YSA, WHY I STAY: AN EXPLORATION OF BELIEF, RITUAL, PRACTICE, and POLICY in the CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

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2020
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Haverford College. Department of Anthropology
Haverford College. Department of Religion
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Thesis
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The Religion Prize
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eng
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Dark Archive until 2025-01-01, afterwards Open Access.
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Abstract
In this thesis I provide historical contextualization of contemporary Church doctrine and official statements, as well as explore the transitional moments in the church's history as shown by General Conference talks and policy changes in the General Handbook. I do this with the particular status of an insider-outsider, a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ. The purpose of this identification is to explore the current state of the Church of Jesus Christ members' beliefs and practices in reference to key moments in its history. I take this project one step further by briefly examining the most recent decade-plus of controversy within the Church. This project is timely due to the long-standing prevalence of some, like controversy over social roles, and notable recurrence of other conversations, like the law of chastity. These issues of gender and sexuality are particularly poignant as a tool of engagement with the politicized Church of Jesus Christ. I argue that within the Church members thoughtfully engage with the Church's history, hold doubts and issues regarding certain Church policy, but choose to stay because of hope in the overall good of the Church institution, love of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and belief in the efficacy of Temple rites and rituals. While acknowledging the positionality and subjectivity of myself and my participants is very important for the particularity of this project, I want to push back against common forms of Church approved representation in order to create more genuine interactions within this community.
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