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‘Mormon Land’: After the ‘September Six’ ousters, LDS Church’s quest for doctrinal ‘purity’ continues

Author of the new book “The September Six and the Struggle for the Soul of Mormonism” discusses how that episode echoes in the church to this day.

(The Salt Lake Tribune) Members of the "September Six," who were disciplined by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in September 1993. Clockwise, from top left: Lavina Fielding Anderson; D. Michael Quinn; Avraham Gileadi; Lynne Kanavel Whitesides; Paul Toscano; and Maxine Hanks.

In September 1993, six Latter-day Saint scholars and activists were disciplined for their critical writings about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It was an extraordinary confluence of events, one that has echoed down through the decades. The censures had a chilling effect on a generation of would-be Latter-day Saint scholars but within 10 years or so the church felt the impact of the internet, with its widespread distribution and democratization of information.

Now, 30 years later, many observers are assessing what happened that month and what its legacy has been in the global faith of 17 million members.

In her new book, “The September Six and the Struggle for the Soul of Mormonism,” Sara M. Patterson, a professor of theology and gender studies at Indiana’s Hanover College, puts the episode within a much broader, decadeslong cultural and theological debate over the nature of the Utah-based faith and its push for “doctrinal, familial and bodily purity.”

In this week’s episode, she shares her findings about those past events, how they continue to affect the present, and what they may portend for the future.

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