Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The bizarre worldview of Jonathan Neville

Jonathan Neville has recently been quoting President Russell M. Nelson’s April 2018 statement “good inspiration is based upon good information” on his blog, Moroni’s America. (See here, here, here, and here.) He even made a meme out of the quote.

Neville is now accusing the Church Correlation Department of giving out bad information:
If your only source of information is material approved by the Correlation Department, you will never learn what the prophets have taught about the Hill Cumorah.
This quote comes from his March 15, 2019, blog post, “Writing to President Nelson – Correlation Department response.” In it, he describes how letters sent to President Nelson (presumably by Neville himself, or by other Heartlanders) are rerouted to the Correlation Department for a response.

In this particular blog post, Neville gives the benefit of the doubt to the employees in the Correlation Department:
I’m sure the anonymous employees at the Correlation Department want to do the right thing. Their form letter includes a personal section that acknowledges any specific circumstances people include in their letter. It’s impressive how the Church works so diligently to serve the needs of the members throughout the world, even to the point of answering thousands of letters.
That’s a much more generous assessment than the one he gave just three days earlier, in which he claimed that “Church employees and departments are censoring information at various levels. I’ve been informed about instances in which they are even depriving Church leaders and members of important information and perspectives.”

Neville continues:
However, an attachment to the form letter lists statements by Church leaders about Book of Mormon geography. It appears that the Correlation Department employees got their information from the M2C* citation cartel, mostly likely from FairlyMormon which uses the same quotations on its web page, also out of context and incomplete.
Leaving aside, for the moment, Neville’s continued and continual use of childish pejoratives like “citation cartel” and “FairlyMormon,” let’s parse exactly what he’s implying by this statement:

In the worldview of Jonathan Neville, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are encircled by Church departments staffed by employees who “censor information” and “depriv[e] Church leaders…of important information.”

He either believes that President Nelson, his counselors, and the Twelve Apostles (1) are kept from hearing the supposed truth about the real location of the hill Cumorah by well-meaning but conspiring staffers who deprive them of information or (2) know the supposed truth about Cumorah, but are allowing all the Church departments to disseminate false information to members of the Church.

Let that sink in for a moment.

If one were to diagram this notion, I suspect it would look something like this:


This is the worldview of the conspiracy theorist—the “real truth” is known only to a select few individuals, while people in power strive to keep the truth hidden because it would damage their authority and control. It’s the same thinking behind the supposed conspiracies to fake the moon landing, poison Americans through vaccines, fluoride, or chemtrails, or teach that the earth is a sphere when it’s actually flat. It’s no wonder that Neville believes in the pseudoscientific “Universal Model,” which claims that mainstream science is wrong about everything.

Neville’s disturbing conspiracy theory should be rejected by all faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a threat to the authority of Church leaders, to unity within the Church, and to rational thought.

—Peter Pan

* “M2C” is Jonathan Neville’s acronym for the theory that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and that the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon is not the same hill in New York where Joseph Smith received the plates of Mormon.

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