Joseph and Hyrum Smith riding to Carthage Jail and to their death.
This burgeoning nation of “white faces” moved onward to claim lands even beyond the wide Missouri and the Mississippi. The Mormons had been driven out of Nauvoo, Illinois by bands of marauding white men who pillaged and plundered the Mormons, burning their barns, fields and homes, and killing many while threatening the entire people.
The scene of carnage had been the Mormons’ plight in two other states prior to Illinois. These people had seen their leader, Joseph Smith, and his brother, Hyrum, assassinated in the Carthage, Illinois Jail by masked gunmen. This was one of the country’s worst example of discrimination, and it continues in a political way today whenever Mormons enter the political arena, as opposed to black political discrimination when seems to have ended with the election of Barak Obama as this country’s 44th president.
One would not think it was possible, but the Gays and Lesbians of this country have been one of the major perpetrators of discrimination against Mormons. Witness the past weeks since Proposition 8 was passed in California, defining “marriage.” Mormons had joined with other religious peoples–the Catholics, Evangelicals, Baptists, and other churches–in being proponents of the petition which Californians enthusiastically passed as law, following a judge’s ruling that Gays could marry.
The reason religions opposed this was because it has some very damaging overtones to their religions–meaning they could not excommunicate Gays, perhaps would have to allow them to marry in their chapels and temples or face different tax treatment. Today, religious organizations are tax exempt. They do a lot of good. I couldn’t even begin to explain the amount of aid given to hurricane victims and to the poor, for example, just by the Mormons and Evangelicals alone. They support this giveing through what Mormon’s call “fast offerings”, thithing and other donations of their members.
The religions believe it is a moral issue–that marriage was ordained of God as being a religious rite between one man and one woman. While saying that, they have no problem with Gays using the term “union” when, for example, two men live together. There are all kinds of socialogy and ethical arguments surrounding how that kind of union is inferior to marriage between a man and a woman. For starters, two men don’t make children, anymore than two roosters can make a chick.
Mormons had been forced out of Ohio and Missouri prior to that by corrupt government and evil people. They could have gone on to California, but their leader, Brigham Young, chose to make the dry, arid, sandy soil of the Great Basin–particularly that surrounding the Great Salt Lake–their home.
Obviously, it has flourished and “blossomed like a rose” just as he predicted it would. Mormons have a hard work ethic and many of them have succeeded in many commercial endeavors, in government, science, education, and every walk of life imaginable.