Conference on Mormonism in the Public Mind, April 2-3, 2009, UVU Library

By March 29, 2009

Below is the program for what promises to be an exciting conference on public perceptions of Mormonism.

The UVU Religious Studies Program presents the
Eighth Annual Mormon Studies Conference

Mormonism in the
Public Mind
Perceptions of an Emerging World Faith

April 2 – 3, 2009
Lakeview Room, UVU Library (Thursday)
Ragan Theater, UVU Student Center (Friday)

Conference Description

The past few years have seen an unprecedented public discussion of Mormonism. From the 2007 PBS documentary “The Mormons” to Mitt Romney’s run for the White House, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Mormon groups have been the subject of nearly unceasing scrutiny. 2008 was a year in which we witnessed the raid of an FLDS compound in Eldorado, Texas and the tumultuous debate over Proposition 8 in California.

Throughout their history, Latter-day Saints have struggled with the public image of their faith. This challenge has persisted from early confrontations in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and territorial Utah to the ongoing attempt to gain acceptance within the broader streams of American culture. Media attention on
the peculiarities of Mormonism has shown that, as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints emerges as a world faith, the challenges of understanding and respectability are far from over.

This conference will address the place of Mormonism in public discourse and examine the strategies involved in the Latter-day Saint response to skepticism and prejudice. Pertinent questions include: What are the current perceptions of Mormonism? What is the extent of misinformation? Have the attempts by Latter-day Saints to shape their image been successful? To what extent is media coverage accurate and fair? How has the Internet impacted public discussion of Mormonism?

Mormonism in the Public Mind
Perceptions of an Emerging World Faith

Schedule of Events
all sessions are free and open to the public (seating is limited)

Thursday, April 2
Lakeview Room
UVU Library (4th Floor)

8:30 – 9:45 a.m.
Brian D. Birch
Director of Religious Studies, UVU
Daniel Stout, University of Nevada Las Vegas
Dan Wotherspoon, Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy

10:00 – 11:15 a.m.
Keynote Address
Michael Paulson
Religion Reporter, The Boston Globe

11:30 – 12:45 p.m.
Brownbag Lunch Panel
“The Mormon Beat”
Michael Paulson, Boston Globe
Lynn Arave, The Deseret News
Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune
Jennifer Dobner, Associated Press

1:00 – 2:15 p.m.
“New Media and Pop Culture”
Jana Riess, Westminster John Knox Press
Stephen Carter, Sunstone Magazine
Kristine Haglund, Dialogue

2:30 – 3:45
“Symbols and Boundary Maintenance”
Joel Campbell, The Mormon Times
Charles Randall Paul, Foundation for Interreligious
David Scott, Utah Valley University

7:00 p.m.
Eighth Annual Eugene England Lecture
Lakeview Room
“The Prehistory of the Soul”
Terryl L. Givens
Bostwick Professor of English, University of Richmond

Friday, April 3
Ragan Theater
UVU Student Center

8:30 – 9:45 a.m.
Boyd J. Petersen
Program Coordinator for Mormon Studies, UVU
“Political Discourse and the Latter-day Saints”
Boyd Petersen, Utah Valley University
Kirk Jowers, Hinckley Institute of Politics
Morris Thurston, Joseph Smith Papers Project

10:00 – 10:50 a.m.
“Public Relations for the Twenty-First Century”
Val Edwards, LDS Public Affairs Department
Richard Bushman, Claremont Graduate University

11:00 – 11:50 p.m.
“LDS Public Relations: Strategies and Applications”
Gary Lawrence, Lawrence Research
Claudia Bushman, Claremont Graduate University

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Brownbag Lunch Panel
Val Edwards, Claudia Bushman,
Gary Lawrence, Richard Bushman

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
“The Mormons in American Religious Thought”
Grant Underwood, Brigham Young University
Terryl Givens, University of Richmond
Brian Birch, Utah Valley University

2:00 – 3:00
Panel Discussion
Grant Underwood, Terryl Givens, Brian Birch

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