I support about 90% of what they do and wish I could support the rest. However, I think their focus on M2C undermines their objectives for all the reasons I've explained.
At the very least, they should represent all faithful views and interpretations of the Book of Mormon, but they refuse. They have earned the nickname Book of Mormon Central America because that's the only theory of geography they permit on their web site. They continue to censor alternative faithful views.
Like its predecessor FARMS, BMC is the antithesis of diversity and neutrality, but for obvious reasons they want everyone to think they follow the Church's policy of neutrality on Book of Mormon geography issues, as well as the policy against contention.
Let's see what the reality is.
As always, I'm eager to correct any errors in this material, so if there are any, please let me know by email.
First, let's review the history of M2C.
|1917 map of M2C by L.E. Hills|
Cumorah was part of the contest between the RLDS and LDS, as I discussed in more detail here.
In the late 1800s, the President of the RLDS Church was Joseph Smith III, the son of Joseph Smith Jr. RLDS missionaries were coming to Utah and converting LDS members to their church. By one count, 3,000 LDS in Utah converted to the RLDS church.
In response, Brigham Young called Joseph F. Smith, the 27-year-old son of Hyrum Smith, to the First Presidency, where he served the remainder of his life.
Joseph Smith III and Joseph F. Smith were first cousins. Their rivalry was partly doctrinal but also familial.
RLDS scholars developed M2C about the time that LDS President Joseph F. Smith focused on the New York Cumorah. As editor of the Improvement Era in 1899, President Smith republished Letter VII, reaffirming President Cowdery's declaration that it was a fact that the hill Cumorah in New York was the scene of the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites, as well as the location of Mormon's depository of Nephite records.
After he became President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith wanted to purchase the Hill Cumorah in New York. RLDS scholars were saying, in effect, "go ahead, but the real Cumorah is in Mexico."
Over the objections of LDS Church leaders such as Joseph Fielding Smith, LDS scholars adopted the RLDS theory. Today's M2C is the result.
The clearest statement of the philosophical basis for M2C was provided by Dr. John Sorenson, author of Mormon's Codex and other M2C books and articles found in BMC's archive. Original in blue, my comments in red.
Until he encountered the Stephens’s book, Joseph gave no hint that he was aware that such a limited area with a distinctive civilized culture even existed in the Americas. Even with Stephens’s material in mind, he made no more than a passing attempt to relate the Book of Mormon’s story to the newly-found ruins. And in the long run, the little blip on the Latter-day Saints’ mental screen caused by the explorer’s book faded as the mistaken folk view reasserted its dominance.
They might try to persuade you that they are "neutral" because they disagree with Brother Sorenson about which river is Sidon, or exactly where in Mesoamerica a particular city or feature is located, but they agree with everything he wrote in the quotation above. That's the essence of M2C.
We have Hebrew (Old Testament).
We have Egyptian (Book of Abraham)
We have Greek (New Testament).
And we have Mayan (Book of Mormon).
That's as non-neutral as it gets. The logo is a carryover from the old FARMS, which was also 100% M2C, as discussed below.
This logo, heavily promoted with millions of dollars, announces to the world that there is no room for an interpretation of the Book of Mormon outside Mesoamerica.
Now, the people involved.
The legal organization behind Book of Mormon Central is the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 non-profit public charity chartered in the state of Utah in 2004.
When people donate to BMC, they are really donating to BMAF. BMC donors are supporting the dissemination of M2C, as we discussed here.
And that's perfectly fine, so long as they know what they're doing.
For decades, BMAF's mission statement read:
If you can't read it, it says:
The Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization dedicated as an open forum for presentation, dissemination, and discussion of research and evidences regarding Book of Mormon archaeology, anthropology, geography and culture within a Mesoamerican context. Our goals are (1) to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex, (2) to correlate and publish works of LDS and CofC scholars, (3) to help promote unity and cooperation among scholars and students of the Book of Mormon, and (4) to provide a forum where responsible scholars can present current ideas and discoveries.
After I publicized this mission statement, they changed the statement to what it currently reads:
MISSION STATEMENTEven when they made this change, they could not bring themselves to endorse neutrality. The "other ancient contexts" they refer to here are in the Old World. They are not referring to anywhere in the Americas other than Mesoamerica. This is evident in all their work. Anyone can see it for themselves.
BMC continues "to increase understanding of the Book of Mormon as an ancient Mesoamerican codex." You can see it in the archive, their Kno-Whys, their social media work, their firesides, their coordinated efforts with other members of the M2C citation cartel, etc.
I've mentioned a few examples previously in this blog, which you can see by searching for "KnowWhy," "Kno-Why" or "no-wise" in the search box. For example:
Here's another official statement from BMC
Book of Mormon Central Policy on Book of Mormon Geography – June 2016This is all window-dressing for Church leaders and donors. I've discussed the implementation here:
I'll conclude this post with another official statement and its implementation by a BMC employee who demonstrates the deep emotional attachment BMC has with M2C.
Book of Mormon Central Social Media Policy
To see how that policy is implemented, look at the following social media post by a BMC employee, one that Dan Peterson at the Interpreter endorses. (We aren't putting any of Dan's posts here because, technically, he's not listed under BMC's directory.)
That last sentence is good advice for everyone.