"A Peculiar People": Anti-Mormonism and the Making of by J. Spencer Fluhman

By J. Spencer Fluhman

Even though the U.S. structure promises the loose 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 abnormal People", J. Spencer Fluhman deals a finished heritage of anti-Mormon notion and the linked passionate debates approximately non secular authenticity in nineteenth-century the USA. He argues that realizing anti-Mormonism presents serious perception into the yankee psyche simply because Mormonism turned a powerful image round which rules approximately faith and the kingdom took form.
Fluhman records how Mormonism was once defamed, with assaults usually geared toward polygamy, and exhibits how the hot religion provided a social enemy for a public agitated by way 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 differences, the results of either selection and outdoors strength, sapped the power of the worst anti-Mormon vitriol, triggering the recognition of Utah into the Union in 1896 and in addition paving the best way for the dramatic, but nonetheless grudging, reputation of Mormonism as an American religion.

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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. ”2 As a result of this dependence on distinctively Protestant versions of history, a major strain of early anti-Mormon 22 “Impostor” Eber D.

62 His tolerance ultimately provided the play’s cautionary lesson. In hesitating to expose Muhammad for what he was, his initially wary hearers unwittingly functioned as accessories to his crimes. For audiences agitated by waves of religious trouble ranging from Shakers to Catholics to Mormons, the message was unmistakable. 64 The question was apparently less complicated with Smith, as few critics found him to be anything but a crafty deceiver. As one anti-Mormon had it, “The scheme of Mormonism is too deep ever to admit the supposition that he [Smith] is the dupe of his own imposture.

2 As a result of this dependence on distinctively Protestant versions of history, a major strain of early anti-Mormon 22 “Impostor” Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed . . (1834), title page (L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo) polemics localized on Joseph Smith himself and his claims to new revelation and prophetic authority. 3 Tracing the stories of religious impostors in early American writing provides clues to the intellectual and cultural environment from which Mormonism sprang and helps make sense of anti-Mormonism’s scope and ferocity.

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