Although often regarded as marginal or obscure, Mormonism is a significant American religious minority, numerically and politically. The successes and struggles of this U.S. born religion reveal much about how religion operates in U.S. society. Mormonism: The Basics introduces the teachings, practices, evolution, and internal diversity of this movement, whose cultural icons range from Mitt Romney to the Twilight saga, from young male missionaries in white shirts and ties to polygamous women in pastel prairie dresses.
This is the first introductory text on Mormonism that tracks not only the mainstream LDS but also two other streams within the movement—the liberalized RLDS and the polygamous Fundamentalists—thus showing how Mormons have pursued different approaches to defining their identity and their place in society. The book addresses these questions.
- Are Mormons Christian, and why does it matter?
- How have Mormons worked out their relationship to the state?
- How have Mormons diverged in their thinking about gender and sexuality?
- How do rituals and regulations shape Mormon lives?
- What types of sacred spaces have Mormons created?
- What strategies have Mormons pursued to establish a global presence?
Mormonism: The Basics is an ideal introduction for anyone wanting to understand this religion within its primarily American but increasingly globalized contexts.
Table of Contents
Introduction. 1. A Brief History of Mormons 2. Are Mormons Christian? Why Does It Matter? 3. Building God’s Kingdom: Mormons and Church-State Relations 4. Mormons and Sex: Gender, Sexuality, and Family 5. The Shape of a Mormon Life: Lived Religion 6. Making a Place: Sacred Space in Mormonism 7. Taking Mormonism Global: Challenges of International Expansion Chronology
David J. Howlett is a visiting assistant professor of religion at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.
John-Charles Duffy is a lecturer in comparative religion at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio
"Mormonism: The Basics provides a reliable and accessible guide to America’s largest indigenous religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its variants. The authors don’t shy away from controversial issues, but their handling of them is deft and fair." - Randall Balmer, Dartmouth College, USA
"Howlett and Duffy masterfully weave together the various streams of Mormonism and produce an innovative exploration of how religions evolve over time. Mormonism: The Basics is a must-have guide to the vast legacy of Joseph Smith." - Colleen McDannell, University of Utah, USA
"For the nonspecialist professor, they provide useful information, chapters that can be easily integrated into a syllabus, and pedagogical suggestions. The books will prove most useful to teachers when situated within broader developments in the historiography of Mormonism." - Jennifer Graber, University of Texas at Austin, USA
"This is an extraordinarily well-thought-through book. Befitting their religious studies training, co-authors Duffy and Howlett have produced a volume that (...) offers a sophisticated analysis both of Mormonism (in several of its streams) and of the American religious landscape more generally, along several lines of analysis." - Matthew Bowman, Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, USA