Deseret News reports on debate about the existence of an Oath of Vengeance.

Dec 7, 1889
News (traditional)
Henry W. Lawrence
Scribed Summary

"'Mormons and Citizenship,'" Deseret Weekly 39 no. 24 (December 7, 1889):13, 14-15, 17

Deseret Weekly
E. L. T. Harrison, Robert N. Baskin, Henry W. Lawrence
Reading Public

[Henry W, Lawrence] says the Endowment oath was taken with uplifted hand, to avenge the blood of the Prophets Joseph and Hyrum Smith, to teach it to their children. I say no one who is sincere in this is not antagonistic to the government. Their witnesses have sworn that in the Endowment House the government was not mentioned or referred to; so does Henry W. Lawrence. There was no need for them to mention the government. When they were asked what did occur, they declined to state. Dr. Richards said there was anointing of the arm to be strong to avenge the blood of the Prophets when required. This means that they are to obey the counsels of the Priesthood. Will the court say that anyone who takes a covenant of that kind is fit for citizenship? We say that a member of an organization that requires of any of its members any such an oath should be excluded from citizenship—that he should have no voice in the government . . .

Then [LeGrand Young] said there was a covenant for the avenging of the blood of the Prophets, but that the government was not referred to. His is an emphatic denial that there is any oath of avenging the blood of the Prophets on this nation. The other side say that the government was meant. That is the first time that the government has been charged with being responsible for the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and I say the charge is false. The government is not and was not responsible. The deed was done by [15] base assassins who should have been punished, and the government never instigated or committed the crime or approved of it . . . I will mention another witness who said there was nothing that was incompatible with citizenship in the Endowments, that there was no covenant to obey the Priesthood; that there was no covenant to avenge the blood of the Prophets; that there was no reference to the government, by inference or otherwise; and that man is E.L.T. Harrison . . . It has been urged that a prayer to avenge the blood of the Prophets is antagonistic to the government. But the answer to this is that not an intelligent man understood that he was to take any part in it—that there was anything objectionable in it. Again I refer to the reason for Mr. Lawrence leaving the Church—that it had no connection with the Endowment House, but it was because of his attachment for certain friends in a question about temporal affairs . . .

[Robert N. Baskin] referred to blood atonement and said it must be a doctrine of the Church. He declared that apostasy from the Church was punishable by death. There was no doubt that there was a covenant to avenge the blood of the Prophets, and to teach their children to do so. Baskin said this avenging must mean the nation referred to as the nation that had persecuted the Saints. The government may not be mentioned in the Endowment ceremonies, but it is meant. It would be a gross violation of the law to admit a member of the Church to citizenship.

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