When you are writing an exploratory essay on the anthropology of Mormonism, you have to focus only on facts. Writing about a religion gives you the perfect opportunity to review only facts and alleviate all personal opinion or personal bias from the writing. The focus on anthropology means you are forced to focus on some aspect of the society, the culture, or the people within Mormonism. This opens you up to a wide array of potential topic ideas. But no matter what type of thesis you select for your writing, you must back up all claims you make with facts, and facts alone.
It is for this reason that you will find some interesting anthropological facts below to help you out with your writing:
- Mormons first arrived in the Great Basin of Utah and were sent west. Many of the settlements were short-lived but their communities did extend from the south of Idaho all the way to California. It was during this time that the federal government would arrest many members who practiced polygamy, as it was a felony, and as such some fled to the northern areas of Mexico or the southern regions of Canada.
- Missionaries for the church were sent throughout the whole of the United States as well as northern Europe in order to spread the word of their church and those who wanted to convert, were given help from church-sponsored ships which carried emigrants to America. Once those converts reached the United States, they went as far as they could by rail and then by wagon for the remainder of the way. Those who were unable to afford a wagon sued a handcart. It was the Perpetual Emigrating Fund which was established to help new arrivals.
- The Mormons believed that their marriages must be performed inside of the Mormon temples and that families are sealed for eternity. This means the extended family as well, which is why the members of the church practice special endowment sessions and complete baptisms for the dead for those members who were not converts at the time of their death.
- The Mormon church emphasizes weekly family home evenings, evenings in addition to regular worship which focuses on scripture reading, singing songs, playing games, and enjoying refreshments.
- Church leaders ask that their members remain self-sufficient but there is a welfare system within the church which is designed only for members in need. The leaders ask all members to fast one Sunday per month and donate the money that they would have spent on meals for that day on the needy. In order to prepare for times of emergencies, leaders ask their members to have one years’ worth of food and supplies saved.
- When newcomers were brought en masse by the Mormon church from Europe, a 1903 disagreement of the celebration of European holidays was the foundation for a remark by the church president that all members who emigrated should learn English as quickly as possible, should adopt the customs and manners of Americans, and should work to become good and loyal citizens of America so as to demonstrate that they are faithful members through their food works.
- Mormons in the 19th century practiced polygamy, voted as a block, and lived as one unit.
- In 1978 the Mormon church changed their policy to allow blacks to hold their high levels of the priesthood.
- Mormons emphasize education, and as a result they have a highly educated populace. Over half (53.5 percent) of the Mormon population has, to this day, some post-high school education compared to only 36.7% of the rest of the population.
- Mormons observe all national holidays celebrated by Americans, and in addition to that the state of Utah has Pioneer Day on July 24 to honor the entrance into the Salt Lake Valley by Brigham Young in 1847.
- The Mormon teachings state that members cannot consumer hot drinks, tobacco, or wine and other alcohols. They should also consume meat sparingly and use wheat and herbs often. Today coffee and tea are also not allowed.
- Health studies have revealed that Mormons living in Utah have lower rates of diseases, particularly cancers, something attributed to their strict diets and restrictions against alcohol and tobacco.
- By maintaining strict genealogical records and having a high birth rate, the Mormon population has helped to advance research, particularly cancer research by encoding this information. From it researchers have identified the gene which most often occurs in colon cancer research and has helped identified high risk cancer patients.
- Leaders within the Mormon church encourage their members to depend upon the power of their God by receiving blessings from priesthood holding male members of the church. Historically both men and women were allowed to give blessings, in many cases women blessing other women at the time they had children, but today only the men who hold the priesthood can give out any blessing.
- Mormons are found around the world, but their church is located primarily in America. The church retains local leaders who are representatives of the international membership. Of these leaders there is a council of twelve, all of whom are white, American males. Of these one is the president of the church, when the president dies, one of the senior members of this council will replace them.
- The church leaders stress that marriage must be done within the same racial and religious groups, so as to avoid even more challenging marriages. It is also considered to be a mortal sin to have sex outside of marriage, which is why Mormon women marry at ages younger than most women in America. Additionally, it is discouraged to date until the age of 16 for women, and not until after the males have returned from serving a two year church based mission which lasts from 19-21, for men.
- With regard to political issues, the president of the church will tell his members how they are to vote, or at least feel with regard to current issues. In spite of there being no mixing of church and state, there is no ruling that churches cannot tell their congregations how to vote in matters of the state.
These facts will greatly combine with 20 topics on anthropology of Mormonism because they based on this information. If you have difficulties with writing essay itself, check out our writing tips on exploratory essays.
Allen, James B., and Glen M. Leonard. The Story of the Latter-day Saints, second edition. Salt Lake City: Deseret Books, 1992.
Bush, Lester E. Health and Medicine Among the Mormons: Science, Sense, and Scripture. New York: Crossroads, 1993.
Cornwall, Marie, Tim B. Heaton, and Lawrence A. Young. Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspectives. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.
Hansen, Klaus J. Mormonism and the American Experience. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.
Hill, Marvin S. Quest for Refuge: The Mormon Flight from American Pluralism. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989.
Mauss, Armand L. The Angel and the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.
Shipps, Jan. Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985.
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