News Story

Award-winning Political Scientist Speaks to McGill University Audience About Latter-day Saints

Professor David Campbell of the University of Notre Dame, co-author of the award-winning book “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us,” was the guest speaker featured at the seventh annual McGill University Latter-day Saint Lecture Series. The event took place online October 27, 2021, to an audience of nearly 100 participants.

Campbell discussed the distinctness and cohesiveness of Latter-day Saints, noting that many Church members identify with the biblical term “a peculiar people” (Deuteronomy 14:2). He used U.S survey data to analyze the shift of political views over time within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He pointed out that Latter-day Saints in Utah have not always voted Republican; they voted Democrat in the 1890s and were swing voters through the first half of the 20th century.

Campbell said that the importance of religion in the United States has varied over time, with high importance in the 1950s and 1990s and low importance in the 1960s and today. He also discussed the notion of a “secular surge” and how the growth of secularism in the United States has affected Latter-day Saint religious communities. Like many other faith communities, the Latter-day Saints have seen a decrease in religious identification and participation.

Summarizing his presentation, Campbell said, “We’ve seen that there has been a secular surge in the United States. We’ve seen evidence for how American Latter-day Saints are distinctive, cohesive and conservative.”

Dr. G. Eric Jarvis moderated a question-and-answer period with queries that sought to clarify Latter-day Saint political preferences and trends in the international rather than the American Church.

Jay Glowa, president of the Montreal Quebec Mount Royal Stake of the Church, attended the lecture. He said, “The lecture was very engaging, and although it covered the trends related to secularism specifically facing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was very intrigued by the data that highlighted the rising tide of overall non-religiosity prevalent in an increasing secular world.”

Montreal Latter-day Saint David Schlachter said of the presentation, “While Dr. Campbell’s research focused on Latter-day Saint communities in the United States, it was interesting to see the parallels in the issues faced by Canadian congregations, particularly at the intersection of religious political conservatism and the values of younger generations.”

This lecture was the seventh in a series of annual lectures given since 2014. The event was co-sponsored by McGill’s School of Religious Studies. Professor Daniel Cere, School of Religious Studies, and Professor Victor Muñiz-Fraticelli, faculty of law, worked with G. Eric and Catherine Jarvis, co-directors of Communication in Quebec for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to organize the event.

President Glowa expressed his thanks: “We are so grateful for the collaboration with the academic community here in Montreal and particularly McGill University in supporting and promoting these annual lectures.”

Contributed by Stephanie Schindler

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.