Refuting the errors of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland hoax

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Jonathan Neville is unfair and untruthful

By now it should be obvious to the readers of this humble blog that those who believe the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica and those who believe it took place the American Midwest (“Heartlanders”) don’t see eye to eye on Book of Mormon geography.

Mesoamericanists don’t have a problem with theories that place the Book of Mormon somewhere other than Mesoamerica, as long as those theories are based on good and compelling evidence. Heartlanders, on the other hand, for nearly fifteen years have been falsely accusing Mesoamericanists of “rejecting the prophets” by not embracing their claims. (See the section on “Poisoning the Well,” in this review of Rodney Meldrum’s 2008 DVD presentation.)

That kind of misrepresentation is a hallmark of the writings of Jonathan Neville, who has continually attacked and falsely accused those who disagree with him. Here’s just the latest example from his poison pen:
We continue to encourage Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, and FAIRLDS [sic] to provide their readers and viewers with access to all the facts, along with multiple faithful interpretations—including alternatives to M2C and SITH.

But we recognize that, so far, Jack Welch, Dan Peterson, and Scott Gordon adamantly refuse to do so.

They’re all awesome people, faithful and smart, etc. But along with the organizations they lead, those three in particular exemplify the problem of cognitive rigidity, joined by their employees, collaborators, and followers.

On this blog we’ve discussed the ways in which these three men, specifically, have sought to promote M2C and SITH by misrepresenting Church history, making up false information about the Heartland ideas, and refusing to permit alternative faithful interpretations on their websites.
There are two significant problems with Neville’s statement:

First is Neville’s repeated practice of complimenting those who disagree with him before accusing them of doing horrible things. According to him, Jack Welch of Book of Mormon Central, Dan Peterson of the Interpreter Foundation, and Scott Gordon of FAIR are “awesome…, faithful and smart,” yet they also supposedly “misrepresent Church history” in their quest to “promote M2C and SITH.” Faithful people, by definition, do not misrepresent Church history. I’ve documented this kind of back-handed, passive–aggressive behavior from Neville before (see this example and this example); it’s his typical method of operation.

Second is Neville’s false claim that the three people he mentioned “refuse to permit alternative faithful interpretations [of Book of Mormon geography] on their websites.” I’ve previously noted that no private organization has an obligation to give a platform to views with which it disagrees, but in this case, Neville isn’t even telling the truth. The Interpreter Foundation recently offered him the opportunity to respond in their journal to critical reviews of his books A Man that Can Translate and Infinite Goodnessand Neville accepted their offer.

Interpreter wasn’t under any obligation to publish Neville’s response; its editors did so as a gesture of kindness and fairness to Neville. And what did they get in response for publishing him? Neville turned and slapped them down for “refusing to permit alternative faithful interpretations,” even though they had just done exactly that.

Likewise, for the 2021 Book of Mormon Central Art Contest, Neville submitted a painting entitled “The Light of Men: 3 Nephi in Ohio.” It depicts Jesus appearning to the Nephites “at the site of the modern Kirtland temple,” which is where Neville believes the Book of Mormon city of Bountiful was. Book of Mormon Central published his submission, not exactly the kind of behavior one would expect of an organization that “refuses to permit alternative faithful interpretations” on its website.”

Neville frequently engages in this sort of “bite the hand that feeds you” behavior. After Interpreter published his response, he complained at length about the publication process, accused Interpreter of “not [being] a legitimate academic journal,” and asserted that “this latest experience is just another example of the problems with [Interpreter’s] present editorial board.” More recently, he falsely asserted that “M2Cers and SITHsayers…don’t want to discuss the teachings of the prophets in Church history and they don’t allow fair comparison charts with alternative faithful interpretations.” This was after Interpreter had published his 3,600-word response and explanation of his views. He complains that his critics don’t publish his views, but when they do, he ridicules and derides them.

When dealing with Jonathan Neville, truly no good deed goes unpunished.

—Peter Pan


  1. If the Heartlander H1C cabal is that worked up about "not being allowed" in the FAIR/Interpreter/BOMCentral, etc. sandboxes (maybe it has something to do with whenever they're invited, they immediately start throwing sand in everyone's faces), they must be really torked off at not being included on this list of gospel study resources:

  2. Peter, why do you continue with the Peter Pan charade? Your creditability would be magnified if you used your real name.

    1. Hi, Bruce. Thanks for asking.

      It’s not a charade; it’s a pseudonym. Many authors throughout history have used pseudonyms for one reason or another; there’s a long list of these at

      I go by the pseudonym Peter Pan for a couple of reasons. The first is that I thought it was funny and tied in with the name of the blog (which was created first). The second is that, to be honest, there are some unstable people in the Heartland movement (Stephen Reed being just one prominent example), and I’d rather not expose myself or my family to being stalked and harassed by them.


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