Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Jonathan Neville’s practice of misrepresentation continues unabated

Water glass distortion
Just as a glass of water distorts the image of what lies behind it, the leading figures in the Heartland hoax distort the gospel and the arguments of their opponents to further their agenda.
Jonathan Neville’s principal approach is misrepresentation of his opponents’ arguments. His writings clearly show that he prefers to attack straw men than to engage the evidence and actual claims made by those who disagree with the Heartland hoax.

A representative example of this is found in his October 28, 2021, blog post, “BYU Studies strikes again—Part 1.” In addition to trashing Andrew Hedges’ recent BYU Studies Quarterly article about Book of Mormon geography (because Letter VII, of course), Neville makes a significant error of fact in his post: He calls Hedges “a member of the [M2C] citation cartel,” even though Hedges believes (and has argued in print) that the New York Cumorah was the setting for the final battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites.

Amidst all this, Neville makes this absurd claim:
M2C is the de facto orthodox belief, and you can be accused of apostasy for rejecting M2C (as my critics regularly accuse me).
False, Brother Neville. Your critics—most notably this humble blog—don’t accuse you of apostasy for rejecting any particular geography of the Book of Mormon. We accuse you of apostasy for:

  • Continually pushing the conspiracy theory that Church leaders, historians, and employees are “censoring information” and undermining the gospel by teaching that Joseph Smith used a seer stone and otherwise distorting what you claim is the true history of the Church. (See here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
  • Claiming that the Brethren are unaware of or ignorant of this supposed conspiracy—or even complicit in it. (See here and here.)
  • Claiming that Church teachings are anti-Mormon arguments in disguise and are causing a “loss of faith” among the Saints. (See here, here, and here.)
  • Discouraging the Saints and interested nonmembers from reading Church publications because of these supposed distortions. (See here.)
  • Distorting and misrepresenting Church history and the teachings of living prophets and apostles when they contradict your beliefs and claims. (See here, here, here, and here.)
  • Uncritically quoting and siding with ex-Mormons and anti-Mormons when it suits your purpose. (See here.)
  • Clinging to gospel hobbies and flirting with priestcraft. (See here, here, here, and here.)

Latter-day Saints may believe in any Book of Mormon geography they wish. The Church officially takes no position on the matter. Neither I nor anyone who advocates for a Mesoamerican setting for the Book of Mormon has any problem with believing that it took place in the American Midwest or anywhere else.

But, once again, we see Jonathan Neville resorting to lying about those who are critical of him. He wants his readers to believe that this is all about a difference of views, when it’s actually about his deeply troubling statements.

—Peter Pan


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