I have just finished reading Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer. The book begins with an account of the murders of Brenda and Erica Lafferty in American Fork,
The book goes on to describe the modern Fundamentalist Mormon movements, giving details of their beliefs, their settlements and the people who lead them, as well as providing interviews with men and women who have left - or escaped, depending on your perspective. The book also offers a comprehensive history of the LDS church, which is absolutely fascinating and greatly increased my knowledge of the religion and its origins. The history covers both the mainstream church and the fundamentalist sects that split off from it.
I had previously known of the persecution of the Mormons and thus why they had been driven west to
I had known that polygamy had earlier been a part of LDS doctrine, but I had not known that the introduction of the principle of “plural marriage” had nearly torn the church apart and that the subsequent banning of the practice was, arguably, the reason for the fundamentalist split.
The book is extremely well-researched, and the edition I read (June 2004) included the LDS church’s response to the first edition (July 2003) as well as Krakauer’s response to the response.
“Powerfully illuminating…. An arresting portrait of depravity.” – The New York Times Book Review
“Scrupulously reported…both illuminating and thrilling. It is also the creepiest book anyone has written in a long time.” – Newsweek
Having finished this book at the same time as watching The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear, I could not help noticing the parallels in the stories which show how fundamentalist religious conviction will always eventually manifest itself in violence.
* Thanks to Little Sister for pushing me to buy the book.