The salt sermon was an oration delivered on June 17, 1838 by Mormon leader, Sidney Rigdon, against Mormon dissenters. Rigdon was First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and often acted as spokesman for Joseph Smith, Jr.. The dissenters included Book of Mormon witnesses Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and John Whitmer, and other leaders including William Wines Phelps.
According to Rigdon, the dissenters were like the "salt" spoken of by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (part of the metaphors of Salt and Light in the Sermon on the Mount): "If the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Two days after Rigdon preached the Salt Sermon, eighty Latter-day Saints signed a statement (the so-called Danite Manifesto) warning the dissenters to "depart, or a more fatal calamity shall befall you."
The dissenters and their families interpreted these words as threats, and they quickly left Caldwell County, Missouri. Their stories helped stir up anti-Mormon feeling in northwestern Missouri and contributed to the outbreak of the 1838 Mormon War.
The Salt Sermon is often confused with Rigdon's July 4th Oration.
- Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 349-53.
- D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, 1994.
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