In chapter 4, Terryl Givens provides a new view not only of the Christianity of Mormons but also more specifically of the religious motivations and methods for persecuting LDS people in nineteenth-century America. Givens's chapter is especially important as an examination of one of the worst examples of systematic religious intolerance in American history. According to Givens, for Americans' self-conception as a religiously tolerant nation to remain intact, a hegemonic rhetoric needed to emerge in the public sphere that denied the religious nature of Mormonism and instead described it as a political threat or social evil. Under the cover of this rhetorical shift, American culture, spurred in large part by evangelical ministers, mobilized its institutions against the rights, freedoms, and welfare of the Latter-Day Saint people in the name of protecting the very American values they set about to subvert. This strategy, well honed in its use against Mormons, is still used against small unpopular religious groups today.

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Copyright © 2001, University of Illinois Press. This chapter first appeared in Mormons & Mormonism: An Introduction to An American World Religion.

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