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Secularization and Religious Innovation in the North Atlantic World$
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David Hempton and Hugh McLeod

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198798071

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198798071.001.0001

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Mormons and Materialism

Mormons and Materialism

Struggling against the Ideology of Separation

(p.121) 6 Mormons and Materialism
Secularization and Religious Innovation in the North Atlantic World

Colleen McDannell

Oxford University Press

By consistently conflating spirit and matter, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has steadfastly resisted secularization theory’s prediction of the inevitable decline and marginalization of religion. This chapter argues that successful use of material and popular culture by Mormons in the USA and Great Britain has enabled its expansion. I maintain that Mormonism is a ‘material Christianity’, demonstrated by the Book of Mormon’s embodied Jesus and the 1847 establishment of a religious community in Utah. Latter-day Saints now run church museums and historic sites, put on musical pageants, and produce film sagas—all intended to inspire the faithful and proselytize to the rest. Successful church public relations campaigns dovetail with secular depictions of Mormons in film, on television, and in Broadway and West End theatre. The church’s foray into popular culture is funded partially through for-profit companies that creatively combine the business world with the world of faith.

Keywords:   Book of Mormon, Great Britain, USA, Latter-day Saints, popular culture, Broadway theatre, West End theatre, film, Mormonism, church public relations

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