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How America's View of Mormons Has Changed

First they were portrayed as liars, deluded country bumpkins and blasphemers. Then, Mormons were philanderers with multiple wives and malevolent motives. But America's perception of Mormonism dramatically shifted at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago when the relatively new Mormon Tabernacle Choir dazzled the crowd and the judges, earning a silver medal and requests for national tours.

"Suddenly, Mormons weren't just legitimate, they were popular," explained University of Richmond professor and religious scholar Terryl Givens during his lecture, "Fraud, Philanderers and Football: Negotiating the Mormon Image," at the first Mormon Media Conference Thursday and Friday at BYU.

However, in a religious gathering at that same world's fair, Mormons were deliberately not invited. Petitions for an invitation were eventually granted, but LDS apostle B.H. Roberts was not allowed to present his paper as were other delegates.

"(America) will let Mormons sing and dance ... win all the slots on 'So You Think You Can Dance?' keep the NFL supplied with a steady stream of quarterbacks, and they're pretty good in a disaster too," Givens said. "But as Charles Dickens said, 'What Mormons do seems to be excellent ... but what they say is mostly nonsense.'"

Read the rest of this story at deseretnews.com
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