The federal government considered Mormons so dangerous throughout the late 1800s that Rutherford B. Hayes's administration urged the governments of Europe to avoid members of that religious group from entering america.
In the Twenty-first century, Donald Trump's administration considers Muslims such a \”dangerous threat\” that they are seeking to prevent individuals from the 3 Muslim countries from entering america.
While greater than a century separates these events, the similarities are extremely striking that Claremont Graduate University's Patrick Mason joined other scholars trying to influence a federal court likely to issue a ruling over President Trump's \”Muslim ban.\” Mason, who supports the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at CGU, says the nation's good reputation for discrimination and violence against members of the Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints provides a cautionary tale at a time once the legitimacy of government action targeting a specific religion is being considered.
\”I don't think any reasonable American could be happy with how the nation treated its Mormon minority within the 19th century, and I for just one want us to pause before pursuing policies that our grandchildren will judge us unkindly for in regard to our treatment of religious minorities in the 21st century,\” said Mason, who also can serve as dean from the School of Arts & Humanities.
Mason is one of 19 scholars of Mormon history who filed a \”friend from the court\” brief this month within the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court next month will hear arguments for and against Trump's current executive order suspending the admission of refugees and immigrants from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The scholars indicate historic cases of government action that targeted Mormons.
Mormons were driven using their homes and communities in multiple states, prompting Brigham Young to guide moving to Utah-then part of Mexican territory-because they deemed america wouldn't protect them like a minority, said Mason, the writer of The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South. In 1838, Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs issued a professional order requiring Mormons to depart the state or be \”exterminated.\” Joseph Smith, the religion's founding prophet, was murdered by an armed mob in 1844.
\”All Americans, no matter their religious or political orientation, ought to be troubled through the management of Latter-day Saints in the 1800s,\” Mason said.
From the 1860s through the 1880s, all three branches of the authorities pursued an organized group of policies designed to curb Mormon energy that eventually resulted in the seizure of the church's temples and other major assets, Mason said. In 1879, Hayes recommended to Congress that Mormons may be stripped from the \”rights and privileges of citizenship.\” That very same year, Secretary of State William Evarts asked several European governments to prevent Mormons from emigrating towards the Usa.
\”It would be a clear illustration of the us government seeking to restrict the immigration of a specific religious group it deemed undesirable and dangerous,\” said Mason, who has written extensively about Mormonism, American religious history, and religion, violence, and peacebuilding.
Mason said a scholarly understanding about Mormon history can inform the present national and international conversation about the current administration's efforts to pick out immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries.
In January, Trump issued an order temporarily banning individuals from seven countries with largely Muslim populations. An order, which triggered a series of protests across the country, was blocked by a federal appeals court. A brand new, revised order seemed to be blocked by a judge. Judges say the ban violates individuals' First Amendment rights and the Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from making laws targeting a specific religion.
The court brief has been covered this month by numerous media outlets, including the Washington Post and CNN.
Other scholars who signed the brief include Richard Bushman, a professor emeritus of American history at Columbia University and former CGU faculty; Nathan Oman, a professor of law at William & Mary School; and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a Pulitzer Prize-winning history professor at Harvard University.
\”We're under no delusion our brief would be the decisive element in the court's decision or even the administration's rethinking of their own policies,\” Mason said, \”but we all do need to make the courts, policymakers, and general public conscious that there is a historical precedent that people look back on. Perhaps this lesson from history will a minimum of provide us with pause in the current context before we proceed with policies that target a specific unpopular religious minority.\”