Reporting from Carrollton, Arkansas, the Washington Post finds some locals still upset with actions of a "Mormon militia" over 150 years ago. The Post reports:
On Sept. 11, 1857, a wagon train from this part of Arkansas met with a gruesome fate in Utah, where most of the travelers were slaughtered by a Mormon militia in an episode known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Hundreds of the victims’ descendants still populate these hills and commemorate the killings, which they have come to call “the first 9/11.”
Many of the locals grew up hearing denunciations of Mormonism from the pulpit on Sundays, and tales of the massacre from older relatives who considered Mormons “evil.”
But the main concern of the paper is ... will this hurt Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney?
The article, headlined "Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith tangles with a quirk of Arkansas history," attacks Romney for being a Mormon, because, according to the paper, his coreligionists and ancestors were responsible for "the first 9/11."
There aren’t many places in America more likely to be suspicious of Mormonism — and potentially more problematic for Mitt Romney, who is seeking to become the country’s first Mormon president. Not only do many here retain a personal antipathy toward the religion and its followers, but they also tend to be Christian evangelicals, many of whom view Mormonism as a cult.
And yet, there is scant evidence that Romney’s religion is making much difference in how voters here are thinking about the presidential election and whether they are willing to back the former Massachusetts governor.
Keep in mind: Romney is 65. He was not a part of or responsible for the massacre in any way. Nevertheless, the Post justifies its publication of the story by writing, "Still, Romney’s candidacy has prompted some soul-searching in this area, where a historical group estimates that more than half the residents can trace their ancestry back to the wagon train."
And everyone (even Romney!) already apologized for the massacre, anyway.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre remains one of the darkest episodes in the history of Mormonism. The church has apologized for the incident, and Romney addressed it during his 2007 presidential campaign in response to a reporter’s question.
“That was a terrible, awful act carried out by members of my faith,” he told the Associated Press. “There are bad people in any church, and it’s true of members of my church, too.”
So in case one thought otherwise, Romney is not in favor of massacres. (Hmm. Not like the Post might have been suggesting otherwise!)
Only halfway through the article do we learn that it was actually the Mormons who generally faced persecution. "The massacre was an anomaly for the church, because it was Mormons who were more likely to be targeted in the early days of their religion, which was founded in the 1830s and 1840s," the paper concedes. "Mormons had been attacked by mobs and forcibly ejected from states."