Bishop Lawrence Scanlan

Thursday, June 4, AD 2015

Bishop_Lawrence_Scanlan

Judging from his photograph, Lawrence Scanlan, first Catholic Bishop of Utah, was not a man to be trifled with, and perhaps that was a factor that helped him get along with Mormons so well as he established Catholicism in their Zion.  Not long after Father Scanlan arrived in Utah in 1873, he was invited by the Mormons in Saint George, Utah to use their tabernacle to say Mass.  They even supplied a chorus that could sing a Latin High Mass!

Respect for Catholicism had been planted in Mormonism at the start.  The Mormon prophet Joseph Smith gave this speech when an Ursuline Convent was burned in Boston in 1834:  :“The early settlers of Boston . . . who had fled from their mother country to avoid persecution and death, soon became so lost to principles of justice and religious liberty as to whip and hang the Baptist and the Quaker, who, like themselves, had fled from tyranny to a land of freedom; and the Fathers of Salem, from 1691 to 1693, whipped, imprisoned, tortured, and hung many of their citizens for supposed witchcraft; and quite recently, while boasting of her light and knowledge, of her laws and religion, as surpassed by none on earth, has New England been guilty of burning a Catholic convent in the vicinity of Charlestown, and of scattering the inmates to the four winds; yes, in sight of the very spot where the fire of the American Independence was first kindled, where a monument is now erecting in memory of the battle of Bunker Hill, and the fate of the immortal Warren, who bled, who died on those sacred heights, to purchase religious liberty for his country; in sight of this very spot, have the religionists of the nineteenth century demolished a noble brick edifice, hurling its inhabitants forth upon a cold, unfeeling world for protection and subsistence.”

Knowing severe religious persecution in their early years, the Mormons felt a kinship to other persecuted religious groups, including Jews and Catholics.  Prior to Father Scanlan arriving in Utah, Brigham Young helped Father Mathew Kelly get the land to build the first Catholic Church in Salt Lake City.

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11 Responses to Bishop Lawrence Scanlan

  • Your pity for the Mormons as a “persecuted group” is ridiculous. They suffered persecution, so called. for one major reason. They were a violent group of people who committed crimes and moral outrages against the Non-Mormons they came into contact with. Some Non-Mormons did go overboard in dealing with Mormon transgressions, but for the most part, the Ain’t Saints got the shellackings that they deserved.

  • Holy smokes, that fellow *looks* the part of a bishop! Old school. Would that some of our current crop of shepherds looked (and acted) as formidable.

  • Yeah, a statue of that bishop would look softer than he does. If you carved that face into rock, people would look at it and think it was a bad representation or a trick of the light.

    I made a comment recently about the need for an authentic orthodox American Catholic identity. It’s interesting that Mormonism is probably the quintessential American religion. Screwy New England Christian roots, extreme devotion and utopianism, emphasis on family and morals. Those used to be classic elements of American religion.

    This country has an interesting religious history. We’re originally settled by escaping Protestants, and had an Episcopalian aristocracy, and the role of the Southern Baptists and evangelicals can’t be overemphasized. I’ve heard it argued that we were headed toward a Catholic moment in our history until the bishops’ sex scandals broke. I think there’s a solid argument for that. We find ourselves with less of a voice than we should have, given our numbers and our merits, but if we’re going to close that gap, it’s up to us.

  • “They were a violent group of people who committed crimes and moral outrages against the Non-Mormons they came into contact with.”

    Read Fawn Brodie’s, No Man Knows My History (1945), Stephen, the first scholarly biography of Joseph Smith, and get back to me. She was an ex-Mormon who had little love for the Mormon Church, indeed she was excommunicated by the Mormons because of the biography, but she gives chapter and verse to the sickening persecutions the Mormons were subject to, up to and including murder. That some Mormons took up arms in defense is hardly surprising. Another recent good book to read is American Crucifixion on the murder of Joseph Smith and his brother by an Illinois mob. The Mormons were not pacifists, but they were far more sinned against than sinning, including an extermination order signed against them by the governor of Missouri.

    http://www.amazon.com/American-Crucifixion-Murder-Joseph-Mormon/dp/1610393139

  • Hi, Pinky,

    I have a couple of mild counterpoints. The first Europeans in the present day United States were Catholics. While Catholics were not numerically significant in the original 13 colonies – Maryland WAS a Catholic colony until the Anglicans ran roughshod over it – St. Augustine, Florida, St. Louis, Missouri, Vincennes, Indiana, New Orleans, San Antonio and other Catholic towns and villages were in existence. and St. Aughustine predates any Protestant settlement in the Western Hemisphere. Padre Kino – the Padre on Horseback – traveled throughout the present day southwestern USA evangelizing various Indian tribes, most notably the Pimas. Fray Serro evangelized California during the American Revolution.

    Without help from then Catholic France AND Spain the War for Independence may have failed. The stupid anti-Catholicsm of the New Englanders cost them the help of Quebec, who might have to otherwise been persuaded to join the Americans.

    Until the Second Vatican Council, the American Catholic Church was on its way to making this a majority Catholic country. Afterwards, to use the words of Bloom County’s Bill the Cat “pfffffffffffffft”.

    Bishop Leonard’s mere glance would have been enough to send most of the current American Catholic episcopate looking for a rock to crawl under.

  • “Bishop Leonard’s mere glance would have been enough to send most of the current American Catholic episcopate looking for a rock to crawl under.”

    Bingo. I can imagine if he had been born 75 years later he might have been one of the Catholic chaplains lauded by Marine legend Chesty Puller:
    http://the-american-catholic.com/2011/01/02/chesty-puller-and-catholic-chaplains/

  • Don, I’m quite well informed about the Mormon cult. The Utah Lighthouse Ministry http://www.utlm.org has scads of historical material I the form of pamphlets, articles, books, and DVDs on the LDS. The late Gerald Tanner, and his wife Sandra, are respected authorities and researchers on the Mormon sect and it’s history. Their research into Mormon history shows beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Mormons were, as I said, “a violent group of people who committed crimes and moral outrages against Non-Mormons they came in contact with.” Their acts of violence against the people of Illinois and Missouri is what brought what you call “the sickening persecutions” down on their heads. When a group of people engage in acts of murder, thievery, fraud, sexual immorality, without a let up, that tends to make ordinary, decent folks pretty mad. Any violent actions against the Mormons, including the extermination order, has to be seen in that light.
    Also, some of my ancestors in Elmwood, Il. had contact with the Mormons, and their criminal ways back during the 1830-40’s. They knew these folks for the criminals they actually were. A friend of my great-great-grandfather Avery Dalton had a run in with a Mormon ‘prophet’ who was stealing goods from his neighbors by claiming God told him, via divine revelations, to take their property. My gggrandfather’s friend told the LDS conman he had a revelation too. He said God told him to fill the prophets hide with lead if he didn’t get a move on! According to Avery, the prophet ran all the way back to Nauvoo, Il.!
    BTW, did you ever read about the crime called the Mountain Meadows Massacre? Was that the result of Mormon reacting to “sickening persecutions” or an act of planned cold blooded murder by the leadership of the Mormon church? Get back tome when you read about that.
    v

  • The history is as I describe it Stephen. The Tanners were former Mormons who became anti-Mormon activists. Accepting their assessment of Mormon history would be like accepting the assessment of bitter ex-Catholics on Catholic history.

    “BTW, did you ever read about the crime called the Mountain Meadows Massacre? Was that the result of Mormon reacting to “sickening persecutions” or an act of planned cold blooded murder by the leadership of the Mormon church? Get back tome when you read about that.”

    As you might have guessed Stephen, I know all about it. A great crime which occurred during the Utah War, and which Brigham Young commanded not be done, although he participated in an attempt to cover it up after the fact. Let me know when you start reading real history about the Mormons instead of the drek you have cited. In this area neither histories written by devout Mormons nor histories written by devout anti-Mormons tend to be useful in determining what actually occurred, which should be the goal of all history. History is very important to me and I will not allow it on this cite to be distorted by sources that are junk.

  • Don, was my ancestor Avery Dalton, who was a respected citizen of the town of Elmwood, Il. He didn’t like the Mormons because he and his friends and neighbors saw how those “sickening persecuted” Saints really behaved in their neck of the woods. Why should I doubt his honest testimony over your defense of these people whose criminal behavior is well documented?
    Your put down of the Tanner’s as “devout Anti-Mormons” is a classic ad hominem attack used by cults and their defenders. I was a cult member for almost a decade, and this is easy for me to see. I was attacked for speaking out against my former cult by the members and leadership, but every word I said was true. For you to compare the Tanner’s to embittered Ex-Catholics attacking our church is just plain nuts. The Tanner’s are offering a legitimate criticism of an Anti-Christian cult. The embittered Ex-Catholics are attacking the Church Christ founded.

  • “Why should I doubt his honest testimony over your defense of these people whose criminal behavior is well documented?”

    Because history is history Stephen, family folklore notwithstanding.

    Describing the Tanners as bitter ex-Mormons is not ad hominem but rather an accurate statement. They devoted their lives to attacking Mormonism, which they began to do shortly after their marriage in 1959. Expecting them to have been objective historians of Mormonism is like expecting chastity from Bill Clinton.

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Mormon Bad Boy

Tuesday, April 20, AD 2010

God can use a thunderstorm.  Or Porter Rockwell.

Mormon Proverb

One reason why I have always loved history is that it is so often wilder and more colorful than fiction.  A very colorful part indeed of American history is that which records the events of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, better known as the Mormons, and in that history no portion is more colorful than the life of Orrin Porter Rockwell.  Throughout his life legends began to cluster about him and it is not easy to keep fact and fable in his biography separate.

Born on June 28, 1813, in Belchertown, New Hampshire, he was one of the earliest followers of Joseph Smith, being baptized into the church in 1830.  Powerfully built, he served as a bodyguard for Smith.  In 1838 he may have attempted to assassinate the Governor of Missouri, Lilburn Boggs, after Boggs issued an order calling for the expulsion of the Mormons from Misssouri or their extermination.  The order was prompted by the Missouri Mormon War of 1838.

Rockwell was held in jail for eight months, but no grand jury would indict him due to lack of evidence.  Rockwell defended himself with such statements as “I never shot at anybody, if I shoot they get shot!” and “He’s alive, ain’t he.” in reference to Governor Boggs.  After his release from jail, Rockwell traveled to the house of Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois, a town built by the Mormons, arriving there on Christmas Day 1843.  A Christmas party was underway and Rockwell looked like a dirty tramp, his hair grown out during his imprisonment and his clothes and his body unwashed.  Smith purportedly made the following prophecy upon seeing Rockwell:  “I prophesy, in the name of the Lord, that you — Orrin Porter Rockwell — so long as ye shall remain loyal and true to thy faith, need fear no enemy. Cut not thy hair and no bullet or blade can harm thee.”  Rockwell wore his hair long thereafter until he cut it to make a wig for a woman who lost her hair from typhoid fever.

Rockwell was a Danite, a secret Mormon organization dedicated to carrying out acts of violence on behalf of the Mormon religion.  In 1844 Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were indicted for treason against the state of Illinois, the culmination of ever growing tension between Mormons and non-Mormons in Illinois.  On June 27, 1844 a mob stormed the jail in Carthage, Illinois where the Smiths were being held and murdered them.  Rockwell had been away on a mission for the Mormon church at the time, and wept like a child according to witnesses when he learned of the death of Joseph Smith.

In the chaos that ensued after the death of Smith, the Mormons often engaged in battles with mobs of non-Mormons.  On September 16, 1845 Rockwell was hastily deputized by the Sheriff of Hancock County Illinois, Jacob Blackenstos.  Blackenstos was a non-Mormon but was friendly to the Mormons.  He was being chased by an anti-Mormon mob led by Frank Worrell, who had been in charge of the militia unit that failed to protect Joseph Smith when he was murdered.  Rockwell took out his rifle and stopped the mob by shooting to death Worrell.  Worrell thus became the first man killed by Rockwell, a total that would grow to 40-100, no one is certain, by the end of Rockwell’s life.

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7 Responses to Mormon Bad Boy

  • Articles like this are why I love the internet. Great work.

  • I’d be interested to know if Rockwell had many run-ins with Episcopal Bishop Daniel Tuttle, a predecessor of Bishop Katharine Schori as presiding TEC bishop.

    Based in Salt Lake City, he once thrashed a stage driver for swearing in the presence of a woman. Ranchers and miners flocked to see the fighting cleric, according to David T. Courtwright’s history _Violent Land_.

  • Here’s another American legend.

    In 1972, the movie “Jeremiah Johnson” was released. It was loosely based on the life of John Johnston. If you want the real story, read Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson by Raymond W. Thorpe and Robert Bunker.

  • There won’t be any accounts of exchanges between Bishop Tuttle and Rockwell unless Tuttle broke the law. Rockwell was a lawman and pioneer; but theological discourse didn’t ever appear to be on his plate.

    On minor error above has Rockwell away on a mission when Joseph Smith was killed. He was instead waiting at home in Nauvoo, Illinois as were the rest of Smith’s bodyguards as they had been directed to be by Smith.

    The so-called Danites were a short-lived group during the Missouri period (1833-38)that was disbanded when Church leaders learned of it.

  • “There won’t be any accounts of exchanges between Bishop Tuttle and Rockwell unless Tuttle broke the law. Rockwell was a lawman and pioneer; but theological discourse didn’t ever appear to be on his plate.”

    Isn’t that the truth Alma!

    “On minor error above has Rockwell away on a mission when Joseph Smith was killed. He was instead waiting at home in Nauvoo, Illinois as were the rest of Smith’s bodyguards as they had been directed to be by Smith.”

    That could well be. I used this account for my statement that he was away on assignment:

    http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:xb30_gut6jYJ:buildzion.com/downloads/Porter_Rockwell.doc+porter+rockwell+the+only+friend+i+had&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    In researching Rockwell I found a great deal of contradictory material. A lifetime could be spent attempting to get everything straight in his story.

    “The so-called Danites were a short-lived group during the Missouri period (1833-38)that was disbanded when Church leaders learned of it.”

    That is open to debate.

    From the Utah History Encyclopedia:

    “DANITES
    There is incontrovertible evidence that a few “rough-rider” type minute men were appointed by Brigham Young as early as l847 to act as lawmen in the new Mormon settlements on the plains, and later in the Salt Lake Valley. This was necessary in the absence of any civil administration. Handy with their guns and with a knowledge of frontier life, these men were on call for Indian uprisings and immigrant problems such as the July, l849 arrival of the California gold-seekers into the valley. Brigham’s “Minute-men” were kept busy in this period when stealing, rustling and murder increased as travelers entered the territory. Local residents who committed crimes were dealt with by their bishops and not the “Minute Men”.

    The name “Danite was applied to four or five of these early lawmen by the Eastern Press because of an earlier semi-religious organization begun in Missouri in l838 by Dr. Sampson Avard. This early group disbanded almost before it started when the motives of Dr. Avard became suspect and he was excommunicated from the Mormon Church. However, the ideas he promulgated persisted with some for several decades in the Utah Territory. Based on the biblical scripture, Genesis 49:l7, non-Mormon “Gentiles” who persecuted the Mormons were to be punished by losing their possessions.

    It is unknown how many of the Utah period so-called “Danites” had been members of the original Missouri organization. What is known is that there were never “70 Destroying Angels” appointed by Brigham Young. The number seventy came from the Church priesthood calling of the “Seventy”.

    After Sir Richard Burton’s visit to the Salt Lake Valley in l860, the Eastern press most prominently identified as “Danites” William Adams “Bill” Hickman, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Ephe Hanks, Robert Burton, and Lot Smith. All had taken a prominent part in the war against the U.S. Army troops in l857-58, and had been appointed by Brigham Young. These men served with honor during the Mormon War and also the later tumultuous Camp Floyd period.

    Orson Hyde, an apostle in the Church and one who had benefited from the protection given by lawman Bill Hickman in Winter Quarters in l848-49, failed to later discourage Hickman’s gang in l860 for depredations committed against the U.S. Army at Camp Floyd. Hyde contended that Hickman probably “had a revelation to act as he did.” This lawless period should have ended with the official announcement by Brigham Young on 9 September l860, that said, “…if the Lord wants any stealing done he would reveal it to me as soon as to Bill Hickman or others.”

    There continued to be isolated incidences attributed to the “Danites” in Anti-Mormon books and press articles until the railroad came to the territory in l869. By then the original territorial lawmen were mostly dead, retired, or had been replaced by a new group of sheriffs and policemen with civil rather than religious powers. However, the name “Danite” continues to excite readers and historians of the early Utah period, even though the evidence of excessive wrong doing outside the law, appears to be greatly exaggerated.

    Lynn M. and Hope A. Hilton”

    Anti-Mormon writers have attributed all sorts of nefarious actions to the Danites. I find the history lacking to support these allegations.

  • It is difficult to sift the myth and legend out of accounts of Porter Rockwell because so many people think that a story worth telling is worth telling better.

    It is true that Brigham Young appointed “minute-men” or Mormon Marauders as they became known in the 1857 war. But history notes that they were under strict orders from Brigham Young not to shed blood. They were able to stop the US Army from entering into the Salt Lake Valley without the loss of any human life.

    The idea of a lawless society with Brigham’s destroying angels was good fodder for newspaper and dime novel sales, but the reality was that Brigham Young governed about 50,000 people in over 300 communities with a handshake and a smile. A lot of sayings attributed to him didn’t find their way into reports of his comments that were published weekly. Consider this statement: “I am sorry that some of our brethren have been killed by the Indians, but am far more sorry that some of the Indians have been slain by the brethren. I have often said, and I say again, if any person is to be killed for stealing, let that one be a white man, and not an Indian, for white men know better, while Indians do not.”

    My own great-great grandfather was a member of the Danites in Missouri; but this group was so short lived (except in folklore) that Mormons have ever after been embarrassed by its presence in history.

    One book on Rockwell was written by a journalist named Schindler. He found the material so contradictory that he provided alternate accounts for many of the stories. It makes for interesting citations since you get opposite readings on the same page.

  • Fascinating.

    What little I know of the early Utah days of the Mormons comes from a pair of truly enjoyable books I read as a kid by Catholic author John D. Fitzgerald: Papa Married a Mormon and Mama’s Boarding House.

    Fitzgerald is more famous for his (much more heavily fictionalized) Great Brain books, but these two, written more for adults, are a less fictionalized biographical account of Fitzgerald’s parents: his father was a Irish Catholic who fell in love with and married a Mormon girl — a marriage which was not blessed by either church for a number of years. The two books tell about his family’s life in a small Utah town, living in between the calm Mormon community and the wild west Gentiles.

    Though given that they’re so enjoyable (and have to do with history) I’m guessing they may not be news to Don…