The LDS Church Does Not Want You to Watch “Under the Banner of Heaven,” now streaming on Hulu

Sunset on the Stikine Icecap, Alaska. Photo copyright © Jon Krakauer

The Concluding Chapter of “Under the Banner of Heaven” [updated in 2022]

Utah State Prison at Point of the Mountain, where Dan Lafferty is incarcerated
LDS Temple, Salt Lake City
Joseph Smith
Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado. Photo copyright © Jon Krakauer

LDS Church Response to Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven,” by Richard E. Turley Jr., managing director of the Family and Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Jon Krakauer’s Rejoinder to Richard Turley’s Review of “Under the Banner of Heaven” [updated in 2022]

  • Alluding to an observation I made about the Hill Cumorah Pageant in Chapter Six, Turley scolds, “Without citing a source, [Krakauer] exaggeratingly asserts that ‘sooner or later most Latter-day Saints make a pilgrimage there.’[sic] Although the pageant is popular, most Latter-day Saints have never attended it, and most never will.”
Hill Cumorah, New York
  • Citing a passage in Chapter Seven, Turley points out that I refer to “Mark E. Petersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as the ‘LDS President,’ an obvious error.”
Robert Crossfield, the Prophet Onias, who taught Ron Lafferty to receive revelations from God, one of which commanded Ron and Dan Lafferty to murder Brenda and Erica Lafferty
An illustration of the passage in the Book of Mormon wherein Nephi decapitates Laban
  • Referring to a passage in Chapter Ten, Turley states, “Krakauer also accepts the view that Orrin Porter Rockwell tried to assassinate former Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs after Joseph Smith purportedly prophesied Boggs would die. Then he writes that ‘Rockwell had no difficulty eluding arrest. Neither he, nor any other Saint, was ever brought to justice for the deed.’”
Orrin Porter Rockwell
  • Citing a passage in the Prologue, Turley complains, “Krakauer refers to Mark Hofmann’s famous forgeries of the 1980s and asserts that ‘more than 400 of these fraudulent artifacts were purchased by the LDS Church (which believed they were authentic) and then squirreled away in a vault to keep them from the public eye.’ This is a gross exaggeration.”
Mark Hofmann (left) presenting a forged historical document to the unsuspecting leaders of the LDS Church
  • Referring to Joseph Smith’s momentous 1826 trial, Turley pronounces, Krakauer asserts that “a disgruntled client filed a legal claim accusing Joseph of being a fraud. This assertion shows Krakauer’s unfamiliarity with basic aspects of the trial in question, as well as his tendency to spin evidence negatively. In actuality, the trial resulted not from ‘a disgruntled client’ but from persecutors who had Joseph hauled into court for being a disorderly person because of his supposed defrauding of his employer, Josiah Stowell. As a modern legal scholar who carefully studied the case has noted, however, Stowell ‘emphatically denied that he had been deceived or defrauded’ (Gordon A. Madsen, Joseph Smith’s 1826 Trial: The Legal Setting, Brigham Young University Studies 30 [spring 1990]). As a result, Joseph was found not guilty and discharged.”
  • Referring to my statement in Chapter Ten that Nauvoo possessed “sovereign rights and powers unique not only in Illinois, but in the entire nation” as the result of “a highly unusual charter,” Elder Turley wrongly asserts that “my interpretation is not informed by recent scholarship.”
The LDS Temple in Nauvoo, Illinois
  • Referring to a passage in Chapter Eleven of my book, Elder Turley protests, “Again accepting at face value a titillating story — one that appears in Fawn Brodie’s biography of Joseph Smith, a chief source for his book — Krakauer writes: ‘In the summer of 1831 the Johnson family took Joseph and Emma Smith into their home as boarders, and soon thereafter the prophet purportedly bedded young Marinda. Unfortunately, the liaison apparently did not go unnoticed, and a gang of indignant Ohioans — including a number of Mormons — resolved to castrate Joseph so that he would be disinclined to commit such acts of depravity in the future.’ Although Marinda likely became a plural wife of Joseph Smith later, Brodie and Krakauer present only part of the evidence — the portion that satisfies a lust for the sensational.”
  • Referring to Chapter Eighteen of Under the Banner of Heaven, Elder Turley grumbles that “Because the Mountain Meadows Massacre fits Krakauer’s thesis so well, he gives it generous space, even if he does so again without critically examining the facts for himself.”



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store