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Tucked into the swag bag — along with copies of the LDS Church's "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" — and handed out to more than 3,000 participants at this week's World Congress of Families is a book that many Utahns know well: W. Cleon Skousen's "5000 Year Leap."

Skousen, a former Salt Lake City police chief and Brigham Young University professor, was a controversial figure for blending his Mormon faith with his right-wing views.

The opinionated author of dozens of books once called "Jamestown's original settlers communists, wrote end-of-days prophecy and suggested Russians stole Sputnik from the United States," The Associated Press reported in 2011. "One of his books was criticized for suggesting American slave children were freer than white nonslaves."

In his volume "The 5000 Year Leap," Skousen spells out "28 principles of liberty" that undergird the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Skousen, who died in 2006, created the Freeman Institute in 1971 to study America's founding documents — which he believed were inspired by God — but later changed the name to the National Center for Constitutional Studies.

That's where fellow Mormon Zeldon Nelson comes in.

Nelson, Skousen's friend, who assumed leadership of the center after the writer retired, has vowed to "flood the nation with copies" of "Leap."

To that end, Nelson said Thursday he paid for 500,000 copies to be printed, got LDS conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck to read and promote the book, and now has provided copies to be distributed to congress attendees.

The constitutional center is "just a vehicle to convey these ideas," the Idaho farmer told The Salt Lake Tribune. "These principles are part of me."

More than 50 of Nelson's ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence, he said. "We are freedom-loving people."

It is, he said, "in our blood."

Twitter: @religiongal