Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Incarcerated for Preaching the Gospel

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In the early to mid-1880s, what U.S. city was it against the law for the Mormon elders to preach in?
a.                  New York City
b.                  Salt Lake City
c.                   St. Paul, Minnesota
d.                  Fargo, North Dakota
Yesterday’s answers:
(A)               The Church published to thwart the efforts of a traitor
In August 1911, a twenty-one-year-old convert named Gisbert Bossard secretly photographed the interior of the Salt Lake Temple and threatened to publish the photos unless Mormon leaders supplied a $100,000 ransom. President Joseph F. Smith immediately refused to “bargain with thieves or traffickers in stolen goods,” and Church leaders began weighing their options. In a September 18 letter to the First Presidency, James E. Talmage proposed that the Church publish its own photos. The [plan’s execution undercut Bossard’s scheme and gave Mormons “the upper hand in controlling their public image.” The plan also revealed the future apostle’s public relations acumen, which swerved the Church well in the years that followed. Between 1915 and 1920, Talmage initiated a major American media campaign in response to public animosity and Progressive reform efforts aimed at the Church. The campaign consisted of Talmage widely publicized lectures and widely published articles on distinctive Mormon theology. His topics ranged from metaphysical materialism to God the Father’s human past to humanity’s potentially divine future. Throughout most of the campaign, the apostle reached a weekly readership of over 1.5 million—a historically significant, if brief, effort to shape public perceptions of Mormonism.

Bradley Kime, Exhibition Theology: James E. Talmage and Mormon Public Relations, 1915-20, 208-209.

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