Mormons Reflect on New Brigham Young Biography

Over at Times and Seasons, a Mormon blog, Julie Smith reviews the new book, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet by John G. Turner. Smith writes:

I have serious reservations about recommending it to the average church member; if you need your prophet to be larger than life, or even just better than the average bear, this book is not for you.  I think there is a substantial risk that people raised on hagiographic, presentist images of prophets would have their testimonies rocked, if not shattered, by this book. Perhaps this is just an idiosyncratic reaction, but I felt an increased appreciation for Joseph Smith, David O. McKay, and Spencer W. Kimball after reading their biographies.  I can’t say the same for Brigham Young; I liked him–and respected him–less.  Much less.

She says that Young did “…some deeply creepy stuff” and lists:

Dubious financial practices?  Check (page 52). Knife fights in the temple?  Check (page 53). Making false statements?  Check (pages 59, 76, and 153).  Polyandry?  Check (pages 94, 136, 376).  Lying about polygamy?  Check (page 97). Extra-judicial violence, killing, and castration?  Check (pages 122, 186, 188, 259, 285).  Racism?  Check (pages 124, 218, 222, 362). Sexist language?  Check (page 158). Secretly ordaining his pre-teen sons as apostles?  Check (page 382). Violent rhetoric?  Check (page 349 and 350).  Foul language?  Check (pages 173, 305, and 320).  Blood atonement?  Check (pages 186 and 258). False prophecies?  Check (page 197). Paying bribes?  Check (page 369).  Major hypocrisy?  Check (page 400).  Members of the Quorum of the Twelve questioning his use of church funds and his doctrinal teachings?  Check (page 410).  (Irrelevant side note:  I don’t know why people act as if polyandry is somehow worse than polygamy;  I think they are just being sexist and don’t even realize it.)

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