Michael Quinn

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D. Michael Quinn was once among Mormonism’s most celebrated historians, lauded for his memory, work ethic and charisma — even prompting predictions that he would become the official historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or one of the faith’s governing apostles.

Quinn, who was discovered dead Wednesday of unspecified causes at his home in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., saw no conflict between the church’s history and his faith.

Still, his compulsion to understand every detail of the Latter-day Saint past, starting in his teen years in the 1960s, put him on a collision course with his church. It would culminate in September 1993, when the Yale-trained scholar was drummed out of Utah-based church for apostasy based on his historical writings about women and the priesthood, along with polygamy.

That same month, four other writers and feminists were excommunicated and one was disfellowshipped, a less-severe punishment. Together, they became known as the “September Six.”

The 77-year-old Quinn became the first of them to die and arguably the most tragic. He published critical contradictions in church history, but the historian was no critic.

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