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The Mormon Image in the American MindFifty Years of Public Perception$
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J.B. Haws

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199897643

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199897643.001.0001

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Standing a Little Taller: 1995–2005

Standing a Little Taller: 1995–2005

(p.158) 7 Standing a Little Taller: 1995–2005
The Mormon Image in the American Mind

J. B. Haws

Oxford University Press

When Gordon B. Hinckley was announced as the LDS Church’s new president in 1995, he surprised journalists by opening the floor for a press conference. The gesture proved to be more than a one-time event meant to pacify inquiring journalists; it represented a new philosophy. In many ways, public relations efforts during President Hinckley’s administration can be understood as responses to the charges of the 1980s and early 1990s—secrecy, authoritarianism, exclusiveness. As church officials took their cues from President Hinckley, evidence of openness abounded, especially in the way Mormons interacted with the media during two of the church’s biggest news-making moments—the sesquicentennial wagon train in 1997 and the 2002 Winter Olympics. This era of openness—building bridges rather than bunkers—also prompted new outreach initiatives to evangelical Christians, African Americans, and historians and others in the academy.

Keywords:   gordon b. hinckley, salt lake 2002 winter olympics, mormon pioneer sesquicentennial, mike wallace, joseph smith bicentennial, naacp, southern baptist convention

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