Utah's History

By Thomas G. Alexander; Eugene E. Campbell et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 17
The Churches in The Territory
T. Edgar Lyon and Glen M. Leonard Utah has the distinction of being the only state in the Union that was founded primarily as a religious colony and in which the total population was almost all of one faith--perhaps as high as ninety-eight percent--in its first decade. This condition created an unparalleled situation in which religious differences became inextricably entwined with the political, educational, and social life both of the territory and of the later state. No discussion of denominational religious activities in Utah from its founding to its statehood can be understood without recognizing this peculiar phenomenon.This synopsis of territorial period religious activities will treat a number of divergent groups:
1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose secular policies and programs have been discussed in many chapters. Here attention will be given only to certain aspects of Mormon Church development.
2. The religious communities that primarily attended to the needs of their own communicants. The Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Jews, and Unitarians are the most prominent.
3. The evangelical Christian churches, much of whose effort during the territorial period was directed toward converting individual Mormons and combatting Mormon Church influence.
4. This chapter will also consider the adjustments made by the several denominations when Utah became a state and when the long Mormon-gentile conflict gradually came to an end. (For estimates of denominational membership in the territorial period, see Table H, pp. 692-93.)

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