It has been about five months since my last entry in the Sunday School category, so I'll try and catch up a bit. Alma 1 shows the attitude of the Nephite theocracy toward religious dissenters. Nehor taught that "all mankind should be saved at the last day" and that the clergy "ought to be supported by the people" (v. 3). So universal salvation and a professional clergy were preached among the Nephites--I know that sounds a lot like what people were talking about in 19th-century America, but there it is among the diaspora Jews of Nephite America.
According to the text, Nehor quarrels with an old Nephite war hero, the two come to blows, and Nehor prevails. Hauled before Alma the Younger, chief judge and also the head of the Nephite Church, Nehor is found "guilty of priestcraft" and of "shed[ding] the blood of a righteous man" (v. 12, 13). But at his execution, he was not made to confess murder but rather "that what he had taught to the people was contrary to the word of God" (v. 15). It would appear that the primary crime for which Nehor was executed was religious pluralism (viewed as heresy by the Nephite Church). As a morality tale, the best reading of Alma 1 is about the dangers of an established church, but that's not how it is read by Mormons. Had Gideon prevailed and Nehor died, I doubt Gideon would have been convicted before the chief judge and "suffered an ignominious death" (v. 15). Apart from the minor textual detail that Nehor is portrayed as having slain Gideon, he looks a lot like a martyr for religious freedom against the state power of the Nephite Church.
THERE ARE SOME WHO WOULD ALSO READ ALMA 1 as a reflection of Joseph's views and as a force shaping Mormon views of religious pluralism. We know Joseph rejected religious pluralism, which he perceived as "a strife of words and a contest about opinions" (JS-H 1:6). In Alma 1, those from other denominations are represented as "preaching false doctrines," and doing so not because of sincere but different religious beliefs but "this they did for the sake of riches and honor" (v. 16). Right--only preachers of the Nephite Church are sincere, other religious leaders are avaricious fakes and frauds who "pretended to preach according to their belief" (v. 17).
Reading scriptural passages like Alma 1, it's not hard to see how some Mormons come to really believe that, deep down, everyone really knows (or could know if they would just take a few minutes to pray about it) that the Mormon Church is the true church and the other denominations are "all wrong," their creeds are "an abomination," and their clergy are "all corrupt" (JS-H 1:19). I sense a real disconnect between what many modern Mormons believe and practice (a good degree of religious tolerance and support for religious pluralism) and what Alma 1 and other BoM texts teach.