On Sept. 11, 1857, Mormons aided by native American allies massacred about 120 unarmed men, women, and children bound for California by wagon train. The slaughter took place amid war hysteria: The US Army was marching toward Utah to confront Mormon leaders.
After covering up the Mountain Meadows massacre for years, the church is supporting an exhaustive Mormon research effort to leave no stone unturned. The findings, unflattering in spots, are being broadcast worldwide in the latest edition of the church’s magazine.
“It’s clear that at very important levels the church is opening itself in ways that it had not felt comfortable with [before],” says Sarah Barringer Gordon, a law professor and religion expert at University of Pennsylvania. “People [in Utah] really understand â€“ perhaps as they hadn’t until the last five, six years or so â€“ that there’s a need and a possibility for real investigation and acceptance of a painful past.”