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I'm confused. Does Jan Shipps argue that the (national) Protestant establishment effectively eclipsed the Mormon establishment in Utah until the decline of the Protestant establishment? It seems highly counterintuitive to me to propose that the LDS Church has only recently emerged as politically powerful in Utah, but it would make sense to describe late-19th-century tensions between representatives of federal ("Protestant establishment") power in Utah and local ("Mormon establishment") power.

I think part of the reason the church has the power it does is because it uses it so sparringly. Other than gay marriage, a few local gambling issues, and the ERA, what have they come down on in a successful fashion? (Well, MX Missiles, I suppose)

Philocrates, Shipps' comments concerned the struggle for political power in 19th- and early 20th-century Utah. While often described as a conflict between Mormon officials and the federal government, in fact Protestant ministers in SLC played a key role in organizing resistance to Mormon hegemony. Furthermore, the term "federal officials" makes them sound neutral or secular, which was often far from the case as they often displayed strong sympathy for the "proper" role of Protestant life in the civil life of America and the duty of government to support it.

Mormons were certainly not the only ones on the butt end of informal Protestant establishment in 19th century America--this is not a novel argument. But the Utah struggle has not generally been viewed as a struggle between "competing establishments," largely I think because scholars have rarely viewed informal Protestant establishment as an organized or effective movement.

I would a agree with clark. My brothers thesis studied (among other things) why the Mormon church is so effective at eschewing terrorism and violence when other “NGOs” have a much less successful history. One big reason is that they stay our of politics. And while this applies mostly to the churches international stance, it seems to be mirrored by a local tendency as well.

J, Quinn seems to think the Church changed tack in the sixties and seventies, choosing to relabel certain political issues as "moral issues" and move decisively into the US domestic political arena. That certainly seems to describe what has happened. IMHO, LDS political activity will eventually create political enemies (or has it already?) and other difficulties.

Dave, in regards to your "or has it already?", I must say that undoubtedly, the Mormon church is considered an 'enemy' by several groups. Lest we forget any gay rights/feminist rights groups...I mean, come on, after ERA opposition, do you think any group whose focus is womens rights is going to NOT consider the Mormon church a political foe???? The fact that these types of groups are not all that powerful in Utah means that their conflicts aren't all that visible, but if Mormon influence spreads much more beyond the mountain west, look for more hostility from certain groups.

I think that you're right that what the church has labeled as political is what it calls moral issues. I guess I'm contrasting it with the intense politicality of say a catholic priest who shelters zapotista rebels.

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