TeacherServe Essays

Mormonism and the American Mainstream

Author: Scott, Donald (NHC Fellow, 1985–86)

When Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as it came to be officially designated, first emerged on the religious scene in 1830, it was simply one of the many, often short-lived, new religious groups born amidst the spiritual ferment of mid-nineteenth-century America. But by the mid-1840s, Mormonism had established itself as a dynamic and distinctive new religious tradition. The historical significance of Mormonism lies not so much in its size and success in gaining adherents. What is most significant historically about Mormonism is that it was not simply another Christian sect or denomination but was the only new religious tradition founded in nineteenth-century America. Equally important is Mormonism’s complex and embattled relation to both the society from which it emerged and to the evangelicalism that was such a dominant force in the society.

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History / American History / Christianity / History of Religion / Mormonism / Social History /