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September 27, 2017

prince-posterGregory A. Prince, Author & Historian
"Science vs. Dogma: Biology Challenges the LDS Paradigm" (click to watch)

Scientific researcher and historian Gregory A. Prince earned his graduate degrees in dentistry (DDS) and pathology (PhD) at UCLA. He then pursued a four-decade career in pediatric infectious disease research. His love of history led him to write three books, including the award-winning David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. Most recently, he has published Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History.

Until the late 1960s, when the Stonewall Riots in New York City brought LGBT issues into the public square, the consensus among clinicians, scientists, legislators, and religious leaders was that homosexuality was either an unfortunate choice that could be unchosen, or a disease that could—and must—be cured. As the field of molecular biology matured, there was a spirited hunt for a genetic explanation for homosexuality—the “gay gene.”

In the short term, failure to find such a gene reinforced the “choice paradigm” of homosexuality.  However, recent research has shown that a combination of genetic and (mostly) epigenetic factors act during fetal development to imprint sexual preference and gender identity indelibly within the brain. Prince argues that the “biology paradigm” calls for a reassessment of Latter-day Saint doctrines, policies, and attitudes towards homosexuality, all of which were built on a foundation of the “choice paradigm.”

“Greg Prince’s unique perspective,” says Tanner Center director Bob Goldberg, “combines scientific knowledge with humanistic sensibilities.  This insures that his insights will offer new ways of understanding matters that touch us all.” 

OCTOBER 06, 2016

prothero-posterStephen Prothero, Author and Professor of Religion - Boston University
"Mormons, Muslims, and America's Culture Wars"

Stephen Prothero is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Boston University. A skilled researcher and celebrated historian of religion, Prothero’s published books include: God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World – and Why Their Differences Matter, and the New York Times bestseller Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know – and Doesn’t. In his lecture, he will address themes from his latest book Why Liberals Win The Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections). 



October 8, 2015

bush-posterLester Bush, Jr. - Historian
"Looking Back, Looking Forward: 'Mormonism's Negro Doctrine' Forty-two Years Later"

Lester Bush reflects on the forty-two years since his seminal article was published in Dialogue which undermined the standing historical narrative that the LDS Church's priesthood ban began with Joseph Smith. We invite Bush to consider the past forty years: what has changed, what has stayed the same, and what steps are yet necessary to bring about change.

Bush's lecture was the keynote address of the conference, "Black, White, and Mormon: A Conference on the Evolving Status of Black Saints within the Mormon Fold" held at the University of Utah October 9, 2015.


October 30, 2014

david-campbellDavid Campbell, Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame
"Whither the Promised Land? Mormons' Place in a Changing Religious Landscape"


April 11, 2014

flake-goldbergKathleen Flake, Richard Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies at the University of Virginia
“The LDS Intellectual Tradition: A Study on Three Lives”
This lecture served as the keynote address for a symposium on April 12, 2014 honoring the legacies of Lowell Benion, Obert Tanner, and Sterling McMurrin.


August 24, 2012

laurel-thatcher-ulrichLaurel Thatcher Ulrich, Phillips Professor of Early American History and 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University
“Remember Me: The Inscription of Self in Nineteenth-Century Mormonism”

January 26, 2012

thupten-jinpaThupten Jinpa, Author and Translator to H.H. the Dalai Lama
“Charting a Path: Buddhism and Neuroscience in Dialogue”


October 25, 2010

reza-aslanReza Aslan, Author and Scholar
“The Future of Islam”


November 10, 2009

krista-tippettKrista Tippett, Host of NPR’s Speaking of Faith
“Religion, Media, and Public Life in the 21st Century: Observations from a Front Row Seat on the Evolution of Faith and Life in our Time”

November 6, 2008

akbar-ahmedAkbar Ahmed, Author and Scholar
“Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization”

October 22, 2007

eboo-patelEboo Patel, Author and Scholar
“The Faith Line: The Role of Young People in the 21st Century”





Established in 1992, the McMurrin Lecture supports the study of religion at the University of Utah. The McMurrin Lecture honors beloved scholar and teacher Sterling M. McMurrin (1914-1996), who served as U.S. Commissioner of Education during the Kennedy Administration. Since 2006, we have hosted religious scholars and commentators: Eboo PatelAkbar Ahmed, Krista TippetsReza Aslan, Thupten Jinpa, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Kathleen FlakeDavid Campbell, and Lester Bush, Jr. Lectures are held on campus or in the community and are free and open to the public. To read more about and/or to view previous McMurrin lectures, please click here.

Last Updated: 10/4/17