Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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p. vii

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PROLOGUE. On Familiarity and Contempt

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pp. 1-8

Preaching to a Mormon audience in 1855, Joseph Young marked Mormon identity with biblical language: “I am aware that we are a peculiar people.”1 Speaking in a similar venue decades later, church president Wilford Woodruff softened the reference. “The Latter- day Saints are somewhat peculiar from other religious denominations,”...

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INTRODUCTION. Religious Liberty as an American Problem

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pp. 9-20

In the newly disestablished United States, not all religious claims were created equal. The young nation had a host of them to survey as new theologies, new rituals, and new charismatic leaders glutted the public sphere. In this cacophony, anti- Mormonism supplied a focused social enemy for a public divided by sectarianism and wracked by economic and political instability. Long before...

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CHAPTER 1. “Impostor”: The Mormon Prophet

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pp. 21-48

For New Yorker David Reese, antebellum physician and self- appointed social critic, too much in American culture amounted to a mere counterfeit. His 1838 tirade against a host of “humbugs” warned that the “unsophisticated” and “weak sisters” were dangerously prone to deception. Deceivers deserved most of the blame, but Reese thought it unflattering that so many Americans had already been led astray...

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CHAPTER 2. “Delusion”: Early Mormon Religiosity

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pp. 49-78

Pascal Smith’s religious views caused him considerable trouble. In a legal complaint, his wife declared that Smith had rendered “implicit obedience” to a “Mormon Prophet” armed with “mesmeric clairvoyance.” Harriet Smith explained that her husband had been “laboring under a religious delusion” and had been duped...

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CHAPTER 3. “Fanaticism”: The Church as (Un)Holy City

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pp. 79-102

In 1839, when Mormons abandoned their third community in scarcely five years, some questioned the wisdom of what they had called “gathering.” In January Albert Perry Rockwood wrote a concerned letter to his father. “Last night we heard that the Prophets advise for the Brethren to scatter,” he reported. “It is thought by some...

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CHAPTER 4. “Barbarism”: Rhetorics of Alienation

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pp. 103-126

Writing for the majority in the landmark case Reynolds v. United States, Chief Justice Morrison Waite casually laid bare a central dilemma of American law when he observed that the “word ‘religion’ is not defined in the Constitution.” Waite insisted that in lieu of any constitutional definition, the Court was left with “the...

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CHAPTER 5. “Heresy”: Americanizing the American Religion

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pp. 127-148

Anti- Mormon hostility unquestionably gained momentum as commentators discovered or inflated the “Oriental” or “Asiatic” character of Mormon life. Mormonism, hardly an imported or foreign tradition, demonstrates how central the perception of cultural deviation has been in the maintenance of homegrown religious...

Notes

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pp. 149-182

Bibliography

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pp. 183-218

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 219-222

I am grateful to the many talented people who have enriched this book. Three scholars have been particularly influential. Charles Cohen (University of Wisconsin– Madison), Grant Underwood (Brigham Young University [BYU]), and Kathryn Lofton (Yale University) have each given generously of their time and prodigious talents. Charles Cohen mentored the project in its early...

Index

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pp. 223-229