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About the Film:

In this two-part series, FRONTLINE and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE examine the development and growth of the Mormon faith. The first part chronicles the birth of Mormonism in upstate New York and follows its trek across America under the charismatic leadership of Joseph Smith. This episode also deals with the question, "Why should they be so hated?" as it analyzes the discrimination that the Mormons historically faced. The second part explores the social and political impact of the contemporary Mormon community within itself and on American society.

Watching the Film:

Teachers can either assign the film for viewing as homework or show the film in class. Suggested discussion questions are provided. The lessons and activities in this guide can be used in the classroom without having viewed the film.

A Note to Teachers:

For classes in social studies, language arts, current events and media studies; Grade level 9th - 12th. Teachers can use this lesson in its entirety or select appropriate parts.

Understanding that examinations of religious identity may be a sensitive topic for the classroom, this guide avoids issues and questions of morality. Instead, it focuses on the historic discrimination that faced the Mormon community and the candidacy of former Governor Mitt Romney in the 2008 presidential election.

Discussion Questions:

This guide includes a list of questions for students to discuss after viewing The Mormons.

Featured Lesson Plan:

"Vote Or Veto: How Does Religion Affect Candidates And Voters?"

Lesson Objectives:

Students will:

Additional Lesson Ideas:

The Geography of Mormonism
Students will track the American and international growth of Mormonism.

Real or Reel? Mormons Depicted in Pop Culture
Students will compare and contrast the depiction of Mormons in popular media.

Persecution of the Mormons:
Students will interpret key documents pertaining to the growth of Mormonism in the 19th century.

Additional Resources:

An annotated list of relevant Web sites.

Purchasing the Film:

The Mormons can be purchased from Shop PBS for Teachers: http://teacher.shop.pbs.org/home/index.jsp. Also, teachers and students can watch the film streamed in its entirety on the FRONTLINE/AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Web site: http://www.pbs.org/mormons/


This teacher's guide was developed by Simone Bloom Nathan of Media Education Consultants. It was written by Debra Plafker Gutt, Stuyvesant High School, New York. Advisers were Ellen Greenblatt, The Bay School, San Francisco and Greg Timmons, curriculum writer and educational consultant.