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port may be seen from the following words of Brigham Young: “There are sins which men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world or in that which is to come; and if they had their eyes open to their true condition they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins.” Whatever extenuating explanations may have been offered recently, this doctrine of blood atonement evidently meant, as propounded, vastly more than a simple preference of the axe or the knife over the halter as an instrument for executing condemned criminals. It meant the cutting off of men for such offences as might be grievous in the sight of theocratic sovereignty, and not merely for acts ordinarily reckoned as capital crimes. The following language of Brigham Young is sufficiently intelligible: “The ignorance and wickedness of the nations forbid this principle being in full force, but the time will come when the law of God will be in full force. This is loving our neighbor as ourselves. If he needs help, help him; if he wants salvation, and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it.” 2 In this connection the question naturally arises, how far the murders committed in Utah have been dictated by a motive of such high benevolence.
Reinforced in numbers and confidence by accessions secured through the proselyting efforts of a great corps of missionaries, and consolidated by its theocratic organization, the Mormon Church has presented a stubborn resistance to attempts to mitigate its obnoxious features. Though Congress in 1862 declared polygamy punishable as a crime, nothing was accomplished toward abating the scandal till the passage of the Edmunds bill in 1882; and the efficiency of this measure to extirpate the deeply rooted evil must be regarded as somewhat problematical until the sincerity of recent professions on the part of the Mormons has been thoroughly tested.
1 Quoted by Stenhouse, Rocky Mountain Saints, p. 304. 2 Journal of Discourses, iv. 219, 220, quoted by Stenhouse, p. 299.
11. SOCIALISTIC COMMUNITIES. — The great era of socialistic experiments in this country was the second quarter of the century. Eleven communities were started on the Owenite plan, soon after the arrival of Robert Owen in this country in 1824, and thirty-four approximating to the less communistic model of Fourier were instituted in the ten or fifteen years following 1840. Most of these were ephemeral. But a number of communities have been formed, chiefly through foreign instrumentality, which have exhibited a good measure of persist
The Shakers, founded by Ann Lee, have existed in the United States since 1774, and have exemplified the communistic feature since 1787. The Harmonists in Pennsylvania, who imitate the Shakers in the practice of celibacy and communism, came from Germany in the early part of the century, under the leadership of George Rapp. The community at Zoar in Ohio dates from about 1817. Its founder, Joseph Bimeler, was a German. It allows marriage. The Amana Society of family communists, in Iowa, originated in Germany in 1820, was established near Buffalo in 1842, and migrated thence to Iowa in 1855. In 1842 Eric Janson, a Swede, started a community at Bishop Hill, Illinois, in which the celibate régime was favored. The community of Oneida Perfectionists in New York State, dating from 1847, attempted to extend the communistic principle to person as well as to property. Industrially it has been successful; but its free-love doctrines were necessarily regarded as intolerable ; its leader, J. H. Noyes, found it convenient to retire to Canada. The principle of marriage proper was adopted in 1879; and in 1881 the society became an ordinary joint-stock concern.7
Most of the Owenite and Fourierite communities were without a definite religious basis. Two of them, the Yellow Springs community and the Leraysville Phalanx, were dominated by the Swedenborgian faith; and the more recent community at Brocton, New York, started with a strong infusion of the same faith. Brook Farm, which for an interval was a centre of Fourierite propagandism, represented Unitarian transcendentalism.
The collapse of the great majority of the socialistic communities seems to have favored the progress of modern spiritism. At any rate, some turned to this novelty as a solace in the midst of their broken anticipations. Robert Owen himself accepted the reality of communications with spirits, and his son, Robert Dale Owen, became a leading apostle of spiritism. From that time this seductive necromancy has had no inconsiderable number of votaries, though many of the alleged marvels have been proved to be mere vulgar frauds, and the worthlessness, in the aggregate, of the supposed communications from spirits shows either that they are fabulous, or that death means a lapse into mental imbecility as well as a dissolution of the body.
1 See, on the general subject, J. H. Noyes, History of American Social. isms ; R. T. Ely, The Labor Movement in America.
12. DENOMINATIONAL STATISTICS. - In the foregoing review very little has been given in the way of denominational statistics. We subjoin accordingly the following statement of the numerical strength of the different religious bodies, as contained in the census report for the year 1890. A correct understanding of the figures will, of course, require note of the fact that they stand for members, and therefore in respect of most Protestant denominations are much below the proper estimate of adherents in a general sense. Many of the smaller communions have been omitted.
Reformed Church in the United States (or German
92,970 1,199,514 357,153 317,145 164,640 119,972 69,505 55,452 37,457
Disciples of Christ
641,051 532,054 512,771 202,474 187,432 133,313 90,718 80,655 21,992 67,749 61,101 49,194 36,156 28,991 25,816 22,511 17,078 11,781 7,095
Saints (non-polygamous Mormons)