2. The Mormon Church was institutionally racist from its founding through to more modern times
From its earliest years the Mormon Church allowed black people to worship but forbade black men from entering the priesthood. In the Mormon Church almost all men over the age of about 12 are admitted into the priesthood so this ban was a practical refusal to allow black worshippers. The early justification for the ban was that black people were descended from Cain, the black skin being a mark of his sin in killing his brother. Other excuses included that the souls of black people had sided with Lucifer against God. While this racist stance was not out of the ordinary or unusual at the time the Church was founded it became seen to be increasingly out of touch. In 1978 the Church leader President Kimball said that God had told him all males may become priests regardless of their race or color.
1. Mormons fought a war with the US Government
In 1852 the Mormons announced that polygamy was a basic tenant of the Mormon church. This statement combined with the success of settlement in Utah led the US Government to worry that the Utah would secede and become a theocracy. President Buchanan, keen to appear assertive and to protect Federal right sent an army to Utah. Brigham Young ordered the Mormon Militia to wage a guerilla war of attrition on the invading force by cutting their supply lines. Young was willing to employ scorched earth tactics even going so far as to make plans to burn Salt Lake City and move the Mormon population to Mexico. The war was only resolved when Young agreed to step down as governor.
From a belief in divine revelations received through a special stone in the bottom of a hat to polygamous marriage. From a belief that those who will be exalted after death will live as gods to an acceptance of the baptism of the dead. Mormons believe many things which others from outside the faith think of as strange. Many myths have developed around these beliefs, in some ways encouraged by the Mormons’ desire to be seen as a ‘peculiar people’ who have a special and unique relationship with God.
Was the founder, Joseph Smith, an eccentric confidence trickster and outlaw or a prophet who received divine inspiration? Was Brigham Young a charismatic leader who helped pioneer the wild west or was he a wild and dangerous man responsible for the cold blooded massacre of those who did not agree with him. Perhaps we shall never know the truth!