The Salt Lake Tribune's Faith blog on Monday raised the question of whether Josh Powell is cooling his heels in hell after he killed himself and two boys. The Powells were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The blog post, titled "Under Mormon doctrine, will Josh Powell be in hell?" is written by Peggy Fletcher Stack. Click here to read it all. She begins: "Some horrified observers of Josh Powell's fiery murder of his sons are already proclaiming that Powell is in hell, while his wife and children have landed in heaven."
And even if the critics are right in their overall assessment of Josh Powell, their vocabulary is slightly off -- at least according to the family's faith tradition.
Mormons believe that the dead are "not placed into a monolithic state called heaven," wrote Larry E. Dahl in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, but are "assigned to different degrees of glory commensurate with the law they have obeyed."
The highest reward is in the Celestial Kingdom, which is reserved for those who "have faith in Jesus Christ, repent of their sins, are baptized by immersion by one having authority, receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands," Dahl wrote, "and endure in righteousness."
Stack goes on to discuss the "lowest glory in the Celestial Kingdom," which is reserved for liars, sorcerers, whoremongers, and adulterers -- "and presumably murderers like Powell."
But, the faith blogger concludes, under Mormonism, the true hell is "where the devil, his angels, and the 'sons of perdition'" reside.
So where's Powell heading?
The good news about the Mormon hereafter is that people are placed in the kingdom where they feel the most comfortable, and, the encyclopedia says, "even the lowest glory surpasses all mortal understanding."
Wherever Josh Powell is, Mormons believe it will be the best place for him.
As for the boys -- 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden -- they automatically qualify for the highest Mormon heaven: the Celestial Kingdom.