Probably the two most widely accepted and respected researchers regarding Mormonism in the world today have announced their coming retirement, reports Salt Lake City Weekly.

Sandra and Jerald Tanner of Salt Lake City have researched the Mormon Church (LDS) and its history for three decades.

Due to Mr. Tanner’s health the couple has chosen to move on into a less demanding schedule and mode.

Shortly after meeting, Jerald and Sandra Tanner married in 1959. This was perhaps the culmination of a period of doubt and questioning about their Mormon faith.

Ironically, Sandra is the great great granddaughter of Brigham Young and Jerald is related to LDS Church Apostle, N. Eldon Tanner. A background like this certainly would have assured them status and acceptance within seemingly genealogy obsessed Mormon society.

However, instead after the Tanners closely examined the historical records of their church as Sandra explains, “We felt that the Book of Mormon didn’t meet the standards of historical authenticity.”

As a direct result, the Tanners, like many Mormon free thinkers and intellectuals, were eventually excommunicated.

But unlike some excommunicates that drift away into relative obscurity amongst Mormons, this couple took a very different path and eventually became the “notorious Tanners.”

In 1964 they established Modern Microfilm, an archive, and that would eventually become perhaps the single best and most credible resource for objective historical information about the Mormon Church and Mormonism. This effort would ultimately be known as the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, a nonprofit charity.

Along the way the Tanners became part of Mormon history themselves, as pivotal players in numerous critical and important archival revelations, not always appreciated by their former church.

At times they were also debunkers, exposing purported Mormon historical documents as forgeries, even if they appeared to support their own theories or suspicions.

Always honest, forthright and concise in their work, the Tanners are even respected by Mormon apologists that largely consider them enemies.

One such apologist admitted, “They’ve been effective” And regarding their research begrudgingly added, “In an odd sort of way, I’m grateful for them..”

The Tanners are not apologetic about their Christian faith.

Sandra Tanner said, “We are for Christianity, and like consumer watchdogs, we put out the alert against an aberrant group that claims to be Christian.”

What this refers to specifically is the claim often made by the LDS and its members, that “Mormons are Christian.”

However, to date no Christian church has accepted this claim based upon Mormon doctrines, teachings and added scriptures, which clearly contradict historical Christianity.

Taking such a stand about Mormonism didn’t make the Tanners popular amongst their former brethren. They have often been called “anti-Mormon.”

Sandra shrugs this off saying, “We make people uncomfortable and so if they can call you ‘anti’ they can dismiss our work.”

Mormon historian Michael H. Marquardt said, “The Tanners don’t make anything up…and a sad thing is, there are other historians who will use their work and not admit it.”

But Sandra and Jerald Tanner’s odyssey as researchers and people of faith was never about appearing in footnotes.

The couple now married more than 40 years wanted to help others like themselves in a struggle for truth and an authentic history.

The Tanners raised three children in Utah and throughout their family life resided a short walk from the historic Mormon Temple erected under the direction of Sandra’s revered ancestor.

Isn’t it odd how that history came around full circle?


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