Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Monday, April 20, 2020

President M. Russell Ballard, M2C/SITH intellectual

Jonathan Neville tries to strengthen the weak arguments of the Heartland hoax by claiming that his views align with “the teachings of the prophets,” while those who disagree with him are “rejecting” the prophets and adopting the theories of “M2C intellectuals.”*

(These supposedly false theories include the belief that Joseph Smith used a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon, which Neville calls the “SITH” theory.)

For example, in a blog post he published on April 20, 2020, Neville wrote:
One reason why M2C persists is that Church members trust the M2C intellectuals’ interpretations and theories. The academic commentaries are replete with impressive rhetoric, interpretation, circular references, etc.

And that’s perfectly fine. We can all believe whatever we want. I don’t write these blogs for M2C proponents, who will never change their minds anyway. The psychology of bias confirmation is far too strong for that. But many people want to make informed choices, and to be informed, we need to know what the original sources say.
He then refers his readers to accounts of Moroni’s 1823 visit to Joseph Smith that were written by Joseph and by Oliver Cowdery.

(He continues to falsely assert that “Joseph assisted Oliver Cowdery in writing the eight Church history essays” that were published in Messenger and Advocate.)

He then claims:
You will see nothing in these original sources that states, implies, or even supports either M2C or SITH. Both of those theories come from other sources as amplified by our LDS M2C and SITH intellectuals today.

Instead, Moroni used the terms “this country,” “this continent” and “America” to describe where the events of the Book of Mormon took place.

In the work of modern intellectuals, you will see instead the term “the Americas” which does not appear in any of the original sources. That’s their spin to accommodate M2C.
President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaking in April 2020 General Conference
Taking his words at face value, Neville apparently believes that President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is an “intellectual” who “spins” the original sources to “accommodate M2C.”

In his April 2020 General Conference address about the restoration of the gospel, President Ballard taught:
In 1823, the heavens opened again as part of the continuing Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the last days. Joseph noted that an angel named Moroni appeared to him and said “that God had a work for me to do…[and that] there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates” that contained “the fulness of the everlasting Gospel…as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants [of the Americas].”
The bracketed words in that quote were added by President Ballard. He used the term “the Americas” when quoting Joseph’s account of Moroni’s teachings, something that Neville asserts only “modern intellectuals” do as “spin to accommodate M2C” and to confirm their biases.

Jonathan Neville is a critic of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its leaders. He believes that his interpretation of Church history is correct, clings to the words of dead prophets, and rationalizes his disbelief in the teachings of living prophets.

How long will it be before Neville and his Heartlander associates declare that the leaders of the Church today are teaching false doctrines? When will they split off and form their own church, as so many other critics have done before? That day grows ever closer.

—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.


  1. Yes, it is important to "know what the original sources say". But it is also important to look at ALL of the relevant original sources, present those original sources honestly, and present them and evaluate them in their proper context. It is also saddening that Neville can talk about "the psychology of bias confirmation" and not recognize the irony there.

    1. Neville’s frequent references to bias confirmation is only one of the reasons why this blog has a “self-awareness” tag for posts.



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