This work is a historical ethnography set in late twentieth-century America that delineates the rival claims, narratives, and practices of multiple Mormon groups at a contested pilgrimage site in Ohio.
Reviews: The Journal of American History; Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture; Nova Religio: The Journal of New and Emergent Religions; Material Religion; The Mormon Studies Review; Journal of Mormon History; Ohio History; BYU Studies Quarterly; John Whitmer Historical Association Journal; Mormon Historical Studies; Association for Mormon Letters
Co-authored with John-Charles Duffy, this publication is the only Mormon studies text that provides sustained comparative analysis of the three major traditions within Mormonism, and, as such, illustrates how young religions diversify over time and work out their place within a larger culture.
Selected Articles and Chapters
“The RLDS Church, Global Denominations, and Globalization: Why the Study of Denominations Still Matters.” Journal of Mormon History 48, no. 3 (2022): 1–14.
With Nancy Ross and Zoe Kruse. “The Women’s Ordination Movement in the RLDS Church: Historical and Sociological Perspectives.” Mormon Studies Review 9 (2022): 15-26.
“Why Denominations Can Climb Hills: RLDS Conversions in Highland Tribal India and Midwestern America, 1964-2001.” Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture 89, no. 3 (2020): 633-658.
“The Community of Christ (RLDS Church): Structuring Common Differences in the Philippines.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Global Mormonism, edited by R. Gordon Shepherd, A. Gary Shepherd, and Ryan Cragun, 655-676. New York: Palgrave/MacMillan, 2020.
“The Cultural Work of the ‘First Vision Accounts’ Essay.” In The LDS Gospel Topics Essays: A Scholarly Engagement, edited by Matthew L. Harris and Newell Bringhurst, 131-161. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2020.
“Ripe Fields, Plentiful Laborers, Few Jobs: The Prospects and Challenges for Early-Career Mormon Studies Scholars.” Journal of Mormon History 41, no. 1 (2015): 174-183.
“What Does Kashi Have to Do with Salt Lake?: Academic Comparisons, Asian Religions, and Mormonism.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 47, no. 2 (2014): 122-132.
“A Post-Correlation Church?” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 34, no. 2 (2014): 112-116.
“ ‘We’re Not the Mormons’: Alterity and Church History in the Community of Christ.” Fides et Historia 45, no. 1 (winter/spring 2013): 101-108.
“Restorationist Studies: The Future of the New Mormon History.” Journal of Mormon History 35, no. 3 (2009): 200-204.
“Eating Vegetables to Build Zion: RLDS Children in the 1920s.” Journal of Mormon History 35, no. 1 (2009): 1-22.
“The Death and Resurrection of the RLDS Zion: A Case Study in ‘Failed Prophecy,’ 1930-1970.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40, no. 3 (fall 2007): 112-131.
“The Bruderhof’s ‘System of Objects’: A Study in Material Culture and Christian Praxis.” Communal Societies 26, no. 2 (2006): 19-42.
“ ‘The Making of a Steward’: Zion, Ecclesiastical Power, and RLDS Bodies, 1923-1931.” Journal of Mormon History 32, no. 2 (2006): 1-38.(Article of the Year, John Whitmer Historical Association, 2007)
“Zion as Fiction: Gender, Early RLDS Novels, and the Politics of Place.” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 25 (2005): 93-106.
“Historians on Defining Hegemony in Missionary-Native Relations.” Fides et Historia 37, no. 1 (Winter/Spring 2005): 17-24.
“Remembering Polygamy: The RLDS Church and Late Twentieth-Century American Spiritual Transformations.” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 24 (2004): 149-172.
Selected Book Reviews
Review of Walking to Magdalena: Personhood and Place in Tohono O’odham Songs, Sticks, and Stories by Seth Schermerhorn (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2019) in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 88.1 (2020): 256-259.
Review of Race and the Making of the Mormon People by Max Perry Mueller (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017) in Nova Religio: The Journal of New and Emergent Religions 22.4 (2019): 146-147.
Review of Standing Apart: Mormon Historical Consciousness and the Concept of Apostasy edited by Miranda Wilcox and John D. Young (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014) in Nova Religio: The Journal of New and Emergent Religions 19, no. 2 (2015): 122-124.
Review of In Heaven as It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death by Samuel Morris Brown (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), in Church History: Christianity and Culture 83, no. 1 (2014): 234-236.
Review of Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet by John G. Turner (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2012), in the Mormon Studies Review 1 (2014): 188-195.
Review of The Missouri Mormon Experience edited by Thomas M. Spencer (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2010), in the Journal of the Civil War Era 3, no. 3 (2013): 413-414.
Review of Modern Polygamy in the United States: Historical, Cultural, and Legal Issues edited by Cardell K. Jacobson with Lara Burton (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010) in Church History: Christianity and Culture 81, no. 2 (2012): 492-494.
Review of Exhibiting Mormonism: Latter-day Saints and the 1893 Chicago Worlds’ Fair by Reid L. Neilson (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011) in Journal of Illinois History 14, no. 4 (2011), 303-305.
Book note of Shrines and Pilgrimage in the Modern World: New Itineraries into the Sacred edited by Peter Jan Margry (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2008), in Religious Studies Review 37, no. 3 (2011): 186-187.
Book note of God’s New Whiz Kids?: Korean American Evangelicals on Campus by Rebecca Kim (New York: New York University Press, 2006), in Religious Studies Reviews 34, no. 3 (2008): 222.
Works in Progress
With Nancy Ross and Tillie Slosser. “Counterpublic, Social Movement, or Network?: RLDS Feminists and Women’s Ordination Advocacy in America, 1970-1985.” Article in preparation.
“Reprotestantization and Faith-based NGOs: The Case of the RLDS Church in the Philippines.” Article in preparation.
” ‘We’re Not Who You Think We Are’: RLDS/Community of Christ’s Denominational Names and the Proximate ‘Other,’ 1956-2016.” Article in preparation.
“Inventing Rupture: Christian Adivasis, Hindu Nationalists, RLDS Americans, and the Valences of Conversion, 1964-1990.” In Missionary Interests: Protestant and Mormon Missions in Comparison, edited by Christopher Jones and David Golding. Chapter submitted; volume under review with Cornell University Press.
Co-authored with John-Charles Duffy. “American Church, Global Zion: Reimagining Sacred Space in Two US-centered Mormon Denominations.” In Global Mormonism: Theory and Case Studies from Asia, edited by Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye and Laurie Maffly-Kipp. Chapter submitted; volume under review with University of Illinois Press.
With Nancy Ross. “New Possibilities: When Mormon Women are Called to Ordained Ministry.” Christian Century 139, no. 4 (February 23, 2022): 32-35.
Community of Christ in the Philippines: Fifty Years of Ministry and Service. Independence, Missouri: Community of Christ, 2016.
A History of Community of Christ in India. Independence, Missouri: Community of Christ, 2015.
“‘Ripe Fields, Plentiful Laborers, Few Jobs‘: David Howlett in JMH50.” Juvenile Instructor: A Mormon History Blog. March 23, 2015.
“Understanding RLDS History: A Resource List.” Juvenile Instructor: A Mormon History Blog. February 16, 2015.
“Kirtland Temple: An Excerpt from the Book.” Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. June 9, 2014.
“Going to Church in Exile…or Why Denominations Still Matter.” Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. April 7, 2014.
“Community of Christ Sings: A New Hymnal for a Divided Global Church.” Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. February 3, 2014.
“Why LDS Women Will Not Be Ordained to the Priesthood.” Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. September 23, 2013.
“Why You Should Read More Fiction (and John Turner’s Brigham Young).“Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. July 22, 2013.
“Joseph Smith the Seeker and Same-Sex Marriage: The Community of Christ in Transition.” Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. May 20, 2013.
“Conferences at the Crossroads of Mormonism.” Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. March 18, 2013.
“French Polynesia and Mormonization: Rethinking Mormon Origins.” Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. January 14, 2013.
“Latter Day Conversions: Divided Families and Reconciled Relationships.” Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. November 11, 2012.
“Are Mormons Christian? …Yes…No…and Yes.” Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. September 12, 2012.
“Emma Smith and Ecumenical Miscommunication.” Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. July 11, 2012.
“A Mormon Massacre Site and Places within a Space.” Peculiar People: Commentary on Religion and American Life by Mormons and Those Who Study Them. May 12, 2012.
“A Mormon Relic?: Thoughts on Religion, Material Culture, and Classification,” History of Christianity (blog for the American Society of Church History), September 10, 2012.
Co-authored with John Hamer and Barbara Walden. Community of Christ: An Illustrated History. Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 2010.
Co-edited with Suzanne Trewhitt McLaughlin and Orval Fisher. Toward Economic Justice?: Paths of Peace. Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 2003. (Contributors included Nobel Laureate Oscar Arias Sanchez, theologian M. Douglas Meeks, and AFL-CIO Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson.)
Colvin, Gina. “Why the RLDS Reformed but the LDS Didn’t: Prof. David Howlett.” A Thoughtful Faith Podcast. May 21, 2021.
Peter, Karin. “Cuppa Joe: Historic Sites Foundation Summer Lecture Series — David Howlett.” Project Zion. November 18, 2020.
Peter, Karin. “Cuppa of Joe with David Howlett” (interview about Community of Christ in India). Project Zion. October 11, 2018.
Olaiz, Hugo. “Kirtland Temple as a Shared Space: A Conversation with David J. Howlett.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 47, no. 1 (2014): 104-123.
Quoted in Media
Quoted in Sarah Emerson and Matthew Giles, “A Popular Online Learning Platform Was Actually Created by an Underground Religious ‘Cult’: The Creator of Acellus and the ‘Cult’s Leader Has Been Accused of Violence and Abuse,” OneZero: Medium, 9 October, 2020.
Quoted in Kimberly Winston, “Contested Sacred Space USA: Conflict and Cooperation in the Heartland,” Religion News Service, August 11, 2017.
Quoted in Jennifer Dobner, “Mormon Women Look for Entrance into Priesthood,” Reuters New Service, April 5, 2014.
Quoted in Emily W. Jensen, “Kirtland Temple Encourages Cooperation between Religious Groups,” Deseret News, June 30, 2012.
Quoted in “Understanding Mormonism” special issue, CQ Researcher, October 19, 2012.
Quoted in “Ohio Mormon Roots Spotlighted as Romney Campaigns in State,” WOSU (NPR affiliate), February 20, 2012.