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IUPUI forum on modern-day Mormonism features leading experts, former senator

Former U.S. Sen. Robert F. Bennett
Former U.S. Sen. Robert F. Bennett Jana Riess
Jana Riess

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August 20, 2012

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Three prominent experts on Mormon history, culture and religion and a former Utah senator are the featured speakers for an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis forum on Mormonism in today’s society.

The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, based in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, will host “Mormons in the 21st Century” from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Day Classroom of the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, 450 W. Ohio St. Guest speakers include Jan Shipps, Philip Barlow, Jana Riess and former U.S. Sen. Robert F. Bennett.

Bennett, a senator for 18 years and a Washington, D.C., figure for decades, will speak on “Mormons in U.S. Politics,” an especially timely topic. His advice is sought and relied upon by U.S. presidents, cabinet officials and members of Congress. Bennett is also a part-time teacher, researcher and lecturer at the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Jan Shipps, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and History at IUPUI, will speak on “The Surprising Response to Mormonism’s ‘Golden Question.’” She is the author of two prize-winning books: “Mormonism: the Story of a New Religious Tradition” and “Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons.”

Philip Barlow, Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University, will speak on differences in being Mormon within the Mountain West and outside that region. Barlow has published “Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-Day Saints in American Religion,” and he is the co- author of “The New Historical Atlas of Religion in America” and co-editor of “Religion and Public Life in the Midwest: America's Common Denominator?”

Jana Riess, who will speak on Mormons in popular culture, has been an editor in the publishing industry since 2008, primarily acquiring in the areas of religion, history, popular culture, ethics and biblical studies. From 1999 to 2008, she was the religion book review editor for Publishers Weekly, and she continues to write freelance articles and reviews for Publishers Weekly as well as other publications.

In the final session, Kathleen Flake of Vanderbilt University Divinity School will lead an open discussion about the topics of the day, during which the forum speakers will take questions from the audience. Professor Flake is author of the award-winning book “The Politics of Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle.”

This forum is free and open to the public; however, seating is limited. Please call 317-274-8409 or email raac@iupui.edu to reserve a seat.

The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, established in 1989, is a research and public outreach institute devoted to the promotion of the understanding of the relation between religion and other features of American culture.

Forum Schedule
9 a.m. Jan Shipps, “The Surprising Response to Mormonism’s ‘Golden Question’”
10:30 a.m. Philip Barlow, “Being Mormon in Utah -- and Elsewhere”
1 p.m. Robert F. Bennett, “Mormons in U.S. Politics”
2:30 p.m. Jana Riess, “From Pariah to Model Minority: Mormonism in Popular Culture”
3:45 p.m. Open discussion led by Kathleen Flake