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 hundreds of thousands of converts yet way more critics. In "A ordinary People", J. Spencer Fluhman deals a entire background of anti-Mormon suggestion and the linked passionate debates approximately non secular authenticity in nineteenth-century the USA. He argues that figuring out anti-Mormonism presents serious perception into the yankee psyche simply because Mormonism grew to become a powerful image round which principles approximately faith and the country took form.
Fluhman files how Mormonism used to be defamed, with assaults frequently aimed toward polygamy, and indicates how the hot religion provided a social enemy for a public agitated through 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 ameliorations, the results of either selection and out of doors strength, sapped the energy of the worst anti-Mormon vitriol, triggering the popularity of Utah into the Union in 1896 and likewise paving the best way for the dramatic, but nonetheless grudging, recognition 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
1867), frontispiece (L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo) droves decried Mormonism as a fake religion but found themselves faking tolerance in the process. In worrying about the country’s future, observers looked back for examples of the trouble that might infect societies that forsook true religion. Viewing Christianity’s rivals as counterfeits of real religion, anti-Mormons set about “exposing,” “unveiling,” or “unmasking” Mormonism in ways that portrayed it as both new and old.
The earliest critiques of Mormonism could not credit it with theology because none were prepared to credit Smith with anything but imposture. Interlopers in the Protestant Historical Pantheon When anti-Mormons explained Joseph Smith by situating him in a history of religious impostors, they included a set of usual suspects. 32 The “spindle shanked ignoramus” Smith, he wrote, was hardly a prophet. 33 Others offered more extended lists but kept with the main contours of the narrative. 35 Showing surprisingly little variation, anti-Mormon writers found ready precedents for Smith and his followers among history’s religious upstarts and controversial innovators.
72 As in the case of Christian writers and the Qur’an, anti-Mormons had to decide if the Book of Mormon was completely inane or if it evinced a mixture of tedium and intelligence. Christians rejected the Qur’an as scripture but disagreed about the text in important ways. To some it was gibberish, testament to the meanness of Muhammad’s mind or to Arab ignorance generally. 74 Not surprisingly, conclusions about the Qur’an helped shape various assessments of the prophet and vice versa. One’s view of the Qur’an helped determine whether one regarded Muhammad as an evil genius or merely a swindler lucky enough to be surrounded by idiots.