Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Religion, Government, and the Prohibition

Class

Article

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Abstract

The 18th amendment arose out of a larger temperance movement in which alcohol was commonly viewed as the root cause of a litany of social problems. However, following the passage of the 18th amendment, neither alcohol consumption nor the related social problems dissipated, demonstrating the failure of the amendment, and eventually leading the U.S. to the 21st amendment, undoing the prohibition. Interestingly, the 18th amendment took effect only one year before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints made the "Word of Wisdom," a church scripture which, among other things, bans the consumption of alcohol, an absolute requirement for full participation in the religion. This religious prohibition enjoyed far greater success than the legal prohibition of the 18th amendment. We analyze the quantitative differences in the efficacy of each prohibition, as well as the various incentive changes caused by each institution. To do this, we will examine historic drunkenness arrest records in both the U.S. as a whole, and Utah specifically, which has been demonstrated by previous research to be an accurate way of estimating alcohol consumption. Then, by taking a look at historic documents, we will examine the incentives of changing behavior, and discuss the efficiency of legal versus non-legal restrictions when attempting to change behavior. We will also examine the contrast in reactions to external regulation stemming from the government, and regulation stemming from a religious organization, and the powerful social implications that follow a restriction that is both external and internal. A religious organization, altering the basis of a group's value system can more easily change that group's behavior than if only a legal regulation is exerted.

Start Date

4-9-2015 9:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 9:00 AM

Religion, Government, and the Prohibition

The 18th amendment arose out of a larger temperance movement in which alcohol was commonly viewed as the root cause of a litany of social problems. However, following the passage of the 18th amendment, neither alcohol consumption nor the related social problems dissipated, demonstrating the failure of the amendment, and eventually leading the U.S. to the 21st amendment, undoing the prohibition. Interestingly, the 18th amendment took effect only one year before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints made the "Word of Wisdom," a church scripture which, among other things, bans the consumption of alcohol, an absolute requirement for full participation in the religion. This religious prohibition enjoyed far greater success than the legal prohibition of the 18th amendment. We analyze the quantitative differences in the efficacy of each prohibition, as well as the various incentive changes caused by each institution. To do this, we will examine historic drunkenness arrest records in both the U.S. as a whole, and Utah specifically, which has been demonstrated by previous research to be an accurate way of estimating alcohol consumption. Then, by taking a look at historic documents, we will examine the incentives of changing behavior, and discuss the efficiency of legal versus non-legal restrictions when attempting to change behavior. We will also examine the contrast in reactions to external regulation stemming from the government, and regulation stemming from a religious organization, and the powerful social implications that follow a restriction that is both external and internal. A religious organization, altering the basis of a group's value system can more easily change that group's behavior than if only a legal regulation is exerted.