Examining the claims of Jonathan Neville and the Heartland movement

Monday, April 3, 2023

The “Richard Nygren” affair and some vile accusations against me

It has sadly become necessary for me to publish the following.

Recently, some thoroughly despicable—and borderline unhinged—individuals on the internet have been accusing me of being some sort of racist for purportedly pretending to be an African-American man by the name of Richard Nygren. (You can read one example of such an accusation in this screenshot from a Facebook post.)

Here is the truth about these claims:

  • On July 9, 2022, Robert Boylan, who runs the blog and YouTube channel Scriptural Mormonism, interviewed Spencer Kraus about Kraus’s then-recently published reviews of Jonathan Neville’s books A Man that Can Translate and Infinite Goodness.
  • At about the 5:20 mark in the interview, Boylan plugged Kraus’s blog, along with “Richard Nygren’s blog, Neville-Neville Land, a blog critiquing Jonathan Neville mainly but also other Heartland proponents, where he posts on the nickname ‘Peter Pan.’ Richard is one of only [a] few African-American apologists in the Church at the moment, and he lives in Birmingham, Alabama, so be sure to check those out.”
  • At the time of the interview, Robert Boylan knew my real identity. I asked him about the “Richard Nygren” comment, and he told me that he made it up as “a little joke to tweak Heartlanders” because of some racist remarks that had published on the FIRM Foundation’s website. “Richard Nygren” is a fictional character.
  • On July 19, 2022, I posted a link to the Boylan/Kraus interview. At that time, my real identity was not known publicly, so any attempt on my part to address Boylan’s “Richard Nygren” comment would have been untrue (if I confirmed it) or confusing (if I denied it). Instead, I simply wrote that the interview “goes into more detail about this blog than I’m comfortable with.”

Regarding recent claims that have been made about me, I unconditionally state:

  • I have never claimed to be nor impersonated someone named Richard Nygren, neither openly nor as a “lurker” on the internet.
  • I have never claimed to be nor impersonated an African-American or any other person of color.
  • I have never used a profile or avatar of an African-American nor a person of color on any website or social media site. Any social media profiles of a Richard Nygren are either real people who coincidentally have the same name or fake profiles made by anti-Mormon critics to smear me.
  • I have not attempted to shield myself from criticism or to prevent others from learning my true identity by doing anything above.

This affair merely demonstrates how gullible some anti-Mormons are, how incapable they are of assessing evidence, and how quick they are to libel people with whom they disagree based upon nothing more than rumors and gossip. This was one of the primary reasons that I chose for so long to use a pseudonym on this blog. I have little doubt that, after reading this, my very online critics will claim that I’m still covering up the real story.

I have spoken with two attorneys about the defamatory claims made about me. They both agreed that what these individuals have written is repulsive, but they also both independently counseled me against taking legal action due to the difficulties of proving libel in Utah courts and the foreseeable expenses of protracted litigation.

My decision at this point is to simply try harder to understand and live the Savior’s teaching in Matthew 5:43–45.

This will be my only statement about this matter. [On , I was interviewed by Robert Boylan about this blog. We discussed the Richard Nygren affair starting at 1:07:56.] I [usually] have more productive and interesting things to do than to battle with internet trolls.

—Peter Pan (Mike Parker)

Afterword: Immediately after publishing this post, a friend shared with me another Facebook post by Bill Reel (one of my accusers) in which he claims to have “reached out” to me, Stephen Smoot, and others “to see if any of them wished to speak to us,” but, according to Reel, “all have seemingly instead gone silent on the matter.”

Reel’s claims are completely false. I was the one who first reached out to him by Facebook Messenger, voicemail, and SMS text message, telling him in all three messages that what he had written about me was false and asking him to take it down and issue a retraction. He responded and we exchanged several messages. He ignored my repeated requests for a retraction. It is completely and wholly untrue that I “went silent.”

I have asked Stephen Smoot if Reel has tried to contact him, and he has told me that he’s received no communication from him.

Feel free to assess Reel’s honesty and good character for yourself.


  1. I'm sorry you have to put up with this kind of thing. Thank you for what you're doing.

    I was impressed that no less than four discourses last weekend addressed the topic of contention, and it reminded me that I need to ensure that my advocating with passion doesn't devolve into name-calling and vitriol. The line dividing those is razor-thin. Thanks for staying on the right side of it.

    1. Thanks, Eric. This blog has nothing to do with ex-Mormons or their claims, so I’m a little baffled at becoming their latest target.

  2. Peter, as a regular reader of your helpful blog since its inception I want to thank you for maintaining a public baseline of truth in the face of intellectual dishonesty and contention. Perhaps it's not surprising that critics of the Church who rely on that same intellectual dishonesty and contention would shift their vitriol to someone who consistently shares truth and reason.

    1. Thank you, FDH. I can’t tell you much your comment means to me.

  3. You can tell a man's character by who takes him to be their enemy. Keep up the good work.

    1. I appreciate that very much, Nathan. Thanks for your support!

  4. This blog is really great. Thanks for all you do. I'm so happy that the question of ambiguity is just that, ambiguity. I think it bothers so many people that God has questions that are intentionally left blank. Then men foolishly decide that they are the ones that are going to be the ones to 'reveal' the truth about ambiguity; even though that's not how the Lord works. I find it so strange that people hold themselves up to be a light, rather than holding up Christ which is the light people that know him are supposed to hold up. :D Truth is so incredibly precious. Eternal truth more so. Keep up the encouraging blog!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, commanderstich. I’m truly grateful for the encouragement and support you and other readers have given me.

      You’re absolutely spot-on about misguided human efforts to deal with ambiguity. It’s certainly true that the Lord from time to time reveals truths that clarify things that were unknown or confusing, but it’s presumptuous of men and women to try to state with surety things that have not been revealed by God or for which we do not have good historical documentation.

  5. You have labeled your opponents in this debate as "thoroughly despicable—and borderline unhinged". You went on to state that "This affair merely demonstrates how gullible some anti-Mormons are, how incapable they are of assessing evidence, and how quick they are to libel people with whom they disagree based upon nothing more than rumors and gossip."

    Do you have any concerns that perhaps you might be painting with a broad brush regarding people who have different opinions than your own? How do your comments support the council by President Nelson regarding the importance of being a peacemaker?

    1. Thanks for your question, Scott. It’s a good and reasonable one.

      I have no problems with people who have different opinions than I do. In fact, I’ve had some very civil email conversations with Jonathan Neville this week.

      The people I’m speaking of who are “despicable” and “borderline unhinged” are very specific and limited in number. They inhabit a certain message board where they mock, deride, and slander members of The Church of Jesus Christ. (I won’t mention the name of the message board because I don’t want to give it or them any attention.)

      I enjoyed President Nelson’s General Conference talk very much, and I agree with way he said. His message was about “building bridges of understanding,” which requires that show kindness to others of good will. He specifically stated that he was “not talking about ‘peace at any price.’” There are some people who are evil and who are trying to destroy the Lord’s church; I normally ignore them, but I was forced to defend my actions and my reputation in this blog post.

      I called them out for who they were.

    2. Many churches have apostates who fight or advocate in some way against their former religions. Some of the more well known apostates include Chris Shelton (Scientology), Lloyd Evans (Jehovah's Witnesses), Raymond Victor Franz (Jehovah's Witnesses), and people like Lavine Fielding Anderson, D. Michael Quinn, and Thomas Faulk (The Restored Church of Jesus Christ). Are all of these people evil for trying to destroy their respective faith traditions, or are they only evil when they are trying to destroy Jesus Christ's true church? Or put another way, Scientology isn't God's true restored religion, would fighting against it be a good thing (and by extension make Chris Shelton a righteous person)?

    3. Honestly, I canʼt say. Iʼm not well-acquainted enough with other faiths to have an informed opinion. Sorry!


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