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“God is greater than the United States, and when the Government conflicts with heaven, we will be ranged under the banner of heaven against the Government.” This sentence, supposedly spoken by John Taylor, has been made famous by Jon Krakauer. He used it for the title of his book, Under the Banner of Heaven, which has now been transformed into a fictionalized detective drama mini-series streaming on Hulu. But those words were never actually spoken by John Taylor. They were made up by an anonymous Salt Lake Tribune writer.
The Salt Lake Tribune was started in 1870 by three men that had left the Church. It changed hands many times but was overtly anti-Mormon until 1901, when its new owners began changing its tone somewhat. During those first 30 years, much of the reporting on the Church was downright obnoxious, and probably not meant to be taken seriously. This includes the article on page four of the January 6, 1880 issue, about a stake conference that took place the previous Sunday. (The available scan of the newspaper page is very difficult to read. In my transcription I used “(?)” after words that I thought were correct but wasn’t completely sure, and I used “[?]” in place of words I found completely unreadable.) It begins with: [Read more…] about Under the Banner of Misattribution