The Danish-Mormon migration to Utah in the nineteenth century was, relative to population size, one of the largest European religious out-migrations in history. Hundreds of thousands of Americans can trace their ancestry to Danish Mormons, but few know about the social and cultural ramifications of their ancestors’ conversion to Mormonism. This book tells that exciting and complex story for the first time.
In 1849, after nearly a thousand years of state- controlled religion, Denmark’s first democratic constitution granted religious freedom. One year later, the arrival of three Mormon missionaries in Denmark and their rapid success at winning converts to their faith caused a crisis in Danish society over the existential question: "How could someone be Danish but not Lutheran?" Over the next half-century nearly thirty thousand Danes joined the LDS Church, more than eighteen thousand of whom emigrated to join their fellow Mormons in Utah. This volume explores the range of Danish public reactions to Mormonism over a seventy-year period—from theological concerns articulated by Søren and Peter Christian Kierkegaard in the 1850s to fear-mongering about polygamy and white slavery in silent films of the 1910s and 1920s—and looks at the personal histories of converts.
Julie K. Allen was the Paul and Renate Madsen Professor of Danish in the Scandinavian Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before recently becoming a professor of comparative literature at Brigham Young University.
Table of Contents:
1. Uncoupling Danish National Identity from Lutheranism: The Advent of Religious Difference in Denmark
2. A Tale of Two Kierkegaards: Responses to Mormonism by Denmark’s Cultural Elites
3. “Mormons, Mormons!”: Provocative Portrayals of Mormonism in Danish Popular Culture
4. The Price of Conversion: Cultural Identity Negotiations among Early Danish Mormons
Praise and Reviews:
“The author makes historical figures and their ideas resonate with clarity, despite the complexity of their thought.”
—Jennifer L. Lund, director of the Historic Sites Division of the Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
“A significant contribution of interest to those studying emigration/ immigration and the retention of cultural identity and to those studying religious history generally.”
—Bruce H. Kirmmse, Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre at the University of Copenhagen
—Jennifer Eastman Attebery, author of Up in the Rocky Mountains: Writing the Swedish Immigrant Experience