Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Friday, August 14, 2020

Simple answers to an obvious question

Jonathan Neville is truly the master of asking questions with obvious answers he himself does not know.

In his latest blog post, he cites unnamed “people” who “wonder why Book of Mormon Central (BMC) continues to censor information about the North American setting, with the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 in New York.”

(As a side note, I find it endlessly fascinating that he regularly cites Mormon 6:6 as evidence that the hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon is the hill Cumorah in New York, when Mormon explicitly stated in that verse that he “hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni,” referring to the plates of Mormon.)

But back to Brother Neville’s question: After claiming to “personally like and respect everyone involved with” Book of Mormon Central and to not question their “intelligence, faithfulness, niceness, etc.,” Neville impugns the character, integrity, and motives of those who run that organization!
It’s very simple: BMC resorts to censorship because its leadership doesn’t trust their readers to make informed decisions that agree with what BMC teaches.

BMC knows that if it allowed content on their page that supports (instead of repudiates) the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah, many of its readers, followers, and donors would object because they have been indoctrinated into believing M2C or bust.

On an emotional level, BMC leadership has invested time, money, careers and reputations into promoting M2C. They have developed the BYU fantasy map and persuaded CES to teach a version of it to Latter-day Saint youth throughout the Church. They cannot tolerate the possibility that M2C could be false; in fact, they prefer M2C over the teachings of the prophets.
In other words, “it’s very simple,” according to Neville: Those who own and operate Book of Mormon Central know they are teaching falsehoods, but they continue to teach them because of money, reputation, and career status.

These purported false teachers and seekers after mammon are the same people Neville insincerely claims to “like and respect.”

Does Neville even read the stuff he writes? Now, I don’t work for Book of Mormon Central, and I have no special insight into why they publish the things that they do. But I’ll take the liberty to speculate why they don’t publish Heartlander materials—and it has nothing to do with money, careers, or reputation. My conjecture is:

  • Heartlander “evidence” for the Book of Mormon in the American Midwest is appallingly bad. Virtually all of their evidentiary claims are based on pseudoscience, outdated and discredited scholarship, and conspiracy theories. (See this review for some examples.)
  • Book of Mormon Central is under no obligation to publish anything that its owners and operators disagree with. No one, least of all Jonathan Neville, is complaining that Rod Meldrum’s upcoming “Book of Mormon Evidence Conference” doesn’t have a single presentation on the Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon. Are they guilty of “censorship”?
  • Considering the evil-speaking that Jonathan Neville and other Heartlanders continually dish out about Book of Mormon Central, is it any wonder that BMC doesn’t publish any of the Heartlander material? Why would they—or should they—present the claims of people who regularly attack them and question their character and motives? Neville is insisting on equity and fairness, yet he himself gives them almost none (and what little he does give is disingenuous lip service).

The answer to your question, Brother Neville, “Why does BMC censor the North American setting?” is obvious. All you have to do is look in the mirror to find the answer.

—Peter Pan


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