Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Evils and designs in the hearts of conspiring men

In his February 12, 2019, blog post, “Poor information – Elements of the M2C indictment,” Jonathan Neville informs us that “Church employees (CES, BYU, COB) [are] giving leaders poor or incomplete information” by withholding information about the New York location of the hill Cumorah. According to Neville, these employees are part of the “M2C citation cartel,” a group that is actively conspiring to promote the untrue belief that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and suppress the true belief that the drumlin near the Smith home in western New York is the hill Cumorah described in the Book of Mormon. (M2C is Neville’s acronym for “Mesoamerica/two Cumorahs.”)

For Neville and other Heartlanders, Joseph Smith’s 1842 letter to newspaper editor John Wentworth is a key piece of evidence that Joseph believed in the Heartland Book of Mormon geography and not in a Mesoamerican one. Neville claims that Joseph’s statement in the letter that “the remnant [of the Lamanites] are the Indians that now inhabit this country” demonstrates that that Lamanites lived in what is now the United States. “The ‘Lamanites in Latin America’ concept,” Nevile proclaims, “should have been extinguished when Joseph Smith wrote the Wentworth letter.”

(In 2010 Matthew Roper published an article demonstrating that Joseph and his contemporaries used “this country” to refer to all the Americas and not a limited location. But Neville doesn’t deal with Roper’s arguments; he simply dismisses them as “sophistry” and moves on. But that’s a subject for another post.)

That advocates for a Mesoamerican Book of Mormon geography fear the Wentworth Letter is clear, for, according to Neville, it “was deliberately censored in the chapter on the Wentworth letter in the 2007 manual Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith.” Censored. Not overlooked. Not even just irrelevant to the purposes of the manual. Neville’s conspiracy theory is that Church employees who prepared the manual deliberately suppressed the truth by withholding it from the Brethen and the Latter-day Saints.

Neville points out that “The Wentworth letter is not found in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, which was first published in 1938 and for many decades was the primary source for Joseph’s teachings,” while conceding that the letter was published in the seven-volume History of the Church in 1908 (with a second edition in 1932). The published history is available in an inexpensive paperback edition that is still in print and sold through LDS bookstores. It is found on the shelves of many Latter-day Saints. And yet Neville believes that the Wentworth letter “would not likely stand out among the thousands of words” in those volumes.

Neville, ironically, agrees with critics of the Church who claim that Church leaders are suppressing the truth by hiding it in plain sight.

Neville even goes so far as to throw apostles Orson Pratt and Parley Pratt under the bus by claiming that Joseph edited their publications to remove references to South and Central America, but “Joseph’s contemporaries, especially the Pratt brothers . . . completely ignored what he taught.” For Neville’s conspiracy theory to be true, the Pratts couldn’t just be mistaken; they have to have purposely ignored the Prophet.

Finally, seemingly without realizing what he has admitted to, Neville tells his readers:
Apparently Joseph’s direct statement about the identity of the Lamanites has never been quoted in General Conference.

“Indians” were mentioned 1,066 times (3 times since 2008). “Lamanites” were mentioned 592 (43 times since 2008) times.

I was curious why this statement has never been quoted.

The answer, apparently, is that people didn’t know about it.
[Emphasis in the original.]


By “people,” Neville ostensibly includes Marion G. Romney, Ezra Taft Benson, Mark E. Petersen, and all the other prophets and apostles whom he quotes in support of his insistence that the hill Cumorah is in New York. All these men, who supposedly knew and testified of the truth about Book of Mormon geography, never read History of the Church and never knew what Joseph Smith taught in the Wentworth Letter.

But, Neville tells us, the conspirators slipped up! Despite their fiendish attempts to suppress the truth in the Wentworth Letter, they accidentally let it slip through Correlation!
Fortunately, the censors missed one source. A careful student can read it in the 2017 Church manual on the Pearl of Great Price, which includes the entire, uncensored Wentworth letter. That was a carryover from the 2000 manual, and probably a carryover from an earlier version. You can also read the entire, uncensored Wentworth letter in the 1878 [sic, 1978] Liahona, here.
The “M2C Citation Cartel,” aided and abetted by the diabolical Pratts, has nefariously covered up “Joseph’s specific teaching about the remnant of Lehi’s people,” concealing it from Church leaders and the Latter-day Saints, by publishing it, in its entirety, for over one hundred years in one of the best-selling multi-volume LDS works, in the Church’s official magazine for non-English-speaking Saints (which is available on LDS.org), in the Church’s manual on the Pearl of Great Price (also online), on the Joseph Smith Papers web site, as well as in publications that Neville missed, including the July 2002 Ensign and Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith—yes, the very manual Neville claims was “deliberately censored” quotes from Joseph’s Wentworth Letter: “I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country and shown who they were, and from whence they came” (p. 436; emphasis mine).

For Neville to be correct, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve would have to be totally ignorant of one of the most important truths Joseph Smith ever taught, as well as blind to the massive conspiracy of Church historians, instructors, and curriculum writers, all of whom are supposedly covering up this truth.

This surely deserves a place alongside the conspiracy theories of Kennedy assassination, the moon landings, and 9/11.

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