Scholars & Saints

Baptism for the Dead & the Anthropology of Spirit Possession (feat. Jon Bialecki)

April 27, 2023 Stephen Betts Episode 34
Baptism for the Dead & the Anthropology of Spirit Possession (feat. Jon Bialecki)
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Scholars & Saints
Baptism for the Dead & the Anthropology of Spirit Possession (feat. Jon Bialecki)
Apr 27, 2023 Episode 34
Stephen Betts

Dr. Jon Bialecki returns to the show to discuss a recent essay, "The Mormon Dead" that explores why Latter-day Saints do not seek or experience the phenomenon of spirit possession as a feature of proxy temple ordinances performed for their deceased ancestors. We talk about the anthropology of spirit possession, the Godbeite movement, Latter-day Saint kinship, and more. 

Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Jon Bialecki returns to the show to discuss a recent essay, "The Mormon Dead" that explores why Latter-day Saints do not seek or experience the phenomenon of spirit possession as a feature of proxy temple ordinances performed for their deceased ancestors. We talk about the anthropology of spirit possession, the Godbeite movement, Latter-day Saint kinship, and more. 

Baptism for the Dead and the Anthropology of Spirit Possession



“I think [baptism for the dead] is one of the most fascinating case studies, not just in American religion, but…in the anthropology of religion writ large…”

—Jon Bialecki



Stephen Betts: Welcome back to Scholars and Saints. I'm your host, Stephen Betts.

Stephen Betts: I’m pleased to welcome back Dr. Jon Bialecki, lecturer in anthropology at the University of California at San Diego. He's the author of A Diagram for Fire (University of California Press, 2017) and Machines for Making Gods (Fordham, 2022). We're talking today about his recent essay, “The Mormon Dead.” 

Jon, we had a great conversation last year. Was it last year? I think it was last year. 

Jon Bialecki: It feels like longer, but these have been COVID years. But yeah, something 

Stephen Betts: In the long 2020, somewhere in there. We had a conversation about

Jon Bialecki: Yeah. Calendrically, it was last year. 

Stephen Betts: Calendrically. That's right. We had a conversation about your book that's now been published Machines for Making Gods about Mormon transhumanism and speculative thought. We see some of the same themes that you're exploring in that book and in your previous book, the concept of variation and how variation is illustrated in religious life. We're talking about the relationship of Mormons to their dead in the 19th century, specifically in the context of baptism for the dead. And your question is, why don't Mormons experience spirit possession? So, can you lay out for us first, maybe, what does the anthropology of spirit possession look like? What kinds of questions do anthropologists ask about spirit possession? And then why this question in particular. 

Jon Bialecki: So, this is kind of like that old Sherlock Holmes thing, like the dog that didn't bark in the night. It's something that's marked by an absence and that is fascinating. Of course, this is a little bit about how the sausage gets made, which is I was invited to go and do a chapter for book on spirit possession, and I think that they naturally assumed my earlier work with charismatic Christians in southern California would be the basis of it.

And I said, well, I could do that as long as you want that. I just wanna make sure you don't want my Mormon work. And then they said, “your what?” And then they said, “well, what's that like?” And I said, “well, you know, I guess there's baptism for the dead.” And I described it to them and their minds were blown, which I think just goes to show how little knowledge there is in general anthropological community about what I think is one of the most fascinating case studies, not just in American religion, but I think in the anthropology of religion writ large and how this is an area that needs a lot of anthropological attention more than it's getting. And I think both from anthropologists who have affiliation with the Church or the broader Restored Gospel movement, and also from gentiles like me, but there you go.

Jon Bialecki: That was the kind of academic mechanics of how I came to write this. But it is motivated by an actual intellectual problem because there is this moment of incredible intimacy between the living and the dead. And it's especially striking if you think that this goes not just for baptism for the dead, which is what goes quickest to mind, but the fact that there are so many ordinances that can be done by proxy. And to have that kind of deep connection, which stands on top of a general concern for the dead that you do not see in other forms of Christianity. The idea of like, you know, “turning the hearts” to the ancestors in a way that, in most cases, you simply have either the dead ancestors being a possible source of power if you have something like Orthodoxy or Catholicism in which particular individuals who have passed might be used as some sort of way station or source, or you have the kind of Protestant and particularly evangelical answer in which you don't think about the dead other than to just assume they're in heaven and tell yourself if they weren't good Christians, “well, who knows what they did on their deathbed? I'm sure they converted.” So, either way, it's a selective fixation or it's kind of a comforting fiction that's produced, but you don't see that in the Restored Gospel tradition. And I wanted to know why that intimacy isn't expressed in the form of spirit possession.

 Jon Bialecki: Now, spirit possession generally, and I'm going to go and be talking broad brush here, and it's very sort of unfair, but as is really brilliantly laid out by the introduction to the book that this essay appeared in The Dynamic Cosmos: Movement, Paradox, and Experimentation in in the Anthropology of Spirit Possession. It was edited by Diana Espírito Santo and Matan Shapiro, and I simply want to go and call this out, not for the ease of your Amazon search function, but because there is a lot of good scholarship, not just in the introduction, but everywhere else where people really explore the fact that spirit possession is informed by senses of movement, by which I mean transformation and passage from one ontological or existential state to the other. It's also marked by paradox and of course, so [are] proxy ordinances. But the paradox you get of one person who is not a person, the idea that someone is there bodily, but they're not mentally present. And there's someone who is there mentally but not bodily, or at least not in the standard issue body they had when they were last on the earth (assuming of course you're being possessed by someone who's deceased and not by entirely supernatural entity). And then there's like, the idea that this is not just a moment where you have movement of a particular individual, but you also have a kind of dilation in the cosmos itself. That is information, power, energy that usually is kept separate from the mortal realm is often allowed to go and pass through this and this opens up all sorts of interesting anthropological questions. I mean, there's always an anthropological interest in alterity and while anthropology has grown past a simple kind of obsession with, “they do things different there,” there is a desire in anthropology to go and understand all of the combinatory possibilities of being human, all the ways that human culture and society can be expressed. So, there's that, but also it's, you know, questions of identity, questions of what ritual practices, the question itself of what is religion, because oftentimes these kind of supernatural, possessive phenomena, particularly when it's by particular entities and not sort of an abstract possession by the Holy Spirit, which really doesn't equate to possession in the standard sense of things.

Jon Bialecki: When you have something like that, oftentimes what is engaged or practiced is either on the fringes of what's considered to be religion or is relegated to the realm of magic. And you can see this particularly in the kind of sad reception that Voodoo has had historically in American culture. And then of course there's just the kind of itch you get from exactly what's going on here at the level of how does one psychologically or psychically, depending on your explanatory framework, prepare oneself for this state? What is it experientially like? So, this is anthropological catnip. This is why people like it. It's full of all sorts of strange twists and ironies. But we don't have that in these kind of proxy ordinances. And the argument I lay out, building in part of course from simply content analysis by material that has been put out by the Church and Church-affiliated organs, from discussions with interlocutors who are part of the Church. And from some historical research, and I'm going to be honest, I am an anthropologist and not a historian and I take no claim to have discovered anything that is historically novel. All I have done is try to go and re-articulate it in a sort of anthropological framework to see what that transposition creates intellectually.

What I've put forward is that while you do have people who report fleeting moments of some kind of heightened affective intensity, oftentimes glossed as like a “temple feeling” or like, you know, “burning in the bosom.” And you do sometimes have folks who report some kind of obsession with maybe particular figures that they were proxies for who might have an interesting biography, or they themselves may have some kind of connection, usually through kinship to. You never get what this mark a possession is, in which you have what purports to be a different consciousness or a different personage or a different individual, either being co-present or standing in the place of the normal subject. And when I thought about this, what I came up with, this has to do with why we have proxy ordinances, we meaning the Church. And now I'm sort of a fictitious or virtual member of the Church now when I speak, and I hope everyone will forgive me for this conceit, this fiction. But what there is is an idea of creating as everyone knows, you know, families that last forever, right? But, when one really sees what families would last forever is this family is really expansive. Because when you start following the threads, and this, again, there's nothing novel here that I'm saying. This is something, I'm not gonna say this is Primary level knowledge, but this is, you know, at least, you know, Seminary level stuff. You have a vision in which you have potentially all of humanity sealed together in a spider web through their own labors, because remember, ordinances have to be performed by the living and therefore all experiencing at least the opportunity of access to some of the highest forms of exaltation. 

Jon Bialecki: But what this places into question, at least from anthropological standpoint, is you can't have the kind of paradoxes ‘cause you have an almost crystalline set of relationships. And this is not just a function of Church teachings or ideology or the religious imaginary or however you want to gloss this. This is also a function of the various institutions and technologies that are used to catalyze the process. And this is something of course that you yourself touched on in an earlier interview with John Durham Peters. But the act of going and trying to create the largest genealogical database in existence means that you have to have some kind of standardization of relations and for reasons that are perfectly understandable, the imagination that's drawn on, the kind of idea about what kinship is are 19th and 20th century and 21st century Euro-American things in which you have a set relationship of people who stand either through blood or through adoption, or through marriage in standard things. One is a son, one is a daughter, one is a father, one is a mother, there are obviously lateral relations such as uncles, aunts. It goes back forward to grandparents and great-grandparents and everyone thinking, yes, I know how genealogy works, particularly this set of people, but that's not the way kinship works everywhere. 

And if you take a look anthropologically about how kinship functions do see some very different models. Models where kinship is based on who is it that gathers together, who eats together, who lives together, that in some models is how kinship is formed. And then you have other models in which because you have like matrilines and some interesting idea about how humans are generated, where you are only really related to say you, your mother, your mother's brother, your mother's sons, and your father may be a very wonderful guy. He may be someone who helps and assists you. He may be someone you have a deep emotional relationship to, but in a serious way, he's not kin. 

This is also putting aside the fact that historically kinship has been used for numerous reasons. Oftentimes kinship is used to go and make some claim about legal title or rights, or possession. Claims of kinship are made and are accepted, but the engine is not to express some kind of biological relationship or relationship through marriage, but some kind of legitimate capacity to claim a property, a right, an inheritance, a status. And this is not problematic. Just think about how crazy kinship worked for like early Roman emperors. Now, that's not really legible either in the kind of technology that the Church puts out there to enlist people to help them go and standardize and control the database, there's not a language for it. And I think that to some level there can't be because of the fluid and dynamic nature. You could only speak about it at best in a ethnographic or anthropological style that says in here, this is the way it's done. And there could be no sort of underlying claim of, “and this is the way kin actually operates.” Right? We can't talk about how kinship actually operates. We can only talk about how kinship operates in a particular place unless we're going to go and say kinship is just biological connection. And I don't think there is any place in the world, including the United States, where that is how kinship is actually conceived. 

Jon Bialecki: This forecloses the kind of movement and the kind of paradox. And in a strange way, also it forecloses at least some forms of cosmological passage because who you are dealing with, they may be in a separate state, they may be dead, they may be, and however one imagines the post-mortal pre-Resurrection realm to be, but they are just people. People you can identify in a chart.

Stephen Betts:  You point out that it sort of removes paradox in a certain sense because the coincidence of people is not there. They're separated by this, this ritualized mediation. But at the same time, the idea that an action by the living can be transferred to the dead does suggest a cosmological passage, particularly when you put it within what Brigham Young described as what, you know, the function of the endowment ceremony, the sort of crowning temple ordinance, where he says, and I'll quote this in full, he says, “Let me give you a definition of the endowment in brief. Your endowment is to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord,” meaning the temple, “which are necessary for you after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the keywords, the signs and tokens pertaining to the holy priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of Earth and hell.”[1]

So, it seems to me like you have this narrative then in which the proxy ordinances for the dead. I mean, Joseph Smith says, and, and I talked about this with John Durham Peters, Joseph Smith has this, this quote where he says, in the Doctrine and Covenants, you can't be saved without your dead. Like we, you know, the, the living can't be saved without dead.[2] Dead can't be saved without the living. So, because of this, like you said, the spiderweb notion of kinship, it's not enough to have affective ties, but you're also sort of prevented from having a form of relation to otherness in which that otherness can inhabit you.

You talk about in the article how you find a variation of Mormonism in that Godbeites or the Church of Zion which is this offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the late 1860s.[3] The Godbeites have a different orientation towards spirit possession. And I'd love to hear what does this reveal about Mormonism? What does this reveal about spirit possession as an anthropological phenomenon to have these two very close variations of the same religion but with these very different orientations towards spirit possession.

Jon Bialecki: The Godbeites I find to be a fascinating case, in part because it touches on another feature that we have not talked about, which is authority. If you're to have a crystalline structure, you have to have regulating authority so everyone has the same understanding. And this is usually abetted through, you know, various institutional forms in the Church, but also because you have a monopoly on living prophets, right? You have 15 people that individually are collectively, can go and speak authoritatively. At least that's the common understanding. And they have what's close to a monopoly on the production of religious truth. It's more complicated than that in actual life, because oftentimes they are lagging indicators of where the center of Mormon religious intellectual life is from time to time. But that's simply where it looks to me from the outside.

But if you think about the other thing that spirit possession brings, and this gets back to cosmological passage, you really open yourself up to a proliferation of potential authorities when you have spirit possession. And this is clear as day in the Godbeite case. And of course, to say the Godbeite case is about spirit possession is not quite correct. And I'm not saying that's the way that you presented it, but oftentimes that's the kind of TL;DR, you know, way people grasped the Godbeites. But it was also a political movement. It was a financial movement. It was an aesthetic movement. There were a lot of very well-positioned writers and editors who were part of the Godbeite movement. There were some very major sort of business magnates who were part of the Godbeite movement, and they oftentimes were sets of people that found themselves not fully appreciating Brigham Young’s form of government, particularly when Brigham Young would go and mandate certain kind of financial ventures that they did not think was wise and foreclose others that they were desirous of. Brigham Young's famous disrespect and sort of almost disdain for mining, for instance. But the Godbeites wanted to open up all those things and spirit possession worked well with that. It resonated. I don't wanna say it's causal. I don't wanna say any one of these forces are causal. I think it's sort of a conglomeration, a moment where various factors that rhymed nicely kind of naturally came together. And you see this when you read about sort of the origins of spiritualism of the Godbeites. Godbe and I forget the other gentleman's name right now. They had gone to New York on a business venture.They met a spiritualist, and to remind everyone of something that I'm sure they're all already aware of, you know, spiritualism was a large moment in the 19th century that was occurring, breaking out at roughly the same time that the Church was establishing itself. And oftentimes people from the outside conflated spiritualism and Mormonism seeing Mormonism as a form of, or a variation of spiritualism. In part because it's sort of was perceived from the outside of some of us, Mormonism’s antinomianism, particularly when it comes to non-standard marital practices, but also because of this concern with the deceased. But of course that was not the way that Mormons understood themselves and the Church was very clear presenting itself as being opposed to spiritualism and other possessive-like phenomena, but still, these two gentlemen were in New York and they spoke to a proliferation of figures ranging from the German naturalist Humboldt, which seems to be a strange choice unless you know the kind of acclaim that he had. To various religious figures, including Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith, who nicely explained that Brigham Young was not quite on point when it came to what the mission of Mormonism was, and also to deceased friends of theirs, one of which was a apostle.

And so you have a wealth of new information. And you have an ability to go and step aside and avoid the fact that there is a group that has a monopoly on the truth and why that promotes a kind of liberalism—small L liberalism—should be obvious. One is no longer beholden to an authority. One also can engage oneself in various practices, giving you direct access to that authority. And thus a lot of the institution falls away. You can get direct personal confirmation of when spiritual status, and therefore you don't need the imprimatur of a church to tell you whether or not you are among the redeemed. And this was a horror to Brigham Young and those in his circle. And when you read the history of the Godbeites, there was a very concerted press to make sure that this movement did not get enough oxygen and it did not. Right. By the time that 20th Century dawned there were no more Godbeites. The Church of Zion, which was the organization that they had put forward as being alternative to the Brighamite church, that had passed away too.

Jon Bialecki: But I take this as an interesting case study. Because the reaction that there was to the Godbeites shows what is at risk if you try to go and change the relationship between the living and the dead, and you can see this because there was a panic about spirit possession or at least a rejection of it that was sort of like floating around in the popular Mormon media of the time. One of my favorite examples is a narrative that was in a Mormon published journal where an individual whose wife had passed said that he visited a spiritualist and he kissed his wife. And his interlocutor asks amazingly, “you mean she came forth and you were able to kiss her?” He is all, “no, she inhabited the person of the spirit medium. And I was kissing the spirit medium.” And obviously this is presented derisively, right? But what it shows is just how incomprehensible the claims were about spirit possession to a Mormon logic that could only appear to be like, you know, comic. So that's what I take away from it, and I will admit that this probably is an essay that speaks more to anthropological interests in understanding what the boundaries are of spirit possession, what the relationship between spirit possession and technology is. The kind of political aspects of spirit possession and the forms of governmentality that having something like spirit possession forecloses. But I also think that, or I like to flatter myself that this brings up an element of the Mormon imagination that is not usually foregrounded in Mormon studies scholarship.

Stephen Betts: Well, and you know, highlighting the conflict between the Godbeites and the church under the leadership of Brigham Young, I think also brings to my mind another contrast, which is Joseph Smith. And you know, you talk about William Godbe and Elias Harrison going to New York and talking to all these figures who are, you know, are deceased through a spirit medium. But we also have Joseph Smith translating this text that he receives from a dead person, which talks about itself as “a voice from the dust” and a kind of obsessive, I mean, self-obsessive over and over and over again, “voice from the dust.” “This is a voice from the dust. I'm speaking to you as a dead person.” And so in, I mean, of course his translation is always mediated, right? He uses objects, you know, he has the interpreters, the Urim and Thummim, he has a seerstone, et cetera. Eventually he actually internalizes this process somehow and is able to translate with within his own body, which is a really interesting contrast.

I mean, that really gets us close to, I think, the idea of something like spirit possession. I don't wanna call it spirit possession in particular, but something like that. And then you also have later on, Him talking about not just Moroni, not just God and Jesus, you know, the Father and the Son appearing to him, but Adam and Paul and you know, numerous appearances of biblical figures who are showing up and talking to him. These dead people are showing up and talking to him, and so what do we do with that? Obviously, his authority is constructed around a certain kind of relation to the dead and specifically a relation to the resurrected dead. Right. The resurrected dead are safe, the resurrected dead can grant authority. In fact, that's literally where he gets his authority is the dead show up. John the Baptist shows up and puts his hands on his head and gives him authority, and you have Peter, James and John show up, put their hands on his head, give him authority. That is, to get back to your point about forms of governmentality, like quite literally, his priesthood governance is based on an interaction with the literal embodied dead. And so it sets up this interesting contrast where maybe the, the idea, you know, the core idea of agency, of course, I think is playing into why Latter-day Saints are resistant to, you know, things like spirit possession, but also this notion of there's something about the resurrected dead that's different from the. The in spirited dead or something like that. And that has to do with, with governance. 

Jon Bialecki: Yeah. And if you also think about it, it has to do with governance and an aspect of governance is legitimacy. And this is a claim to legitimacy because you have a transference. And if one were to imagine an alternate scenario in which Joseph Smith was possessed by Adam, Or Paul or Peter or John or whoever wills right. Well, that would grant Joseph Smith or whoever's in the body of Joseph Smith at that moment, like almost unrivaled authority until the moment of possession passes. And then Joseph Smith would lose access to it. So, you really do need to have transfer of “keys.” You need to have some kind of shift, some kind of continuation or passing on of legitimacy and power in ways that spirit possession could not give in a stable manner. And if you're thinking about institution building, and we know that Joseph Smith was fascinated with institution building, you can see that that's absolutely something that you need. Because when you take a look at possession religions or possession phenomena that's associated with religion, to go back to it, one of the things we noted is usually these are on the fringes of religion, and one reason, arguably one can say is because you can't build institutions in possession. You may have some powerful moments and peak affective phenomena, but once the spirit leaves, it's gone. And if you want to do something, you have to recreate the phenomena again and again and again, rather than being able to go and build on it. Like one can when you have a transfer of keys, when you have the, how shall I say, when you have the priesthood power returning after the Great Apostasy.

Stephen Betts: Well, yeah, and I think this speaks the theological anthropology early Mormonism where the power doesn't reside in that spirit. You know, and so there's no incentive to invite a spirit to possess one for the sake of power or authority because the authority doesn't reside in that spirit. It resides in something else: a medium or a field or a priesthood, right? The priesthood that, the access to it, not the power itself, but the access to it is transferable. And so that it really complicates this, this notion or it, it, it sidelines the, the idea that by inviting spirit possession, you would gain power because the power doesn't reside in the spirit.

Nevertheless, there is this interesting dynamic where, you know, John the Baptist, you know, in the New Testament says he goes forth in the “spirit and power of Elias” or Elijah, right? And Joseph Smith in the Kirtland temple has Elijah and Moses and these various biblical figures come and give him what they call priesthood keys, right? This authority to unlock these various kinds of cosmic agency where he can do certain things in the world. And one of the things that it unlocks is the spirit of Elijah, which is this, you know, the Church officially would explain it as a manifestation of the Holy Ghost that is supposed to turn the hearts of people to the both to their ancestors, their dead, but also to the sort of covenantal sense of kinship and belonging and promises that they have with God through kinship. But the notion that that whatever we want to call it, that spirit of Elijah is something that passes through people or creates affective incentives to be in relation with the dead seems an awful lot like a minor form of spirit possession in a way. 

Jon Bialecki: It is, but also it isn't inasmuch as you don't have the classic replacement of personhood or consciousness. And the other thing is that Mormon understandings of materiality may also complicate this matter, which is not to say that when you have spirit possession, you necessarily have a kind of ontological assumption that there is spirit and there is matter, and they're completely separate. But at least in the Restored Gospel tradition, you do have as a reaction to that particularly western concept of there being a divide between spirit and matter. You have kind of a collapse or lamination of the categories and it's just not complete ‘cause obviously spirit is the more “refined form of matter,” but spirit also has to have various material expressions. And one may also think about what's supposed to happen on the day of the resurrection when blood is replaced with spirit, right? That this has to be a kind of mechanic or physical transformation rather than simply a supplement. Something fully supernatural. And another thing which also point out why we're doing this because one explanation, this was actually my understanding for a long time of why there was no such thing as spirit possession in the church was simply that I thought, oh, there's a truncated supernatural imagination. But that's not true. And putting aside things like Cain/Bigfoot, there is the phenomena of people being bedevilled by demons.[4] So, folks are able to imagine supernatural entities that can affect one and are not immediately empirically verifiable by the senses. But they just don't wanna take the next step or a step one of the possible steps and see these supernatural entities overriding personhood for a moment because of the fact it would create confusions with personhood, it would problematize relationships, it would multiply potential sources of authority. And also, and I'm gonna take no credit for this because this is something that you reminded me of when we were having our kind of preparatory to and fro about what we'd been discussing today. You pointed out there was also the transfiguration of Brigham Young, in which he took on the continents of Joseph Smith, but. If one thinks about it, that is kind of like the inversive spirit possession, right? Cause it is not a transfer of consciousness with a new entity. Brigham Young was Brigham Young the entire time through, but his physicality, or at least the way his physicality was expressed, or sense changed. So, you did not have a sharp break in consciousness. You had something else, and that's fascinating. I mean, there's all sorts of reasons about why that experience is fascinating, including is sort of like, it's sort of retroactive nature. The kind of fact it was one of the more interesting retcons that you had in the early Church because there seemed to be no contemporary use reports of it at the time. 

Stephen Betts: Well, this has been a great conversation Jon, I really appreciate you coming back on the show and talking about “The Mormon Dead.” Thanks for being here today, Jon.

Jon Bialecki: Again, thanks for having me.

Stephen Betts: Thanks for listening to Scholars and Saints. This podcast is made possible by the Mormon Studies Program at the University of Virginia. To learn more, visit Music for this episode is used by permission of the artist, Ben Howington. The track name is “Wayfaring Stranger.” To hear more, visit


*Transcript has been edited for clarity. 

[1] Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:31.
[2] Doctrine & Covenants 128:15, “And now my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.”
[3] For more on the Godbeites, see Ronald W. Walker, Wayward Saints: The Godbeites and Brigham Young (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1998).
[4] On Cain/Bigfoot, see e.g., Matthew Bowman, “A Mormon Bigfoot: David Patten’s Cain and the Conception of Evil in LDS Folklore,” Journal of Mormon History 33, no.3 (Fall 2007): 62–82. On demons, see Erin E. Stiles, “’The Evil Spirits Are Always Trying to Bring You Down’: Righteousness and Spirit Harassment Among Latter-day Saints in Northern Utah,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion (2023). See also, Stephen C. Taysom, “’Satan mourns naked upon the earth’: Locating Mormon Possession and Exorcism Rituals in the American Religious Landscape, 1830–1977,” Religion & American Culture 27, no.1 (2017): 57–94.