Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Monday, October 14, 2019

Disagree with Jonathan Neville? You’re either evil or stupid.

My problem with the “Heartland” theory of Book of Mormon geography isn’t nearly so much in its claims as in the dogmatic view of those who disagree with it.

For Heartlanders like Jonathan Neville, if you don’t agree with with his assertions and arguments, you’re either part of the “M2C”* conspiracy that’s trying to get people to “disbelieve the prophets,” or you’re one of the masses who have been brainwashed by those conspirators.

His October 14, 2019, blog post, “Mental prisons and Loserthink,” is an excellent example of this kind of disdain. In it he tells us:

  • “M2C” is a “mental prison” that is “common” among Latter-day Saints.
  • “From an early age,” Latter-day Saints are “deliberately groomed” to “interpret the Book of Mormon through the M2C lens.” [Note his use of a term that describes the tactics of sexual predators.]
  • Book of Mormon Central is “a front for the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum” and is “reinforcing the walls of the M2C mental prison.”
  • Cartoonist Scott Adams’s forthcoming book, Loserthink, will help Latter-day Saints “learn to see the walls of [their] mental M2C prison, and…learn how to escape.” When this happens, it will “usher in” what Neville calls “The Golden Age.”

Stop for a moment and consider the kind of language Neville is using. Those who don’t agree with his arguments are losers who are trapped in “mental prisons” of loserthink. They use the same nefarious schemes that sexual abusers do to trap people, young and old, in these “mental prisons.”

That is the kind of dishonest, uncharitable treatment of fellow Saints that we see regularly from Neville and his associates. They can’t convince people through evidence and arguments, so they mock and disparage them instead.

Jonathan Neville should be ashamed of himself, and those who believe in the Heartland theory should distance themselves from his extremist rhetoric.

Edited to include this useful quote from Aaron Ross Powell:
We would be better off granting our opponents the benefit of the doubt and assume they are not stupid or evil.

The “stupid and evil” fallacy looks like this:
X is a problem. Y is the solution to X. Therefore, anyone who rejects Y must either be stupid (because they don’t realize that Y is the solution to X) or evil (because they want X to continue and so don’t want to solve it by employing Y).
Of course, another reason for rejecting Y is not stupidity or evil (most people aren’t stupid and most people aren’t evil). Rather, it is possible—and, in fact, likely—that rejection of Y results from the belief that Y is not a solution—or, not a good solution—to X.

—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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