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All Abraham's Children

All Abraham's Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    All Abraham's Children
    Book Description:

    All Abrahams Children is Armand L. Mausss long-awaited magnum opus on the evolution of traditional Mormon beliefs and practices concerning minorities. He examines how members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have defined themselves and others in terms of racial lineages. _x000B_Mauss describes a complex process of the broadening of these self-defined lineages during the last part of the twentieth century as the modern Mormon church continued its world-wide expansion through massive missionary work._x000B_Mauss contends that Mormon constructions of racial identity have not necessarily affected actual behavior negatively and that in some cases Mormons have shown greater tolerance than other groups in the American mainstream. _x000B_Employing a broad intellectual historical analysis to identify shifts in LDS behavior over time, All Abrahams Children is an important commentary on current models of Mormon historiography._x000B__x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09183-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  4. 1. The Mormon Missionary Impulse and the Negotiation of Identity
    (pp. 1-16)

    Several story lines are intertwined in this book. At the most abstract level, one story illustrates the power of religious ideas and human behavior on each other, indeed on the operational definition of reality itself.¹ It is an oft-told story, but this version shows how the followers of the nineteenth-century American prophet Joseph Smith created a spiritual and ideological world within which they encountered and attempted to convert various peoples. In the process, these ideas and the ongoing reconsiderations of their meaning changed both the Mormons and their converts. Another story line implicates religious ideas in the creation of racial...

  5. 2. Mormons and Israelite Lineage
    (pp. 17-40)

    The waxing and waning of the Israelite identity, which the Mormons once constructed for themselves, is capsulized in the declarations of the three apostles in these epigraphs.¹ By the middle of the nineteenth century, official Mormon discourse had constructed a synthesis of Israelite and Anglo-Saxon identity, partly to establish a Mormon continuity with ancient Israel and partly in response to the calumny coming from the outside world. By the early twentieth century, official discourse had traced this special identity back to premortal times and attributed it to a divine plan. By the end of the century, however, the highest ranking...

  6. 3. From Lamanites to Indians
    (pp. 41-73)

    The juxtaposition of these two apostolic statements, separated by more than a century, illustrates well the transformation across time in the early Mormons’ understanding of their relation to the American Indians.¹ For Orson Pratt and others of the founding generation of Mormonism, the “Lamanites” (as they called the Indians) were at the forefront of the eschatological drama then unfolding in preparation for the millennium. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, just established among the Gentiles, was to play a supporting role in this drama by bringing to the Lamanites and all other remnants of Israel the lost knowledge...

  7. 4. The Return of the Lamanites
    (pp. 74-113)

    As the twentieth century arrived, historians and pundits pronounced the western frontier of the United States “closed” (F. Turner 1911). Americans came to know Indians mainly through popular fiction and films, which triumphantly glorified the “winning of the West” by the white pioneers and portrayed Indians simply as backward and savage obstacles to the progress of civilization. Mormons generally came to share in this construction of the American past. By 1896, when Utah was brought into the Union as a state, its Indians had long been confined to reservations in a few remote corners. Except for those few whites living...

  8. 5. Old Lamanites, New Lamanites, and the Negotiation of Identity
    (pp. 114-157)

    When Spencer W. Kimball took up his mantle as president of the church at the end of 1973, he had championed the cause of the American Indians as an apostle for at least three decades. He had much to show for his efforts and for those of his associates who had served during those years on the church’s Lamanite Committee, or Indian Committee, as it was variously called. Yet these leaders were becoming increasingly aware of a paradox in the progress of the church among the tribal peoples of North America. On the one hand, these Kimball decades had brought...

  9. 6. Christian and Mormon Constructions of Jewish Identity
    (pp. 158-190)

    Even in the genocidal history of twentieth-century Europe, the mass murders of the Jews seem to have been uniquely systematic and extensive. That Christian Europe, which has rightly taken such pride in its centuries of civilization, should have turned its wrath on a minority that had contributed so much to that civilization certainly cries out for an explanation. It is more than a little ironic that so much of the explanation has its origin in the Christian religion itself. As a variety of that religious heritage, Mormonism has shared in the Christian struggle to understand the place of the Jews...

  10. 7. Mormons and Secular Anti-Semitism
    (pp. 191-211)

    These two epigraphs, the first from a venerable president of the Mormon church and the other from a prominent Jewish citizen of Utah, capsulize the message of the previous chapter: Mormon teachings and policies seem to have contravened and neutralized the anti-Semitism inherited from traditional Christianity.¹ Yet the relation between ostensible religious beliefs, on the one hand, and actual behavior, on the other, can never be taken for granted, as both the clergy and the critics of religious communities can attest. The question in this chapter is whether and how the religious beliefs of Mormons are translated into secular, civil...

  11. 8. The Curse of African Lineage in Mormon History
    (pp. 212-230)

    Both the Latter-day Saints and the nation passed through tumultuous and fundamental social changes during the century or more after these declarations.¹ In some of these changes, the Mormons were simply in tandem with the nation; other changes caused great tension between the two. The main outline of the national race relations story is well known. It is the Latter-day Saint strand of the story that is the main subject of this chapter. In this scenario, a church and people struggle to come to terms with a glaring but inherited contradiction in an otherwise racially egalitarian and universalistic religious framework....

  12. 9. The Campaign to Cast Off the Curse of Cain
    (pp. 231-266)

    The 1978 declaration of the church leaders in the opening epigraph was widely expected to bring an end to the most important controversy in Mormondom during the second half of the twentieth century. That the church president, two decades later, was still facing questions about it suggested that the issue was not entirely dead.¹ Like most large organizations and governments, the LDS Church usually struggles with some lag between its official pronouncements and their full implementation at the grassroots. Resistance is likely to be the more protracted the more fundamental the change. Among some individuals and interest groups in any...

  13. 10. Reprise
    (pp. 267-278)

    The epigraph comes from a book whose general theme is the enormous impact that Protestant missionary work in China had on the missionaries themselves during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth (Xi 1997).¹ As the history of imported religions might lead us to expect, their Christian message gradually underwent certain syncretic modifications under the influence of the ancient religions of the Far East. As Lian Xi observed, this changed outlook of the missionaries carried a cost for their proselyting enterprise: “because syncretism appealed to humanistic principles and often to scholarly refinement; rather than seeking to evoke religious enthusiasm, it...

  14. Appendix A: Notes on Library and Personal Sources
    (pp. 279-285)
  15. Appendix B: Supplementary Tables for Measuring Mormon Beliefs about Jews and Blacks
    (pp. 286-288)
  16. Appendix C: Path Diagrams as Summaries of the Formation of Mormon Attitudes toward Jews and Blacks
    (pp. 289-296)
  17. References
    (pp. 297-330)
  18. Index
    (pp. 331-344)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 345-346)