Faithful see film as jab at church
Todd Hendrickson has no plans to see the new film "September Dawn," but he's certainly heard about it. As president of the regional Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he views it as another jab at his Mormon faith and its history. The m...
Todd Hendrickson has no plans to see the new film "September Dawn," but he's certainly heard about it.
As president of the regional Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he views it as another jab at his Mormon faith and its history.
The movie depicts the killing of 120 Arkansas pioneers by Mormon settlers in Utah in 1857, known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
"I think it's taken some portions of history into its own hands by essentially making it look like or appear that Brigham Young was behind the massacres of the emigrants from Arkansas," Hendrickson says. Young was president of the church and territorial governor at the time of the massacre. "History would indicate evidence to do so is lacking."
"September Dawn" director Christopher Cain has said he made the independent feature film not to blame anyone but to show the consequences of religious fanaticism. He said the movie is not meant to offend nor be a portrait of Mormons in general.
The movie, which opened Friday in Fargo, has spurred discussions among local Mormons, especially those who aren't familiar with the 1857 incident.
Hendrickson says it's a terrible and unfortunate part of the church's history. However, he says it needs to be understood in the context of the times. Mormon settlers believed a hostile military invasion was imminent and tensions were high.
Hendrickson says he doesn't watch R-rated movies and doesn't think this one would be constructive to his understanding of the event.
Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a Mormon, also has said he won't be attending "September Dawn."
"Most members try to stay clear of those kinds of movies that might be slanted at breaking their faith," Hendrickson says.
He says they also try to avoid debates or negative dialogue about such portrayals.
"Members of our faith are encouraged to not take an anti- anti-Mormon attitude to escalate those kind of battles," Hendrickson says.
"We recognize the rights of everyone to kind of put together what they want to in terms of movies and media," he adds. "I suspect this will be like other attempts to break down our faith. It will have some impact but be short-lived."
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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