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A Land of Promise: Examining Mormonism through U.S. History (and Vice Versa)

Student Name: 
Ted Lee
Student Email: 
Supervised by: 
Phillip Thurtle

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often known as the Mormon Church, is not well known and often misrepresented or mischaracterized by mainstream U.S. discourse. Mormons have been depicted as both "model minorities" and "deviant outsiders." However, while they make up less than 2% of the U.S. population, they have a disproportionate influence on U.S. politics and popular culture. Furthermore, Mormons consistently appear during some of the most formative moments in U.S. history. We will investigate Mormonism through its appearance in U.S. history, using historical, sociological, and anthropological perspectives. Why do Mormons feature so prominently in the U.S. narrative, and what does it reveal about both the religion and the nation? Furthermore, why is religion so difficult to talk about religion in academic and/or multicultural societies, and what is the role of religion in multicultural societies today? As a focus group, we will investigate these questions through both reading academic/historical sources and by going out into local religious communities and ask them how they engage with today's pluralistic cultures and ideals.

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