Saturday, January 13, 2007

Student Reconciliation Conference

I spend a good portion of today attending a student organized conference at the U of L on reconciliation. The students were all members of Trudy Govier's senior philosophy seminar last term and they decided they wanted to have a conference where they could present their term papers. It was good to see a group of students so enthusiastic about their studies and the papers were really interesting. The papers mostly dealt with issues of reconciliation in countries torn apart by civil war and/or genocide. The paper that intrigued me the most though was a paper on the Mountain Meadows massacre of 1857. A wagon train traveling from Arkansas to California was ambushed by a group of Mormons and Paiutes in Utah and all but a few children were killed. Descendents of the victims have organized themselves to call for acknowledgement of what happened. The student looked at the reluctance of the LDS Church to acknowledge that the Church may have borne some responsibility for the climate in which militiamen could see their actions as acts of faith. He had some interesting suggestions about the doctrinal and historical reasons why the Church would find this difficult. Essentially the Church has taken the approach that a few bad apples don't represent the Church as a whole.

This certainly wouldn't be the first time a religious body refused to acknowledge that its doctrine or preaching might have contributed to a culture of hatred or violence.

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