Chad Nielsen

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The quest to create a Zion community was a defining feature of the early Mormon movement. As they were forced to move from place to place in nineteenth-century America, the early Latter-day Saints attempted to gather to central locations and create holy cities—utopian communities based on religious principles taught by Joseph Smith. The practice of this ideal has changed within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over time, resulting in a very different application of the Zion ideal in the Mormon community today. In many ways, the term “building Zion” has become an abstraction within the Church used to encourage righteous living in families and church communities. This study is an analysis of the application of the idea of Zion in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the course of its history with the intent of showing when, why, and how that ideal has changed within the Mormon community. A search of histories, sermons, Church manuals, and studies indicate that the change mostly took place during a period of intense transition within the Church around the turn of the twentieth century and that the concept of Zion continues to evolve to fit the needs of the time.

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