Question: Did Heber C. Kimball encourage violence and intimidation in order to keep followers "in line"?

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Question: Did Heber C. Kimball encourage violence and intimidation in order to keep followers "in line"?

Kimball decries violence, war, and bloodshed, and he promises that apostates and dissenters will "wither," not be destroyed

One critic of Mormonism claims that "Mormon leaders ruled via a ruthlessly oppressive theocracy wherein they kept followers in line through violence and intimidation." He cites Heber C. Kimball:

The author cites Heber C. Kimball as his sole example of ruling through "violence and intimidation." Nothing in the cited page (or sermon) can be so construed. A representative excerpt follows:

Jesus says, "Except ye are one, ye are not mine." And yet the Christian world take a course to justify themselves in division, in strife, in animosity, in quarreling, in envy, in jealousy, in war and bloodshed. And yet they say they are one: I say THEY LIE. A man that says it, lies to me, and he lies to God. I say this to all the world, and to those who are passing through the city as emigrants; if you profess to be disciples of Christ, and have hatred to us in your hearts, I say you lie; in the name of the Lord God Almighty I say it....

If a man wants my ox, let him come and tell me so, and he shall have it; he need not quarrel with me about it; and if he robs me of it, I want him to enjoy the stolen property, if he can; for I will not quarrel about the foolish things of this world, for they will soon decay, and return to their mother earth, as you and I will....

Now, brethren and sisters, I will say to the emigrants who are passing through this city, and to the world at large, that it is our intention to become perfectly one in heart and mind. Have those who have separated themselves from this people prospered? They may have prospered for a season; but by and bye they become like a limb that is severed from the tree; they wither and vanish away; and all such will continue to do so from this time henceforth and forever. It is just as much impossible for a people to exist that withdraw from this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it is for a limb of a tree to live when it is severed from the body of the tree. Of this I am positive, because I know it. So I will say concerning the world and all the sects and denominations and kingdoms of the world, that oppose this work and people of God, they will wither in due time likewise, and they cannot help themselves....

Brother Joseph is gone, and now brother Brigham Young, the Governor of the Territory of Utah, is our Prophet, our leader, our Revelator; and it is for me and you to listen to him with all diligence, the same as we would listen to Joseph were he alive. Brother Brigham is his successor; his word is sacred; and if you do not observe it, it will not be well, and there is where I fear for you, brethren. I do not fear so much for myself as I do for you, because it will go hard with you, if you disobey his advice. There will many of you turn from the faith; you will turn your backs to us, and some will be guilty of shedding innocent blood, if you are not aware. This will be the result of apostacy. When that spirit attacks you, you will be led to do as other apostates have, who have turned from the Church of Christ.... [1]

Kimball decries violence, war, and bloodshed. He refuses to quarrel even over the theft of one of his animals. He promises that apostates and dissenters will "wither," not be destroyed. He is perfectly content to let matters take their natural course of the withering of those who abandon God. He fears for them because he worries that they will commit serious sins—including murder and bloodshed.

There is nothing here calculated to encourage or threaten violence, or intimidate those not of Heber's faith.


  1. Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 2:107.(emphasis added)