Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The story of Bishop Warren Snow

There is a story that stands out above the rest in when looking at the horrible practices of coercion and unrighteous dominion of the leaders in early church history.

Warren Snow, who was a bishop in Manti, already had a few wives but a young woman caught his eye. He had a problem though in that she was already promised to a young man. He told her that it was the Lord’s will that she leave her man and marry him. She respectfully declined his proposal a couple of times. Not willing to take no for an answer, Bishop Snow then approached the man she was promised to, telling him to break off their engagement. Staying true to his love for her, he also told the Bishop that he could not leave her. Snow then met with some of the brethren and decided to call a meeting with the young man to discuss his unwillingness to follow their council. The unthinkable then happened. When the young man arrived, he was taken, beaten, and strapped to a bench. Bishop Snow, himself, took out a bowie-knife and castrated him. His severed parts were then nailed to the schoolhouse for all to see. He was left there, bleeding with no one to help. After struggling for a while, he managed to free himself and crawl to where someone would find him. He was used as an example and warning to all, showing what could happen if they did not obey the leaders of the church. The young woman was later forced to marry Warren Snow.

There is evidence that shows that Brigham Young supported this action…

“In the midsummer of 1857 Brigham Young also expressed approval for an LDS bishop who had castrated a man. In May 1857 Bishop Warren S. Snow's counselor wrote that twenty-four-year-old Thomas Lewis 'has now gone crazy' after being castrated by Bishop Snow for an undisclosed sex crime. When informed of Snow's action, Young said: 'I feel to sustain him...' In July Brigham Young wrote a reassuring letter to the bishop about this castration: 'Just let the matter drop, and say no more about it,' the LDS president advised, 'and it will soon die away among the people.' "(The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Vol. 2, pp. 250-251)

Wilford Woodruff spoke about a meeting he was in with Brigham Young where the topic came up as well.

"I then went into the president office & spent the evening. Bishop Blackburn was present. The subject Came up of some persons leaving Provo who had Apostatized. Some thought that Bishop Blackburn & President Snow was to blame. Brother Joseph Young presented the thing to president Young. But When the Circumstances were told President Brigham Young sustained the Brethren who presided at Provo…
"The subjects of Eunuchs came up…Brigham Said the day would Come when thousands would be made Eunochs in order for them to be saved in the kingdom of God." (Wilford Woodruff's Diary, June 2, 1857, Vol. 5, pp. 54-55)

The idea that prophets knew about and encouraged such things really makes me wonder what kind of men they really were. I see them as greedy, power hungry men, who only looked after the desires of their hearts and cared nothing for the actual will of God or the salvation of those who so willingly followed them.

Many Mormons find peace in the idea that God will never let a prophet lead away the members of the church. My question to them is how many examples do you need before you begin to see that the Mormon prophets have, many times over, lead their followers down paths that only lead away from God? Is this something that the God you believe in would approve of?

I didn’t think so.


  1. I am so grossed out by this story. I do not believe that God would have counceled prophets to do this. It sickens me. Great story. What wicked and corrupt men...praise to the man... right?!?

  2. oh this is a travesty to say the least -- what inhumane acts were committed in the name of religion -aren't there words in the Ten Commandments regarding coveting that which is your brother's? Is not that strong enough words - what gives man the right to "rewrite" what God has laid forth? This is pure power hungry greedy behavior - he certainly was not exhibiting charitable, loving behavior -- not a very good role model? you think? maybe the founders of BYU should reconsider the name of their revered educational institution? food for thought!


  3. There are many of the original commandments from the bible that mormons have disobeyed as a direct commandment from God.

    After all if it is modern revelation it trumphs any past revelations including the ten commandments.

    Even in the BOM they kill because of a commandment from GOD. Because "better one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief"

    If it is in their
    so-called "bible" than why wouldn't they live it in everyday life. They always do malicious things in the name of God.

  4. Good grief! That is wild. Very very sad story. Poor young man.


  5. HT

    The unfortunate thing is that malicious things have been done in the name of God for many centuries. I don't claim that Momonism is the only religion guilty of that. But I do think that they hold themselves to a higher standard by virtue of the claims they make setting themselves apart from other Christain religions. I then also hold them to that greater standard and expect more from God's "one and only true church".

  6. What is your source for this story?

  7. John D. Lee. Exactly - another ex-Mormon just like you whose hearsay gets perpetuated. How many castrations did Brigham Young order? Blood atonements? I guarantee none. If any vigilantees performed any, there is zero evidence Brigham Young approved while understanding the true circumstances. It was the wild west and a lot of things happened. As far as violence in scripture, do you believe the violence of the Old Testament should be practiced in our day? I don't. Scripture and prophecy have to be interpreted in context, and that's what you lack. Give some good information to these people who don't know much about Mormons or just leave it alone.

  8. John D. Lee was until the end, a close friend to both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. He was the only man “brought to justice” for the Meadow Mountain Massacre and was a scapegoat for the church because he was not only part of the MMM but he also had first hand knowledge of things that others did as well. He knew he was being put to death and would soon be part of the cover-up, with all of his inside knowledge following him to the grave. Not wanting that to happen, he told his story so all could know what he witnessed.

    You are quick to dismiss his testimony. If a Catholic Priest (not that I’m picking on Catholics) was removed from his post because he participated in child molestation, would the world not want to know what he had to say regarding how prevalent of a problem it is in the church and any other specific instances he knew about? He would be a person with insider information regarding any cover-ups and who was behind them. Any court would consider him a credible witness; while the church would do all they could to defame him and discredit what he has to say.

    There was a trial here locally where a woman told her husband that another man (who she was having an affair with) raped her. Because of what she told her husband, he killed the other man. Interestingly enough, the woman was convicted of involuntary manslaughter while the man who pulled the trigger was exonerated because he only did it because he believed what his wife had told him.

    Hitler did not turn the gas valve in Auschwitz or pull the trigger of a gun but he was held responsible for all the atrocities that happened while he was in power because people believed in what he taught and acted on it.

    Brigham Young taught about Blood Atonement various times. He thought that you would be doing your fellow man a favor by shedding his blood if he sinned. It is because of this teaching that many men felt compelled to act upon it. If it is not a true principle, then it should not have been taught. Even today, members look to “Follow the Prophet” with exactness. That is just what they were doing back then.

    In February 8, 1857, Brigham Young taught the following:
    ”I could refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain, in order to atone for their sins.
    This is loving our neighbour as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it. Any of you who understand the principles of eternity, if you have sinned a sin requiring the shedding of blood, except the sin unto death, would not be satisfied nor rest until your blood should be spilled, that you might gain that salvation you desire. That is the way to love mankind.
    (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol.4, P.219-220)

    If others are held accountable for the actions of others, based on their teachings, I see no reason why Brigham Young should not be, in part, blamed for the actions of who you call “vigilantes”.

  9. So you would take the testimony of the guy who took "the fall" and expect it to be totally unbiased? Come on, you're from Texas, you also could make several references to those whose blood was shed for their sins - its called death row for things like murder, and Brigham's quote sounds an awful lot like that to me. Previous and current laws in different places punished adultery by death; we don't think it's that serious in the US anymore, and if Brigham implied that should be it sounds like an opinion to me. You act like these lengthy quotes you include are news. It also seems you believe in the "infallability" of true prophets - sorry, that's Catholic docrine, not Mormon doctrine.

  10. How many Mormons take the testimony of the Mormon apologists from FAIR and FARMS with out regard to the obvious bias? When dealing with organized crime, prosecutors often use the testimony of someone close to the “Boss”. If there was betrayal, sure, the informant would have an axe to grind, but that does not keep the judge from allowing his testimony. What he has to say is still very important to at least establish the character of the one being accused. That is what John D. Lee did.

    Regarding the idea of Blood Atonement, you relate it to the death penalty. That is a civil punishment that has no basis in salvation. What Brigham Young and others preached was a religious penalty, said to help redeem their souls and bring them exaltation. That is a big difference.

    I do not believe in the “infallibility” of the Mormon prophets. I believe that they actually sinned more then the regular members because they did not practice what they preached and continually lied about it. The idea of infallibility comes from their teachings and the culture of the church. Some examples are as follows…

    ”The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” Official Declaration 1 – President WILFORD WOODRUFF

    ”I remember years ago when I was a Bishop I had President [Heber J.] Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home…. Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: "My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it." Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, "But you don't need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray." Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson p.137

    ”What man or woman on the earth, what spirit in the spirit-world can say truthfully that I ever gave a wrong word of counsel, or a word of advice that could not be sanctioned by the heavens?” Brigham Young - Journal Of Discourses vol. 12 p.128

    ”I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom, as I know the road to my office. It is just as plain and easy. The Lord is in our midst. He teaches the people continually. I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture.” Brigham Young - Journal Of Discourses vol.13 p.95

    Now, anything in D&C is considered scripture, and the Journal of Discourses is a collection of sermons given by church leaders from the pulpit. If they are not speaking as a prophet when addressing a congregation from the pulpit then when are they?

    The idea that “he was speaking as a man and not a prophet” is nothing but an excuse to disregard anything they preached that paints the church in a negative light.

  11. Holy Hell. I had no idea about this story.

    The more I learn about the early church, the more I am horrified and saddened.