< Previous Page
Samuel Taylor, the biographer, felt his father had been scapegoated — and that bothered Quinn. When Mormon apostle LeGrand Richards spoke to an informal gathering of young people in Quinn’s Southern California ward on New Year’s Eve 1962, the young man asked about Taylor’s treatment.
"John W. Taylor was a very proud man," Richards told Quinn, "who felt that because his father [John Taylor] had been president of the church, he could do whatever he felt like doing."
Where the other five are now
Lynne Kanavel Whitesides, who was disfellowshipped for comments she made on television about how the LDS Church treated women, is now a professional life coach: “Being disfellowshipped from the LDS Church was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It opened up a world of spirituality I didn’t even know was possible.”
Lavina Fielding Anderson, who was excommunicated for publishing a list of attacks on intellectuals by LDS leaders, is president of Editing, Inc. and continues to attend the same Mormon ward she did in 1993: “Being excommunicated is something I think of or am reminded about every single day. It’s like a death; I haven’t gotten ‘over’ it. It hasn’t become irrelevant. But it has turned my heart even more to the plain and precious part of Christ’s love, grace and atonement. My LDS ward, by accepting me, allowing me to serve where I can, and respecting what I can offer has, in significant ways, canceled the exclusion that usually accompanies excommunication. They’ve helped me stay Mormon.”
Paul Toscano, a consumer bankruptcy lawyer, was excommunicated for critical comments he made about LDS apostles in public: “My wife, Margaret Toscano, who was targeted first, was eventually excommunicated on Nov. 30, 2000. Our children are all adults and disaffected from the church. We don’t go to church but worry about it. My story will soon be published as an ebook, ‘Road to Exile: Memoir of a Mormon Excommunicant.’ I’m a Christian with doubts.”
Maxine Hanks, a chaplain and independent scholar who lectures and writes on religious studies, was excommunicated for public writings and speeches about Mormon women and religious authority. Hanks was rebaptized in 2012: “After my excommunication, I undertook a personal spiritual path exploring other faiths and ministries, to find deeper answers about myself and women’s priesthood. I felt spiritually led back to the LDS Church as a necessary part of that journey to completion and wholeness. I found membership to be even more rewarding than I had expected.”
Avraham Gileadi, a Hebrew scholar who was excommunicated for some of his writings about Isaiah, kept the lowest profile. He was rebaptized into the LDS Church in 1996 and continues to write for a Mormon audience: “In my case — not a single charge was true or supported by evidence — and all mention of it was expunged from the church’s records. I’m fully active in the church and gospel and have continued to publish books, including my last major work on Isaiah, the Apocalyptic Commentary of the Book of Isaiah, published at the end of August, exactly 40 years after coming to the U.S. I have been in Washington since April but may return to Utah. I hope for the day that zealous Mormons will no longer be treated as anti-Mormons.”
Peggy Fletcher Stack
The apostle’s response resonated with Quinn, who even at an early age understood such pride — personally.
"I have always been ashamed and felt guilty about it, but arrogance is as much a part of me as my faith," Quinn says. "My faith, my homosexuality and my arrogance have been burdens to me my whole life."
Although Richards’ answer satisfied him for a season, the young historian would return again to the question of post-Manifesto polygamy.
A spiritual addiction » Quinn was an English major at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University in 1962, in love with stream-of-consciousness novels and existential philosophy. But every spare minute was spent in the library’s Special Collections.
"Church history was only a hobby," he recalls, "but it was consuming."
At 19, Quinn left for his two-year Mormon mission, serving in Britain under President Marion D. Hanks, who later became an LDS general authority and a lifelong mentor to Quinn.
While traveling in a van with nine other missionaries one day, the newly minted missionary announced to the group that "the church made only 16 doctrinal changes in the Book of Mormon between 1830 and our current edition."
Quinn’s statement was met with dead silence.
"I thought I was reassuring the missionaries of my district with faith-promoting answers," he explains, "but I realized in that moment that not everyone saw my answers that way."
Quinn became a mission leader, an ordinance worker in the London LDS Temple and the go-to guy for tough assignments in the British Isles.
Upon his return to BYU, Quinn continued his English studies while working as a teaching assistant in Book of Mormon classes, a Salt Lake Temple worker, a Sunday school teacher and a guide on Temple Square.
In June 1967, Hanks officiated at Quinn’s temple marriage. (The couple eventually had four children.)
During the early years of the marriage, he continued to read anti-Mormon publications that used historical details to undermine the church’s account.
"I checked every quote and citation for accuracy and context," Quinn said in his Sunstone address."I prayed for the Lord to guide me by his Spirit to learn the truth of these matters and to know how to present them in a faithful way."
He felt called to this work.
Merging personal and professional goals » After graduating from BYU in 1969, Quinn enlisted in the military rather than wait to be drafted and spent 18 months in Germany, learning counterintelligence techniques and reading classified U.S. documents.
Though he had been accepted to Duke for a graduate degree in English after his discharge, he realized he was more interested in Mormon history. So he enrolled for a master’s degree at the University of Utah.
During his first graduate semester in 1971, Quinn was hired as a research assistant to Davis Bitton, then a professor at the U. and an assistant LDS Church historian under Leonard J. Arrington. Quinn was assigned to read and research hundreds of newly available LDS general authority diaries.
It was a task that matched his talent for meticulous note-taking. He photocopied thousands of pages, cross-referencing details from one source to the next. His high energy and astounding memory amazed his superiors and made his work invaluable.
While there, he also penned a lengthy brochure critiquing the work of anti-Mormon publishers Sandra and Jerald Tanner. His pen name: Dr. Clandestine.
Soon, there was talk of him as the "prince-in-waiting," Shipps recalls. "Everyone thought he would one day replace Leonard [Arrington]."Next Page >
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.