What’s This Mormon Thing?

Hostile Anti-Mormon posts subject to editing or deletion

Blood Atonement – What The LDS Church Teaches

Posted by JLFuller on August 31, 2008

By virtue of Christ’s’ sacrifice and atonement, all human beings are entitled to be saved from eternal separation from God, Christ and the hosts of heaven. Those who fall outside of the atonement will be cast into outer darkness also known as eternal death or eternal hell, with Satan, his angels and, according to LDS theology, those who committed the unpardonable sin of denying the Holy Ghost when one had perfect knowledge. That means they saw Christ or God the Father face-to-face and absolutely knew He existed and yet denied it.

Blood atonement was reported to have been a method of repentance for those who had received baptism and the temple ordinances and afterwards committed a serious sin that would take them outside bounds of the atonement. I have read a bit about the practice but it is still unclear on several points which I won’t get into. Suffice it to say it is not a church practice and never has been. Apparently it was a self initiated process whereby one would ask to have his blood spilled and that he be killed to atone for his sin. Some may want to put a finer point on it but that is the substance of the doctrine. The link below takes you to a more complete discussion of the practice.

Some amateur historians and anti-Mormons have used comments made by Brigham Young as evidence that the Church used Blood Atonement as an administrative tool however no legitimate historian has found evidence to support that contention. President Young made comments concerning blood atonement as a rhetorical device to impress upon members the seriousness of such offenses as committing adultery and murder but no one ever has provided proof that it was implemented. Young denied ever implementing the practice. It is not now nor has it ever been Church practice or policy.  

The reader may wonder why I would post on this topic given I am unclear on it and it is not a practice of the Church. I do so because people who think they have sufficient knowledge about the practice continue to comment about it as though The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believed in and continued it today. My intent is to participate in the process of piece by piece chipping away at the distortions told about us. Blood atonemnt is one of those distortions. Much has been addressed and the misinformation deliberately spread by our detractors continues to melt away from the public consciousness. But it is only through continually addressing these things that we can defeat them.






9 Responses to “Blood Atonement – What The LDS Church Teaches”

  1. jackg said


    Have you read the book entitled “Mormonism: Changes, Contradictions, and Errors” by John R. Farkas and David A. Reed? Would you consider these guys to be amateurs? Farkas is a former member, and I was wondering if that in itself disqualifies him from such a discussion. I just want to know where you stand. Naturally, references to Journal of Discourses are made. Farkas prefaces his comments in this particular section by quoting BY JOD 12:127, when he basically states that God will not give him anything to say that hasn’t been sanctioned by the heavens. If you have the book, you can refer to pp.69, 93-94. I have also read “One Nation Under Gods” by Richard Abanes that goes into more detail of Blood Atonement doctrine purportedly taught and practiced by the LDS Church. Also, as I read D&C 132, especially verse 41: “And as ye have asked concerning adultery, verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.” I can’t help but think this is the foundation of the doctrine of Blood Atonement, especially when taken into account the words of BY, March 16, 1856, Journal of Discourses 3:247: “Suppose you found your brother in bed withyour wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case; and under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands.”

    From my perspective, this is all very messy. I’m just glad I no longer have to try and defend such a mess. Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that blood atonement was at least preached (and you can say that the examples I have produced, thanks to the work of others, has nothing to do with blood atonement, that’s okay). Now, whether or not it was practiced I cannot say. I have not read any evidence of it actually being practiced, but that’s not to say that there is no evidence out there; I just haven’t read any.

    Looking forward to your response.

  2. Jack
    No sir, I have not read these writers. If the writer doesn’t have an acknowledged reputation among his peers in the area, I likely won’t read him. So far, no Evangelical writer I ever heard of knows anything about Mormons. Previous membership means nothing. One can have been a member for 50 years and never know much about the Church so membership has little weight. MINOs (Mormon in Name Only) are way too uninformed to be worthwhile writers about the Church.

    Your citation above is a classic example. President Young, in his way, was describing to his listeners how serious adultery was. In his own inept, (inept to us today) way he used blood atonement as a rhetorical device to emphasize how deadly such behavior was considered to be. But uninformed ant-Mormon literalists jumped at the chance to take another shot at Mormons with out knowing the whole story. In order to understand what was happening some foundation has to be laid first. One has to know up front that the Church does not now nor has it ever suggested blood atonement as an administrative tool. In fact the idea behind it required that the transgressor present himself voluntarily for sanction and only certain people even qualified for it. Funny how all those little details seem to get left out of all these anti-Mormon stories isn’t it?

    But that is typical of Evangelical anti-Mormon writers. They don’t know enough about the Church to comment authoritatively. If you have ever come across an authoritative writer please let me know. I will tell you up front that if he is known as anti-Mormon or anti-Jew or anti-anything then he is worthless as a legitimate source. Legitimate writers don’t write like that. They discuss ideas not personalities. Now if you tell me about a writer who researches and writes about a subject, say, Trinitarianism, and does not denigrate believers or non-believers then he may have something to say worth reading. That is what makes all the anti-Mormon writers worthless. They are pushing their hateful agenda and not an objective study of the subject.

  3. JLFuller said

    As long as we have touched on the subject, I would like to approach another allied subject. That is – why do I attack some churches (never about theology) and not others? Why Evangelicals and not adherents to other Christian areas of thought? After all, Catholics don’t agree with Mormons neither to a lot of others. Why just Evangelicals?

    Jack, disagreeing with us on theological grounds is expected and understood. I even welcome it. But Evangelical leaders go further. Under the guise of being “bold” in furthering the work of Christ, they have confused differences in theology with tacit approval to say and do whatever they want. They go over the line and into inappropriate behaviors. They are abusive and deliberately mislead as a matter of practice and policy. They know, or should know, that what they are preaching about us is at best inaccurate and even deliberate bearing of false witness.

    They do not respect the subject matter enough to treat it honestly and that makes Evangelicals different. That makes them an enemy by their own choosing. Not on theological grounds mind you but on behavioral grounds. We didn’t choose for them to be our enemy they did. I know I am painting this subject with a broad brush but I do so because this belief is almost universally held. Those leaders who do not think like this are far in the minority. This is a leadership issue.

  4. jackg said


    Thanks for your quick response. Even though you provided context, it still doesn’t mitigate what BY actually said but, alas, that is my opinion and nothing more. I knew I was providing a classic example; in fact, it’s probably the only example of which I am aware.

    I want you to know the value I am getting from your blog, and it is this: I truly believe the LDS Church has everything backwards. Your site is helping me learn how to communicate what I believe in a manner that does not attack the person. You see, I am against the system called Mormonism, but not against the people called Mormons. And, whatever your opinion may be on this topic, there are times when things I say will bring into the picture the person of a leader. I think it’s fair that leaders can be called into question because they are the ones teaching their people doctrines that I believe to be heretical in nature (this thread is not about this at the moment). So, it is with great respect that I disagree with you on some of your points with regard to the criteria for who is authorized to write against LDS beliefs insomuch as they are deemed to be anti-Christian (I know, a bold statement). When all is said and done, I am learning that it is not worthwhile to debate points of doctrine and the character of people, but to preach the gospel of grace that floods the pages of the entire Bible.

  5. JLFuller said

    I just went back and took another look at what you said. One part struck me as emblematic of how one can misread a subject. D&C 132, especially verse 41 you say is “she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.” I have not researched the passage so I reserve the right to do so. But the thing that jumps out at me first is the last phrase …”and shall be destroyed…” I don’t read this as an indictment and death sentence but rather a look into the future. The message at first blush is about how certain behaviors can get you into trouble and just how serious that trouble is. Again, it looks more like a rhetorical device.

  6. JLFuller said

    If you know the process of how revelation is recieved then it makes more sense. As I understand it, it works this way with me, personal revelation is the product of supplication for enlightement or direction all in accordance with one’s stewardship. The thought is placed in your mind and then it is up to you to express it. Joseph Smith and others of his era spoke and thought differently than we do today. Few people of that time ever traveled more than 20 or 30 miles beyond thier birthplace so they were seriously unsophisticated. It seems unfair to compare their ways of communicating back then with us today. Science was little more than pseudoscience. Myth was a normal tool of expressioning ideas. People actually believed in a man-in-the-moon, witches, warlocks and goblins. I think we should keep that in mind when reading early writings especially opinion pieces.

  7. You said “So, it is with great respect that I disagree with you on some of your points with regard to the criteria for who is authorized to write against LDS beliefs insomuch as they are deemed to be anti-Christian (I know, a bold statement).”

    It isn’t me who believes ill-informed writers have no place in legitimate research. I dare say you will not find any responsible critic who thinks otherwise. That is why TV commentators and those who mail CD’s out have no standing in the legitimate research world. It does not take a genius to preach gobbledygook to the choir. The problem with being in the choir is if you limit your search for truth to only those who have a particular agenda you deny yourself most of the honest researchers. In the Evangelical case, looking outside of the purveyors of gobbledygook is considered heresy.

    That is not the case with the LDS Church. We are admonished regularly from official sources to search the best sources and learn from the best teachers. That is why I said earlier that I have yet to find an Evangelical writer who knows his stuff. They all preach the same misunderstood nonsense. It is incestuous. What they need is some new blood. All their babies are being born with twelve toes and three eyes.

    One more thing – being bold isn’t a problem. Being irresponsible is. Boldness, I think, means thinking in new ways not behaving with boorish manners.

  8. JLFuller said

    You said “there are times when things I say will bring into the picture the person of a leader.” Certainly leadership is an important topic and is germane to many subject. But as is the case with all of us, personalities too often get mixed in the discussion. That is where things take an inappropriate course. For example, when we talk about someone like Joseph Smith we ought to keep the discussion on the ideas he promulgated and not his failings as a man. Unless we are writing a biography, those have no place in the quest for knowledge. The Savior I think made that clear when he admonished Peter for lopping off a man’s ear. That incident had no bearing on Peter’s future value. The same can be said for all the OT prophets that we have knowledge of. In Joseph’s case we have only part of the story. I don’t think it is enough to portray him in the same light as his detractors do.

  9. JLFuller said

    Leadership in Evangelical churches has driven many members away from the church. You see it everyday. You read about it in newspapers and on the internet. It is not uncommon for a new member of the LDS Church to say they were so disappointed with the anti-Mormon, anti-Jew, anti-Catholic ranting from the pulpit that they gave up on religion altogether. I suggest that when you start to hear the negative comments from church leadership the Spirit departs. But so many pastors get so wrapped up in preventing Mormons from raiding their flock that they loose sight of why their membership would want to leave. People want instinctively to know God and Christ. When they don’t get what they want they will go elsewhere. People instinctively know that berating another group is not in keeping with Christ’s goals of uniting mankind with Him.

    If a church primarily offers unification against a perceived enemy they create a siege mentality. It hardens people against “outsiders”. If the pastor thinks he is just protecting his flock from outsiders then he gets to define who the outsiders are. But in the end what holds the group together is the enemy. God takes a back bench. In fact as long as he is focusing on “bad people” the pastor is not talking about God and he is not bringing people to Christ. Preachers who follow this train will find they spend more and more time on negative things and less and less on positive uplifting things. Hitler used this technique very effectively against the Jews. It is one of Satan’s most effective tools. It is called divide and conquer.

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