In my opinion, FairMormon's approach to Book of Mormon geography is so far beyond the pale that it does not deserve to remain above scrutiny.
FairMormon expresses its policy this way (emphasis mine throughout): "The Church has been neutral when it comes to issues relating to Book of Mormon geography, as is FairMormon. The articles linked below will describe the various theories and examine the strengths and weaknesses of each."
Let's explore that a little. You'll see from this analysis that to FairMormon, neutrality has two components:
1. Unmitigated support for the Mesoamerican model, examining the strengths.
2. Unmitigated opposition to every other model, examining the weaknesses.
It's possible that the FairMormon policy statement was aspirational and they just ran out of time/resources to fulfill the vision. But when you look at how much effort they devoted to attack the non-Mesoamerican models, it's difficult to believe FairMormon ran out of time/resources before making even a token effort to fulfill the stated objective of neutrality.
In a word, FairMormon's concept of neutrality contradicts the ordinary definition of the term.
That's why I recommend people attend their conference. You'll see this for yourself.
Let me be clear again. I'm not writing this blog to attack anyone. I'm writing it to expose the mindset of the prevailing scholarly approach to the Book of Mormon. Everyone associated with FairMormon thinks it is neutral to support Mesoamerica and oppose every alternative. Look at the list of authors here. If any of them disagree with the FairMormon approach--which, after all, has been going on for many years--they have yet to express their disagreement. Worse, they have continued their affiliation with FairMormon.
First, there's a page dedicated to answering the question, "How should a valid Book of Mormon geography be modeled?"
The narrative represents that Joseph embraced a hemispheric model. It then lists "Ten essential features of geography" that "the Book of Mormon text requires for its geography." You can read them and quickly observe these "requirements" are designed to describe Central America. They are not "required" by the text. Inexplicably, a computer analysis that lacks any data, assumptions, or explanation of software is inserted. Then there is an article by Clark that first requires a geography to fit the facts, but then relies on "details which allow us to make a strong inference of either distance or direction."
Second, look at the list of geographies about which FairMormon claims to be neutral:
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- Hemispheric geography theory (HGT)—
Brief Summary: The Hemispheric Geography Theory (or HGT) is the traditional understanding of the Book of Mormon. It postulates that the events in the book took place over North and South America, with the Isthmus of Panama as the narrow neck of land. (Click here for full article)
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- Limited geography theory (LGT)—
Brief Summary: The Limited Geography Theory (or LGT) is a non-traditional interpretation of the text, but one that has gained wide acceptance among the Book of Mormon scholars and readers over the last 60 years. It is based on a close reading of the text, which indicates that the lands inhabited by the Lehites could be traversed on foot in only a few weeks, making the area no larger than present-day California. (Click here for full article)
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- Location of the Hill Cumorah—
Brief Summary: If Mormon chapter 6 is a literal description of the destruction of the Nephites by the Lamanites — approximately 100 thousand were killed by swords and axes — why hasn't any evidence of the battle been found at the site that was traditionally identified as the hill Cumorah in western New York state? (Click here for full article)
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- Great Lakes geography—
Brief Summary: I've heard some members claim that the Book of Mormon fits best in a geography located around the Great Lakes, between the United States and Canada. What can you tell me about this geographic model? (Click here for full article)
To summarize, FairMormon remains a serious problem for those interested in Book of Mormon historicity and geography. I never refer people to the site because of this.