The September Six were six members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were excommunicated or disfellowshipped by the LDS Church (whose members are known as the Mormons) in September 1993, allegedly for publishing scholarly work against Mormon doctrine or criticizing Church doctrine or leadership. The term "September Six" was coined by The Salt Lake Tribune and the term was used in the media and subsequent discussion. The LDS Church's action was referred to by some as evidence of an anti-intellectual posture on the part of LDS leadership.
Church measures against the September Six
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Except for Lynne Kanavel Whitesides, all of the September Six were excommunicated; Whitesides was disfellowshipped, a lesser sanction that does not formally expel one from church membership. To date, three of the September Six have retained or regained church membership: Avraham Gileadi and Maxine Hanks, who were rebaptized, and Lynne Whitesides, who is still disfellowshipped.
While the LDS Church sometimes announces when a prominent member has been excommunicated, LDS leaders' policy is to refuse to publicly discuss details about the reasons for any excommunication, even if details of the proceedings are made public by that person. Such disciplinary proceedings are typically undertaken locally, initiated by leaders at the ward or stake level, but at least one of the September Six has suggested his excommunication was orchestrated by higher-ranking LDS Church leaders. Procedures pertaining to the organization of these disciplinary councils is found in the sacred LDS text Doctrine and Covenants, Section 102, as well as in the Church's administrative Handbook of Instructions; when a member is brought into these councils they are notified beforehand by the local leaders of the Church in that area.
Other than the summons sent to each of the six (specifying them as "contrary to the laws and order of the church"), the LDS Church's point of view is missing as to why each of the September Six was excommunicated. Based on their own comments and other sources, the following brief bios offer some perspective regarding the six individuals' discipline and their current relationship to Mormonism.
Short biographies of the six individuals
Lynne Kanavel Whitesides is a feminist noted for speaking on the Mother in Heaven. Whitesides was the first of the group to experience church discipline. She was disfellowshipped September 14, 1993. Though technically still a member, Whitesides claims that she "burst" out of the Church and her marriage in 1993, and now considers herself a practitioner of Native American philosophies.
Avraham Gileadi is a Hebrew scholar and literary analyst who is considered theologically conservative. He authored two books, one about Isaiah and one about the last days, which were published by LDS-owned Deseret Book. The second book, which took a more limited interpretation of its subject than Mormon theology generally accepts, was later pulled from the shelves. The reasons for his excommunication on September 15 are unclear. According to Margaret Toscano, whose husband was among the September Six and who would also later be excommunicated, Gileadi's "books interpreting Mormon scripture challenged the exclusive right of leaders to define doctrine."
Gileadi has been re-baptized and is an active member of the church. He has since written works on Isaiah, including The Literary Message of Isaiah (2002) and Isaiah Decoded: Ascending the Ladder to Heaven (2002).
Paul Toscano is a Salt Lake City attorney who co-authored with Margaret Merrill Toscano a controversial book, Strangers in Paradox: Explorations in Mormon Theology (1990), and, in 1992, co-founded The Mormon Alliance; he later wrote the book The Sanctity of Dissent (1994) and its sequel The Sacrament of Doubt (2007).
He was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on September 19, 1993; the reasons for his excommunication, as reportedly given by church leaders, were apostasy and false teaching. According to Toscano, the actual reason was insubordination in refusing to curb his sharp criticism of LDS Church leaders' preference for legalism, ecclesiastical tyranny, white-washed Mormon history, and hierarchical authoritarianism that privilege the image of the corporate LDS Church above its commitment to its members, to the teachings and revelations of Joseph Smith its founding Prophet, and to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In 2007, Toscano wrote that he lost his faith "like losing your eyesight after an accident" and that he regrets that LDS Church leaders have disregarded his criticisms of what he considers the Church's growing anti-intellectualism, homophobia, misogyny, and elitism.
His wife Margaret faced her own ecclesiastical tribunal for her doctrinal and feminist views and was excommunicated on the 30th of November 2000. Technically, she was part of the September Six (or "seven") summoned in 1993, but ecclesiastical focus shifted to her husband so Margaret's discipline was delayed until 2000.
Maxine Hanks is a feminist theologian who compiled and edited the book Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism (1992). She was excommunicated September 19, 1993 (along with fellow contributor D. Michael Quinn). In February 2012, Hanks was re-baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Lavina Fielding Anderson
Lavina Fielding Anderson is a feminist writer who edited the books Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective (1992), and Lucy's Book, the definitive edition of the Lucy Mack narrative. She is a former editor for the Ensign and served as editor for the Journal of Mormon History from 1991 until May 2009. She was excommunicated September 23.
Anderson attends LDS church services as a non-member. She writes on Mormon issues, including editing the multi-volume Case Reports of the Mormon Alliance, an ongoing collection of interviews with Mormons who believe they were unfairly disciplined by the Church.
D. Michael Quinn
D. Michael Quinn is a Mormon historian. Among other studies, he documented LDS Church-sanctioned polygamy from 1890 until 1904, after the 1890 Manifesto when the church officially abandoned the practice. He also authored the 1987 book, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, which argues that early Mormon leaders were greatly influenced by folk magic and superstitious beliefs including stone looking, charms, and divining rods. He was excommunicated September 26.
Quinn has since published several critical studies of Mormon hierarchy, including his two-volume work that starts with his dissertation The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power and a companion volume The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power. He also authored the 1996 book Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example, which argues that homosexuality was not uncommon among early Mormons, and was not seen as a serious sin or transgression.
- Criticism of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Mormon Alliance
- Mormonism and history
- Strengthening Church Members Committee
- Ostling, Richard and Joan. Mormon America. pp. 351–370.
- One Nation Under Gods, Richard Abanes, p.417-419
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- Redelfs, John W. (2003-08-09). "The September Six Today". The Mail Archive. Retrieved 2009-02-14.
- See, www.paultoscano.com
- Toscano, Paul (2008). ""The Sanctity of Dissent"". In Stephen Banks (ed.), series ed. Joanne B. Ciulla. Dissent and the Failure of Leadership. New Horizons in Leadership Studies. Northhampton, MA: Edward Elgar. pp. 169–181. ISBN 978-1-84720-575-9.
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- See, www.margarettoscano.com
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- "Interview of D. Michael Quinn". PBS. 30 April 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
- Lavina Fielding Anderson. "DNA Mormon: D. Michael Quinn," in Mormon Mavericks: Essays on Dissenters, edited by John Sillitoe and Susan Staker, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002, pp. 329-363.
- Anderson, Lavina Fielding. "The LDS intellectual community and church leadership: A contemporary chronology." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 26(1) [Spring 1993], 7-64.
- Anderson, Lavina Fielding. "Freedom of Conscience: A Personal Statement." Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 26(4) [Winter 1993], 196-202.
- Anderson, Lavina Fielding. "The Church and Its Scholars: Ten Years After." Sunstone, 128 (July 2003), 13-19.
- Haglund, David (November 1, 2012). "The Case of the Mormon Historian: What happened when Michael Quinn challenged the history of the church he loved". Slate.
- Stack, Peggy Fletcher (16 August 2003), "Exiles in Zion" (Subscription required), The Salt Lake Tribune
- Whitesides, Lynne Kanavel, Toscano, Paul James, Hanks, Maxine, Quinn, D. Michael, and Anderson, Lavina Fielding. "Spiritual Paths after September 1993," Sunstone, December 2003, 13-31.
- Waterman, Bryan and Kagel, Brian. The Lord's University: Freedom and Authority at BYU Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1998, pp. 258–301.
- "Six intellectuals disciplined for apostasy." Sunstone, November 1993, 65-73.