Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Elder Gerrit W. Gong: “Father Lehi’s faithful descendants” live “in Latin America”

Elder Garrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaking in General Conference, October 2020 At the Saturday morning session of April 2021 General Conference, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared:
By 2025, we anticipate as many Church members may live in Latin America as in the United States and Canda. The gathering of father Lehi’s faithful descendants is fulfilling prophecy.
Elder Gong specifically identified “father Lehi’s faithful descendants” as being in Latin America.

I imagine this will not sit well with Heartlanders. Jonathan Neville has downplayed the connections between peoples of Latin America and the Lamanites:
Lamanites have interacted with other indigenous people throughout Latin America and the Pacific. While DNA shows that the Native Americans in the northeastern U.S. have non-Asian origins (unlike most native peoples in Latin America and the Pacific), there’s no reason to think Lamanite ancestry is more widely dispersed, albeit in relatively low concentrations outside the northeastern U.S.
(Neville’s DNA evidence comes from Rodney Meldrum and is seriously flawed.)

In a disturbingly racist blog post at the FIRM Foundation’s blog, Rian Nelson quoted Meldrum:
If our research on the geography of the Book of Mormon is correct[,] then the vast majority of the remnant Lamanites are the North American Indians, not the Maya, Inca, or other populations of Central or South America who genetically are Asian, not Semitic or Hebrew[.]
Once again, we see Heartlanders rejecting the teachings of the prophets concerning the descendants of Lehi in the Americas.

—Peter Pan


  1. Is this coming from the same Elder Gong Neville attacked only six months ago for teaching Mary Whitmer saw Moroni?

    So far Neville's striking out two for two. I wonder if he will openly criticize Elder Gong like he did last time.

  2. In tangentially related remarks, Prs Oaks called out Church members who either sympathize or participated with 1/6-ers, and Prs Nelson basically said 'put your masks on and help get this pandemic ended'. It's not looking good for what I can only - regretfully - call "mormon nationalism'.

  3. That statement by Meldrum reveals the folly of starting with a geography, then looking for evidence, rather than letting the evidence determine a likely geography. By Meldrum's statement, if their research on geography is correct, then they must accept DNA studies that are not correct, historical information that is not correct, etc., all so it can conform to their preconceived ideas on geography.

  4. Since this post mentions genetics, I want to point out that genetics doesn't tell the full story of ancestry. Because of genetic drift, and the fact that any individual only gets half of their DNA from each parent, means that, for a given person, there are a substantial number of their ancestors from whom they inherit no DNA whatsoever.


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