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Simon Southerton Talks DNA, Excommunication

DNA & Book of Mormon can be a very controversial topic.  Last year we talked with Dr. Ugo Perego on this topic, and today we’ll get a contrasting point of view.  Dr. Simon Southerton served as a bishop of the LDS Church until he found he could no longer reconcile the science with the story of the Lamanites.

Simon:  My name is Simon Southerton. I’m from Canberra, Australia.  I am retired now from science really.  I was a molecular geneticist with CSIRO[1] for almost 20 years.

I work up in the morning.  I finally knew.  I knew without a doubt that the Book of Mormon wasn’t history.  It’s a great book filled with scripture and all of these stories.  It never happened.  There was never a migration of Jews to the Americas in 2000 B.C. or 600 B.C.

All of my research over the last fifteen years has convinced me that conclusion is 100% correct.  There is no evidence of Jewish DNA or Middle Eastern DNA coming into the Americas.

GT:  Ok.

Simon:  It’s pretty compelling stuff for me, and this is my work.  That’s my research area.  I work with DNA.  I’ve worked with it a long time and led research groups that work in population genetics.  That’s another thing you’ll hear from apologists.  Oh, he doesn’t know population genetics.  It’s such a complex science.

It is a complex science, but I work in population genetics.  I’ve published in population genetics in leading international journals.  When you work in the field and you understand the power, you know the full power of the research, it’s very compelling when you see that evidence.  You just can’t ignore it.

We’ll also talk in detail about his excommunication.  I wasn’t very familiar with that, and I found Simon very candid.

GT:  Ok, well one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you at Gospel Tangents, I like to get a lot of different opinions.  I interviewed Dr. Ugo Perego a few month ago,[2] and you have a little different perspective on DNA and the Book of Mormon, so I wanted to talk to you a little bit about that.  I know you’ve written a book.  Can you tell us about the book?

Simon:  Yes, the book is called Losing a Lost Tribe, and I wrote that and published that in 2004.  The impetus to write the book, I was not happy with the way the DNA science was being interpreted by church apologists.  I thought that was a way of putting them right and correcting them.

Simon:  Everyone that knew me locally liked me, because they knew me.  We had shaken hands.  They had looked me in the eye and knew that I was a good bloke.  But then area leaders wrote to me:  Vaughn J. Featherstone wrote to me, and the whole letter was just designed to scare me back into the church.  He hadn’t even spoken to my stake president.  All he heard was rumors around the grapevine.  The bishop in Brisbane had left the church evidently.

GT:  But you hadn’t left the church.  You were still going to church.

Simon:  No, I hadn’t left the church.  I was aware of the fact that I probably would.  I received it [the letter] while I was still a primary teacher.  I mean, what do you do when you’re the bishop and you don’t believe the Book of Mormon is true?  How can you function as a bishop when you’ve got the keystone of the Mormon religion and you don’t believe it ever happened?  It wasn’t appropriate for me to be a bishop, so I did the right thing.

Anyway, he wrote this three-page letter, and so I wrote him back and I told him off.  I didn’t rebuke him.  I just said it was inappropriate for him to write without talking to my stake president and finding out really what was going on.  He wrote back a letter and apologized, and then gave me more warnings about how life would turn out.

So yes, it has been a tough ride leaving the church, and this is what many members of the church don’t realize.  It’s a very painful process to leave the church.  In fact, during that process, about five years after we left, I was separated from my wife, and then we got back together and we’re still together and are very happy.  It’s just been getting better and better.


Dr. Simon Southerton talks about his controversial book, “Losing a Lost Tribe,” and details why he left the LDS Church.

What are your thoughts?  Check out our conversation…..


[1] Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation – is an independent Australian federal government agency responsible for scientific research.

[2] Part 1 of 11 of our interview with Dr. Perego is at  Parts 9, 10, and 11 deal more with the Book of Mormon:  See and and

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