Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Under the Banner of Heaven

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Response to Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith



A FAIR Analysis of: Under the Banner of Heaven, a work by author: Jon Krakauer

Response to claims made in Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer


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Response to claims made in Under the Banner of Heaven, "Prologue"


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Response to claims made in Under the Banner of Heaven, "Chapter 1: The City of the Saints"


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Response to claims made in Under the Banner of Heaven, "Chapter 4: Elizabeth and Ruby"


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Response to claims made in Under the Banner of Heaven, "Chapter 5: The Second Great Awakening"


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Response to claims made in Under the Banner of Heaven, "Chapter 6: Cumorah"


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Response to claims made in Under the Banner of Heaven, "Chapter 17: Exodus"


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Response to claims made in Under the Banner of Heaven, "Chapter 18: For Water Will Not Do"


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Reviews of this work

"The Justin Wise Dialogues" by Ron Hellings

Summary: Ron Hellings provides an imagined dialogue which highlights some of the many problems with this anti-Mormon work.



Craig L. Foster, "Doing Violence to Journalistic Integrity"

Craig L. Foster,  The FARMS Review, (2004)
The noted author Paul Fussell once commented, "If I didn't have writing, I'd be running down the street hurling grenades in people's faces."1 Perhaps the same could be said about Jon Krakauer. Both he and his works are complex, introspective, and, without doubt, "in your face" and controversial. Krakauer is fascinated by people who are on the edge physically and emotionally, those who push the limits to the extreme. His writing reflects this fascination as he tries to define for his reading audience what it is like to go to extremes. Krakauer has succeeded where many others have failed because he is, without argument, a gifted writer. His text flows seamlessly, creating a literary picture that touches a reader to the very core.


Krakauer has used his writing talents to look at the fringes of the Latter-day Saint community in his book Under the Banner of Heaven, in which he examines the double murders committed in 1984 by the ex-Mormon brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty and explores the fundamentalist communities of Colorado City-Hildale on the Utah-Arizona border and Bountiful in British Columbia.2 His accounts of murder and seduction are mixed with events and teachings in Latter-day Saint history in an attempt to portray these fringe elements as murderous and libidinous offspring of a religion steeped in its own history of violence and quirkiness.

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Paul McNabb, editor's introduction to Richard E. Turley, "Faulty History: A Review of Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith"

Paul McNabb, editor's introduction to Richard E. Turley,  FAIR Papers
In July 2003, popular author Jon Krakauer released a book arguing that religious faith in general, and the faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in particular, often motivates violence in its believers. Since its organization in 1830, The Church of Jesus Christ has been the subject of many lurid and sensational publications, each purporting to reveal the true and sordid fact of the lives of Latter-day Saint leaders and members. Despite the claims of objectivity and historical accuracy, such publications consistently display the same pattern: an agenda-driven effort selectively drawing on rumor and half-truths, clothed in the trappings of historical scholarship.


Unfortunately for those wanting to know more about Latter-day Saint history or the possible relationship between religious belief and violence, Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith suffers from these same fatal flaws.

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Allen Wyatt, ""The Krakauer Journal""

Allen Wyatt,  FAIR Papers
I read Under the Banner of Heaven in July 2003, shortly after it first came out. In the course of my reading, I kept notes on assertions made by the author and my reactions to those assertions. This article is a recounting of my notes. Taken in total, they can serve as a snapshot of one person’s view of the book.


Those familiar with LDS history will recognize the outrageousness of many of the assertions, and the biased language used by the author to frame religious belief–particularly the religious belief practiced by faithful LDS–in an egregiously unflattering manner.

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BYU Studies, "Jon Krakauer. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (review)"

Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp,  BYU Studies 43/4 (2004)

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The FAIR Blog responds to these questions

Stephen Smoot,"Learning About the Founding of Mormonism from Jon Krakauer (And Other Fallacies)", FAIR Blog, (July 30, 2012)


Jon Krakauer has penned a popular, yet highly questionable book on Mormonism. The punchline to Krakauer’s book is something along the lines of: “Mormonism, an inherently violent faith, is a shining example of how religious fundamentalism is dangerous, and will lead to killing people.”


There are so many problems with Krakauer’s book that to enumerate them here would take some considerable time.

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