New Book Reveals a Family’s Life Amidst Religious Fundamentalism and Zealotry

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Author Duane Keown revisits his past as a non-believer in Mormon-dominated Utah

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Thirteenth Year in Zion” is an earnest warning against the folly of fundamentalism, and how science, modernism and multiculturalism can challenge these intolerant beliefs

In “Thirteenth Year in Zion,” author Duane Keown gives an exposition of Mormon culture during his time in Utah from the late 1950s to the mid 1970s. He recalls his experiences as an educator in an environment steeped in religious fundamentalism, and the difficulties of raising a family with views different from that of the Mormon majority. He also details the anachronistic beliefs of the Mormon religion, and how they contradict the scientific and cultural developments of the modern world.

Keown points out the absurdity of the controversial Mormon belief that God cursed the Africans and Native Americans with their skin color because of the sins of their ancestors. The prejudicial treatment against Africans and Native Americans included African Americans prohibition from holding leadership positions in the Mormon Church. This discriminatory policy lasted until the late 1970s, when criticism from civil rights movement forced the Church to revise its holy teachings. According to their Holy Book of Mormon, Native Americans descended from a lost tribe of Israelites, when genetic research shows that they are more related to people from northern Asia. Keown also criticizes how the religious fundamentalists force their faith on those with different beliefs, mistakenly thinking that their religion is the only true path and that all other beliefs are wrong.

“Thirteenth Year in Zion” is an earnest warning against the folly of fundamentalism, and how science, modernism and multiculturalism can challenge these intolerant beliefs. Keown’s work is an informative portrayal of the interplay of culture, society and faith in America in these changing times.

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About the Author
Duane Keown began his education career at the Hideout Mine School in the San Juan County of Utah in 1960. Later, he taught biology and other sciences at the Monticello High School in Monticello. For three years, he was the principal of the San Juan Junior High School in Blanding. In 1975, he became a professor of science education at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Keown is best known in Wyoming for his work with teachers in conservation/environmental education workshops. In UW’s Science and Math Teaching Center, he worked with teachers from more than 30 school districts during the summers of 1995–98 to write environmental education activity manuals. The manual, “Wild Wonderful Wyoming: Choices for the Future”, went to one-third of the state’s K-12 teachers. He has authored numerous professional articles in journals on science education, environmental education, and religion. Professor Keown was honored at the Annual Conference of the North American Association for Environmental Education in Portland, Oregon when he received the distinguished Outstanding Service to Environmental Education by an Individual Award for 2009.

Thirteenth Year in Zion * by Duane Keown
Mormons Confront the Twenty-First Century
Publication Date: 10/30/2012
Trade Paperback; $ 19.99; 205pages; 978-1-4797-2106-1
Trade Hardback; $ 29.99; 205pages; 978-1-4797-2107-8
eBook; $ 3.99; 978-1-4797-2108-5

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