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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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Familiar Spirits, Part Two: The 1980s and Early 1990s

Familiar Spirits, Part Two: The 1980s and Early 1990s

(p.126) 6 Familiar Spirits, Part Two: The 1980s and Early 1990s
The Mormon Image in the American Mind

J. B. Haws

Oxford University Press

Old suspicions about Mormons’ despotic dreams were given new life in the 1980s. It was concern over the church’s “ambition” to “wield . . . absolute authority” more than doctrinal disputes with evangelicals that drove those suspicions and turned Mormon-related controversies into national news. Broadly speaking, theocracy was more worrisome than theology. A shade of institutional secrecy colored much of the reporting on Mormonism in the 1980s. Virtually every news organization in the country flocked to Salt Lake when three bombs turned historical controversy into homicide. To the church’s dismay, even the eventual discovery that the bomber, Mark Hofmann, was also a master forger of historical documents did little to quiet rumors about church cover-up and conspiracy. From different places and for different reasons, conservative Christians, investigative journalists, and Mormon intellectuals all seemed to harbor similar suspicions about the LDS Church. The Mormon image was taking hits on all sides.

Keywords:   mark hofmann, forgery, salamander letter, bombing, september six, mormon intellectuals, excommunicated mormons, leonard arrington, church history department, ervil lebaron, ron and dan lafferty, byu football national championship

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