Brigham Young's Sermon Threatening Apostates With Murder - 1853


An address delivered by President Brigham Young in the Tabernacle,

Great Salt Lake City, March 27th, 1853.

(Critique Notes Follows Sermon)

I do not know that I can speak so that you can hear me, as you perceive something affects my throat; (1) I wish, however, to say a few words to you this morning; I would like to say considerable - a good many words, but perhaps a few will answer.

There are a goodly number in the congregation, who have been acquainted with this Church and kingdom from its rise, and that knew Joseph in his first career in the Gospel. (2) There are many here that have been in the Church for fifteen, sixteen, and some more than twenty years. I have been in the Church, wanting a few days of twenty-one years, and there are a considerable number that I know have been in it longer than I have. (3) They knew Joseph - they knew him from week to week, and from year to year, they knew what he did, they knew how he spake, they knew the spirit he possessed, they were acquainted with it, it is the same spirit they possess to the present day - the spirit of "Mormonism," the spirit of the Gospel. (4) I will ask those brethren, and those sisters, if they believe Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God? if they believe that he magnified his calling? (5) I will ask them if Joseph lived and died a Prophet of God, and what would they answer? All men and women know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, by the spirit they know it, by the light that is in them, for light cleaveth to light, and truth embraces truth. (6) These pure attributes, as I told you here a few Sabbaths ago, stand upon their own basis - the fabric sustains itself, but falsehood, and that which is built upon it, will, sooner or later, fall.

How many witnesses could we bring, men that are upon the islands of the sea, in foreign lands, and people scattered through the United States, hundreds and thousands in their poverty, who are not able to gather with the Saints; I ask, what would they witness if they were here to-day? They would tell you, and they would sound it so that all the world might hear, if they could, that Joseph Smith was a man called of God to build up His kingdom in the last days, preparatory to the coming of the Son of Man. (7)

There are many witnesses here, not only witnesses of Joseph and his career, but witnesses of Joseph of the disaffected spirits that have come into this Church, and gone out again. Are there witnesses of men trying to rise up and usurp Joseph's place in his day? Yes, there are many witnesses, that many men tried it. Are there witnesses here, of the rise and fall of men in this kingdom? Yes, plenty of them. (8) I have witnessed more than has been pleasing to me. It delights me to see men come into the Church, and magnify the Holy Priesthood, but it is a grievous matter to see men turn away from the holy commandments delivered unto them, gather to themselves false spirits, follow after a phantom, and be duped by the devil - be ensnared by the power of the enemy, and give way to it until they fall. It is a source of regret, but we witness it, we could name many of this class. (9)

Let me ask this congregation, that portion of it that was in Jackson county; and again that portion that was in Kirtland in the days of Joseph, and in leaving Kirtland; (10) then those that were in Caldwell and Davis counties, Missouri; (11) then ask those who were in Nauvoo in his day, (12) and after he was slain; these portions of my congregation which I have mentioned, I will ask, what has produced your persecutions and sorrow? What has been the starting point of all your afflictions? They began with apostates in your midst; these disaffected spirits caused others to come in, worse than they, who would run out and bring in all the devils they possibly could. That has been the starting point and grand cause of all our difficulties, every time we were driven. Are there not witnesses of this, here? Yes, a good portion of this congregation are witnesses of these things, although many of them never saw Joseph, and were not personally acquainted with him. (13)

We have been persecuted - we have built houses, made farms, cultivated the land, broken up the wild prairie, and made it like the Garden of Eden; we have fenced, built, and gathered substance around us many times, and as many times have been driven from our possessions, until we came to this inheritance which we now enjoy in these valleys of the mountains. (14)

Now think a moment, reflect, and ask yourselves what do we see here? I am coming nearer home, I am coming to this place; what do we see here? Do we see disaffected spirits here? We do. Do we see apostates? We do. Do we see men that are following after false and delusive spirits? Yes. When a man comes right out, as an independent devil, and says, "Damn Mormonism, and all the Mormons," and is off with himself, not to Texas, but to California, (you know it used to be to Texas), I say he is a gentleman, by the side of a nasty sneaking apostate who is opposed to nothing but Christianity. I say to the former, Go in peace, sir, go and prosper if you can. But we have got a set of spirits here worse than such a character. When I went from meeting, last Sabbath, my ears were saluted with an apostate crying in the streets here. (15)

I want to know if any one of you who has got the spirit of "Mormonism" in you, the spirit that Joseph and Hyrum had, or that we have here, would say, Let us hear both sides of the question, let us listen, and prove all things? What do you want to prove? Do you want to prove that an old apostate, who has been cut off from the Church thirteen times for lying, is anything worthy of notice? (16)

I heard that a certain gentleman, a picture maker in this city, when the boys would have moved away the wagon in which this apostate was standing, became violent with them, saying, Let this man alone, these are Saints that are persecuting (sneeringly.) We want such men to go to California, or anywhere they choose. I say to those persons, you must not court persecution here, lest you get so much of it you will not know what to do with it. Do NOT court persecution. (17) We have known Gladden Bishop for more than twenty years, and know him to be a poor, dirty curse. Here is sister Vilate Kimball, brother Heber's wife, has borne more from that man than any other woman on earth could bear; but she won't bear it again. I say again, you Gladdenites, do not court persecution, or you will get more than you want, and it will come quicker than you want it. I say to you Bishops, do not allow them to preach in your wards. Who broke the roads to these valleys? Did this little nasty Smith, and his wife? No, they staid in St. Louis while we did it, peddling ribbons, and kissing the Gentiles. I know what they have done here - they have asked exorbitant prices for their nasty stinking ribbons. [Voices, "that's true."] We broke the roads to this country. Now, you Gladdenites, keep your tongues still, lest sudden destruction come upon you. (18)

I will tell you a dream that I had last night. I dreamed that I was in the midst of a people who were dressed in rags and tatters, they had turbans upon their heads, and these were also hanging in tatters. The rags were of many colors, and, when the people moved, they were all in motion. Their object in the appeared to be, to attract attention. Said they to me, "We are Mormons, brother Brigham." "No, you are not," I replied. "But we have been," said they, and they began to jump, and caper about, and dance, and their rags of many colors were all in motion, to attract the attention of the people. I said, "You are no Saints, you are a disgrace to them." Said they, "We have been Mormons." By and bye, along came some mobocrats, and they greeted them with, "How do you do, sir, I am happy to see you." They kept on that way for an hour. I felt ashamed of them, for they were in my eyes a disgrace to "Mormonism." Then I saw two ruffians, whom I knew to be mobbers and murderers, and they crept into a bed, where one of my wives and children were. I said, "You that call yourselves brethren, tell me, is this the fashion among you?" They said, "O, they are good men, they are gentlemen." With that, I took my large bowie knife, that I used to wear as a bosom pin in Nauvoo, and cut one of their throats from ear to ear, saying, "Go to hell across lots." The other one said, "You dare not serve me so." I instantly sprang at him, seized him by the hair of the head, and, bringing him down, cut his throat, and sent him after his comrade; then told them both, if they would behave themselves they should yet live, but if they did not, I would unjoint their necks. At this I awoke. (19)

I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath my bowie knife, and conquer or die. [Great commotion in the congregation, and a simultaneous burst of feeling, assenting to the declaration.] Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put on the line, and righteousness to the plummet. [Voices, generally, "go it, go it."] If you say it is right, raise your hands. [All hands up.] Let us call upon the Lord to assist us in this, and every good work. (20)

After Alfred Smith was called upon to go on a mission, he would not go, and I knew he would apostatize. Do you suppose that after a man has refused to fulfil his calling, he can retain the spirit of truth, and stand? He can not. They say they believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet raised up to establish the work of the last days, and bring forth the Book of Mormon; and thus they deceive. But if you will examine them you will not find anything but contradiction to every principle of truth. (21)

I felt to say this that I have said, though my throat is very sore, but I think this exercise has done it good. I feel to say to Jew and to Gentile, Let this people alone in these valleys of the mountains, or you will find that which you are not looking for. (22) We are on the Lord's side, and we have the tools to work with. But shall this people sink? No. (23) The time has come that Israel shall be redeemed, and they never shall lie trampled under foot again. (24) Now is the time; Joseph told us, before he was killed, the set time to favor Zion had come. I want you to hear, Bishops, what I am about to tell you. Kick these men out of your wards. If you want to apostatize, apostatize, and behave yourselves. You shall not disturb my peace, nor the peace of this people. (25) If you want to go to California, go, and serve Gladden Bishop there, if you wish, but disturb not this community, or else you will find judgment is laid to the line. Do not court persecution, for, remember, you are not playing with shadows, but it is the voice and the hand of the Almighty you are trying to play with, and you will find yourselves mistaken if you think to the contrary. (26)

May the Lord bless you, my brethren; (27) and I pray, all the time, that we may be preserved in the truth, that when the Lord has anything for us, we may be ready to receive it, and thus serve Him all the day long. If we have not been driven far enough to enjoy peace, tell me where next we can be driven to, to find it; and if apostates follow, let them follow. (28)


Critique Notes of Brigham Young's Sermon Delivered on March 27, 1853


1) Brigham Young continually deceived his Mormon followers with lies.

“Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit; The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  Romans 3:13-18

2) Joseph Smith’s career prior to religion was that of a criminal con-artist.
Not only was Joseph Smith tried, found guilty, and sentenced (on March 20, 1826), but it is also reported that Joseph jumped bail. All this took place four years before Joseph Smith founded the Mormon Church and six years after his “first revelation from God.” Ashamed of Joseph, page 54.

3) Mormon hierarchy used false revelations for material gain.

For I am the Lord your God, and will save all those of your brethren who have been pure in heart, and have been slain in the land of Missouri, saith the Lord. And again, verily I say unto you, I command you again to build a house to my name, even in this place, that you may prove yourselves unto me that ye are faithful in all things whatsoever I command you, that I may bless you, and crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life. And now I say unto you, as pertaining to my boarding house which I have commanded you to build for the boarding of strangers, let it be built unto my name, and let my name be named upon it, and let my servant Joseph and his house have place therein, from generation to generation. For this anointing have I put upon his head, that his blessing shall also be put upon the head of his posterity after him. And as I said unto Abraham concerning the kindreds of the earth, even so I say unto my servant Joseph: In thee and in thy seed shall the kindred of the earth be blessed. Therefore, let my servant Joseph and his seed after him have place in that house, from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord. Doctrines and Covenants 124:54-59


4) The Christian Gospel is not the Mormon gospel of proclaiming false prophets.

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

5) Joseph Smith magnified himself over Jesus Christ.
I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. Public message delivered by Joseph Smith on May 26, 1844.

6) The testimony of the Holy Spirit will be Jesus Christ not Mormon false prophets.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” John 15:26

7) Christians will preach Jesus Christ not Mormon false prophets.
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24

8) Christians will be witnesses for Jesus Christ not Mormon false prophets.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 

9) Mormons have been ensnared by the false prophets of Mormondom.
You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:17-18

10) Joseph Smith fled Kirtland due to an arrest warrant for bank fraud.

On 2 November 1836 the Kirtland Safety Society Bank was organized with Joseph Smith, Jr. as cashier and Sidney Rigdon as president. Oliver Cowdery was sent to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to have plates engraved, and Orson Hyde went to Columbus, Ohio, to secure a bank charter. Both returned to Kirtland the first of January 1837. Cowdery had acquired the plates, but Hyde had bad news. The Ohio legislature had denied the charter because the bank had no specie to back its capitalization. Mormon Coin and Currency, page 1.


11) Joseph Smith instigated Mormon hate against non-Mormons in Missouri.

George M. Hinkle, a (Mormon) Witness for the state, produced, sworn and examined, deposeth and saith: “There was much mysterious conversation in camps, as to plundering and house burning; so much so, that I had my own notions about it; and, on one occasion, I spoke to Mr. Smith, Jr., in the house, and told him that this course of burning houses and plundering, by the Mormon troops, would ruin us; that it could not be kept hid, and would bring the force of the state upon us; that houses would be searched, and stolen property found. Smith replied to me, in a pretty rough manner, to keep still; that I should say nothing about it; that it would discourage the men; and he would not suffer me to say anything about it. 1841 Congressional Documents No. 189, pages 21-22, Mormonism Exposed, 1842, pages 29-30.


12) Joseph Smith was the dictator of Nauvoo and acted as such with impunity.

Joseph requested and received from Governor Carlin the commission of lieutenant-general and thereafter frequently jested about his outranking every military officer in the United States. He came to prefer the title “General” even to “President” and used it in much of his correspondence. His uniform was smartly designed: a blue coat with a plentiful supply of gold braid, buff trousers, high military boots, and a handsome chapeau topped with ostrich feathers. On his hip he carried a sword and two big horse-pistols. Delighting in the pomp and splendor of parades, he called out the Legion on every possible occasion, marching at the head on his magnificent black stallion, Charlie. No Man Knows My History, page 271.


13) Apostates were Mormons who discovered that Mormonism was a fraud.

The disparagements of the visitor who approached Joseph with built-in prejudice can be dismissed more readily than testimony coming from one with whom he was in frequent contact. An anonymous “Mrs. J,” formerly of Nauvoo, offered this morsel to Dr. W. Wyl in his interviews at Salt Lake: “Joseph used to preach: ‘Brethren and sisters, I got drunk last week and fell in the ditch. I suppose you heard of it. I am awfully sorry, but I felt very good.’ He used to get drunk on military occasions, after the parades of the Nauvoo Legion.” Mormon Portraits, page 22; Hearts Made Glad, page 204.

14) Citizens had to drive Mormon religious fanatics from Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois.
Editor Tribune: -- From the Great Salt Lake Basin to the Buckeye State, from the scene of the fierce and irrepressible conflict to a region where men dwell together in relations peaceful and fraternal, how sudden and complete the transition! And yet, four days and three nights sufficed to make the change... I took up immediately a two-months' campaign to talk upon Mormon matters. From Strife to Peace, The Salt Lake Daily Tribune, April 17, 1887.

15) Apostates were generally driven from Utah or murdered unless protected.

The new governor, Harding, offered full pardon to the Morrisites and remission of fines. This drew strong criticism from the Mormons, who had initially cheered Harding on his arrival. Non-Mormons accused Judge Kinney of being influenced by Brigham Young. Eventually both Harding and Kinney were removed, though the Morrisite uproar was only part of their difficulties. The future of the Morrisites was dim. Some left, escorted out of Utah by the federal troops of General Connor, some were employed at federal Camp Douglas, and others settled in Soda Springs, Idaho. The Saints and the Union, page 92.


16) The spirit of Mormonism is all opposing non-Mormons are enemies.

And thus, even as I have said, if ye are faithful ye shall assemble yourselves together to rejoice upon the land of Missouri, which is the land of your inheritance, which is now the land of your enemies. Doctrine and Covenants 52:42, June 7, 1831.


17) Religious fanatics have resorted to murder to silence their critics.

After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. Mark 14:1


18) Religious fanatics will practice slander if unable to commit murder.

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” Luke 7:33-34


19) Religious fanatics in their hearts would love to murder opposers.

Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” John 7:16-19


20) It is against the commandment of God to murder another human being.

“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13


21) Dictatorial rulers will always eliminate their rivals.

Brigham Young then stood up, faulted Marks for attempting to “soft soap” the people, and bullied him with threats against his own church membership. Rigdon is “going contrary to Joseph’s instructions,” Young insisted, and “he shall not lead the innocent to destruction … I say it in the name of Israel’s God.” Sidney Rigdon, A Portrait of Religious Excess, page 357.


22) Apostate Mormons were fortunate to escape Utah alive.

The seceding Mormons painted a lurid picture of life in Utah, providing firsthand accounts of the horrors of polygamy and of ritual assassinations executed under the strange doctrine of blood atonement. To escape from the territory, the bedraggled refugees complained, they had to abandon their possessions and depart in great secrecy. Blood of the Prophets, page 95.


23) Being on the Lord’s side does not involve murder, rage, or slander.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder’, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘RacaRaca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:21-22


24) Unlike Mormonism, Christians have been redeemed by Jesus Christ.

And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1 Peter 1:17-19


25) Religious fanatics will order opposers to be quiet.

“But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. Acts 4:17-18.


26) Brigham Young practiced murder throughout his career as the LDS President.

Actions speak louder than words, and we have it from Brigham Young’s own mouth, 18 years later (1856), in the following statement concerning him: “If anyone comes here and does not conduct himself the way he should, then he will not only find Danites – who are so much spoken of – who will ‘bite their horse’s heels,’ but such wretches will find something that will bite into their own heels as well. Deseret News, Volume 7, 143; Secret History, an eyewitness account of the rise of Mormonism, page 146.


27) Being blessed by God does not involve the practice of murder.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” Matthew 5:3-11


28) True peace is only found in Jesus Christ not in an organized religion.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33