Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Activity 1: Story - The Mormon Trail

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story until you are comfortable presenting it.

Description of Activity

Participants hear and discuss the story of the Mormon Trail.

Tell participants that you need their help to tell the story. Read the story aloud, following the prompts. Ask participants for their initial reactions to the story.

  • What did they think of the story?
  • Had they heard it before, in sum or in part?
  • What they you think of the Mormons' decision to move west? Was it necessary? Would you have done the same thing?
  • Men greatly outnumbered women on the journey. Why do you think this was so? Mormons were polygamists (having multiple wives) at the time. By some historical accounts, some Mormons stayed behind in the population centers of the United States to convert people, especially young women, and encourage them to join their new brethren in Salt Lake City. Not until the women arrived, separated from their friends and families and often with little or no money, did they learn of the Mormon practice of polygamy. What do you think of this method of recruitment? What do you think of polygamy? What do you think of polyandry (multiple husbands)? Do you feel differently about the two? Why or why not? Why do you think it is rejected by most societies?
  • What about Mormon beliefs and practices do you think followers of the dominant faith, Christianity, found so threatening that they expelled them? [The beliefs stemming from the Book of Mormon? The close-knit nature of their communities? The way they kept their money in and for their communities? Their tendency to isolate themselves? The threat of their political power?]
  • How do you think Mormons are regarded in this country today?