Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness by W. Paul Reeve and For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830–2013

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Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness
Author W. Paul Reeve
New York: Oxford University Press, 2015
For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism
For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism
Author Russell W. Stevenson
Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2014

Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness by W. Paul Reeve and For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830–2013

Reviewer Patrick Q. Mason

Two significant additions to the ongoing conversation on American and global racial diversity are Russell Stevenson’s book For the Cause of Righteousness and Paul Reeve’s Religion of a Different Color. Both award-winning authors, Stevenson is currently a doctoral student in African history at Michigan State University, and Reeve is a professor of history at the University of Utah. Although their books deal with the relationship of Mormonism and race and overlap in certain key respects—notably coverage of the origins and impact of the LDS priesthood-temple ban—in fact the two books are as different as they are similar. Stevenson offers a mostly linear history of LDS racial policies and how blacks who came to believe in Mormonism’s precepts, both in the United States and beyond, sought to navigate the biases of the institution, its leaders, and members. Reeve goes beyond the more traditional narrative of Mormons’ views of racial minorities (especially blacks and Native Americans) to consider how those racial beliefs were constructed as a dialectic alongside the racialization of Mormons by non-LDS outsiders, particularly in the nineteenth century. In its sophisticated conversation with whiteness theory and the history of American race relations, Reeve’s book is the more innovative and theoretically ambitious of the two, though both have important merits.