Lorenzo Snow, Dec 3, 1889

-- Dec 3, 1889
[President Wilford Woodruff Journal] 3d I signed 31 Recommends. I received 15 Letters. I met with the board of Education at 10 oclok. I met with Isaac Trumbo and had an interesting interview with him. I had a Conversation with Lorenzo Snow upon various things. A Circular was red to be sent to all the Churches Asking for a fasts & prayer Meeting at the birth day of the Prophet Joseph on the 23 of Dec. I wrote 3 Letters. (1)

-- Dec 12, 1889
Official declaration of Church on "Blood Atonement" Capital Punishment, Civil Liberty, Loyalty to the Government of the United States-- Again the diary of L. John Nuttall throws some interesting sidelights on the issuance of this Declaration.

According to Nuttall the First Presidency on December 4, 1889 requested Charles W. Penrose to "make a draft of a denial to the false accusations made by Judge Anderson in his decision in the John Moore case."

On December 5th, Charles W. Penrose called at the office of the First Presidency and "submitted two drafts of denials of the assertions made by Judge Anderson in his decision, which were read and left for further consideration."

On December 6, 1889 the First Presidency, The Quorum of Apostles, Presiding Bishops Preston and Winder and members of the Central Committee of the People's Party met at the Gardo House to consider a course of action in rebuttal to Judge Anderson's decision in the John Moore case.

"Several of the brethren were in favor of the First Presidency and Twelve. [Issuing the denial] Some thought the First Presidency alone-others the 1st President, Twelve and about 100 of the leading businessmen-Some thought a mass meeting to adopt suitable resolutions would be the best [procedure]. But all were in favor of something, a strong denial of the falsehoods should be made. ... After hearing those who wished to speak, an adjournment was taken, and the Presidency and the Twelve considered the matter when it was decided as the mind of the Council that the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles get up a manifesto on this subject, such a one as all can sign."

The Declaration or "Manifesto" was dated December 12, 1889 and on December 14, 1889 "It was ordered that the Manifesto of the First Presidency, and Twelve be published in this Evenings Deseret News & tomorrow mornings Salt Lake Herald, and telegrams were sent to Elders L. Snow, F. D. Richards & A. H. Lund for permission to affix their names to it which they granted."

On December 16, 1889, according to Nuttall:

"Pres. Woodruff directed that the names of Bros. M. Thatcher, John W. Taylor, and D. H. Wells be affixed to the Manifesto of the Presidency & Twelve, these brethren being absent from the city."

The declaration brands as false any claims that the L.D.S. Church believed in or practiced "blood atonement."

OFFICIAL DECLARATION. Salt Lake City, December 12th, 1889. TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

In consequences of gross misrepresentations of the doctrines, aims and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called the "Mormon" Church, which have been promulgated for years, and have recently been revived for political purposes and to prevent all aliens, otherwise qualified, who are members of the "Mormon" Church for acquiring citizenship, we deem it proper on behalf of said Church to publicly deny these calumnies and enter our protest against them.

We solemnly make the following declarations, viz:

That this Church views the shedding of human blood with the utmost abhorrence. That we regard the killing of a human being, except in conformity with the civil law, as a capital crime which should be punished by shedding the blood of the criminal, after a public trial before a legally constituted court of the land.

Notwithstanding all the stories told about the killing of apostates, no case of this kind has ever occurred, and of course has never been established against the Church we represent. Hundreds of seceders from the church have continuously resided and now live in this Territory, many of whom have amassed considerable wealth, though bitterly hostile to the "Mormon" faith and people. Even those who have made it their business to fabricate the vilest falsehoods, and to render them plausible by culling isolated passages from old sermons without the explanatory context, and have suffered no opportunity to escape them of vilifying and blackening the characters of the people, have remained among those whom they have thus persistently calumniated until the present day, without receiving the slightest personal injury.

We denounce as entirely untrue the allegation which has been made, that our Church favors or believes in the killing of persons who leave the Church or apostatize from its doctrines. We would view a punishment of this character for such an act with the utmost horror, it is abhorrent to us and is in direct opposition to the fundamental principles of our creed.

The revelations of God to this Church make death the penalty for capital crime, and require that offenders against life and property shall be delivered up to and tried by the laws of the land.

We declare that no Bishop's or other court in this Church claims or exercises the right to supersede, annul or modify a judgment of any civil court. Such courts, while established to regulate Christian conduct, are purely ecclesiastical, and their punitive powers go no further than the suspension or excommunication of members from Church fellowship.

That this Church, while offering advice for the welfare of its members in all conditions of life, does not claim or exercise the right to interfere with citizens in the free exercise of social or political rights and privileges. The ballot in this Territory is absolutely untrammeled and secret. No man's business or other secular affairs are invaded by the Church or any of its officers. Free agency and direct individual accountability to God are among the essentials of our Church doctrine. All things in the Church must be done by common consent, and no officer is appointed without the vote of the body.

We declare that there is nothing in the ceremony of the Endowment, or in any doctrine, tenet, obligation or injunction of this Church, either private or public, which is hostile or intended to be hostile to the Government of the United States. On the contrary, its members are under divine commandment to revere the Constitution as a heaven-inspired instrument.

Utterances of prominent men in the Church at a time of great excitement have been selected and grouped, to convey the impression that present members are seditious. Those expressions were made more than thirty years ago, when through the falsehoods of recreant officials, afterwards demonstrated to be baseless, troops were sent to this Territory and were viewed by the people, in their isolated condition, fifteen hundred miles from railroads, as an armed mob coming to renew the bloody persecutions of years before.

At that time excitement prevailed and strong language was used; but no words of disloyalty against the Government or itsinstitutions were uttered; public speakers confined their remarks to denouncing traitorous officials who were prostituting the powers of their positions to accomplish nefarious ends. Criticism of the acts of United States officials was not considered then, neither is it now, as treason against the nation nor as hostility to the Government. In this connection we may say that the members of our Church have never offered or intended to offer, any insult to the flag of our country; but have always honored it as the ensign of laws and liberty.

We also declare that this Church does not claim to be an independent, temporal kingdom of God, or to be an imperium in imperio aiming to overthrow the United States or any other civil government. It has been organized by divine revelation preparatory to the second advent of the Redeemer. It proclaims that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Its members are commanded of God to be subject unto the powers that be until Christ comes, whose right it is to reign.

Church government and civil government are distinct and separate in our theory and practice, and we regard it as part of our destiny to aid in the maintenance and perpetuity of the institutions of our country.

We claim no religious liberty that we are unwilling to accord to others.

We ask for no civil or political rights which are not granted and guaranteed to citizens in general.

We desire to be in harmony with the Government and people of the United States as an integral part of the nation.

We regard all attempts to exclude aliens from naturalization, and citizens from the exercise of the elective franchise, solely because they are members of the "Mormon" Church, as impolitic, unrepublican, and dangerous encroachments upon civil and religious liberty.

Notwithstanding the wrongs we consider we have suffered through the improper execution of national laws, we regard those wrongs as the acts of men and not of the Government; and we intend, by the help of Omnipotence, to remain firm in our fealty and steadfast in the maintenance of constitutional principles and the integrity of this Republic.

We earnestly appeal to the American press and people not to condemn the Latter-day Saints unheard. Must we always be judged by the misrepresentations of our enemies, and never be accorded a fair opportunity of representing ourselves?

In the name of justice, reason and humanity, we ask for a suspension of national and popular judgment until a full investigation can be had and all the facts connected with what is called the "Mormon" question can be known. And we appeal to the Eternal Judge of all men and nations to aid us in the vindication of our righteous cause. WILFORD WOODRUFF, GEORGE Q. CANNON, JOSEPH F. SMITH, Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. LORENZO SNOW, FRANKLIN D. RICHARDS, BRIGHAM YOUNG, MOSES THATCHER, FRANCIS M. LYMAN, JOHN HENRY SMITH, GEORGE TEASDALE, HEBER J. GRANT, JOHN W. TAYLOR, M. W. MERRILL, A. H. LUND, ABRAHAM H. CANNON, Members of the Council of the Apostles.

JOHN W. YOUNG DANIEL H. WELLS, Counselors. {This Official Declaration was a direct outgrowth of the testimony and accusations made in the John Moore and other alien cases before Judge Anderson, November 14th through 30th and of Judge Anderson's decision and ruling in those cases. The Revelation to Wilford Woodruff on November 24, 1889, the declarations in the call for a special Fast Day issued December 2, 1889 but to be held on the anniversary of Joseph Smith's birth (December 23) and then this Official Declaration of December 12, 1889 are all an integral past of the same decision on the part of L.D.S. Church leadership. The three documents should in reality be read and considered together.} (2)

1 - Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898 Typescript, Volumes 1-9, Edited by Scott G. Kenney, Signature Books 1993, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies
2 - Clark, James R., Messages of the First Presidency (6 volumes)

LDS History Chronology: Lorenzo Snow

Mormon History Timeline: the life of Lorenzo Snow


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