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Posted 08 Dec 2001   For week ended December 07, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 08Dec01

By Kent Larsen

Anthropologists Examine Issues in LDS Culture

WASHINGTON, DC -- At the centennial meeting of the American Anthropological Association last week, for the first time one session of the annual conference examines Mormon culture for the first time. But the session was not for the faint of heart, examining such difficult questions as same-sex attraction, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and the archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon. But session organizer David Knowlton called the session important, saying, "All one has to do is listen to the general conference of the church to hear the confidence, the aplomb, the assurance with which the church presents itself to the world. They occupy and dominate an entire region of the United States in a way no other denomination does and that makes the Mormons somewhat unusual."

One anthropologist, the University of Maryland' Mark Leone, called the session a unique, brave move, "It's so rare that it must be a first. It's special. And very brave." He urged anthropologists to study the LDS Church and Mormon culture in spite of the lack of interest by the Church in secular scientific critiques of the institution. "Do it right. Be decisive. Be descriptive. Publish widely. Use the media. Be scared. And scare. We are not dealing with a timid institution," he said.

The session included presentations by Knowlton, who looked at Mormon men who were trying to resolve questions of sexual orientation; Melvin Hammarberg, who examined the psychological identity battles of LDS missionaries; Shannon Novak and Lars Rodseth, who looked at the 1999 forensic study of the victims of the Mountain Meadows Massacre; and by Charles Nuckoll, who examined the argument over whether a pre-Columbian sculpture, the Izapa Stela 5 stone found in Mexico, illustrates the "Tree of Life" found in the Book of Mormon.


Nation's Anthropologists Evaluate LDS Culture
Salt Lake Tribune 1Dec01 N6
By Christopher Smith: Salt Lake Tribune


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