Mormon Ecclesiastical Courts

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Mormonism is a particular example of 19th century utopias. Every utopia attempted to set up a new way of life for its adherents, Some, like the Mormons, were fundamentally religious and set out the totality of a new way of life through religious precepts. To bring that way of life into existence it was often necessary to remove the group of faithful to a new locale distant from the dominant society. In so doing, progressive removal in space and contact often meant removal from the system of civil government that was part of territorial, state and federal governments. On one side, that tended to be regarded as a threat to legally established regimes, but on the other usually it meant that a system of dealing with disputes arising within the new community had to be established. So it was also with the Mormons who settled in the Great Basin in 1847, just as Utah was being incorporated as a territory into the Union. There was no civil government of ant form, let alone statutory law and a way of implementing it.