The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South

Hardcover | February 1, 2011

byPatrick Mason

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'It incarnates every unclean beast of lust, guile, falsehood, murder, despotism and spiritual wickedness.' So wrote a prominent Southern Baptist official in 1899, as he viewed with disgust what contemporary scholars have called the "quintessential American religion." In the late nineteenthcentury, Mormonism was the most vilified homegrown American religion. A national campaign featuring politicians, church leaders, social reformers, the press, women's organizations, businessmen, and ordinary citizens sought to end the distinctive Latter-day Saint practice of polygamy, and, ifnecessary, to extinguish the entire religion.Considering the movement against polygamy within American and southern history, Mason demonstrates how anti-Mormonism was one of the earliest grounds for reconciliation between North and South after the Civil War and Reconstruction. Southerners joined with northern reformers and Republicans toendorse the use of newly expanded federal power to vanquish the perceived threat to Christian marriage and the American republic.Anti-Mormonism was a significant intellectual, legal, religious, and cultural phenomenon, but in the South it was also violent. While southerners were concerned about distinctive Mormon beliefs and political practices, they were most alarmed at the "invasion" of Mormon missionaries in theircommunities, and the prospect of their wives and daughters falling prey to polygamy. In order to defend their homes and their honor against this threat, southerners turned to legislation, religion, and, most dramatically, vigilante violence.The Mormon Menace provides new insights onto some of the most important discussions of not only the late nineteenth century but also our own age, including debates over the nature and limits of religious freedom, the contest between the will of the people and the rule of law, and the role ofcitizens, churches, and the state in regulating and defining marriage.

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''It incarnates every unclean beast of lust, guile, falsehood, murder, despotism and spiritual wickedness.'' So wrote a prominent Southern Baptist official in 1899, as he viewed with disgust what contemporary scholars have called the "quintessential American religion." In the late nineteenthcentury, Mormonism was the most vilified home...

Patrick Mason is Research Associate Professor at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:February 1, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019974002X

ISBN - 13:9780199740024

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. The Lustful Lout: The Murder of Joseph Standing3. Rumors, Religious Competition, and Community Violence: The Cane Creek Massacre4. This Congregation of Sensualists: Polygamy in the Southern Mind5. The Second Reconstruction: Southern Anti-Polygamy and the Limits of Religious Freedom6. The Mormon Monster: Political and Religious Aspects of Southern Anti-Mormonism7. Patterns and Context of Anti-Mormon Violence8. The Blood of Martyrs: Southern Anti-Mormonism and LDS Identity9. Religious Minorities and the Problem of Peculiar PeoplehoodAbbreviations Used in NotesNotes