The Latter-day Saint Image in the British Mind
Now available in paperback and ebook.
- “A welcome, careful, and accessible account of the transformation and growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the changing attitudes of British culture towards this community.” — The Reverend Dr. Andrew Teal
- “Essential reading for students of religious history in Britain.” — Michael Otterson
- “This delightful and fast-paced book . . . takes readers from the early days of lurid misperceptions to the modern age of pluralistic acceptance.” — Richard E. Turley Jr.
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Since the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in 1830, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has added millions of people to its global membership. Crucial to its initial growth were converts from Great Britain who emigrated to join with other Latter-day Saints in the United States. Many, however, also stayed in the United Kingdom in order to establish a presence of the Church there.
In The Latter-day Saint Image in the British Mind, authors Malcolm Adcock and Fred E. Woods explore the multifaceted perspectives of British people outside of the Latter-day Saint faith tradition and how these people’s perceptions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members generally have improved over time. In doing so, they present historical accounts, particularly through literature, film, and media reviews depicting Latter-day Saints and their faith. In addition, they utilize over a hundred face-to-face interviews and surveys of over a thousand Brits to determine how citizens of the United Kingdom perceive the Church in the twenty-first century.
Comprehensive Table of Contents:
Foreword by Andrew Teal
Introduction: The Latter-day Saint Image
Building the Kingdom of God
1. Church Beginnings and Foundational Teachings
Mainstream Christian Objections
Respecting Religious Freedom
2. Nineteenth-Century Perceptions of Latter-day Saints
Why Such Persecution?
Church Periodicals Launched
British Perceptions of Latter-day Saint Emigrants
George Ramsden and the Guion Line
3. The First Half of the Twentieth Century: Opinions Regarding the Saints
Continued Persecution via Slanderous Media
Desiring Protection from Physical Abuse
Wisely Dealing with Attacks
Using Sport to Create a More Favorable Image
Building Bridges with Music
A Season of Positive Press
Centennial Commemoration of the Church in Great Britain
The War Years
4. The 1950s: The Opening of a New Era
Conversions, a Temple, and the Choir
A New Era
Constructing Chapels while Building Saints
5. The 1960s: A Period of Growth and Change
First Stake in Great Britain
Church Building Program
Hyde Park Chapel
The Baseball Baptism Program
Elder Dennis Wright Interviewed on Television
6. The 1970s: Coming of Age and Reaching Out
First British Area General Conference
Church Programs Bring Spiritual Strength to UK Youth
Family History Work Helps Unite British Saints with Their Ancestors
Mixed Reactions about Church Membership from Family and Friends
Increased Public Prominence of Saints
Area Conferences Lift British Saints
More than Music
Heeding Prophetic Counsel
Mutual Admiration and Family Connections
8. Public Communications Comes to Britain
Bringing Light Out of Darkness
Saints Depicted on Television
Priesthood Ban Lifted
Latter-day Saint Lifestyle Draws Attention
A Pragmatic Approach to Religion
Mormons Suggest Farm Job Instead of Dole
9. The 1980s and 1990s: Spaghetti Cans and Lancashire’s Legacy
Making Their Mark in Serving the Community
Seminary Makes Its Mark in Britain
More Experienced Lay Leadership
Opposition and Positive Outcomes
Church Sesquicentennial in Britain
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Stirs Hearts
Special Announcement Opens the Way for a Second British Temple
Membership Growth and Proactivity in Public Life
Strategic Insights from a British General Authority
10. The Church of Jesus Christ in Modern Britain
Elder and Sister Holland Visit Parliament
The Book of Mormon in the Legislature
An Improving Image
Church Family Values Awards
Latter-day Saints in British Government
Defending Religious Freedom
The “Mormon Moment(um)”
Catching the Media’s Attention
The Academic Environment
Celebrations of Faith
RootsTech Comes to London
Light the World
Influencing the Influencers
Looking to the Future
Appendix A. Dedicatory Prayer of the London Temple
Appendix B. Dedicatory Prayer of the Preston Temple
Q&A with the Author:
Q: What motivated you to collaborate on this book? What space in the historical record did you want to fill?
A: Fred and Malcolm first met in 2017, and the idea of collaborating on the book was soon born. They realized that they could each bring a unique perspective, with Malcolm’s background in journalism and Fred’s religious and historical scholarship. It is this combination of skills and approach that makes the book work.
The publication brings the reader up to date. It is especially strong in its new, eyewitness accounts from the 1950s to the 2020s. The book shows how present-day British Latter-day Saints interact and contribute to the modern world. Its special contribution is the unique approach in interviewing those not of the Latter-day Saint faith—from MPs and members of the House of Lords to leading members of the Church of England and prominent thinkers within the interfaith community. We want the book, with its rich new source material, to stimulate discussion within academic forums, and to be widely read by anyone who has a British connection.
Q: What is the earliest British depiction of Latter-day Saints? Do we have any surviving reactions from members of the Church?
A: As early as 1831, a caricature of "the Mormons" traveled quickly across the Atlantic—six years before the first missionaries arrived in Liverpool. British newspaper the Morning Advertiser reprinted an article from Illinois dubbing members of the faith as "unfortunate lunatics." That same year, Joseph Smith described how "many false reports, lies, and fo[o]lish stories, were published in the newspapers . . ."
Q: How did British Saints break through the negative stereotypes and biases to become active participants in British society?
A: Stereotypes are being broken because of the decline in religious tribalism between faith groups and – to some degree – due to the increased secularization of society. But the increased visibility of Latter-day Saints “doing good” is also a significant factor. The Church is increasingly known for its positive contributions, and individual Church members often “do good” in the public square.
Q: What was the most surprising piece of misinformation you found had been spread about the Church while researching this book?
A: Some people, even during the second half of the twentieth century, believed there was a tunnel under the River Mersey (North West England) within which “Mormon” brides were whisked away to Utah.
Q: Who are some of the people you interviewed for this book? What did they add to your understanding of the Latter-day Saint image in the British Mind?
A: Michael Otterson, who pioneered the establishment of the Church’s “Public Communications” during the 1970s, discusses how sensational stories in the tabloid press eventually led to a large upswing in interest about the Church. Baroness Emma Nicholson describes how she introduced an Apostle to her colleagues in Parliament. Relationships of trust and respect established over the years with interfaith communities and members of government have led Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, now Speaker of the House of Commons, to describe Latter-day Saints as "normal, everyday guys."
Q: Tell us more about the documentary you made alongside the book. What does it add to the reading experience?
A: The documentary highlights some of the individual and community outreach that has helped shift opinions of the general British population towards the Church as they have interacted personally with its members. Some of these events include the 1955 UK performances of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, called the "Mormon Tabernacle Choir" back then. The film also refers to concerts in London’s Hyde Park Chapel and the arrival of The Osmonds in the 1970s which gave countless fans the opportunity to appreciate the contributions of Church members to the greater community.
Q: What does the relationship between the Church and the British public look like now? Is there any further progress to be made?
A: The religion was once persecuted, even feared. Hateful epithets are now virtually non-existent. The religion may still face a skeptical public, even hostility in the media. But here is a church, once at the margins, that is increasingly seen as part of the fabric of British society.
Praise for The Latter-day Saint Image in the British Mind:
“The Latter-day Saint Image in the British Mind is a welcome, careful, and accessible account of the transformation and growth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the changing attitudes of British culture towards this community. . . . This well-written, carefully-evidenced book provides a broad and hopeful foundation for the future mission of Latter-day Saints in Britain, and invites us to continue to commit to witness and service together, and to grow in authentic love and appreciation of one another. I commend it wholeheartedly.” — The Reverend Dr. Andrew Teal, Chaplain, Fellow, & Lecturer in Theology, Pembroke College
“Once feared and rejected in the 1800s, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become one of the most vibrant and respected faiths in the United Kingdom today. The authors’ compelling story of this remarkable transformation is essential reading for students of religious history in Britain.” — Michael Otterson, former managing director of Public Affairs, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Journalist and Author
“In this delightful and fast-paced book, authors Malcolm Adcock and Fred E. Woods take readers on a chronological tour of how the British public has perceived Latter-day Saints from 1831 to the present. Full of interesting anecdotes and quotes from a wide range of subjects, the book takes readers from the early days of lurid misperceptions to the modern age of pluralistic acceptance.” — Richard E. Turley Jr., former Assistant Church Historian
About the Authors:
Malcolm Adcock is a public affairs professional and writer, who has helped shape communications strategy for global organizations. Heading the UK-based Communication office for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he works with senior government representatives and national media. Malcolm graduated from Kent Law School and has a background as a BBC journalist and producer. He is a Member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
Fred E. Woods obtained a PhD from the University of Utah in 1991. Currently a BYU professor of Church History and Doctrine, he has been a visiting teaching and research professor at several universities. From 2005 to 2010 Fred held the BYU Richard L. Evans Professorship of Religious Understanding. He is a prolific author with over 150 articles and many books to his credit, and he often produces documentary films to augment his historical work.
More Information:230 pages
ISBN: 978-1-58958-558-4 (paperback)