Taylor says executions atone for sins, but should be performed by officers of the law; church courts can only withdraw membership.

Jan 1884
John Taylor

John Taylor, "Ecclesiastical Control in Utah," North American Review 138 (1884), 10-11

North American Review
John Taylor
Reading Public

The most terrible accusations of any particular crime ever brought against the leaders of the Church and the Church generally, is participation in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Some have supposed that the Mormon people never fairly and squarely met this charge, but prevaricated or evaded it. There could not be a greater mistake. The Latter-day Saints abhor murder in every form, and the Church or its leaders had nothing to do with that terrible tragedy in any manner whatever. We wish this denial to be as emphatic as possible. And, furthermore, the leader of the few whites who were engaged with the Indians in that horrible affair never would have been brought to justice but for the assistance rendered the United States officers by President Brigham Young and other leaders of the Church; while the jury that convicted him was largely composed of men of our faith. No denial can be worded too strongly to express our detestation of the shedding of innocent blood; and we hold, further, that all culprits worthy of death—and we believe some crimes can only be atoned for by the life of the guilty party—should be executed by the proper civil officer, not by any exercise of the lex talionis or the intervention of ecclesiastical authority.

. . .

It is commonly believed that "an ecclesiastical government exists in Utah to-day, intended to meet all requirements as to the temporal affairs of men in this Territory." This is another fallacy. Our Church courts are simply courts of reconciliation or arbitration between Church members, and for determining charges of transgression, and in no way affect the civil powers or the duties and rights of the various courts of law, Federal or local. That this is so is proven by the fact that there is not a member of the Church who is not just as amenable to the laws of the State as any non-Mormon. The decisions of the Church courts carry no penalties of a civil character; all they can do is to withdraw the fellowship of the Church from wrong-doers.

BHR Staff Commentary

President Taylor issues a defense of the church in the pages of the North American Review, one of the few non-LDS publications in the 19th century that gave opportunity for the Saints to express their own views. (See Matthew J. Grow, "Contesting the LDS Image: The North American Review and the Mormons, 1881–1907" JMH vol. 32 (2006) no. 2, 111-135.)

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