Episode 46: The Mountain Meadows Massacre with Dr. Gene Sessions

In this episode, Tom is joined by Dr. Gene Sessions from Weber State University to discuss the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Gene Sessions is a well known author and historian and is also a former president of the Mountain Meadows Association.

Links:
Camp Floyd and the Mormons: The Utah War
Mountain Meadows Association

Episode 46

81 comments on “Episode 46: The Mountain Meadows Massacre with Dr. Gene Sessions”

  1. NightAvatar Reply

    Tom, that was terrific! Much better than I expected from your brief comments after the interview was finished. You did very well and were sufficiently respectful. I was equelly impressed with Dr. Sessions. He has a humble reverence to him. I feel his sincerity and love in his voice as he presents some of the complicated facts around this very disturbing event in the church’s history.

    Very nicely done. And kudos to you both! 🙂

    I have to say, from what little I know I have the same take on the massacre as Dr Sessions regarding blame, the church’s involvement, and the many factors that play here.

    I also agree that this event alone should not be the single detirmining factor for concluding the church’s veracity. If one can believe that the Biblical prophets were inspired by God in spite of some evil deeds (I don’t personally), why not Brigham Young?

    Thanks to Tom and especially to Dr. Sessions for taking the time to share with us!

    I almost teared up when hearing Bro Eyring’s moving speech. Very, very well done. Glad you included that!

  2. NightAvatar Reply

    Tom, that was terrific! Much better than I expected from your brief comments after the interview was finished. You did very well and were sufficiently respectful. I was equelly impressed with Dr. Sessions. He has a humble reverence to him. I feel his sincerity and love in his voice as he presents some of the complicated facts around this very disturbing event in the church’s history.

    Very nicely done. And kudos to you both! 🙂

    I have to say, from what little I know I have the same take on the massacre as Dr Sessions regarding blame, the church’s involvement, and the many factors that play here.

    I also agree that this event alone should not be the single detirmining factor for concluding the church’s veracity. If one can believe that the Biblical prophets were inspired by God in spite of some evil deeds (I don’t personally), why not Brigham Young?

    Thanks to Tom and especially to Dr. Sessions for taking the time to share with us!

    I almost teared up when hearing Bro Eyring’s moving speech. Very, very well done. Glad you included that!

  3. Glenn Reply

    Another solid podcast. I apreciated the excerpt from Eyring and I thought Dr. Sessions conducted himself as well as could be expected. I may have been reading too much into it, but it did seem a little strained at times — a few times where he hesitated to yeild control of the discussion — and it came across to me that he felt a little unsure about exactly how this information would be used based on the variety of perspectives you see across Mormon Expression. I can tell that he is a man who holds his testimony of the church very dear and would hate to been seen as contributing to anyone’s dissafection, and I respect that. And I especially appreciated his definition of faith, that it does not rest upon certainty, but upon a feeling in your heart. Whatever that is. that’s just fine with me.

    A few times, however, I couldn’t help but think of Seth and Lorin’s discussion of the “single brick” vs. “the wall” analogy of apologetics from the Science and Disbelief podcast. I agree that Brigham’s possible involvement alone shouldn’t mean that a person of faith has to lose that faith. But I also thought Dr. Sessions unintentionally made quite a strong case for the athiestic, anti-religion side of things with his statement that one would be hard pressed to find any former religions leaders without serious warts, like the old testament prophets who wiped out entire groups of people (I don’t remember exactly how he said it — but it was something like that).

    But Dr. Sessions, if you are reading this, I want to thank you for sharing your expertise and your reasons for maintaining your faith, despite the concerns you may have had about how the information is disseminated. I hope that time shows that you made a very good decision.

  4. Glenn Reply

    Another solid podcast. I apreciated the excerpt from Eyring and I thought Dr. Sessions conducted himself as well as could be expected. I may have been reading too much into it, but it did seem a little strained at times — a few times where he hesitated to yeild control of the discussion — and it came across to me that he felt a little unsure about exactly how this information would be used based on the variety of perspectives you see across Mormon Expression. I can tell that he is a man who holds his testimony of the church very dear and would hate to been seen as contributing to anyone’s dissafection, and I respect that. And I especially appreciated his definition of faith, that it does not rest upon certainty, but upon a feeling in your heart. Whatever that is. that’s just fine with me.

    A few times, however, I couldn’t help but think of Seth and Lorin’s discussion of the “single brick” vs. “the wall” analogy of apologetics from the Science and Disbelief podcast. I agree that Brigham’s possible involvement alone shouldn’t mean that a person of faith has to lose that faith. But I also thought Dr. Sessions unintentionally made quite a strong case for the athiestic, anti-religion side of things with his statement that one would be hard pressed to find any former religions leaders without serious warts, like the old testament prophets who wiped out entire groups of people (I don’t remember exactly how he said it — but it was something like that).

    But Dr. Sessions, if you are reading this, I want to thank you for sharing your expertise and your reasons for maintaining your faith, despite the concerns you may have had about how the information is disseminated. I hope that time shows that you made a very good decision.

  5. Erico Reply

    I subscribe to Krakauer’s thesis – that overly-authoritarian religion can influence good people to do bad things. That’s not to say that religion can also influence a lot of good in the world. In this sense, religion is similar to alcohol (borrowing Lydon Lamborne’s analogy) which really helps lubricate the skids in bringing people closer together but can also do tremendous damage as well.

    I’m really glad to see the LDS church finally apologizing and owning up to their involvement. In this sense, I think the church is evolving into a better, more charitable institution. The Mormon church still has a way to go (in my opinion, of course) in terms of apologizing for discriminating against blacks, for continuing to needlessly penalize couples (and mostly their nonmember families) who choose to be married civily before being sealed in the temple, and for waging its campaign against gay couples’ private relationship matters. But any progress is welcome and healing.

    I also agree with Dr. Sessions that the events are very complex and none of us can view this in a black and white manner. Human nature paints people who do atrocious things as monsters. I think the lessons of nazi Germany and the Stanley Milgram shock experiments show that most of us may have blindly executed an innocent person if we would have been there, given the situation. With that being said, we should learn from the past and create a social and religious culture where we can encourage people to question and challenge authority when appropriate without fear of reprisal. The buck ultimately stops with each of us.

    Thank you Tom and Dr. Sessions for a great podcast!

  6. Erico Reply

    I subscribe to Krakauer’s thesis – that overly-authoritarian religion can influence good people to do bad things. That’s not to say that religion can also influence a lot of good in the world. In this sense, religion is similar to alcohol (borrowing Lydon Lamborne’s analogy) which really helps lubricate the skids in bringing people closer together but can also do tremendous damage as well.

    I’m really glad to see the LDS church finally apologizing and owning up to their involvement. In this sense, I think the church is evolving into a better, more charitable institution. The Mormon church still has a way to go (in my opinion, of course) in terms of apologizing for discriminating against blacks, for continuing to needlessly penalize couples (and mostly their nonmember families) who choose to be married civily before being sealed in the temple, and for waging its campaign against gay couples’ private relationship matters. But any progress is welcome and healing.

    I also agree with Dr. Sessions that the events are very complex and none of us can view this in a black and white manner. Human nature paints people who do atrocious things as monsters. I think the lessons of nazi Germany and the Stanley Milgram shock experiments show that most of us may have blindly executed an innocent person if we would have been there, given the situation. With that being said, we should learn from the past and create a social and religious culture where we can encourage people to question and challenge authority when appropriate without fear of reprisal. The buck ultimately stops with each of us.

    Thank you Tom and Dr. Sessions for a great podcast!

  7. Steve K Reply

    Sorry Tom, I’m left thinking maybe these podcasts are a tool of the Church. I repeatedly heard excuses made for murderers with caveats of “I’m not making excuses”, I heard repeated comments suggesting these victims did something to bring this upon themselves. I believe when we air or give stage to people who think this way we further victimize. It was as wrong then as it is now to kill innocent women and children. IF your podcasts are to maintain credibility based on what you advertise them to be then you need to step up and ask the hard questions.

    Yes its nice I suppose to hear an LDS historians perspective but really are we all not smart enough at this point to speak out and fly the bullshit flag. This was a real nice advertisement for another LDS bullshit book on the Mountain Meadow Massacre soon to be released.

    My guess is that we should all start feeling our hearts more and stop pursuing truth in light of this “historian”, who first says its his job to look at these events critically, then goes on to tell us its more important how he feels and how that doesn’t effect his testimony.

    Personally I’m done listening to the podcasts, the mind-screwing has to end at some point and tonight is the night to move on from Mormonism and people who coddle this nonsense.

  8. Steve K Reply

    Sorry Tom, I’m left thinking maybe these podcasts are a tool of the Church. I repeatedly heard excuses made for murderers with caveats of “I’m not making excuses”, I heard repeated comments suggesting these victims did something to bring this upon themselves. I believe when we air or give stage to people who think this way we further victimize. It was as wrong then as it is now to kill innocent women and children. IF your podcasts are to maintain credibility based on what you advertise them to be then you need to step up and ask the hard questions.

    Yes its nice I suppose to hear an LDS historians perspective but really are we all not smart enough at this point to speak out and fly the bullshit flag. This was a real nice advertisement for another LDS bullshit book on the Mountain Meadow Massacre soon to be released.

    My guess is that we should all start feeling our hearts more and stop pursuing truth in light of this “historian”, who first says its his job to look at these events critically, then goes on to tell us its more important how he feels and how that doesn’t effect his testimony.

    Personally I’m done listening to the podcasts, the mind-screwing has to end at some point and tonight is the night to move on from Mormonism and people who coddle this nonsense.

  9. DuzTruthMatter Reply

    I have to agree with Steve K. This type of sycophantic love fest belongs on Mormon Miscellaneous with Van Hale. It’s difficult to understand the direction of where these podcasts are going.

    It seems to me that the actions of a group of like minded people are the direct result of the teachings and doctrine from their leaders. To think that this was a bunch of rogue bandits who thought this atrocity up on their own is ludicrous. The preaching of their prophet and church leaders would have weighed heavily on their perception of what they thought they should do.

    Mr. Sessions mentioned that some of these men were local ecclesiastic leaders including a stake president, who was supposedly chosen and set apart by the inspiration from the Lord. If a church led by God claims to have leaders chosen by God, then they have to live with the results of decisions made by those leaders. If you claim that they are just feeble men, don’t claim that God has anything to do with them being called, including the “blood-atonement prophet”.

    Just accept the fact that a man-made church makes mistakes, sometimes as horrendous as this one was. To be moved to tears over an apology 150 years after the fact is a personaly choice, but one I don’t understand. But at least we can look forward to a similar apology to the blacks in the year 2128 by then president Jededian K. Packer. Get the Kleenex ready.

  10. DuzTruthMatter Reply

    I have to agree with Steve K. This type of sycophantic love fest belongs on Mormon Miscellaneous with Van Hale. It’s difficult to understand the direction of where these podcasts are going.

    It seems to me that the actions of a group of like minded people are the direct result of the teachings and doctrine from their leaders. To think that this was a bunch of rogue bandits who thought this atrocity up on their own is ludicrous. The preaching of their prophet and church leaders would have weighed heavily on their perception of what they thought they should do.

    Mr. Sessions mentioned that some of these men were local ecclesiastic leaders including a stake president, who was supposedly chosen and set apart by the inspiration from the Lord. If a church led by God claims to have leaders chosen by God, then they have to live with the results of decisions made by those leaders. If you claim that they are just feeble men, don’t claim that God has anything to do with them being called, including the “blood-atonement prophet”.

    Just accept the fact that a man-made church makes mistakes, sometimes as horrendous as this one was. To be moved to tears over an apology 150 years after the fact is a personaly choice, but one I don’t understand. But at least we can look forward to a similar apology to the blacks in the year 2128 by then president Jededian K. Packer. Get the Kleenex ready.

  11. Glenn Reply

    Actually, I’m pretty sure Jedidian K. Packer will be prophet in 2129.

    (that was pretty awesome, by the way)

  12. Glenn Reply

    Actually, I’m pretty sure Jedidian K. Packer will be prophet in 2129.

    (that was pretty awesome, by the way)

  13. jax Reply

    I tend to disagree with the previous two commenters, though I full respect their right to their opinions.

    Nothing about the podcasts states that this is only for those who have completely given the church over to hell and that only people who have completely disaffected need tune in. Many different types of people, from fully resigned former members like me to the believing spouses of those going through a crisis of faith are represented in the podcasts’ listenership. Not every disaffected person arrives at the same level at the same time.

    Mr. Sessions is a full believing member of the church, that was clear and that is fine. But he is also an expert on the subject of the Massacre and his information is very valuable, in my opinion. For someone who first heard of MMM from a seminary teacher who painted the Mormons as the victims, I found his candor refreshing. And I still believe the Church’s actions are too little too late. But I sure am glad to hear someone telling the truth about it for once. The host did a good job of treating his guest, and his guest’s opinions, with respect.

    There is great value in this and the other podcasts. After all, they are supposed to be an ongoing discussion of all things Mormon, and this subject a big one. I think the Massacre is so huge, it gets swept aside too easily because no one wants to talk about it, on the believing side. Let’s talk about it! Bring it out into the full light of day and let everyone understand what really happened. The lessons from this are too important to let die away.

    Great discussion, Tom.

  14. jax Reply

    I tend to disagree with the previous two commenters, though I full respect their right to their opinions.

    Nothing about the podcasts states that this is only for those who have completely given the church over to hell and that only people who have completely disaffected need tune in. Many different types of people, from fully resigned former members like me to the believing spouses of those going through a crisis of faith are represented in the podcasts’ listenership. Not every disaffected person arrives at the same level at the same time.

    Mr. Sessions is a full believing member of the church, that was clear and that is fine. But he is also an expert on the subject of the Massacre and his information is very valuable, in my opinion. For someone who first heard of MMM from a seminary teacher who painted the Mormons as the victims, I found his candor refreshing. And I still believe the Church’s actions are too little too late. But I sure am glad to hear someone telling the truth about it for once. The host did a good job of treating his guest, and his guest’s opinions, with respect.

    There is great value in this and the other podcasts. After all, they are supposed to be an ongoing discussion of all things Mormon, and this subject a big one. I think the Massacre is so huge, it gets swept aside too easily because no one wants to talk about it, on the believing side. Let’s talk about it! Bring it out into the full light of day and let everyone understand what really happened. The lessons from this are too important to let die away.

    Great discussion, Tom.

  15. Wes Cauthers Reply

    This was a very disappointing podcast. The MMM is something I have been very interested in. I did not learn anything new here and it seemed to me like Sessions’ main point was to excuse the MMM as a “complex matter that we really can’t fully understand in 2010” when in reality it is quite simple to understand.

  16. Wes Cauthers Reply

    This was a very disappointing podcast. The MMM is something I have been very interested in. I did not learn anything new here and it seemed to me like Sessions’ main point was to excuse the MMM as a “complex matter that we really can’t fully understand in 2010” when in reality it is quite simple to understand.

  17. DuzTruthMatter Reply

    Jax – Point well taken that the purpose of these podcasts is to inform a vast array of types of “Mormons”. My apologies to John & gang.

    However, your last sentence is “The lessons from this are too important to let die away.” What are the lessons from this incident?

    1. [That it will never happen again?] I don’t see any Danites or Gadianton Robbers in the church today so we shouldn’t have to worry about that.

    2. [That the church should have nothing to hide when it comes to controversial doctrine or egregious past actions?] Have you seen Robert Millet’s video telling prospective missionaries, “Don’t answer the question the investigator asks, answer the question they should have asked.” Did Gordon Hinckley really mean, “I don’t know that we teach that”, in regards to whether man can become a god?

    3. [That the church should apologize for all that same controversial doctrine or egregious past actions?] As in my previous post, has there been an apology to the blacks? Should there be an apology to all those whose exaltation depended on performing the horrifying throat slashing, disemboweling rituals now that God has changed His mind on that? And it’s way to late to apologize to the early mormons who were told and died believing that Adam was God. Were they then damned since God said, “Thou shalt have no other god’s before me”?

    I know the apologists have come up with a spin on each of the topics I mentioned, but how much spinning does it take to get dizzy enough to get to that stupor of thought?

  18. DuzTruthMatter Reply

    Jax – Point well taken that the purpose of these podcasts is to inform a vast array of types of “Mormons”. My apologies to John & gang.

    However, your last sentence is “The lessons from this are too important to let die away.” What are the lessons from this incident?

    1. [That it will never happen again?] I don’t see any Danites or Gadianton Robbers in the church today so we shouldn’t have to worry about that.

    2. [That the church should have nothing to hide when it comes to controversial doctrine or egregious past actions?] Have you seen Robert Millet’s video telling prospective missionaries, “Don’t answer the question the investigator asks, answer the question they should have asked.” Did Gordon Hinckley really mean, “I don’t know that we teach that”, in regards to whether man can become a god?

    3. [That the church should apologize for all that same controversial doctrine or egregious past actions?] As in my previous post, has there been an apology to the blacks? Should there be an apology to all those whose exaltation depended on performing the horrifying throat slashing, disemboweling rituals now that God has changed His mind on that? And it’s way to late to apologize to the early mormons who were told and died believing that Adam was God. Were they then damned since God said, “Thou shalt have no other god’s before me”?

    I know the apologists have come up with a spin on each of the topics I mentioned, but how much spinning does it take to get dizzy enough to get to that stupor of thought?

  19. Digital Mayhem Reply

    I was hoping for a more open discussion of this disaster too, it is frustrating that higher profile members of the church can have more pressure to not cross any lines with the church. I think it is great that Dr. Sessions was willing to come on the podcast…I don’t think some of us realize how much pressure that may have put on him. That said, I really wanted some answers and perhaps some amount of recompense or acknowledgment of wrong doing by someone “higher up” in the church. I guess I have to continue blend this interview into the last 150 year batch of bullshit. Although, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that at least it’s being talked about and not denied anymore, at least in some venues of discussion. Also, I should give a weak shout-out to those in the church, like Dallin Oaks, and Gordon B who kinda tried to be open with us…kinda.

    Great job Tom and ME for attracting all sides of Mormonism…for those of us who were frustrated by this one (myself included), hang in there…I’m very sure there will be plenty of your/our perspectives discussed in future shows. I would not be surprised to see another MMM show sometime down the road as it is a huge topic.

  20. Digital Mayhem Reply

    I was hoping for a more open discussion of this disaster too, it is frustrating that higher profile members of the church can have more pressure to not cross any lines with the church. I think it is great that Dr. Sessions was willing to come on the podcast…I don’t think some of us realize how much pressure that may have put on him. That said, I really wanted some answers and perhaps some amount of recompense or acknowledgment of wrong doing by someone “higher up” in the church. I guess I have to continue blend this interview into the last 150 year batch of bullshit. Although, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that at least it’s being talked about and not denied anymore, at least in some venues of discussion. Also, I should give a weak shout-out to those in the church, like Dallin Oaks, and Gordon B who kinda tried to be open with us…kinda.

    Great job Tom and ME for attracting all sides of Mormonism…for those of us who were frustrated by this one (myself included), hang in there…I’m very sure there will be plenty of your/our perspectives discussed in future shows. I would not be surprised to see another MMM show sometime down the road as it is a huge topic.

  21. DDR Reply

    This was a interesting podcast to listen too. This issue was the catylst for me since I had heard nothing about this in all my years in the church. I think I was around 32 when I first heard about this. While I do think Dr Sessions is making excuses for many of these people especially the leaders of the mormon church. I do respect that he is willing to come on and discuss this and acknowledge that the Mormon Church had the main part in this tragedy.

    While I do agree with him that this issue alone shouldn’t cause people to leave the LDS Church(Althoug I respect people that would leave over this lie and cover-up). This issue caused me to question everything I was told. As I looked into the foudation claims of Mormonism and the actual history not what is taught in the church and there is a HUGE difference I found there is a weak foundation and continuing to be a part of this organiztion was an endorsement of things like MMM and Polgamy and Racist thoughst and actions. I am digressing a little.

    Back on track. The one thing I think the church needs to do is cut out the victim history teaching to primary children. As I considered what to do about the LDS Church I would read what was being taught to my kids each sunday. My son is 9 and this last year it was Church History. And in my opinion there is no excuse to teach a 9 year old about Hauns Mill if you aren’t willing to teach them about MMM. In reality there really is not point in teaching any primary child about Hauns mill other than to try to get them in the victum mentality and that the world is out to get them. So sad that this is still done.

    The truth of the matter is the leaders of the mormon church are not willing to live by the same integrity that they require from the members. That was a hard thing for me to come to terms with but it is true and I feel that as truth.

    I also agree with one of the posters above. I think Dr Sessions makes a great case for no God in this interview. If in fact these leaders are lead by God then God isn’t willing to live by the standards he expects. It is all such a sad thing that religion is so divisive.

    Thanks John for doing these podcasts. I was somewhat disappointed with Dr Sessions but I understand he is trying to wrap his head around this and still be a good Mormon boy. I do respect his courage to come on here. And I do recognize that the Mormon Church is making progress. 20 years ago he would of probably been ex’ed for doing this interview. Maybe less. Possibly even 10 years ago.

  22. DDR Reply

    This was a interesting podcast to listen too. This issue was the catylst for me since I had heard nothing about this in all my years in the church. I think I was around 32 when I first heard about this. While I do think Dr Sessions is making excuses for many of these people especially the leaders of the mormon church. I do respect that he is willing to come on and discuss this and acknowledge that the Mormon Church had the main part in this tragedy.

    While I do agree with him that this issue alone shouldn’t cause people to leave the LDS Church(Althoug I respect people that would leave over this lie and cover-up). This issue caused me to question everything I was told. As I looked into the foudation claims of Mormonism and the actual history not what is taught in the church and there is a HUGE difference I found there is a weak foundation and continuing to be a part of this organiztion was an endorsement of things like MMM and Polgamy and Racist thoughst and actions. I am digressing a little.

    Back on track. The one thing I think the church needs to do is cut out the victim history teaching to primary children. As I considered what to do about the LDS Church I would read what was being taught to my kids each sunday. My son is 9 and this last year it was Church History. And in my opinion there is no excuse to teach a 9 year old about Hauns Mill if you aren’t willing to teach them about MMM. In reality there really is not point in teaching any primary child about Hauns mill other than to try to get them in the victum mentality and that the world is out to get them. So sad that this is still done.

    The truth of the matter is the leaders of the mormon church are not willing to live by the same integrity that they require from the members. That was a hard thing for me to come to terms with but it is true and I feel that as truth.

    I also agree with one of the posters above. I think Dr Sessions makes a great case for no God in this interview. If in fact these leaders are lead by God then God isn’t willing to live by the standards he expects. It is all such a sad thing that religion is so divisive.

    Thanks John for doing these podcasts. I was somewhat disappointed with Dr Sessions but I understand he is trying to wrap his head around this and still be a good Mormon boy. I do respect his courage to come on here. And I do recognize that the Mormon Church is making progress. 20 years ago he would of probably been ex’ed for doing this interview. Maybe less. Possibly even 10 years ago.

  23. James Reply

    Its a good thing I did not participate in this podcast. I would have derailed the conversation via a much needed voice of skepticism.

    This podcast was hard to listen to. I think my big problem with it lies with Sessions inability to put responsibility squarely with the authoritarian zealotry that motivated the act. This is like the present practice of the church to distance themselves from uncomfortable realities produced by Mormonism such as the FLDS. Whenever the MMM or polygamy is brought up, they distance themselves because the alternative is to say “thats how we used to be but we changed now”. the “Rogue Mormon” tactic is what I heard acted out on this podcast.

    Sessions commentary and opinions are two faced and unable to accurately handle the actual scholarship produced by Bagley and Krakauer. His talk of “conspiracy theories” was a hamfisted attempt at dismissing the clear presence of the mormons violent culture. Dr Sessions clearly admits that Bagley knows much more about the MMM. Hopefully he is able to stop wearing blinders and give responsibility to those who let the MMM happen.

    Hopefully one day a considerable chunk of assets will be given to the descendants of the Fanchers and other families disenfranchised by the acts committed by those motivated by their leaders.

    Why cover up something at the highest levels of Mormon power if the responsibility for ordering the attack did not extend that far? Brigham ordered the attack. Any opinion otherwise ignores how the theocractic dictatorship of Deseret worked.

  24. James Reply

    Its a good thing I did not participate in this podcast. I would have derailed the conversation via a much needed voice of skepticism.

    This podcast was hard to listen to. I think my big problem with it lies with Sessions inability to put responsibility squarely with the authoritarian zealotry that motivated the act. This is like the present practice of the church to distance themselves from uncomfortable realities produced by Mormonism such as the FLDS. Whenever the MMM or polygamy is brought up, they distance themselves because the alternative is to say “thats how we used to be but we changed now”. the “Rogue Mormon” tactic is what I heard acted out on this podcast.

    Sessions commentary and opinions are two faced and unable to accurately handle the actual scholarship produced by Bagley and Krakauer. His talk of “conspiracy theories” was a hamfisted attempt at dismissing the clear presence of the mormons violent culture. Dr Sessions clearly admits that Bagley knows much more about the MMM. Hopefully he is able to stop wearing blinders and give responsibility to those who let the MMM happen.

    Hopefully one day a considerable chunk of assets will be given to the descendants of the Fanchers and other families disenfranchised by the acts committed by those motivated by their leaders.

    Why cover up something at the highest levels of Mormon power if the responsibility for ordering the attack did not extend that far? Brigham ordered the attack. Any opinion otherwise ignores how the theocractic dictatorship of Deseret worked.

  25. jax Reply

    DuzTruthMatter,

    I should probably have explained my comment a little bit better. What I meant by that is, as a devout member, I never would have considered anything plausible that was not presented by a source I trusted. I wish I had known about MMM. There are important lessons for believing and disbelieving alike about MMM. If a person wishes to remain connected to the church, then I have zero issue with their personal decisions. But, I do think full dislosue is important and if they hear that from this podcats then that has value. Many, many active LDS never hear the real story. Mr. Sessions explained things more than fully than any historian I have heard.
    And I get your points. I meant to say that although I think the danger of their being another incident of cold blooded murder perpetrated by members of the church in this manner is infintesimal, I think learning that not everything a leader says should be swallowed without question is an invaluable lesson. This horrific atrocity illustrates that danger better than anything esle in Mormon history, at least in my opinion.
    The church’s apologies about these issues mean little to me. That wasn’t what I meant about not letting it die.
    Peace to you,
    jax

  26. jax Reply

    DuzTruthMatter,

    I should probably have explained my comment a little bit better. What I meant by that is, as a devout member, I never would have considered anything plausible that was not presented by a source I trusted. I wish I had known about MMM. There are important lessons for believing and disbelieving alike about MMM. If a person wishes to remain connected to the church, then I have zero issue with their personal decisions. But, I do think full dislosue is important and if they hear that from this podcats then that has value. Many, many active LDS never hear the real story. Mr. Sessions explained things more than fully than any historian I have heard.
    And I get your points. I meant to say that although I think the danger of their being another incident of cold blooded murder perpetrated by members of the church in this manner is infintesimal, I think learning that not everything a leader says should be swallowed without question is an invaluable lesson. This horrific atrocity illustrates that danger better than anything esle in Mormon history, at least in my opinion.
    The church’s apologies about these issues mean little to me. That wasn’t what I meant about not letting it die.
    Peace to you,
    jax

  27. Tom Perry Reply

    Steve K – “Sorry Tom, I’m left thinking maybe these podcasts are a tool of the Church. I repeatedly heard excuses made for murderers with caveats of “I’m not making excuses”, I heard repeated comments suggesting these victims did something to bring this upon themselves. I believe when we air or give stage to people who think this way we further victimize. It was as wrong then as it is now to kill innocent women and children. IF your podcasts are to maintain credibility based on what you advertise them to be then you need to step up and ask the hard questions. ”

    -You are left thinking that these podcasts are a tool for the church? Have you listened to any of the other podcasts? Even Gene Sessions had serious hesitations of coming on a show with this kind of questionable material. And to your accusing Gene of “making excuses” for the attackers, I personally don’t think that he was. He brought up other factors that people could consider in the wide picture of the Massacre, but never did he give any excuses to the murders.

    I agree that it is as wrong now as it was then to kill women and children. No question. But then you accuse me of not asking the “hard questions”? What would you have me ask of a professional historian that is a current believer in the church? I think that what he has experienced and researched on his own in relation to the Massacre was worth hearing. What is wrong with hearing his opinion, openly? Do you not believe his opinion is worth hearing?

    Then you make some rather big assumption by saying that it was an advertisement for the upcoming book by Turley. That is a rather big leap don’t you think? The book hasn’t even been released before you dismiss it. Very open minded of you.

    Then you say, “My guess is that we should all start feeling our hearts more and stop pursuing truth in light of this “historian”, who first says its his job to look at these events critically, then goes on to tell us its more important how he feels and how that doesn’t effect his testimony. ”

    Of this “historian”? You questioning Gene Sessions as a historian is completely classless and irresponsible. He has clearly earned that title.

    Gene has a testimony of the church. He has developed an ability to separate his belief in the church from the historical events that he has researched. I commend him for being able to do that. I personally cannot do that. This event is what made me rethink everything about the church and seriously consider leaving it.

    “Personally I’m done listening to the podcasts, the mind-screwing has to end at some point and tonight is the night to move on from Mormonism and people who coddle this nonsense.”

    -You shouldn’t be surprised when a podcast doesn’t fit your opinion, rather you should be surprised when one does.

    I don’t want to speak for John, but, don’t let the door hit you on the way out Steve K.

  28. Tom Perry Reply

    Steve K – “Sorry Tom, I’m left thinking maybe these podcasts are a tool of the Church. I repeatedly heard excuses made for murderers with caveats of “I’m not making excuses”, I heard repeated comments suggesting these victims did something to bring this upon themselves. I believe when we air or give stage to people who think this way we further victimize. It was as wrong then as it is now to kill innocent women and children. IF your podcasts are to maintain credibility based on what you advertise them to be then you need to step up and ask the hard questions. ”

    -You are left thinking that these podcasts are a tool for the church? Have you listened to any of the other podcasts? Even Gene Sessions had serious hesitations of coming on a show with this kind of questionable material. And to your accusing Gene of “making excuses” for the attackers, I personally don’t think that he was. He brought up other factors that people could consider in the wide picture of the Massacre, but never did he give any excuses to the murders.

    I agree that it is as wrong now as it was then to kill women and children. No question. But then you accuse me of not asking the “hard questions”? What would you have me ask of a professional historian that is a current believer in the church? I think that what he has experienced and researched on his own in relation to the Massacre was worth hearing. What is wrong with hearing his opinion, openly? Do you not believe his opinion is worth hearing?

    Then you make some rather big assumption by saying that it was an advertisement for the upcoming book by Turley. That is a rather big leap don’t you think? The book hasn’t even been released before you dismiss it. Very open minded of you.

    Then you say, “My guess is that we should all start feeling our hearts more and stop pursuing truth in light of this “historian”, who first says its his job to look at these events critically, then goes on to tell us its more important how he feels and how that doesn’t effect his testimony. ”

    Of this “historian”? You questioning Gene Sessions as a historian is completely classless and irresponsible. He has clearly earned that title.

    Gene has a testimony of the church. He has developed an ability to separate his belief in the church from the historical events that he has researched. I commend him for being able to do that. I personally cannot do that. This event is what made me rethink everything about the church and seriously consider leaving it.

    “Personally I’m done listening to the podcasts, the mind-screwing has to end at some point and tonight is the night to move on from Mormonism and people who coddle this nonsense.”

    -You shouldn’t be surprised when a podcast doesn’t fit your opinion, rather you should be surprised when one does.

    I don’t want to speak for John, but, don’t let the door hit you on the way out Steve K.

  29. Tom Perry Reply

    DuzTruthMatter – “It seems to me that the actions of a group of like minded people are the direct result of the teachings and doctrine from their leaders. To think that this was a bunch of rogue bandits who thought this atrocity up on their own is ludicrous. The preaching of their prophet and church leaders would have weighed heavily on their perception of what they thought they should do.”

    -When did Gene or I say or even imply that a “bunch of rogue bandits” thought it all up? I don’t recall that being said at all. The only thing up for debate is whether Brigham Young ordered the Massacre prior to the fact. Gene does not subscribe to that theory and neither do quite a few other historians. How high did the order come from exactly? That is also highly debated.

    “To be moved to tears over an apology 150 years after the fact is a personaly choice, but one I don’t understand.”

    -I personally cannot explain why I feel so connected to the victims, I just do. I still feel a deep anger and resentment over the whole thing. I do want someone punished or blamed for it. So when I heard the church come as close to an actual “apology” as they could, I felt some deep emotion. Did that excuse it? No. Does it make it better? No. Is it a very small step forward? Yes. And that is better than nothing, which is precisely what the church has done for 140+ years.

  30. Tom Perry Reply

    DuzTruthMatter – “It seems to me that the actions of a group of like minded people are the direct result of the teachings and doctrine from their leaders. To think that this was a bunch of rogue bandits who thought this atrocity up on their own is ludicrous. The preaching of their prophet and church leaders would have weighed heavily on their perception of what they thought they should do.”

    -When did Gene or I say or even imply that a “bunch of rogue bandits” thought it all up? I don’t recall that being said at all. The only thing up for debate is whether Brigham Young ordered the Massacre prior to the fact. Gene does not subscribe to that theory and neither do quite a few other historians. How high did the order come from exactly? That is also highly debated.

    “To be moved to tears over an apology 150 years after the fact is a personaly choice, but one I don’t understand.”

    -I personally cannot explain why I feel so connected to the victims, I just do. I still feel a deep anger and resentment over the whole thing. I do want someone punished or blamed for it. So when I heard the church come as close to an actual “apology” as they could, I felt some deep emotion. Did that excuse it? No. Does it make it better? No. Is it a very small step forward? Yes. And that is better than nothing, which is precisely what the church has done for 140+ years.

  31. Tom Perry Reply

    James,

    You know I have a lot of respect for you and your opinions, but is it physically impossible for you to listen to someone with a different opinion that you? Especially someone who is an expert in that particular field?

    You believe that Brigham Young ordered it? Great. You do understand that the evidence is lacking in that theory don’t you? My personal opinion is undecided to Brigham’s prior involvement. I do think that anyone who researches this event can never look at Brigham Young the same way ever again. Brigham’s direct involvement in the cover-up is inexcusable. He may not carry 100% of the responsibility of the Massacre, but he was clearly lying and protecting the church and some of the murderers.

    Brigham should have been arrested and convicted for his involvement in the cover-up, there is no doubt. If the federal government would have put on a full investigation like originally intended, maybe they could have uncovered other vital information that would have brought serious charges on Brigham and many others. But like Gene said, if it weren’t for the Civil War, things would have turned out VERY differently for Brigham Young and the church.

  32. Tom Perry Reply

    James,

    You know I have a lot of respect for you and your opinions, but is it physically impossible for you to listen to someone with a different opinion that you? Especially someone who is an expert in that particular field?

    You believe that Brigham Young ordered it? Great. You do understand that the evidence is lacking in that theory don’t you? My personal opinion is undecided to Brigham’s prior involvement. I do think that anyone who researches this event can never look at Brigham Young the same way ever again. Brigham’s direct involvement in the cover-up is inexcusable. He may not carry 100% of the responsibility of the Massacre, but he was clearly lying and protecting the church and some of the murderers.

    Brigham should have been arrested and convicted for his involvement in the cover-up, there is no doubt. If the federal government would have put on a full investigation like originally intended, maybe they could have uncovered other vital information that would have brought serious charges on Brigham and many others. But like Gene said, if it weren’t for the Civil War, things would have turned out VERY differently for Brigham Young and the church.

  33. Nathan R Kennard Reply

    Hearing Gene tell his opinion and perspective was worthwhile. Thanks for your work on this Tom. I hope some listeners will be motivated to learn more. Personally, I think of this whenever I go down to Southern Utah. The victims paid the ultimate price, and many generations of descendants of those involved have and perhaps still are paying. It is a sad saga.

  34. Nathan R Kennard Reply

    Hearing Gene tell his opinion and perspective was worthwhile. Thanks for your work on this Tom. I hope some listeners will be motivated to learn more. Personally, I think of this whenever I go down to Southern Utah. The victims paid the ultimate price, and many generations of descendants of those involved have and perhaps still are paying. It is a sad saga.

  35. James Reply

    Yes Tom, It is physically possible for me to listen to someone I disagree with. I would not have replied if I did not listen to the whole podcast. I can hear, it IS physically possible for me 🙂

    First, lets just put on the shelf any notion of blood atonement, somali pirate tactics for raiding wagon trains, a “fair game” feeling trumped up by hostilities with the US Government, etc. Put it all on the shelf and forget about it coloring the conversation, because then you have to feel icky. The list goes on and on of things the guest brushed off with passing references as if he were talking about a completely different religion loosely affiliated with the mormons.

    I guess in a way he is right. The Mormons of 1857 were more like the FLDS.

    The language used has a dual purpose. To the faithful it appears as if concessions have been made and the Mormon Church is trying harder to come to terms with the fact that it butchered some people who may or may not have deserved it. Those outside the funhouse heard a very expensive obfuscation the church has been paying installments on ever since the church decided to get ceremonially weepy for the layers.

    It was open season on anybody deciding to go through Cedar City. It was a literal war zone because the dictator of the local theocracy decided to get in a pissing contest with the US Government. Mussolini hung from a rope at the end of his reign. Hitler killed himself in a bunker. I guess Bloody Brigham got away with it. I guess the civil war saved him. And you ar eright. It would have turned out very differently if the south did not start acting like a dumbass.

    Brigham young directly killed those individuals through the way most religious kooks royally F-up: By trying to dole out providence to gullible hicks. The perfect storm of the MMM took shape through multiple vectors ending up with a massive act of human depravity.

    Why the cover up Tom if Brigham had nothing to hide?

  36. James Reply

    Yes Tom, It is physically possible for me to listen to someone I disagree with. I would not have replied if I did not listen to the whole podcast. I can hear, it IS physically possible for me 🙂

    First, lets just put on the shelf any notion of blood atonement, somali pirate tactics for raiding wagon trains, a “fair game” feeling trumped up by hostilities with the US Government, etc. Put it all on the shelf and forget about it coloring the conversation, because then you have to feel icky. The list goes on and on of things the guest brushed off with passing references as if he were talking about a completely different religion loosely affiliated with the mormons.

    I guess in a way he is right. The Mormons of 1857 were more like the FLDS.

    The language used has a dual purpose. To the faithful it appears as if concessions have been made and the Mormon Church is trying harder to come to terms with the fact that it butchered some people who may or may not have deserved it. Those outside the funhouse heard a very expensive obfuscation the church has been paying installments on ever since the church decided to get ceremonially weepy for the layers.

    It was open season on anybody deciding to go through Cedar City. It was a literal war zone because the dictator of the local theocracy decided to get in a pissing contest with the US Government. Mussolini hung from a rope at the end of his reign. Hitler killed himself in a bunker. I guess Bloody Brigham got away with it. I guess the civil war saved him. And you ar eright. It would have turned out very differently if the south did not start acting like a dumbass.

    Brigham young directly killed those individuals through the way most religious kooks royally F-up: By trying to dole out providence to gullible hicks. The perfect storm of the MMM took shape through multiple vectors ending up with a massive act of human depravity.

    Why the cover up Tom if Brigham had nothing to hide?

  37. Jon Reply

    Young was staring down a federal militia and the possibility of being removed from office. He knew that the Massacre would give the U.S. government all the reason they would need to send the Saints scattering once again. As far as I can tell, the cover-up was just about damage control.

    This was a great episode overall, but the final minutes really rubbed me the wrong way. Facts aren’t discovered by looking into our hearts, and I’m surprised that a historian of all people would ever suggest doing exactly that in order to arrive at truth. I was especially disturbed at the idea that such a massacre would have been justified if the order had come from God, as in the Bible.

    Despite that, I enjoyed this episode very much. Sessions seemed to be fair, frankly acknowledging that the teachings at the time set the stage for the massacre and that there was a cover-up. He seems to be willing to follow the evidence where it leads, which is why I’m still just a little confused about how he’s then able to invoke some special pleading in order to defend Mormonism as more than just another man-made religion.

  38. Jon Reply

    Young was staring down a federal militia and the possibility of being removed from office. He knew that the Massacre would give the U.S. government all the reason they would need to send the Saints scattering once again. As far as I can tell, the cover-up was just about damage control.

    This was a great episode overall, but the final minutes really rubbed me the wrong way. Facts aren’t discovered by looking into our hearts, and I’m surprised that a historian of all people would ever suggest doing exactly that in order to arrive at truth. I was especially disturbed at the idea that such a massacre would have been justified if the order had come from God, as in the Bible.

    Despite that, I enjoyed this episode very much. Sessions seemed to be fair, frankly acknowledging that the teachings at the time set the stage for the massacre and that there was a cover-up. He seems to be willing to follow the evidence where it leads, which is why I’m still just a little confused about how he’s then able to invoke some special pleading in order to defend Mormonism as more than just another man-made religion.

  39. NightAvatar Reply

    I was especially disturbed at the idea that such a massacre would have been justified if the order had come from God, as in the Bible.

    Then I gather you are an atheist, as I? If not, why would that be so disturbing? If it was ok in Bible times, why would we expect God to change his morals for our time?

    You and I have better morals than Bible-God, Jon. 🙂

    I agree with you about the cover-up being damage control. That seems perfectly plauseable to me. I don’t understand why so many people find that explanation unreasonable. It seems to me they just want to demonize Young as much as possible. Frankly, I don’t need him demonized more to make me believe he was not inspired by god. He was a great man, but also a terrible man.

    I have to sympathize with Dr. Sessions. He wants to believe the church is true. It obviously means very much to him and surely has throughout his whole life. I say let the man believe. Why give him a hard time about it? If the only way good and otherwise reasonable historians can maintain their faith is to convince themselves that the regular rules of logic & reason can’t apply to religion (one must trust one’s feelings instead) then let them live that way. Most of us can see the inconsistency and falicy in such practice. But it obviously lends comfort and happiness (even if false or qualia) to them that’s fine by me. He’s obviously a good person and historian regardless. 🙂

  40. NightAvatar Reply

    I was especially disturbed at the idea that such a massacre would have been justified if the order had come from God, as in the Bible.

    Then I gather you are an atheist, as I? If not, why would that be so disturbing? If it was ok in Bible times, why would we expect God to change his morals for our time?

    You and I have better morals than Bible-God, Jon. 🙂

    I agree with you about the cover-up being damage control. That seems perfectly plauseable to me. I don’t understand why so many people find that explanation unreasonable. It seems to me they just want to demonize Young as much as possible. Frankly, I don’t need him demonized more to make me believe he was not inspired by god. He was a great man, but also a terrible man.

    I have to sympathize with Dr. Sessions. He wants to believe the church is true. It obviously means very much to him and surely has throughout his whole life. I say let the man believe. Why give him a hard time about it? If the only way good and otherwise reasonable historians can maintain their faith is to convince themselves that the regular rules of logic & reason can’t apply to religion (one must trust one’s feelings instead) then let them live that way. Most of us can see the inconsistency and falicy in such practice. But it obviously lends comfort and happiness (even if false or qualia) to them that’s fine by me. He’s obviously a good person and historian regardless. 🙂

  41. John Larsen Reply

    I would like to weigh in and make something clear. I fully support Tom in this interview and the editorial decisions behind that. He has my full trust and support. Tom and I spoke at length several times before this interview was posted and he spent a great deal of time and sweat trying to get it right. I never doubted that this interview would be appropriate.

    Our goal in the podcast is to explore a wide spectrum of Mormon thought. If you come to this podcast expecting any definitive party line, you are ultimately going to be disappointed and probably should move on. It is well known my personal position on the “truthfulness of the Church” is. Always hammering on this one position would ultimately be uninteresting. Variety is the spice of life.

    ME will continue to give deference to guests who appear on our program. This means we will allow them to fully explain their position whether we agree with their position or not. The questions we ask guests are designed to fully illicit their views. I am not in the business of trying to bust their views with snarky comments or baited questions.

    Dr. Sessions is a brilliant guy and an important authority on the topic. His views are fascinating and informed even if they are not agreeable to everyone who listens to them. That individuals like Dr. Sessions are willing to come on and share their views speaks volumes about their intellectual integrity and willingness to dialog, a trait that it much needed on all sides of the Mormon debate.

    Is ME a tool of the Church? Maybe. But probably not in a way the Church appreciates.

  42. John Larsen Reply

    I would like to weigh in and make something clear. I fully support Tom in this interview and the editorial decisions behind that. He has my full trust and support. Tom and I spoke at length several times before this interview was posted and he spent a great deal of time and sweat trying to get it right. I never doubted that this interview would be appropriate.

    Our goal in the podcast is to explore a wide spectrum of Mormon thought. If you come to this podcast expecting any definitive party line, you are ultimately going to be disappointed and probably should move on. It is well known my personal position on the “truthfulness of the Church” is. Always hammering on this one position would ultimately be uninteresting. Variety is the spice of life.

    ME will continue to give deference to guests who appear on our program. This means we will allow them to fully explain their position whether we agree with their position or not. The questions we ask guests are designed to fully illicit their views. I am not in the business of trying to bust their views with snarky comments or baited questions.

    Dr. Sessions is a brilliant guy and an important authority on the topic. His views are fascinating and informed even if they are not agreeable to everyone who listens to them. That individuals like Dr. Sessions are willing to come on and share their views speaks volumes about their intellectual integrity and willingness to dialog, a trait that it much needed on all sides of the Mormon debate.

    Is ME a tool of the Church? Maybe. But probably not in a way the Church appreciates.

  43. Sam Andy Reply

    Yes, John, well said. I like your approach to the podcast and I think it is valuable in the realm of Mormon dialogue. The fact that you and Tom had a guest like Prof. Sessions shows that you are respecting all sides, and speaks to the credibility you are gaining. Please keep it up.

    I think this interview went very well. The fact that Prof. Sessions expressed his extensive knowledge of the MMM from the perspective of both a historian and faithful church member didn’t bother me. If you had Will Bagley on the podcast we would expect a different tone (not to say that Will isn’t faithful to whatever he believes).

    Pardon my cynicism, but one of my first thoughts when I watched the 2007 “statement of regret” was that Elder Eyring was given the assignment because of his almost guaranteed propensity to tear up when speaking publicly. The display of emotion could only help the Church’s PR. Are there any other cynics out there share that view?

    Also, I think the Church’s response is absolutely too late, but sincere. When a local church leader commits some sin they would surely express regret, but would not necessarily apologize for that individual’s actions. However, that would never excuse the Church from having created an atmosphere under which that type of thing could happen. But, in the case of the MMM, the fact that it was orchestrated by a group of local leaders who directly represent the Church in that area is enough (to me) to warrant a genuine apology, rather than an expression of regret. When I first heard the word regret I thought it wasn’t strong enough, and I still feel that way, although I can see why a church/corporation would choose its words carefully.

    PS, I have always liked Tom’s realistic approach to staying in Mormonism but not feeling the obligation to buy into everything. And I enjoy your occasional gut-check type cynicism when you have the panel discussions.

  44. Sam Andy Reply

    Yes, John, well said. I like your approach to the podcast and I think it is valuable in the realm of Mormon dialogue. The fact that you and Tom had a guest like Prof. Sessions shows that you are respecting all sides, and speaks to the credibility you are gaining. Please keep it up.

    I think this interview went very well. The fact that Prof. Sessions expressed his extensive knowledge of the MMM from the perspective of both a historian and faithful church member didn’t bother me. If you had Will Bagley on the podcast we would expect a different tone (not to say that Will isn’t faithful to whatever he believes).

    Pardon my cynicism, but one of my first thoughts when I watched the 2007 “statement of regret” was that Elder Eyring was given the assignment because of his almost guaranteed propensity to tear up when speaking publicly. The display of emotion could only help the Church’s PR. Are there any other cynics out there share that view?

    Also, I think the Church’s response is absolutely too late, but sincere. When a local church leader commits some sin they would surely express regret, but would not necessarily apologize for that individual’s actions. However, that would never excuse the Church from having created an atmosphere under which that type of thing could happen. But, in the case of the MMM, the fact that it was orchestrated by a group of local leaders who directly represent the Church in that area is enough (to me) to warrant a genuine apology, rather than an expression of regret. When I first heard the word regret I thought it wasn’t strong enough, and I still feel that way, although I can see why a church/corporation would choose its words carefully.

    PS, I have always liked Tom’s realistic approach to staying in Mormonism but not feeling the obligation to buy into everything. And I enjoy your occasional gut-check type cynicism when you have the panel discussions.

  45. Eric Comstock Reply

    Tom I think (while I appreciate your passion in responding to Steve, James and DuzTruthMatter – it’s fun to read) you need to come off your high-horse. The thing I like about this podcast is the great debate that takes place during the recording and in the comments. Besides when you put something out their that has so much feeling in it like MMM you’re going to get some strong feelings, whether it’s about your questions asked or the subject itself. Nice podcast by the way.

  46. Eric Comstock Reply

    Tom I think (while I appreciate your passion in responding to Steve, James and DuzTruthMatter – it’s fun to read) you need to come off your high-horse. The thing I like about this podcast is the great debate that takes place during the recording and in the comments. Besides when you put something out their that has so much feeling in it like MMM you’re going to get some strong feelings, whether it’s about your questions asked or the subject itself. Nice podcast by the way.

  47. John Larsen Reply

    I would also like to add that I find much of this criticism over the top. I think Tom did a great job interviewing Dr. Sessions and he did an excellent job, in a single hour, to explain the event its context and the major opinions. He addressed the differences in views and showed respect for both Turley and Bagley.

    In fact, I had very little disagreement with Sessions. Personally, I think Bagley goes a little far in giving the credit to Young. Of course, like Sessions says, the Church is responsible for much of the rhetoric environment that made it possible. But did Brigham order the killing? Unlikely.

    Jim, you say why cover it up if he had nothing to hide? Listen to the podcast again because Sessions addresses this point. I think you are off base on your comments. And as to you giving him the what for, I lovingly must say that I think Sessions would have ate your lunch.

    Excellent work Tom and Dr. Sessions!

  48. John Larsen Reply

    I would also like to add that I find much of this criticism over the top. I think Tom did a great job interviewing Dr. Sessions and he did an excellent job, in a single hour, to explain the event its context and the major opinions. He addressed the differences in views and showed respect for both Turley and Bagley.

    In fact, I had very little disagreement with Sessions. Personally, I think Bagley goes a little far in giving the credit to Young. Of course, like Sessions says, the Church is responsible for much of the rhetoric environment that made it possible. But did Brigham order the killing? Unlikely.

    Jim, you say why cover it up if he had nothing to hide? Listen to the podcast again because Sessions addresses this point. I think you are off base on your comments. And as to you giving him the what for, I lovingly must say that I think Sessions would have ate your lunch.

    Excellent work Tom and Dr. Sessions!

  49. James Reply

    As I said John, I would have been a hinderance to this episode. I would have derailed the flow. As an interview I would not wanted to have to direct some of my somewhat misplaced anger on Dr Sessions.

    My point in the proceeding replies probably did not convey fully that my opinion is that it was the culture of the time driving this act and restitution is being driven by press release and holding on to land that should go to the Mountain Meadows Assn. Did Brigham have his stamp of approval on a document ordering the execution of 120 men, women and children? No.

    http://www.mtn-meadows-assoc.com/

  50. James Reply

    As I said John, I would have been a hinderance to this episode. I would have derailed the flow. As an interview I would not wanted to have to direct some of my somewhat misplaced anger on Dr Sessions.

    My point in the proceeding replies probably did not convey fully that my opinion is that it was the culture of the time driving this act and restitution is being driven by press release and holding on to land that should go to the Mountain Meadows Assn. Did Brigham have his stamp of approval on a document ordering the execution of 120 men, women and children? No.

    http://www.mtn-meadows-assoc.com/

  51. Peyote Joe Joe Reply

    Verly, thus saith my self breaking through the meditative stupor, Tom, for all that are heavy laden, and for all that thou hast done for all the rest of us here all this day today upon days of all days… gaggle upon gaggle ere shall be opened up and added upon thy massive massive celestial inheritance perchance though dost continue dosting what though must dost and breaketh not my valuable spheres but breaketh on through to the other side. Well done my well done boy. Well done in deed.

  52. Peyote Joe Joe Reply

    Verly, thus saith my self breaking through the meditative stupor, Tom, for all that are heavy laden, and for all that thou hast done for all the rest of us here all this day today upon days of all days… gaggle upon gaggle ere shall be opened up and added upon thy massive massive celestial inheritance perchance though dost continue dosting what though must dost and breaketh not my valuable spheres but breaketh on through to the other side. Well done my well done boy. Well done in deed.

  53. Swearing Elder Reply

    Wow, a lot of hatin’ goin’ on here. I usually listen to these the day they come out, but I’m a week behind right now so I just listened to the podcast and immediately came here to post my reactions.

    After reading the comments, I’m almost tempted to listen to the session again. Did I miss something? Am I so dense that I missed how horrible it was?

    I thought it was fine. It was obvious that Sessions has a testimony of the church, but he also seemed to be pretty open about everything. Did I agree with him 100%? Well, no, but then I’m no expert on the MMM. In fact, I haven’t read a single book-length treatment of it despite having read far and wide on all things Mormon. I came to this episode wanting to hear some perspective on a subject that I still don’t know as much about as I would like to. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit that my introduction to MMM was the PBS production on “The Mormons.” I vaguely knew something of it, but certainly not a great deal.

    I had already pretty much lost my testimony before seeing that show, which may explain why I haven’t taken the time to read a whole book on the MMM. I’m sure I will at some point.

    That said, I thought Dr. Sessions’ information was quite useful. I thought he was genuine and it was great to come on the show. A follow-up session down the road with someone like Will Bagley would be a great way to hear another perspective on it. But for what it was, I thought this episode was quite good.

  54. Swearing Elder Reply

    Wow, a lot of hatin’ goin’ on here. I usually listen to these the day they come out, but I’m a week behind right now so I just listened to the podcast and immediately came here to post my reactions.

    After reading the comments, I’m almost tempted to listen to the session again. Did I miss something? Am I so dense that I missed how horrible it was?

    I thought it was fine. It was obvious that Sessions has a testimony of the church, but he also seemed to be pretty open about everything. Did I agree with him 100%? Well, no, but then I’m no expert on the MMM. In fact, I haven’t read a single book-length treatment of it despite having read far and wide on all things Mormon. I came to this episode wanting to hear some perspective on a subject that I still don’t know as much about as I would like to. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit that my introduction to MMM was the PBS production on “The Mormons.” I vaguely knew something of it, but certainly not a great deal.

    I had already pretty much lost my testimony before seeing that show, which may explain why I haven’t taken the time to read a whole book on the MMM. I’m sure I will at some point.

    That said, I thought Dr. Sessions’ information was quite useful. I thought he was genuine and it was great to come on the show. A follow-up session down the road with someone like Will Bagley would be a great way to hear another perspective on it. But for what it was, I thought this episode was quite good.

  55. Tom Perry Reply

    First I want to apologize for getting so defensive early on in these comments.

    And I want to sincerely thank those of you who posted the very kind words and support. I also want to thank John for supporting me and this podcast. Occasionally Mormon Expression tends to lean a bit negative and I see no problem by having someone like Gene Sessions on to give a different view. He is still a believer in the church and I don’t see why that doesn’t mean that his opinion should be ignored. He is a genuinely nice guy, I dare anyone say otherwise.

    I think what John Larsen does with this podcast is not only interesting, but very helpful and beneficial to many people. He should be commended for that. I am firmly committed to John’s vision for this podcast and I will continue to do what I can to help make it the best and most interesting podcast out there. I wouldn’t commit as much time and energy in a project that I didn’t believe in.

    Thank you John.

  56. Tom Perry Reply

    First I want to apologize for getting so defensive early on in these comments.

    And I want to sincerely thank those of you who posted the very kind words and support. I also want to thank John for supporting me and this podcast. Occasionally Mormon Expression tends to lean a bit negative and I see no problem by having someone like Gene Sessions on to give a different view. He is still a believer in the church and I don’t see why that doesn’t mean that his opinion should be ignored. He is a genuinely nice guy, I dare anyone say otherwise.

    I think what John Larsen does with this podcast is not only interesting, but very helpful and beneficial to many people. He should be commended for that. I am firmly committed to John’s vision for this podcast and I will continue to do what I can to help make it the best and most interesting podcast out there. I wouldn’t commit as much time and energy in a project that I didn’t believe in.

    Thank you John.

  57. Adam Reply

    Tom, I thought you did a great job, and I thought Dr. Sessions was a wonderful guest that I believe is very trustworthy. It was refreshing to hear a fully believing mormon be so open and honest, and I really appreciated the information he shared and the opinions he expressed.

    I too was amazed at all the “hate” that was expressed in these comments. Personally I’m glad that ME tries to present a broad range of opinions on mormonism. As a disaffected member I sometimes even think that ME is too far to the anti side, so it is nice to hear from someone like Dr. Sessions. For people like me, when so much negativity and hate is expressed, credibility is lost.

    John- I thought your comments were here were great. Thanks for all your work.

  58. Adam Reply

    Tom, I thought you did a great job, and I thought Dr. Sessions was a wonderful guest that I believe is very trustworthy. It was refreshing to hear a fully believing mormon be so open and honest, and I really appreciated the information he shared and the opinions he expressed.

    I too was amazed at all the “hate” that was expressed in these comments. Personally I’m glad that ME tries to present a broad range of opinions on mormonism. As a disaffected member I sometimes even think that ME is too far to the anti side, so it is nice to hear from someone like Dr. Sessions. For people like me, when so much negativity and hate is expressed, credibility is lost.

    John- I thought your comments were here were great. Thanks for all your work.

  59. Randall Reply

    Tom,

    Great job. I can’t believe some thought you should have basically attacked Sessions. I mean, he is a believing Mormon historian who agreed to come on a podcast started by an agnostic Unitarian, former f-ing Mormon and some people wanted him to be skewered? Like being willing to put himself out there on this forum was not enough? Unbelievable. Like he would have even continued with the interview if Tom came at him like that. All he was there to do was give some rather frank and professional opinions from the perspective of a believer. It is what it is and it is nothing if not interesting.

    John’s comments were also spot on. Again, Tom, thanks for doing such a great job with this interview. Although I can’t even come close to understanding how Sessions can still be a true believer and that he is way too kind to Brigham, I can appreciate his perspective.

    Adam knows how much I despise the man Brigham so I’m sure he is surprised I was able to type his name without using profanity.

    NightAvatar, your last comment was exactly my sentiment.

  60. Randall Reply

    Tom,

    Great job. I can’t believe some thought you should have basically attacked Sessions. I mean, he is a believing Mormon historian who agreed to come on a podcast started by an agnostic Unitarian, former f-ing Mormon and some people wanted him to be skewered? Like being willing to put himself out there on this forum was not enough? Unbelievable. Like he would have even continued with the interview if Tom came at him like that. All he was there to do was give some rather frank and professional opinions from the perspective of a believer. It is what it is and it is nothing if not interesting.

    John’s comments were also spot on. Again, Tom, thanks for doing such a great job with this interview. Although I can’t even come close to understanding how Sessions can still be a true believer and that he is way too kind to Brigham, I can appreciate his perspective.

    Adam knows how much I despise the man Brigham so I’m sure he is surprised I was able to type his name without using profanity.

    NightAvatar, your last comment was exactly my sentiment.

  61. Clay Painter Reply

    Beautifully done podcast.
    Even though the MMM was deplorable and sickening, it was never the reason for me to stop believing…

    My abandoning of faith stemmed from other concerns, particularly epistemological issues.

  62. Clay Painter Reply

    Beautifully done podcast.
    Even though the MMM was deplorable and sickening, it was never the reason for me to stop believing…

    My abandoning of faith stemmed from other concerns, particularly epistemological issues.

  63. InvisibleChurch Reply

    Great episode – I recommended it to my kids to help them learn about the MMM in balanced way.

    One thing that wasn’t discussed was the movie “September Dawn”. I have not seen it – is it a reasonable portrayal of the real events?

  64. InvisibleChurch Reply

    Great episode – I recommended it to my kids to help them learn about the MMM in balanced way.

    One thing that wasn’t discussed was the movie “September Dawn”. I have not seen it – is it a reasonable portrayal of the real events?

  65. Tom Perry Reply

    InvisibleChurch,

    We didn’t speak about September Dawn, I believe because it is a very poor movie overall. The movie is a fiction story based on “real” events, but then some of the “real” events were a bit hollywoodized (is that even a word?!).

    I still tell people they should watch the movie because I think the recreation of the actual Massacre was simply amazing. In my opinion, it is the best visual recreation I have ever seen of the Massacre. So I would still recommend watching it, but go in knowing the the movie is a razzy movie.

  66. Tom Perry Reply

    InvisibleChurch,

    We didn’t speak about September Dawn, I believe because it is a very poor movie overall. The movie is a fiction story based on “real” events, but then some of the “real” events were a bit hollywoodized (is that even a word?!).

    I still tell people they should watch the movie because I think the recreation of the actual Massacre was simply amazing. In my opinion, it is the best visual recreation I have ever seen of the Massacre. So I would still recommend watching it, but go in knowing the the movie is a razzy movie.

  67. Walt Reply

    Great job Tom! And thanks to the professor for agreeing to come on the Podcast. I honestly had skipped listening to this one because of the comments on here, I thought it would be too biased toward the church’s favor. I am glad to admit I was wrong, it didn’t come across that way to me like I thought it would. I too will admit that clip from Eyring still makes this Former Mo tear up. What a terrible tragedy this was, and how wrong was the attempt to keep it under wraps all those years.

  68. Walt Reply

    Great job Tom! And thanks to the professor for agreeing to come on the Podcast. I honestly had skipped listening to this one because of the comments on here, I thought it would be too biased toward the church’s favor. I am glad to admit I was wrong, it didn’t come across that way to me like I thought it would. I too will admit that clip from Eyring still makes this Former Mo tear up. What a terrible tragedy this was, and how wrong was the attempt to keep it under wraps all those years.

  69. Vin Reply

    Let me chime in late and say I though it was a good podcast. Tom, you did great, and I thought Dr. Sessions was good as well.

    I really question those who can’t accept any explanation other than “Brigham Young is a vile, evil murderer who plotted this out with glee”. That seems as unreasonable as the seminary teachers that say it was all the Indians’ fault and the Mormons were spotless.

  70. Vin Reply

    Let me chime in late and say I though it was a good podcast. Tom, you did great, and I thought Dr. Sessions was good as well.

    I really question those who can’t accept any explanation other than “Brigham Young is a vile, evil murderer who plotted this out with glee”. That seems as unreasonable as the seminary teachers that say it was all the Indians’ fault and the Mormons were spotless.

  71. Demon of Kolob Reply

    I just listened to this podcast it did seem to me that Dr. Sessions was acting somewhat as an apologist for the church. That being said why does this podcast not fit with ME that has always tried to present all sides of the Mormon experience, nobody is going to agree with all views expressed on this show. I hope this podcast was the last word on MMM it is such a complex issue that it deserves another podcast or two.

  72. Demon of Kolob Reply

    I just listened to this podcast it did seem to me that Dr. Sessions was acting somewhat as an apologist for the church. That being said why does this podcast not fit with ME that has always tried to present all sides of the Mormon experience, nobody is going to agree with all views expressed on this show. I hope this podcast was the last word on MMM it is such a complex issue that it deserves another podcast or two.

  73. Jeff Straka Reply

    Interesting podcast! One thing stood out to me when Mr. Sessions was defending the violence of prophets, using Old Testament prophets violent stories as a parallel. Well, what about the New Testament prophet that the Mormon church uses in its name, JESUS! It seems to me that Jesus was calling people AWAY from voilence. Jesus did not kill, only heal!

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