• Phil Nelsen

On Mormons, Pioneer Day & The Little Told Stories of Unprecedented Mormon Civil Rights Violations

Updated: Jul 24

  • Only one religion in American history has had formally issued governmental extermination orders issued against its members.

  • Only one religion in American history has had its members denied the right to vote by the US Supreme Court, without any evidence of individual wrongdoing.

  • Only one religion in American history has had its members legally banned from serving on juries, working as school teachers, or holding public office, without any Due Process.

  • Only one religion in American history has had a lawfully elected US Congressional representative denied his seat in the Senate, purely because of his religion.

  • Only one religion in American history has had a formal war declared on it by the US government.

  • Only one religion in American history has had a sitting US President forcibly remove a lawfully elected governor from office because of the governor's religion.

  • 139 years prior to Trump's travel ban, only one religion was overtly singled out by the US government in an attempt to ban religious followers from immigrating to the United States.

  • Only one major religion has been formally disenfranchised by the federal government and had millions of dollars worth of its assets seized without due process.

This religion is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (i.e. Mormons). As we celebrate the 24th of July in Utah, which commemorates the entry of the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, it is important to remember the appalling history of government sanctioned violence, bigotry and murder that led the Mormons to Salt Lake in the first place.


[Note: The correct name of the Mormon church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There will be several references to Mormons in this article. It is done for the sake of brevity and flow, no disrespect is intended].

Show me a Mormon who doesn’t have a visceral distrust for all things government, and I’ll show you a Mormon who doesn’t know their own history. With the obvious (and notable) exceptions of African Americans and Native Americans, there is likely no other group that has suffered more deliberate persecution at the hands of the American government than Mormons, certainly no other religion.


Extermination Orders

On October 27, 1838, only 8 years after the LDS church was formally organized, Governor Boggs and the state of Missouri issued Executive Order 44, which provided the following orders to Gen. John B. Clark:


“Your orders are, therefore, to hasten your operation with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so to any extent you may consider necessary.”

Pursuant to the order, hundreds of Mormon civilians were attacked, lynched, looted, tarred, raped, and murdered. If the idea of a government officially endorsing the killing of a religious body seems odd to you, you’re probably not a Mormon. Not to worry, Missouri apologized and promised they would no longer kill Mormons a short 140 years later, in 1976. In their 1976 apology, Missouri expressed their deep regret and noted that "Governor Boggs’s order clearly contravened the rights to life, liberty, property, and religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Constitution of the State of Missouri."


Given the Missouri government was rounding up Mormons and killing them, Mormons abandoned the cities they had built and fled to Illinois in 1838. After their evacuation the mobs in Missouri burned their homes and temple, ensuring their was no opportunity for them to return. In Illinois Mormons showcased their economic genius and general autonomy by founding the city of Nauvoo. Nauvoo, which was a mosquito infested swamp, quickly became the largest city in Illinois. The Mormon Militia (founded in response to the government endorsed extermination Mormons had recently been privy to) grew to 1/4 the size of the entire US Army. Government persecution resurfaced, however, after Joseph Smith made a presidential bid and ran on a religious liberty/anti-slavery platform (a rather unpopular idea in a slave state). On June 11, 1844, Hancock County, the Illinois county where Nauvoo was seated, adopted the following formal resolution:


Resolved . . . that we hold ourselves at all times in readiness to cooperate with our fellow citizens in this state, Missouri, and Iowa, to exterminate - UTTERLY EXTERMINATE, the wicked and abominable Mormon leaders, the authors of our troubles.
Resolved . . . that the time, in our opinion, has arrived when the adherents of Smith as a body, shall be driven from the surrounding settlements into Nauvoo; that the Prophet and his miscreant adherents should then be demanded at their hands, and if not surrendered, A WAR OF EXTERMINATION SHOULD BE WAGED, to the entire destruction if necessary for our protection, of his adherents. (B. H. Roberts, ed., History of the Church,1962, VII, 123). 

Illinois Governor Thomas Ford, like Missouri Governor Boggs before him, called upon the state militia to throw Joseph Smith in Carthage jail on a riot charge. When Smith posted bail he was immediately charged with a completely ficticious treason charge on June 24, 1844. Why Joseph Smith was charged with treason is worth noting. It was one of the few charges for which bail was not a possibility. They needed Smith held in a single location long enough to have him killed. The charge itself was of no consequence, killing him was their only objective. This was evidenced by the words of Joseph H. Jackson, a mob leader present at the time, who declared that they had eighteen accusations against Joseph and as one failed, they would try another to detain him there, and that they had had so much trouble and hazard, and worked so hard in getting him to Carthage, that they would not let him get out of it alive. Jackson then pointed to his pistols and said, "The balls are in there that will decide his case."


The below writ of arrest for Smith's treason charge demonstrates the bloodthirsty nature of the mob working in cahoots with local government. All that was required to charge Joseph and his brother Hyrum with treason, as serious a crime as exists in our legal system, was the oath of two individuals. Augustine Spencer against Joseph and Henry O. Norton against Hyrum, may history remember their names for their crimes and false testimonies.



Governor Ford, a former associate-justice of the Supreme Court, knew the charges against Joseph and Hyrum were false and holding them without bail was illegal. When Mormon Apostle John Taylor pleaded with Governor Ford to take action on behalf of Smith, the Governor replied that "he was very sorry that the thing had occurred; that he did not believe the charges, but that he thought that the best thing to be done in the premises was to let the law take its course."


Hyrum and Joseph attempting to secure the Carthage Jail door. Joseph's pistol pictured in his pocket.

On June 25, 1844 Joseph and his brother Hyrum were held without bail in Carthage jail. Like the cowardly Pontius Pilate before him, Governor Boggs washed his hands of the proceedings and claimed he had no authority to intervene. Less than 48 hours later, on June 27, a mob of 200 men with faces painted stormed the jail. As Hyrum attempted to secure the door Joseph drew a firearm he had been smuggled, a 6 shot .32 caliber Allen and Thurber pepperbox pistol, and defensively fired at the mob coming up the stairs. Three of the shots misfired but three of them found their mark. John Wills was shot in the arm, William Voras was shot in the shoulder, and William Gallaher was shot in the face. Wills, Voras and Gallaher were reported to have survived, though I personally hope they suffered a great deal from their wounds. I have displayed in my office one of the few remaining original Allen and Thurber pepperbox pistols of the same model carried by Joseph Smith. I reflect on its symbolism daily.


Joseph and Hyrum were shot dozens of times and murdered before the mob retreated. No man was ever convicted of any crimes related to their murders, at least in this life. Joseph Smith is one of very few Americans to be assassinated while actively running for US president, a fact that has largely been lost to history.


After watching their Prophet be killed, their cities burned, property stolen, women raped, and temple defiled, Mormons were once again forced out of their homes in the winter of 1846.


Pioneer Trek & Utah War

This time Mormons decided to not only leave the state, but the entire country. Thus began the epic 1,300 mile journey of the Mormon pioneers from Illinois to Utah. In 1846 and 1847 tens of thousands of Mormons were forced from their homes in Illinois, most only able to take with them belongings they could fit in a handcart. As poet Carol Lynn Pearson recited, "I have packed the handcart again, packed it with the precious things and thrown away the rest." An estimated 1,900 Mormons would die on the trek West before the first survivors arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.


Pushing, Pulling and Praying, Bound for Zion, by E. Kimball Warren

In Utah Mormons founded an unbelievably prosperous economy in the middle of the desert, and lived  happily ever after. Juuuuust kidding….in 1857 the insatiable appetite for government bigotry needed some feeding so the head bigot himself, President Buchanan, ordered 1/3 of the entire US Army to leave the United States and pursue the Mormons into the wilderness. President Buchanan wanted to replace the lawfully elected Mormon Governor of Utah (Brigham Young) with a non-Mormon governor named Alfred Cumming. Cumming had questionable qualifications to govern the Utah territory, having previously only served as the mayor of Augusta, Georgia for a short time. He was, however, a Democrat and not a Mormon, so that is all the qualifications Buchanan required. Because President Buchanan wasn’t able to achieve this objective without using force, as is so often the case with government, Buchanan decided to cut off mail service to Utah and ordered 2,500 US troops (later 5,500) to march to Utah with the objective of taking the governorship by force. In the absence of formal notification of the government’s intentions (due to mail service being cut off), Mormon leaders interpreted the army’s approach as impending violence, like they had become so accustomed to, and adopted a defensive posture. To put what Buchanan did into perspective, it would be the modern equivalent of the US President sending 400,000 troops to Guam to forcibly remove the elected Governor because the President did not like the Guam Governor's religion.


Instead of allowing the government to simply rape, rob, and murder them again, Mormons decided they had finally had enough. What followed has become known as the Utah War and is one of the most exemplary Second Amendment stories in American history.


On September 29, 1857 upon hearing of the approaching federal army, Governor Young wrote the following letter:

To the Officer Commanding the Forces now Invading Utah Territory. I am still the Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for this Territory, no successor having been appointed and qualified, as provided by law, nor have I been removed by the President of the United States. By virtue of the authority thus vested in me, I have issued, and forwarded you a copy of my proclamation forbidding the entrance of armed forces into this Territory. This you have disregarded. I now further direct that you retire forthwith from the Territory, by the same route you entered. Should you deem this impracticable, and prefer to remain until spring in the vicinity of your present encampment — Black’s Fork on Green River — you can do so in peace and unmolested, on condition that you deposit your arms and ammunition with Lewis Robinson, Quartermaster General of the Territory, and leave in the spring, as soon as the condition of the roads will permit you to march; and, should you fall short of provisions, they can be furnished you, upon making the proper applications therefor.

When the Army did not turn back, Governor Young assumed the worst and declared martial law, deploying the local militia (the Nauvoo Legion) to harass and delay US troops.

Harassing actions included burning three supply trains and driving hundreds of government cattle to the Great Salt Lake Valley. The “scorched earth” tactics forced Albert Sidney Johnston’s Utah Expedition and the accompanying civil officials to improvise winter quarters (at Camp Scott and Eckelsville), near Burned-out Fort Bridger, while the nation feared the worst. During the winter both sides strengthened their forces. Congress, over almost unanimous Republican opposition, authorized two new volunteer regiments, and Buchanan, Secretary of War John B. Floyd, and Army Chief of Staff Winfield Scott assigned 3,000 additional regular troops to reinforce the Utah Expedition. Meanwhile, the Mormon communities were called upon to equip a thousand men for duty in the one hundred miles of mountains that separated Camp Scott and Great Salt Lake City. (source)

Mormon women poured hot lead into molds to make bullets and sewed blankets into overcoats for militiamen. Perhaps the greatest sentitment of the time was captured when an army quartermaster asked Mrs. Albert Carrington if she would cut down her carefully cultivated peach orchard to make stocks for the Nauvoo Legion rifles? She replied in the affirmative, ‘And would sit up nights to do it.” Military-style drilling commenced throughout the Utah territory as Mormons sought to gather guns and ammunition, manufactured Colt revolvers, scythes were turned into bayonets, and long-unused sabres were burnished and sharpened.

The result was a thirteen-month standoff between Mormons and the US Army. Though it would be a stretch to say Mormons won the confrontation, they could at least say they prevented the government from killing them or burning their temples. This was a substantial improvement over past interactions. Ultimately, Buchanan’s military force was enough to replace the Utah governor with a non-Mormon. Mormons watched as 70% of the land they had pioneered was seized by the federal government (and remains seized today). For President Buchanan the Utah War became his biggest embarrassment. He was openly criticized for his bigotry by Congress and the national media, and the fiasco has become known as 'Buchanan's Blunder'.

John Moses Browning

The Utah War is also, in part, responsible for what is known today as Browning Firearms. John Moses Browning, who single handedly changed the course of American history by inventing some of the most effective firearms this planet will ever know, was just a child at this time and witnessed these events first hand. He watched as his father John Browning founded his gunsmith business in Ogden Utah and help arm the Nauvoo Legion. As others have noted, a man like John Browning doesn’t exist without having witnessed "a history of renegade militias and mob justice, human rights violations and unlawful detentions, slavery and prejudice, abuse of governmental power and government sanctioned murder.“ John Browning didn’t invent those firearms just to make a profit, he invented them so the government couldn’t do to him what it did to his parents.


Anti-Mormon Test Oath Act

Time marched on and Mormons continued to thrive despite olympic grade governmental persecution being thrown their way. A prime example of such persecution was the Idaho Test Oath Act. When Idaho became a state, an Anti-Mormon Test Oath provision was written into their state charter. In the 1880s Mormons in Idaho voted generally as a block (as Democrats). This was a concern to the Republican federal government, and Idaho Republicans, when Idaho was seeking statehood. Having a democrat voting state admitted into the Union would be a threat to a Republican dominated congress. Representatives from Congress who spoke at the Idaho Constitutional Convention in 1889 made it very clear that the “Mormon question” was the largest obstacle for Idaho to overcome to obtain statehood. As Rep. Julius C. Burrows, a Michigan Republican, put it at the Idaho Convention:


"But allow me to say, gentlemen, that the most serious obstacle to my mind in the way of your admission into the Union is not the question that concerns your material affairs in the territory, but the most serious obstacle lying in the pathway of your admission into the Union is the question of Mormonism… Now your constitution will be very carefully scanned upon that question...Now gentlemen, no organization, whether religious or secular, no body of people in this country can dominate, either in the state or in the nation that acknowledges a higher power than the power of the government in civil affairs…

Section 501 of the Revised Statutes of Idaho was subsequently written and required that all men, prior to being allowed to vote, take the following oath:

"I do swear (or affirm) that I am a male citizen of the United States of the age of twenty-one years (or will be on the 6th day of November, 1888); that I have (or will have) actually resided in this territory four months and in this county for thirty days next preceding the day of the next ensuing election; that I have never been convicted of treason, felony or bribery; that I am not registered or entitled to vote at any other place in this territory, and I do further swear that I am not a bigamist or polygamist; that I am not a member of any order, organization or association which teaches, advises, counsels or encourages its members, devotees or any other person to commit the crime of bigamy or polygamy, or any other crime defined by law, as a duty arising or resulting from membership in such order, organization or association, or which practices bigamy, polygamy or plural or celestial marriage as a doctrinal rite of such organization; that I do not and will not, publicly or privately or in any manner whatever teach, advise, counsel or encourage any person to commit the crime of bigamy or polygamy, or any other crime defined by law, either as a religious duty or otherwise; that I do regard the Constitution of the United States and the laws thereof and the laws of this territory, as interpreted by the courts, as the supreme laws of the land, the teaching of any order, organization or association to the contrary notwithstanding, so help me God"

It is noteworthy that not only does the above oath disqualify anyone belonging to a religion that teaches polygamy or celestial marriage (whether the individual practices polygamy or not), but it also required one to affirm that they regard the Constitution and state laws of Idaho supreme to religious teachings, even though the current laws included a provision that Mormons could not vote. Meaning, a Mormon would be required to swear an oath that a law prohibiting Mormons from voting was proper and supreme to their own religious beliefs. The Test Oath Act barred not only practicing polygamists but anyone who believed in a religion advocating the doctrine of "celestial marriage" from voting, holding public office, serving on juries, or teaching in or administering public schools. As Idaho knew well, if members of a specific religion are prohibited from serving on juries then they can be charged with virtually any crime and guaranteed not to receive a jury of their peers, as the constitution promises. This tactic worked well and thousands of Mormons would be charged with crimes and imprisoned in the coming years. The "Test Oath" was enforced rigidly during the election of 1886. Mormons, comprising one-fourth of the territory's population, were prevented from voting. (source). There was no due process, no trials, no evidence of individual wrongdoing. It was a witch hunt, and simply being Mormon was enough to have your most fundamental rights revoked.


During the election of 1888, hundreds of Latter-day Saint men in Idaho, with approval from Church leaders, temporarily “withdrew” their membership in the Church in order to vote and thus challenge the legality and enforcement of the “Test Oath.” Most of the Latter-day Saint voters were arrested and their votes negated. One Mormon, Samuel D. Davis, took his case to the US Supreme Court, which ruled on February 3, 1890 that the “Test Oath” was indeed constitutional. In Davis v. Beason the US Supreme Court ruled that in the context of the First Amendment, "religion" refers primarily to "one's views of his relations to his Creator" and "modes of worship" and is not intended to be "invoked as a protection against legislation for the punishment of acts inimical to the peace, good order, and morals of society."


The oath became part of Idaho's constitution when it was admitted to the Union the following July. Active enforcement of the “Test Oath” essentially ended after the election of 1892. Attempts to repeal it, however, were unsuccessful until some ninety years later in 1982. Showing how time doesn't necessarily change bigotry, even in 1982 more than a third of the Idaho voting public (34.29%) still voted to keep the anti-Mormon language in the constitution. In the 1996 Supreme Court Case Romer v. Evans Justice Scalia marveled at how such a blatant violation of civil rights could ever have been upheld by the court, "It remains to be explained how §501 of the Idaho Revised Statutes was not an "impermissible targeting" of [LDS Church Members]."


Idaho wasn't alone in stripping Mormons of their civil rights. The federal government passed its own version of the test oath act in 1887, which was ultimately upheld once again by the Supreme Court in 1890. The federal government’s version not only put Mormons in prison for up to 5 years, but also allowed for the confiscation off all church property valued at over $50,000. Countless other bills were either passed into law or proposed, all aimed at stripping rights from Mormons.

In 1867 the Cragin bill, which sought the abolition of jury trials in polygamy cases; in 1869 the "iniquitous" Cullom bill, which would subject Utah to complete federal control, ... in 1874 the Poland bill, which would have jury lists drawn by the clerk of the district courts to procure non-Mormon jurors; in 1876 the Christiancy bill, which would disqualify jurors who scrupled to convict polygamists; in 1882 the Edmunds Act, which at last made "cohabitation" a punishable offense,... in 1884 the Hoar bill, which would dissolve the Perpetual Emigrating Fund; and finally in 1887 the Edmunds-Tucker Act, which dissolved the Fund, disincorporated the Mormon Church itself, disfranchised the women...
Senator Reed Smoot (UT) on the steps of Congress

Even though Mormons officially ceased practicing polygamy in 1890, and excommunicated those who continued its practice thereafter, Mormons continued to see bigotry for many decades. My ancestor Reed Smoot (pictured at right) never practiced polygamy and was lawfully elected to the US Senate in 1903. He was, however, consistently bombarded by attempts to remove him from office solely because of his religion until 1907. The Reed Smoot Hearings lasted over 4 years and resulted in over 3,500 pages of testimony given by government elected officials who refused to accept that a Mormon could hold office. No one alleged Smoot was personally unfit to hold office, only that his religious affiliation was unacceptable. Reed Smoot ultimately won his right to sit in the Senate and served in office for another 26 years. Imagine if a Jewish or Muslim Senator was subject to 4 years of hearings and 3,500 pages of testimony to determine if their religion disqualified them from holding office.


The Travel Ban Before the Travel Ban

In recent years many Americans were outraged by President Trump's executive order banning immigrants from seven countries that are predominantly Muslim. However, most Americans have never heard of America's first religious travel ban. In 1879 Secretary of State William Evarts wrote to European US diplomats imploring them to seek government aid preventing Mormon converts from traveling to the United States. President Grover Cleveland, speaking before Congress, openly asked for their help to "prevent the importation of Mormons into the Country." In an 1881 article designed to incite the public against Mormon immigrants, Harper's Magazine wrote "It is clear that the Mormon Kingdom in Utah is composed of foreigners and the children of foreigners. . . . It is an institution so absolutely un-American in all its requirements that it would die of its own infamies within twenty years, except for the yearly infusion of fresh serf blood from abroad."


President Cleveland and President Buchanan aren't alone in their public stance against Mormons, there are a long list of presidents who endeavored to deprive Mormons of one right or another. President Hayes called for a federal takeover and reorganization of Utah's government "[t]o the re-establishment of the interests and principles which...Mormonism have imperilled, and fully reopen to the intelligent and virtuous immigrants of all creeds, that part of our domain which has been in a great degree closed to general immigration by the immoral institution, it is recommended that the government of the Territory of Utah be reorganized." President Garfield echoed Hayes' call for federal control of Utah and stated "[t]he Mormon Church not only offends the moral sense of manhood ... but prevents the administration of justice through ordinary instrumentalities of law."


Abraham Lincoln, unlike his successors, at least appeared absent desire to affirmatively harm Mormons, though he didn't necessarily seem overjoyed with them. "When I was a boy on the farm in Illinois there was a great deal of timber on the farm which we had to clear away. Occasionally we would come to a log which had fallen down. It was too hard to split, too wet to burn and too heavy to move, so we plowed around it. That’s what I intend to do with the Mormons. You go back and tell Brigham Young that if he will let me alone I will let him alone."


Present Day

Given the above history (which is by no means exhaustive), many Mormons have an inherent distrust of government. Brigham Young encapsulated this sentiment well when he stated:

“We love the Constitution of our country, but are opposed to mobocracy; and will not live under such oppression as we have done. We are willing to have the banner of the U.S. constitution float over us. If the government of the U.S. is disposed to do us good; we can do them as much good as they can us...I love the government and the constitution of the United States, but I do not love the damned rascals who administer the government.” JH [8 Sep 1851] 3–4

The Mormon heritage is one of autonomy and self-reliance, the likes of which few other cultures can match. This is a group who managed to build some of the most incredible cities 19th Century America ever saw, and they did it all while being raped and murdered by state governments and having war declared upon them by the federal government. Not only did Mormons build fantastic cities, roads, infrastructures, and businesses in the middle of swamps and deserts without help from the government, but they did it all while the government was affirmatively doing everything they could to stop them. They managed (miraculously) to establish a gold based monetary system in Utah despite coming across the plains with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. For Mormons the future appears to be bright. They are an educated people, the percentage of LDS members who have completed post-secondary education is significantly higher than it is for the US population in general (over 20% higher).


Still, however, bigotry towards Mormons is very much en vogue in modern day America. Mitt Romney running for president in 2012 illustrated this well. Gallop reported at the time over 20% of all Republicans would not vote for a Mormon simply on the basis of him/her being Mormon. The Book of Mormon became a broadway blockbuster, though one might question if a play openly mocking Muslims would be as popular. Mormonism is openly mocked in higher education in ways no one would ever feel acceptable to discuss other religions. I see it regularly as a professor and marvel at the hypocrisy of my peers who engage in such mockery. Harvard law professor Noah Feldman emphasized this anomaly as follows, "[t]he LDS Church has suffered greater religious persecution in its history than any other religious group in American history. You'd be surprised by how many people pride themselves on having no prejudices at all but preserve a little place in their heart for this kind of soft anti-Mormon prejudice."


Soft anti-Mormon prejudice can perhaps be best visualized by how the New York Times memorialized Mormon leader Thomas S. Monson. "Thomas Monson, the president of the Mormon church who rebuffed demands to ordain women as priests and refused to alter church opposition to same-sex marriage, died Tuesday at 90.” Many, including the National Review's, Ben Shapiro (and 190,000 individuals who signed a change.org petition) were quick to point out how others, like the genocidal Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez, or the accused rapist Hugh Hefner received considerably more dignified obituaries. Scroll through the below tweets and judge for yourself.


On a more anecdotal note, a couple of years ago I intentionally sat in the Utah student section (the "Muss") during the Utah vs. BYU football game. I knew what I was getting myself into, I did it on purpose. I was the only BYU fan in the U of U student section (as illustrated by the below tweet), perhaps the only BYU fan to ever openly sit in the Muss. I know BYU fans are also often terrible, so I offer no defense for their conduct. What surprised even me, however, was how quickly hundreds of Utah fans around me both assumed and openly attacked my religion. From the several minute long chant of "F@#* the Mormon", to repeated descriptive threats of how I should be raped, to a cheerleader holding an anti-mormon sign, these students had the same mob mentality that Mormons have become so familiar with in the past. I found myself wondering how much national attention something like that would get if I were Jewish or Muslim. In the end, I ignored the threats and chants and cheered BYU on to yet another soul crushing defeat.

I'm pictured in lower center

Virtually everywhere BYU travels students from opposing teams dress as missionaries or other religious garb in an attempt to poke fun at Mormons. The late theologian Stephen Webb astutely noted that "mocking Mormonism is one of the last frontiers of verbal lawlessness to be untouched by the vigilant powers of political correctness." To assume there are not many in today's society that, given the opportunity, would commit the exact same atrocities against Mormons that were committed in the 19th and 20th century is naive. They certainly would if they could, only now Mormons are a people more vigilant and prepared than they were capable of being in the past.


Mormons take this all in stride. Bigotry is something Mormons have become accustomed to, and certainly not something they are afraid of. They are not, and have never been, victims. You will not find Mormons complaining about the historical examples described in this article, most reading this have likely never thought much of what is discussed in this article. Mormons continue to find success and rarely pause to dwell on the difficulty of their plight, nor do they use the past to excuse their present shortcomings. We do not fail today because of past discrimination, we succeed to honor those that experienced it. Perhaps this spirit of perseverance in spite of poor odds, and in the face of unprecedented bigotry, is the greatest legacy we can celebrate on this Pioneer Day.


Patient, firm, and persevering,

God speed the right;

No event nor danger fearing,

God speed the right.

Pains, nor toils, nor trials heeding,

And in heav’n’s good time succeeding,

God speed the right.

Phillip Nelsen is an attorney, college professor, author, entrepreneur, professional hunting guide and back pew member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.


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