Thomas W. Murphy is the latest Mormon scholar to challenge key teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Murphy, 35, has likened the Book of Mormon, an essential LDS sacred text, to inspirational fiction.

Narrowly avoiding a disciplinary meeting, Murphy remains an LDS member of record for the time being.

Murphy is chairman of the anthropology department at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington. Last year he wrote an essay, "Lamanite Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics," for a Signature Books anthology called American Apocrypha. Murphy concluded, "dna research lends no support to traditional Mormon beliefs about the origins of Native Americans." Murphy's doctoral dissertation is the basis of the essay.

The Book of Mormon details migrations of Israelites to the Western Hemisphere more than 4,200 years ago. According to the book, some of the people were Lamanites, cursed with dark skin because of sin. The current introduction to the Book of Mormon claims that Lamanites were ancestors of American Indians.

In his essay, Murphy reviewed recent human molecular genealogy studies that contradict that claim. "To date no intimate genetic link has been found between ancient Israelites and the indigenous peoples of the Americas," Murphy said.

He noted that researchers genetically link American Indians with native Siberians. Murphy told The Chronicle of Higher Education that some Mormon intellectuals want to debate the Book of Mormon "as fiction, possibly inspired, but as fiction."

Part of the mainstream?


The LDS church disciplines its wayward scholars. LDS spokesman Dale Bills said local councils may excommunicate, temporarily disfellowship, or place a transgressing member on probation for a wide range of ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Tags:
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
India: Machete attack on American alarms local Christians Subscriber Access Only
"Hindu militants threaten to expel evangelists, stop conversions"
RecommendedThe Real Differences Between Mormons and Orthodox Christians
The Real Differences Between Mormons and Orthodox ChristiansSubscriber Access Only
And whether they really matter in the presidency.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickWhatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Whatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Faculty push back against stricter standards keeping curse words, R-rated movies, and sexual content out of their curricula.
Christianity Today
Mormon scholar under fire
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2003

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.