Rumors, Religious Competition, and Community Violence

Patrick Q. Mason

in The Mormon Menace

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199740024
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894666 | DOI:
Rumors, Religious Competition, and Community Violence

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Mormonism seemed to be exploding in rural northwestern Tennessee in the mid-1880s, thanks largely to the efforts of Elder John Gibbs. This engendered considerable resentment among many local residents. Some Protestant ministers, responding to rumors about the missionaries and the increased religious competition they represented, condemned the Mormons, and a few preachers explicitly encouraged mob violence to drive the missionaries out of the area. This low-level conflict climaxed on Sunday, August 10, 1884, when a group of approximately a dozen masked men attacked an LDS worship service, resulting in the deaths of four Mormons, including Gibbs, as well as the mob leader. Following what came to be known as the Cane Creek (or Tennessee) Massacre, the county effectively degenerated into mob law, as vigilantes forced LDS converts and friends to vacate their homes and farms. The state legislature also passed strict anti-polygamy legislation.

Keywords: Gibbs; religious competition; mob; vigilantes; Cane Creek Massacre; legislation

Chapter.  10045 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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