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Mormonism and the Second Great Awakening

As the number of those attending church more than doubled due to the Great Awakening, the spiritual focus of people also increased. Many people took a “headlong flight into domesticity” and pulled away from society hoping to find purity. (1) At the same time, the Second Great Awakening was also seen as “relieving anxiety over departures from communal norms and paternal authority.” (2) This led to a decrease in the walls that separated gender and other man-made walls that existed between various groups while erecting many new walls that appeared based on politics and economic standings as the Mormons “personified the popular antinomianism.” (3) It was also through the Mormon religion that “a gusher of Come-outer longing for an apocalyptic New Jerusalem” was tapped that the Second Great Awakening sowed. (4) Yet it was the Second Great Awakening that helped the opposition. The reason it was called the Second “Great” Awakening was the fact that it was so widespread. This means that all branches of religion were affected including that of the orthodox Christian sects. As movements such as the Mormons rose up, other Christian groups reacted as they sensed the degree of difference these groups projected. Too much suspicion existed as those that were now deeper into their spiritual roots questions the actions of Smith and others. The Second Great Awakening lit the fire for spirituality. Without that desire for the spiritual world in this world, Mormonism would not have found such a stronghold as well as other sects. It was also that same ‘Awakening’ that brought up the opposition that could look at the Bible and see the differences. The spirituality of others was awakened as they dug deeper into the religious texts. Spirituality was not for the Mormons alone. It swept the nation causing many groups to grow closer and many sections to split apart.

(1) Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846, (New York: Oxford, 1991), 202.
(2) Ibid, 203.
(3) Ibid, 218.
(4) Ibid, 222.

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