By J. Spencer Fluhman
Although the U.S. structure promises the unfastened workout of faith, it doesn't specify what counts as a faith. From its founding within the 1830s, Mormonism, a homegrown American religion, drew millions of converts yet way more critics. In "A extraordinary People", J. Spencer Fluhman bargains a finished heritage of anti-Mormon concept and the linked passionate debates approximately spiritual authenticity in nineteenth-century the United States. He argues that figuring out anti-Mormonism presents serious perception into the yank psyche simply because Mormonism turned a powerful image round which rules approximately faith and the country took form.
Fluhman records how Mormonism used to be defamed, with assaults frequently geared toward polygamy, and exhibits how the hot religion provided a social enemy for a public agitated via the preferred press and wracked with social and fiscal instability. Taking the tale to the flip of the century, Fluhman demonstrates how Mormonism's personal changes, the results of either selection and out of doors strength, sapped the energy of the worst anti-Mormon vitriol, triggering the attractiveness of Utah into the Union in 1896 and likewise paving the way in which for the dramatic, but nonetheless grudging, attractiveness of Mormonism as an American religion.
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Extra resources for "A Peculiar People": Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America
14 His entries for “heretic” and “orthodoxy” complicated matters, however. ” His passive construction obscured the dilemma: Who, in a disestablished America, decided who or what was orthodox? Brown’s litmus tests for Christian orthodoxy—“the fall of man, regeneration, atonement, repentance, justification by free grace”—provided sufficient space for early Mormonism. 15 He pitied Joseph Smith’s “misguided followers” for believing in a book Smith “pretended to interpret” and felt it his duty to make “the facts” of Mormonism “known .
Anticipating—by some 133 years—sociologist Rodney Stark, who famously dubbed Mormonism the first new world religion since Islam, the editor marveled that Mormonism had both appropriated earlier traditions and constituted something new and enduring. 95 In a religious scene vexed by disestablishment and a dizzying array of spiritual voices, Americans made sense of their new religious environment by using what interpretive tools they had available. In the end, Muhammad served American Protestants as a metaphor to explain the unexplainable, to dismiss what would not go away on its own, and to rhetorically place on the margins what seemed an all-too-immediate threat.
33 While I am aware that the terms “Mormon” and “anti-Mormon” were themselves historically constructed, I tabled those discussions for another time and perhaps another book. For the purposes of this text, “anti-Mormon” remains an admittedly amorphous and generalized term, catching practically any negative appraisal of Joseph Smith’s (then Brigham Young’s) movement in its conceptual web. The time for richer comparative work with anti-Catholicism, anti-Shakerism, or anti-Spiritualism never materialized, either.
"A Peculiar People": Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America by J. Spencer Fluhman