Gendered Power in Nauvoo…Presented in Nauvoo!

Today I’m catching a plane to St. Louis, followed by driving a rental car up to Nauvoo. I’m excited. Well, I’m always excited to visit Nauvoo, but I’m especially excited to head up there this weekend to present a paper in the annual John Whitmer Historical Association conference. JWHA is a fun organization dedicated to…

The Mormon Constitution

To celebrate Constitution Day, Americans often proclaim their reverence for their nation’s founding document. But to play contrarian, I thought I would highlight some of its discontents. Mormons today are recognized as some of the most patriotic citizens. And rightfully so: part of their canon of scripture includes God claiming he had “established the Constitution…

Review: Marisa Fuentes, DISPOSSESSED LIVES

Sometimes the best thing a book can do is make you feel guilty. That is certainly the case with the book I’m gisting today. There were more enslaved women in the colonial port town of Bridgetown, found on the western edge of Barbados, than any other demographic group. So why do they receive such little…

New Essay: The Council of Fifty and American Democracy

This week marks the official release of a new essay collection, The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History (BYU Religious Studies Center), edited by Matthew Grow and Eric Smith. The volume contains fifteen chapters, each from a different author. The Council of Fifty was a secretive organization established by Joseph Smith in…

Review: Lincoln Mullen, THE CHANCE OF SALVATION

In a Land of Liberty, it makes sense that the national religion is centered on choice. That’s the thrust of Lincoln Mullen’s argument in his new and ambitious book, The Chance of Salvation: A History of Conversion in America (Harvard UP, 2017). Throughout the nineteenth century, Mullen argues, Americans shifted from seeing religion as something one…

New Article: The Angel of Nullification in JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC

As we creep toward my book’s publication in December (I hope they start displaying the cover and description soon!), a couple articles drawn from its material are now appearing. One was published in Early American Studies earlier this year that relates to the book’s first chapter (see a summary here), and now an article in Journal of…

Supreme Court Amicus Brief on Trump, Immigration, and Mormon History

I was very honored to be part of an amicus brief field in the Supreme Court today in opposition to Donald Trump’s proposed immigration ban. You can read more about it here, and below is the press release: August 17, 2017 MORMON SCHOLARS TAKE THEIR BRIEF AGAINST TRUMP TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT Earlier today,…

Combating “White Culture” in the Mormon Church

The LDS Church has long struggled to address persistent racial problems within its culture. Even after the Church reversed its official policy in 1978 in order to allow members with African ancestry to hold the priesthood and participate in temple ordinances, remnants of the past age remain. The inability to fully engage these historical foundations…

Reflections on the Recent Issue of Journal of Mormon History

I finally go around to reading the most recent issue of Journal of Mormon History. As always, there was a lot to chew on. Here are just a few highlights. I really liked Matthew Dougherty’s sophisticated and provocative article, “None Can Deliver: Imagining Lamanites and Feeling Mormon, 1837-1847.” This essay added a new lens to…

Thomas Jefferson, White Supremacy, and Last Night’s March in Charlottesville

Last night, several hundred individuals bearing torches marched on the University of Virginia to protest the removal of Confederate monuments. They chanted “White Lives Matter,” denounced racial diversity, and insisted that white Americans could not be “replaced.” This type of episode has become more common in Trump’s America, as the election of someone who ran a…

Reading List for Religion and America’s Founding

This morning I am giving a presentation to teachers from the Conroe Independent School District on religion and the founding. Since I am morally opposed to providing paper handouts, I am posting here the list of resources that I recommend to those who wish to dig deeper into the origins of America’s religious tradition. This…