Conference to Explore Commonalities Between Mormonism and Islam
February 23, 2011
For Immediate Release
University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Karissa Neely (801) 863-6351
The 11th annual Mormon Studies Conference will be March 10-11 in the Utah Valley University Sorensen Student Center’s Centre Stage.
This year’s Mormon Studies Conference, “Mormonism and Islam: Commonality and Cooperation Between Abrahamic Faiths,” will engage in a comparative exploration of Islam and Mormonism. Scholars and practitioners of both Mormonism and Islam will reflect on points of connection and contrast between two traditions that face challenges related to public awareness and social inclusion.
Since the founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830, Mormonism has been compared to Islam, conference organizers said. Referring to LDS Church founder Joseph Smith as “the modern Mahomet,” these early comparisons reflected religious prejudices of the day and were intended to marginalize Mormons and Muslims in American social and political culture.
The aim of this conference is to enhance public understanding of Mormonism and Islam, and explore a variety of issues for Mormons and Muslims including religious freedom and public perception, mutual goals and cooperative endeavors, areas of theological connection and divergence and efforts at dialogue and bridge-building.
“Our chief purpose is interfaith dialogue,” said Boyd Petersen, lecturer and program coordinator of Mormon Studies at UVU, said of the conference’s objectives. “We want to build bridges in the community. We have a growing number of Islamic worshipers in our community and at UVU, and we want to shed some light on misconceptions of both Islam and Mormonism.”
The event will start each day at 8:30 a.m., and will include various expert speakers and panel discussions. Thursday’s keynote address, “Overcoming Injustice: The Prophet Muhammad’s Legacy for Modern Muslims,” will be by Omar Kader, an UVU alumnus and chairman of the Middle East Policy Council. Friday’s keynote address will be given by Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University and best-selling author. He will speak on “Mormons, Muslims, and the ‘Ground Zero Mosque.'”
“We’ve got a really solid line-up of presenters. We tried to draw from the local community and beyond, and we tried to bring in both practitioners of religion, as well as scholars,” Petersen said. “We want to build bridges between academia and the general public, as well as between the faiths.”
More information about the conference is available at www.uvu.edu/religiousstudies/mormonismandislam.
Utah Valley University is located in Orem, Utah, and is home to nearly 33,000 students. UVU began as a vocational school during World War II, and in the seven decades since has evolved into a technical school, community college, state college and, finally, a comprehensive regional teaching university. UVU is one of Utah’s largest institutions of higher learning and offers programs ranging from career training to high-demand master degrees, with emphasis on undergraduate education.
As a community engaged institution committed to scholarly inquiry, UVU frequently provides a forum for speakers and lecturers from various backgrounds to address students, employees and the community. Hosting these parties of diverse perspectives and opinions does not necessarily imply UVU’s endorsement of their ideas, but providing access to them is a key role for a state university.