Anthony McIntyre 🔖 This is a work on brutal religious violence, at the root of which sat the question of polygamy or plural marriage.

What seemed a great idea for Mormon men didn't work out quite as well for Mormon women. But religion has always been a male privileged racket, frequently with deadly consequences for women. So it proved to be for Brenda Wright Lafferty and her infant daughter Erika, brutally slain by Mormon brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty in 1984. In a world of religious derangement 'common sense is no match for the voice of God.' An offshoot from the cult of the School of the Prophets reined, severing heads long before ISIS arrived on the scene. 

Early into the book the author creates the backdrop to the religious murder that was the focus of Under The Banner Of Heaven:

There is a dark side to religious devotion that it too often denied or ignored. As a means to motivating people to be cruel or inhumane - as a means of inciting evil, to borrow the vocabulary of the devout - there may be no more potent force than religion.

Which goes some way toward explaining Dan Foster's quip that there is no hate like Christian love. 

It was not the intention of John Krakauer to tar all Mormons with the fiend brush although that did not spare him the righteous wrath when his book was published.  He highlighted the Church of Latter Day Saints bristling at the thought of the Lafferty brothers being regarded as Mormons. The Church even goes as far as to reject descriptions of the brothers as Mormon Fundamentalists. Yet Krakauer does not shy away from stating the obvious: that both those who call themselves Mormon fundamentalists and the broader LDS church ‘believe in the same holy texts and the same sacred history.' The main cleavage between both types is that 'Mormon Fundamentalists passionately believe that Saints have a divine obligation to take multiple wives.' Yet it was only with the abandonment of this doctrine that Mormons 'gradually ceased to be regarded as a crackpot sect' and enjoyed a mushrooming in membership and interest. 

Still, the crackpots do quite well out of their rackets. School district leaders funnel government funds into their own accounts. To evade accusations of taking money from the government they ostensibly oppose, there is the old time honoured fall back alibi - the dosh comes from God. Criticism is usually the work of the devil. They are marginally more advanced than evangelical Young Earth Creationists with their belief that Planet Earth is seven thousand years old. It is difficult to read the book and not think that Mormon Fundamentalist Utah cooks from the same menu as the dinosaur men in the North of Ireland.

The book is a useful quick guide through the origins of Mormonism. As delusional to the nonbeliever as all the other religions it is no more inconsistent than its rivals. What appears bonkers to the outsider can often seem okay to those within the tent. The real focus is on the dark ambience that throws up so many instances of sexual abuse and child molestation with Monstrous Mormons using every trick in the bible to fulfil their predatory urges. Afterall they are only practicing their religion and the government should stay out of their bedrooms. This has led to a curious alliance between the polygamists and the American Civil Liberties Union. Even the gays have lent support on the grounds of no government in the bedroom.

Despite being pilloried by the mainstream Church the fundamentalists have a lot going for them in terms of the Church's history and tradition. Its founder Joseph Smith married thirty three women, the youngest of which was fourteen. The nuptials, Smith secured by threatening the teen with eternal damnation. Those familiar with Catholic clerics will recognise the tactic immediately.

Brenda's misfortune was to have married the youngest of the Lafferty siblings, Allen. His older brothers Dan and Ron resented her for not buying into the nonsense they espoused where a women should know her place and no more. Nor was she enamoured to their predilection for numerous wives. A 24 year old university graduate, she was for having none of it and eventually persuaded Ron's wife to up sticks and leave a very abusive marriage. Her fate was sealed. Communication With God, a central tenet of Mormon fundamentalist faith, resulted in the heavenly father telling the brothers to kill their younger sibling's wife and daughter. Their throats were slit, the child almost decapitated by the barbarism of the act. 

Dan Lafferty is serving life in a US Federal prison. Ron Lafferty while on Death Row evaded the execution chamber due to death from natural causes in 2019. The one thing we can be certain of is that despite the banner he is in neither Heaven nor Hell. 

John Krakauer, 2013, Under The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. Picador. ASIN: B00CZCGPUA

Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

Under The Banner Of Heaven

Anthony McIntyre 🔖 This is a work on brutal religious violence, at the root of which sat the question of polygamy or plural marriage.

What seemed a great idea for Mormon men didn't work out quite as well for Mormon women. But religion has always been a male privileged racket, frequently with deadly consequences for women. So it proved to be for Brenda Wright Lafferty and her infant daughter Erika, brutally slain by Mormon brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty in 1984. In a world of religious derangement 'common sense is no match for the voice of God.' An offshoot from the cult of the School of the Prophets reined, severing heads long before ISIS arrived on the scene. 

Early into the book the author creates the backdrop to the religious murder that was the focus of Under The Banner Of Heaven:

There is a dark side to religious devotion that it too often denied or ignored. As a means to motivating people to be cruel or inhumane - as a means of inciting evil, to borrow the vocabulary of the devout - there may be no more potent force than religion.

Which goes some way toward explaining Dan Foster's quip that there is no hate like Christian love. 

It was not the intention of John Krakauer to tar all Mormons with the fiend brush although that did not spare him the righteous wrath when his book was published.  He highlighted the Church of Latter Day Saints bristling at the thought of the Lafferty brothers being regarded as Mormons. The Church even goes as far as to reject descriptions of the brothers as Mormon Fundamentalists. Yet Krakauer does not shy away from stating the obvious: that both those who call themselves Mormon fundamentalists and the broader LDS church ‘believe in the same holy texts and the same sacred history.' The main cleavage between both types is that 'Mormon Fundamentalists passionately believe that Saints have a divine obligation to take multiple wives.' Yet it was only with the abandonment of this doctrine that Mormons 'gradually ceased to be regarded as a crackpot sect' and enjoyed a mushrooming in membership and interest. 

Still, the crackpots do quite well out of their rackets. School district leaders funnel government funds into their own accounts. To evade accusations of taking money from the government they ostensibly oppose, there is the old time honoured fall back alibi - the dosh comes from God. Criticism is usually the work of the devil. They are marginally more advanced than evangelical Young Earth Creationists with their belief that Planet Earth is seven thousand years old. It is difficult to read the book and not think that Mormon Fundamentalist Utah cooks from the same menu as the dinosaur men in the North of Ireland.

The book is a useful quick guide through the origins of Mormonism. As delusional to the nonbeliever as all the other religions it is no more inconsistent than its rivals. What appears bonkers to the outsider can often seem okay to those within the tent. The real focus is on the dark ambience that throws up so many instances of sexual abuse and child molestation with Monstrous Mormons using every trick in the bible to fulfil their predatory urges. Afterall they are only practicing their religion and the government should stay out of their bedrooms. This has led to a curious alliance between the polygamists and the American Civil Liberties Union. Even the gays have lent support on the grounds of no government in the bedroom.

Despite being pilloried by the mainstream Church the fundamentalists have a lot going for them in terms of the Church's history and tradition. Its founder Joseph Smith married thirty three women, the youngest of which was fourteen. The nuptials, Smith secured by threatening the teen with eternal damnation. Those familiar with Catholic clerics will recognise the tactic immediately.

Brenda's misfortune was to have married the youngest of the Lafferty siblings, Allen. His older brothers Dan and Ron resented her for not buying into the nonsense they espoused where a women should know her place and no more. Nor was she enamoured to their predilection for numerous wives. A 24 year old university graduate, she was for having none of it and eventually persuaded Ron's wife to up sticks and leave a very abusive marriage. Her fate was sealed. Communication With God, a central tenet of Mormon fundamentalist faith, resulted in the heavenly father telling the brothers to kill their younger sibling's wife and daughter. Their throats were slit, the child almost decapitated by the barbarism of the act. 

Dan Lafferty is serving life in a US Federal prison. Ron Lafferty while on Death Row evaded the execution chamber due to death from natural causes in 2019. The one thing we can be certain of is that despite the banner he is in neither Heaven nor Hell. 

John Krakauer, 2013, Under The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. Picador. ASIN: B00CZCGPUA

Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

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