By J. Spencer Fluhman

ISBN-10: 0807835714

ISBN-13: 9780807835715

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 abnormal People", J. Spencer Fluhman bargains a accomplished heritage of anti-Mormon concept and the linked passionate debates approximately spiritual authenticity in nineteenth-century the United States. He argues that knowing anti-Mormonism offers serious perception into the yank psyche simply because Mormonism grew to become a powerful image round which principles approximately faith and the country took form.
Fluhman files how Mormonism was once defamed, with assaults frequently geared toward polygamy, and exhibits how the hot religion provided a social enemy for a public agitated by means of the preferred press and wracked with social and financial instability. Taking the tale to the flip of the century, Fluhman demonstrates how Mormonism's personal adjustments, the results of either selection and out of doors strength, sapped the energy of the worst anti-Mormon vitriol, triggering the reputation of Utah into the Union in 1896 and likewise paving the way in which for the dramatic, but nonetheless grudging, recognition of Mormonism as an American religion.

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Extra info for "A Peculiar People": Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America

Example text

This study cannot boast of comprehensiveness, despite its exertions to survey anti-Mormon discourse in all its nineteenth-century variety. With each passing year, it became clearer that no single volume could account for the massive flow of material. I gathered published material and courageously intended to offer some quantitative analyses and observations, but in the end was forced into a rather unscientific methodology. 31 My use of “sensed,” “seemed,” and “appeared” might provoke concern. I can only say that I have crafted an account that represents substantial experience in the genre and a good-faith effort to contextualize and comprehend that genre’s significance.

Similarities between the two prophets’ careers prompted Illinois college professor Jonathan B. Turner to formulate a typology of false 30 “Impostor” prophethood, with similarities ranging from dogmatic certainty to a tendency toward scriptural literalism. ”42 As testimony to both Matthias’s notoriety and the lack of debate about either prophet’s legitimacy, most writers comparing the two New York seers did little more than mention Matthias’s name. Christian Palladium editor Joseph Badger could only bemoan the fact that both men had progressed as far as they had by 1834.

97 The controversy over Smith’s magic reveals much about the categorical instability of religion and magic and offers clues as to why he was such a polarizing figure. By blurring lines between religion and magic and transgressing normative understandings regarding the natural world and modern life, Smith became an unsurprising target of opprobrium. He weathered charges of being an American trickster even as he worked to reconcile a robust supernaturalism with patterns of piety rooted in the Mormons’ own Protestant pasts.

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"A Peculiar People": Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America by J. Spencer Fluhman

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