The Case of the Mormon Historian

What happened when Michael Quinn challenged the history of the church he loved.
  1. One Sunday in February of 1993, Michael Quinn was home sick with a fever when his doorbell rang. Wearing a bathrobe, he answered after several rings and found three men in suits and ties on his doorstep. The Mormon church is organized into congregations called wards; a group of these is called a stake. The men at his door were the local stake president and his two counselors, the men responsible for overseeing all the congregations in the area. The stake president, a man named Paul Hanks, tried to step into the apartment as he said hello, Quinn recalls. It struck him as an old missionary’s trick.

    Quinn had been avoiding this confrontation for nearly five years. In 1988 he resigned his position at Brigham Young University, the private college owned and operated by the Mormon church, having decided that his interest in the “problem areas” of the religion’s past jeopardized not only his position on the history faculty but his membership in the church itself. He took a fellowship at the...

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Originally published in Slate, November 2012

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