The Lord’s University
by Bryan Waterman and Brian Kagel

Chapter 7
Trouble in the Kingdom

[p.258]So it comes to this,” observed Martha Sonntag Bradley and Allen Dale Roberts, the new editors of the independent quarterly Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, in the spring of 1993.

Because so much of our religious experience plays out, in, and through the institutional church, an improved, more humane and Christ like institution is essential if we are to lead better lives …. Does the individual Mormon belong to the church or does the church truly belong to the individuals who sustain its existence? If this is a church by and for the members then it is left to the members to exercise their inherent moral authority through responsible discipleship to make the church better.1

The conclusion to Bradley and Roberts’s editorial debut may be read as a manifesto—enhanced by the title’s reference to the 1960s youth anthem by Bob Dylan: “The Times—They Are ‘A Changin.’” While the call for “responsible discipleship” might have seemed to outsiders to be noble at best or benign at worst, in context it could only be read as a line drawn in the sand. The previous two years, the editors noted, had seen laudable LDS church efforts, such as generous humanitarian aid in Africa, but they had also witnessed increasing division between ecclesiastical leaders and church members on both the right and the left, ranging from the 1992 expulsion of ultra-conservative survivalists in southern Utah (who eventually formed a Mormon splinter group) to the 1991 official statement on “recent symposia” and resulting pressure to keep BYU professors in particular away from Sunstone—both the symposium and the magazine (see chap. 5).

The Dialogue issue itself was dedicated to a series of lively discussions about the nature of church authority and members’ freedom of expression and thought. Lavina Fielding Anderson, editor of the Journal of Mormon History and a respected voice among liberal Mormons, led with a chronology of conflicts between church leaders and, mostly, liberal intellectuals and feminists. The chronology, which reached back for several decades, focused much of its attention on the late 1980s and early 1990s, suggesting a pattern [p.259]of increased efforts by church leaders to stem dissent and sometimes mere discussion-efforts Anderson identified in several cases as “ecclesiastical abuse.” The issue included a response from Richard Poll, a former BYU professor and another longtime leading figure among independent Mormon thinkers. Also featured were Salt Lake City lawyer Paul Toscano’s “A Plea to the Leadership of the Church: Choose Love Not Power” (with a response by Sunstone editor Elbert Peck), and a call from BYU professor and Dialogue founder Eugene England for leaders and members not to judge one another on “spectral evidence,” a phrase recalling the Salem witch trials. The issue stood to be as controversial as the art the editors had selected for its cover—a triptych of male nudes by Mormon artist (and former BYU instructor) Trevor Southey, entitled Prodigal. The issue’s overall message was clear: “Mormon Intellectuals Take Stand against Harassment.”2

The issue, which appeared only months before the firings of BYU faculty members Cecilia Konchar Farr and David Knowlton and the church disciplinary action against Anderson, Toscano, and four others (known as the “September Six”), serves as a gauge for the climate that preceded these and other actions. It also demonstrates the connection between debates over faculty freedom at BYU and intellectual freedom in the LDS church as a whole. One of Dialogue’s new co—editors, Martha Bradley, was herself on the BYU faculty, and a full third of the cases chronicled by Anderson dealt with happenings at the university. As the drama that climaxed in the actions taken against the “September Six” unfolded in local and national media, ties between these cases and the atmosphere at BYU became increasingly evident. Indeed, in the fall of 1993 and since, most observers have sought to understand the faculty firings at BYU in the context of the church’s larger response to perceived dissent.

Salt Lake City Sunstone Symposium, 1992

Anderson’s chronology in the spring 1993 Dialogue was first presented publicly the previous August at the 1992 Suns tone Symposium in Salt Lake City. Because this was Sunstone’s first conference in Utah following the church’s 1991 statement on “recent symposia,” observers waited anxiously to see what effect the dictum would have on conference attendance. In the end, reported a Salt Lake Tribune headline, “Despite Church Warnings, 1,500 Attended Sunstone Symposium.”3 The number, conference organizers noted, was the symposium’s largest ever. Rather than keeping church members a way, leaders may have piqued the curiosity of many. Anderson’s was not the only controversial session at the conference, nor was it the only one. that seemed to respond to the rising tension between church leaders and Mormonism’s liberal intellectuals. In another session Paul Toscano elaborated on the recent formation of the Mormon Alliance, an organization designed, he said, to “counter defamation of and spiritual abuse in the church.” Drawing on a recent book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual [p.260]Abuse, written by Protestant ministers and responding to Protestant contexts, Toscano outlined similar problems he saw in the Mormon church, including legalistic performances, power posturing, secretiveness, demands for unity and silence, and “ecclesiastical tyranny,” which he defined as “the failure or refusal of church leaders to apply principles of fairness and due process in church administration or church courts.” In particular Toscano argued that the church’s current General Handbook of Instructions for local church leaders contradicted instructions given in the church’s Doctrine and Covenants, which, unlike the handbook, members regard as scripture. Toscano’s greatest grievance concerned what he called “a distorted concept of apostasy” used by church leaders to “prevent members from expressing their religious views …. Excommunicable apostasy,” he argued, “must be more than mere unbelief, more than disagreement, more even than dissension, contention or opposition. To be excommunicable, apostasy must be to one’s religion what treason is to one’s country.”4

Participants also paid attention to BYU, in the context of its forthcoming statement on academic freedom and pressure on faculty members not to participate at Sunstone. BYU German professor Scott Abbott delivered a paper provocatively titled “One Lord, One Faith, and Two Universities: Tension Between ‘Religion’ and ‘Thought’ at BYU,” in which he recounted his decision four years earlier to leave a tenured position at Vanderbilt for a job at BYU so he could contribute to the education of his fellow Mormons in a faith-based community. While he pointed to several ways in which the University had improved its academic atmosphere in recent years, and while he said he felt he had made “a good choice” in coming to BYU, Abbott nonetheless pointed to several problems confronting the school. The most pressing was academic freedom, especially for those faculty members whose work dealt with the church and its members. The bulk of his talk focused on the “destructive … [and] anti-intellectual” division between “faith” and “reason,” a division apparent in some general authorities’ assertion that faculty members cannot act without approval of church leaders. Abbott cited Apostle Boyd K. Packer as an example: “The role of BYU,” Packer had told the university community, “will be determined by the board of trustees whose fundamental credentials were not bestowed by man.” The problem was also mirrored, Abbott said, by the friction between the school’s academic departments and the religion department, whose function is to comfort students rather than to encourage inquiry, and whose faculty, Abbott said, are not hired using the same academic standards set by other departments. Rather than calling for increased distance between religion and thought at BYU, however, Abbott argued that Mormonism could support a theology of free inquiry rooted in Joseph Smith’s teaching that Mormons “embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another.”5

[p.261]Other symposium participants demonstrated less optimism in the possible reconciliation of faith and free inquiry. Former BYU political scientist and Democratic party activist Omar Kader, for example, described his decision to leave the university in 1984 after being hounded by “insidious, self-righteous sycophants” among faculty members and administrators. He also analyzed an advance draft of BYU’s Academic Freedom Statement, which he described as “a narrow, anemic, and lame attempt to promote religion on campus” at the expense of academic freedom. Endorsing restrictions on freedom would only cause conflicts to escalate, he said, as “an unspoken tradition of self-protection encourages students, who hear new ideas from their professors or fellow students … to confront the problem by reporting them to authorities.” Kader’s recommendations called for decreasing the board of trustees’ influence, allowing a competent administration to weigh carefully the balance between freedom and faith, or cutting the school free from the religion department or, perhaps, even the church. Responding to Kader, BYU history professor Michael Allen questioned if divesting would be the best solution but agreed that the church “should at least acknowledge that there is something fundamentally at odds between religious indoctrination and the classical university.”6

Another former BYU employee, Paul Richards, who had headed the university’s public relations office for over a decade, addressed BYU’s . “Worldwide Board of Trustees”—tithe-paying church members who complain to the university about various problems and expect the school to line up with their vision of its mission. Richards read excerpts from such letters of complaint, which dealt with everything from BYU’s employment of professional women (who should, some felt, be at home with their children) to the teaching of evolution in science classes. Drawing on his experience in the Oaks, Holland, and Lee administrations, Richards explained that when such complaints were left to administrators to resolve, these officials often defended faculty members. But when complaints took the form of “obsequious, end-run whisperings in the ear of a general authority, even one not on the board of trustees,” they tended to “make life miserable for a BYU president,” If the university would “withstand the pressures of the pharisees and fanatics,” Richards concluded, “the moderate voices on [the] unofficial board of trustees need to become more vocal instead of leaving the debate to the reactionary fringe.”7

While some participants from BYU attended the symposium or presented papers simply to demonstrate their resistance to actions that they believed threatened academic freedom, overall participation from BYU faculty—especially conservatives and moderates whose participation had helped symposium planners in previous years maintain a sense of balance—declined from sixty to thirty. (The following year, and each year thereafter, the numbers again fell by half.) Anthropologist David Knowlton, already embroiled in controversy with church and BYU officials, noted that he was [p.262]the only faculty member who accepted an invitation to participate on a panel addressing academic freedom. He attributed others’ reluctance to an “institutionalized paranoia” that had faculty members running for cover, fearing they might lose their jobs if they acted contrary to church leaders’ wishes.8

The most controversial moment of the symposium, however, was spurred by a comment from another BYU faculty member. During the question-and-answer period following Anderson’s chronology of church leaders’ conflicts with liberal intellectuals (during which she noted an “internal espionage system” that provided church leaders with reports on unorthodox members), English professor Eugene England took the microphone to announce that the list of people whose cases Anderson had compiled was largely the result of one person, a church employee with ties to the John Birch Society. England said that this person, William O. Nelson, headed up what was called the “Strengthening Church Members Committee,” which supplied church leaders with secret files on anyone they perceived as critical. (Nelson was director of evaluation for Church Correlation, which oversees publications and curriculum to ensure doctrinal consistency and purity. In that capacity, he reported to Apostle Boyd K. Packer. Formerly he was an executive assistant to Ezra Taft Benson, whose John Birch politics he reportedly shared.) The danger of this committee’s activities, England told the audience, was that leaders were being given skewed portraits of church members, and then instructing local leaders to investigate these people based on faulty or incomplete information. The result was a community fractured by distrust. “I accuse that committee,” England said, “of undermining the church.”

Before England had finished, Associated Press reporter Vern Anderson (no relation to Lavina Fielding Anderson) was telephoning the Church Office Building for comment. England’s accusation was picked up as well by television cameras taping the session for local evening news programs. The morning following England’s spontaneous remarks, local newspapers carried an A.P. story in which the church’s spokesman acknowledged the existence of a committee that “provides local church leadership with information designed to help them counsel with members who, however well-meaning, may hinder the progress of the church through public criticism.”9 Although the church at first declined to elaborate on the committee, the following week it released a formal statement—printed in local newspapers that offered more information. Among the revelations received by Mormon founder Joseph Smith, the statement explained, were instructions to chronicle the church’s “sufferings and abuses” and to appoint a committee to “gather up the libelous publications that are afloat.” (The passages come from the church’s Doctrine and Covenants 123: 1-5.) The Strengthening Church Members Committee, the statement continued, was formed in response to these nineteenth-century revelations and “serves as a resource to [p.263]priesthood leaders throughout the world who may desire assistance on a wide variety of topics.” The most surprising disclosure regarded the committee’s composition: “It is a General Authority committee,” the statement clarified, made up to two apostles: Russell M. Nelson and James E. Faust.10

Responses to the committee varied. F. Ross Peterson. outgoing editor of Dialogue, told the Salt Lake Tribune he thought church leaders were “stretching” the revelations. “Comparing Sunstone and Dialogue folks to people who were shooting Mormons in 1839 Missouri is unfair,” he noted. Though he had no name for it at the time, Peterson had brushed up against the committee’s handiwork two years earlier during an interview with church officials regarding positive comments he had made in 1990 about changes in the LDS temple ceremony. Peterson had seen a set of files, from which leaders drew material as they spoke but which he had not been allowed to review.11 Peterson thought the committee smacked of McCarthyism, a comment followed up on by Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley. In his cartoon, captioned “At the hearings of the Church Committee on Un-Mormon Activities,” a bespectacled man in a mustache and Sunstone T-shirt sits alone at a large table while the question thunders from outside the panel: “Are you now—or have you ever been—a liberal Mormon?”

On the other hand, Eugene England was troubled by the revelation that the Strengthening Church Members Committee was composed of apostles. For one thing, Apostle Nelson, a heart surgeon prior to his church calling, was a close friend of England’s father and had on one occasion saved the senior England’s life.12 Regretting his “outburst” at the symposium, England quickly wrote a letter of apology to the church leaders, explaining why he felt actions such as those Anderson’s chronology reported are damaging to church members. Writing about the event later (in an essay published with Anderson’s chronology), he said he had “felt despair that I had, however unwittingly, criticized [Nelson and Faust] and invited others to do so.” Typical of England, he tried to turn the potentially damaging event into an occasion for peacemaking.13

Two Universities: BYU in the Anderson Chronology

The image of BYU emerging from the 1992 Suns tone Symposium was one of a house divided, and not even England could heal the breach. “Tension has never been higher between BYU’s board of trustees … and its faculty,” reported the Salt Lake Tribune.14 Others would follow Scott Abbott’s lead to see a further division within the faculty itself, between those whose primary obedience was to church leaders and a smaller but significant group who saw themselves as both faithful Mormons and firmly committed to free inquiry and the freedom to participate in independent discussions of Mormonism.

A review of Anderson’s entries for the 1980s suggests that tensions at [p.264]BYU resulted most often when faculty participated in the independent Mormon sector (represented, for example, by Sunstone, Dialogue, and the Mormon History Association), or when they otherwise turned their scholarly lenses on the church. In 1981, to cite a well-known example, Apostle Boyd K. Packer had delivered a controversial address to church educators titled “The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater than the Intellect,” in which he urged Mormon historians to protect church members’ faith. His talk roughly coincided with increasing restrictions at the church’s historical archives and a reassignment of members of the church historical department some forty miles south to BYU (including former official Church Historian Leonard Arrington15). History professor D. Michael Quinn publicly responded to Packer a few months later, cautioning that “a history which makes LDS leaders ‘flawless and benignly angelic’ … borders on idolatry.” Conflict between Quinn and some church leaders—especially Packer—escalated over the decade. Faced with the specter of church discipline (the school’s only real avenue to firing a tenured professor), he opted to resign from the university in 1988 (see chap. 5).16

Other events from the 1980s include a 1983 “inquisition” of those who contributed to independent Mormon publications, including at least three faculty members and others who had written for the independent student publication Seventh East Press. Also in 1985 Keith Perkins, who chaired BYU’s church history and doctrine department, announced funding cuts for faculty travel to Mormon History Association meetings. Although Anderson mentions context only briefly, this move came at the height of public discussions surrounding controversial documents—later proved to have been forged by Mark Hofmann who staged a string of murders to cover his trail. The documents, the infamous “Salamander Letter” in particular, had quickly become a new focal point for growing tensions between some church leaders and professionally trained Mormon historians.17 Then the school’s 1986 reaccreditation report revealed a policy advising administrators not to publish in Sunstone or Dialogue or to participate in Sunstone symposia. Attempts to sever ties between BYU faculty and the independent Mormon sector—down to the 1986 decision to ban the newly founded Student Review from campus distribution—prompted Eugene England to respond: “[S]uch policies offer a gratuitous insult to the many faculty and students who have written for Dialogue and Sunstone and Student Review, served on their editorial boards, or participated in the symposium … and they intimidate and silence faculty and students who might want to participate in the unusual opportunities to unite faith and creativity these forums provide.”18

By the early 1990s, Anderson’s chronology suggests, ecclesiastical interference in BYU affairs was becoming more common. This was especially true following the church’s statement on “recent symposia.” Following the 1992 Sunstone Symposium, Scott Abbott was warned by his stake president, [p.265]BYU religion professor Keith Perkins, that his analysis of BYU and academic freedom showed “potential for apostasy.”19 He asked Abbott to forgo further participation at Sunstone and to write letters of apology to Packer and other leaders whose ideas he had critiqued. While Abbott agreed to write the letters (he received a sharp reply from Packer), he would not agree to end his association with Sunstone. Perkins confiscated his temple recommend. In related incidents recorded by Anderson, faculty members Cecilia Konchar Farr and David Knowlton, and student Bryan Waterman, an editor of Student Review, were all contacted by their local church leaders for things they had written or stated publicly.20

Anderson’s chronology implies that the pressure brought to bear on liberal Mormon intellectuals generally from church leaders during this time was amplified at BYU, where not only church membership was at stake, but employment as well. As the church shapes its own image, it resists the “alternate voices” of independent Mormons and has, for the most part, succeeded in separating BYU professors from the most popular (and perhaps open) of these forums—Sunstone in particular. As noted in chapter 5, the division seemed deepest when, at the October 1992 general conference, Packer told “those few” BYU professors and students “whose focus is secular” and who want increased academic freedom to seek it elsewhere. Later that month First Presidency member Gordon B. Hinckley, in a more conciliatory mood, told a BYU audience that “never in the history of this institution has there been a faculty better qualified professionally, nor one more loyal and dedicated to the standards of its sponsoring institution.” Some faculty again viewed the situation as hopeful. Others pointed out that Hinckley’s talk had carried its own warning: “[W]e feel that you need reminding of the elements of your contract with those responsible for this institution,” he said. “Every one of us who is here has accepted a sacred and compelling trust. With that trust, there must be accountability.” After the school’s Academic Freedom Statement appeared that fall (see chap. 5), news reports focused on BYU’s divided status, noting that one remedy might be in store: several professors were indeed “seeking greener pastures.”21

Prologue to Excommunication

In early 1993, as observers waited anxiously for the outcomes of Cecilia Konchar Farr’s and David Knowlton’s third-year reviews, tensions in the broader Mormon community began to show as well. In January, before the release of the new Dialogue editors’ manifesto, news stories began to surface about the apparent mental instability of church president Ezra Taft Benson. While it had been clear through his silent public appearances from the late 1980s that his mind was failing, church leaders had continued to insist that he was aware of what was happening around him. Precipitated by Benson’s hospitalization, news reports started to focus more closely on his mental capacity. Comments from the liberal Mormon [p.266] sector included those by former BYU historian Michael Quinn who drew parallels to another largely incapacitated church president, David O. McKay, in the late 1960s. Lavina Fielding Anderson commented as well: “News photos of [Benson’s] counselors helping him to wave or hold a shovel are deeply distressing,” Anderson said. “I love President Benson,” she added. “It would be an act of mature love to honor his achievements, salute his years and let him find rest.”22

The following month, in February, Quinn was informed by his Salt Lake City stake president and church employee, Paul Hanks, that he was under investigation by church leaders for apostasy. In a letter asking Quinn to explain his “personal feelings about the church,” Hanks expressed concerns about an essay Quinn had recently published in Women and Authority: Re-Emerging Mormon Feminism, edited by Maxine Hanks (no close relation to Paul Hanks).23 In it, Quinn had argued that nineteenth-century Mormons believed the LDS temple endowment conferred priesthood authority on women; for contemporary Mormon feminists to seek ordination, then, was to ask for something they already had. (Hanks also mentioned a recent Sunstone article by Quinn, “150 Years of Truth and Consequences about Mormon History,”24 which chronicled instances of historians and others being censured by church leaders for their writings.)

Quinn had returned to Salt Lake City some months earlier, in late June 1992, after living for nearly five years in Los Angeles and New Orleans. When he left BYU in 1988, he told the Salt Lake Tribune that his local church leaders had been instructed by three apostles to excommunicate him for his historical writings. Earlier in the 1980s a similar attempt had been made against his church membership, but his stake president had refused to hold a church court.25 After receiving Hanks’s letter in February 1993, Quinn wrote back to say that he had no intention of cooperating with his investigation. “As a historian,” he wrote, “it is my obligation to approach [all] evidence as carefully and fairly as I can. It is no more apostasy for me to analyze these Mormon developments than it is treason to examine American slavery, or the CIA’s LSD experiments on unknowing victims, or Watergate, or Irangate.” Quinn said he believed the current investigation had a “predetermined” outcome and, like the previous attempts to discipline him, was mandated by higher church officials, a charge the stake president denied.26

Many expressed both sadness and outrage. “I don’t see Mike as an apostate,” Sunstone editor Elbert Peck told the Tribune. “His research is troublesome, but it forces us to confront the human side of what it means to be a Christian. It has helped me to feel an increased love for church members and leaders.” The Mormon Alliance issued a statement decrying the investigation, connecting the event with recent publicity surrounding BYU’s refusal to clear Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a Pulitzer-Prize winning Mormon historian, as a campus speaker. The two actions, the alliance said, send “a corrosive message of intimidation and marginalization to Mormon scholars, [p.267]undermining the spiritual mission of the church.” L. Jackson Newell, a former Dialogue editor and an education professor at the University of Utah, said that “[t]o investigate [Quinn] for apostasy for what he has written is to place every open-minded Mormon in jeopardy for his or her membership. When power is used to crush ideas then no one is safe and everyone should protest.”27 A disciplinary council was eventually convened, and Quinn chose not to attend. The council’s decision was to place him on probation and give him thirty days to meet the stake president. Quinn again refused, and in another hearing he was disfellowshipped, though the action—just shy of excommunication—was largely unreported until the following fall.

The day after the Salt Lake Tribune publicized the apostasy investigation against Quinn, he joined Maxine Hanks and Martha Sonntag Bradley on a local television talk show to discuss Mormon feminism. The most immediate response to the show, however, regarded Bradley in particular. Since the announcement of her Dialogue editorship the previous summer, Bradley had been the target of hate mail, obscene phone calls, and vengeful letters to local newspapers.28 Within a matter of days following the television appearance, President Rex Lee forwarded to Bradley a handful of critical letters he had received from the First Presidency. Lee wrote to Bradley that “I watched only about two minutes of that program, and therefore can make no independent judgment concerning it.” The letters, he said, bore no return addresses, and so he could not respond personally; he asked her for anything “you can tell me that might help clarify this situation.” The letters some of which were handwritten, more than one addressed to the “Brethern [sic],” some written by individuals, and some signed as families all asked how the church could employ someone of Bradley’s feminist persuasion at BYU. “[I]t is deplorable good church money is being paid out [to her ],” one wrote. “It does not surprise me that Martha Bradley is an ardent feminist,” wrote another. “She has been teaching something more radical than what we saw on t.v. Sunday. What she says in class and privately “though the letter-writer never offers specifics—” indicates she’s teaching at the wrong university. She’s got a vision of herself as a Jr. Betty Friedan. She’ll continue to teach her nonsense if you let her.” One disgruntled tithe payer said that she was writing to church officials rather than to BYU administrators because “I did not think anyone in the administration at BYU would really do anything about her, especially since the school has several radical feminist types there already like Tomi-Ann Roberts and Cecilia Farr. What is going on? Why can’t the Church get rid of these people who take the BYU salary and yet defy Church doctrine and counsel? … You were able to get rid of Michael Quinn, now do your duty and get rid of this other radical feminist element!” One writer even complained about the panelists’ fashion sensibilities: “Look at how the women were dressed: Frumpy and in pants. The better dressed of the three … was Michael Quinn, and then he’s put on a little weight.”29

[p.268]As spring passed, reprisals against vocal liberal Mormons continued. In May 1993, a month after the appearance of her Dialogue chronology, Lavina Fielding Anderson was summoned by her stake president, Marlin Miller, to discuss the essay. Though he never questioned her facts, Miller told her that if she continued to publish such information—which he deemed embarrassing to the church—he would consider revoking her temple recommend. She refused. At the end of June he asked her to surrender her recommend. Again, she refused, though she told him she would agree not to attend the temple until the matter was resolved. Apparently not taking her at her word, he called local temples and warned them not to admit her should she seek entrance, an action she later said had “shocked and affronted” her.30

To liberal intellectuals beginning to feel besieged by church leaders, President Benson’s mental incapacity meant one thing: greater freedom for the acting president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, Boyd K. Packer, widely rumored to be behind the recent actions against liberals and feminists. As Quinn himself had noted in another controversial session at the 1992 Sunstone Symposium (and published in the summer 1993 issue of Dialogue), LDS president David O. McKay’s mental incapacity in the late 1960s had afforded then-apostle Ezra Taft Benson greater freedom to wage personal wars in the church hierarchy over his conservative politics. This situation, many believed, was paralleled in the early 1990s, when Benson’s own incapacity allowed Packer latitude to punish those he would later brand “so-called scholars and intellectuals.”31

The sense of drama heightened in May when Paul Toscano and Lavina Fielding Anderson addressed the independent B. H. Roberts Society in Salt Lake City on the issue of ecclesiastical abuse and the function of the Mormon Alliance. Toscano focused on what he called “the sanctity of dissent,” arguing that church members have the right and responsibility to resist “unrighteous dominion” by church leaders. Jesus, according to Toscano, was history’s chief dissenter, resisting what he saw as self-righteousness in religious leaders. God’s church can only serve its purpose, Toscano argued, of encouraging repentance and forgiveness if its leaders allow dissenters, as Jesus did, to prick people’s consciences. Otherwise the focus shifts to maintaining appearance and achieving material success: the very things Jesus derided in the Pharisees. “Mormonism without dissent,” he said, “is what Hugh Nibley calls ‘world’s fair Mormonism,’ what Michael Quinn calls ‘cookie cutter Mormonism,’ and what I call ‘McMormonism, or fast food Mormonism.’”

In her address Anderson expanded on her chronology with a list of grievances against Mormon women, who, she said, are sometimes subjected to an “apprenticeship in fear” in order to keep them in line. “Women are afraid of losing their temple recommends, of not being able to see their children married, of disappointing their parents.” Those who speak out against [p.269]such abuse, both speakers warned, should be prepared for consequences that might include church disciplinary action.32

These issues gained national attention that month when an Arizona woman and lapsed Mormon, Deborah Laake, published Secret Ceremonies, a memoir that included an expose of Mormon temple rituals. Laake, appearing on the Phil Donahue Show to promote her book, described her life, from a brief marriage as a young BYU student to a nervous breakdown that landed her in the hospital, which she blamed on the LDS church’s patriarchal structure. Mormon men, she said, “are taught that they are especially empowered,” while Mormon women “have such reverence for men that every word uttered by a man carries extreme weight.” Laake was promptly excommunicated. Most Mormons, including liberals, dismissed her as sensationalistic. For example, Margaret Toscano, married to Paul Toscano and leader of the independent feminist Mormon Women’s Forum, said that Laake’s book portrayed a picture of Mormonism she did not recognize. Others, however, including some Mormon Women’s Forum members, agreed that the church’s patriarchy provided fertile ground for violence against women.33

Later that May the Los Angeles Times picked up the story of Mormon feminists who hoped to change the church rather than leave it. The long article deemed those women attending the first Counterpoint Conference (planned as an alternative to BYU’s women’s conference), “Mormon revolutionaries” and cited Anderson among other speakers. It also focused on BYU’s place in Mormon feminism. Student Michelle Paradise referred to the “big brother” atmosphere on campus in connection to Cecilia Konchar Farr’s in-process tenure review, and said the church is “run by a bunch of old men who have no idea what’s going on.” Paradise Was one of a group of BYU students and faculty who had pulled out of the conference at the last minute; she said she had been given reason to believe she could be expelled from school for participating. (President Rex Lee denied this allegation, saying that “[s]ome of our faculty members came over to see me [prior to the conference]. They told me they had made the decision not to participate. I certainly did not suggest they should.”) The article also cited BYU sociologist Martha Nibley Beck, whose Harvard Ph.D. dissertation had argued that Mormon women have higher education and political aspirations than their general American counterparts, but that they also tend to marry younger and tend not to question the patriarchal structure of the church. This double-bind confronts women, she said, with having to choose between feminist idealism and obedience to church leaders. Among her sample of 300 Mormon women were some “who were just falling apart psychologically [and] felt like they had to somehow make these two exclusive ends come together so God would love them,” Beck said.34

In an accompanying sidebar on church members (such as Michael Quinn) being “called in” by leaders to discuss their beliefs or public state-[p.270]ments, the Times author included a note on the atmosphere for women at BYU: “At the church-run [school], some women professors say academic and ecclesiastical lines blur when male department heads call them in, One BYU professor [Martha Sonntag Bradley], called in by an administrator who chastised her for discussing feminism on a TV talk show, said: ‘It was humiliating, especially for an adult woman teaching at a university.’” The sidebar also included Lavina Fielding Anderson’s advice on what to do if you are “called in”: “Take a witness who will tape sessions or take notes …. Take an active rather than a passive role …. Press for the leaders’ reasons, motives and information.” And, finally, “Take an attorney.”35

In addition to tapping the tension surrounding Mormon feminism at BYU and in the church generally, the Times articles gave some indication of church officials’ views. LDS spokesman Don LeFevre, according to the report, said that “church leaders believe they already bend over backward to tolerate feminists.” The image of leaders whose patience was being tried suggested that a time would come when their patience would run out and give way, as it had with Mormon ERA activist Sonia Johnson, excommunicated just over a decade earlier.

A primary source of tension, during the early 1990s, between Mormon feminists and the church regarded the doctrine of a heavenly mother. While church leaders occasionally mentioned a female counterpart to the traditional male deity, and while one popular Mormon hymn explained that “truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there,” meaning in heaven, the theology surrounding the “Mother God,” as some feminists addressed her, was largely unarticulated. Mormon women’s historians had begun to research the doctrine in the late 1970s. In 1980, at a session of the Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium where historian Linda Wilcox presented a definitive historical treatment on the subject, a respondent, Grethe Peterson, had confided to a hushed audience: “Some years ago, as I was struggling with my own spiritual identity, I experienced a personal confirmation of the existence of my Heavenly Mother, which was and is just as important as my knowledge of God the Father and of Jesus Christ …. My experience is not unique,” Peterson said. “As I have shared these feelings with other women, cautiously at first, I have learned of similar feelings and experiences.”36

Over the next decade such experiences became more widely shared, and some church members began—privately, for the most part—to include Heavenly Mother as they addressed their prayers.37 In 1991 church leaders began to express concern about the movement toward a mother-inclusive prayer. In April First Presidency counselor Gordon B. Hinckley warned lower-level church leaders to be on guard for “small beginnings of apostasy,” and cited prayer to Mother in Heaven as an example.38 Perhaps Hinckley had in mind the recently published book by Margaret and Paul Toscano, Strangers in Paradox: Explorations in Mormon Theology, a significant portion of which was devoted to articulating a speculative theology of “the Divine [p.271]Mother.”39 The popular Mormon poet and playwright Carol Lynn Pearson had also gained attention in Utah for her one-woman play, Mother Wove the Morning, an exploration of the divine feminine throughout human history, including the Mormon incarnation of the concept. Pearson’s play had premiered in Utah in 1990 and sold out dozens of shows since. In September 1991 she performed it on BYU’s campus for VOICE.40 That month the Salt Lake-based Mormon Women’s Forum sponsored a panel titled “How Shall We Worship Mother in Heaven,” which included Pearson, Paul Toscano, and former BYU professor and anti-feminist theologian Rodney Turner.41

At the month’s end, during the church’s satellite broadcast of its general women’s meeting (preceding the semi-annual October general conference), Gordon B. Hinckley repeated his comments regarding prayer to Mother in Heaven. “Logic and reason,” Hinckley said, “would certainly suggest that if we have a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. That doctrine rests well with me. However, in light of the instruction we have received from the Lord Himself, I consider it inappropriate for anyone in the Church to pray to our Mother in Heaven.”42 In November, following the mass excommunication of several ultra-right-wing survivalists in southern Utah (some of whom believed that their political hero, President Ezra Taft Benson, was being “silenced” and possibly drugged and held hostage by his more moderate counselors), the church’s area president over the region, Malcolm Jeppsen, implied to reporters that the next “apostates” the church planned to target were those who prayed to Mother in Heaven.43

Hinckley’s comments regarding prayer to Mother in Heaven received a variety of responses from church members. For many, undoubtedly, the injunction was enough to erase any doubt about the appropriateness of the practice. In April, Mormon Women’s Forum members Lynn Kanavel Whitesides, Martha Dickey Esplin, and Margaret Toscano presented to the group their paper “God the Mother: Going Beyond the Patriarchy of the Mormon Church to Find the Mother Goddess,” in which Toscano asserted: “For those of us who have come upon the Mother, who have discovered her and become acquainted with her, we need no institutional authorization to tell us we can pray to her.” After BYU’s independent Student Review ran articles both moderately supportive and critical of the presentation, one of the student authors, Bryan Waterman, was asked by his stake president, under instruction from Utah South Area President Malcolm Jeppsen, to meet every six months for the next year and a half to discuss his general faithfulness.44 Toscano, Whitesides, and Esplin presented their three-voice paper to the Salt Lake chapter of the National Organization for Women the following February, attracting local press attention that coincided with the television appearance of Quinn, Hanks, and Bradley to discuss Mormon feminism.45 By the time the Counterpoint conference took place in April, with its emphasis on the “silencing” of women, some Mormon feminists saw the growing restrictions surrounding discussions of Heavenly Mother as the [p.272]biggest “silencing” of all. The forum began to sell T-shirts with the slogan, “Free God’s Wife.”

BYU again intersected with the broader Mormon intellectual community that summer when, less than a week after the June 1993 Farr and Knowlton firings, the school’s feminist student association, VOICE, hosted Margaret Toscano, who presented a slide lecture on images of the human and divine female body in ancient and contemporary art. VOICE organizers had seen the presentation at Counterpoint in April and had invited Toscano to campus without receiving the required speaker approval. While her presentation itself had little Mormon content, in a question-and-answer period someone asked for her response to current controversies in the LDS church over praying to female deity. Toscano’s comment made Daily Universe headlines the next day: “Mother God Repressed, VOICE Told.” The article, which made Mormon doctrine seem central to Toscano’s presentation, contained a number of statements that annoyed administrators, board members, and the conservative mainstream on campus.46 In fact, the next day the paper had to “apologize to its readers who were discomforted or confused.” The apology noted that Toscano had not been approved as a campus speaker and said she “espoused some personal beliefs and feelings which are not in harmony with the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The Universe’s faculty advisor, John Gholdston, said he “deeply regret[ted] and apologize[d] for the implication that this newspaper, this university, or the Church and its leadership in any way concur with the perspective of our Mother in Heaven as presented in the article.”47 By the end of the month, VOICE had been placed on probation for violating speaker approval policies. (See chaps. 6 and 8 for more on VOICE’s activities.)

The next month, on 11 July, Margaret Toscano was “called in” by her stake president, Kerry Heinz, who questioned her about the VOICE meeting and her public speaking generally. He asked her to stop writing, speaking, and publishing on Mormon women’s issues. A month later, on 5 August, Margaret and Paul Toscano both met with Heinz, as well as with their bishop, Wilson Martin. They discussed the presentation Margaret had made both at Counterpoint and to VOICE, and Paul’s unpublished talk “All Is Not Well in Zion: False Teachings in the True Church.” The Toscanos informed their church leaders that they planned to present the papers the following week at the annual Salt Lake City Sunstone Symposium. Heinz warned them not to participate, and told Paul in particular that if he criticized church officials by name he would face official discipline.48

On the last day of July, a week after the local press reported that Apostle Packer had earlier that year named feminists, gay rights activists, and “so-called scholars and intellectuals” as the three enemies of the church.49 Martha Sonntag Bradley announced she was leaving BYU’s history department. Though she would teach in adjunct positions at the University of Utah and continue to edit Dialogue—hardly the equivalent of a full-time, ten-[p.273]ure-track faculty position—she said she would rather leave BYU “with my record intact” than face what she foresaw as a sure dismissal the following year when she came up for review. “I value diversity,” she told the Associated Press about her decision. “I need to live in a society that values diversity. You would think the university would be the one sure place for that.”50 Following the publicity surrounding her decision, both her college dean and university president Rex Lee attempted to dissuade her from leaving. When she asked if they could guarantee that church leaders would not attempt to derail her candidacy for continuing status, however, both said they could not.51

Also in July, as controversy swirled around the Farr and Knowlton firings, tension increased when the Arizona Republic’s Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Benson, grandson of the LDS church president and former Daily Universe cartoonist, confirmed suspicions in an Associated Press article that his grandfather was mentally incapacitated. The younger Benson believed that the church was acting disingenuously by publishing photographs of the president as if he were aware of his surroundings or actions. “I believe the church strives mightily,” he told reporters, “to perpetuate the myth, the fable, the fantasy that President Benson, if not operating on all cylinders, at least is functioning effectively enough, even with just a nod of his head, to be regarded by the saints as a living, functioning prophet.” The church responded in a written statement that President Benson’s counselors “report to him” and “review with him major decisions before those decisions become final.” Steve Benson called that scenario “not factual.”52 Later in the summer the editor of BYU’s alumni magazine announced that he had pulled—ostensibly for “space considerations”—a feature story that highlighted the prize-winning cartoonist. Benson regarded the decision as ‘Just the latest manifestation of what I believe to be an insidious poisoning of the intellectual and academic environment at BYU.”53

When the Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium arrived in mid-August, tensions were running even higher than the previous year. Again a record number of attendees packed hotel conference rooms to hear sessions addressing continuing conflicts over academic freedom at BYU (a panel of students provided emotional responses to the Farr and Knowlton firings54) and over freedom of expression in the church at large.

“Wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!” Paul Toscano thundered during a session sponsored by the Mormon Alliance. “Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!” The Book of Mormon text provided the touchstone for Toscano’s most incendiary critique of church authorities yet—a delineation of what he called “false teachings in the true church.” Despite his stake president’s warnings, Toscano criticized by name over a dozen general authorities—including Apostle Packer—and knew that his remarks could lead to his own excommunication. “I know our voices can be muted, even silenced by he said. “But they can also be muted and silenced by [p.274]our fear of excommunication …. I will not live a life of self-imposed silence simply to avoid wrongful discipline.”55

In an update on her work compiling reports of spiritual abuse for the Mormon Alliance, Lavina Fielding Anderson stressed that, though the material she had gathered could be seen as an indictment of ways in which LDS priesthood authority could be used coercively, she still believed that “the Church works very well 99 percent of the time. But the Church as a system offers no organizational protection against the 1 percent of ecclesiastical officers who develop an appetite for unrighteous dominion. … The stronger the victim’s testimony, the more likely he or she is to cling to the Church, believe that ‘this is all a misunderstanding,’ demand justice, and be re-betrayed, re-victimized, re-brutalized by the system.” In another session she examined the treatment of women in the church’s General Handbook of Instructions, concluding that “women are virtually invisible in the handbooks except where sexuality or sealings are involved. … The important division is not between men and women but between male leaders and members, ‘both male and female.’”56

University of Utah professor of liberal education L. Jackson Newell responded, in one session, to Apostle Packer’s “three dangers” talk, which had been widely publicized over the summer. Decrying the use of “scapegoats and scarecrows”—he cited the Farr and Knowlton firings in particular—to keep church members in line, Newell argued that “the irony in the orthodox LDS position today” is that without a growing global respect for freedom of speech and religious conscience, the church’s “vitality and global missionary program would be stilted. Ironically, the right to preach and practice a particular authoritarian religion like Mormonism depends on the vitality of a larger political and social system that embraces an entirely different set of assumptions about truth and how we come to know it.” He added that while “[a]uthoritarian systems never make room for, nor easily tolerate, their critics … democratic institutions and universities depend upon the expression of divergent views, including the voices of partisans of authoritarian thought.” But when “universities fail to provide a forum for divergent views, as they sometimes do, they are unfaithful to their own principles.”57

In one of the most emotional addresses of the symposium, Margaret Toscano, as her husband had, defied her stake president’s warning that speaking could bring church discipline. Participating on a panel to discuss women and the priesthood along with other contributors to Maxine Hanks’s Women and Authority: Re-Emerging Mormon Feminism, Toscano paused frequently as her voice broke while she asserted her right to speak, worship, and exercise priesthood authority according to her own conscience. She was, she said, in a “state of mourning … not so much for the personal loss I face with the threat of possible church discipline. Though I prize my membership [in the church],” she continued, “I am not afraid of [p.275]losing my salvation.” Unable to speak for several moments, she finally went on:

What I mourn is the loss of all the good people who have left the church. … What I mourn is the loss of my religion. I have loved Mormon theology and scriptural texts, I have loved the temple, and believe the priesthood is an eternal principle. But I have seen all these things used in damaging ways to control people’s lives …. If the temple, the priesthood, the scriptures, or any other gift from God is seen as more holy than God or the individual members in whom the spirit of God dwells, then they are idols which must be tom down, rent like the veil of the temple. The priesthood, the temple, the church must be taken down stone by stone and built again on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ and his love, which calls for the spiritual equality of all members, whether rich or poor, black or white, male or female.58

While Sunstone organizer Elbert Peck sought to reassure some who were uncomfortable with such a reformist tone, the sheer number of attendees and overwhelming response given Toscano and others indicated that tension between this community and church leadership had reached a high point.59

The September Six

In the last days of August, only a few weeks after the Suns tone Symposium, Lynn Kanavel Whitesides, Margaret Toscano’s successor as head of the Mormon Women’s Forum, received a hand-delivered letter from her Salt Lake City bishop, Virgil Menill, notifying her that a church court would be held for her on 2 September on charges of apostasy, based on television comments she had made over the summer. Whitesides, taken by surprise, asked that the disciplinary council be postponed until the middle of the month. On 1 September her friend Lavina Fielding Anderson mailed to a group of acquaintances a letter asking for their support for Whitesides. Anderson’s letter included Bishop Merrill’s and stake president Calvin Guest’s addresses, and announced that a candlelight vigil would be held while the council met.60

Within two weeks, four more Marmon writers had received similar notices for disciplinary hearings. On 8 September conservative scriptural scholar Avraham Gileadi, who had already been censured for his interpretations of Old Testament and Book of Mormon prophecies, was notified that he was being charged with “apostasy.”61 Two days later, on a local news broadcast reporting Whitesides’s case, Margaret Toscano pointed to a “climate of fear” among liberal Mormons and Lavina Fielding Anderson called church actions such as those against Whitesides part of a “purge,” referring not only to the most recent actions but also to the larger patterns traced in her chronology. (A church spokesman denied that any purge was under-[p.276]way.) On 11 September Maxine Hanks, editor of Women and Authority: Re-Emerging Mormon Feminism, also received a letter from her stake president, Paul Hanks again, charging her with “apostasy” and notifying her that a council would be held to review the charges.

That day, 11 September, had been designated, earlier in the summer, as a day of fasting and prayer, in a letter from Paul Anderson (Lavina Fielding Anderson’s husband) and David Allred (Margaret Toscano’s brother-in-law, whose wife, Janice Allred, would be excommunicated a year and a half later for her feminist theology and unwillingness to obey local church leaders’ demands). Anderson and Allred had sent their letter in July to a number of friends (it was also published inside the back cover of the July Sunstone) saying they were “[c]oncerned and saddened by the increasing climate of confrontation” in the church. They asked for a special day of fasting and prayer “that the spirit of charity … may be more abundantly present in all of our dealings as brothers and sisters.” The day after the fast, Lavina Fielding Anderson received a letter charging her with “conduct unbecoming a member,” and Paul Toscano was also notified of charges of “apostasy” against him.

On 13 September Anderson sent another mass mailing to a list of potential sympathizers. Her letter contextualized the recent notifications of apostasy charges against incidents that year at BYU; Apostle Packer’s address identifying the church’s enemies as homosexuals, feminists, and “so-called intellectuals”; and the excommunication of ultra-right-wing Mormons in southern Utah and northern Arizona. She then provided a brief chronology of events leading up to the September councils. “In short,” she wrote,

five disciplinary councils to consider the membership of independent Mormon scholars and feminists, both liberal and conservative, have been scheduled within the same nine-day period. General Authority ‘consultation’ has been reported in all five, yet the Church ‘emphatically denies’ a ‘purge.’ Perhaps coincidentally, the decisions on the Knowlton and Farr appeals are tentatively scheduled for the same period—right before [the church’s] general conference on October 2-3.

(Those decisions would not arrive, however, until the end of November.) Anderson provided contact information for the church’s First Presidency and Relief Society general presidency, as well as information for gatherings of support to be held in conjuction with the councils.62

The hearings began when Lynne Whitesides met on 14 September with her bishop and four other male church leaders.”63 Her husband and family were not permitted to attend, though eight witnesses were allowed to testify on her behalf. Close to 150 people held a candlelight vigil outside the chapel where the council was held. The group sang and prayed for three hours while Whitesides met with the leaders, then waited outside with her for an hour while her case was deliberated. When she was called back, the decision, [p.277]she learned, was that she would be disfellowshipped—a lesser penalty than excommunication. Later she would receive a letter outlining her probation, including restrictions on her public speech and an order to break off her membership in groups whose interests did not line up with those of church leaders, presumably including the Mormon Women’s Forum. She refused, but no further action was taken.

As the dates for Toscano’s and Anderson’s hearings approached, liberal Mormons in the Salt Lake City area began to rally. On 16 September, at a packed meeting of the independent B. H. Roberts Society, speakers connected the flurry of disciplinary councils with the firings over the summer at BYU. “While church public relations maintains that this is not a purge, it sure feels like a purge,” said Dialogue co-editor and recently resigned BYU history professor Martha Bradley. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Saturday religion page featured stories about the trials up to that point, including photographs of dozens of supporters at Whitesides’s hearing. (The photo would later be reprinted in the New York Times.) Martha Nibley Beck, who had quit BYU’s sociology department that summer, told the Tribune that “forc[ing] people into religious devotion is like putting a gun to someone’s head and saying promise that you’ll love me or I’ll pull the trigger.”64

One of the Tribune’s stories ended by quoting from Mormon novelist Levi Peterson’s essay “The Art of Dissent among the Mormons,” which he had read with characteristic humor a month earlier at the Sunstone Symposium. Peterson said that if he were ever excommunicated on a weekday, he would “be back sleeping in sacrament meeting on the following Sunday,” and if he were prevented from taking the sacrament in his own congregation, he would attend another ward where he was not known so he could do so. “Certainly I’d join in lustily in singing hymns, and I’d attend church socials and chat as always with my friends after meeting.” And at judgment day, “when God rather than men will be my judge, angels can superintend my rebaptism into the church from which I shouldn’t have been cast out in the first place.”65

Such humor did little, though, to alleviate the situation. On 19 September the cases received attention in the “National Report” section of the Sunday New York Times.66 That day, beginning at 6:00 a.m., Paul Toscano’s disciplinary council convened. Over 100 supporters attended, singing hymns, speaking their minds, and drinking orange juice and hot chocolate for six hours while Toscano met with his stake presidency and high council. He had asked at the beginning of the court that its proceedings be made public, and that his wife and other witnesses be present throughout, including someone specifically designated to take notes. Those requests were denied. The majority of the discussion, Toscano said later, centered around a recording and transcript of his recent Suns tone presentation, “All Is Not Well In Zion: False Teachings in the True Church.” Witnesses in his behalf included Lavina Fielding Anderson, whose own trial was less than a week [p.278] away. Anderson outlined for Toscano’s church leaders the characteristics of what she had been calling “spiritual abuse,” but which church members more commonly called “unrighteous dominion.” She repeated the statement the had made at Sunstone that the church works well 99 percent of the time, but warned that in Toscano’s case “the potential for … abuse is very high in the current situation.”67 after three and a half more hours of deliberation, the stake president informed Toscano that the decision, backed unanimously by the high council, was to excommunicate him for apostasy. With mildly self-deprecating humor, Toscano told the Associated Press that he had “made a lot of elegant and impassioned but not out-of-control pleas. I was at my best. But I got excommunicated anyway.”68

Later that day a hearing was held in another part of the city for Maxine Hanks. Earlier in the week Hanks had tried to preempt the trial by requesting that her name be removed from the church’s records, but she was told that the pending council made her request impossible. “My response to the charge of ‘apostasy,’“ she wrote in a letter to her stake Relief Society presidency and the stake president, “is that I may be in conflict with church policy, but I’m in harmony with god [sic] and my conscience.” Citing nineteenth-century Mormon women’s leaders, she argued that her case should be heard by the church’s women’s leaders, not by men, whose authority she said she did not recognize. “I reach out,” she wrote, “to Mormon women who have struggled with this church and lost[.]”69 Although Hanks refused to attend her hearing, supporters wrote letters and made phone calls on her behalf. After a four-hour council, stake president Hanks decided that she would be excommunicated for “conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church.” The Associated Press noted that Hanks’s and Toscano’s excommunications came ‘Just months after Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles identified feminists, homosexuals and intellectuals as the three dangers facing The Mormon Church,” and that the “dissenters believe Packer is behind the purge.”70

Like Maxine Hanks, Lavina Fielding Anderson did not attend her disciplinary council. On 22 September, the night before her court, nearly 200 supporters gathered for a prayer meeting at a small non-denominational chapel near the Utah State Capitol building. CNN reporters and cameras were present but not allowed inside. Speakers included some of those who had already been disciplined—Whitesides, Toscano, and Hanks—as well as Anderson, Michael Quinn, and others who took turns sharing their criticisms and beliefs. A handful of BYU faculty members, some worried about being seen since their attendance could render them suspect to church leaders, sat scattered throughout the building, with a small group clustered in the rear of a balcony.

At the meeting, Sunstone founder Scott Kenney announced that he had begun the process of removing his name from church membership rolls. Provo businesswoman Kate Call made a similar announcement and distrib-[p.278]uted sheets intended for a mass renunciation of church membership. Several people there and at other vigils cited Joseph Smith’s defense of a church member who had been tried for heresy: “I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine,” Smith had said. “It looks too much like the Methodists and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.”

The following evening as Anderson’s court convened without her, she and her family were joined by a few friends to watch a quite consciously selected movie: A Man for All Seasons. Apparently the stake president tried to deliver the results of the hearing late that night, but the family was asleep. He returned the next morning. The decision, as she had expected, was excommunication. Though she had been charged with “conduct unbecoming a member of this church,” the letter itself gave no reason for the action against her; when she inquired, the stake president informed her it was for “apostasy.” In a statement released that day, she expressed appreciation for “the love and compassion of friends and family” and for “the love of God easing [her family’s] pain.” She was determined to continue attending church meetings and to participate as much as possible. She also offered good will to the stake president who, she believed, had “act[ed] out of loyalty to the Church and out of sincere conviction that I was wrong.” Looking back on the month’s events, she concluded, “I believe that someday all of us who have lived through this month, leaders and members alike, will look back and see it as a time when truth and courage meant very different things to very different people. Until that understanding comes,” she said, “I pray for increased love in our community.”71

That night, by coincidence, was the opening session of a previously scheduled three-day “Mormon/Humanist Dialogue” on religion, feminism, and freedom of conscience, at which Anderson was to join several other Mormons and panelists from the humanist journal Free Inquiry. With her excommunication not yet a day old, Anderson explained her thinking leading up to the publication of her Dialogue chronology that had prompted the action against her. Her awareness of ecclesiastical intolerance, she said, was heightened following the church’s 1991 warning against unofficial symposia. “I certainly knew it was risky to voice dissent,” she said, “since our church has a long history of shooting the messenger that brings unpleasant news.” But in the end freedom of conscience and a spiritual assurance prompted her to take her stand.72

The Mormon/humanist conference also drew attention to issues of academic freedom at BYU, in talks from speakers such as Allen Roberts, Maxine Hanks, Martha Sonntag Bradley, and Cecilia Konchar Farr (who would appeal her firing the following week). Bradley, one of the most outspoken Mormon scholars during the turbulent summer and fall, declared that the [p.280]generation of Mormon feminists attending and teaching at BYU were part of an “irreversible process, no matter how many of us they fire or push out. We have made our imprint on that place. They will never forget us. nor us them …. We helped to change things for young women not even born.” The previous year’s struggles. so many of which revolved around feminism, she said, had been “a fight for all Mormon women and this time it played out on the tidy lawns and antiseptic classrooms of BYU. But it is well to remember that it isn’t over yet. In part because so many of us have daughters, because we care about our female students, the difficult, perhaps horrible, work ahead takes on new poignancy and meaning.”73

The last of the disciplinary councils now being called “the purge,” “the September Massacre,” or, most popularly, “the September Six,” was for historian D. Michael Quinn. As he had previously that year, Quinn did not attend his council on 26 September. He received stake president Paul Hanks’s letter of excommunication by certified mail, effectively ending a struggle with church leaders that had lasted over a decade and had forced him from BYU five years earlier. Continuing to affirm his belief in core Mormon doctrines, Quinn coined the term “DNA Mormon” to explain his argument that official church membership was not the same as Mormon identity. “It’s in me,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune, “whether they accept or remove me.” Quinn, like Maxine Hanks, would not appeal the decision. Toscano, Anderson, Whitesides, and Gileadi all said they would. All appeals were denied.

October 1993 LDS General Conference

During the week between Quinn’s excommunication and the opening of the church’s semi-annual general conference, observers waited to hear what LDS leaders might say in response to the recent disciplinary actions. During media coverage leading up to the conference, including segments on National Public Radio (NPR) and CNN, Apostle and former BYU president Dallin Oaks, the church’s point man on disciplinary matters, consistently denied that any systematic “purge” was taking place. “A church of about eight million has church discipline of a handful,” he told NPR, “and people begin to call it a purge. That is an exaggerated and perhaps self-serving characterization.”74

On 2 October, the opening day of conference, a front-page article in the New York Times placed September’s trials in the context of a rapidly globalizing faith with anxieties about central authority, and of feminist activity both within and outside of the church. “I am an orthodox, believing Mormon and a feminist,” Lavina Fielding Anderson told the Times, “and my church has informed me that those are incompatible categories.”75

On the same day the church-owned Deseret News ran an interview with Aspostle Oaks, who reiterated his objection to the term “purge.” “Purge is loaded with meaning and a dirty piece of name-calling,” he said. “It has been put on by people trying to gather a following.” Responding to rumors that [p.281]the actions had been orchestrated by fellow apostle Boyd K. Packer, Oaks said, “I deplore that,” and called it “scapegoating,” He did acknowledge, however, that the Strengthening Church Members Committee routinely kept local church leaders aware of problematic utterances or activities of members within their jurisdictions, He maintained, though, that such reports were not passed down with directives for specific actions. Michael Quinn countered that the lack of precise directions did not matter. “[W]hen a local leader is handed information from general authorities,” he said, “it carries enormous weight and is the equivalent of instruction.”

Oaks’s comments made it clear that, just as liberal intellectuals and feminists felt under attack by church leaders, the leaders saw themselves as besieged by critics. “They are trying to get a movement started by exaggerating their grievances,” Oaks said of the disciplined parties. “They are trying to get every person who has a question about church doctrine [to believe] that the general authorities will cast them into outer darkness.” He added later in the interview: “What we have had in the past several years is a deliberate frontal assault on the church and on its doctrine by a number of different people and organizations. It is not a phenomenon of the past 30 days.” Although in a number of places Oaks judged the disciplined as self-serving, the article concluded with his attempt at healing: “I know some of these people,” he said. “They are valued by the Lord and by the church. The thing I want most is to have all these good people straighten out their thinking, change their course and get back in full fellowship. “76

Also in local newspapers as the conference opened were large notices paid for by “the White Roses Campaign” announcing that between conference sessions on Saturday, general authorities would receive 1,000 white roses as a gesture of peace and “support both of the Church and of the members who have recently had disciplinary action taken against them.” The advertisements also listed cities from which contributions had been sent for the flowers, ranging from Midvale, Utah, to Melbourne, Australia. At the designated hour, Provo resident Shirley Paxman read the statement which had also been used as text for the ads. “Though the times are difficult,” the statement read in part, ‘‘we find hope in the belief that we can face such challenges with dignity and grace and with the belief that God cherishes diversity, that He loves all his children, and that He does not seek to exclude any who love him from membership in the church.” Irene Bates, a Mormon convert from Southern California, read an anonymous poem composed for the event and offered her own comments. “It’s not apostasy,” she said, “when someone believes in the Church, loves the Church, and does not want to leave the Church.” The gesture from the two spokeswomen was received by the church’s presiding bishop, Robert D. Hales, who said the door remained open for disciplined members to return.77

The idea for the white roses had originated at BYU with English professor Gail Turley Houston (placed on probation the previous June) and a [p.282]former VOICE organizer, Lara Harris, who had recently graduated with a master’s degree in English. They had conceived of the plan before the disciplinary hearings had been held, and by the end of the month they had more than enough money for the roses, the advertisements, and plane fare for Bates (who, like Paxman, was both grandmotherly and a feminist). While Harris’s name was used on most promotional material for the campaign, since she was deemed the safest contact person, Houston did sign a memo sent to “Interested Faculty,” soliciting money for the event. “Would you like to respond to the current disciplinary actions against Mormon intellectuals and feminists in a peaceful manner that also gets a message out?” she asked, explaining that the money would be used for “a peaceful message asking for the purge to end.”78 The memo would resurface to haunt Houston during her required sixth-year faculty review (see chap. 8). Enough money was left over from the project to send selected church leaders a half dozen roses each week during October. The remainder went to charitable causes.

In the context of the previous two years’ controversies, several addresses from October’s conference spoke directly to the independent Mormon sector, while others assured mainstream members that the recent actions were not as dramatic as the press made them sound. In the opening session, Apostle Neal A. Maxwell addressed the topic of apostasy, warning members “to be wary of accommodating revealed theology to conventional wisdom.” Referring to the previous month’s disciplinary actions, he quoted nineteenth-century Mormon leader George Q. Cannon: “I am thankful,” Cannon had said, “that God allows those who do not keep his commandments to fall away, so that his Church may be cleansed.”79 Also alluding to high-profile critics, First Presidency counselor Gordon B. Hinckley twice referred to those “who never seem to recognize that knowledge of things divine comes by the power of the Spirit and not the wisdom of men.”80

Apostle Boyd Packer delivered a forceful talk on essential gender roles for men and women, a direct response to the feminist arguments of some of the recently disciplined members. These roles, he said, were “instituted from before the foundation of the world. They are eternal, as are the consequences for either obeying or disobeying them. They are not based on social or political considerations. They cannot be changed. No pressure, no protest, no legislation can alter them.” Men, he continued, have two divine “keys”—priesthood and fatherhood—while women have one, motherhood. Men “of necessity function outside the home,” he said, while women are “the primary nurturer[ s] of children.”81

Perhaps the most significant response to the recent controversies came in the general priesthood meeting that Saturday evening, when Apostle James Faust told the all-male gathering that he saw no place in the church for the presence of “loyal opposition.” Rather, he said, “[t]he Savior gave us this solemn warning: ‘Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine. ‘“ Faust claimed that “[f]ree discussion and expression are encouraged in the [.p283]Church,” but that “the privilege of free expression should operate within limits.” Quoting (as Maxwell had that morning) George Q. Cannon, Faust drew a distinction between “an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the authorities of the Church” and the “publication of those differences of opinion.” Private disagreement, Cannon had taught, was allowable. But the latter constituted “apostasy.” Faust continued: “Those men and women who persist in publicly challenging basic doctrines, practices, and establishment of the Church sever themselves from the Spirit of the Lord and forfeit their right to place and influence in the Church.” Differences of opinion or doctrinal questions should be dealt with “privately with priesthood leaders.” Faust said he saw “a certain arrogance in thinking that any of us may be more spiritually intelligent, more learned, or more righteous than the Councils called to preside over us. Those Councils are more in tune with the Lord than any individual persons they preside over.”82

At least one inadvertently agreed with critics. In his talk Apostle Russell Ballard told leaders to “promote free and open discussion” in council and ward meetings. “Leaders and parents should establish a climate that is conducive to openness where every person is important and every opinion valued . … Yet rarely do those asking the questions feel that they have had an opportunity in ward council meetings to raise their questions, voice their concerns, and offer their suggestions. Priesthood is for service,” he reminded, “not servitude; compassion, not compulsion; caring, not control.”83

Closing the conference, First Presidency counselor Gordon Hinckley offered what would be his long-term response to questions about church critics: they are few, he said, magnified by media coverage. “If we were entirely without criticism, we would be concerned,” he said. “Our responsibility is not to please the world, but rather, to do the will of the Lord, and from the beginning the divine will has been so often contrary to the ways of the world.”84 Later that month, in a Salt Lake City weekly news magazine, Dialogue co-editor Alien Roberts responded to the idea that because the excommunicated were few in number they were somehow insignificant: “Those who consider this more than a numbers game,” he wrote, “point to Jesus’ parable of the 99 and one lost sheep, and the Mormon scripture that ‘Every soul is great in the eyes of God.'”85

Stage Managing a Grizzly Bear: The Benson-Oaks Conflicts

Just as tensions seemed to dissipate following general conference sessions, on 10 October. the Arizona Republic reported that cartoonist Steve Benson, grandson of the ailing Mormon prophet, had resigned his membership in the LDS church in protest of the recent actions against intellectuals and feminists. His wife, Mary Ann Benson, also left the church. That story ran alongside another, detailing the previous month’s actions against the [p.285]September Six. In that story the Republic reported that church officials Boyd Packer and Loren Dunn had met with Paul Toscano’s stake president, Kerry Heinz, prior to Toscano’s disciplinary council. The article quoted from a written statement Packer made to the Republic in which he described the meeting: “We talked doctrine and philosophy. I did not instruct him to hold a disciplinary council and absolutely did not direct a verdict. That is against church policy. When he [Heinz] left, I did not know what he would do.” The article also quoted Dallin Oaks as saying, in an unusually unguarded moment, that “if Elder Packer is having any conversation with [a church court] it is outside the normal channels and … if he gave a directed verdict [against Toscano], that is contrary to policy and irregular, and it is contrary to what I know about Elder Packer and the way he operates.”86

Over the next two days more details were added as new press reports emerged. First, in an Associated Press follow-up on 11 October to the Republic’s account of the Packer-Dunn-Heinz meeting, Paul Toscano claimed that stake president Heinz had told him about the meeting and said that while Packer did not explicitly dictate a verdict he had given a “fair implication” that Toscano’s excommunication would please him. “I knew all along that Boyd Packer was behind it,” said Toscano. “He’s behind all this.” Then, on 12 October, in another Associated Press story, Steve Benson accused Oaks of lying to the Arizona Republic reporter.

According to Benson, on 24 September, the day after Lavina Fielding Anderson’s excommunication, Benson met confidentially with apostles Oaks and Maxwell to discuss his concerns about the church’s response to his grandfather’s incapacity, as well as about the current actions against liberal intellectuals and feminists. In that meeting, Benson reported, he had agreed to keep their discussions confidential and Oaks had expressed dismay over Packer’s involvement in Toscano’s case. When asked why Packer was allowed to act as he had, Oaks—Packer’s junior in the Quorum of the Twelve had allegedly responded: “You can’t stage manage a grizzly bear.” Then, when Oaks met with the Arizona Republic reporter on 1 October (a meeting Benson had helped arrange), Oaks said he knew of no meeting between Packer and Heinz. Prior to publication of the Republic article, Benson had faxed a letter to Oaks on 6 October, reminding him that in their interview the previous month Oaks had discussed the Packer-Dunn-Heinz meeting; if Oaks did not set the record straight, Benson warned, he would feel no obligation to keep secret his interview with Oaks and Maxwell. Oaks that night telephoned the Republic reporter and retracted his statement that “I have no knowledge of whether he [Packer] did [meet with’ Heinz].” The Republic’s article dropped the quote before its publication on 10 October.

In the 12 October A.P. story in which Benson accused Oaks of lying, Benson maintained that Oaks had left some misleading statements on the record, requiring him, he felt, to make public his confidential discussions with Oaks and Maxwell. While Oaks admitted that he had retracted the statement be-[p.285]cause “[i]t was not a truthful statement,” he refused to comment on the other statements Benson attributed to him, including the characterization of Packer as an unmanageable grizzly bear. “I think that Steve Benson,” he said instead, “is just going to have to carry the responsibility for whatever he relates about a confidential meeting.” For Benson’s part, the cartoonist said: “I had to decide to be a party to the cover-up or be faithful to my own convictions. I had to let Elder Oaks walk a plank of his own making.”87

After a three-day respite, the September Six and Benson-Oaks news saga resumed on 15 October when Packer told the Deseret News that his meeting with Toscano’s stake president had been sanctioned by his fellow apostles. He claimed to have initially hesitated when Heinz asked for the meeting. “Even though general authorities of the church are free to contact or respond to local leaders on any subject,” he told the newspaper, “I felt there may be some sensitivity about [Heinz’s] request …. [But] [t]he Brethren felt I could not very well decline to see a stake president.” The meeting took place, he said, on 11 July, just a few hours prior to Heinz’s initial demands (following the VOICE-Mother God incident) that Margaret Toscano stop speaking in public or writing on women and the priesthood.88

On 16 October Oaks told the Deseret News that he felt misrepresented and “wounded” by Associated Press coverage of his meeting with Benson. The report, he said, downplayed his eagerness to correct an oversight and not a conscious attempt to lie.89 Also on 16 October the Salt Lake Tribune reported more stories of church leader involvement in the cases. This time fingers pointed to already familiar figures—general authorities Malcolm Jeppsen, president of the church’s Utah South Area, and Loren Dunn, president of the Utah North Area, both considered by many to be philosophically and personally aligned with Packer. According to the Tribune, Jeppsen had been involved in Avraham Gileadi’s case, allegedly releasing one stake president who had not, Jeppsen felt, dealt severely enough with Gileadi. The new stake president, Leaun Otten, a member of BYU’s religion department, whose selection as stake president was overseen by Apostle Packer himself, called for Gileadi’s disciplinary council shortly after assuming the stake presidency. Jeppsen had also been involved in disciplining ultra-conservative church members in southern Utah, and had directed investigations into the religious beliefs of some BYU faculty and students. Loren Dunn, the Tribune reported, had initially sent Lavina Fielding Anderson’s stake president a copy of her Dialogue article. In addition, an unnamed general authority had “repeatedly” contacted Lynn Kanavel Whitesides’s bishop and finally sent him a transcript of her television interview with certain portions highlighted.90

The following day, 17 October, the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles released a joint statement, published in both major Salt Lake City newspapers and the widely disseminated Church News. The statement, they said, came in response to “extensive publicity given to six recent church disciplinary councils” and was intended to “reaffirm” the church’s [p.286]position on the matter. After expressing regret over lost members, the leaders explained that general authorities have an obligation to respond to requests from local church officers for teaching and policy clarification and for “information that may be helpful in counseling members for whom local leaders are responsible.” In cases regarding discipline, they continued, “general authorities do not direct the decisions,” and disciplined members have the right to appeal. Such decisions are difficult to explain to media, they said, since hearings are confidential. The statement also included a defense of church leaders’ “responsibility to preserve the doctrinal purity of the church” and to discipline members. After several comments on apostasy including Joseph Smith’s observation that “from apostates the faithful have received the severest persecutions,” which, they said, “continues to be the case today”—they affirmed that they would “continue to do their duty, and faithful church members will understand.”91

Not unexpectedly, the statement was countered twice the next week by Paul Toscano. An Associated Press story on 18 October quoted him as calling the statement “disinformation.” Two days later the Salt Lake Tribune published a lengthier op-ed piece in which the articulate lawyer answered the leaders point by point. Arguing that no “revelation allows church leaders to excommunicate church members to preserve ‘doctrinal purity,’” he said that the only fair appeal hearing he could receive would be one outlined in the church’s Doctrine and Covenants, before the “several quorums of the priesthood” —general church members—rather than before the church’s highest leaders. The bulk of his editorial, though, outlined events leading up to his excommunication. As early as his and Margaret’s meeting with President Heinz, he said, they knew that general authority influence had been exerted in the case. Heinz had told them that a lower level general authority had informed him that “certain [other] general authorities” had asked about the Toscanos and what Heinz was doing to keep them in line. What Heinz did not tell them that day, Toscano said, and what they did not learn until it was reported by the Associated Press in October, was that Heinz had met with Packer earlier the same day. “[E]ven though Mr. Heinz understood that Elder Packer was not directing a verdict,” he wrote, “he also understood that Elder Packer wished me to be excommunicated.”92

As the exchange continued, a related and somewhat bizarre story also received local media attention. An anonymous telephone caller, the Salt Lake Tribune reported, had made a death threat to a Michael D. Quinn who lived in the Salt Lake City area, apparently confusing him with D. Michael Quinn, the excommunicated historian. A babysitter received the misdirected threat, and was told to relay the message: ‘‘I’m tired of the statements he’s making about the LDS Church. I’m tired of hearing him criticize the church. He’d better start keeping it to himself. If he doesn’t, I have his phone number and I know where he lives. I’ll come get him. I hate him. He stinks.” The non-historian Quinn alerted the press to prevent any misdi-[p.287]rected violence. Michael Quinn the historian commented on the strange anecdote: “Threatening phone calls are a new low in the current atmosphere in the LDS Church.” He held Apostle Oaks responsible, he said, since Oaks had publicly referred to the excommunicants as “wolves.” “Utah sheepherders kill wolves rather than allow them to wander around and kill sheep,” Quinn continued. “Elder Oaks has increased the paranoia of Mormons toward differences of opinion and dissent …. It would have been more Christian of Apostle Oaks to describe excommunicated persons as ‘lost sheep.’ That might have avoided giving encouragement to the self-appointed vigilantes in the Mormon community.”93

Later that week the Benson-Oaks exchange resumed when Oaks published an opinion piece—an unusual move for a Mormon apostle in the late twentieth-century—in the Salt Lake Tribune, claiming he had been the victim of Steve Benson’s “Double-Decker Deceit.” Oaks argued that he had not “lied” to the Arizona Republic, as recent news stories had claimed, because he had not intended any deception, and when he learned of his mistake he tried to correct it. He also provided a timeline of events from the previous six weeks to clarify confusion and justify his actions. Included in Oaks’s timeline was a previously unmentioned meeting Steve and Mary Ann Benson had held with the two apostles earlier in September. He also added the detail that, following Benson’s 1 October “personal and confidential” fax alerting him to his mis-statement regarding Packer’s meeting with Heinz, he felt that only one of the statements challenged by Benson warranted correction.94

Four days later Benson responded, countering Oaks’s claims. In his own timeline Benson pointed out that he had kept his promise of confidentiality regarding the first September meeting with the apostles. Regarding the second meeting, Benson said he felt Oaks had broken the agreement by providing misinformation to the Republic about his knowledge of the Packer-Heinz meeting. Benson revealed additional details about that meeting, including Oaks’s expression of dismay regarding Packer’s meeting with Heinz, which Benson said raised questions about Packer’s claim to have received his fellow apostles’ approval. Benson also said that Oaks claimed to have told Packer  that such a meeting “violated procedure” and feared Toscano might “sue the church.” This level of detail, Benson felt, contradicted Oaks’s formulation of the Packer-Heinz meeting in the Republic article. He also felt that Oaks had falsely claimed that such a meeting would be contrary to Oaks’s knowledge of how Packer operated. The apostle’s choice, Benson said, “to publicly dissemble” violated Benson’s and the church’s trust and prompted Benson to go public about the 24 September meeting. In an expanded version of his response, published in the December 1993 issue of Sunstone, Benson added that the “dispute has been an unnecessarily painful one [that] could have been avoided if Elder Oaks had originally offered a ‘no comment’ when asked what he knew” about the Packer-Heinz connection.95

The dispute between the cartoonist and the apostle also surfaced at [p.288]Brigham Young University. On 25 October, the same day Benson’s reply to Oaks was published in the Tribune, BYU’s Daily Universe ran, without context or commentary, Oaks’s response from the previous week. When Benson asked the Universe to print his response to Oaks, however, his request was denied. Incensed that students would be exposed only to one side of the debate, and without context, he and Lavina Fielding Anderson asked the Independent Student Review to publish Benson’s reply, preferably along with the Oaks piece. The Review editorial board, however, felt that its magazine had lost readership and advertising revenue following its coverage of the BYU faculty firings; the Review, fearing for its future, had not published anything on the September Six or the Benson-Oaks controversies. The Review decided not to run Benson’s response, and the exchange between the two did not continue elsewhere.96

On 31 October, in a Salt Lake Tribune “Common Carrier” column, Gary James Bergera, associate editor of Dialogue and director of publishing for Signature Books, noted less-publicized investigations of other Mormon scholars, including Edward Ashment, an Egyptologist, and Mark Thomas and David Wright, who had both written on the nineteenth-century origins of the Book of Mormon. All three lived outside Utah. “[T]he future of Mormon intellectual life looks more dismal today than ever before in the church’s past,” Bergera wrote. “In each of the [recent investigations], whether formal church disciplinary proceeding or BYU administrative action,” he continued, “none of the accusers of these men and women has been able to point to a single serious factual error or mistake on their part, nor can it be shown that they have ever taught their views as official Mormon doctrine. The ‘sin’ of these men and women lies in voicing an opinion contrary to the church’s current official position, in expressing a criticism of contemporary church practice or leaders, or in discussing examples of human frailty or corporate misdeed.”97

As the weeks passed, public attention to the cases diminished, with a few notable exceptions. Louise Degn, a Salt Lake City-based documentary filmmaker, organized a “Sunday Gathering” patterned after the prayer meeting held on the eve of Lavina Fielding Anderson’s excommunication. The idea behind the gathering, which attracted approximately 200 people, was to provide a loosely organized worship service for Mormons who might not feel comfortable attending regular church services. Speakers at the first gathering (subsequent meetings were held monthly) included Martha Sonntag Bradley.

Later that fall, on 20 November (a week before BYU reaffirmed its decisions in the Cecilia Konchar Farr and David Knowlton cases), all of the “September Six” except Avraham Gileadi met with an audience of nearly 200 people in Provo to reflect on recent events. Several expressed their continued belief in the LDS church and feelings of Mormon identity. Three—Anderson, Whitesides, and Toscano—noted that they had appealed to the [p.289]First Presidency and were awaiting a reply. At the meeting University of Utah professor emeritus of political science J. D. Williams announced that he was soliciting contributions and names for a full-page advertisement in Salt Lake newspapers to protest the disciplinary actions. The advertisement would be placed in the name of “The Olive Branch,” which would also sponsor a Sunday devotional similar to the Sunday Gathering. The advertisement, signed by 330 people, ran in the Salt Lake Tribune on 28 November, with a large motto: “Fresh Courage Take” and a New Testament scripture from Paul’s epistle to Timothy: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” At the 5 December devotional sponsored by the Olive Branch, speakers preached sermons to an audience of 250 on fear, power, sound mind, and love (the last of which was delivered by Paul Toscano).98

David P. Wright

Though minimal publicity attended the case of former BYU professor David Wright in the fall of 1993, the investigation into his writings on the Book of Mormon belongs with the stories of the September Six. On 19 September, the date of Paul Toscano’s and Maxine Hanks’s excommunications, Wright, a Brandeis University professor living in Massachusetts, was “called in” by his stake president to discuss his contribution to the volume New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology, published that month. (The volume’s editor, Brent Lee Metcalfe, would be excommunicated on 4 December 1994.) Earlier, in April 1993, Wright had been asked to meet with his bishop regarding a Sunstone article which, like his New Approaches contribution, discussed his position as a Near Eastern studies scholar that the Book of Mormon was not an ancient text (a personal belief which had led to his dismissal from BYU in 1988). The April meeting had come about after a general authority had contacted Wright’s stake president about his Sunstone article; the stake president had then asked Wright’s bishop to look into it. Because the request for the 19 September meeting fell in the middle of the highly publicized crackdown in Utah, Wright feared his case fit the pattern and that its outcome might be the same. Still, he agreed to meet with his stake president, Ned Wheeler, who encouraged him to “undertake a spiritual discipline so that [he] would become orthodox in [his] thinking.”99

When the bishop, James Reeder, contacted him for a follow-up meeting twice in October, Wright, aware of the outcomes of the disciplinary councils in Utah, declined to meet. No further contact was made until February 1994, when Wright turned down another request to meet with Reeder.

Two weeks following this latest invitation, Wright was informed that a bishop’s council was scheduled for 20 February to determine what course of action should be pursued. Wright chose not to attend but sent a letter stating his position. His wife, Diane, sent a letter as well. In his letter Wright [p.290]asserted his belief that “the charge of apostasy is based mainly on my publications,” which grew out of both his spiritual and academic concerns. He “hope[ d] for a day when tolerance will increase and unity in our tradition will be gauged, not by uniformity, but by a willingness to work together for a common good in a context of individual diversity.”100

The Wrights’ letters were circulated widely on Mormon Internet discussion lists, where they found both supporters and detractors. One surprising source of support came from a member of the conservative Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), which had issued a 500-plus page refutation of the Metcalfe volume. The FARMS scholar, BYU professor of Near Eastern studies Daniel Peterson, said that while he found Wright’s position (that the Book of Mormon is not ancient, yet still scriptural) to be “intellectually incoherent,” and personally would not “want to see this middle position dominate,” still he did not want to “throw its advocates out of the church.”101

The bishop’s council was featured on the front page of a local Massachusetts newspaper, in which Wright explained his reason for not attending the meeting: he saw his case following the patterns of the September excommunications and as an attack on the dignity of his scholarship. The article quoted stake president Wheeler as suggesting Wright could have faced excommunication for refusing to attend the bishop’s council. Further, the stake president said the “whole purpose of a disciplinary council is to help a person see the error of their ways. We want to help heal people. But if they don’t want to discuss it, that certainly says something, doesn’t it?”102

The bishop’s council decided to send the case to the stake president and high council, but allowed for an informal meeting between Wright, a counselor in the bishopric, and a friend from the Wrights’ ward. Wright was informed that his wife’s letter to the bishop’s council had sparked a desire for more open communication among all parties. This and a subsequent meeting were followed by a 29 March meeting with Wright, the bishop, and the stake president. Wright later recalled that after two hours of discussion it was “clear that I could not satisfy [their] requirements for membership in the Church.” When Wheeler asked how Wright felt about the previous year’s meetings with leaders, “I told him that [the meetings] had been spiritually abusive and that they had dissipated what faith I had.” Convinced the meeting would lead nowhere, Wright rose, shook their hands, and prepared to leave. “I asked the stake president if he was going to take action to do so quickly,” he recalled. “Two days later I received notice of the stake disciplinary council.”103

Wright defended himself before that body on 5 April, along with Dianne Wright, and Stephen Thompson, an Egyptologist and church member from Brown University. Prior to the council Wright wrote to President Wheeler, telling him that Wheeler’s ignorance of the intellectual positions taken by active Mormons and of Wright’s own field of academic expertise [p.291]made him unfit to judge this case. “I recognize that you will use this letter to convict me,” he wrote. “But know that my expressions here come out of the moral depths of my heart.” During the council Wright presented a lengthy chronicle of his intellectual and spiritual journey from an orthodox, literalist position on Mormon and Christian scriptures to a more academically informed but still, he felt, faithful position. “My study and resulting views grow out of a desire to cultivate faith not disbelief,” he told the council. “In sum, if I am guilty of anything, it is of trying to find a way to believe and appreciate my religious tradition.”104

On 9 April Wright received a letter informing him he had been excommunicated for apostasy. The charges against him included disbelief in some biblical events (including a literal flood and Tower of Babel) and contradicting the opinions of modern prophets. Wheeler implied that Wright had been misled by Satan and fallen prey to the sin of pride. “When our Prophets speak in their office and calling,” Wheeler wrote, “they will be directed by inspiration and when they speak as such all debate should stop. Careful attention through fasting, prayer, and scripture study will reveal the truth of these things to you and help you to regain full fellowship for which we deeply desire.”105

Wright’s excommunication came shortly after the church’s April 1994 general conference, at which a planned show of support for disciplined members did not go as organizers had hoped. The event was dubbed “Circle of Love” and was to have culminated in a thousand Mormons circling the church’s office building in Salt Lake City as a demonstration of inclusiveness. (The symbolism was drawn from Edwin Markham’s well-known verse: “He drew a circle that shut me out—/ Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,/ But Love and I had the wit to win:/ We drew a circle that took him in.”106) Though the event drew participants from as far away as Nebraska and Texas, they numbered fewer than a hundred. After a prayer meeting at the State Capitol Rotunda, the group marched to the nearby Church Office Building where they formed a circle on the front steps. They left behind multicolored bouquets of carnations to symbolize diversity. One general conference attendee scoffed to an Associated Press reporter that the circle of singers looked like “the Whos” from Dr. Suess’s children’s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but quickly added that “[t]he Brethren are not Grinches.”107

Following Wright’s excommunication, supporters drafted an open letter to church leaders which they planned to publish as a paid advertisement similar to the Olive Branch protest of the previous fall. The letter, eventually published on 3 July, was signed by nearly 100 Mormons and over seventy-five non-Mormons, most of whom listed affiliation at academic institutions nationwide. The letter linked the Wright excommunication not only to the September Six but also to the recent firings from BYU of Cecilia Konchar Farr and David Knowlton. In “trivializing intellectual activity,” the letter stated,

the church loses credibility as an organization devoted in fact as well as in theology to the search for truth …. Of particular concern to us, however, are the implications of this and similar actions for the integrity and professional credibility of LDS scholarship in the church’s institutions of higher learning and elsewhere. This action makes it impossible for faculty in departments of anthropology, history, Near Eastern studies, religion, sociology, or indeed almost any discipline freely to conduct independent research in areas that have any relation to LDS belief.

After citing the church’s Doctrine and Covenants, Section 121—an injunction against unrighteous dominion—the letter concluded: “We believe that your pursuit of the church’s outspoken intellectuals is inconsistent with this mandate. We ask that you stop. We ask that you respect their rights and those of all members of the church to discover truth for themselves, and in that process to think and discuss their ideas without fear.”108

Janice Allred

Nearly a year after Wright’s excommunication, Mormon feminist Janice Allred-Margaret Toscano’s sister and a Provo mother of nine children-was excommunicated on 10 May 1995 for apostasy after she refused to cease speaking or publishing on the Mormon doctrine of Heavenly Mother and other controversial subjects109 Allred had first encountered trouble with her stake president following the 1992 Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium, where she delivered a paper entitled “Toward a Mormon Theology of God the Mother.” Her stake president, Carl Bacon, warned her not to speak on the topic, but she agreed only to inform him in advance if she planned to do so. In early 1994 the issue resurfaced when she prepared to publish the 1992 address in a special women’s issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.110 Bacon attempted to have her pull the article, but the issue was already at press. Besides, she told the Associated Press, “I just feel the freedom-of-belief and freedom-of-speech issue is so important in the church today” that she could not agree to cease speaking on and publishing her theological explorations.111 In August 1994 she further riled church leaders when she presented a paper at that year’s Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium arguing against the idea that God will not permit church leaders to lead members astray, a claim of infallibility which previous generations of Mormons denounced. Just prior to that presentation, she and her husband, David, a BYU physics professor, were informed by their bishop, Robert Hammond, that they would not be permitted to speak at the joint missionary homecoming and farewell for two of their sons. He also added that he planned to schedule disciplinary actions for the near future.112

A few weeks after Allred delivered her 1994 paper on prophetic infallibility, First Presidency counselor Gordon B. Hinckley responded to her argument to an audience at Ricks College, the church’s junior college in Rexburg, Idaho. “She can present her paper until doomsday,” Hinckley [p.293]said, but God would not allow the church to be misled by its leaders. “Our peace, safety, and salvation lie in following the prophet,” he said.113 In the fall of 1994 the prophet Hinckley referred to was Howard W. Hunter, who had succeeded Ezra Taft Benson upon the latter’s death the previous May. (Hinckley himself would assume the church presidency early in 1995 following Hunter’s death.) Most Mormon liberals had welcomed the transition to Hunter’s presidency; following the long stretch of President Benson’s illnesses, they found it refreshing to have a church leader able to function fully. Hunter’s initial press conference had included an invitation for “those who are hurt and struggling and afraid” to “come back,” a statement many saw as directed at the “September Six.”114

On 12 October 1994 Allred attended a disciplinary council convened by her bishop to investigate her writings and public speeches. About fifty supporters gathered for a candlelight vigil that extended into the early morning hours, when Bishop Hammond announced that Allred was being placed on probation. She would be forbidden from praying or speaking in church meetings, taking the sacrament, and visiting the church’s temples; she was also required to maintain close counsel with her bishop and was forbidden to speak or write on Mormon doctrinal topics. Allred told reporters immediately afterward that “I cannot accept the conditions. They attempt to obligate me,” she said, “to restrict my freedom of speech by allowing the bishop to supervise and censor my work.” She informed Hammond of her refusal by letter.115 The following May, Hammond convened another hearing to investigate Allred’s subsequent writings and statements to the media. Following a five-hour hearing, she was excommunicated for apostasy. She was the first high-profile Mormon feminist or liberal intellectual to be disciplined during President Gordon B. Hinckley’s tenure as prophet.116 “The lesson I would like to draw from this,” Allred told BYU’s independent Student Review a few months following her excommunication, “is the importance of freedom, the importance of freedom for our spiritual development. And that it’s wrong for our priesthood leaders to abuse their power and try to punish people. It’s not spiritually healthy for the Church and as a church, as a people, we need to recognize the privileges, the rights that God has given to us, and not let the institution take them away from us.”117

While Allred’s leaders—and those who oversaw the disciplinary actions against other feminists and intellectuals in the preceding two years—likely saw themselves as acting in the interests of preserving doctrinal purity in the church, many in the independent Mormon sector saw this as part of an ever tightening set of restrictions. To question the actions of local or general church authorities was clearly off limits. Issues surrounding the volatile topic of Mormonism’s concept of a heavenly mother—and other topics broadly perceived as feminist issues—were taboo. Both questions would resurface a year after Allred’s excommunication in the case of Gail Turley Houston at BYU. Houston’s case would exemplify BYU’s reaction to the [p.294]“September Six” and subsequent actions against other Mormon writers. These actions would break some faculty friendships, while rendering those who remained loyal to the accused vulnerable to charges of disloyalty to the church. Some faculty members would leave the university, alienated as much by the excommunications as by the faculty firings. Houston, for instance, would be forced to leave, in part, because issues in her case overlapped too much with the turmoil in the larger Mormon community.


1. Martha Sonntag Bradley and Allen Dale Roberts, “Editors’ Introduction: The Times—They Are A’ Changin’,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 (Spring 1993): 1-4; quotation on p. 4.

2. See “Mormon Intellectuals Take Stand against Harassment,” distributor’s press release, Signature Books News, 29 Mar. 1993.

3. Peggy Betcher Stack, “Despite Church Warnings, 1,500 Attended Sunstone Symposium,” Salt Lake Tribune, 15 Aug. 1992.

4. Toscano’s talk was published as “Dealing with Spiritual Abuse: The Role of the Mormon Alliance,” Sunstone, July 1993, 32-39; and was later collected in his book, The Sanctity of Dissent (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 109-32.

5. Abbott’s talk was published that fall as “One Lord, One Faith, and Two Universities: Tensions Between ‘Religion’ and ‘Thought’ at BYU,” Sunstone, Sept. 1992, 15-23. For contemporary coverage that noted his critique of Packer, see Peggy Fletcher Stack and Michael Phillips, “Critics: For BYU’s Good, Church Must Loosen Grip,” Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Aug. 1992.

6. Kader’s talk was published the following year as “Free Expression: The LDS Church and Brigham Young University,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 (Fall 1993): 33-55. For contemporary coverage of the talk, including the quotation from Allen, see Stack and Phillips, “Critics: For BYU’s Good.”

7. Richards’s talk was eventually published as “Does Paying Tithing Make You a Voting Shareholder? BYU’s Worldwide Board of Trustees,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 (Fall 1993): 59-72.

8. Stack and Phillips, “Critics: For BYU’s Good.”

9. Vern Anderson (A.P.) , “LDS Official Acknowledges Church Monitors Critics,” Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Aug. 1992.

10. “First Presidency Issues Statement on Scriptural Mandate as Reason for Church Committee” (press release), 13 Aug. 1992, copy in our possession.

11. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “LDS Leaders Say Scripture Supports Secret Files on Members,” Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Aug. 1992. In addition to Peterson, the following individuals were also interviewed by their local leaders for commenting positively on changes in the temple ceremonies: Rebecca England, Allen Roberts, Ron Priddis, Robert Rees, Keith Norman, and Lavina Fielding Anderson. Peterson and Norman had their temple recommends suspended, reportedly on instruction from higher church leaders. That fall, after Sunstone magazine reported on the changes, its editor, Elbert Peck, and publisher, Daniel Rector, had their recommends confiscated. See Lavina Fielding Anderson, “The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 (Spring 1993): 7-64. Also see “Comments on Temple Changes Elicit [p.295]Church Discipline,” Sunstone, June 1990, 59-60; “Sunstone Officers Disciplined,” Sunstone Apr. 1991, 63.

12. For an account of this event, see Eugene England, “Easter Weekend,” in The Quality of Mercy: Personal Essays on Mormon Experience (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992).

13. England, “On Spectral Evidence,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 (Spring 1993): 135-152, quotation on 148; reprinted as “On Spectral Evidence, Scapegoating, and False Accusation,” in his Making Peace: Personal Essays (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995). After his comments at the Sunstone Symposium, England published an apology to the two apostles. He added, however: “I suggest we all report in detail to Committee Members Elders James E. Faust and Russell M. Nelson what is happening to us and those in our care as a result of their Committee’s actions, so they can assess those results.” See England to the editor, Sunstone, Mar. 1993, 2-3.

14. Stack and Phillips, “Critics: For BYU’s Good.”

15. For Arington’s views on these developments, see his autobiography, Adventures of a Church Historian (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998), chap. 14.

16. See Anderson, “The LDS Intellectual Community,” 17-18, 29-30. See also D. Michael Quinn, “On Being a Mormon Historian (and Its Aftermath),” in George D. Smith, ed., Faithful History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992); and Gary James Bergera and Ron Priddis, Brigham Young University: A House of Faith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 89-90.

17. See Richard E. Turley, Jr., Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), esp. 102-103; Linda Sillitoe and Allen D. Roberts, Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), esp. 292-94.

18. See Anderson, “LDS Intellectual Community,” 20-28.

19. Ibid., 53. Anderson does not identify Perkins by name, nor does she note Perkins’s specific requests of Abbott or that his temple recommend was confiscated.

20. Ibid., 49, 53, 56.

21. Geoffrey Thatcher (A.P.), “BYU Instructors Seek Greener, Freer Pastures,” Salt Lake Tribune 23 Nov. 1992.

22. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Age Taking Its Toll on President Benson,” Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Jan. 1993.

23. Maxine Hanks, ed., Women and Authority: Re-Emerging Mormon Feminism (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992). For presentations on feminist topics, Hanks had been questioned by her local church leaders between September 1991 and June 1992. See Anderson, “LDS Intellectual Community,” 38. Hanks had also prompted a minor skirmish at BYU in late January 1993 following an interview in Student Review and a presentation to VOICE (BYU’s committee to promote the status of women), where conservative male students (not VOICE members) questioned her on her Mormon faithfulness. See Bryan Waterman, “Women and Authority: An Interview with Maxine Hanks,” Student Review, 27 Jan. 1993.

24. See D. Michael Quinn, “150 Years of Truth and Consequences in Mormon History,” Sunstone, Feb. 1992, 12-14.

25. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “LDS Apostasy Investigation Launched against Historian,” Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Feb. 1993.

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid.

28. See Peggy Fletcher Stack, “LDS Intelligentsia Is Grouping to Fight Defamation,” Salt Lake Tribune, 27 June 1992; Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Teacher, Co-Editor May Test Waters of Academic Freedom,” Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Oct. 1992.

29. See F. Michael Watson [secretary to the First Presidency] to Rex E. Lee, 23 [p.296]Feb. 1993. Watson’s memo is brief: “I have been directed to forward to you for your response,” he writes, “the attached copies of correspondence received in the Office of the First Presidency regarding Martha Bradley, a member of the BYU faculty. It will be appreciated if you would furnish the Office of the First Presidency with copies of any correspondence prepared in connection with this matter.” See also Rex E. Lee to Martha Bradley, 2 Mar. 1993; The W******* Family to “Presidency,” 14 Feb. 1993; C. W***** to “Dear President,” 14 Feb. 1993; C***** H*** to “Dear President,” 15 Feb. 1993; H**** J. M******* to “Dear Brethem [sic],” 14 Feb. 1993; E. Mc***** to “Dear Brethem [sic],” 14 Feb. 1993. Copies in our possession. It is not clear if the letters were generated individually or as part of a campaign, but the final letter cited includes the detail that “I, along with several others, gathered to watch” the program, and that “Quinn and Hanks are not our concern at this point because they are not employed by the LDS Church, however, Martha Bradley most certainly raised our eyebrows” (emphasis added). The author added, “We recommend her immediate dismissal.”

30. These details were included in a story later that fall, following Anderson’s excommunication. See Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Verdict in Trials of 6 Mormon Scholars: Guilty,” Salt Lake Tribune, 2 Oct. 1993.

31. For more background on Packer, see Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Apostle’s Use a Testament to Tough Love,” Salt Lake Tribune, 2 Oct. 1993.

32. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Alliance Counters ‘Spiritual Abuse’ in Mormon Church,” Salt Lake Tribune, 8 May 1993; Michael Phillips, “Embrace Dissent to Stem Spiritual Abuse, Say Speakers,” Salt Lake Tribune, 15 May 1993; Toscano’s comments were eventually published as a chapter of his The Sanctity of Dissent, 133-52.

33. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Author Spills Secrets Sacred to LDS Church,” Salt Lake Tribune, 8 May 1993.

34. Lynn Smith, “Protesting Patriarchy,” L.A. Times, 16 May 1993.

35. Lynn Smith, “Some Sweat It Out When ‘Called In,’’’ L.A. Times, 16 May 1993.

36. Grethe Peterson, “Response,” Sunstone July-Aug. 1980, 16-17. Peterson’s comments were delivered in response to Wilcox’s “The Mormon Concept of a Mother in Heaven,” Sunstone, July-Aug. 1980, 9-15, later collected in Maureen Ursenbach Beecher and Lavina Fielding Anderson, eds., Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 64-77. For a description of the audience for the Wilcox/Peterson Sunstone session, see Linda Sillitoe, “Off the Record: Telling the Rest of the Truth,” Sunstone, Dec. 1990, 19. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Mormon Women’s Forum in Salt Lake City provided discussion of issues surrounding the Mother in Heaven.

37. For a variety of personal voices on this subject, see the section “Emerging Discourse on the Divine Feminine,” in Hanks, Women and Authority, 257-99. Also see an essay by BYU law professor Cheryl B. Preston, “Feminism and Faith: Reflections on the Mormon Heavenly Mother,” Texas Journal of Women and the Law 2 (1993): 337-78. Preston explores the controversy surrounding Heavenly Mother thoroughly, including reasons some Mormon women desire “Mother prayer,” though she makes it clear that her own prayers fall within orthodox Mormon standards.

38. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Cornerstones of Responsibility,” address to Regional Representatives, 5 Apr. 1991, cited in Anderson, “The LDS Intellectual Community,” 35. Also see “President Hinckley Renounces [sic] Praying to Mother in Heaven,” Sunstone, Sept. 1991, 69.

39. Margaret and Paul Toscano, Strangers in Paradox: Explorations in Mormon Theology (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990), esp. chap. 5.

40. Publicity for the opening, thirteen-date run of Mother Wove the Morning at the Salt Lake Art Center, Jan. 1990; publicity for VOICE’s 19 September 1991 [p.297]meeting, featuring Pearson’s play. Copies in our possession. When the group submitted a request to invite Pearson back the next year, it was rejected by the administration for “doctrinal reasons.” See also an interview with Pearson, Mormon Womens Forum 1 (Mar. 1990): 1-2.

41. “How Shall We Worship Mother In Heaven?” Mormon Women’s Forum, July 1992, 1-11, cited in Anderson, “The LDS Intellectual Community,” 36.

42. See ibid.

43. See Chris Jorgensen and Peggy Fletcher Stack, “It’s Judgment Day for the Far Right: LDS Church Purges Survivalists,” Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Nov. 1992.

44. See Bryan Waterman, “Who’s afraid of mother god? Student responses to the continuing controversy,” Student Review, July-Aug. 1992; Tennery Taylor Norton and Liesel Boundy, “The missing female in our theology: Not to be found in Toscano, Whitesides, and Esplin’s vehement reformism,” Student Review, July-Aug. 1992. On Waterman’s meetings with his stake president, see Anderson, “The LDS Intellectual Community,” 49. Waterman had previously written on the same topic with no official response. See his “In Search Of … God the Mother,” Student Review, 13 Nov. 1991.

45. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “NOW Speakers Discuss ‘God the Mother,’“ Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Feb. 1993.

46. See Melissa Bean, “Mother God Repressed, VOICE Told,” Daily Universe, 17 June 1993. Also see chap. 3, above, esp. 120n197.

47. “Apology,” Daily Universe, 18June 1993.

48. This meeting was dated in Paul Toscano, “Mormon Dissident Answers Leaders,” Salt Lake Tribune, 20 Oct. 1993.

49. Vern Anderson (A.P.), “Apostle Packer Says ‘So-Called’ Scholars, Gays, Feminists Are Leading LDS Astray,” Salt Lake Tribune, 24 July 1993; Boyd K. Packer, Address to All-Church Coordinating Council Meeting, 18 May 1993, typescript.

50. Patty Henetz, “Author’s Book on Rebellion among Mormon Polygamists Mirrors her Quandary at BYU,” Salt Lake Tribune, 31 July 1993.

51. Martha Sonntag Bradley, conversations with the authors, Aug. 1993.

52. Vern Anderson (A.P.), “Benson’s Not Competent, Grandson Says,” Salt Lake Tribune, 10 July 1993.

53. Vern Anderson (A.P.), “Grandson Critical of LDS President Won’t Be Profiled in BYU Magazine,” Salt Lake Tribune, 21 July 1993.

54. “Crisis on Campus: The Impact of BYU’s Current Political Climate on Students” (panel), cassette recording SL93 223, Sunstone Foundation. Salt Lake City, copy in our possession. Panelists were Bryan Watennan, Farrell Lines, Melissa Vistaunet, Joanna Brooks, and Marni Asplund-Campbell (who was listed in the program under the pseudonym “Dinah Kirkham”).

55. Paul Toscano, “All Is Not Well In Zion: False Teachings in the True Church,” Salt Lake City Sunstone Symposium, 12 Aug. 1993, collected in Toscano, The Sanctity of Dissent, 153-75. See also Peter Scarlet, “LDS Image of God Is One Cause of ‘Spiritual Abuse,’ Say Sunstone Panelists,” Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Aug. 1993.

56. Her comments were eventually published as Lavina Fielding Anderson, “Leaders and Members: Messages from the General Handbook of Instruction,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 28 (Winter 1995): 145.

57. Emphasis in original. Newell’s comments were eventually published as “Scapegoats and Scarecrows in Our Town: When the Interests of Church and Community Collide,” Sunstone, Dec. 1993, 22-28, quotes on p. 25.

58. Margaret Toscano, comments delivered as part of the panel, “If Women Have Had the Priesthood since 1843—Why Aren’t They Using It?” Salt Lake City Sunstone Symposium, Aug. 1993, cassette recording SL 93 225 available from the Sunstone Foundation, Salt Lake City, copy in our possession. Toscano’s comments [p.298]were eventually published as “If Mormon ·Women Have Had the Priesthood since 1843, Why Aren’t They Using It?” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (Summer 1994): 219-26.

59. Based on our own experience as organizers, attendees, and participants at the 1993 symposium.

60. Anderson to “Dear Friend,” 1 Sept. 1993, copy in our possession.

61. For background on Gileadi’s case, see Paul Rawlins, “Scholars or Censors: The Last Days of Abraham Gileadi,” Student Review, 18 Sept. 1991; and “An Interview with Avrabam Gileadi,” Student Review, 22 Jan. 1992.

62. Lavina Fielding Anderson to “Dear Friend,” 13 Sept. 1993.

63. The following account of the hearings relies heavily on the extended news story “Six Intellectuals Disciplined for Apostasy,” Sunstone, Nov. 1993, 65-73.

64. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Disciplinary Actions Outrage Intellectuals But Devout Approve,” Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Sept. 1993. Also see Peter Scarlet, “Feminists, Intellectuals Face Hearings Before Disciplinary Councils,” in the same issue. Both articles appeared under the banner headline: “LDS Church Sanctions Six Prominent Scholars.”

65. Stack, “Disciplinary Actions.”

66. “Mormon Church Places Penalties on Dissidents,” New York Times, 19 Sept. 1993.

67. Lavina Fielding Anderson, “Ecclesiastical Abuse,” excerpt from statement read at Paul Toscano’s disciplinary hearing, 19 Sept. 1993, Sunstone, Nov. 1993, 66- 67.

68. Associated Press, “Mormon Courts Excommunicate 2 Dissidents,” Salt Lake Tribune, 20 Sept. 1993.

69. Maxine Hanks to the Relief Society Presidency of Salt Lake Stake and Paul Hanks, Stake President, Salt Lake Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 17 Sept. 1993, copy in our possession.

70. A.P., “Mormon Courts.” Also on 19 September former BYU professor David Wright received a request from his local leaders to discuss his contribution to Brent Lee Metcalfe’s controversial New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993), which had received national publicity upon its publication earlier that month. See Vern Anderson (A.P.), “Scholars Doubt Book of Mormon’s Antiquity,” Salt Lake Tribune, 5 June 1993. Other contributors to the book were also called in.

71. See Lavina Fielding Anderson. “The September Six,” in George D. Smith, ed., Religion, Feminism, and Freedom of Conscience: A Mormon/Humanist Dialogue (Syracuse, NY: Prometheus Books/Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 3-8 .

72. Ibid.

73. Martha Sonntag Bradley, “The Struggle to Emerge: Leaving Brigham Young University,” in Smith, ed., Religion, Feminism, and Freedom of Conscience.

74. Quoted in “Six Intellectuals Disciplined,” Sunstone. Following his excommunication, Quinn came out as gay; he also published Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996). However, at no point during his 1993 excommunication proceedings was his sexuality an issue.

75. Dirk Johnson, “Growing Mormon Church Faces Dissent by Women and Scholars,” New York Times, 2 Oct. 1993.

76. Matthew S. Brown, “Church Isn’t Conducting a ‘Purge,’ LDS Apostle Says,” Deseret News, 2 Oct. 1993.

77. “White Roses Campaign,” advertisement, Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News, 2 Oct. 1993. Reprinted in Sunstone, Nov. 1993, 71. See also Peggy Fetcher [p.299] Stack, “LDS Official Accepts Roses from Concerned Members,” Salt Lake Tribune, 2 Oct. 1993, and “Six Intellectuals Disciplined,” 72.

78. Houston to Interested Faculty, 27 Sept. 1993, copy in our possession.

79. Neal A. Maxwell. “From the Beginning,” Ensign 23 (Nov. 1993): 21-24.

80. See Gordon B. Hinckley, “My Testimony,” Ensign 23 (Nov. 1993): 51; “Six Intellectuals Disciplined,” Sunstone, 70; Peter Scarlet and Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Mormons Meet in S.L. for Fall Conference,” Salt Lake Tribune, 3 Oct. 1993.

81. Boyd K. Packer, “For Time and All Eternity,” Ensign 23 (Nov. 1993): 18·20; “Six Intellectuals Disciplined,” Sunstone, 70-71; Scarlet and Stack, “Mormons Meet.”

82. James E. Faust, “Keeping Covenants and Honoring the Priesthood,” Ensign 23 (Nov. 1993): 36-38; excerpts reprinted in Sunstone, Nov. 1993, 70; Tony Semerad, “Expression Has Its Limits, Priesthood Told,” Salt Lake Tribune, 3 Oct. 1993. Cannon’s statements had been directed against an earlier group of Mormon “intellectuals” known as the Godbeites. Regarding that crisis between leaders and church members, see Ronald W. Walker, Wayward Saints: The Godbeites and Brigham Young (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998).

83. M. Russell Ballard, “Strength in Counsel,” Ensign 23 (Nov. 1993): 78; “Six Intellectuals Disciplined,” Sunstone, 72.

84. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Bring Up a Child in the Ways He Should Go,” Ensign 23 (Nov. 1993): 54; Peggy Fletcher Stack and Peter Scarlet, “Church Critics Are Few, Hinckley Tells Faithful,” Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Oct. 1994.

85. Allen D. Roberts, “A Church Divided,” Private Eye Weekly, 20 Oct. 1993.

86. Paul Brinkley-Rogers, “Cracks in the temple: Mormon unity in peril,” Arizona Republic, 10 Oct. 1993: Paul Brinkley-Rogers, “Cartoonist Steve Benson, wife resign from church,” Arizona Republic, 10 Oct. 1993.

87. Vern Anderson (A.P.), “Cartoonist Says Oaks Lied to Protect Fellow Apostle,” Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Oct. 1993.

88. See also Associated Press, “Packer Says He Was Concerned by Request for Meeting, But Apostles Endorsed It,” Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Oct. 1993.

89. Matthew S. Brown, “Elder Oaks Says News Story ‘Seriously Distorted’ Facts,” Deseret News, 16 Oct. 1993.

90. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “More Stories Point to LDS Leaders As Source of Dissident Crackdown,” Salt Lake Tribune, 16 Oct. 1993. The same issue of the Tribune carried another A.P. article by Vern Anderson, “LDS ‘Loyal Opposition’ Once Thrived But Died Slowly in 20th Century,” which served to recap the September cases and sum up recent developments, including statements by Packer, Oaks, and Steve Benson. Loren Dunn was widely viewed by liberal Mormons as anti-feminist. A year earlier, he had physically removed portions of an exhibit at the LDS church Museum of History and Art that seemed to attribute too much institutional and spiritual authority to early Mormon women. See Peggy Fletcher Stack, “LDS Women’s Place? New Conflict Emerges,” Salt Lake Tribune, 11 Apr. 1992.

91. Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “LDS Church Leaders State Their Position,” Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News, 17 Oct. 1993; see also “Church Leaders Reaffirm Policy on Discipline,” LDS Church News, week ending 23 Oct. 1993. This version carried a note of explanation that stated, in part, that because local church leaders were constrained by confidentiality, “the media have relied on information supplied by those disciplined or by their sympathizers.”

92. Toscano, “Mormon Dissident Answers Leaders,” Salt Lake Tribune, 20 Oct. 1993.

93. Connie Coyne, “Phone Threat Reaches Wrong Man,” Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Oct. 1993.

[p.300]94. “Oaks: ‘I’ve Been Victim of Double-Decker Deceit,’“ Salt Lake Tribune, 21 Oct. 1993.

95. “Benson Replies, Charges Oaks With Dissembling,” Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Oct. 1993; Steve Benson, “Oaks Dissembled Packer’s Role in Toscano Excommunication,” Sunstone Dec. 1993, 69.

96. See Steve Benson to [Student Review publisher] Brian [sic] Waterman, 29 Oct. 1993, copy in our possession.

97. Bergera, “LDS Leaders Attack’ Intellectual Freedom,” Salt Lake Tribune, 31 Oct.1993.

98. Olive Branch, “Fresh Courage Take,” advertisement, Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Nov. 1993; see also “Disciplinary Actions Generate More Heat,” Sunstone, Dec. 1993, 67.

99. This and the following paragraphs draw on the Editors’ Introduction to “The Wright Excommunication Documents,” Sunstone, Sept. 1994, 65-6, which was written by Bryan Waterman. The article prompting the April meeting was David Wright, “Historical Criticism: A Necessary Element in the Search for Religious Truth,” Sunstone, Sept. 1992, 28-38. ‘The article precipitating the September meeting was David Wright, “‘In Plain Terms That We May Understand’: Joseph Smith’s Transformation of Hebrews in Alma 12-13,” in Metcalfe, New Approaches to the Book of Mormon, 165-229.

100. David Wright to Bishop [James] Reeder, 17 Feb. 1994, in “Wright Excommunication Documents.”

101. Peggy Fletcher Stack, “LDS Brandeis Prof Faces Apostasy Hearing,” Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Feb. 1994. ‘The same issue of the Tribune carried an article in which conservative Christian academic George Marsden argued that religious scholars face discrimination in the academy. BYU history professor Thomas G. Alexander countered that at BYU the biggest threat to Mormon studies were defenders of the faith who “bulldoze shunpikes around academic integrity.” See Peggy Fletcher Stack, “Religious Profs Walk Straight, Narrow Pathway,” Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Feb. 1994.

102. Quoted in [Waterman], Editors’ Introduction, “‘The Wright Excommunication Documents,” 65.

103. See ibid.

104. In ibid., 75.

105. All of the above are reprinted in “Wright Excommunication Documents.”

106. See informational flyers for the event in our possession.

107. Associated Press, “Supporters of Mormon Dissidents Rally Outside General Conference,” Salt Lake Tribune, 3 Apr. 1994.

108. Open letter to First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles, 16 Apr. 1994, published in the Salt Lake Tribune, 2 July 1994. See also Edwin Firmage, Jr., to Bryan Waterman and Stephanie Smith-Waterman [form letter], 30 Apr. 1994, copy in our possession, for the call for contributions and signatures for the letter. The most comprehensive account of Wright’s case is in Case Reports of the Mormon Alliance 3 (1997): 291-357.

109. The following account relies heavily on the Editors’ Introduction to “Mormon Feminist Disciplined,” Sunstone, Apr. 1995, 80, and “Mormon Feminist Excommunicated,” Sunstone, Dec. 1995: 86, both of which were written by Brian Kagel.

110. See Janice Allred, “Toward a Mormon Theology of God the Mother,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (Summer 1994): 15-39.

111. Quoted in [Kagel], Editors’ Introduction, “Mormon Feminist Disciplined.”

112. See ibid.

[p.301]113. Ibid.

114. See Hunter, “More Humility and Patience and Forgiveness,” 6 June 1994, reprinted in Sunstone, Sept. 1994, 88. Hunter did not suggest, though, that the church disciplinary actions had been unwarranted: “To those who are confused and assailed on every side,” he added, “we say come to the God of all truth and the Church of continuing revelation.” For the personal reaction of one of the September Six to Hunter’s address, see Lavina Fielding Anderson, “‘Come Back’: Major Addresses of Howard W. Hunter, 1959-94,” Sunstone, Aug. 1995, 17-30.

115. Quoted in Editors’ Introduction, “Mormon Feminist Disciplined.” See also Allred, “Defense of Janice Allred,” 12 Oct. 1994 (misdated 1992), and “An Open Letter to Bishop Hammond,” both excerpted in “Mormon Feminist Disciplined.”

116. See “Mormon Feminist Excommunicated.”

117. Jon Ebbert and Janet Garrard, “A Conversation with Janice Allred,” Student Review, 15 Aug. 1995. The most comprehensive account of Allred’s case is in Case Reports of the Mormon Alliance 2 (1996): 117-323.