Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Heartland research director: “The Church is off course”

This post isn’t about Jonathan Neville, but it is about people in his sphere of belief—his theological circle, if you will.

The Joseph Smith Foundation is one of the more prominent organizations that promotes the “Heartland” theory of Book of Mormon geography and beliefs related to it, including denying that Joseph Smith used a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon, emphasizing the United States as Lehi’s promised land, preferring the teachings of dead prophets and apostles over living ones, and other fundamentalist dogmas. (Despite what its name implies, the Joseph Smith Foundation is not a 501(c)(3) charitable organization; rather, it is a DBA for James Stoddard’s for-profit company, Integrivizion LLC.)

On the Joseph Smith Foundation website’s About page, Kimberly W. Smith is listed as the organization’s “Research Director.” That same page asserts:
Joseph Smith Foundation team and staff are active members of [T]he Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[,] although the foundation is not sponsored by the Church.… The resources available on Joseph Smith Foundation sites are based upon and to our best knowledge in harmony with the scriptures and the writings of latter-day prophets.”
Keeping in mind that statement of belief, consider these recent comments made by Kimberly W. Smith:

On January 27, 2021, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who is deeply mired in odious conspiracy theories—the very soil from which Heartlanderism has sprung—posted the following on his Facebook page. (I’ve redacted his name and profile picture out of respect for his privacy and because this post isn’t about him, per se.) In response to this loathsome attack on President Russell M. Nelson and Latter-day Saint Charities, one individual responded: Kimberly W. Smith, Research Director for the Joseph Smith Foundation, replied to the sister who expressed that she was in a faith crisis: After implying that the modern Church has denigrated the Prophet Joseph Smith, Kimberly W. Smith recommended two books published by the Joseph Smith Foundation and then declared, “The [C]hurch is off course.” A day or two later, Ms. Smith’s last comment was deleted, either by her or by the Facebook page’s owner.

I suppose there are several ways one could read Ms. Smith’s comment. I, for one, consider it to be a moment of transparent honesty—a sincere reflection of what those at the head of the “Heartland” movement really believe.

I’ve repeatedly predicted that it’s only a matter of time before Heartlanders declare The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its current leaders to be in apostasy and break off to form their own church. Recent comments made by Kimberly W. Smith, Rian Nelson, and Jonathan Neville sadly reinforce that prediction.

—Peter Pan


  1. Openly declaring the Church is "off course." What do you expect from people cut from the same cloth as Chad Daybell, Lori Vallow, and Julie Rowe?

  2. Would it surprise me? No, not in an organization that wants to be an influence for good in this world. If that is what constitutes being off-course, let's stay on that heading.


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