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 abnormal People", J. Spencer Fluhman bargains a complete heritage of anti-Mormon suggestion and the linked passionate debates approximately spiritual authenticity in nineteenth-century the US. He argues that realizing anti-Mormonism offers severe perception into the yankee psyche simply because Mormonism grew to become a powerful image round which rules approximately faith and the country took form.
Fluhman files how Mormonism used to be defamed, with assaults usually aimed 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 variations, the results of either selection and outdoors strength, sapped the power of the worst anti-Mormon vitriol, triggering the reputation of Utah into the Union in 1896 and likewise paving the best way for the dramatic, but nonetheless grudging, reputation of Mormonism as an American religion.
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Additional resources for "A Peculiar People": Anti-Mormonism and the Making of Religion in Nineteenth-Century America
Some Palmyra residents surmised 36 “Impostor” that Smith, perhaps aided by others, simply borrowed language from the Bible. 78 He found the book’s account of pre–New Testament Christianity, non-Levitical Israelite priests, and ancient temples outside Jerusalem inconsistent with the Bible. Even more telling for Campbell was the book’s attempt to resolve “all the great controversies” of Smith’s own religious culture. 80 Presented by the team of newsman E. D. Howe and ex-Mormon Philastus Hurlbut (or Hurlburt), the theory rested on the unspoken assumption that such a work, deficient as it was, was too literate for Smith to have pulled off alone.
D. Howe’s account, folk magic provided a training ground where Smith could hone skills of deception. 106 Like the magician’s audience, anti-Mormons could be assured Smith’s prophethood was a hoax but at the same time remain uneasy because much was obscured from view. The magic charges, then, both exposed the prophet and added to the sense of alarm. Ezra Booth, a Methodist preacher and eventual Mormon defector, described the magic allegations’ twin functions memorably. He explained that the “magic charm of delusion” had “so wrapped its sable mantle around me, as to .
71 Similarly, New York anti-Mormon James M’Chesney needed little more than the Book of Mormon to make up his mind about Smith. “Here we have both the book of Mormon,” he wrote in 1838, “and the Alcoran before us. ”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.