One event or movement that is still in the memory banks of many Mormons or just outside of the memory of the younger generation is the battle over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) of the 1970s and 1980s. In what became a culture war more than a discussion of women’s issues, the Mormon church proved to be an effective political machine in by substantially contributing to the defeat of the ERA which was central to the women’s liberation movement. One might argue that this experience laid the blueprint for the church’s later political involvement in the debates surrounding marriage equality of 2008 in California and nationally in 2014-15. It was during the 1970’s, and specifically the ERA debates, that the church developed the justification for ecclesiastical political involvement in the public sphere by claiming the that questions of interest are really moral ones rather than mere political ones

TL/DR: In this final installment of “Top Ten Books on Mormon History,” Ben and I discuss an extensive case study of how local lay members as well as top church leaders engaged in the political issues of women’s rights in the 1970s and 1980s via Martha Bradley’s Pedestals and Podiums: Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Equal Rights

Top Ten Histories

Our “Top Ten Books on Mormon History” list was composed for someone new to Mormon History. The criteria for inclusion are the book’s demonstration of:

  • Use of a sophisticated academic approach and emphasis on analysis over merely regurgitating data and documents.
  • Coverage of an important person, event, or period in Mormon history
  • Quality of writing.
  • Length (not too long).

The List

  1. Matthew Bowman, The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith
    Release in March
  2. Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling
    Release in April
  3. Ronald Walker et. al., Massacre at Mountain Meadows
    Release in May
  4. Sarah Barringer Gordon, The Mormon Question Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America
    Release in June
  5. Kathryn Daynes, More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910
    Release in July
  6. Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness
    Release in August
  7. Kathleen Flake, The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle
    Release in September
  8. Armand Mauss, The Angel and the Beehive: THE MORMON STRUGGLE WITH ASSIMILATION
    Release in October
  9. Prince & Wright, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
    Release in November
  10. Martha Bradley, Pedestals and Podiums: Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Equal Rights
    Release in December

Brian was born and raised in Northern Utah and is now working as a chemist in Ohio. He has one wife and three children. He currently serves as the ward hall monitor. He likes to eat good food, and build cool things.

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