Here is Heather Harper’s winning entry in the Monsters & Mormons Bedlamites contest.
Claim: A group of men, chosen by Satan and made immortal to do
his work on Earth, attack and/or seduce the unwary.
Example (collected from the internet): “Holy cow, you guys, the
Bedlamites are REAL! My roommate’s cousin was visiting and shared
this warning from her Stake President. Last weekend, he was driving
by Yosemite National Park when his tire blew out. While he was trying
to fix it, three men stopped and asked if he needed help. When he
said “yes,” they laughed at him. Then one took out a gun and shot a
hole in one of the other tires. He protested and another took his
tire iron and smashed in his headlights! They were really getting
nasty; they even started hitting him! Thank God he was wearing his
garments. When his clothes got ripped the holy glow from his garments
burned their hands and they dropped their weapons and ran. They MUST
have been Bedlamites! So everyone remember, always be on your guard
and BE WORTHY AND WEAR YOUR GARMENTS!”
Origins: The so-called “Silver Plates,” revealed by Latter-Day Saint
“prophetess” Dinah Kirkham in 1843 include the story of a city called
Bedlam. According to the story, Bedlam was a wicked city on par with
Sodom and Gomorrah from the Bible and, like them, was destroyed for
it. The only “sin” specifically mentioned is that of “un-charity.”
Though what precisely is meant by that is unclear, popular belief has
been that the Bedlamites lived the Law of the Jungle, going so far as
to murder the sick and elderly.
A series of suspicious events and sightings in Utah in the 1850’s,
coupled with a disputable reading of Elisa 11:7, have given rise to
the folk belief that there is a group of men who, like the Three
Nephites, have had their lives supernaturally extended. The
difference is that the Three Nephites are supposed to have had their
lives extended by God in order to bring souls to him, whereas the
Bedlamites are survivors of the destruction of Bedlam whose lives have
been extended by Satan to sow fear and pain and in general do evil.
In the usual fashion of folklore, no one credible can be found who
claims to have actually encountered the Bedlamites. It’s almost
always someone’s father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.
Also, given the nature of these encounters, it is difficult to assign
supernatural origins to what is most likely plain old human nature.
The temptation to blame events like the Mountain Meadows Massacre on
“the Devil” must be strong, but which is more likely: a posse of
anti-angels or a gang of human thugs?
Heather “silver plates sound hard to keep clean” Harper
13 April 2011