Mormonism and the World Religions Discourse

Contesting the Boundaries of Comparative Religion’s Prevailing Taxonomy

in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion
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This article examines the ways in which the status of Mormonism within academic comparative religion discourses is quite different from that which has evolved among Latter-day Saint leaders and within the burgeoning field of Mormon studies. Whereas Mormonism is a quasi-Christian New Religious Movement in most world religions textbooks and reference works, some scholars of Mormonism have advanced the expanding Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into the position of world religion. In doing so, they have adopted the terminology of a broader taxonomy largely without regard for maintaining its established demarcations. This classificatory tension, which will likely increase in the future, reveals some of the underlying logics, semantic confusions, and power dynamics of comparative religion discourses, ultimately problematizing the categories of Christianity, world religion, and New Religious Movement as currently constituted.

Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Journal of the North American Association for the Study of Religion

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