Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The identity of Peter Pan, and other issues Jonathan Neville is wrong about

I don’t know if Jonathan Neville reads this blog or not. My impression is that he doesn’t, if only because he continues to make the same errors and false statements, even after I’ve corrected him—sometimes repeatedly.

For example, in a blog post published April 8, 2021, with the charming title “Dan the Interpreter is awesome,” he writes:
Dan [Peterson] is usually best ignored, but I’ll make an exception to thank him for sending more people to my blogs by referring them to the “important” blog of his alter-ego, Peter Pan. Dan’s well-earned reputation for ad hominem attacks is exemplified by this blog. It combines the worst of FARMS with the irrationality of the Interpreter.
Once again, I’m forced to publicly deny that I am Daniel Peterson, having done so many times already.

Notice also how Neville continues to refer to Daniel Peterson as “Dan the Interpreter” or simply as “Dan.” In fact, he never once mentions Peterson’s full name or even his last name. I think that simple respect demands at least that much, does it not?

As much and and often as I dunk on Jonathan Neville, I have never once called him “Jon” or “Jonny” or “Jon-Boy the Heartlander.” I always use his preferred version of his first name, his last name, or his full name. I feel that’s the least I can do, since I’m already criticizing his illogic and misrepresentations.

Neville continues:
Dan has always been upset at the idea of Latter-day Saints making informed decisions—especially when informed people disagree with Dan. It’s a strange characteristic of the credentialed class that they insist everyone agree with them. To be sure, they have their phony “academic disagreements” about such minutiae as which river in Mesoamerica is the Sidon, but they enforce their M2C dogma like old Soviet commissars. Except most of us don’t care about the M2C theories any more.
Wow, so much to unpack in just one paragraph!

  • How does Neville know that Daniel Peterson is “upset” when people disagree with him? Neville gives us no evidence that Peterson is the least bit angry about this. Read the comments on his blog, which are filled with people who legitimately hate him, and there is ample evidence that Peterson treats them with the patience of Saint Monica.
  • Where does Neville get the idea that Daniel Peterson “insist[s] that everyone agree with [him]”? Neville again asserts evil on Peterson’s part but provides us with zero evidence of such.
  • How, exactly does Peterson “enforce…M2C* dogma like [an] old Soviet commissar”? Peterson is president of the Interpreter Foundation (which he founded), but that merely gives him some measure of control over what is published under the foundation’s imprint. Neville appears to be disgruntled that the Interpreter Foundation doesn’t publish materials written by Heartlanders, but since Heartlanders don’t publish materials written by people connected to the Interpreter Foundation, that’s simply par for the course. The only way Neville can insist that Peterson and his cohorts are “like old Soviet commissars,” then, is to appeal to a grand conspiracy theory in which everything published by the Church is secretly controlled by the Illuminati-like “M2C citation cartel.”
  • Who are the “most of us” that Neville refers to? Neville makes it sound like his views represent some sort of silent majority of Church members. While the Heartland movement does have a sizable following, I suspect (although I admit that I have no data to back this up) that they represent a tiny fraction of the over 16 million Latter-day Saints worldwide.

Returning to Neville’s blog:
Like other M2C scholars, Dan expects “ordinary” Latter-day Saints to accept the official pronouncements of the “Interpreters,” meaning the credentialed class that presumes to tell everyone what to think.

Hence, the name of his awesome “journal” that we all enjoy.
I’m honestly not sure which is worse: Neville’s triple use of “scare quotes” in these two sentences or his dripping sarcasm.

Again, what evidence does Neville have that Daniel Peterson “expects” anyone to accept “official pronouncements” (!) of the Interpreter journal? He provides us with not even a single quotation from Peterson’s pen or lips that would indicate that Peterson expects such deference from “‘ordinary’ Latter-day Saints.”

Perhaps, like so many of his other ideas, all of this is taking place only in his Neville’s own mind.

Turning to Elder Gong’s comment in April 2021 General Conference about “father Lehi’s faithful descendants” living in Latin America, Neville gives us a bizarre intepretation of the apostle’s teaching:
Of course, I have no problem with what Elder Gong said. Once we accept the dilution theory at the core of M2C, Lehi’s descendants can be found everywhere in the world.
Of course, Elder Gong didn’t say that Lehi’s descendants are “everywhere in the world.” He specifically noted the increasing numbers of converts in Latin America and connected that to the “gathering of father Lehi’s faithful descendants.”

Neville rejects the teachings of living prophets, so the only way he can align his heterodox views with what Elder Gong said is by distorting Elder Gong’s statement. He’s also forced to ignore numerous explicit statements made by the living prophet, Russell M. Nelson, about Book of Mormon geography and Joseph Smith’s use of a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon.

It’s particularly sad to see the constant rhetorical dance Jonathan Neville must perform to make it appear as if his assertions line up with the teachings of living prophets and apostles.
Unlike the credentialed class, I’m happy that people can believe whatever they want. Also unlike the credentialed class, I encourage people to make informed decisions.
Neville repeats this claim—a lot. But repeating it hundreds of times, as he has, doesn’t make it true or any less self-serving than it is.

And, since this is the third time in just one blog post that Neville has called his ideological opponents “the credentialed class,” perhaps it’s not too ad hominem for me to point out that I would rather learn from someone who has academic credentials than, say, a lawyer who set up a quack cross-border medical clinic that was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission for making false claims that he could cure cancer patients by injecting them with urine.

Sometimes actual credentials are superior to fake ones.
Here’s the screen capture of his gem in case he tries to erase history, the way our revisionist historians and M2C scholars do.
The copy of Neville’s screenshot, above, is linked directly from the image URL on his blog. If the image above is broken, then you’ll know that it’s Neville who has tried to “erase history.” (Here’s a screenshot of my own blog, as a backup in case that happens.)

Neville ended his blog with this parting shot, drawn from Daniel Peterson’s second link in the screenshot:
BTW, it’s no surprise that Dan thinks the scriptures and teachings of the prophets are bizarre.
This is fairly conclusive evidence that Neville doesn’t read this blog. If he did, he would know that my post “The bizarre worldview of Jonathan Neville” isn’t about his selective use of the scriptures and teachings of the prophets; rather, it’s about his mad conspiracy theory that claims the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encircled by Church employees who “censor information” and “deprive Church leaders of important information” about the location of the hill Cumorah.

Jonathan Neville is a sad, little man with grandiose ideas of his own self-importance. He believes that he has discovered the truth that modern, living prophets and apostles turned away from fourteen years ago. If this humble blog can help expose Neville’s record of being on what the Prophet Joseph called “the high road to apostacy,” then I will consider my work to have not been entirely in vain.

—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. Keep up the good work, Peter! I, for one, have been able to use your blog to help others recognize the absurdities and dangerous ideas of Neville and other Heartlanders, so your efforts have definitely not been in vain. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, David. I really appreciate knowing that Iʼm not just yelling into the wind. 😊


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