I would comment about the Mountain Meadows Massacre and its sad legacy. The recent publication by the Assistant Church Historian as co-author of yet another new treatment of the unfortunate moment when Brigham Young’s clamor for “defending” the Saints got out of hand. The book is called Massacre at Mountain Meadows. The book reiterated how mistaken and regrettable that moment was in LDS history. It is the great example pointed to by anti-Mormon sources as proof that Mormons are capable of all the depredations of Historic Christianity, Roman Catholicism and Puritanical excesses that killed those who offended them. The church has issued an official apology, and President Hinckley visited the site and dedicated a monument as an act of Latter-day Saint contrition and regret.
If we had suffered then, as we had in Missouri and Illinois we would have been better. If given the opportunity to suffer again for our faith, we would be better remembered by history if we learn the lesson of Mountain Meadows. We are ennobled by our sacrifices. We are detested for our revenge and violence. In General Conference a few sessions back, President Faust gave a talk titled The Healing Power of Forgiveness. Unfortunately, his great example came from the Amish, whose young daughters were killed by a murderer, whom they forgave. It was not taken from our own conduct. I would commend that talk as a more recent and more reasoned statement on violence and the violent than the comments of Brigham Young who Latter-day Saint historians now admit had some role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Not because he approved it, he did not. Indeed, he sent a message to let the entrapped party go. But his message arrived too late. The violent attack had already taken place. The violence having been rationalized, at least in part, by Brigham Young’s own militant comments in the preceding years.
I am not trying to persuade anyone. Go ahead and resolve this issue for yourself. I am only setting out my own view. Take it for what you think it is worth. If you think it is “of the Devil” or “Satanic” then of course you ought to reject my view. But I have considered the quotes of Brigham Young before reaching my view, and find them in a context which even I believe he grew to regret.