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Race and the Making of the Mormon People

TitleRace and the Making of the Mormon People
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsHarris, Matthew L.
JournalBYU Studies Quarterly
KeywordsPriesthood Ban; Race

In recent years, the topic of Mormonism and race has attracted the attention of many Mormon scholars. In 2015, W. Paul Reeve's Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness was published, in which he argues that the development of Mormon racial theology is best understood as a reaction to larger trends in nineteenth-century America. The Protestant majority privileged "whiteness," Reeve argues, and Mormons sought to appease them by embracing a whiteness theology. The year 2015 also saw the publication of a special edition of the Journal of Mormon History featuring race and Mormonism. Advocating a "new history of race and Mormonism," the essayists examined "the constitution of a white colonial hegemony in Mormonism," moving beyond the typical medium of the priesthood and temple ban to explore Mormon racial teachings. Clearly, scholars are paying close attention to the Mormon racial experience and trying to understand how race affected Mormon doctrine and practice.