How Attending Elite Universities Helped Mormons Enter the Mainstream 

Through Higher Education, Latter-day Saints Joined the U.S. Meritocracy and Transformed Their Own Identity

The history of Mormon “Americanization” has long puzzled those who try to understand it.

In the last quarter of the 19th century, Mormons, under immense pressure from local and federal authorities, jettisoned their utopian separatism in favor of monogamy, market capitalism, public schools, national political parties, and military service. The question is, how can any human institution—much less a religion that historian Martin Marty has called the 19th century’s “most despised large group”—change so much so quickly?

The answer lies in understanding how Mormons determined that a pact with America was …

The 19th-Century Pseudo-Science Trend That Gave Us ‘Animal Magnetism’

By Promising a Pathway to the Unconscious, Mesmerism Captivated the Public and Intellectuals Alike

In 1836, a trendy European phenomenon took New England by storm. Charles Poyen, a Frenchman and self-proclaimed professor of animal magnetism, launched a multi-city tour of “mesmeric” theatrical shows, the …

The ‘Black Catholic Movement’ That Reinvigorated American Catholicism

In the Industrial North, African Americans Witnessed a Flourishing of Liturgical Innovation, New Preaching Styles, and Activist Scholarship

The story of how Roman Catholics “became American” is very well-known. Beginning in the 19th century, Catholics were a feared and despised immigrant population that Protestants imagined to be inimical …

Why California’s Godless Governor Was Ahead of His Time

A Friend of FDR but Not of Big Business, Culbert Olson Believed Humans Had to Save Themselves

Culbert Olson is one the most important men you probably never have heard of. He was the only Democrat to serve as governor of California between 1896 and 1958, and …

O Ye of Little Faith in Los Angeles! Eric Garcetti Has a Message For You.

If the Mayor of the City of Angels Wants to Be President, His Campaign Should Be a Moral Crusade

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is being coy about whether he’s running for president. But he doesn’t fool me. I’ve already written the speech, or perhaps I should say sermon, …

Billy Graham’s Heaven-Sent Gift for Television

From Radio Sermons to LBJ's Funeral Oration, a Journalist Witnessed the Wonder of the Preacher's Media Mastery

“The BIBLE says … ”

I can remember that thundering voice coming out of our radio in the 1950s as the preacher wove points from Scripture into his sermon, urging …