Latter Day Saints and Society in the West, c. 1830-1950



Mål og innhald

The objective of the course is to study aspects of the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church, the largest denomination in the Mormon tradition), both as a majority and as a minority religion in Western society between its founding in 1830 and the mid 20th century. From the outset, the Church came into conflict with non-Mormon neighbouring communities and with political authorities, both on state level and federal level. At the end of the 1840s, in order to escape difficulties, the Church moved to Utah and established what has been described as a theocracy. Soon, the Church also entered into missionary activities internationally, resulting in widespread anti-Mormonism. Typically, outside Utah, the LDS Church was until the 20th century denied the position of a legitimate religion and viewed as a political, moral and national threat to non-Mormon religious communities and states.

The LDS Church was thus a majority religion in Utah, dominating the territory (and from 1896 the state) both economically, politically and religiously, but a minority religion elsewhere, both in the US and internationally.

The course will in particular focus on instances of tensions between the LDS Church and the US between 1830 and 1930, and on examples from Scandinavian history between 1850 and 1925.


The student shall by the end of the course have gained the following learning outcome defined in knowledge, skills, and general competence:


The student

  • Has advanced knowledge of the main elements of how the LDS Church as a majority religion came to dominate Utah politically, economically and religiously
  • has thorough knowledge of the key points of conflicts between the LDS Church/Utah society and the outside world
  • can analyze how the conflicts influenced religious policy towards the minority outside Utah and toward non-Mormons within the state
  • can analyze the LDS Church's transition from a status as a "fake" and "dangerous" religion in the 19th century to a legitimate position in a religiously pluralistic society in the 20th century


The student

  • can engage in critical discussions about what it means to be a minority vs majority religion in a society
  • can discuss ways in which a minority religion's legitimacy is challenged and the consequences of these challenges

General competence:

The student

can conduct a short independent research project by finding and evaluating relevant source materials and demonstrate academic writing skills, using terminology and concepts representative of academic graduate writing level.

Studiepoeng, omfang


Studienivå (studiesyklus)



Autumn and spring, but not regularly


Online course, and therefore not restricted to Bergen.
Krav til forkunnskapar
Tilrådde forkunnskapar
The course literature is in English. Students should therefore have a sound knowledge of English.
Krav til studierett
Admission to the Master's Programme Religious Minorities or other Master's Programmes at the UiB.
Arbeids- og undervisningsformer

The teaching and student activities in this course will entirely take place online.


  • short introductory videos
  • readings
  • following each video/reading there will be a short quiz, that tests the students basic understanding of the video/reading
  • individual feedback on discussion postings and essays from the instructor participation in online discussions
Obligatorisk undervisningsaktivitet

In this course the following compulsory requirements have to be approved in order to sit for the examination:

  • Course quizzes following videos and/or texts. The quizzes will test the students' command of the prescribed course material. There will be 1-5 quizzes per week. Successful completionof at least 70% of the quizzes is required.
  • A minimum of one discussion posting (minimum 100 words) that answers one of more questions as well as a minimum of two responses (of each minimum 50 words) to postings by other students
  • At least four useful comments on the essays 1 and 2 of other students (peer-reviewed assignments)

Compulsory requirements are evaluated with "approved/not approved."


The examination consists of two parts:

  1. A five minutes podcast / Powerpoint presentation with audio: 40% of the total grade
  2. An essay (2000 words): 60% of the total grade

Both parts of the assessment must be passed in order to pass the examination. The examination will be given a total grade.

The exam assignment will be given in English.

The exam can be submitted in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

A graded marking scale (A to F) is used. A is the top grade and F means Failed.
The course is normally assessed in the teaching semester only.

The reading list consists of approximately 500 pages.

The reading list is published by July 1st. for the autumn semester and by December 1st. for the spring semester.

The course unit will be evaluated regularly.
Hjelpemiddel til eksamen
The Program Board for Religion is responsible for the content of the course.
The Programme Committee for The Study of Religion
Administrativt ansvarleg
The Department of Archeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion had the administrative responsibility for the course.