First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve denies the church condones death for apostates.

Dec 14, 1889
Wilford Woodruff

"Manifesto," Deseret Evening News, December 14, 1889, 14

Deseret Evening News
John Henry Smith, Francis M. Lyman, Lorenzo Snow, Abraham H. Cannon, Brigham Young, Jr., John W. Young, Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, George Teasdale, Anthon H. Lund, Marriner W. Merrill, Joseph F. Smith, Franklin D. Richards, Heber J. Grant
Deseret Evening News

We solemnly make the following declarations, viz:

That this Church views the shedding of human blood with the utmost abhorrence. That we regard the killing of a human being, except in conformity with the civil law, as a capital crime which should be punished by shedding the blood of the criminal, after a public trial before a legally constituted court of the land.

Notwithstanding all the stories told about the killing of apostates, no case of this kind has ever occurred, and of course has never been established against the church we represent. Hundreds of seceders from the church have continuously resided and now live in this territory, many of whom have amassed considerable wealth, though bitterly opposed to the "Mormon" faith and people. Even those who made it their business to fabricate the vilest falsehoods and to render them plausible by culling isolated passage from old sermons without the explanatory context, and have suffered no opportunity to escape them of vilifying and blackening the characters of the people, have remained among those whom they have thus persistently calumniated until the present day, without receiving the slightest personal injury.

We denounce as entirely untrue the allegation which has been made that our Church favors or believes in the killing of persons who leave the Church or apostatize from its doctrines. We would view a punishment of this character for such an act with the utmost horror, it is abhorrent to us and is in direct opposition to the fundamental principles of our creed.

The revelations of God to this church make death the penalty for capital crime, and require that offenders against life and property shall be delivered up and tried by the laws of the land.

We declare that no Bishop's or other court in this Church claims or exercises civil or judicial functions, or the right to supersede, annul or modify a judgment of any civil court. Such courts, while established to regulate Christian conduct, are purely ecclesiastical, and their punitive powers go no further than the suspension or excommunication of members from Church fellowship.

BHR Staff Commentary

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