religion of a different color

Paul Reeve












We are excited to announce that Paul Reeve, author of the recently-published Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (published by Oxford University Press) will be here on Wednesday, February 11th to sign and discuss his book. He will be here from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., speaking at 6:00, and will answer questions and sign books before and after that time. We hope you will be able to make that night but, if not, we can mail a signed copy or hold one here at the store for pick-up. To RSVP on Facebook, click here.

The Protestant white majority in the nineteenth century was convinced that Mormonism represented a racial—not merely religious—departure from the mainstream and they spent considerable effort attempting to deny Mormon whiteness. Being white equaled access to political, social, and economic power, all aspects of citizenship in which outsiders sought to limit or prevent Mormon participation. At least a part of those efforts came through persistent attacks on the collective Mormon body, ways in which outsiders suggested that Mormons were physically different, racially more similar to marginalized groups than they were white. Medical doctors went so far as to suggest that Mormon polygamy was spawning a new race. Mormons responded with aspirations toward whiteness. It was a back and forth struggle between what outsiders imagined and what Mormons believed. Mormons ultimately emerged triumphant, but not unscathed. At least a portion of the cost of their struggle came at the expense of their own black converts. Mormon leaders moved away from universalistic ideals toward segregated priesthood and temples, policies firmly in place by the early twentieth century. So successful were they at claiming whiteness for themselves, that by the time Mormon Mitt Romney sought the White House in 2012, he was labeled “the whitest white man to run for office in recent memory.” Mormons once again found themselves on the wrong side of white.

“In this revealing study, Paul Reeve puts the subject of Mormon racialization in a new light. Mormons racialized others, to be sure, but were in turn racialized themselves. In the nineteenth century critics denigrated Mormons by seeing them as racially a between-people, near-Black, friendly to Indians, and likely allies of the yellow hordes. The church’s compensating rush to whiteness, unfortunately, went too far. Now Mormons are seen as too white, obscuring their innate inclination to universalism. No one has told this excruciating story so well as Reeve.”-Richard Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

“Religion of a Different Color plows truly new and important ground in explaining the fuller story of Mormonism’s place in the long American struggle with racial bigotry, as well as the uses of racialist thinking in U.S. history more generally. Previous studies have tried to explain the traditional racial teachings of Mormonism mainly by reference to doctrines and developments inside the Church. This new study instead analyzes the heavily racialized context of the entire nation, in which Mormons became both victims and perpetrators of racist policies and practices.”-Armand L. Mauss, author of All Abraham’s Children: Changing Mormons Conceptions of Race and Lineage

Paul Reeve, Associate Professor of History at the University of Utah, is the former Associate Chair of the History Department at the University of Utah where he teaches courses on Utah history, Mormon history, and the history of the U.S. West.  He is the recipient of the University of Utah’s Early Career Teaching Award and of the College of Humanities Ramona W. Cannon Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities.  He serves on the Board of Editors of the Utah Historical Quarterly and was a past board member of the Mormon History Association and the Faculty Advisory Council of the University of Utah Press. He received the Smith-Pettit Best First Book Award for Making Space on the Western Frontier from the Mormon History Association in 2008


(click on any title below to order online)

Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. Oxford University Press, 2015. 352pp. Hardback. $34.95.


Also by Paul Reeve:

Making Space on the Western Frontier: Mormons, Miners, and Southern Paiutes. University of Illinois Press, 2006. 231pp. Hardback. $37.00

Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia (co-edited with Ardis Parshall). ABC-CLIO, 2010. 449pp. Hardback. $85.00

Between Pulpit and Pew: The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore (co-edited with Michael Scott Van Wagenen). Utah State University Press, 2011. 243pp. Paperback. $24.95

Shipping: $4.50 for the first book, $1 for each additional (USPS)–Priority/FedEx/UPS options available–inquire for details.

Utah residents–add 7.05% sales tax



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