||The English used in this article may not be easy for everybody to understand. (March 2012)|
Blood atonement was a doctrine of the Mormon Church. It was first preached by Brigham Young in the 1850s, though Joseph Smith may have thought of it first. At one time, most Mormons believed it, but now only some fundamentalists do. It was the belief that some things people do are so bad, they have to be atoned (taken care of with God) by being killed. This is sometimes called "blood-for-blood" punishment because it was used to punish murder. However, it was also sometimes used for non-violent crimes, such as denying or leaving the church and marrying someone of a different race. The blood atonement idea led to firing squads being allowed in Utah for many years. It also may have led to the Mountain Meadows Massacre, where Mormons killed some emigrants from Arkansas.