Mountain Meadows Massacre and September Dawn

This weekend a new movie called September Dawn was released, presumably to coincide with the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The Mountain Meadows Massacre was the killing of roughly 120 emigrants by local Mormons who were passing through Southern Utah. Though evidence does not support involvement by Brigham Young or any Church sanction, the Massacre has rightly been a disturbing part of Church history.

This weekend I helped create a new website at, with a page specifically about September Dawn. The movie received poor reviews and is not likely to make any lasting impression on the public, but it was unfortunate that it so sensationalized the story and was devoid of serious scholarship and history.

The Church’s recently released article on the Massacre was written by Richard E. Turley, who I recently saw speak at the FAIR Conference. In his presentation, he said the Mountain Meadows Massacre precisely fits the pattern of other massacres which he has studied, i.e. a group of people who has repeatedly been persecuted or injured lashes out against perceived enemies. While this does not excuse the killing of the emigrants, it does help explain how an otherwise peaceful people could perform such an unthinkable act. I look forward to rereading Richard Turley’s talk on the FAIR website when it is available.