Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Thursday, April 16, 2020

A curious comment from David Hocking

Editor’s note: On June 20, 2021, David Hocking left a comment clarifying his statement that I critiqued in this post. In fairness to him, please be sure to read his response.

As of right now (April 16, 2020), Jonathan Neville’s flagship site, Moroni’s America, is down for some unknown reason. Before it went dark, David Hocking left a comment on Neville’s blog post that argues the Church’s missionary effort should be retooled to be center on Heartlander dogma.

(The post was here. A copy of it is still up at Neville’s Book of Mormon Consensus blog.)

David Hocking’s professional background is in sales and marketing in the biotechnology industry. He recently founded BeaconLight Books, which has published two books that Hocking himself has edited: The Heartland Annotated Edition of the Book of Mormon and an edition of the Book of Jasher, a sixteenth-century Hebrew midrash written in Italy or Spain that some Latter-day Saints (including Hocking) mistakenly believe is an ancient document.

Anyway, here’s the comment Hocking left on Meldrum’s blog post about missionary work and declining convert baptisms as a percentage of total worldwide members: Hocking’s comment is curious—and perhaps revealing—for several reasons:

First, it demonstrates there are Heartlanders who believe—contrary to Neville’s persistent claim—that non-belief in the New York Cumorah is not the only supposed obstacle to convert baptisms. (In fact, Hocking comes much closer to identifying actual obstacles to conversion than Neville ever has.)

But notice that Hocking also seems to be arguing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should never have practiced polygamy or made the Word of Wisdom a requirement for baptism and full fellowship. His statement implies that generations of Church leaders, including the current ones, were and are wrong about these doctrines.

So, if I’m reading Hocking right (and I think I am), the Church hasn’t just gone astray by not affirming the New York Cumorah and teaching that Joseph Smith used a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon—it’s also off the rails because of D&C 132 and elevating D&C 89 to a commandment.

Heartlanders naturally lean toward what Cassandra Hedelius called “Mormon gnosticism.” More specifically, polygamy and the-Word-of-Wisdom-as-commandment are two major criticisms of the Church made by ex-Latter-day Saint apostate cult leader Denver Snuffer.

Based on his comment, above, Hocking worryingly sounds like a nascent Snufferite. As I’ve written before, the Heartland hoax is a “gateway drug” into apostate cults like Snuffer’s.

So it seems that Heartlanderism has taken one more small step toward declaring the Church to be in apostasy and to becoming its own offshoot group.

—Peter Pan


  1. I wish to clarify my post. When the Apostles went to England in the early 1830's the practice of polygamy and the Word of Wisdom were not taught. Thousands joined the Church as they read doctrinal truths straight out of the Bible. Once Brigham Young made public the practice of polygamy, there was much controversy on its practice and laws against it. Convert baptisms in England fell dramatically. Drinking tea was not a "sin" in the early Church. Once it became part of the requirement for Temple worthiness, it became a stumbling block for many. I support both "doctrines" and only offered my comment to inform Jonathan's readers a point of view that other factors may be contributing to declining convert baptisms.

    1. Thank you for clarifying your remarks, David. I added a note to the top of this post directing readers to the comment you just left.

      If I have misrepresented anything written by you or Jonathan Neville, I invite you to leave comments on this blog. I’d even be willing to publish a lengthier response from either of you as a blog post, just to be certain that you feel your point of view is being heard.



    2. Thank you for your kindness in your posting my reply.

      I love the Book of Mormon and reformatted the 1920 public domain text to include many textual elements to eng as he the reader. The Church told me that they will never produce a red-letter edition allowing me to dodo using the 1920 text. Many stylized elements are incorporated. I see myself as a modern-day John Gilbert using the computer as my “tool” to shine the light on the beauty of the text. One doesn’t have to subscribe to the Heartland model to appreciate my textual editing. TheBook if Jasher was translated into English in 1840 - tens years after the Book of Mormon. There are several passages in it that are supported by the revelations Joseph received prior to its 1840 publication. I see Jasher as one of may texts that came forth to support Joseph’s revelations. My Annotated Edition of the Book of Enoch will do that as well. It will be available in September. You may want to look at my Annotated Edition if the Book of Isaiah now on sale at Deseret Book. It incorporates many unique formatting elements and celebrates the Book of Mormon contribution in understanding Isaiah’s prophecies.


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