Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Heartlanders push back against Rian Nelson’s nutty conspiracy theories

Rian Nelson is a prominent Heartlander who runs the social media for Rod Meldrum’s FIRM Foundation. He collaborated with Jonathan Meldrum to produce Moroni’s America – Maps Edition, and he’s a speaker at Meldrum’s April 2021 “27th International Book of Mormon Evidence Conference.”

I’ve previously discussed Rian Nelson and his attraction to off-the-wall conspiracy theories. He’s a believer in the “Q-anon” pedophile ring conspiracy, and has argued that the March 18, 2020, Utah earthquake “was actually destruction of child trafficking tunnels under the old Dugway Utah Germ Warfare base also referred to as another Area 51 UFO Base.”

So it was with some interest this morning (March 16, 2021) that I saw Heartlanders pushing back against Nelson on the FIRM Foundation Facebook page. Nelson was the anonymous author of this post (which has since been removed, probably by Nelson or Meldrum): Readers’ initial reaction to yet another Rian Nelson conspiracy post was not positive: I’ve long wondered if Rod Meldrum agrees with Rian Nelson’s lunatic beliefs. Meldrum allows Nelson to go virtually unchecked on FIRM Foundation blogs and social media, apparently without any consideration for how Nelson’s conspiracy-mongering can damage his foundation’s brand.

—Peter Pan


  1. "No longer building faith but spreading conspiracy theories". Does this person believe that FIRM was not doing this before?

    1. I think you'd be surprised at the number of Heartlanders that only showed up because the geographic aspects Meldrum teaches. It captured their attention and interest but most Heartlanders within my circle have watched a DVD or 2 and then moved on.

      Recently I've had a family member and 2 friends (who subscribed to the geography) that were unaware of the conspiratorial nature of such people within FIRM. Upon showing this and other statements from Meldrum and Neville to them, all of my group were surprised and aghast at such language. Only the one family member had seen Neville's rants, and the others didn't even know who Rian Nelson was. All agreed this post was scary and they wanted nothing to do with it.

      As usual, depends on each follower and their commitment. Sadly I'm sure (in contrast to my acquaintances) you could find many a loyal FIRM advocate that would agree with Rian and spread that kind of disturbing dogma.

    2. Interesting! I guess I can see how it is possible to be unaware of the conspiracy-theories related to Heartlanderism and just focus on the geography. Even with the geography aspect, though, isn't it tied to the conspiracy that the church membership and leadership are being lied to?

    3. Yes, from Jonathan Neville's perspective, everything is a conspiracy to keep the Brethren uninformed and to promote "M2C."

    4. Peter,
      Do you believe that it is possible for someone to believe in the Heartland model of geography, without being aware of the conspiracy theory associated with it? Does FIRM advertise and promote the geography in such a way that one could be unaware of what was used to create it (reliance on selective and distorted statements of past church leaders and members; conspiracy theories, etc.)? Looking at the geography now, and knowing what I know about FIRM, I can't look at their geography without also seeing the conspiracy theories that are tied to it.

    5. I think itʼs possible to believe that the Book of Mormon took place in the present boundaries of the United States and not be a conspiracy theorist. Heartlanderism, however, was built on a foundation of conspiracy theory—Rod Meldrum launched his first DVD presentation in 2006, and it included the claim that Latter-day Saint scholars were throwing Joseph Smith under the bus.

    6. Wow this turned into a good thread! Sorry been busy the last few days.

      I agree with Peter, simply because of my own experience. Many in my circles are like the example I stated earlier. Recently, I have found that one of my co-workers is an active heartlander. Through some gentle probings, it is clear he buys into the conspiratorial side of things, at least in some degree. I have yet to confront him (gently) about Rian Nelson's utterings. I guess I'll know more when I do that.

  2. Looks like the post has since been deleted. I also note another one from March 18th that begins with:

    Biden is a puppet President.
    Election Fraud. Why are you ignoring it?
    USA Act of 1871 What is it? Wake Up
    Is the Deep State the same as the Illuminati?
    Covid 19 virus is same as last years Flu numbers
    Gas prices are up
    Closed Pipeline
    Loosing jobs, thanks Biden..."

    The rantings continue, and get more manic as the list grows longer. Then at the very bottom Rian very firmly asserts his authorship:

    "By Rian Nelson, not Rod Meldrum"

    I don't want to sound condescending, but perhaps President Lincoln's advice would assist Rian in his endeavors:

    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt."


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