10 Dark Secrets About Mormon History

Every religion has less-than-savory moments hidden in its history. Catholicism has the Inquisition and the Crusades. The Anglican Church began its existence with a purging of Catholics. Many American Protestant religions promoted slavery or the Ku Klux Klan. Despite the clean-cut image of family-oriented conservatives that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon Church) presents to the world, it too has moments of darkness in its past.

From deeply disturbing acts by its founder, Joseph Smith, to atrocities committed in the name of God in Utah, Mormonism has some very dark secrets that even most members of the Church don’t know about. Fortunately, they are well documented—many even by official Mormon publications.

10. Mormons Threatened To Exterminate All Missourians.


Sidney Rigdon was, for a time, the second most powerful person in Mormonism. Then, his relationship with Joseph Smith (depicted above in a statue at the Temple Square’s North Visitor’s Center) suffered due to a number of factors that strained the friendship including when Smith tried to marry Rigdon’s daughter (while Smith was already married) and his refusal to support polygamy. He was removed from his post but, when Rigdon was still Smith’s second-in-command, his input helped shape much of Mormon theology and he also gave the majority of important sermons to the earliest Mormon congregations.

When Mormons were living in Daviess County, Missouri, he delivered a fiery oration on Independence Day of 1838 in which he promised that the Missourians who Mormons felt were persecuting them (the sentiments had some justification although Mormons did their fair share of antagonizing as well) would need to stop any disputes with the Mormons or face a war of extermination. He promised they wouldn’t stop until the last drop of blood was spilled. The text of the speech was endorsed by Joseph Smith.