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…

Review: Brent Rogers, Unpopular Sovereignty

A hard confession from someone who specializes in the early republic and antebellum periods: the 1850s is my favorite decade to teach in the American survey. It always feels like my lectures are a sprint throughout he semester, given the nature of the course, but it still seems to pick up speed once we hit…

Review: Eric Hinderaker, BOSTON’S MASSACRE

The Boston Massacre has loomed large in America’s historical memory. Taking place five years before the battles at Lexington and Concord, the episode featured British soldiers firing into a gathering of unarmed colonists. Four died on the scene, and another succumbed to mortal wounds a few days later. The moment and its martyrs were immortalized…

New Published Essay: A Wall Between Church and Academy

I must admit that I have a fascination with the development of the Mormon scholarship enterprise. In other words, the birth of the (sub)field known as Mormon studies. I’ve published a number of articles on the topic, and have blogged many more. As someone who was raised Mormon, was introduced to American history through a…

Thoreau’s Resistance 

[Today is Thoreau’s 200th birthday. (Happy birthday, Henry!) As such, it was worth writing something about his work while relaxing on a beach in Hawaii. Also, make sure to check out the brand-new and exquisite biography by Laura Dassow Walls.] I recently completed a two-week-long NEH seminar on “Transcendentalism and Social Reform,” which took place…

The LDS Church’s Parental Employment Policy: Some Context

The LDS Church announced last week a series of important revisions for employment policies. Among other changes, Women will no longer be forced to wear skirts or dresses, and men can wear colored shirts. (Though still no beards!) More importantly, mothers are assured six weeks of paid maternity leave after the birth of their child,…

Benjamin Franklin as Christian?

(I’m sure nobody has noticed, but this blog has been silent for the past month as I’ve been on the road for a conference, research, and now an NEH institute. Alas, I’ll still be on the road for another month—gotta escape the Texas heat!—so my entries here will continue to be sporadic, though I do…