Saturday, November 06, 2004



This is interesting:
A California school is looking at opening the first chair for Mormon studies outside of Utah for study of the faith's history, people and traditions.

Karen Torjesen, dean of religious studies at Claremont Graduate University's School of Religion, said separate councils studying possible chairs for several religions are due to file their recommendations next year, a Salt Lake newspaper reported Saturday.
The Mormon studies program could be among several new chairs in religious studies Claremont is examining for such religions as Islam, Judaism, Orthodox Christianity, Protestantism and Catholicism.
Another effort to open a Mormon studies chair at Utah Valley State College has met resistance. Some residents of Orem, Utah, fear it could evolve into a Mormon-bashing program undermining the faith of the school's 24,000 students, most of whom are Mormon.

"There is so much cultural baggage and still a lot of hurdles we have to jump over in order to make the community feel comfortable with academic study of Mormonism," said Brian Birch, director of religious studies at Utah Valley State College, who received his doctorate at Claremont.
Mormons in Southern California like the idea, said Amy Hoyt, a doctoral candidate in women's studies at Claremont and a member of the school's Mormon advisory council.

"There's some surprise that it's a secular, non-Utah university" that would take up Mormon studies, she said. "I also get a sense of relief from people, like 'finally someone is going to take us seriously.'"
She said the Mormon church is becoming a topic of increasing interest among religion scholars as it grows beyond the Western Hemisphere into a worldwide faith. Yale University held a scholarly conference on Mormonism two years ago, and Harvard University also is taking an interest.