Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Jonathan Neville’s staggering lack of self-awareness

If there’s one thing Jonathan Neville desperately lacks, it’s a sense of self-awareness. This can readily be seen, for example, in how he reprimands “M2C* intellectuals” for disparaging those with whom they disagree while simultaneously posting childish cartoons and making up snarky nicknames for those with whom he disagrees. In his April 29, 2019, post, “Time to expose the M2C hoax,” Neville proves, yet again, how utterly nescient he is to this problem.

In this post, Neville once again rants about the evil (and wholly fictitious) “M2C conspiracy” that is out to—what else?—throw the prophets under the bus and deliberately mislead members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on matters pertaining to Book of Mormon geography. He specifically compares the “M2C” conspiracy to the conspiracy surrounding Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. Neville sees the collapse of Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy in recent weeks as analogous to what he believes is the imminent demise of the “M2C” theory of Book of Mormon geography.

The comical irony in all of this is that Jonathan Neville has single-handedly done more to promote crank conspiracy theories than any “M2C intellectual” in the history of Book of Mormon studies. Remember, it’s Neville who is promoting conspiracy theories about “intellectuals” infiltrating all levels of the Church and working to censor the “truth” about the Hill Cumorah, conspiracy theories about “intellectuals” who are brainwashing Latter-day Saint youth with “fantasy maps” and indoctrination methods in BYU classrooms, conspiracy theories about “intellectuals” who are suppressing evidence that favors the Heartland geography through a “citation cartel.”

Only someone as blissfully (or perhaps purposefully?) unaware as Neville could frame “M2C” as being similar to “the Russia hoax” while simultaneously believing and promoting multiple conspiracy theories that simply aren’t true and are born of Neville’s own delusions.

More proof of Neville’s truly prodigious lack of self-awareness comes later on in the post. At one point he divides people into two groups: Group A are those who “still believe the teachings of the prophets about New York Cumorah” (that is, followers of the Heartland hoax); Group B are those “who disbelieve those teachings” (including “employees of Book of Mormon Central and other members of the M2C citation cartel”).

According to Neville, “Group A…do not feel anger at all. They feel confidence and peace. They do not contend with anyone about this; they simply oppose censorship, especially censorship of the teachings of the prophets.… They respect free agency. They don’t expect others to agree; they certainly don’t demand agreement.” On the other hand, “M2C intellectuals” in Group B are dogmatic, doctrinaire, angry, demanding conspirators who despise free agency and demand people kowtow to their theories (or so Neville implies).

Setting aside the defamatory way Neville frames this by making “M2C intellectuals” out to be unscrupulous scoundrels who hate free agency and censor their opponents, it’s truly breathtaking how oblivious he is to the hypocrisy and ludicrousness of this claim.

Neville and others invested in the Heartland hoax don’t “contend with anyone” about Book of Mormon geography? Then how does he explain his continual use of snarky memes, graphics, pictures, and the contentious, derisive nicknames littered throughout his blog posts, including this very post in which he made the claim that he and his side are not contentious? In his post he includes images of an “M2C intellectual…telling the prophets” they are “all ignorant speculators who misled the Church” and BYU’s internal map of the Book of Mormon stamped with “M2C Approved" and captioned “BYU fantasy map that teaches students the prophets are wrong.”

Jonathan Neville’s unique way of avoiding contention.

Neville and others invested in the Heartland hoax are “confident and at peace” about their theory? Is that why they have to invent preposterous conspiracy theories and spout imaginary problems created by “M2C” with alarmist rhetoric (including, again, in this very post)? Is that why they sometimes resort to being outright deceptive in their dealings with “M2C intellectuals”?

Neville and other Heartlanders “don’t expect others to agree” with them? Then why has Neville created over sixty blogs and self-published at least nine books to persuade others about the Heartland hoax? If he doesn’t expect others to agree with him, then why on earth has he made disproving “M2C” his obsessive gospel hobby?

Here’s a friendly tip for you, Brother Neville: Before you continue your tirade about the supposed moral and intellectual failings of evil “M2C intellectuals,” perhaps you should take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why your audience is mainly Internet conspiracy theorists, young earth creationists, energy healers, 9/11 truthers, and doomsday preppers. Ask yourself why you haven’t been invited by the highly qualified, professional historians at the Church History Department to provide historical scholarship on Latter-day Saint history. Ask yourself why the Brethren routinely turn to “M2C intellectuals” for help on sensitive and complex issues related to history, science, and scriptural interpretation and never to you and other Heartlanders.

If you do this, I think you’ll see the problem isn’t with “M2C intellectuals”—the problem is with you.

—Captain Hook

* “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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