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Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith    by Jon Krakauer order for
Under the Banner of Heaven
by Jon Krakauer
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

'On July 24, 1984, a woman and her infant daughter were murdered by two brothers who believed they were ordered to kill by God. The roots of their crime lie deep in the history of an American religion practiced by millions ...' Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, explores in depth both the crime and the history of a religion that could lead two grown men (members of a Fundamentalist sect) to kill their brother's wife and child.

Mormonism is the fastest growing religion in the United States and its membership is predicted to outnumber any other religion there before the end of this century. Krakauer has written a powerful, compelling and chilling book, detailing the history of Mormonism, the founders' lives, and how Fundamentalist thinking has branched off from the church. The Fundamentalist sect of Mormonism is governed by extreme rules. Plurality, or polygamy, still exists even though it is against United States law. A Prophet, the head of the sect, is obeyed without question, even when he decides to take fourteen-year-old girls as brides.

We are told that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, introduced the idea of plural marriages to satisfy his lust for sex with young girls. His right to do this, he claimed, lay in revelations from the Lord. Each Prophet since then has used such words from God to explain his actions. Violence played a big role in the history of Mormonism, and though most of today's Mormons are the good neighbors any of us would want, the Fundamentalists are (as in many other religions) another story.

Violence, sexual abuse, polygamy, blood atonement, suppression of basic civil rights and hatred of Gentiles (anyone not a Mormon) are the basis of this outlawed group. Exhaustively researched and written in Krakauer's inimitable style, Under the Banner of Heaven is a should read book.

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