Phil Stover's upcoming Book Provides an in-depth look at the antecedents of religion and conflict using the real life historical tragedy known as the Mountain Meadows massacre

for thy kingdom: when faith's journey goes awry

This book will be available Fall 2017 on this site, from Amazon, and by order from your favorite place to buy books

Why did good people do bad things in remote Utah Territory in September 1857 in an event that will forever be known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre? Why did a religious people brutally kill men, women, and children they barely knew? Other authors have focused on exactly what happened and who was involved. Phil believes the answers to the “why” questions are found in the dogma and duty expected by the mid-19th century LDS Church hierarchy. The one thing every participant in the slaughter, including Indian leaders, had in common was membership in that faith community. Using this episode as a case study, Phil explains how faith sometimes goes awry, leading the faithful to do the unthinkable.

Today, perhaps more than ever before we must understand how, when, and why religion turns to destruction.  How can such a force for good, do so much damage? Phil Stover believes the answer is found in the progression that sometimes occurs when doctrine turns to dogma, creating a sense of duty that leads the faithful to commit acts of destruction. We have seen that pattern through centuries and in many wars. In fact, the word "terrorism" was first used by an American president in relationship to the Utah War of 1857-58. It is important, in today's climate of terrorism that we understand the importance of recognizing and breaking this pattern.

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The Mountain Meadows Massacre was a terrible tragedy in 1857 when approximately 120 men, women, and children from Arkansas were brutally killed by a group of Mormon militia and Paiutes while they traveled to a new life in California

This book is a case study looking at the preaching, rhetoric, and doctrinal teachings of the LDS authorities during the mid and late 1850's in Utah. We examine the doctrines, preaching, and teachings that led the faithful to do the inconceivable. In addition we will examine in general how religion and violence are sometimes conjoined in ways that result in tragedy. Perhaps in that understanding we will begin to understand the forces that turn faith and the faithful to violence. It has never been as important that we understand the causes and the cures for what has plagued the world of faith for centuries as humans have fought and destroyed each other in its name. The preliminary Table of Contents is as follows:


Introduction – The Journey into the Unknown

Chapter One – Dipping the Pen into the Sacred Inkwell: Writing Religious History

Chapter Two - For Thy Kingdom: The Psychology of Identity within Religious Communities

Chapter Three – When Faith’s Journey Goes Awry: From Doctrine to Destruction

Chapter Four – Ante-Bellum Utah – The Mormon Opus . . . An Agglomeration of Tenets

Chapter Five  – The Refiner’s Fire: When the Fires of Reformation Burned a Little too Fiercely

Chapter Six  – LDS Doctrine and Beliefs of the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Chapter Seven  – Duty: Obedience, Decision Making, and the Call to Action

Chapter Eight – The Aftermath: “Keep as Far Away from the Precipice as Possible”




For Thy Kingdom: When Faith's Journey Goes Awry will be available in the fall of 2017. Please click on the link to be informed when it is available for sale.