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Blood Atonement


Many Mormons do not even fully understand their Church's teachings, especially in regards to the doctrine of blood atonement.  I felt, then, that it was necessary to present multiple selections from various publications in order to clearly show the Mormon Church's true doctrine.
The following is an excerpt from Mormon Doctrine, pages 92-93.

The true doctrine of blood atonement is simply this:
1. Jesus Christ worked out the infinite and eternal atonement by the shedding of his own blood.  He came into the world for the purpose of dying on the cross for the sins of the world.  By virtue of that atoning sacrifice immortality came as a free gift to all men, and all who would believe and obey his laws would in addition be cleansed from sin through his blood. (Mosiah 3:16-19; 3 Ne. 27:19-21; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 5:9-10.)
2. But under certain circumstances there are some serious sins for which the cleansing of Christ does not operate, and the law of God is that men must have their own blood shed to atone for their sins.  Murder, for instance, is one of these sins; hence we find the Lord commanding capital punishment. Thus, also, if a person has so progressed in righteousness that his calling and election has been made sure, if he has come to that position where he knows "by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood" that he is sealed up unto eternal life (D & C 131:5), then if he gains forgiveness for certain grievous sins, he must "be destroyed in the flesh," and "delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God." (D & C 132:19-27.)

An excerpt from Doctrines of Salvation, Volume 1, Chapter 8, pages 133-134.

Through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel . . . But man may commit certain grievous sins--according to his light and knowledge--that will place him beyond the reach of the atoning blood of Christ.  If then he would be saved he must make sacrifice of his own life to atone--so far as in his power lies--for that sin, for the blood of Christ alone under certain circumstances will not avail.

The following three quotes are from Brigham Young and clearly show his teachings regarding blood atonement.

"Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins . . . There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it;"

-Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol.3, pg245, 3/16/1856

"It is true that that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit . . . they must be atoned for by the blood of the man."

-Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, pg 51, 9/21/1856

"Will you love your brothers or sisters likewise, when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood?  Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood?  That is what Jesus meant."

-Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, pg 215, 2/8/1857

Given Brigham Young's statements, the fact that until 1888, beheading was an option in Utah for the death penalty, and the confession of John D. Lee, a former Mormon bishop, I do not find it hard to believe the accounts which claim that the Mormons under Brigham Young practiced blood atonement and that throat slitting was usually the method used to carry it out.

For specific stories of some of these ritual executions, read "The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee" published online, in part, at Confession of John D. Lee

John D. Lee lead the Mormon militia in a massacre of Missouri emigrants, better known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  He was later tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the massacre, but wrote his extensive confession prior to his execution.


I've selected a few passages from the Bible and the Book of Mormon to show the doctrine as presented by those two books.  There is no mention of spilling our own blood to atone for any sins.  1 John states that through confession, we may be cleansed of ALL unrighteousness.  The Book of Mormon carries it further and suggests that even murderers are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


  • Romans 5:8-9 "...Christ died for us. Much more then, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."
  • Ephesians 1:7-8 "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding."
  • Hebrews 9:15 "For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance -- now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant."
  • Therefore, Christ has freed us from the sins of the first covenant, being the Ten Commandments, which includes horrible crimes such as murder and adultery.
  • 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Book of Mormon

  • Mosiah 3:11-12 "For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam..."
  • Alma 34:11-14 "Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother?  I say unto you, Nay. But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world.  Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, and then shall there be, or it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled . . . and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal."

Again, both the Bible and the Book of Mormon contradict the Mormon Church's teachings on the doctrine of blood atonement.