THE LIBERAL RELIGIOUS TRADITION IN MORMONISM: A Personal View of Developments in the Late Twentieth Century

Liberal religion believes in a limited God, holds an optimistic view of human nature, and values reason as a source of religious information. Mormonism emerged in the nineteenth century primarily as a liberal religion. This tradition in Mormonism has been strong but has coexisted also with strong conservative elements. Recently, however, Mormonism has clearly become more identified with conservative religious elements that emphasize belief in an all-powerful God, distrust human nature, and value authority as the source of religious knowledge. As a Mormon raised in the liberal tradition, I chronicle this transformation through my personal experience and propose a religious stance and course of action that might resurrect and advance Mormonism’s liberal religious tradition.

Bruce L. Baker, Dan Wotherspoon