Author: Mason, Patrick Q
Date published: July 1, 2011
The Westphalian system that has governed international relations for the past three and a half centuries came about in part as a response to the problem of religion in political life, particularly as manifested in the great "wars of religion" of early modern Europe. Consensus has never been reached, however, on precisely what role religion should play in the contemporary system of nationstates. The global resurgence of religion since the late 1970s, memorably dubbed the "revenge of God" by one scholar, has featured a newly invigorated assertion by religious believers and institutions that religion should have a significant, even determinative, voice in the public sphere.1 This revival of public religion has dramatized the complaints of secular modernity's discontents, and catalyzed the sentiments of many religious believers who have long been uncomfortable with secularization in its most extreme forms.
Nineteenth-century Mormons protested both the spiritual disharmony they encountered in an increasingly cluttered American religious landscape and the early processes of what they perceived already as excessive secularization. Proclaiming their allegiance to God in all human affairs while also maintaining a sincere faith in American republicanism, early Mormons, under the direction of founding prophet Joseph Smith, sought to create a sociopolitical order that combined the virtues of government by God (theocracy) and by the people (democracy). Rather than seeing these systems as being competitive or contradictory, Smith and his followers viewed them as complementary; indeed, many argued that they were inseparable and could not be fully enacted one without the other, that t heos and demos were in fact part of an organic system of government that permeated not only earthly but also heavenly realms. To this end, inasmuch as Mormons offered something resembling a distinctive political theory, particularly in the period from their settlement in Nauvoo, Illinois, until the abandonment of plural marriage in 1890, it can most succinctly be captured by the term coined in the midst of Joseph Smith's 1844 presidential campaign: "theodemocracy."
This essay outlines the development of the concept of theodemocracy in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Mormonism, then considers the limitations of its application in a pluralist modern American society. While Mormons saw in the theodemocratic model an idealized blend of human agency and divine authority that would culminate in the prophesied millennial kingdom of God, critics expressed fears that theodemocracy could not tolerate genuine religious pluralism and would lead to oppressive restrictions on personal liberty. By the last decade of the nineteenth century, as federal pressure forced Latter-day Saints to retreat from the fusion of religion and politics that characterized much of their early history, theodemocracy had evolved from an explicit political philosophy to a depoliticized descriptor of Latter-day Saint (LDS) ecclesiastical governance. This shift in the meaning and application of theodemocracy provides insights into the challenges faced by Mormonism as it was forced to reckon with the modern world. As Mormonism acclimated to the demands of the secular, liberal, democratic nation-state, its theology and practice were increasingly privatized, and the LDS Church began to shed its role as a reviled countercultural sect as it assumed the shape of an acceptable American denomination.
Politics in Early Mormonism
Early Mormon political thought was heavily dependent on its American context. Andrew Jackson's ascendance to the presidency in 1829 both emblemized and further spurred a democratic revolution in the United States in which the sovereignty of the common man (specifically, white males) was taken more seriously than ever before. The attendant rise in individualism was paralleled by a transportation and market revolution, and together these processes contributed to an increased sense of social and economic dislocation experienced by many Americans. Many early converts to Mormonism were seeking harbor from the uncertainties of pervasive social change, and like countless others who turned to revivalist evangelical Protestantism, they found solace and answers to their spiritual and existential questions in religion.2 Although certain elements of the Mormon belief system made it unpopular with its competitors in the religious marketplace, at its outset the movement was markedly apolitical, certainly making no more claim on politics than most evangelical Protestants of the time.3
Mormonism was not to remain apolitical for long, however. Responding to one of Smith's revelations that identified Jackson County, Missouri, as the location of the New Jerusalem during Christ's future millennial reign, Mormon converts began to gather there in 1 83 1 . The sudden influx made the more established settlers nervous, especially when the threat of a Mormon majority-and thus the takeover of local governmental institutions and their accompanying spoils- became apparent. Antagonism turned to conflict, and local settlers violently expelled the Mormons to neighboring counties in 1833. It was in the crucible of anti-Mormon violence- first by vigilantes but eventually legitimated by the state- and the ensuing desire for self-preservation that Latter-day Saints began to make more explicitly political statements. Although Mormons felt betrayed by local and state government authorities, they retained significant faith in American ideals and institutions. A December 1833 revelation, coming on the heels of the Jackson County persecutions, asserted that God "established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose."4 Furthermore, the "Political Motto" of the church, articulated in 1838 in the midst of further conflict with Missourians, read like a recitation of America's founding documents, extolling the virtues of the "Fathers of liberty" who penned the Constitution while pronouncing "woe to tyrants, mobs, aristocracy, anarchy, and toryism." It spoke in reverent terms about "that blood which bought for us our liberty" and made an enthusiastic call to "Exalt the standard of Democracy!"5
The most complete political statement from the LDS Church's early period- penned by one of Smith's close associates, Oliver Cowdery- was adopted unanimously by a general assembly of the church in 1835. This "declaration of belief regarding governments and laws in general," though not claiming the status of divine revelation, was eventually canonized in LDS scripture. Consistent with a long Christian tradition stretching back to the apostle Paul, the declaration affirmed that "governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man." Proper government is designed to "secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life," all administered in "equity and justice." The declaration equivocated on the ideal form of government, allowing for the origin of power to be either "the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign." While governments had considerable leeway to enact laws they believed served "the public interest," the inviolable standard for good governance was whether these laws "[held] sacred the freedom of conscience," including but not limited to religious freedom. If the protection of these basic freedoms and rights was guaranteed, then citizens had a duty to "sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside."6
One of the declaration's most significant passages, especially in light of subsequent developments, came near the end of the document:
We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied. ... We do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world's goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them.7
Religious freedom expert Cole Durham suggests that this passage does not imply that Mormons were necessarily committed, either in theory or practice, to observing a Jeffersonian "wall of separation" between church and state, in which religion is entirely marginalized from any influence in the public sphere. Rather, the statement takes a firm stand on the somewhat different issue that "it is inappropriate for a religious organization to manipulate the machinery of secular power to procure advantages for itself or disadvantages for others."8 This arrangement fostering disestablishment without necessarily marginalizing or privatizating religion would have made perfect sense in the mid-nineteenth century, when many Americans still "relied implicitly on religious belief and affiliation in their political lives," and the legalized "wall" between church and state that would harden in the twentieth century was for the most part still only an abstract ideal held by an intellectual minority.9
In the 1830s, Mormon political philosophy diverged little if at all from contemporary mainstream American political thought. Its rhetoric unambiguously embraced constitutional law and government, and the American Constitution in particular. Although by the end of the decade Mormons had become disenchanted with the way that the state and federal governments were complicit (either through active participation or negligence) in their troubles, they retained faith that the system, if not the individuals peopling it, was basically virtuous. Even the Mormons' practice of bloc voting, one of the abuses cited by their opponents in Ohio and particularly Missouri, was a remnant of eighteenth-century political culture that was just beginning to be disreputable in the early decades of the nineteenth century and that remained a common tactic especially among ethnic groups within the Democratic Party well into the twentieth century.10 Illustrating the church's relative conservatism in the realm of politics and citizenship, in 1842 Joseph Smith offered as one of the church's thirteen "Articles of Faith" the maxim, "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."11 The ranks of Mormonism in its first decade were hardly filled with fanatic dissidents, revolutionaries, or theocrats.
Joseph Smith and Theodemocracy
The years spent by the Latter-day Saints on the banks of the Mississippi River in Nauvoo, Illinois, constituted one of the key transformative periods in Mormon history. It was there, in the early 1840s, that the most radical elements of Mormonism emerged- theologically, socially, and politically. Afforded some physical comfort and security, Joseph Smith became bolder and more experimental in both his teachings and actions, introducing such distinctive Mormon doctrines and practices as baptisms for the dead, esoteric temple rituals, the plurality of gods, and (secretly) plural marriage. Another major development with particular political importance was the evolution of Smith's flunking about the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth. Although revelations as early as 1831 made the kingdom of God a salient theme in Smith's thought and language, it was not until Nauvoo that this kingdom rhetoric became explicitly politicized. At this point, according to one scholar, "Restricted Christian concepts of a spiritual kingdom were expanded to include an earthly kingdom with all of the political connotations of existing political systems. . . . This kingdom, a politico-religious organization of world-wide proportions as conceived by the Mormons, was ultimately to assume sovereignty over all of the kingdoms of the world."12 Although Smith claimed that he had "the whole plan of the Kingdom before me, and no other person has,"13 he was somewhat taciturn about revealing many details, particularly in public. Offering only glimpses of what he might have envisioned, he held up ancient Israel as a model, stating that their "government was a theocracy; they had God to make their laws, and men chosen by Him to administer them." Thus, they were divinely guided "in both civil and ecclesiastical affairs," fulfilling in more than metaphorical ways the prophet Isaiah's words that "the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king."14
The kingdom of God rhetoric of Joseph Smith and other early Mormons must be understood in light of their millennialist, and at times apocalyptic, outlook.15 While the precise timing of Christ's Second Coming remained speculative for the most part, nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints took seriously certain passages of Smith's revelations that offered grave warnings, such as the 1836 prophecy that "the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors."16 One scenario they entertained was that while God's government would not be established fully until the return of Christ, as the Saints gained greater influence and respect in the world, people would be drawn to and seek to align with the church, which would be an island of stability in a sea of chaos and calamity.17 Another, almost opposite vision was that the polarization between the Saints and their enemies would increase as the endtime approached.18 Regardless of exactly how they imagined the events of the last days would unfold, early Mormons, according to historian David Bigler, characteristically were "ardent millennialists, acutely aware of their role at the culmination of human history." Like their Puritan predecessors, these "children of Israel in the latter days bore a deep sense of destiny and self-consciously felt the eyes of humankind on them."19 This sense of destiny and duty deeply shaped nineteenth-century Mormonism and provided the framework for its conception of the imminent kingdom of God. Latter-day Saints believed their church was established by God as a preparation for and bridge to Christ's millennial kingdom. This millenarian outlook contributed to a sense of exceptionalism under which the Saints believed themselves to be living in a special time. The urgency of estabhshing the kingdom of God, combined with the cosmic significance of the task, meant that Mormons were willing to make exceptional changes to the typical workings of society, as normal restraints were less applicable in a world on the edge of apocalypse.20
Millennialism converged with historical events in creating an environment in which Joseph Smith's unique political worldview was formulated. In Nauvoo, at the height of his personal, political, and religious power, Smith tossed his hat into the ring in the 1844 U.S. presidential race. Although he was murdered only a few months into the campaign and his chances of actually winning or substantially affecting the outcome of the election were infinitesimal, his candidacy marks an important moment in early Mormon history.21 Though many of his important published statements were in fact ghostwritten by close associates, the broad contours of Smith's political thought can be gleaned from positions issued under his name. In a response to an eastern newspaper editor, reprinted in the Latter-day Saints' periodical Times and Seasons, ghostwriter William W. Phelps outlined the general principles of Smith's political philosophy, worth quoting at some length:
As the "world is governed too much" and as there is not a nation or dynasty, now occupying the earth, which acknowledges Almighty God as their law giver, and as "crowns won by blood, by blood must be maintained," I go emphatically, virtuously, and humanely, for a Theodemocracy, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness. And where liberty, free trade, and sailor's rights, and the protection of life and property shall be maintained inviolate, for the benefit of all. To exalt mankind is nobly acting the part of a God; to degrade them, is meanly doing the drudgery of the devil. Unitas, libertas, caritas esto perpetua! [Unity, liberty, charity in perpetuity!]
With the highest sentiments of regard for all men, I am an advocate of unadulterated freedom.22
Certain elements of this statement resonate with earlier Mormon political views. In particular, the liberal rhetoric of liberty, free trade, and protection of life and property demonstrated clear continuities with the revelations and declarations of the 1830s, and also showed Smith and his followers trafficking in the democratic culture of the period. Indeed, at many points Smith's religious imaginary and Jacksonian political discourse seem to intersect and even overlap.
Intriguingly, this brief statement also departed in significant ways from standard republican language. It identified two fundamental problems in the contemporary political milieu: that no existing government acknowledged the inviolable fact of God as their supreme ruler and lawgiver (apparently the Papal States and Ottoman Empire did not count); and that secular political power was illegitimately obtained and then maintained with the threat or actual use of violence. In critiquing these elements, the Mormon prophet (through his ghostwriter) cut to the core of liberal democratic political theory, which was in large part founded upon a separation of state from churchly institutions and powers, and on the state's monopoly on the use of violence. While Smith agreed with the liberal premise that the state existed to guarantee and protect individual liberties, he insisted that no current government was living up to their fundamental duties.
Most people in the modern West are inclined to equate theocracy with corruption, abuse of power, and violence and propose secular liberalism as the elixir for religious exclusivism and militancy. In contrast, Smith proposed theodemocracy as the solution to poUtical tyranny. He equated God's rule with "unadulterated freedom," genuinely believing that one would naturally lead to the other. Theodemocracy would deUver peace, stability, and liberty, while the nations and dynasties of the day brought only blood, confusion, and repression. Smith's thinking was clearly shaped by the depredations visited upon his people in Missouri in which he could readily recall many instances of passive or active state compUcity in antiMormon persecution; indeed, he began his presidential campaign in part because he could not secure promises from the candidates of either major national party that they would look after the interests of the Mormon community. On the other hand, Smith's sharpest critics in Illinois complained that he had established a theocratic government in Nauvoo that trampled on the rights and liberties of non-Mormons and dissenters. Each side accused the other of undermining democracy and basic liberties: Smith and the Mormons embraced a more robust application of revealed religion in the public sphere as the answer to the secular government's hostility to religious minorities' rights (namely their own), while antiMormon critics denounced the prophet as a tyrant and his politics as theocratic despotism.23 The mob that killed Joseph Smith in June 1844 was stirred up in part because of fears that God, or at least the Mormon appropriation of God, was getting too involved in city politics.
In spite of his critics, Smith's ideal government was one ruled by, and therefore giving ultimate recognition and empowerment to, the sovereignty of both God and the people. Only in such a society would inalienable human rights, dignity, and freedom be protected. Furthermore, under a theodemocratic government rights would be guaranteed with a significant, if not total, minimization of violent state coercion. Contrary to the Hobbesian (and later Weberian) notion of the state, Smith believed that government was to be founded on righteousness, not force. Smith's notion that God's law would "exalt mankind" and lead to "unadulterated freedom" also challenged the Enlightenment idea of the autonomous self, defined largely as freedom from all external constraints- most especially a distant and invisible God and those who claimed to speak exclusively for Him. Smith's call for theodemocracy ran against prevailing nineteenth-century American conceptions of the state and the self and would have radically reconstituted a society that increasingly revered the vox populi as vox dei. Although his political discourse was suffused with democratic rhetoric, it was shaped primarily by his revelations. American democracy was an enlightened and even inspired experiment, but its fatal flaws had been exposed in failing to protect the rights of the Latter-day Saints. It was therefore time to institute a theodemocratic government that would "exalt mankind" and ultimately usher in the millennial reign of Christ.
Partly because he was killed shortly after making his statement on "theodemocracy" but also because he was never one to be overly concerned with the niceties of systematizing or theoretizing, in politics as well as theology, Joseph Smith left behind little evidence that might help others- both followers and scholars- in trying to flesh out exactly what theodemocracy might look like once implemented. Contrary to his enemies' hope that his ideas and church would perish with him, Smith's followers, although split into factions upon his death, perpetuated his ideology and theology as they understood it. In particular, the majority of Latter-day Saints who ultimately followed Brigham Young to the Great Basin kept alive Smith's notion of theodemocracy. Their understanding of the concept developed over time and was the product of a very different sociopolitical climate than Smith operated in, but their continuing use of the term underscores the lasting purchase that the notion had on their ideas regarding good government.
In particular, Joseph Smith's three immediate successors in the presidency of the IDS Church, all of whom were among his close personal associates during his life, sought to faithfully implement the founding prophet's vision in virtually all matters, including politics. Brigham Young's views on government were complicated and shifting, constantly responding to contemporary pressures, but as a general principle he believed that both God and the people should play a role. Although Young rarely used the actual word "theodemocracy," his view on government echoed Smith's call for something between theocracy and republicanism. In 1859, he responded publicly to persistent criticisms that he was a theocrat. Young complained that "few, if any, understand what a theocratic government is." He assured his listeners that "in every sense of the word, it is a republican government, and differs but little in form from our National, State, and Territorial Governments." The main distinction, he pointed out, was that in a theodemocracy the citizens "will recognize the will and dictation of the Almighty. The kingdom of God circumscribes and comprehends the municipal laws for the people in their outward government, to which pertain the Gospel covenants, by which the people can be saved."24 Rather than competing, civil law and gospel covenants complemented one another and were both circumscribed within the broad kingdom of God. Democracy failed when its citizens refused to give heed to divine will, thus necessitating a shared sovereignty between God and the people.
Young's successor in the presidency was John Taylor, one of the three men who were in the Carthage, Illinois, jail with Joseph Smith when he was murdered. Taylor was an ardent and uncompromising defender of the faith whose administration in the 1880s witnessed the heaviest prosecution of the Mormons under increasingly harsh federal and state antipolygamy statutes. Forced to go underground to evade federal marshals for much of his presidency, Taylor had good reason to eagerly anticipate the millennial kingdom of God, when secular governments that persecuted the Saints would be eliminated. Over the course of a half -century of church leadership in which he personally witnessed a range of government-sponsored opposition to the Saints, he wrote extensive tracts advocating the implementation of God's government on earth. As such, he became one of the more prominent and eloquent articulators of nineteenth-century Mormon political thought.
Whereas Young had sought to show the harmony between theocracy and republicanism, Taylor admitted that there was "a little difference" between the church's principles of government and democratic principles. Explicitly repudiating the notion that popular sovereignty expressed divine will, he stated, "I do not believe that the voice of the people is the voice of God. ...The proper mode of government is this- God first speaks, and then the people have their action." Humans retained their agency, as they had "perfect freedom" in choosing whether to accept God's "dictation." However, Taylor warned that "there is a correct order," in which "wisdom and knowledge proceeds from God through the medium of the holy priesthood." Because God was the author of all good things, human systems could only be mere shadows of His divinely ordered plan: "We believe that no man or set of men, of their own wisdom and by their own talents, are capable of governing the human family aright."25 While ultimately reaffirming the principle of human agency, Taylor maintained the absolute sovereignty of God and the fallibility of human institutions. Demos clearly took a backseat to theos, and the very notion of popular sovereignty that undergirded liberal democracy was downplayed as fundamentally unsound.
Wilford Woodruff, an apostle under Joseph Smith who eventually became the fourth president of the church from 1889 until his death in 1898, oversaw a period of substantial transition within Mormonism. One of his first acts as church president was to suspend plural marriage in an 1890 statement known as the "Manifesto." Woodruff also guided the church's transition from steely opposition to the U.S. government to increased accommodation with the powers-that-be, a shift that aUowed Utah to achieve statehood in 1896. like his predecessors, Woodruff embraced the concept of theodemocracy but took care to assert that it was "not autocratic, neither wholly theocratic." Instead, he affirmed that theodemocratic government reUed on both "the voice of God and the sanction of the people."26 Though seeking to diffuse antiMormon claims that the church supported an antidemocratic theocracy, Woodruff's statement revealed the basic assumption at the core of theodemocracy, which John Taylor had also identified. WMe autocracy and full-fledged theocracy should be avoided, in fact there existed a power imbalance between God and the people: God had a "voice," while the people's role was to give "sanction," or assent, to that voice. This was made expUcit by LDS apostle George A. Smith in 1865: "Our system should be TheoDemocracy,- the voice of the people consenting to the voice of God."27 This emphasis on the joint relationship of God and the people- but never an endorsement of outright theocracy, in which priests and reUgious jurists ruled the subservient peopleremained consistent in all nineteenth-century Mormon theodemocratic language.
The next generation of church leadership, who did not know Joseph Smith personally, continued to ruminate on the meaning and implications of theodemocracy. As they sought to guide the church in a new era of accommodation with American poUtics and culture, a subtle shift in their language became noticeable.28 In the early years of the twentieth century, rhetoric about theodemocracy, or talk of the kingdom of God on earth in general, became increasingly modest in its application, now relating only to church government rather than making any claims on temporal authority. Apostle James E. Talmage, one of Mormonism's leading thinkers in the early twentieth century, specifically equated theodemocracy with ecclesiastical government. In response to queries about whether it was essentially the church of Jesus Christ or the church of the Latter-day Saints, he asserted that the answer was "both." Talmage explained that "the plan of organization and government" of the church was theodemocratic, but he made no mention of the concept's appUcation beyond ecclesiastical boundaries.29 A few years after Talmage's statement, in an address celebrating the nation's sesquicentennial, Apostle Orson F. Whitney went to great lengths in showing that Mormons were good Americans. He made a clear distinction between civil and ecclesiastical government: "The United States is a Republic, in which the people are recognized as the one source of power. The Church of Jesus Christ is a Theo-Democracy, in which God speaks and the people say 'Amen.' It is the Church of God and his people- the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."30 By explicitly connecting theodemocracy with church government and making no claims on the broader poUtical scene, Whitney, like Tannage, contributed to the shrinking scope of Mormon theodemocracy, from presidential poUtics in 1844 to ecclesiastical polity only a few decades later. Contemporary LDS interpretations of theodemocracy generally follow this early twentieth-century trend, using the term descriptively in an analysis of church government and placing its more expUcitly poUtical aspects squarely in the nineteenth-century past.31 The principle of theodemocracy became more limited as Latter-day Saints retreated from their nineteenth-century assault on the separation of church and state and accepted a degree of religious privatization.
The concept of theodemocracy therefore evolved within Mormonism from its original poUtical meaning, strongly connected to the nineteenth-century Mormon theology of estabUshing a literal poUtical kingdom of God on the earth, to a more restricted, chastened shadow of its former self. By the early twentieth century, it simply referred to ecclesiology and denoted the "law of common consent" within church government.32 This was all part of the accommodation of Mormonism to the norms of American social and political culture. Nineteenth-century leaders such as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor sought to bring sacred and secular authority together, considering matters of church and state virtually "inseparable."33 By the turn of the twentieth century, however, the LDS Church had retreated from the political sphere and had adopted more of a denominational posture, with many of its more radical concepts domesticated in the service of accommodation and disestablishment. The twentieth-century church thus not only came to accept but in many cases vigorously defended a strict separation of church and state.34 Throughout the controversial recent debates and ballot initiatives on gay marriage in which Mormons played a major role, the LDS Church officially maintained a stance of strict political neutrality, claiming that it did not "promote or oppose political parties, candidates, or platforms" but "reserve[d] the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church."35
The Question of Freedom
All LDS commentators on theodemocracy rejected the notion that their proposed political system infringed upon, let alone severely curtailed, human agency and freedom. Indeed, Joseph Smith's original formulation of the concept asserted that theodemocracy was designed to protect the "liberty" and "unadulterated freedom" that corrupt human governments trampled upon. Mormons emphasized the "volitional" and "non-coercive" aspects of their government, maintaining that the "indomitable will of man" was not to be violated by anyone, including God.36 They considered their form of government to be in line with constitutional guarantees of inalienable rights and liberties, and to be the best means of protecting the religious pluraUsm and freedom that nineteenth-century American majoritarianism (often expressed through vigilantism) had repeatedly abused.
Numerous early church leaders highlighted the centrality of free will in LDS theology and politics. Brigham Young saw good government on earth mirroring good government in heaven, in which even the Almighty God invariably respected human agency: "He cannot force his children to do this, that or the other against their willthe eternal laws by which He and all others exist in the eternities of the Gods, decree that the consent of the creature must be obtained before the Creator can rule perfectly."37 In 1888, the First Presidency of the church wrote, "The Almighty in the beginning gave to man the right to exercise his own agency. He will never deprive him of that privilege, for by no other means can he ever develop the godhead within him."38 James Talmage wrote that theodemocracy was not meant to make people "irresponsible automatons, nor to exact from them blind obethence." Of course, as Talmage pointed out, it was contrary to God's will that an individual would "abuse bis agency, and misconstrue his liberty as license for wrong-doing," but in the end God would act only with persuasion and not compulsion.39
The question arises as to what exactly Latter-day Saints meant when they spoke of this moral agency, which then had ramifications in the sphere of temporal politics. In his extensive study of early Mormon theodemocracy, Edward Warner argued that the nineteenth-century LDS concept of freedom qualitatively differed from a liberal humanistic understanding of the same term. According to Warner, in the Mormon system people were free "theonomously, not necessarily autonomously"; in other words, "they are free to return glory and obethence to God for what he has done, and they are protected, under him, from tyranny and oppression"40 In this respect, the Mormon view of liberty was similar, if not exactly parallel, to early Puritan concepts framed by writers such as John Cotton, John Winthrop, Nathaniel Ward, and John Wise, the latter of whom argued that "liberty does not consist in a loose and ungovernable freedom or in an unbounded license of acting." True liberty, Wise declared, comes only when "guided and restrained by the ties of reason and laws of nature," all of which, of course, was in harmony with the will and design of God.41 This concept of "guided" or bounded liberty continued in the thought of Jonathan Edwards and constituted a prominent strain in the Calvinist and Reformed Protestant traditions that remained influential in nineteenth-century America.42 Although early LDS scripture and prophetic teachings represented a strong departure from a number of key Calvinist doctrines, on this point Mormons echoed their Puritan predecessors.
Even granting that the Mormon concept of moral agency was in fact distinct from the Enlightenment doctrine of human sovereignty and individual liberty, in many ways Mormon views of civu society and ideal government practices fell in line with American constitutional principles.43 In fact, Mormons did not see their theodemocratic ideas as competing with the principles of American constitutional democracy, but rather fulfilling them, in much the same way that Jesus taught that his gospel fulfilled, not destroyed, the Jewish law.44 LDS scripture specifically- and enthusiastically- endorsed the Constitution of the United States as divinely inspired. It was provided, according to a revelation to Joseph Smith, to maintain "the rights and protection of all flesh," guaranteeing "that every man may act . . . according to the moral agency which I [God] have given unto him."45 Smith elaborated on this point when he gushed that "the Constitution of the United States is a glorious banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, luce the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land." He held the Constitution in such high esteem that he listed it in between God and the Bible in an 1839 declaration of truth.46 Brigham Young echoed Smith's sentiments, asserting that "the Constitution, laws, and institutions of our [American] Government are as good as can be, with the intelligence now possessed by the people." The problem came when these otherwise just laws and institutions were "administered in unrighteousness," which occurred "too often" for Young's taste.47
Nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints were thus committed to the Constitution because it enshrined the protections, particularly of rehgious freedom, that they considered essential to a saintly society. In the end, however, they were more committed to good government than to democratic government as an end in itself. Democracy had failed them enough times in their history that they fully recognized its potential to devolve into mob rule; a divinely inspired Constitution did not guarantee godly actions by the masses. An editorial in the LDS Church-owned Deseret News commenting on mob violence in San Francisco in 1880 represented this general feeling among Mormons, forged through decades of tortured relationships with democratically elected local, state, and federal governments: '"The sovereign people' in the hands of unwise leaders become a terrible power for evil. Vox populi then becomes vox diaboli." Government in the hands of the people was ultimately an ambivalent proposition "Popular government is good enough when wise men and good men are placed in office and entrusted with the reins of power," the editorial read, "but when corrupt and venial men are lifted into authority by an excited populace, and sustained by the clamors of the unthinking, property and life are both put into imminent danger, and true progress is effectually barred." The form of government was thus less important than its protection of basic rights; therefore, "A wise parental autocracy, is far better than a raging, violent unchecked democracy."48
While Mormons believed that the Constitution, with its protections of liberty, provided the foundation for good government, ultimately it was only a precursor to the fuller, truer order of the kingdom of God, in which human agency would be subject to the righteous rule of Christ.49 Theodemocracy thus departed from concepts of liberal democracy, in which society is designed to protect citizens who act as autonomous individuals seeking their own good, and even republican democracy, in which individuals act as members of a voluntary community seeking the common good.50 The theodemocratic view of human liberty was not an unbridled license to act independent of all external constraints, but rather the "unadulterated freedom" to exercise moral agency with the ultimate ideal of developing godly character and bunding God's kingdom on earth. Any government, democratic or not, that restricted this freedom was working contrary to the higher law of heaven.
The Problem of Religious Pluralism
A principal critique of any system that conflates ecclesiastical and civil authority is how it handles the fact of pluralism, especially religious difference. In the modern setting, pluralism is virtually inescapable; therefore, even though the Latter-day Saints specifically left the United States to find a wilderness refuge that they could call their own, they could not create effective barriers that would preclude non-Mormons ("Gentiles" in their parlance) from eventually coming to Utah- not to mention the Native American peoples that already inhabited the land long before the Mormons arrived. How Mormons would interact with non-Mormon neighbors was by no means a foregone conclusion. Their experiences of oppression in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois left them with a distinct persecution complex. This psyche fed their fear and antipathy of religious others, and the cosmic dualism of Mormon millennialism could easily lead to demonizing anyone not part of their own in-group. In theory, the keenly oppositional sensibilities of Mormons were held in check by the ideals of theodemocracy, which held as one of its cornerstone precepts the principle of liberty of conscience. Actual practice did not always conform to theory, however, resulting in a handful of distasteful and even bloody exceptions.
Beginning with then 1835 declaration of belief regarding government, Mormons pronounced that human law does not have "a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion," and that civil governments "should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul."51 In one of his most famous sermons, given at a funeral service in 1844, Joseph Smith taught his followers to "meddle not with any man for his religion; all governments ought to permit every man to enjoy his religion unmolested. ... Every man has a natural, and, in our country, a constitutional right to be a false prophet, as well as a true prophet."52 In this respect Mormonism paralleled liberalism in holding religious freedom as an essential human right that should be carefully guarded by the state and only interfered with when one group's sense of the good and true impinges upon the equal rights of others.53
Brigham Young taught that even during Christ's thousand-year reign on the earth, people would still retain the privilege of religious freedom. In line with the notion that theodemocracy would expand rather than contract human freedom, Young saw the establishment of the kingdom of God as the apex of religious liberty:
Whoever lives to see the kingdom of God fully established upon the earth will see a government that will protect every person in his rights. If that government was now reigning upon this land of Joseph, you would see the Roman Catholic, the Greek Catholic, the Episcopalian, the Presbyterian, the Methodist, the Baptist, the Quaker, the Shaker, the Hindoo, the Mahometan, and every class of worshippers most strictly protected in all their municipal rights and in the privilege of worshipping who, what, and when they pleased, not infringing upon the rights of others.54
Putting words into action, on several occasions Young opened up the Salt Lake Tabernacle to preachers of other faiths, and in his more magnanimous moments encouraged his people to learn whatever truth they could from these ministers, "no matter whether he be a Catholic, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, [or] Baptist."55
In the Nauvoo period, Joseph Smith established a limited precedent for treating religious minorities as full participants in civñ society. Nauvoo's municipal statutes, written by or under the approval of LDS Church leaders including Smith, guaranteed the "equal privileges" of all believers by criminalizing intolerance: ridiculing another person's religious beliefs could bring a $300 fine and sixmonth imprisonment.56 While the ordinance protected people of all faiths, it also conveniently provided the first line of defense for the city's LDS leadership, as critics' complaints against them could potentially be interpreted as intolerance of Mormonism. Beyond that, Smith also included pluralism, in a noteworthy albeit limited sense, in the organization of the Council of Fifty, a legislative body he established in 1844 as a key component of the government of the kingdom of God on earth, and whose influence continued well into the Utah period. Three non-Mormons held seats on the original council, and their presence, according to accounts of key participants, was not mere tokenism but actually dictated by divine revelation. These non-Mormons were not to be passive members of the council, but to "be admitted to the right of representation . . . and have full and free opportunity of presenting their views, interests, and principles, and enjoying all the freedom and rights of the Council."57 The ideal of Mormon theodemocracy, as theorized by founding Mormon prophets and institutionalized in Nauvoo, thus dictated that all citizens, regardless of religious affiliation, would be respected and valued members of the community, and could be active participants and even leaders in government.
Of course, reality did not always meet the ideal. Dissenters in Nauvoo and Utah complained, often with good reason, that the church sounded like a democracy but acted as a theocracy, depriving them of their rights and restricting their constitutional freedoms, sometimes violently. Anti-Mormons in Illinois were prone to focus on Joseph Smith's authoritarian tendencies, and dimly viewed his conflation of religious and political power. In one of the earliest historical accounts of the conflict between Mormons and non-Mormons in Hancock County, George Davis wrote, "The great aim of Joseph Smith was evidently to cloth [sic] himself with the most unlimited power, civil, military and ecclesiastical, over all who became members of his society."58 William Law, president of the Reformed Mormon Church and co-pubhsher of the Nauvoo Expositor, a short-lived newspaper that accused Joseph Smith of polygamy and theocracy, complained of the "yoke of tyranny" that accompanied Smith's "complete apostasy from the original doctrines" of Mormonism.59 Indeed, the destruction of the press that published the Expositor and the subsequent driving out of dissenters from the cityboth actions authorized by Smith- fueled accusations that Nauvoo 's government was an oppressive theocracy that did not respect basic American rights such as freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and religious liberty, and ultimately sparked the chain of events that led to Smith's assassination.60 The sometimes violent enforcement of orthodoxy followed the Saints to Utah, where in 1857 Mormon dissenter William Parrish and his son Beason were murdered as they tried to escape from what they felt had become an overly repressive theocratic regime.61 Tolerance for people of other faiths appears to have exceeded leniency toward perceived apostates from within the fold. Nevertheless, it seems clear that Mormon theodemocracy was not so liberai in its respect for religious pluralismwhich at root involves competing visions of the sacred- in practice as it was in theory.
Theos vs. Demos
In his study of theocracy in Jewish history and thought, Gershon Weiler argues that while the polity of a theocracy might take different forms, ultimately it must be an authoritarian system and structure. Because theocracy assumes "a perfect Knowledge and a perfect Will rolled into one, [it] does not allow the open and public debate of ends, only deliberation about the choice of means." Any system of government based primarily on religious law or ecclesiastical authority must, therefore, be "strictly inconsistent with the liberal-democratic" philosophy and politics developed in the modern West. As Weiler points out, the authority in a theocracy must be anchored "either in God or in the administrators." Both options are essentially inimical to democratic rule: on the one hand, religious authorities become a new aristocracy as they mediate between or rule on behalf of God and the people; on the other hand, "it is very unlikely that inspiration, the same inspiration, will come to everyone, even under the most ideal conditions," thus militating against an order in which the will of the people and the will of God are able to be honored simultaneously and completely.62
Joseph Smith envisioned a world in which everyone could in fact receive the same revelation, or at least a significant portion of it, and thus unite as part of a common moral, spiritual, and even political community. Even the hierarchical church that Smith founded was arguably an institutionalized means of maximizing revelatory experiences for his followers, enabling as many people as possible opportunities to receive personalized revelation in their given spheres of responsibility, all while providing careful regulations in case of rival (or false) revelations.63 The kingdom of God, in Smith's imagination, would not be democratic in the sense that its members voted on proposals based on their own wisdom, absent of divinely inspired guidance. Nor would it be a theocracy in which an aristocracy of clerics, as God's regents, dictated the divine will to the disempowered and blindly obethent masses. Rather, in a Mormon theodemocracy, God and the people held power jointly.
One dilemma within the concept and practice of theodemocracy is whether a balance of power could be realistically maintained between theos and demos, or whether the very nature of theos produces an inherently asymmetrical relationship. Edward Warner argues that when one goes beyond superficial statements affirming the relative equality of the two, theos did in fact trump demos in Mormon theodemocracy. He claims that "the theocratic elements constituted the more powerful and authoritative role in both the Mormon ideological system and in Latter-day Samt religious life," and at best theodemocracy can be described as "a democratically modtfied theocracy."64 At no point, whether m ancient scripture, modern revelation, or hved reality, did power in Mormon theodemocracy rest primarily upon the people. Instead, the basis of power and authority always rested upon "a reality which transcended the people or the governed," and "the exercise of democratic franchise was an exercise of assent in which an obethent and faithful demos subscribed themselves to the acceptance and support of the leader(s) designated by and invested with the authority of God."65 This is not to say that ordinary church members were powerless, but rather that they exercised their agency within the constraints of voluntary assent and a positive relationship of trust with those they believed had been called by God to exercise prophetic leadership. Most faithful Latter-day Saints did not extend the characteristically American distrust of power to their church leaders. Instead, in a religious community that assigned ultimate meaning and power to the sacred and which placed such a high priority on conforming to the revealed decrees of God's chosen messengers, demos clearly played a subservient role to theos.
Of course, many Americans in the nineteenth century conceived of a much more expansive public and even political role for religion and religious institutions than most Americans do today. The majority of Joseph Smith's contemporaries would have seen little contradiction between affirming the principle of popular sovereignty whue also mamtaining that it was the hand of God that governed the affairs of all humanity, and that civil authority, particularly in the "Christian republic" of America, ultimately rested upon divine sanction. 66 What made Mormons unique was not so much that they saw theos and demos working in harmony, or even that they imagined a literal millennial reign of Christ at the culmination of human history. Rather, what set nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints apart was their radical faith that the theodemocratic organization of then church and society in Nauvoo and Utah was the direct and authorized precursor to Christ's rmllennial theocracy. To them, theodemocracy represented the best possible means toward the more perfect and glorious end that could only be fully achieved with the immediate presence of Christ and Fils government on the earth. Early Mormons thus saw theodemocracy as the ideal fusion of the best aspects of all other systems of government: it excelled monarchies because it rested not on the divine right of kings but on the actual direction of God, the King of Kings; it transcended traditional aristocracies, because leadership was based not on privileges of wealth or birth, but on personal righteousness and being called by God; and it rose above a democratic republic because it was founded "not on the natural wisdom and rights of man qua man," but on "the wisdom, faith, and obethence of those who responded to the call of God and to whom he granted his authority for the work of his church and kingdom."67
Theodemocracy's most significant flaw, frequently noted by Mormonism's nmeteenth-century critics, was its tricky relationship with heterogeneity, and particularly religious pluralism. Early Mormon leaders were willing to entertain the notion that nonMormons could be active participants in a theodemocratic society, and even play a leadership role in the institutions of government. What they failed to acknowledge fully was the inevitability that at some point someone in the community would have a different conception of the nature of theos and its demands. From its very beginning, Mormonism had its share of dissidents. Church leadership typically treated dissenters as not only spiritual heretics but also social outcasts, having rejected God's true order revealed through His prophets. By framing the issue thus, Mormon leaders avoided confronting some of the fundamental problems of pluralism and implicitly illustrated that theodemocracy rested upon a certain base of common beliefs and values held by all members of the community.
In a system that depended on all members of the community receiving, or at least subscribing to, the same revelation, for someone to have a different experience with and understanding of the sacred would be profoundly disruptive, something akin to Anne Hutchison in Puritan New England. In this context, many would inevitably come to see theodemocracy as no more than a theocracy that marginalized outsiders and suppressed dissent. Given their miliennial idealismnot to mention their nineteenth-century American context, in which most citizens had not yet learned how to deal with radical pluralism-early Mormons never answered the question of what their version of theodemocracy might look luce in a modern society in which multiculturalism is a given reality. In the modern American political sphere, the problem of pluralism dictated that theos and demos were, in the end, structurally incompatible.
Joseph Smith did not make his mark as a sophisticated political thinker. What he did possess, however, was a remarkable religious imagination that incorporated a profound new vision of society that would reorder earth to better approximate heaven. Early Mormon leaders, in particular Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, were not lone prophetic voices in the wilderness; rather, they were community builders, men for whom building the kingdom of God literally meant building a godly society. The basic premise that undergirded virtually everything that Smith did or said was his behef that his primary mission was to bring God and humanity together in radically new ways. Theologically, this meant claiming that humans and God were different in degree but not in kind. Socially, this meant organizing communities that literally radiated out from and pointed toward temples, where humanity and God could be united through revelation, covenant, and ritual.68 Politically, this meant devising a system in which God and the people would work jointly in administering the government of human affairs. The notion of theodemocracy thus represented the logical culinination of Mormon ideas about the social -political relationships that people had with one another and with the divine.
Theodemocracy represented nmeteenth-century Mormons' bestbut ultimately flawed- effort to recondle the theocratic ideals in scripture and Israelite history with the democratic culture of their own time and place. Although gestures were made by Smith and Young toward inclusion of non-Mormons, the treatment of dissidents during their respective administrations revealed the system's relative intolerance of deep difference and its inability to function justly in a multicultural society. This inability to deal constructively with genuine pluralism stands in tension with Mormons' conception of theodemocracy not as a mechanism for increasing government repression, but rather as a means toward achieving greater human freedom. The desire for a joint government of God and the people stemmed from their critique of rampant secularism and wickedness in high places, which manifested itself in democratically elected leaders on all levels of government tiurning a blind eye to the sustained and genuine suffering of American citizens who were persecuted along the lines of religious identity. For true believers, the introduction of God into human government would only improve the protection of human dignity, and most particularly the freedom to worship according to the dictates of individual conscience. For most nineteenth-century Americans, problems emerged not when God was involved in the public sphere, but rather when someone else's god, or no god at all, was.
As Latter-day Saints strived to integrate into the American mainstream, church leaders dropped the more explicitly political and public connotations of theodemocracy, relinquishing its application to the internal workings of the church. The concept did take hold, but only within the voluntary community of Latter-day Saints, who of their own free will assented to the church's doctrines and prophetic leadership and participated in the system of overlapping church coundls that distributes a remarkable amount of governing power, given the church's hierarchical structure. Just as participation in civil society and political culture empower the people in a democracy, active membership in what historian Richard Bushman has called the "charismatic bureaucracy" of church coundls has an empowering effect on men and women in the theodemocratic structure of Mormonism, thus bringing God and the people together in a space of genuinely shared sovereignty.69 The system does not work, however, for outsiders who do not share the assumptions or commitment to a unifying charisma and set of doctrines that inspires institutional insiders. The nineteenth-century Mormon concept of theodemocracy thus proved a poor fit for the pluralistic, liberal democratic culture of the modern American polity, while providing an antecedent for religious groups throughout the late twentiethcentury and early twenty-first century world who would militate for a greater voice for God in a secularizing age.
2. See Mario S. De Pillis, "The Quest for Religious Authority and the Rise of Mormonism," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 1 (Spring 1966): 6888; Marvin S. Hill, Quest for Refuge: The Mormon Flight from American Pluralism (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989); and Kenneth H. Winn, Exiles in a Land of Liberty: Mormons in America, 1 830- 1846 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989). Recent historical studies analyzing the profiles and motivations of early Mormon converts include Steven C. Harper, "Missionaries in the American Religious Marketplace: Mormon Proselyting in the 1830s," Journal of Mormon History 24, no. 2 (Fall 1998): 1-29; Harper, "Infallible Proofs, Both Human and Divine: The Persuasiveness of Mormonism for Early Converts," Religion and American Culture 10, no. 1 (January 2000): 99-118; Stephen J. Fleming, "'Congenial to Almost Every Shade of Radicalism': The Delaware Valley and the Success of Early Mormonism," Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation 17, no. 2 (Summer 2007): 129-64; and Fleming, "The Religious Heritage of the British Northwest and the Rise of Mormonism," Church History 77, no. 1 (March 2008): 73-104. On the effect of democratic culture on American religion (including Mormonism) in this period, see Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989). For an overview of the period, see Charles G. Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991); and Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).
3. See Richard Carwardine, Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993). On political thought in Joseph Smith's earliest revelations, see Mark Ashurst-McGee, "Zion Rising: Joseph Smith's Early Social and Political Thought" (PhD diss., Arizona State University, 2008).
4. The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Containing Revelations Given to Joseph Smith, the Prophet, with some Additions by His Successors in the Presidency of the Church (Salt Lake City. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989), 101: 80; hereafter cited as D&C.
5. Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Period I, History of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, by Himself, 7 vols., rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980), 3: 9; hereafter cited as HC.
6. D&C 134:1-8. Some argue that the declaration, though now canonized, does not hold the same doctrinal weight as Joseph Smith's revelations. See Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978), 852. See also Romans 13:1-4.
7. D&C 134: 9-10.
8. W. Cole Durham, Jr., "Church and State," in The Church and Society: Selections from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995), 92. See also J. D. Williams, "The Separation of Church and State in Mormon Theory and Practice," Journal of Church and State 9, no. 2 (Spring 1967): 238-62.
9. Sarah Barringer Gordon, The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 95. See also Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002).
10. On Mormon bloc voting, see Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 50-53. On eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century bloc voting in New York, see Alan Taylor, William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), 188.
11. Article of Faith 12, in The Pearl of Great Price: A Selection from the Revelations, Translations, and Narrations of Joseph Smith, First Prophet, Seer, and Revelator to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989).
12. J. Keith Melville, "Theory and Practice of Church and State During the Brigham Young Era," BYU Studies 3 (Autumn 1960): 33.
13. HC 5: 139.
14. Isaiah 33:22. Joseph Smith statements quoted in Andrew F. Ehat, '"It Seemed Like Heaven Began on Earth': Joseph Smith and the Constitution of the Kingdom of God," BYU Studies 20, no. 3 (Spring 1980): 255.
15. See Grant Underwood, The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993).
16. D&C 110: 16.
17. See Ehat, "It Seemed Like Heaven," 265.
18. See D&C 64: 24; 86: 3; and especially 133: 5, 7, 14.
19. David L. Bigler, Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847-1896 (Spokane: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1998), 43.
20. On millenarian exceptionalism, see R. Scott Appleby, The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000), 88-89.
21. See Robert S. Wicks and Fred R. Foister, Junius and Joseph: Presidential Politics and the Assassination of the First Mormon Prophet (Logan: Utah State University Press, 2005).
22. Joseph Smith, Jr., "The Globe," (Nauvoo, IL) Times and Seasons 5, no. 8 (April 15, 1844): 510. Phelps is identified as the ghostwriter of this article in Samuel Brown, "The Translator and Ghostwriter: Joseph Smith and W. W. Phelps," Journal of Mormon History 34, no. 1 (Winter 2008): 50.
23. See John E. Hallwas and Roger D. Launius, eds., Cultures in Conflict: A Documentary History of the Mormon War in Illinois (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1995).
24. Brigham Young, "Human and Divine Government," in Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886), 6: 342 (July 31, 1859); hereafter cited as JD.
25. John Taylor, "Union-Human and Divine Government, etc.," JD 9: 9-10 (April 6, 1861). Note that these remarks came in the context of the beginning of the American Civil War.
26. Wilford Woodruff, Joseph F. Smith, and Moses Thatcher, "Epistle of the General Superintendency; To the Officers and Members of the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Associations throughout Zion," Contributor 9 (June 1888): 305.
27. "Conclusion of President Young's Trip to Sanpete," Deseret News, July 26, 1865, 2.
28. On this period of transition, see Arrington and Bitton, The Mormon Experience, chapter 13; Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986); and Kathleen Flake, The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
29. James E. Talmage, The Vitality of Mormonism (Boston: Gorham Press, 1919), 39, 41.
30. Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, October 1 926 (Salt Lake City, 1926), 94. Whitney made similar remarks a few years later; see Conference Report, October 1930 (Salt Lake City, 1930), 42.
31. See Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987-1992), 2: 318-19; Matthew O. Richardson, "The Law of Common Consent," in The Doctrine and Covenants, A Book of Answers: The 25th Annual Sidney Sperry Symposium, ed. Leon R. Hartshorn, Dennis A. Wright, and Craig J. Ostler (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996), 77; and Smith and Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, 131-32.
32. See D&C 26: 2; 28: 13.
33. Melville, "Theory and Practice of Church and State," 54.
34. See Durham, "Church and State," 92.
35. "Political Neutrality," online statement at: http://newsroom.lds.org/ ldsnewsroom/eng/pubhc-issues/political-neutrality, accessed October 30, 2009.
36. Melville, "Theory and Practice of Church and State," 52.
37. Brigham Young, "Fault Finding," JD 15: 134 (August 18, 1872).
38. Woodruff, Smith, and Thatcher, "Epistle of the General Superintendency," 305.
39. Talmage, The Vitality of Mormonism, 42, 315.
40. Edward Allen Warner, "Mormon Theodemocracy: Theocratic and Democratic Elements in Early Latter-day Saint Ideology, 1827-1846" (PhD diss., University of Iowa, 1973), 134.
41. See Perry Miller, ed., The American Puritans: Their Prose and Poetry (New York: Columbia University Press, 1956), 85-97, 127-28; quote from 127.
42. See Jonatiian Edwards, "A Careful and Strict Inquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of that Freedom of the Will, Which Is Supposed to Be Essential to Moral Agency, Virtue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame," in A Jonathan Edwards Reader, ed. John E. Smith, Harry S. Stout, and Kenneth P. Minkema (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), 192-222. See also George M. Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 436-46.
43. See R. Collin Mangrum, "Mormonism, Philosophical Liberalism, and the Constitution," BYU Studies27 (Summer 1987): 119-35.
44. See Matthew 5:17-18; see also 3 Nephi 12:17-18; 15:2-10.
45. D&C 101: 77-78.
46. Letter from Joseph Smith, Jr., et al., to "the Church of Latter-day Saints at Quincy, Illinois, and Scattered Abroad, and to Bishop Partridge in Particular," HC 3: 304 (March 25, 1839).
47. Young, "Human and Divine Government," JD 6: 344-45.
48. "Mob Rule," Deseret News, March 3, 1880, 8.
49. Warner, "Mormon Theodemocracy," 36. See also Laura A. Cruse, "American Republicanism as Shown Through Mormon-Federal Conflict, 1846-1890" (MA thesis, Northeast Missouri State University, 1994), 14.
50. See Jürgen Habermas, "Three Normative Models of Democracy," in Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries of the Political, ed. Seyla Benhabib (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 22.
51. D&C 134: 4.
52. HC 6: 304.
53. See Mangrum, "Mormonism, Philosophical Liberalism, and the Constitution," 133.
54. Young, "Human and Divine Government," JD 6: 343; see also JD 12: 274.
55. Quoted in Melville, "Theory and Practice of Church and State," 54.
56. The ordinance read that "the Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Latter-day Saints, Quakers, Episcopale, Universaliste, Unitarians, Mohammedans, and all other religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free toleration, and equal privileges, in this city." Quoted in D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1994), 107.
57. This is according to an 1882 revelation recorded by church president John Taylor, one of the original members of the Council of Fifty under Joseph Smith. The revelation states clearly, "I [the Lord] moved upon [Joseph Smith] to introduce into my Kingdom certain parties not in my Church." Quoted in Ehat, "It Seemed Like Heaven," 257. See also D. Michael Quinn, "The Council of Fifty and Its Members, 1844 to 1945," BYU Studies 20, no. 2 (Winter 1980): 163-97. Departing from Smith's example, Brigham Young, in an effort to consoUdate his own power, gradually removed non-Mormons from the Council of Fifty, and worked to lessen its influence after the move to Utah. See Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power (Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1997), 226-41.
58. Quoted in Hallwas and Launius, Cultures in Conflict, 105.
59. Quoted in ibid., 164.
60. On the Expositor controversy and the driving out of dissenters, see Hallwas and Launius, Cultures and Conflict, 142-62; and Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975), 14-16.
61. See Polly Aird, Mormon Convert, Mormon Defector: A Scottish Immigrant in the American West, 1848-1 861 (Norman: Arthur H. Clark Co., 2009), chapter 12; Bigler, Forgotten Kingdom, 131-32; Edward Leo Lyman, The Overland Journey from Utah to California: Wagon Travel from the City of Saints to the City of Angels (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 2004), 127, 251 n. 15.
62. Gershon Weiler, Jewish Theocracy (New York: EJ. Brill, 1988), x, 15- 16, 20.
63. My thanks to Mark Ashurst-McGee for this insight.
64. Warner, "Mormon Theodemocracy," 45-46.
65. Ibid., 128-29.
66. On religion, particularly evangelical Protestantism, in the public sphere in antebellum America, see Carwardine, Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America; and Mark A. Noll, America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (New York Oxford University Press, 2002).
67. Warner, "Mormon Theodemocracy," 392.
68. On the concepts of physical and geographical space and city building in Joseph Smith's thought, see Richard Lyman Bushman, Making Space for the Mormons, Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture Series No. 2 (Logan: Special Collections and Archives, Merrill Library, Utah State University, 1996).
69. See Richard Lyman Bushman, with the assistance of Jed Woodworth, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 258; see pp. 25158 for a fuller discussion of the church's council system as implemented by
Patrick Q. Mason (BA, Brigham Young University; MA, University of Notre Dame; MA, University of Notre Dame; PhD, University of Notre Dame) is a research associate professor at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, where he is the associate director for research for an interdisciplinary research initiative entitled "Contending Modernities: Catholic, Muslim, Secular." Mason is the author of The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). He would like to thank Fred Dallmayr, John Turner, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and the anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article. 1. Gules Kepel, The Revenge of God: The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern West, trans. Alan Braley (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994). See also José Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994); Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, eds., The Fundamentalism Project, 5 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991 - 1995).