I recently finished Jon Krakauer’s book, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. I found the book to be very revealing of early Mormon history (much of the stuff modern day Mormons prefer you didn’t know about). Namely this book tackled Mormonism’s twin doctrines of polygamy and Blood Atonement (and detailing the hellish results those unbiblical doctrines wrought on Mormons and non-Mormons alike).
Although this work was a scathing revelation of Mormonism’s twisted and violent history, I could not help but detect the author’s occasional sympathetic bent toward Joseph Smith and the Mormon organization as a whole.
Sympathy or poor research in some instances (I am not certain which), but one example of less-than accurate reporting is when Krakauer said that when Joseph Smith fired his gun at the angry mob (the gun that was smuggled into the Carthage jail), he wounded “at least one.”
However, Mormonism’s own History of the Church cites that Jospeh Smith actually “snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed, died.”
I must say that there’s a chasm of difference between “wounding at least one” and “two or three were wounded . . . two of whom . . . died.”
Another instance in the book where the author would have done well to have done better research is when he writes that Calvinists teach that God is “bent on making humans atone for Adam’s original sin.”
If Krakauer did his homework he would have known that that is not the historic Calvinist position (and never has been). Calvinism teaches that God’s Son (and Him alone) is the only One able to atone for mankind’s sin that was inherited through Adam and for the sins man commits daily. It is actually the belief of Mormonism (and Roman Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh Day Adventists, and Muslims, etc.) that man can atone for or add to Christ’s atoning work on the cross; and this in direct opposition to Galatians 5:4.
In all, although the author was incorrect on a few points, I found the book to be a fascinating look into both the mainstream LDS organization (the one’s who broke away from the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) and the varios fundamental LDS organizations (the one’s who still follow the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) with the Lafferty brothers’ murder of Erica Lafferty and her baby, Erica, on July 24, 1984, as the back drop of the book.
The book, although containing a critical overtone toward all religion, horrifyingly exposes the results of following Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s teachings faithfully, showing that Mormonism (much like Islam) is a violent religion full of lies, deception, adultery, sexual immorality, and forever marked by the bloodshed of innocent men, women, and children.