrong? In accordance with its own doctrines, the Mormon Church cannot be forgiven of this awful deed committed by its Priesthood if it won’t acknowledge responsibility for the action.
The push for Federal Stewardship continues. This was the first battle of the Utah War—an ambush of innocent civilians by the Mormon Militia. All battlefields in the U.S. are properly designated as National Battlefields and appropriately marked as National Monuments and managed by the Department of Interior. Mountain Meadows should be no different. If you haven’t done so, write your Senators and Congressman and ask them to support the Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation’s request to have the Mormon Church turn Mountain Meadows over to Federal Stewardship for National Battlefield and National Monument status.