Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Jonathan Neville is really getting desperate now

Old man yells at cloud Abe Simpson
One way you can tell that someone is getting desperate is when they double down on the misrepresentations and falsehoods they’ve been spreading.

Based on his August 27, 2019 blog post, “The M2C gauntlet,” Jonathan Neville is very clearly becoming desperate.

Neville really doesn’t make any kind of coherent argument in this post. Instead, all he accomplishes is the written equivalent of flailing his arms in the air and yelling at the weather. What is he yelling about this time?

First, he singles out “anonymous trolls who purport to criticize” what Neville writes on his sixty-six blogs.

Once again, as Peter Pan has explained, he and I are not “anonymous trolls”—we’re pseudonymous and what we do is not trolling. An Internet troll is someone who purposefully “starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages.” Peter and I aren’t posting anything inflammatory or digressive, nor are we off-topic. We are specifically focused on critiquing Jonathan Neville and his absurd conspiracy theories and revisionist history and calling him out for his attacks on faithful Latter-day Saint scholars.

Now, it doesn’t bother us in the least if Neville wants to call us names. The real point is that Neville is shamelessly repeating the same misrepresentations and untruths that he’s been corrected about repeatedly. This can only mean that he’s desperate.

Here are some examples of misrepresentations from his August 27th blog post:

Misrepresentation:
M2C* intellectuals…can’t engage in a rational, calm discussion because that would require an exchange of views and information, something M2C will not tolerate.
Neville’s opponents, such as this blogger, have directly engaged with using “rational, calm discussion.”

Book of Mormon Central has also published several calm, rational “KnoWhy” articles addressing topics of interest to Neville and other Heartlanders, such as the Hill Cumorah, the Lamanites, and Zelph).

The Interpreter Foundation (whose name doesn’t mean what Neville says it does) has also calmly and rationally reviewed the claims made by Neville, Rodney Meldrum, and other Heartlanders. (Here’s Google’s list of relevant articles.)

Misrepresentation:
Once upon a time, there was a Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Geography. Among other things, it said that “the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urge leaders and members not to advocate those personal theories in any setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support for those theories.” But our M2C citation cartel freely and openly defies this policy, just as freely and openly as they defy the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.… Book of Mormon Central and FairMormon now overtly and proudly claim Church support for their M2C theory of Book of Mormon geography.
Neville cannot cite a shred of evidence for this accusation. He can’t point to a single statement from Book of Mormon Central or FairMormon that either one of them “overtly and proudly claim Church support for their M2C theory of Book of Mormon geography.”

I can only guess that Neville is upset because, while the Church recommends Book of Mormon Central and FairMormon as sources “to help teachers in their own study and in their efforts to guide students in finding accurate and faithful answers to their questions,” they didn’t include the FIRM Foundation in their list.

(This misrepresentation is especially ironic since Neville and other advocates for the Heartland hoax love to pretend that they have the prophets unambiguously on their side and that their geography theories are revealed truth from God.)

Misrepresentation:
[Book of Mormon Central’s] ScripturePlus [app] is designed to entice Church members away from the Church’s relatively neutral Gospel Library and immerse them in a carefully designed indoctrination program. Hence, it’s not “free” in any non-monetary sense of the world. It is as tightly controlled as any totalitarian media we can think of, and it forces uses [sic] to think only one way about important issues.

[emphasis in the original]
This is beyond bizarre.

Jonathan Neville is accusing Book of Mormon Central of producing an “indoctrination program” and “totalitarian media” by releasing its own scripture study app. He’s literally making an implied comparison between Book of Mormon Central and North Korea or 1984’s Oceania.

What’s especially hypocritical about his statement is that Neville himself was involved in the production of an expensive annotated edition of the Book of Mormon that’s loaded with false claims and poor scholarship.

By using scary terms like “indoctrination” and “totalitarian media,” Neville undoubtedly wants to dissuade his readers from downloading and using Book of Mormon Central’s new app. I thought you were opposed to censorship, Brother Neville. What gives?

Misrepresentation:
[Book of Mormon Central’s app is] “free” only in the monetary sense, but it extracts a huge fee in terms of your ability to think for yourself and learn about the teachings of the prophets.

It’s yet another manifestation of what I call the M2C gauntlet.

These are all beautiful images, certainly. But they directly violate the Church’s announced policy on Book of Mormon geography because they are presented in a setting that implies Church . [sic]

Worse, these images teach the same thing that the BYU fantasy map teaches; i.e., that the best way to understand the Book of Mormon is in a fantasy world.
Peter has already pointed out on this blog that Neville consistently (and perhaps purposefully) misrepresents the Church’s actual position on Book of Mormon geography. Not only does he make that misrepresentation again in his latest blog post, he also repeats his unsubstantiated claim that Book of Mormon Central is intentionally flaunting the Church’s policy.

I’ll bite: Here’s a challenge to Jonathan Neville:

Show me a single instance where Book of Mormon Central has claimed that their ScripturePlus app has the official endorsement of the Church, Brother Neville.

Unless he can answer this, he’s merely repeating falsehoods.

Misrepresentation:
If you announce you agree with M2C, you can stroll right through [the “gauntlet”]. But if you still believe the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah and the Urim and Thummim, [Book of Mormon Central, FairMormon, Interpreter, other “M2C intellectuals” are] going to give you a solid thrashing until you either succumb or escape to a place where you can accept the teachings of the prophets in safety. And we wonder why people are having the well-publicized “faith crises” everywhere.
It wouldn’t be a Jonathan Neville blog post if he didn’t conclude by defaming his opponents and claiming they are rejecting the teachings of the prophets and are responsible for Church members“ faith crises.

Stay classy, Brother Neville.

(Oh, by the way: You still haven’t answered how exactly the Heartland hoax answers challenges to the Book of Abraham or Joseph Smith’s practice of plural marriage, to name just two examples. If you’re going to get desperate about something, maybe it should be about how you are going to stop people from leaving the Church.

—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.

3 comments:

  1. "Once upon a time, there was a Gospel Topics Essay on Book of Mormon Geography. Among other things, it said that 'the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urge leaders and members not to advocate those personal theories in any setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support for those theories.' But our [Jonathan Neville] freely and openly defies this policy, [since he] freely and openly [insists] the teachings of the prophets [support his personal views].

    "A dramatic case in point was the [FIRM conference] earlier this [year], [and the Annotated Book of Mormon, a] new initiative to promote [Heartlanderism] throughout the Church and to the world generally. They're going to push [Heartlanderism] onto Church members everywhere, starting with English speakers, then Spanish, and eventually everyone. So much for so-called neutrality.

    "One wonders, [what is the Annotated Book of Mormon]? It's a [print] form of the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture. [The Annotated Book of Mormon] is designed to entice Church members away from the Church's relatively neutral [edition of the Book of Mormon] and immerse them in a carefully designed indoctrination program. Hence, it's not "free" in any non-monetary sense of the world. It is as tightly controlled as any totalitarian media we can think of, and it forces uses to think only one way about important issues.

    "[The images in the Annotated Book of Mormon] are all beautiful images, certainly. But they directly violate the Church's announced policy on Book of Mormon geography because they are presented in a setting that implies Church [support].

    "If you announce you agree with [Heartlanderism], you can stroll right through. But if you still believe the [Church is neutral on geography], they're going to give you a solid thrashing until you either succumb or escape to a place where you can [explore other views once again]."

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have the feeling that both the Heartland and Meso groups are wrong on the geography of the Book of Mormon. I will wait until it is finally revealed by revelation to make a final decision on what is true. It would be good for everyone to learn about each theory, and there are many more than two.
    I have a feeling that the Africa and Malay models are probably wrong though. There is a list of them on Wikipedia.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proposed_Book_of_Mormon_geographical_setting

    ReplyDelete

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