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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 05:04AM

In an earlier post titled, "Information About Quinn, RfM poster "Mad Viking" asked:

"Anyone know where I can find out about Quinn? . . . I have heard that he is still a believer. I am really perplexed by this. Any insight?"

More recently, RfM poster "brigidbarnes” has asked a similar question:

"Michael Quinn has every reason not to believe, yet in his talk with John Dehlin he talked about things the Brethren do that are 'faith promoting.' He said he still believes, even though he was kicked out. Why do you think this is?"

("D Michael Quinn Has Every Reason Not to Believe, yet...," by "brigidbarnes," on "Recovery from Mormonism" discussion board, 8 November 2017, http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,2042570,2042570#msg-2042570)
_____


--Preface: My Personal and Positive Association with Mike Quinn

I know Mike Quinn as a friend from several years back (although we haven't been in direct contact for some time now). I greatly respect him, both as an individual and as a scholar, although we disagree on some very important and fundamental matters.

Still, he is, without question, a brilliant and brave historian (one who was excommunicated because he exposed inconvenient truths that the Mormon Church (which I think is more accurately described as a cult) designed to keep hidden from the public, including its own membership. Mike was stripped of his LDS membership because he published Mormon Church historical material that top leaders of the Mormon Church said he didn't have permission to bring to light.

I genuinely admire Mike and his amazing work. He has been put through personal hell by the Mormon Church (which I regard more accurately to be a cult). Through it all, he has managed to survive with his honesty, character and credentials intact. He is unrivaled in the world of Mormon Church historical analysis. That is a fact, not a testimony, and one to which I proudly stick.
_____


--How I Became Personally Acquainted with Mike Quinn

I first came into contact with Mike in 1993, after he had published an insightful article on my grandfather Ezra Taft Benson’s political conflicts with other members of the Quorum of the Twelve (D. Michael Quinn, "Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts,” in “Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought,” 26 (2), Summer 1993: pp. 1-87).

I was so impressed with Mike’s “Dialogue” essay that I called him directly, identified myself and congratulated him on a very well researched and responsible piece of historical analysis. Except for one minor error (in which my father, Mark A. Benson, had been incorrectly said to have been an official member of the John Birch Society when, in fact, he was not, although he was a fervent supporter of Bircher anti-Communist teachings and goals), I had no beef with Mike’s article, only admiration.

The phone call apparently startled Mike, given that it came out of the blue and we had never before had contact with one another. Mike confessed to me that when he realized that the grandson of Ezra Taft Benson was calling about his authored “Dialogue” piece, he assumed I was planning to gripe about it. He was pleasantly surprised to hear that, in fact, I was phoning to praise him for the extraordinarily good job he had done.

At any rate, I am aware of why Mike has chosen to remain a believer in the supposed truthfulness of Mormonism.
_____


--Mike Quinn's Deep Personal Belief in the Truthfulness of the Mormon Church

After I left the LDS Cult in 1993, I had more than one occasion to talk one-on-one, and in person, with Mike about his own perspectives and beliefs pertaining to Mormonism. Suffice to say, I do not agree with Mike's conclusions in this regard. Mike was directly, openly, forthrightly and simply honest in acknowledging to me that he ultimately remains a Mormon believer and that his dedication to Mormon Church doctrine and history is belief-based, not brain-based.

Go figure, 'cuz I sure can't figure it out. I cannot decipher, explain or rationally accept Mike's personal justification for his belief in institutional Mormonism. I have chalked his commitment to the Mormon Church as being a testimony that defies logic and evidence. Mike, in fact, admits as much.

Below are some of the details behind Mike's deep devotion to Mormonism. They are based on what I have learned about his personal religious beliefs--through both my own direct discussions with him and through cross-checks from other sources as I have come upon them over time. The elements in Mike's faith in Mormonism provide some background into the personal and professional trials, challenges and difficulties he has experienced over the years.

In our personal discussions, Mike (to his credit), at least admitted to me that his testimony is not rational. Still, he believes--and this is what he believes, as best I can determine it:

-He believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God to reveal His divine truth to the world.

-He believes that the Book of Mormon was a literal historical record of ancient and accurate vintage.

-He believes that through Joseph Smith the Book of Mormon gold plates were translated.

-He believes that following the assassination of Joseph Smith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fell into a state of serious apostasy that continues to this day--a condition he says was brought about through the corruption and sin of its early leadership, including that of Brigham Young and subsequent Mormon Church authorities,

-He believes that a Second Restoration (i.e., one occurring after the initial re-establishment of God's true Church to the earth in 1830 through the hands of Joseph Smith) is necessary in order to rehabilitate the Mormon Church and again make it the earthly organization through which God will lead and guide His children to ultimate eternal salvation.

-Mike, in other words, has an abiding faith in the truthfulness of the Mormon faith as being God’s re-established church on earth.

I asked him how he could believe these things, especially given what many have considered his devastatingly revealing historical dissection of Mormon origins, its doctrines and its expansion of power. Mike acknowledged that while he knew his belief in Mormonism did not come off as sensical, he nonetheless possessed a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon, of the prophetic calling by God of Joseph Smith and of the truthfulness of the Mormon gospel as God's one and only true Church. Simply and fundamentally put, Mike holds on to the belief that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remains God's one-and-only true Church on the earth--but that it is in dire need of a complete restorative overhaul in order to bring it back to its original integrity, purpose, luster and exaltation-providing power. End of story.

Mike’s Mormon belief seemed more personal and deeper than any anticipation of advancement through the ranks. It was a quiet, soft-spoken type of conviction about which Mike did not make a big deal--but to which he appeared truly committed.

I found Mike's testimony startling, incongruous and at significant odds with his unparalleled research that, in my opinion, clearly exposed the fraud, frailties and fictions of Mormonism. But Mike's ultimate testimony in the Mormon faith seemed to rest on his firm belief that it was initially restored by God's hand in pure and true form.
_____



--Mike Quinn's Personal Blessing from Mormon Apostle Spencer W. Kimball That He Would Someday be Ordained an LDS Church Apostle

Mike spoke to me during our talks together about a blessing he had received from then-Apostle Spencer W. Kimball. Mike told me that a specific promise was made to him by Kimball. At the time of the blessing, Mike was still an active, temple-endowed, well-respected member of the LDS Church in good standing. Mike said that Kimball promised him that if he continued in faithfulness and obedience, he would one day become an LDS Church apostle.

Contrary to critics' charges that I am talking out of school about this because it was such sacred, personal experience, the fact of that matter is that Mike himself has written publicly about the blessing he received under Kimball’s hands. In an autobiographical essay entitled, “The Rest Is History" (“Sunstone,” December 1995, p. 54), Mike addressed his personal consuming desire to someday become a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and how Kimball helped him deal with this distraction through the laying on of hands:

"President Kimball asked if I would like to have a blessing. As he laid his hands upon my head, I expected him to give me the comfort and strength to overcome my aspirations for Church office. Instead, Spencer W. Kimball promised me that one day God would call me to be an apostle. After the blessing, President Kimball told me not to work for the office or try to ‘curry favor’ with Church leaders, but just to live as I felt the Lord desired for me. There was no way I could logically explain that experience, then or now."

When we talked about the blessing, it was clear to me that Mike’s belief in Mormonism seemed to be much more personal and deeper than any anticipation he might have had of advancing into the upper echelons of LDS Church leadership. Mike’s testimony of the Mormon Gospel was a quiet, soft-spoken type of conviction about which he did not make a big deal---but to which he appeared genuinely committed. In that regard, RfM poster "Mad Viking" asked me the following question:

"So, was it your impression that he held on to his beliefs of Joseph Smith's divine mission, despite his admission of it being illogical, simply because of this statement made to him from Spencer W Kimball?"

I replied that Mike told me he had a personal conviction of the Mormon Church as God's true Church; of the gold plates as genuine, translated artifacts; and of the mission of Joseph Smith as being God's chosen prophet of the Restoration. Mike did not tell me that he held to those beliefs in the hope that he would someday become an apostle (as then-apostle Spencer W. Kimball promised him, if Mike remained faithful), and I did not draw a link between the two because Mike did not make one.
_____



--Mike Quinn Both Signed a Copy of His Book for Me, "Early Mormonism and the Magic World View." and Answered a Few of My Questions About His Personal Testimony on Mormonism

I asked Mike how he could profess a testimony in Mormonism’s historical and doctrinal foundations, especially given what many consider to be his devastatingly critical and historical dissection of Mormonism's origins and its subsequent expansions of power. I made that inquiry because, from my own standpoint, Mike's compellingly-documented book, “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1987, 313 pp.) had not only knocked out, but blown out, the struts out from under any serious claim that Mormons might attempt as to the alleged divinity of the LDS Church. So impressed was I, in fact, with his book (which had a profound role in undermining my own belief in Mormonism), that I asked Mike to personally inscribe my copy, which he graciously agreed to do. On the title page, he wrote:

“Dear Steve,

“Great to meet you this morning just before the film crew arrived to interview you here! [At that time, I was in Salt Lake City to be interviewed by the press about the declining health of my grandfather and his mental and physical inability to effectively lead the Mormon Church]. Look forward to more talks and association with you. Best wishes, Mike (alias D. Michael) 7-14-93”


As far as my questions to him were concerned, during our personal discussions, Mike acknowledged to me that he knew that his belief in Mormonism did not sound logical but that he nonetheless possessed an inward testimony of the “Book of Mormon,” of the prophetic calling by God of Joseph Smith and of the truthfulness of the Mormon Gospel as God's One and Only True Church.

I found Mike's testimony startling, incongruous and at significant odds with his unparalleled research that, in my opinion, clearly exposed the fraud, frailties and fictions of Mormonism.

But Mike's ultimate testimony in the Mormon faith seemed to rest on his firm belief that it was initially restored by God's hand in pure and true form, then became corrupted through the human-caused downfall of its leaders who subsequently followed Joseph Smith into power in the post-Smith era.

Simply and fundamentally put, Mike holds on to the belief that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remains God's true Church on the earth--but that it is in dire need of a complete restorative overhaul in order to bring it back to its original integrity, purpose, luster and exaltation-providing power.
_____


--Mormon Bigots Claim That Mike Quinn Was Justly Excommunicated Because He Is Gay

Contrary to myths perpetrated by homophobic Mormon critics of Mike, he was not excommunicated (at least not ostensibly) because he was a gay man who lied about Mormon doctrine, history and practice. Invoking the dark art of innuendo, Mike's stake president ominously conveyed to him that he was being investigated on vague, undefined "moral" charges (relating, in all probability, to Mike's honest acknowledgement that he was indeed gay).


The suffering that Mike experienced in the face of relentless personal attacks in the name of the Mormon God Fraud have been horrible. But through it all, Mike has remained quietly courageous and steadfastly true to self. I remember being at his Salt Lake City apartment, where I had gone to visit him. In his bedroom, above his bed which he allowed me to see, in large letters affixed to the wall was the phrase, “Sin is in the eye of the beholder.” It was clear that, in that bold statement alone, Mike wasn’t about to let anyone else tell him who he was or what he should do with his life.

Several years later at that conference where I presented as a straight guy to that conference put on by gay Mormon fathers, I listened as Mike began a stem-to-stern presentation on the world history of homosexuality. At least he tried to give it. In an extraordinary presentation that was some two hours in length, Mike took the audience on a review of gay global history--covering the vast territory of its accomplishments and tribulations. A stickler for the minutest of detail, Mike read from his prepared text, page by page. Unfortunately, time constraints only allowed him to give his panoramic presentation up to the early part of the 1800s. The lesson: Mike knows his stuff--and is stuffed with plenty that there is to know. He is a proud gay man who appreciates, honors and defends the historical contributions of gays to the advancement of human civilization.

The suffering that Mike experienced in the face of such personal attacks in the name of the Mormon God fraud has been horrible. But through it all, Mike has remained quietly courageous and true to self. I remember being at his Salt Lake City apartment, where I had gone to visit him. In his bedroom, above his bed and which he allowed me to see, in large letters affixed to the wall was the phrase, “Sin is in the eye of the beholder.” It was clear that, in that bold statement alone, Mike wasn’t about to let anyone else tell him who he was or what he should do with his life.

Several years later at that conference hosted by gay Mormon fathers, I listened as Mike began a stem-to-stern presentation on the world history of homosexuality. At least he tried to give it. In an extraordinary presentation that was some two hours in length, Mike took the audience on a review of gay global history--covering the vast territory of its accomplishments and tribulations. A stickler for the minutest of detail, Mike read from his prepared text, page by page. Unfortunately, time constraints only allowed him to give his panoramic presentation up to the early part of the 1800s. The lesson: Mike knows his stuff--and is stuffed with plenty that there is to know. He is a proud gay man who appreciates, honors and defends the historical contributions of gays to the advancement of human civilization.

Try telling that to the Mormon Church. As far as it was concerned, the fix was in.
Ecclesiastically speaking, Mike was a dead man.
_____


--Mike Quinn Was Booted from Mormonism Because He Dared Publish the Truth Without First Getting Prior Permission from Mormon Apostles

As a couple of LDS apostles explained it to me in Mormon Church headquarters, Mike was excommunicated because he actually told the truth--but did so by daring to go public about it and without receiving official Mormon Church permission first.

Mike’s specific crime was impermissibly disseminating information through his writings regarding officially-sanctioned and -abetted Mormon Church cover-ups involving its continued post-Manifesto practice of polygamy. That historical bamboozlement was courageously seized upon by Mike and openly, factually addressed by him--to the chagrin and anger of Mormon Church leaders who proceeded to boot him out of the LDS Church as an example of what happens to those who become too critical and loose-lipped about its lie-driven institutional interests.

Mike's excommunication constituted a very heavy personal blow to him. At the peak of his career as an historian, he was a highly-regarded professional in his field, both in out and of the Mormon Church. That all changed (at least in the eyes of the LDS Church hierarchy) with Mike’s daring, ground-breaking research on the LDS Church’s deceptive historical practice of post-Manifesto polygamy (which the LDS Church tried hard to keep hidden from the public, as well as from its general Church membership. Mike's excommunication was basically justified on the grounds of insubordinate apostasy.

Apostle Dallin Oaks, in particular, was bitterly incensed at Mike's decision to air his findings and told me personally that Mike was a person without character who could not be trusted.

In the wake of Mike’s excommunication, details came out some eight years after his post-Manifesto polygamy essay was first published. These facts were provided to me by two of the Mormon Church's highest henchmen--Oaks and his partner in slime, Apostle Neal A. Maxwell. On 9 September 1993, I met with Oaks and Maxwell in Maxwell's Church office, #303, located in the Church Administration Building in downtown Salt Lake City. I had approached them with a list of detailed and wide-ranging questions about fundamental doctrines, teachings, practices and policies of the Mormon Church that significantly troubled me--and about which I felt I deserved credible and straight-forward answers.

In the broad sense on the polygamy question, I wanted to know from these pre-eminent damage controllers why the Mormon Church had not been more forthcoming and honest with its history with regard to the official practice (and later blatant denial of) polygamy. Specifically, I wanted to know about what I have come to refer to as “the mystery of history, and those who tell the truth about polygamy--without permission."

In that meeting, “good cop” Maxwell offered unconvincing rationalizations for the Mormon Church’s failure to be honest and forthcoming about its practice of polygamy.

“Bad cop” Oaks followed up by launching a shockingly shabby attack on Mike's personal integrity.

Maxwell's engaged in murky meanderings by noting that the process of writing history is frustrating, complex and incomplete. He handed me a photocopy of a sermon. (The copy turned out, I discovered later, to be a talk Maxwell himself had delivered during the 1984 October General Conference entitled, “Out of Obscurity.” However, the single sheet excerpts that he handed to us contained no title or author, although it had been marked up in red ink for our benefit. Maxwell’s address ultimately appeared in the General Conference issue of the "Ensign," 10, November 1984, p. 11).

Quoting from a "Tribute to Neville Chamberlain," delivered in the British House of Commons, 12 November 1940, Maxwell’s sermon declared:

"History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days."

The sermon then addressed what Maxwell verbally described to us as the definition of history: a collection, he said, of "floating mosaic tiles":

"The finished mosaic of the history of the Restoration will be larger and more varied as more pieces of tile emerge, adjusting a sequence here or enlarging there a sector of our understanding. The fundamental outline is in place now, however. But history deals with imperfect people in process of time, whose imperfections produce refractions as the pure light of the gospel plays upon them. There may even be a few pieces of tile which, for the moment, do not seem to fit . . .

"So, belatedly, the fullness of the history of the dispensation of the fullness of times will be written. The final mosaic of the Restoration will be resplendent, reflecting divine design and the same centerpiece—the Father's plan of salvation and exaltation and the atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ."

Blah, blah, blah.

What Maxwell’s excuses lacked in clarity, Oaks’ made up for in character assassination. Oaks played tag-team by launching vindictive personal attacks against Mike for writing and publishing the truth about post-Manifesto polygamy. Oaks was incensed at Mike's decision to air his findings on post-Manifesto polygamy, angrily telling me that Mike was an individual without character who could not be trusted. He complained about Mike’s decision to publish the incontrovertible evidence that, despite its claims to the contrary, the LDS Church had secretly and dishonestly sanctioned and solemnized post-Manifesto polygamous marriages. That publication (in the Spring 1985 issue of "Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought”) led directly to Mike’s excommunication on grounds of supposed “apostasy.”

But it wasn’t as if Mike hadn’t previously been upfront with Mormon Church officials about his post-Manifesto research and his intentions to air it. Mike explained in his article, "On Being a Mormon Historian (and Its Aftermath)," how his investigations into post-Manifesto polygamy took form, despite a decided lack of cooperation from the highest levels of the Mormon Church:

"President Hinckley telephoned in June 1982 to say that he was sympathetic about a request I had written to obtain access to documents in the First Presidency fault [about post-Manifesto polygamy] but that my request could not be granted. Since I now knew all I ever would about post-Manifesto polygamy, I told him I would go ahead and publish the most detailed and supportive study I could of the topic. President Hinckley said the decision was up to me, that he had done what he could to help." (Quinn, "On Being a Mormon Historian (and Its Aftermath)," in Smith, “Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History,” p. 90)


Oaks acknowledged that he had read Mike's article on post-Manifesto polygamy, covering the period from 1890 into the early 20th century. Oaks also confessed that the Mormon Church had not, in fact, been honest about its practice of polygamy during that time. He admitted that the case, as laid out by Quinn, was, in fact, true. Oaks admitted that, in his opinion, lies had indeed been told by Mormon Church leaders about the continuing practice of polygamy after it supposedly was ended by the Manifesto of 1890.

But enough of admitting "divinely-inspired" Church wrongdoing. Oaks then proceeded to attack Mike personally by accusing him of breaking his word. Oaks said that Mike had been given access to all of J. Reuben Clark's papers for the purpose of writing a book on Clark's years of Church service. Oaks said he had assured the Church that Quinn was credible, in order that Quinn could be given access to those records. Oaks noted that shortly after Quinn's research was published on Clark, out came Quinn's article on post-Manifesto polygamy.

Oaks fumed that Mike had violated Oaks' confidence. He accused him of having taken more information out of Mormon Church archives than he had been given permission to examine and research, going in. He further declared that Mike was not an innocent victim in this affair. Ge informed me that he subsequently wrote Mike a letter, in which he expressed his "deep disappointment" with him, telling Mike he had exceeded the limits of their original understanding. In that letter, Oaks asserted that he told Mike that he now regarded him as someone who could not be trusted. Oaks added that Mike would not tell us about these things, if asked, because of Mike's involvement.

On that last point, I wanted to see for myself. In August 2001, in a personal visit with Mike at a gathering in Fort Worden, Washington, hosted by a group of gay Mormon fathers (where I and my former spouse had been invited to speak about both her and my personal experiences attendant to voluntarily resigning our Mormon Church membership),

I recounted to Mike the version of events being peddled by Oaks and asked him for his own recollections. When I informed Mike that Oaks had accused him of breaking an agreement regarding the parameters of subject searching through Mormon Church archives for research purposes, Mike was visibly agitated. However, in a controlled and quiet voice, he emphatically denied that he had violated any research agreement with the Church Historical Department. He told me that it was clearly understood going in that he had open access to archival materials. (He also had told me that he taken thousands of pages of handwritten notes while in the Church Archives doing his research).

That made no difference, of course, to the Mormon Church henchmen in its hierarchy who were bound and determined to banish Mike for speaking the embarrassing truth about its lies and deceptions. Mike was thus branded as an apostate and given the boot.

Not coincidentally, Mike’s stake president prior to his banishment darkly hinted that he was also being investigated on "moral" charges (relating, no doubt, to Mike's open and honest acknowledgement of being gay).

The suffering that Mike experienced in the face of such personal attacks must have been horrible.

But through it all, Mike remained quietly courageous and true to self. I remember being in his Salt Lake City apartment, where I had gone to visit him. In his bedroom, above his bed and which he allowed me to see, in large letters affixed to the wall was the phrase, “Sin is in the eye of the beholder.” It was clear that, in that bold statement alone, Mike wasn’t about to let anyone else tell him who he was or what he should do with his life.

Several years later at that conference put on by gay Mormon fathers, I listened as Mike began a stem-to-stern presentation on the world history of homosexuality. At least he tried to give it. In an extraordinary presentation that was some two hours in length, Mike took the audience on a review of gay global history--covering the vast territory of its accomplishments and tribulations. A stickler for the minutest of detail, Mike read from his prepared text, page by page. Unfortunately, time constraints only allowed him to give his panoramic presentation up to the early part of the 1800s. The lesson: Mike knows his stuff--and is stuffed with plenty that there is to know. He is a proud gay man who appreciates, honors and defends the historical contributions of gays to the advancement of human civilization.
_____


--The High and Insidious Personal Cost Mike Quinn Paid

Here's more of what he encountered from the Mormon Black Lagoon (and, no, I'm not talking about the "Lagoon" amusement park north of Salt Lake City on I-15):

-Mike's phone was tapped.

Mike told me that his apartment phone was tapped (most likely, he thought, by Mormon Church security), and that, moreover, he was able to verify the power drain on his telephone line (indicating a deliberate intrusion) through the use of special phone equipment. He said that the likelihood of the drain actually being a tap was supported by employees at the local Salt Lake City phone company.


-Mike was targeted with death threats, with from Mormons and “anti-Mormons” alike in the Salt Lake area. As the Tanners describe:

“Around the time of his excommunication he was informed of a threat against his life. While Quinn did not link this threat with the Mormon Church itself, he believed that the rhetoric regarding his work had encouraged someone to threaten his life.” (Tanner and Tanner, "Salt Lake City Messenger," April 1997)

As to receiving death threats from opponents of Mormonism, Mike himself noted, in his “On Being a Mormon Historian” lecture, the irony of being perceived as an enemy of the Mormon Church by the very Mormon Church leaders he continues to support and sustain as his religious leaders:

“The central argument of the enemies of the LDS Church is historical, and if we seek to build the Kingdom of God by ignoring or denying the problem areas of our past, we are leaving the Saints unprotected. As one who has received death threats from anti-Mormons because they perceive me as an enemy historian, it is discouraging to be regarded as subversive by men I sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators.”
-Mike's revealed that his marriage of many years to a Mormon woman ended in divorce.


-Mike's teenage son committed suicide by hanging himself in one of Salt Lake City's surrounding canyons.

I remember when I first heard the shocking news that Mike’s son had died. The report had been broadcast on local Salt Lake news, with details that were especially tragic: Mike's boy had been found hanging from a tree in one of the canyons surrounding Salt Lake City.

Unbeknownst to me at the time I first heard about the news and mistakenly believing that the media was reporting the young man's death as having just occurred, I immediately phoned Mike, expressing my shock and condolences and asking him if he was aware of what was being reported. Mike was very measured and soft spoken in his response. He informed me that his son had, in fact, taken his own life a few days earlier. Mike did not go into any of the details surrounding his child's demise and I did not ask. Mike reacted as I have always known Mike to respond during times of personal adversity, hardship, trial and disappointment: He manifested a strong sense of inner strength and outer resoluteness, combined with a quiet acceptance of the disappointments and challenges that life had dealt him. Although it would have been perfectly understandable had he broken down and cried during our conversation, Mike remained steady in his demeanor and spoke in a clear (albeit subdued) voice.


-Mike's marriage of many years to a Mormon woman eventually ended in divorce, piling pain upon pain,


-Mike's professional career spiraled down.

Following his excommunication, Mike's professional career took a nose dive. Mike told me that he had been attempting to make some money as a portrait photographer. In fact, Mike does beautiful black-and-white photography work. He advertised in the local Salt Lake papers and, as I witnessed myself, the walls of his apartment were adorned with some of his more impressive work. At one point, Mike moved to Mexico to live with a friend. He also lived under trying conditions in San Francisco’s Chinatown in some of his most dire circumstances, he was living day-to-day, hand-to-mouth. Eventually, destitute, he moved in with his mother

Still, as the years passed, Mike found himself unemployed and, in most cases, without the necessary grants funding to continue his historical research. He was fortunate, however, to eventually land a temporary job working in his alma mater’s library at Yale and subsequently was told he had received some continuing financial support to do research on gay issues at Huntington Library in California.


What is all the more amazing about Mike's deeply-rooted faith in the LDS Church is that his devotion to the basic claims of Mormonism has remained strong through the years, despite all that he has been through--often at the hands of the Mormon Church itself. At the peak of his professional career,

Mike was a highly-regarded expert in his chosen field of history, both in out and of the Church. Sandra and Jerald Tanner have reviewed his stellar academic career as follows:

“Dr. D. Michael Quinn, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church in 1993, was at one time considered to be one of the Church's top scholars. He published articles for the Church's official publication, the ‘Ensign’ and also wrote for ‘Brigham Young University Studies.’

“Quinn obtained a Ph.D. in history at Yale University and was formerly Professor of American Social History at the Church's Brigham Young University. Unfortunately for Quinn, he dug too deeply into the secret documents in the Church Historical Department. Quinn was able to see these documents because he had an inside track at the Historical Department under Dr. Leonard Arrington, who was formerly Church Historian.

“In a speech Quinn gave in 1981, he noted that he had ‘spent a decade probing thousands of manuscript diaries and records of Church history’ that he ‘never dreamed’ he would view. (“On Being a Mormon Historian,” a lecture given by D. Michael Quinn, Brigham Young University, Fall 1981)

“When Dr. Quinn began publishing some of his more critical research--especially that regarding how the Church secretly sanctioned the practice of polygamy after the Manifesto--some Church leaders were incensed. In the book, "Faithful History,” edited by George D. Smith, p. 109, Quinn wrote the following:

“’In June 1986, the staff of the Church Historical Department announced it was necessary to sign a form which Elder Packer declared gave the right of pre-publication censorship for any archival research completed before signing the form. I and several others refused to sign the form and have not returned to do research at LDS Church archives since 1986.’

“In 1994, Quinn published his book, ‘The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power.’ This, of course, was very distressing to the leaders of the Church and to many of those associated with Brigham Young University and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS). Quinn's second volume was published in 1997. It is entitled, “The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power" . . .

“Dean C. Jessee is a scholar who is well known to students of Mormon history. He is currently serving as a research historian in the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History at Brigham Young University. For many years, however, Jessee worked at the Church Historical Department and had access to a vast number of sensitive documents.

“When Michael Quinn's first volume was published, Jessee expressed concern that Quinn had given too much attention to the 'messy' matters researchers encounter when studying early Mormon history. He also wrote 'that the story he tells is not as free from speculation and faulty interpretation as his bold writing style and abundant source notes would imply.' (‘Journal of Mormon History,’ Fall 1996, pp. 164-165)

“Nevertheless, Dean Jessee acknowledged that Quinn did, in fact, have access to important Church documents and that he did ‘painstaking research.’ Jessee wrote the following in his review:

"‘Few historians have been in a better position to study the Mormon past than D. Michael Quinn. With degrees in English and history, including a doctorate at Yale, employment in the LDS Church Historical Department and wide-ranging access to its holdings, a dozen years of teaching history at BYU and painstaking research in 75 repositories . . ., Quinn has spent a substantial part of his life studying Mormon history. This book and a second volume to follow are the outgrowth of research that led to a master's thesis, continued through a doctoral program and is the crowning accomplishment of 30 years’ work. . ..

“’The Mormon Hierarchy’ is a valuable contribution in terms of identifying sources and understanding the groundwork of the organizational structure. . .. While ‘Hierarchy’ has laid important groundwork, the definitive study remains to be written.'

“Over the years Dr. Quinn has often found himself faced with serious problems with Church leaders and officials at Brigham Young University. . ..

"As far as we know, Dr. Quinn had no problems with Church officials in his early years as a historian. Ironically, however, he did find himself in a controversy with us in 1977, when he became involved in plot to undermine our work. The Church Historical Department had been receiving many letters and inquiries regarding the truthfulness of our research, and it had become clear that something had to be done to refute our credibility--especially the material found in our book, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? It was secretly decided that the Historical Department would distribute a booklet attacking our work. Interestingly, D. Michael Quinn was designated to write the pamphlet. The booklet was published under the title, 'Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Distorted View of Mormonism: A Response to Mormonism--Shadow or Reality?'

"The publication of the pamphlet turned out to be a real disaster because those involved did not dare reveal that the Church Historical Department was responsible for its publication. Consequently, neither the name of the author nor the publisher was mentioned anywhere in the book. In addition, the publication was distributed in a clandestine fashion. Wilfrid Clark, who worked at Zion Bookstore, told us he received an anonymous letter containing a key to a room at a self-storage company. He went to that location and picked up 1,800 free copies of the booklet!

"Our response to this work appeared in a publication entitled, 'Answering Dr. Clandestine: A Response to the Anonymous LDS Historian.' In this booklet, we identified Quinn as the author. Even Lawrence Foster [a non-Mormon who is very critical of our work] had to admit that, "The Tanners convincingly link the anonymous critique to D. Michael Quinn and the LDS Historical Department . . .." ('Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought', Summer 1984, p. 510)
"
"While a number of Mormon scholars affiliated with Brigham Young University and FARMS eventually came to detest Michael Quinn's writings, they still continued to cite Quinn's attack on us in their publications. We feel that they must have known that Quinn was the author. Interestingly, however, the long-kept silence regarding this matter was finally broken by Brigham Young University Professor Louis Midgley. Midgley identified 'D. Michael Quinn' as the author in the FARMS publication, 'Review of Books on the Book of Mormon,' vol. 7, Issue 1, 1995, p. 236.

"Although we strongly disagreed with many of Quinn's conclusions regarding our work, in our response we wrote: 'We feel that he is probably one of the best historians in the Mormon Church. His dissertation written for Yale University is a masterpiece" (see 'Answering Dr. Clandestine,' p. 5)

"Dr. Quinn is a real enigma to many people. Although he has been excommunicated from the Church, he believes in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's First Vision. He, in fact, seems to feel that he has a calling to tell the truth about Mormonism, no matter where it leads. In an interview with a newspaper reporter Quinn emphasized that he is still a believer:

"'When Michael Quinn was asked about his relationship to the LDS Church, he still describes himself as a 'true believer.'" ("The Herald Journal," 10 February 1997; and "Quinn's Rebellion" and "Quinn and Controversy," by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, in "Salt Lake City Messenger," no. 92, April 1997)


Mike’s published findings on plural marriage stand unparalleled and unquestioned in terms of their depth, scope and accuracy--as if that matters to the Mormon Church. Mike himself explained the post-Manifesto reasons for his excommunication in his article, “On Being a Mormon Historian (and its Aftermath)”:

“In 1985, after 'Dialogue' published my article ‘LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890 - 1904’, three apostles [Boyd K. Packer, Mark E. Petersen and Ezra Taft Benson] gave orders for my Stake President to confiscate my temple recommend. Six years earlier, I had formally notified the First Presidency and the Managing Director of the Church Historical Department about my research on post-Manifesto polygamy and my intention to publish it . . . Now I was told that three apostles believed I was guilty of ‘speaking evil of the Lord's anointed.’ The Stake President was also told to ‘take further action’ against me if this did not ‘remedy the situation’ of my writing controversial Mormon history. . ..

"I told my Stake President that this was an obvious effort to intimidate me from doing history that might ‘offend the Brethren’ (to use Ezra Taft Benson’s phrase) . . .. The Stake President also saw this as a back-door effort to have me fired from BYU. . ..

“At various stake and regional meetings, Apostle Packer began publicly referring to ‘a BYU historian who is writing about polygamy to embarrass the Church.’ At firesides in Utah and California, a member of BYU’s Religious Education Department referred to me as ‘the anti-Christ of BYU.’ . . . Church leaders today seem to regard my post-Manifesto polygamy article . . . as ‘speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed’ because they themselves regard certain acts and words of those earlier Church leaders as embarrassing, if not actually wrong. I do not regard it as disloyal to conscientiously recreate the words, acts and circumstances of earlier prophets and apostles. . ..

“No one ever gave me an ultimatum or threatened to fire me from Brigham Young University. However, University administrators and I were both on the losing side of a war of attrition mandated by the General Authorities. . ..

“On 20 January 1988, I wrote a letter of resignation, effective at the end of the current school semester. . .. I explained [that] ‘the situation seems to be that academic freedom merely survives at BYU without fundamental support by the institution, exists against tremendous pressure and is nurtured only through the dedication of individual administrators and faculty members.’ . . .

“Three months after my departure, it angered me to learn to learn that BYU had fired a Hebrew professor for his private views on the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Although I personally regard the Book of Mormon as ancient history and sacred text, I told an inquiring newspaper reporter: ‘BYU officials have said that Harvard should aspire to become the BYU of the East. That’s like saying the Mayo Clinic should aspire to be Auschwitz. BYU is an Auschwitz of the mind.’ . . .

“When BYU’s Associate Academic Vice-President asked me if that was an accurate quote, I confirmed that it was. ‘Academic freedom exists at BYU only for what is considered non-controversial by the University’s Board of Trustees [meaning the Quorum of the Twelve] and administrators,’ I wrote. ‘By those definitions, academic freedom has always existed at Soviet universities (even during the Stalin era) . . ..

“It is . . . my conviction that God desires everyone to enjoy freedom of inquiry and expression without fear, obstruction or intimidation. I find it one of the fundamental ironies of modern Mormonism that the General Authorities, who praise free agency, also do their best to limit free agency's prerequisites--access to information, uninhibited inquiry and freedom of expression.” (Quinn, D. Michael. “On Being a Mormon Historian (And Its Aftermath).” In Smith, George D., ed., "Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1992], pp. 91-95).

Oaks acknowledged that he had read Mike's article on post-Manifesto polygamy, covering the period from 1890 into the early 20th century. Oaks also confessed that the Mormon Church had not, in fact, been honest about its practice of polygamy during that time. He admitted that the case, as laid out by Quinn, was, in fact, true. Oaks admitted that, in his opinion, lies had indeed been told by Mormon Church leaders about the continuing practice of polygamy after it supposedly was ended by the Manifesto of 1890.

But enough of admitting "divinely-inspired" Church wrongdoing. Oaks then proceeded to attack Mike personally by accusing him of breaking his word. Oaks said that Mike had been given access to all of J. Reuben Clark's papers for the purpose of writing a book on Clark's years of Church service. Oaks said he had assured the Church that Quinn was credible, in order that Quinn could be given access to those records. Oaks noted that shortly after Quinn's research was published on Clark, out came Quinn's article on post-Manifesto polygamy.

Oaks grumped that Mike had violated Oaks' confidence. He accused him of having taken more information out of Mormon Church archives than he had been given permission to examine and research, going in. He further declared that Mike was not an innocent victim in this affair. Ge informed me that he subsequently wrote Mike a letter, in which he expressed his "deep disappointment" with him, telling Mike he had exceeded the limits of their original understanding. In that letter, Oaks asserted that he told Mike that he now regarded him as someone who could not be trusted. Oaks added that Mike would not tell us about these things, if asked, because of Mike's involvement.

On that last point, I wanted to see for myself. In August 2001, in a personal visit with Mike at a gathering in Fort Worden, Washington, hosted by a group of gay Mormon fathers (where I and my former spouse had been invited to speak about both her and my personal experiences attendant to voluntarily resigning our Mormon Church membership), I recounted to Mike the version of events being peddled by Oaks and asked him for his own recollections. When I informed Mike that Oaks had accused him of breaking an agreement regarding the parameters of subject searching through Mormon Church archives for research purposes, Mike was visibly agitated. However, in a controlled and quiet voice, he emphatically denied that he had violated any research agreement with the Church Historical Department. He told me that it was clearly understood going in that he had open access to archival materials. (He also had told me that he taken thousands of pages of handwritten notes while in the Church Archives doing his research).

That made no difference, of course, to the Mormon Church hangmen in its hierarchy who were bound and determined to string up Mike for speaking the embarrassing truth about its lies and deceptions. Mike was branded an apostate and given the boot.
_____


--In the Irony of All Ironies, After Excommunicating Quinn, He Was Consulted Behind the Scenes by Top Mormon Leaders About How They Might Better Present Mormon History to the LDS Church Membership

Through a confidential and reliable source, I was informed that Mike, although having been forced out of the LDS Church, was subsequently brought into contact with LDS Church authorities, reportedly in a back-channel fashion initiated by Church authorities seeking his advice on how to deal with matters within the wheelhouse of Quinn's expertise: namely, Mormon Church history.
_____


--Mike Quinn Received a Blessing from Mormon Apostle Spencer W. Kimball’s Indicating That Someday He Would Become an Apostle

Mike spoke to me during our talks together about a blessing he had received from then-Apostle Spencer W. Kimball. In it, Kimball promised Mike that if he remained faithful and obedient, he would someday become an Apostle in the Mormon Church. At the time of the Kimball blessing, Mike was still an active, temple-endowed, well-respected member of the Church.

Mike has written publicly about this blessing he received under Kimball’s hands.

In an autobiographical essay entitled, “The Rest Is History" (“Sunstone,” December 1995, p. 54), Mike addressed his personal consuming desire to someday become a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and how Kimball helped him deal with this distraction through the laying on of hands:

"President Kimball asked if I would like to have a blessing. As he laid his hands upon my head, I expected him to give me the comfort and strength to overcome my aspirations for Church office. Instead, Spencer W. Kimball promised me that one day God would call me to be an apostle. After the blessing, President Kimball told me not to work for the office or try to ‘curry favor’ with Church leaders, but just to live as I felt the Lord desired for me. There was no way I could logically explain that experience, then or now."

When we talked, it was clear to me that Mike’s belief in Mormonism seemed to be much more personal and deeper than any anticipation he might have had of advancing into the upper echelons of LDS Church leadership. Mike’s testimony of the Mormon Gospel is a quiet, soft-spoken type of conviction about which he does not make a big deal--but to which he appears to be genuinely committed. This bespeaks a personal devotion greater than any hoped-for call to Mormon apostleship. Besides, at this point in his life, Kimball's promise to Mike in that regard seems, shall we say, a tad out of reach.
_____


--Conclusion: Mike Quinn Is Not a Quitter, and Refuses to Quit His Church

Mike's ultimate testimony of the Mormon Church clearly rests on his sincerely-held belief that it was initially restored by God's hand through Joseph Smith in pure and true form, then became corrupted through the human-generated downfall of its leaders who subsequently followed Joseph Smith's footsteps into power. He holds to the conviction that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remains God's true Church on the earth but that, even as such, requires a significant make-over to step out of apostasy and recover its heaven-revealed mission.

Mike's deep spiritual devotion and attachment to the LDS Church—an organization which, in its depraved and destructive state, has often persecuted, maligned, punished and rejected him--stands firm. He remains willing to speak his testimonial truth (at least as he feels and interprets it), thereby demonstrating the attraction of personal faith over the power of rational brain function as a fundamental, go-to, operative element of the human condition. It is a dichotomy that has been seen and experienced throughout the course of human history and is manifested even among highly intelligent human beings who choose, in many cases, to opt for faith over fact, based on a host of complex personal reasons, rationalizations and "warm fuzzies."

Through all the pain, tragedies, misfortunes, injustices, challenges and hopes in his life, Mike has remained steadfast in his personal religious faith. He has fervently maintained his testimony in what he believes to be the truthfulness of the Mormon Church that has, frankly, treated him like hell. I genuinely do not understand that personal arrival point for Mike Quinn, but I say more power to him on his life's trek. Despite our differences, I know him to be a decent, honorable guy.



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 11/09/2017 02:53PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: Shummy ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 10:41AM

Fascinating insights into a beautiful mind.

Thanks bro.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 01:46PM

. . . my mind is not nearly as beautiful.

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Posted by: Elyse ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 04:33PM

Poor guy.
He has a blind spot when it comes to Mormonism,probably conditioned by early brainwashing.

But I read all his books and they are very good.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: November 11, 2017 04:02PM

. . . in the Mormon Church leadership. That's not a boast; it's just a genetic fact that I didn't request or deserve since there was no actual "God" or formalized "foreordination" to make that happen in the first place.

When, through my non-royal family-provided bloodline pipeline, I posed fundamental questions about Mormon Church doctrine, policy, practice and history to top Mormon Church leaders (such as Kimball, McConkie, Petersen, Oaks and Maxwell), I found that they:

1. wouldn't answer my questions,

2. couldn't answer my questions,

3. lied to me in response to my questions,

4. contradicted official Mormon Church doctrine when trying to answer my questions,

5. didn't know squat about either basic science or Mormon Church history as they applied to my questions,

6. ventured outside the scope of my questions in privately talking smack about their fellow General Authorities and former presidents of the Mormon Church,

7. personally admitted to harboring their own inner doubts about the doctrines of the Mormon Church earlier in their lives when I asked questions about their own testimonies, and/or

8. demanded that I keep all of these unimpressive blabblings of theirs, as offered to me in response to my direct questions, off the record by demanding I agree to a code of silence.
_____


Mike Quinn has produced many fine books on the Mormon Church, but the Mormon Church is still a fraud.

Given the access I had to the inner sanctums of the highest levels of Mormon Church deceit, deception, disinformation, dissembling, diversion, dishonesty, disconnection and discombobulation, it wasn't really that difficult for me to finally leave the Mormon Church under my own power and timing. I exited according to my own terms; contrary to the spin of Mormon apologists, I was not excommunicated.

All of this underscores the truth of this maxim:

Beware of any institution that denies you access to information needed to make rational and informed decisions for your own life.



Edited 11 time(s). Last edit at 11/11/2017 04:32PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: 3X ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 04:33PM

"I found Mike's testimony startling, incongruous and at significant odds with his unparalleled research that, in my opinion, clearly exposed the fraud, frailties and fictions of Mormonism. But Mike's ultimate testimony in the Mormon faith seemed to rest on his firm belief that it was initially restored by God's hand in pure and true form."


Perfect summation; perhaps one day neuro-science will have interesting things to tell us about the mechanisms of belief.

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Posted by: Bruce A Holt ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 04:37PM

3X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Perfect summation; perhaps one day neuro-science
> will have interesting things to tell us about the
> mechanisms of belief.


This is what I hope for. Sooner than later.

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Posted by: Devoted Exmo ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 04:44PM

"I found Mike's testimony startling, incongruous and at significant odds with his unparalleled research that, in my opinion, clearly exposed the fraud, frailties and fictions of Mormonism. But Mike's ultimate testimony in the Mormon faith seemed to rest on his firm belief that it was initially restored by God's hand in pure and true form."

I can't every really understand this point of view due to the fact that the church is really lame. It's a corporate pseudo form of Christian worship and it is now quite different from the church Joe Smith started (that may be a good thing). But it's effectiveness is practically nil. So I ask, is that the best "God" could do?

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Posted by: MeM ( )
Date: November 09, 2017 05:59PM

Thanks for this insight. So interesting how even the smartest people can compartmentalize knowledge and belief.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: November 10, 2017 04:42PM

. . . which contains the wiring for fanciful creation, as well as for critical thinking.

Silly vs. Science. Ghost vs. Grit.

The key is to discern the difference between the two and to not confuse one with the other. Mike can't seem to do that--but neither can billions of other people.

Culture often trumps Cranium, because humans want it to (or, at least, don't recognize what's happening when they consciously or subconsciously make that choice).



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 11/10/2017 08:28PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: auntsukey ( )
Date: November 10, 2017 07:49PM

This is a perfect illustration of Jonathan Haidt's metaphor of the "Rider" (conscious mind) and the "Elephant" (unconscious mind).

Thinking serves the emotions, not the other way around.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24adApYh0yc

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