September Six

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The September Six were six members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) who were excommunicated or disfellowshipped by the church 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 was used in the media and subsequent discussion.[1] The LDS Church's action was referred to by some as evidence of an anti-intellectual posture on the part of church leadership.[2][3]

Individuals[edit]

Lynne Kanavel Whitesides[edit]

Lynne Kanavel Whitesides is a Mormon feminist and is noted for speaking on the Mother in Heaven. Whitesides was the first of the group to experience church discipline and 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 she now considers herself a practitioner of Native American philosophies.[4]

Avraham Gileadi[edit]

Avraham Gileadi is a Hebrew scholar and literary analyst, who is considered theologically conservative. Following his 1981 Ph.D. in Ancient Studies from Brigham Young University, he published a new interpretive translation of the Book of Isaiah in 1988 and a study of its eschatological prophesies in 1991. Mormon scholars, including Hugh Nibley, Truman G. Madsen and Ellis Rasmussen, praised his work, but his argument that the Isaiah prophesies pointed to a human "Davidic king" who would emerge in the Last Days, apart from Jesus Christ, was controversial, and his second book was pulled from the shelves by its publisher, church-owned Deseret Book.[5] 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,"[6] but Gileadi himself disputes that characterization.[7] The church afterwards reversed its disciplinary action against him and expunged it from the church's records, which is now officially regarded as having never happened.[7] Gileadi is currently an active member of the church.[8][9] He has continued to write books on Isaiah, including The Literary Message of Isaiah (2002) and Isaiah Decoded: Ascending the Ladder to Heaven (2002).

Paul Toscano[edit]

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, he 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 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, which privilege the image of the corporate LDS Church above its commitment to its members, to the teachings and the revelations of founder Joseph Smith, and to the gospel of Jesus Christ.[10]

In 2007, Toscano wrote that he lost his faith "like losing your eyesight after an accident." He regrets that LDS Church leaders have disregarded his criticisms of what he considers the church's growing anti-intellectualism, homophobia, misogyny, and elitism.[11]

Toscano's wife, Margaret, faced her own disciplinary council for her doctrinal and feminist views and was excommunicated on November 30, 2000. Some view her excommunication as constituting a "seventh" member of the September Six, as she was summoned in 1993, but ecclesiastical focus shifted to her husband. Margaret's discipline was delayed until 2000.[12] Margaret later wrote "The Missing Rib: The Forgotten Place of Queens and Priestesses in the Establishment of Zion" as well as the tenth chapter of Transforming the Faiths of our Fathers: Women who Changed American Religion (2004), edited by Ann Braude.[13]

Maxine Hanks[edit]

Maxine Hanks is a Mormon feminist theologian, who compiled and edited the book Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism (1992). She was excommunicated on September 19, along with fellow contributor D. Michael Quinn. In February 2012, Hanks was rebaptized as a member of the church.[14]

Lavina Fielding Anderson[edit]

Lavina Fielding Anderson is a Mormon 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 Smith narrative. She is a former editor for the Ensign and served as editor for the Journal of Mormon History from 1991 to May 2009. She was excommunicated September 23.

Anderson continues to attend 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.[15]

D. Michael Quinn[edit]

D. Michael Quinn is a Mormon historian. Among other studies, he documented LDS Church-sanctioned polygamy from 1890 until 1904, after the 1890 Manifesto that officially abandoned the practice.[16] 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 had been summoned to a disciplinary council to answer charges of "conduct unbecoming a member of the Church and apostasy," including "'very sensitive and highly confidential' matters that were not related to Michael's historical writings."[17] Anderson has suggested that the "allusion to Michael's sexual orientation, which Michael had not yet made public, was unmistakable."[17]

Quinn has since published several critical studies of Mormon hierarchy, including his two-volume work of The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power and 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 common among early Mormons and was not seen as a serious sin or transgression.

Despite his excommunication and critical writings, Quinn, who is now openly gay,[18] still considers himself to be a Latter-day Saint.[17]

Church measures taken[edit]

Except for 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[19] and Maxine Hanks,[20] who were rebaptized, and Lynne Whitesides, who remains a disfellowshipped member.[21]

While the LDS Church sometimes announces that a prominent member has been excommunicated, the default 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 that his excommunication was orchestrated by higher-ranking LDS Church leaders.[22]

Procedures pertaining to the organization of these disciplinary councils are found in the LDS Church's scriptural Doctrine and Covenants section 102 as well as in the church's administrative Handbook 1; members who are summoned to the councils are notified beforehand by their local church leaders.

The LDS Church later excommunicated sisters Janice Merrill Allred in 1995 and Margaret Merrill Toscano in 2000, who had collaborated with several of the September Six and were also involved in disciplinary actions during 1993.[23]

Other than the summons sent to each of the six (specifying that their behavior was "contrary to the laws and order of the church"), the LDS Church's is silent on why a member was disciplined.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Salt Lake Tribune, June 16, 2014
  2. ^ Ostling, Richard and Joan. Mormon America. pp. 351–370. 
  3. ^ One Nation Under Gods, Richard Abanes, pp.417-419
  4. ^ Whitesides, Lynne. "Spiritual Paths After September 1993." Sunstone Symposium, 2003 on YouTube.
  5. ^ Porter, Bruce (1992). "Review of "The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation with Interpretive Keys from the Book of Mormon"". Review of Books on the Book of Mormon. Maxwell Institute. Retrieved 2014-06-18. 
  6. ^ Toscano, Margaret Merrill (nd), The Liz Library, Irene Stuber at undelete.org, reprinted by The Liz Library http://www.thelizlibrary.org/undelete/library/library012.html  Missing or empty |title= (help); |contribution= ignored (help)[unreliable source?]
  7. ^ a b "Avraham Gileadi Testimony", Judeo-Mormon Perspectives, Blogger, 14 June 2012, retrieved 2012-06-12 
  8. ^ Hanks, Maxine. "Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism". Signature Books. Retrieved 2012-08-19.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  9. ^ Redelfs, John W. (2003-08-09). "The September Six Today". The Mail Archive. Retrieved 2009-02-14.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  10. ^ 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. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. pp. 169–181. ISBN 978-1-84720-575-9. 
  11. ^ Toscano, Paul (2007). The Sacrament of Doubt. Signature Books. pp. 147–156. ISBN 1-56085-146-5. 
  12. ^ Tidying Up Loose Ends?: The November 2000 Excommunication of Margaret Toscano, 2001 Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium, Sunstone Magazine.
  13. ^ "Table of Contents: Transforming the faiths of our fathers:". Catalog.lib.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2015-04-14. 
  14. ^ Excommunicated Mormon to tell how she came back to the faith
  15. ^ Case Reports of the Mormon Alliance, Mormon Alliance, archived from the original on 2009-10-21 
  16. ^ "LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18 (Spring 1985) 9-105
  17. ^ a b c 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.
  18. ^ "Interview of D. Michael Quinn". PBS. 30 April 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  19. ^ Fidel, Steve. "Scholar Rebaptized Into LDS Church." Salt Lake City and Utah Breaking News. Deseret News, 8 March 1996.
  20. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher. "Excommunicated Mormon to Tell How She Came Back to the Faith." Utah Local News - Salt Lake City News, Sports, Archive. The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 July 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2012.
  21. ^ Tribune, Peggy Fletcher Stack The Salt Lake. "Where Mormonism's 'September Six' are now". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ Allred, Janice, 1997. "My Struggle for a More Loving, Tolerant, and Egalitarian Church", Case Reports of the Mormon Alliance 2(4). http://mormon-alliance.org/casereports/volume2/part4/v2p4.htm

References[edit]