I fully recognize that there are those who delve into the Mormon past, poke around in the sources, uncover inconsistencies, unsavory actions on the part of past leaders or followers, find too much human and too little divine, or otherwise encounter aspects of LDS history that disturb them. For some a messy historical record overpowers belief and convinces them to abandon their faith. Some even suggest that knowing the “truth” about Mormon history undermines the very foundations of Mormonism and inevitably will lead any rational person with a devotion to empirical evidence outside the fold, never to return. Those who stay, according to this version of things, either ignore the evidence or are ignorant of it and “just believe.”
I am a believer, but contrary to the Tony award winning Book of Mormon musical, I don’t “just believe.” My convictions derive from a more complex blend of study and faith than the musical suggests when the fictional Elder Price sings, “I am a Mormon and a Mormon just believes.” In addition to being a Mormon, I am also an historian who teaches and researches Utah history, Mormon history, and the history of the U. S. West. I am a believer, in part, because of my profession, not in spite of it.
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