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Friday, June 18, 2010

LDS Church and the "Blood Atonement" Doctrine

According to an article on the Salt Lake Tribune's website,

"After convicted killer Ronnie Lee Gardner announced last month his intention to be executed by firing squad, national and international reporters suggested it was a throwback to the wild, wild West.  Some Utahns, though, had a different explanation for why such an anachronistic execution technique remained an option in the 21st century: blood atonement.  The term refers to an arcane LDS belief that a murderer must shed his own blood -- literally -- to be forgiven by God."

In this post, we shall discuss where this doctrine came from, and what the LDS Church says about it today, in order to set the record straight.

President Brigham Young said on 8 February 1857,  

"Suppose [one] is overtaken in a gross fault, that he has committed a sin that he knows will deprive him of that exaltation which he desires, and that he cannot attain to it without the shedding of his blood, and also knows that by having his blood shed he will atone for that sin, and be saved and exalted with the Gods, is there a man or woman in this house tbut what would say, 'shed my blood that I may be saved and exalted with the Gods? (JD 4:219)'" 

This so-called doctrine was basically the Theocratic equivalent of the death penalty.  This was voted upon numerous times by the then-State of Deseret.  What does LDS scripture have to say on the topic?  Let's find out.  We shall highlight scripture from the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon.  My personal opinion will be bolded.

Genesis 9:6 reads, "Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed."  Numbers 35:16 says that "the murderer shall surely be put to death."  2 Nephi 9:35 reads, "Wo unto the murderer who deliberately killeth, for he shall die."  Within the Nephite government, which was essentially a republic run by popular vote, laws were established that made murder illegal.  Here are the words of Mormon on the subject of murder and capital punishment: "he that murdered was punished unto death (Alma 1:18)."  Amulek says in Alma 34:12 that "the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered."  Capital punishment was approved of the Lord, of the Israelites, of the Nephites, and is approved of by the laws of the United States of America.

I believe that those convicted of murder should be put to death, especially where copious evidence is shown to merit the conviction.

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