long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the readers of these blogs. 2018 was awesome, and 2019 will be even better.

Many of the posts in this blog are prompted by readers who contact me by email. It's always great to hear from you.

People ask what I read, but that's too long a list. Here are some links I try to keep up with:

lds blogs:

Here's a link to the year-end review of a science web page I read regularly.

Here's a link to Ohio's archaeology blog:


I'm traveling until January. See you then!

For those interested, here's a link to my family's annual newsletter. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Unsealing an indictment of M2C

In January, I'm going to unseal an indictment of M2C. It's a detailed and specific analysis of M2C, its history and development, the illusory nature of the "science" and "correspondences" cited by M2C, the rhetorical techniques used by the M2C intellectuals and their followers, and the impact of M2C on members and investigators of the Church.

Most followers of M2C are unaware of all of this.

Actually, most people who believe M2C are unaware of the teachings of the prophets. They don't know about the evidence from Church history and the sciences that support and corroborate the teachings of the prophets.

Even if the indictment does not resolve the issue of the location of the Hill Cumorah, at least it will help Church members and investigators make informed decisions about what to believe.

M2C is packaged as a common scam. That doesn't mean it is a scam, but it raises the question of why it is packaged as a scam. Promoters use censorship, misdirection, and sophistry to obscure their basic belief that the prophets are wrong and to confuse members of the Church. The promoters of M2C refuse to share a room with the critics of M2C. They refuse side-by-side comparisons. The indictment will make all of this clear for everyone to see.

I planned to take a break from blogging over the holidays, but our M2C advocates and their followers continue to find new ways to persuade members of the Church to reject the teachings of the prophets.

Enough people have asked about the latest developments that I've agreed to respond.

Last week Book of Mormon Central Censor published No-wise #493, titled "Why Should Latter-day Saints Beware Fraudulent Artifacts?" It's a good title, and it contains some good points, but overall the no-wise itself is deliberately misleading, as I discuss here:


You'll notice in No-wise #493 that Book of Mormon Central Censor cites quotations from President M. Russell Ballard in such as way as to imply President Ballard endorses their views, including their repudiation of the teachings of the prophets.

Does anyone believe that President Ballard intended to communicate that message?

Look at what he actually said and decide for yourself.

The article is from the December 2016 Ensign titled "By Study and By Faith," which you can read here:

Notice that President Ballard cited the example of President Marion G. Romney.

Book of Mormon Central Censor teaches its readers and followers that President Romney taught false doctrine in General Conference. Compare President Romney's General Conference address with M2C and you'll see this for yourself.


Does anyone think President Ballard intended to repudiate the teachings of President Romney?

I certainly do not. It's inconceivable to me to think that President Ballard would be teaching the Saints to disbelieve what President Romney taught.

Yet this is what Book of Mormon Central Censor wants you to believe President Ballard is doing.

President Ballard gave an address at BYU a year later (Nov 2017) to further clarify the issue. You can read it here:

In the BYU address, he said

If you have a question that requires an expert, please take the time to find a thoughtful and qualified expert to help you. There are many on this campus and elsewhere who have the degrees and expertise to respond and give some insight to most of these types of questions.

Let's ask, what questions require an expert?

Does it require an expert to read and understand Letter VII? To read and understand the consistent and persistent teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah?

Of course not.

Joseph and Oliver wrote Letter VII, and Joseph had it republished multiple times, precisely because it was so clear and easy to understand.

Here's what does require an expert: trying to persuade faithful members of the Church to disbelieve the prophets.

The M2C intellectuals and their followers have resorted to sophisticated sophistry to confuse and mislead members of the Church.

I don't think President Ballard wants us to consult experts who are trying to persuade us to disbelieve the prophets. Instead, those are the types of experts he warns us against.

His remarks surely are aimed at specialized topics that require advanced knowledge and experience to address.

I realize the M2C intellectuals claim they have been hired by the prophets to guide the Church, and they cite President Ballard's remarks to justify their position, but I think we're a long ways from needing experts to understand the plain, consistent teachings of the prophets, whether it's about the New York Cumorah or any other topic.

Notice another comment President Ballard made. I hope everyone interested in Book of Mormon historicity and geography considers this carefully. We don't help the Brethren build up the Church, teach the doctrine of Christ, and help those in need when we start by telling people the prophets are wrong.

I worry sometimes that members expect too much from Church leaders and teachers—­expecting them to be experts in subjects well beyond their duties and responsibilities. The Lord called the apostles and prophets to invite ­others to come unto Christ—not to obtain advanced degrees in ancient history, biblical studies, and other fields that may be useful in answering all the questions we may have about scriptures, history, and the Church. Our primary duty is to build up the Church, teach the doctrine of Christ, and help those in need of help.

Fortunately the Lord provided this counsel for those asking questions:

Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of ­wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.5

No-wise #493 - artifacts

BOMCC at work
Book of Mormon Central Censor published No-wise #493, a delightful example of censorship and misdirection designed to accomplish these two objectives:

1. Fulfill the corporate mission of Book of Mormon Central Censor to "increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex;" and

2. Frame Joseph Smith as an ignorant speculator who misled the Church, thereby keeping readers of BOMCC ignorant and confused so they cannot make informed decisions about choosing between the prophets and the scholars.

First, some context.

The existence of ancient Hebrews in North America is not an LDS/non-LDS issue. There are plenty of people, both LDS and non-LDS, who believe, based on the evidence, that ancient Hebrews lived in North America. There are plenty of people, LDS and non-LDS, who believe an ancient civilization migrated from Ohio to western New York and vanished around 400 A.D. The evidence they rely on happens to also corroborate the teachings of LDS prophets.

Of course, there are also people, both LDS and non-LDS, who reject the evidence. Evidence is not the same as proof. Proof is whatever convinces someone, and everyone has different biases they seek to confirm, which affects the threshold of evidence they require to "prove" or "disprove" a proposition.

That said, there's a big difference when it comes to M2C.

M2C is purely an LDS (and Community of Christ) concept, developed and promoted by a handful of intellectuals over the objection of LDS prophets. There are no non-LDS who believe there were ancient Hebrews in Mesoamerica. Plus, M2C repudiates the teachings of the LDS prophets.

Book of Mormon Central Censor pretends to rely on science and evidence, but their arguments are completely unpersuasive to their academic peers, and they never tell their followers how isolated their beliefs are; i.e., they don't tell their followers that no non-LDS people believe there were ancient Hebrews in Mesoamerica. 

IOW, the evidence for Hebrews in North American is accepted by both LDS and non-LDS people, but the evidence for Hebrews in Mesoamerica is accepted only by a few LDS M2C advocates and their followers.

No-wise #493 addresses several specific artifacts. These are not the evidences to which I referred in the previous paragraphs. In my view, these artifacts are irrelevant to the discussion, except as a distraction. I don't think they prove or disprove anything about the Book of Mormon, and the controversy over them is a gift to detractors who dispute the historicity of the Book of Mormon narrative.

I think it's a mistake for anyone, pro or con, to use these artifacts to promote an agenda.

That said, the approach taken by Book of Mormon Central Censor is fascinating. The case against these artifacts is not as iron-clad as they want readers to believe; they simply censor counter-arguments. Furthermore, the sources they cite, such as the Smithsonian, also refute the claims of M2C.

But they don't tell their readers that, either.

Not only does BOMCC censor the teachings of the prophets and the evidence that supports the prophets, but BOMCC censors the conclusions of the very sources they otherwise rely upon when those conclusions contradict M2C. The approach taken by BOMCC is the opposite of objective, scientific analysis and presentation.

Naturally, we wonder, why does BOMCC continue to seek to undermine evidence from North America that supports the Book of Mormon?

The answer: 

The fundamental premise of M2C is that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah. Everyone associated with BOMCC, including their donors, necessarily agrees with this premise.

I've pointed out many times that the New York Cumorah does not preclude any other geography for the rest of the events in the Book of Mormon. However, the M2C intellectuals have decided that the New York Cumorah is incompatible with their Mesoamerican setting, so they necessarily must persuade people that the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah. To accomplish this, they must persuade people that the Book of Mormon narrative could not have taken place in North America.*

In this no-wise, for example, they start by undermining Joseph Smith:

Joseph Smith, on a few occasions, offered speculative arguments for the book’s authenticity by drawing from what was known in his day about ancient American antiquities.1

Let's consider what this means. Speculative is defined as engaged in, expressing, or based on conjecture rather than knowledge and based on a guess and not on information.

Another definition:

conjectural consideration of a matter; conjecture or surmise: a report based on speculation rather than facts. engagement in business transactions involving considerable risk but offering the chance of large gains, especially trading in commodities, stocks, etc., in the hope of profit from changes in the market price.

Book of Mormon Central Censor insists that people believe Joseph was an ignorant speculator who misled the Church. The choice of the term "speculative" also imputes an element of high-risk, high-reward motivation on Joseph's part.

In my view, this claim by M2C proponents is not even suggested by the historical facts, let alone demonstrated by them. The claim is outrageous, actually, but the M2C intellectuals have to persuade people to accept it or the entire M2C edifice will collapse.

Look at footnote 1:

See Mark Alan Wright, Joseph Smith and Native American Artifacts,” in Approaching Antiquity: Joseph and the Ancient World, edited by Lincoln H. Blumell, Matthew J. Grey, and Andrew H. Hedges (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2015), 119–140.

I think the no-wise citation here is wishful thinking more than an accurate summary of Brother Wright's article. Brother Wright is a great guy and a careful scholar, but he has also said he "can't unsee" Mesoamerica when he reads the Book of Mormon. He's "all-in" when it comes to M2C. Yet I don't think he makes the claim that Joseph made speculative claims.

You can click on the link to read his article. He cites the Zelph incident, which those present specifically described as a revelation, not as speculation. He discusses the "ruins at Adam-Ondi-Ahman" and claims a statement not clearly attributable to Joseph was speculative. Next he discusses the anonymous articles in the 1842 Times and Seasons, which M2C advocates attribute to Joseph (an obvious misreading of history, not supported by any historical facts). Finally, he discusses the Kinderhook plates.

But notice, at no point does Brother Wright discuss the Hill Cumorah in New York, either Letter VII and its multiple reproductions, nor the statements of Joseph's contemporaries on that subject.

Nevertheless, no-wise #493 wants you to believe Joseph and Oliver were merely speculating about the New York Cumorah, and thereby misled their contemporaries and successors as leaders of the Church. 

That's what happens when intellectuals think they know more than the prophets.

If you read or listen to No-wise #493, you quickly realize the No-wise is only telling one side of the story. It's true that each of these artifacts has critics who claim the artifacts are fake. But there are also others, LDS and non-LDS, who accept some of these artifacts as authentic, also based on evidence.

I'm not going to revisit the debates over these artifacts because, as I said, I think the artifacts are irrelevant distractions. You can find all the arguments on the Internet if you want. But I'll relate an experience I had that influences my approach.

Years ago, I spent a couple of weeks in Lebanon with an archaeologist, visiting sites throughout the country for a documentary I was filming. At one site, we purchased some "ancient" Roman coins. The archaeologist told me that usually these are fakes, but the vendors can't tell the difference so sometimes they sell authentic coins as well, because people dig them up all over the place. She examined the coins and picked out some likely candidates. I bought a handful that she recommended. I tested one of them and found it was fake. Maybe they're all fakes (I should get them all tested some day), but according to sources I've consulted, some appear to be authentic.

The point is, the fakes appear real because they are copied from real artifacts. They match photos of real coins. They're well worn. It's the material composition that distinguishes between fake and real coins.

A guy making fake coins who used an image of the Queen of England instead of Caesar wouldn't be able to sell his fakes. There is no incentive to create such an obvious fake.

Consequently, I'm skeptical when people claim someone created an obvious fake that is not copied from a real artifact.

When you read the analysis of the experts on both sides, the arguments boil down to what "should" or "should not" be present, such as an error in the Hebrew characters. Those arguments are unpersuasive to me because they are conjectural.

As to specifics, there is good evidence that the Michigan tablets, at least most of them, are fakes. I accept that evidence, but I also realize not all the artifacts have been tested, and many have been destroyed. But it does not seem impossible to me that there were authentic tablets that Soper and Savage copied.

The evidence regarding the Newark Holy Stones is equivocal enough to justify confirmation bias on all sides. Same with the Bat Creek Stone. I suspect the same is true of the other artifacts, but I don't care about them enough to investigate further. As I said, it doesn't matter to me whether they are authentic or fake because they are irrelevant.

No-wise #493 follows the typical pattern we see in most of what Book of Mormon Central Censor publishes. In their effort so persuade people that the Book of Mormon is a Mesoamerican codex, they censor information that contradicts M2C, they repudiate the teachings of the prophets, and they apply inconsistent standards as they apply science, all while applying sophistry to confuse readers.

These tactics, in my opinion, reveal the paucity of actual evidence to support M2C.

When I unseal the indictment of M2C in January, this will all become much clearer.
*Yes, I know Mesoamerica is technically part of North America, but M2C means a limited geography in Mesoamerica that excludes anything north of Mexico, especially the new York Cumorah. For purposes of this discussion, North America means the current U.S. and Canada, while Mesoamerica means southern Mexico and parts of Central America.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Origins of M2C - LDS prophets vs RLDS scholars

Many current members of the Church think the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory (M2C) has been around from the early days of the Church.

Here is one of the clearest explanations of M2C that I'm aware of:

BYU map depicting the RLDS teaching about Cumorah
that contradicts all LDS prophets and apostles
To return especially to the location of the original hill Cumorah: We find no word by angels or by the voice of the Lord that the hill where Joseph found the plates was the historic hill. No revelation in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants so designates it, and nowhere in his history did Joseph Smith write of it as Cumorah. In Times and Seasons volume 3, page 771, he says "stands a hill," and "this hill," and the angel told him to come to "that place" each year. At the final time he says that he went to "the place" where the plates were deposited.... 

I have no objection to that hill being also called Cumorah, with the understanding that the ancient hill Cumorah is still undiscovered, and that sometime its secrets will be revealed and come to the knowledge of God's people.... 

For thirty-five years I held the error about Cumorah, until Early Cothell, of Independence, took the blinds off, and then study made all plain to me. But there have been so many controversies that I have hesitated for years about writing on this matter for publication, although urged to do so. But now, because many are dissatisfied with the old theory, I present this article in the interest of truth, that error be removed and the truth be made plain....

You might think this is a quotation from the latest no-wise from Book of Mormon Central Censor, or BYU Studies, or another publication of the M2C citation cartel. Indeed, many of the writings of the M2C citation cartel are virtually identical to this passage.

Notice especially the emphasis on how "study" made two-Cumorahs plain. This is the M2C orientation; i.e., unless you are trained correctly, you can't understand the Book of Mormon or the teachings of the prophets.

Or perhaps you think this passage comes from the 1980s, when David Palmer, John Sorenson, FARMS, etc., made the M2C theory popular among Latter-day Saints.

In reality, this passage is about 100 years old.

It was written by Elder H. A. Stebbins, of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (RLDS), before he died in 1920.

Today's LDS students and youth know little to nothing about the RLDS. It was a group that rejected the leadership of Brigham Young. They adopted this resolution in 1854:

No. 1. Resolved, That this conference regards the pretensions of Brigham Young, James J. Strang, James C. Brewster, and William Smith and James Wood's joint claim to the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as assumptions of power in violation of the law of God, and consequently we disclaim all connection and fellowship with them. 

Elder Stebbins served on the committee that compiled these resolutions, which you can see here:

The passage was quoted by L. E. Hills, another RLDS, who published it in a 1924 book titled New Light on American Archaeology.

You can read it yourself here:


Notice that after quoting Stebbins, Hill went on to write, "I want later to take up the question of where Moroni was when he made the abridgment of the Jaredite record, and also show that he never left Mexico until he had completed that abridgment and nearly all of his writings."

Of course, this directly contradicts the teachings of every LDS prophet and apostle who has ever formally discussed the hill Cumorah, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference.

Today's M2C intellectuals agree with Stebbins and Hills. 

They disagree with Joseph Fielding Smith, Marion G. Romney, Oliver Cowdery, etc.

The M2C cartel doesn't even want you to know what the prophets and apostles have taught, as we've seen over and over, with the latest example being the Saints book.

This idea of "two Cumorahs" prompted Church Historian and Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith (JFS) to object. He explained that

Because of this [two-Cumorahs] theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case.

A full discussion is here:


For many people, the choice between Hills and JFS is an easy one.

If you're a proponent or follower of M2C, you think Stebbins and Hills were correct.

If you accept the teachings of the LDS prophets and apostles about the New York Cumorah, you think JFS was right.

Regardless of whom you believe, you can find plenty of evidence from archaeology, anthropology, geography and geology to support your belief. You can interpret the text to fit your belief.

That's why this whole issue boils down to whether you choose to follow the prophets or to follow the intellectuals who say the prophets are wrong.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Grooming for M2C

Based on the inquiries I get, many people are still perplexed about the prevalence of M2C* in the Church today. This post is a quick summary for new readers.

Church members are perplexed because M2C directly and specifically repudiates the teachings of the prophets and apostles about the hill Cumorah in New York.

Promoters of M2C are faithful, well-meaning members of the Church who honestly think the prophets are wrong. These promoters teach that the prophets were merely "expressing personal opinions" but were wrong because they lacked the education to fully understand the Book of Mormon and the relevant sciences.

According to the M2C intellectuals, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and their successors were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about the New York Cumorah.

So we ask again, how did M2C spread throughout the Church?

There's a simple explanation.

The youth in the Church have been, and still are being, groomed to believe M2C.

It starts with portrayals of Mayan temples in books for primary-age children.

No matter where you look, images of Mayan temples are indelibly linked to the Book of Mormon.

Then, in Seminary, Institute, and at BYU campuses, students are taught to understand the Book of Mormon by reference to fantasy-world maps, designed to resemble Mesoamerica.

These fantasy-world maps imprint an interpretation of the text that was developed specifically to justify M2C.

These maps have the side-effect of framing the Book of Mormon as fictional, akin to The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, or any popular video game.

Throughout the Church, the teachings of the prophets and apostles about the New York Cumorah are censored.

The book Saints is merely the latest example.

The authors publicly admitted they created a false historical narrative to censor the New York Cumorah and accommodate the modern idea of M2C.

But Saints is not alone. The New York Cumorah has been censored from lesson manuals, Church media, Church artwork, etc.

You can still find the teachings of the prophets and apostles if you read the General Conference reports and the Joseph Smith Papers, but even there, the search software suppresses Cumorah so it's more difficult to find.

M2C originated with scholars from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who also claimed Brigham Young was a false prophet.

Over the objection of LDS leaders including Joseph Fielding Smith, LDS scholars nevertheless embraced M2C.

Even when members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve taught the New York Cumorah in General Conference, these M2C scholars taught their students the prophets were wrong.

BYU Studies M2C map
Intellectual support for M2C grooming was provided for years by FARMS. FARMS was disbanded, but the intellectuals behind FARMS created new organizations to promote M2C.

Now M2C is being enforced by BYU Studies, the Interpreter, FairlyMormon, Meridian Magazine, and other members of the M2C citation cartel.

Fine young LDS scholars, educated by BYU and/or CES, believe what they've been taught about M2C, and now they are helping groom their peers and younger people through social media.

An organization called "Book of Mormon Central," which I refer to as "Book of Mormon Central America" and "Book of Mormon Central Censor" (BOMCC), has a corporate goal "to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex."

To accomplish this goal, BOMCC has an extensive and aggressive fundraising initiative, seeking donations from members of the Church to promote M2C.

BOMCC has editorial policy of actively promoting M2C, while also censoring any alternative ideas, including the teachings of the prophets and apostles.

The antidote to M2C, like the antidote to all kinds of problems, is the plain teaching of the prophets and apostles.

If you don't know what they have taught, you can start with Letter VII, an important explanation of the New York Cumorah from Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith. Letter VII is discussed here: http://www.lettervii.com/.

In upcoming posts, we'll examine the intellectual genealogy and psychology of M2C. We'll also look at the underlying sciences and how real-world science supports the teachings of the prophets.


* M2C is the acronym for the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory of Book of Mormon geography, which teaches that the prophets and apostles are wrong about the New York Cumorah, and that all the events of the Book of Mormon took place in a limited area of Mesoamerica.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Fun with censorship

Last week we were flying on Saudia, the airline of Saudi Arabia, between Jeddah and Riyadh, among other locations.

Each time we taxied before takeoff, they played a video of a prayer of Mohammed for travelers, which was pretty cool. The plane had a large prayer room at the back, with a digital map showing the direction of Mecca wherever we were flying.

Last Man Standing, with Arabic subtitles
We watched an episode of Last Man Standing and noticed that every so often, the audio (in English) dropped out.

They were censoring certain words.

I made a partial list:

Dear God
For the love of God

On one level, it is understandable why the Saudi government would censor these words. The terms would be offensive to some Muslims. But the censorship portrays a false narrative.

The characters in Last Man Standing actually say the forbidden words because they are not Muslim. They are Christians living in the United States. Viewers of the censored version of the show see an inaccurate version of the reality of the characters.

Just like readers of the book Saints get an inaccurate version of the reality of early members of the Church. I discuss this in a new post here:


Years ago, I had to submit films I made to the Saudi censors before they could be displayed within the country. Sometimes I had to make edits to satisfy the censors. I didn't mind doing so, but I wonder how effective such censorship is in today's world.

On one hand, the Internet makes information available everywhere (except in countries that still censor the Internet).

On the other hand, most people don't make more than superficial inquiries. They go to sources they trust, and accept them. If those sources engage in censorship, that censorship will be successful.

The M2C citation cartel knows this, which is why they continue to engage in censorship.

Especially Book of Mormon Central Censor.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Employees make the decisions

A few months ago, I sent a suggestion for a comic to Scott Adams, who writes Dilbert. The comic came out last Sunday.

You can see it here:


The comic explains how employees control organizations by limiting the options presented to the decisionmakers.

I think this comic explains why M2C* is so prevalent throughout the Church.

The New York Cumorah has been effectively censored for so long, it never merits consideration any more.

The book Saints is the latest expression of M2C.

The authors explained they censored Cumorah to create a false historical narrative present (i.e., characters in Church history who never heard of Cumorah in New York) specifically to promote modern ideas about Book of Mormon geography (i.e., M2C, framed as "neutrality").

The authors also claimed that the question of Cumorah never even came up in the years of writing and editing Saints. Supposedly no one even thought to accurately portray what early members of the Church believed about the New York Cumorah.

Just like in the Dilbert cartoon, decisionmakers involved with Saints were shown alternative drafts that all censored the New York Cumorah.

As a result, Saints insures that current and future generations will never learn what the prophets and apostles have actually taught about the New York Cumorah.

Two facts exist:

1. The prophets and apostles have consistently and persistently taught that Cumorah is in New York. No prophet or apostle has ever rejected that teaching.

2. Most current LDS intellectuals and educators have rejected the teachings of the prophets and apostles about Cumorah in New York.

BYU fantasy map of Cumorah

M2C map of Cumorah in Mexico
Instead, these intellectuals and educators teach that Cumorah is in Southern Mexico, or else in a Mexico-like fantasy land (BYU and CES maps).

Recently, some LDS scholars have claimed that the modern prophets have hired them to guide the Church. They seem to think that justifies them in censoring the historical accounts so that Church members generally, like the decisionmakers involved with Saints, don't even have the option to make informed decisions.

In my view, it doesn't take an expert (or a PhD) to read and understand the teachings of the Book of Mormon and the latter-day prophets. 

What requires expertise is to use sophistry and semantics to repudiate the teachings of the prophets while claiming to sustain them.

Fortunately, efforts to censor the teachings of the prophets won't succeed. We can still read about the New York Cumorah in the Joseph Smith papers, in the reports of General Conference, and in the writings of the prophets and apostles.

The problem is, most people who have been taught M2C accept it at face value because they trust the employees to accurately convey the teachings of the prophets and apostles. Most people are shocked when they discover the degree of censorship that has been taking place.

I'm still hopeful that this will change. Eventually, people throughout the Church will learn what the prophets and apostles have taught about the New York Cumorah.

*M2C is the acronym for the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory. M2C advocates and their followers have created a citation cartel (BYU Studies, Book of Mormon Central Censor, FairlyMormon, the Interpreter, Meridian Magazine, the old FARMS, etc.) that censors the teachings about the New York Cumorah. M2C is now being taught widely, including at the Temple Square Visitors Center, at the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center in New York, in the missionary editions of the Book of Mormon, by the fantasy maps taught by BYU/CES, etc.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

No-wise 489 - still misleading the Saints

Readers told me that Book of Mormon Central Censor (BOMCC) released a no-wise #489.

At first, I was inclined to ignore this no-wise. Readers of this blog surely recognize the logical and factual fallacies it contains because we've come to expect this from BOMCC.

However, I decided to comment on the no-wise because it is further evidence that M2C is the hand-in-the-glove that created the false historical narrative in the Saints book; i.e., the real-life people in Saints, according to the authors, never heard of the Hill Cumorah in New York.

Hand in the glove post:


Historians admit creating a false historical narrative to convey a modern viewpoint among M2C intellectuals that we have no idea where Cumorah is, except that it couldn't possibly be in New York. I discussed that here:


This is the so-called "neutrality" position that I discussed here:


No-wise #489 is an effort to bolster the phony historical narrative in Saints. It is a masterpiece of sophistry and misleading readers, all to promote M2C (the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory). I provided an analysis on my Book of Mormon Central America blog, here:


If I was a donor to BOMCC, I would be furious about this latest effort to justify the repudiation of the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah. But this is just the latest in a long history of the effort by the M2C intellectuals to persuade members of the Church that the prophets are wrong.

To be sure, all the M2C intellectuals are great people, faithful members of the Church, etc. I like every one of them personally. This is purely a discussion about ideas, about censorship, and about enabling members (and nonmembers) of the Church to make fully informed decisions.

I think the ongoing censorship, obfuscation, and sophistry should cease ASAP.

No-Wise #489 Where is the Hill Cumorah?

No-Wise #489 is a definite keeper. It exposes the paucity of evidence to support M2C's repudiation of the prophets. Let's take a look.

Here's the link. Here's the opening image:

They chose an image that makes the Hill Cumorah in New York appear insignificant, which supports their M2C narrative.

Notice how Book of Mormon Central Censor (BOMCC) superimposes their Mayan logo.

This is the logo that conveys their corporate mission to "to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex." 

The logo tells you everything you need to know about the content of no-wise #489. Like all the other no-wise articles published by BOMCC, this one promotes M2C.

BOMCC has zero interest in pursuing the truth, wherever it leads, because their main objective is to persuade members of the Church that the Book of Mormon is a Mesoamerican codex.

They take this objective so seriously that they repudiate the teachings of the prophets in its pursuit.

Let's observe how they do so in no-wise #489.

Here's an extract from the no-wise in blue, along with my comments in red.

Not much is known about the land and hill Cumorah. 

To the contrary, quite a bit is known about the land and hill Cumorah. Prophets have described what they've seen from the top of the hill. Letter VII explains the facts of what happened there, including the final battles of the Jaredites and Nephites and the depository of Nephite records. Soon after he joined the Church, Heber C. Kimball visited the hill and observed the embankments that have since been plowed under. Joseph, Oliver and others visited the repository in the hill.

The only Book of Mormon authors to discuss the location were Mormon and Moroni. 

Plus Ether. We know from Ether 15 that Coriantumr's army pitched their tents by the hill, and that the final Jaredite war took place there, consisting of a few thousand followers of Coriantumr vs. a few thousand followers of Shiz. Extrapolating backward from the numbers Ether gave us, the total number of combatants was apparently fewer than 10,000, which corroborates Letter VII. 

Based on a statement given by Mormon, the land of Cumorah was “a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” (Mormon 6:4). 

This is consistent with western New York, as I discussed here:


Other geographical clues given in the Book of Mormon appear to situate Cumorah north of the narrow neck of land and near an eastern seacoast (cf. Mormon 2:3, 20, 29; Ether 9:3).1 

You can read these verses yourself and see they don't say what is claimed here. Mormon 2 doesn't even refer to the "narrow neck of land." That was a Jaredite term, found only in Ether 10:20. Mormon 2:29 refers to a "narrow passage." Conflating these different terms is one of the major logical fallacies behind M2C, along with the M2C assumption that the "land northward" is a proper noun instead of a relative term. Ether 9:3 says Ablom, not Cumorah, was by the seashore. 

The hill itself was tall enough that it could be used as a strategic defensive position as well as an observation point for surveillance of the surrounding countryside (Mormon 6:2, 7, 11).

Nothing in the texts suggests it was the height of Cumorah that made it a strategic defensive position, although we can't exclude that as a possibility. Alternatively, Mormon could have chosen it because he knew Coriantumr had constructed a fortress there. Maybe the embankments that Heber C. Kimball observed were originally constructed by the Jaredites, so Mormon could use or rebuild those. It's true that Mormon could see 20,000 of his dead people from the top, and presumably an equivalent number of Lamanites. The valley west of Cumorah can easily accommodate this many people. Thousands of visitors attend the pageant every year. Audiences of 5,000, including all their cars and buses and concession stands, don't fill even the area between the hill and the highway.

Now, let's turn to the sophistry.

There is “no historical evidence that Moroni called the hill ‘Cumorah’ in 1823” during his first encounter with the Prophet Joseph Smith. 

This is a red herring. We know from Lucy Mack Smith that Joseph referred to the hill as Cumorah in 1827, before he obtained the plates (and well before he translated them). Whether he learned the name in 1823 or during any of the subsequent visits is immaterial.

The name Cumorah came into “common circulation [amongst Latter-day Saints] no earlier than the mid-1830s.”2 The first documented person to identify the drumlin hill3 in Manchester, New York where Joseph Smith received the plates with the hill Cumorah appears to have been William W. Phelps in 1833.4

Notice the sophistry here. No-wise #489 wants you to think Cumorah is not in New York because this 1833 publication is "late" and was published by Phelps.

The question is not when the name Cumorah was first published, but but when it was first known (which as we just saw was before Joseph even got the plates, and we'll discuss this more below). The no-wise is trying to get you to think past the sale; i.e., it wants you to think "common circulation" is relevant, when it's actually nothing more than a function of when members of the Church were able to publish a newspaper.

The term "common circulation" means something published. The first Church newspaper was The Evening and the Morning Star, published in Missouri by W.W. Phelps starting in June 1832. 

Not surprisingly, Phelps didn't publish everything in the first issue. He covered a variety of topics, including the Ten Tribes and the Resurrection, in the first issues. He also published the early revelations that were later published in the Book of Commandments and today's D&C.

Issue #8, January 1833, focused on the Book of Mormon. He published this:

But before the glorious and happy results of this book are set forth, it seems necessary to go back to the time it was brought forth. In the year one thousand eight hundred and twenty seven, the plates came forth from the hill Cumorah, which is in the county of Ontario, and state of New-York, by the power of God.

You can read this yourself here:


IOW, the very first LDS publication declared that Cumorah was in New York in its eighth issue. If Phelps had published it in the first issue, would that have made a difference? If he had waited until the 10th or 12th issue to focus on the Book of Mormon, would that have made a difference?

Book of Mormon Central Censor wants you to believe that Phelps unilaterally invented the New York Cumorah in 1833.

A more realistic way to consider this evidence is that the New York Cumorah was so well known among those who knew Joseph and Oliver that there was no urgency in announcing it sooner. Why? 

Notice that Phelps doesn't make a big deal about the New York Cumorah. He published it as a fact, not as speculation. He explains where Cumorah is, but doesn't feel any need to justify the name or explain why he calls it Cumorah. When you read the statement in context, you see that he is reporting to the world facts that were already well known to the Saints.

Phelps’s identification was later followed by Oliver Cowdery in 1835.5 

This is beautiful sophistry. 

Remember, Book of Mormon Central Censor wants you to believe that Phelps invented the New York Cumorah. Here, they suggest that Oliver Cowdery merely copied Phelps' lead. 

You have to go to the footnotes to see that the reference is to Letter VII. Then they give you a link to Book of Mormon Central Censor's own site, not to an original source (such as the Joseph Smith Papers). This allows BOMCC to editorialize through their "More Like This" to link to M2C-oriented material. 

This misleading link allows BOMCC to obscure the fact that Joseph had his scribes copy Letter VII into his own history, and that Joseph encouraged others to republish Letter VII, as we'll see next.

Probably due to the popularity and influence of these two early leaders’ writings, the identification of the hill in New York as same the hill Cumorah mentioned by Mormon in Book of Mormon became commonplace amongst early Latter-day Saints.6

Here, no-wise #489 glosses over a key fact that perceptive readers have already noticed. First, though, notice what they're trying to establish here. According to Book of Mormon Central Censor, the only reason people believed Cumorah was in New York is because a couple of obscure articles from 1833 and 1835 became "popular." 

BOMCC doesn't tell you that Phelps' article was so "popular" that it was never reprinted and had limited circulation in the first place. Instead, they try to persuade you that it "influenced" Oliver Cowdery.

So then we ask, why were Oliver's letters, including Letter VII, popular?

Here are some reasons that Book of Mormon Central Censor will never tell you. In fact, they removed from their archive a little book that explained all of this and instead issued another no-wise that tries to persuade Church members to disbelieve Letter VII.

1. Joseph Smith helped write the letters.
2. Oliver was the Assistant President of the Church when he wrote and published Letter VII. The entire First Presidency endorsed the letters, as did every member of the Twelve who ever commented on them (through the present day).
3. Joseph had his scribes copy the letters, including Letter VII, into his personal history, where you can read it today in the Joseph Smith Papers. See link here: http://www.lettervii.com/
4. Joseph authorized Benjamin Winchester to reprint the letters in the Gospel Reflector newspaper.
5. Joseph gave the letters to his brother Don Carlos to reprint in the Times and Seasons.
6. Joseph's brother William reprinted them in the New York City newspaper called The Prophet.
7. Parley P. Pratt reprinted them in the Millennial Star.
8. The letters were so popular in England that, in response to popular demand, they were compiled into a special pamphlet that sold thousands of copies.

As far as can be determined, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself only associated the hill in New York with the Cumorah in the Book of Mormon towards the end of his life.

This is outstanding sophistry and misdirection.

By using the passive voice--"as far as can be determined"--the anonymous author conveys the false message that no one can find anything to the contrary. 

Earlier in this post I pointed out the well-known statement from Lucy Mack Smith, where she specifically quoted Joseph referring to the hill as Cumorah in 1827 before he even got the plates. (We'll see how BOMCC deals with that in a moment.) 

Notice also the term "himself" in this sentence. That's there because Joseph expressly helped Oliver write the historical letters, including Letter VII. It's also there to exclude statements from everyone else, as we'll see.

The no-wise next mentions D&C 128:20, Joseph's 1842 letter that refers to Cumorah. But then it tells us this:

Before then, Joseph left the name of the New York hill where Moroni gave him the plates unnamed in his accounts of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.8 

I discussed this here:


Now, notice this sentence:

Whether the Prophet arrived at this conclusion about the location of Cumorah by revelation, or by conforming to usage that had become common among the early members of the Church about Book of Mormon geography, or in some other way is historically unknown.9

Do you see how they are salting the earth here? They want members of the Church to believe that Joseph Smith misled the Church by "conforming" to a false "usage" created by unknown early members of the Church.

That assertion by M2C intellectuals is the first step toward their eventual repudiation of all the teachings of the prophets and apostles about the New York Cumorah. They actually expect you to believe that Joseph Smith adopted and endorsed a false tradition, and that this false tradition is now canonized in D&C 128.

Plus, as we've seen, it's not "historically unknown" that Joseph learned the name Cumorah before he even obtained the plates. Furthermore, David Whitmer learned the name Cumorah for the heavenly messenger who was taking the Harmony plates to Cumorah. 

But wait. It gets worse.

In the decades after Joseph Smith’s death, other prominent early Latter-day Saints, including Lucy Mack Smith,10 Parley P. Pratt,11 and David Whitmer,12 recounted earlier incidents in which the New York hill was identified as Cumorah by the angel Moroni and by Joseph Smith. Since these statements are somewhat late recollections, coming after the identity of Cumorah as a hill near Palmyra, New York, had become widespread, they should be used cautiously.13

Here, Book of Mormon Central Censor wants you to believe that Lucy, Parley, and David all lied about the New York Cumorah, and thereby, like Joseph, misled the Church. 

Furthermore, BOMCC wants you to believe that all subsequent prophets and apostles who have ever addressed the topic likewise misled the Church. 

The rest of the no-wise is a rehash of old material, and I've responded to all of it in detail. But I need to comment on two more passages.

However, most Church leaders have simply and accurately said that the geography of the Book of Mormon is not revealed.17 

Note 17 is one of my favorites. It consists of an obscure, out-of-context quotation by Harold B. Lee that is currently being used by people in the Correlation Department to screen out any material that contradicts M2C. It's also a favorite of Fairly Mormon. I've addressed it before here:


Notice how they quote their misleading excerpt from Elder Lee's 1966 comment, but they don't quote from President Marion G. Romney's 1975 General Conference address. They don't expect you to look that up. They also don't cite the other prophets who have corroborated the New York Cumorah. 

Their audacity knows no bounds.

In reality, every Church leader who has addressed the topic has affirmed the New York Cumorah. They have also affirmed the equally consistent and persistent teaching that we don't know for sure where the other events took place. This has been the case from the early days of the Church through the present, but Book of Mormon Central Censor and the rest of the M2C citation cartel constantly try to conflate the two separate issues to confuse and mislead members of the Church.

Additionally, several Latterday Saint scholars have questioned whether the hill in New York could feasibly be the hill Cumorah described in the Book of Mormon. 

Here it is. They want you to believe the scholars, not the prophets. They follow this with a long paragraph about how the prophets couldn't possibly be right, complete with a citation to the M2C Bible, Mormon's Codex, which declares that the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah are "manifestly absurd."


When we read the polemical and agenda-drive no-wise such as #489, we are reminded of Orwell's NEWSPEAK and old Soviet Pravda articles. This no-wise is pure censorship, dressed up to look as if it is balanced or neutral. You have to read it carefully to detect what's going on, but the message is clear.

Book of Mormon Central Censor doesn't want you to know what the prophets have taught. 

They want you to believe the scholars, who, according to the M2C intellectuals, have been hired by the prophets to guide the Church.

I write all of this with the greatest respect and kind feelings toward the M2C intellectuals, their followers and their victims. I have no personal animosity toward any of them. I think they're all great people, faithful members of the Church, etc. I just wish they would at least inform members of the Church about all the facts and let us make informed decisions instead of engaging in this sophistry designed to persuade us to believe the scholars instead of the prophets.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

M2C, Anarchy, and the Church's future

We've spent the last two days in La Reunion, a nearby island that is part of France and therefore subject to President Macron's new gas tax, imposed apparently to prevent climate change (another topic for another day). You may have seen the news reports from Paris of similar protests throughout France, such as this one: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46356649.

When we were there, La Reunion was mostly shut down by protesters blocking the roads. I took these photos so you can see the large trucks and equipment blocking the freeways. The protesters wore the yellow jackets worn by police.

The protesters would let a few cars through every now and then. We had to drive slowly and carefully to negotiate the narrow passages they created through the parked trucks.

It is total anarchy. These protesters do whatever they want. They seemed to get a kick out of directing traffic as though they were the police.

On the smaller roads, the Yellow Jackets allowed their friends and family through, but everyone else had to wait until they got around to letting a car through. At one blockage, they let one car through every 4 minutes.

I took this picture when I was at the front of the line, waiting for the protester to open the gate so I could get through.

At one "blockage" I spoke with the protester in French. I asked why he was blocking me. He said he wasn't blocking me, but Macron was. It was a fascinating conversation about his perception of reality.

The blockage was so disruptive that we couldn't get to our hotel in the mountains. We ended up at an airbnb, which was fun anyway, but the entire island is basically shut down. Fortunately, the airport operated with only a few flights canceled so we were able to leave. We got to the airport early in the morning, before the "manifestations" started for the day, but we saw people hauling their luggage to and fro on foot because one of the biggest blockages was at the airport exits from the freeway.

What does this have to do with M2C*?

M2C represents anarchy in the Church.

Thanks to M2C, we have BYU and CES teachers telling students that the prophets are wrong when they disagree with the intellectuals. 

We have one of the most influential BYU professors teaching his readers in Mormon's Codex that the teachings of the prophets and apostles about the New York Cumorah are "manifestly absurd." 

And we have a Gospel Topics Essay, written by M2C intellectuals, that links specifically to that book.

It's pretty easy to understand how chaotic it is for students to have their BYU and CES teachers telling them the prophets are wrong about the New York Cumorah. When these intellectuals repudiate the consistent and persistent teachings of the prophets and apostles, we have anarchy.

On this blog, I focus on the issue of the New York Cumorah, but that's just one example. The principle of intellectuals asserting superiority over the prophets is far more widespread.

The M2C intellectuals are the Yellow Jackets of the Church.

They have appointed themselves the gatekeepers of the Book of Mormon.

They created the citation cartel to enforce their views and make sure members of the Church learn only what they, the Yellow Jackets, deem is consistent with M2C.

They claim the "dead prophets," including Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith, and every prophet and apostle who has ever addressed the issue, including members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference, was wrong about the New York Cumorah,

They claim the living prophets have hired them, the Yellow Jackets, to guide the Church.

They created Book of Mormon Central Censor as a repository and resource for all things M2C.

BYU Fantasy map that teaches students
 the prophets and apostles are wrong
about the New York Cumorah
(Lately some have taken exception to my observations here, but you can see this for yourself. I'm not naming any individuals; this is a question of what people are teaching. You can try it yourself. Ask a BYU or CES teacher about the New York Cumorah. He or she will tell you the prophets were wrong. Otherwise, they wouldn't use the fantasy map. Look at BYU Studies, FairlyMormon, the Interpreter, Book of Mormon Central Censor, or any of the other members of the M2C citation cartel. They all say the prophets were wrong. They have to. Otherwise, they'd have to accept the New York Cumorah instead of M2C.)

I think the Yellow Jackets of the Church--the M2C enforcers and their followers, including the censors at Book of Mormon Central Censor--are blocking the progress of the Church just as much as these protesters blocked the roads in La Reunion (and France).

We'll look at specific examples in upcoming posts.

*M2C is the acronym for the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory that teaches the prophets were wrong about the New York Cumorah. Instead, according to M2C, the "real" Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is somewhere in Southern Mexico. If you read their work, they tell each other that Cumorah is really a mountain, not a hill, and it's on the east coast of southern Mexico near the "hourglass" shape of the "narrow neck." This is how they portray it on the fantasy maps, too.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Reading Saints

Yesterday we were at Ile aux Cerfs and I brought along my copy of Saints.

It's a great book. It's just a tragedy that the authors created a false history to accommodate M2C.


November update on Early Modern English theory

This post was intended for another site, so I removed it from here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Non-neutral "Neutrality" in Gospel Topics

Lately we've been hearing a lot about the Church's alleged position of "neutrality" about Book of Mormon geography and historicity.

For example, the editors of Saints invoked "neutrality" as a justification for the false narrative present they created in that book (i.e., supposedly accurate historical figures in Church history who never heard of Cumorah).

See my discussion here: https://saintsreview.blogspot.com/2018/10/the-historians-explain-censorship-in.html

Likewise, Book of Mormon Central Censor invokes the "neutrality" concept to justify its strong advocacy of M2C and its censorship of anything that contradicts M2C.

As used by these intellectuals, "neutrality" is a pretext for censoring and rejecting the teachings of the prophets.

Let's see how this works.

The editors of Saints cited the "Gospel Topics Essay" on DNA. This is a favorite reference for Book of Mormon Central Censor, as well, along with the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.


Because these reference books were written by and cite only M2C advocates. There is nothing--absolutely nothing--neutral about them.

I've discussed the EoM before, so let's look at the Gospel Topics essay.

Here's the link:


Because today's topic is the supposedly "neutral" position on geography, I won't discuss the DNA issue here.

Instead, I'll focus on three paragraphs, with their accompanying footnotes.

Two things to notice.

1. The essay never quotes the scriptures. Instead, it relies on inferences and commentary by M2C scholars.

2. I searched in my browser for the term "neu" as in neutral or neutrality, and nothing came up. Maybe my browser was having a bad day, but I didn't notice the term when I read the essay, either. If it is in there, email me and show me where.

Original in blue, my comments in red. I put the footnotes right after they are cited in the text. Quotes within quotations are in purple.

The Book of Mormon provides little direct information about cultural contact between the peoples it describes and others who may have lived nearby. 
But the direct information the text does provide explains there were no nations on the promised land where Lehi landed. 2 Nephi 1:8 "And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance."
Nephi also reports that they planted seeds and hunted animals when they landed; they faced no competition for farming or hunting resources. Of course, this doesn't preclude the possibility of "others who may have lived nearby." I actually think they did encounter people when they arrived, but I think, because of what Lehi said, these were not "nations" in the sense of large, organized civilizations. 
Consequently, most early Latter-day Saints assumed that Near Easterners or West Asians like Jared, Lehi, Mulek, and their companions were the first or the largest or even the only groups to settle the Americas. 
This is carefully crafted vague language, but what is the essay really saying? Simply that "most early Latter-day Saints" were wrong because they made false assumptions.
Did they make these assumptions out of thin air?
Of course not. Notice how the essay avoids informing readers what Joseph Smith explained in the Wentworth letter:
"In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. 
"We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites and came directly from the Tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites of the descendants of Joseph. 
"The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country."
Modern Church members are unfamiliar with Joseph's teaching because this material was censored from the lesson manual Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith. Readers of this DNA essay likewise will not learn what Joseph taught. 
This DNA essay skirts the real reason why people want to know about the DNA issue. To be effective, this essay should help reconcile Joseph's teaching with the scientific evidence. Instead, this essay simply obscures Joseph's explanation and dismisses it as a false assumption. That's pure M2C ideology, not neutrality.

If the purpose of these Gospel Topics essays is to inform and educate, censoring and avoiding the teachings of the prophets is counterproductive. 
Building upon this assumption, critics insist that the Book of Mormon does not allow for the presence of other large populations in the Americas and that, therefore, Near Eastern DNA should be easily identifiable among modern native groups.
There are no citations here, so it's difficult to tell who the critics are and what they're actually insisting, but this strikes me as a bit of a straw man fallacy. Joseph never taught or endorsed a hemispheric geography; in fact, in the Wentworth letter, he deleted Orson Pratt's hemispheric ideas. If, as Joseph explained, the Book of Mormon described the history of the ancestors of the "Indians that now inhabit this country," it did not pertain to the inhabitants of Latin America--which is exactly what the DNA shows.

Critics who focus on early concepts of a hemispheric setting are focusing on what some of Joseph's contemporaries speculated, not on what Joseph actually taught. That should be made crystal clear in this DNA essay.
The Book of Mormon itself, however, does not claim that the peoples it describes were either the predominant or the exclusive inhabitants of the lands they occupied. In fact, cultural and demographic clues in its text hint at the presence of other groups.6
This paragraph avoids the problem of the Wentworth letter by referring to "the Book of Mormon itself." However, as previously noted, Lehi taught that other nations did not know about the land of his inheritance. Nephite kings and judges, as well as Lamanite kings, ruled entire territories, a claim that would not be credible if they were not the predominant or exclusive inhabitants of the lands they occupied.
What purpose does this paragraph serve? It accommodates the M2C theory.

M2C requires that the Nephites were a subset of a much larger, sophisticated culture, but neither Joseph Smith nor the Book of Mormon required or even implied such an idea.
6. John L. Sorenson, “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 1, no. 1 (Fall 1992): 1–34. These arguments were summarized more recently in John L. Sorenson, Mormon’s Codex: An Ancient American Book (Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute, 2013). Sorenson suggests that indicators in the book’s text makes it “inescapable that there were substantial populations in the ‘promised land’ throughout the period of the Nephite record, and probably in the Jaredite era also” (“When Lehi’s Party Arrived,” 34). Though there are several plausible hypotheses regarding the geographic locations of Book of Mormon events, the Church takes no official position except that the events occurred in the Americas. See Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2012): 196.
Notice the contrast between the "neutral" language of the note ("Sorenson suggests") and the decidedly not "neutral" language of the actual quotation from Brother Sorenson's article (inescapable that there were substantial populations"). 
Aside from the incongruity of quoting the scholars instead of the scriptures, careful readers observe how confident--even insistent--Brother Sorenson is that Lehi was wrong.
We have to admire the inclusion of this footnote for another reason. Recall that in Mormon's Codex, Brother Sorenson wrote, among others, these gems:
A large number of convergences or correspondences between the information from Mesoamerican studies and that from the Book of Mormon are presented in the following chapters. Their number and nature show beyond question that the Book of Mormon had to come from an ancient Mesoamerican document.
There remain Latter-day Saints who insist that the final destruction of the Nephites took place in New York, but any such idea is manifestly absurd. Hundreds of thousands of Nephites traipsing across the Mississippi Valley to New York, pursued (why?) by hundreds of thousands of Lamanites, is a scenario worthy only of a witless sci-fi movie, not of history. 
This supposedly "neutral" Gospel Topics essay cites the least-neutral book on the topic in existence. Mormon's Codex is a polemical book that excludes any other possible book of Mormon setting and frames the teachings of the prophets as "manifestly absurd."
Next, the essay offers this qualification:

"Though there are several plausible hypotheses regarding the geographic locations of Book of Mormon events, the Church takes no official position except that the events occurred in the Americas."
The scholar the essay cited in the immediately preceding sentences categorically excludes any hypothesis other than his own as plausible

The essay never cites, acknowledges or even hints at alternative hypotheses, plausible or not. Instead, it cites a scholar who specifically repudiates and ridicules the consistent and persistent teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.
True, the essay does not overtly declare that the prophets were wrong. Instead, it adopts the methodology practiced by M2C scholars and the Correlation Department, which is more subtle; i.e., they confuse readers by conflating the teachings of the prophets, the way this sentence in the essay does.
The essay conflates two clear and consistent teachings by the prophets and apostles:
1. The Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is in New York.
2. We don't know for sure where any of the other events took place.
Technically, one can say "the Church" has no official position because it is only the prophets and apostles who have taught the New York Cumorah. I don't know how "the Church" has an official position on anything, except when there's a press release or statement about the position of "the Church" on a given topic. 

Normally, we learn from what the prophets and apostles teach, and they have consistently and persistently taught that Cumorah is in New York. No prophet or apostle has ever modified, questioned, or repudiated these teachings. 
Nor has "the Church" modified, questioned, or repudiated the teachings about the New York Cumorah. Plus, official Church publications have included teachings about the New York Cumorah, including Letter VII, several times. 
Consequently, I don't believe this footnote in a Gospel Topics essay overrules decades of teachings by the prophets and apostles. I think it merely reaffirms the second component; i.e., that we don't know for sure where the other events took place.
Neverthelsss, I have to pay close attention to what this essay is saying. It encourages readers to go to Mormon's Codex, which expressly claims that the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah are "manifestly absurd." 
It is difficult for me to believe that our current prophets feel this way about the clear, consistent teachings of their predecessors, but this essay does tend to support those who make that claim. 
I encourage whoever is responsible for this essay to clarify the issue. If "the Church" is actually neutral on the question of Book of Mormon geography, it should not publish an essay that declares the teachings of the prophets to be "manifestly absurd." 
If "the Church" does think the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah are manifestly absurd, the essay should state it more directly.
Either way, as the essay now stands, it is definitely not neutral.
Even if it was neutral, how can one be "neutral" about whether or not the prophets teach the truth? If we're "neutral" about whether members of the First Presidency speaking in General Conference are teaching the truth, what are we doing?

This essay's approach sets a precedent for some future scholar to insert a footnote to the effect that "the Church" is "neutral" about any topic taught by the prophets that the particular scholar disagrees with.
At the April 1929 general conference, President Anthony W. Ivins of the First Presidency cautioned: “We must be careful in the conclusions that we reach. The Book of Mormon … does not tell us that there was no one here before them [the peoples it describes]. It does not tell us that people did not come after.”7
7. Anthony W. Ivins, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 15. 
This quotation is useful for the specific point that, consistent with what Joseph taught in the Wentworth letter, the Book of Mormon does not address the inhabitants of the entire American continent, North and South. However, President Ivins was not teaching that we know nothing about Book of Mormon geography. He was specifically referring to the location of the City of Zarahemla. Exactly one year earlier, in the April 1928 General Conference, President Ivins gave an address commemorating the Church's acquisition of the Hill Cumorah in New York. Among other things he stated that the "following facts" were firmly established:
That the hill Cumorah, and the hill Ramah are identical. 
That it was around this hill that the armies of both the Jaredites and Nephites fought their great last battles. 
That it was in this hill that Mormon deposited all of the sacred records which had been entrusted to his care by Ammaron, except the abridgment which he had made from the plates of Nephi, which were delivered into the hands of his son, Moroni.
We know positively that it was in this hill that Moroni deposited the abridgment made by his father, and his own abridgment of the record of the Jaredites, and that it was from this hill that Joseph Smith obtained possession of them.
I discussed this discourse here:
This all means that President Ivins, in two General Conference addresses, laid out the consistent, persistent teachings of the prophets that (i) Cumorah is in New York and (ii) we don't know where the other events took place. 

This DNA essay causes confusion by not informing readers of these two distinct and clear teachings. Instead, it conflates the two teachings, just as the M2C intellectuals have been doing for decades. 
Joseph Smith appears to have been open to the idea of migrations other than those described in the Book of Mormon,8 
This is pure mind reading. By omitting what Joseph actually wrote in the Wentworth letter, the essay leaves readers to wonder what, if anything, Joseph actually taught on this topic. 
8. “Facts Are Stubborn Things,” Times and Seasons 3 (Sept. 15, 1842): 922. This article is unattributed but was published under Joseph Smith’s editorship. See also Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, The World of the Jaredites, There Were Jaredites (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988): 250.
This is one of the anonymous Times and Seasons articles that laid the foundation for M2C; i.e., the M2C scholars claim Joseph was confused about Book of Mormon geography, speculated about the New York Cumorah, and misled the Church until he read about Mesoamerica in a travel book in Nauvoo, at which time he changed his mind because he was "open" to the scholars.

It's a transparent effort to exalt the scholars over the prophets.
Readers here know that I think the historical evidence demonstrates that Joseph was merely the nominal editor of the Times and Seasons, that he had nothing to do with editing or writing anything he didn't individually sign, and that he resigned as nominal editor after these anonymous Mesoamerican articles were published without his knowledge or approval. 

So far, no historian has come up with any evidence that Joseph was involved with any of these articles, apart from a "stylometry" analysis that is highly suspect at best because the authors refuse to make public their assumptions, database, or software. 
This leaves us with a contrast between Joseph's explicit statement in the Wentworth letter, quoted above, and the mind-reading assumptions of the M2C scholars. And yet this essay features the mind reading while omitting Joseph's actual statement. That's the opposite of neutrality.   
and many Latter-day Saint leaders and scholars over the past century have found the Book of Mormon account to be fully consistent with the presence of other established populations.9 
Here again, the essay cites scholars instead of prophets, although it may be alluding back to President Ivins. This is worded vaguely enough that it doesn't contradict Joseph's statement in the Wentworth letter. 
9. For a review of statements on this subject, see Matthew Roper, “Nephi’s Neighbors: Book of Mormon Peoples and Pre-Columbian Populations,” FARMS Review 15, no. 2 (2003): 91–128.
This is a fascinating citation. Brother Roper is one of the authors of the suspect "stylometry" study that confirmed his M2C bias. He's employed by Book of Mormon Central Censor to write articles that promote M2C and oppose alternatives, including the teachings of the prophets. He's one of the best-known advocate of M2C and he's anything but neutral.
For an analysis of the cited paper, see my post here:
The 2006 update to the introduction of the Book of Mormon reflects this understanding by stating that Book of Mormon peoples were “among the ancestors of the American Indians.”10
10. Introduction to the Book of Mormon, rev. ed. (New York: Doubleday, 2006). The introduction, which is not part of the text of the Book of Mormon, previously stated that the Lamanites were the “principal ancestors of the American Indians.” Even this statement, first published in 1981, implies the presence of others. (Introduction to the Book of Mormon, 1981 ed.) Early in the Book of Mormon, the name Lamanite refers to the descendants of Laman and Lemuel (see 2 Nephi 5:14 and Jacob 1:13). Hundreds of years later, it came to identify all those with a different political or religious affiliation than the keepers of the Book of Mormon plates (see Helaman 11:24 and 4 Nephi 1:20).
Notice that the original Introduction followed what Joseph wrote in the Wentworth letter in the section I quoted above in my comments. This is the same section that was censored from the lesson manual. 
In my view, there's nothing wrong with the original statement, provided it refers to the "Indians that live in this country," the way Joseph Smith described them.
They why make the change to the Introduction, and why all this explanation in this essay on DNA?
The simple reason is that M2C requires it.
If the Nephites lived in what is now the United States and never ventured south of, say, Texas, then Joseph's statement in the Wentworth letter and the original Introduction make sense. It's only when we claim the Nephites lived in Mesoamerica that we have to change the introduction and censor Joseph's teachings. 
Nothing is known about the extent of intermarriage and genetic mixing between Book of Mormon peoples or their descendants and other inhabitants of the Americas, though some mixing appears evident, even during the period covered by the book’s text.11
11. John L. Sorenson, “When Lehi’s Party Arrived,” 5–12.
This is a fair statement. In fact, it's important to recognize the widespread intermarriage and migrations that took place after the Nephites were destroyed around 400 A.D. To the extent the blood of Lehi survives in some sense among the indigenous people of Latin America, it can be attributed to these later migrations. The presence of Lehi's descendants in Latin America or elsewhere has nothing to do with the location of the events in the Book of Mormon.
Bottom line:

If this Gospel Topics essay is intended to reflect a position of "neutrality" regarding Book of Mormon geography, it needs to be revised to eliminate or at least mitigate the uniform and strong M2C orientation it currently has.
If the Church is officially repudiating the teachings of past prophets and apostles regarding the New York Cumorah, the essay should make that explicit. As it currently reads, this essay causes great confusion among members of the Church as well as nonmembers.
At a minimum, the essay should explain and reconcile the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah and Joseph's teachings in the Wentworth letter.