LDS Author Could Face Excommunication

LDS Author Could Face Excommunication

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A book that uses D-N-A evidence to contradict a long-standing Mormon belief could get the author excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Simon Southerton told The Associated Press he's been ordered to appear at a July 31 hearing before church leaders in his native Australia.

Southerton's book, "Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church," was published a year ago by Salt Lake-based Signature Books.

It used established DNA data to argue against Book of Mormon teachings that ancient Americans inhabitants were descendants of Israelite patriarch Lehi.

Mormons believe Lehi was an ancient seafarer who came to the New World about 600 B-C. But Southerton says nothing in the D-N-A of early American inhabitants proves that.

Southerton is a plant geneticist who abandoned his church and post as an LDS bishop in 1998 in a struggle to reconcile his faith and science.

An L-D-S spokeswoman and a B-Y-U scholar say the church just hasn't found evidence yet of a small population of ancient Israelites in America. They acknowledge that many people of Asiatic origin migrated to the Americas -- but that doesn't mean others came, too.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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