It turns out, though, that most Church members, especially younger and newer members, know of only two.
Younger and newer members of the Church typically rely on websites such as FairMormon, Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, BYU Studies, Meridian Magazine, etc. All of these organizations and publications frame the Cumorah issue in terms of only two schools of thought. They censor alternatives from their publications and have their employees and anonymous trolls attack active Church members who dare to offer a third alternative.
School of Thought 1: The real Cumorah is in southern Mexico, where the events of the Book of Mormon took place. Early Church references to Cumorah in New York represented mere speculation that the scholars now know was incorrect. This discrepancy is not a problem if we accept that there are "two Cumorahs" like this: a "fake Cumorah" in New York, and a "true Cumorah" in southern Mexico. M2C is what is being taught at BYU, CES, in Saints Volume 1, and other curriculum today including Come Follow Me and the Gospel Topics Essays.
School of Thought 2: The real Cumorah is nonexistent because the Book of Mormon is fiction. This is what is being taught by critics of the Book of Mormon such as the CES Letter and Mormon Stories. Some BYU faculty also follow this school of thought, as do many active members. Of course, most people who follow this school of thought are inactive or former members.
When these are the only two options, a lot of people choose option 2. Disbelief in the Book of Mormon is a major factor for people leaving the Church and for people to reject the missionaries. That's why, IMO, it is so counterproductive for the M2C advocates to censor the third school of thought.
School of Thought 3. The real Cumorah is in western New York, as taught by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and all their contemporaries and successors (so far). The Mesoamerican "Cumorah" is a fiction created by intellectuals to make sense of their geography theories. Instead, Joseph and Oliver were correct and their teachings are supported by relevant archaeology, anthropology, geography, geology, etc.
For many years, I accepted School of Thought 1. I had never heard about School of Thought 3. I attended Seminary and went to BYU. I read publications from FARMS, BYU Studies, etc. I attended firesides and conferences, visited sites in Central America--the whole deal. I even bought off on the idea of "two Cumorahs," which seemed strange but necessary to justify the Mesoamerican setting.
In all those years, I never did learn what the prophets had taught about the New York Cumorah; to the extent I heard a conference talk or something, I dismissed it the same way the M2C advocates dismiss it today. I certainly never learned about the extrinsic evidence that corroborates and supports those teachings.
Once I did, School of Thought 3 made sense.
It makes more and more sense all the time.
Whereas, Schools of Thought 1 and 2 make less and less sense, the more you dig into them.
It doesn't matter to me what school of thought you believe in. You can believe whatever you want. I suppose most active members of the Church who think about this issue choose School of Thought 1 by default because that's what they have been taught by CES, BYU, and COB materials, and they don't know of any other alternative to School of Thought 2.
All I'd say is, if you think there are only 2 schools of thought, and you realize that School of Thought 1 is a contrived hoax that repudiates the teachings of the prophets, don't automatically jump to School of Thought 2.
Try School of Thought 3 first.
And if you're an M2C advocate, realize that by censoring School of Thought 3, you are pushing people out of the Church.
I recognize that some complain because they think that my criticism of M2C undermines the faith of some people. That's not my intent. I've always encouraged people to make informed decisions and stick with what works. I don't mind in the least if people want to believe M2C.
But I also recognize that M2C is based on a mistake in Church history (the anonymous Times and Seasons articles attributed to Joseph Smith), that it was developed by RLDS scholars in opposition to Brigham Young, Joseph F. Smith, etc., and that it is supported today through a cascade of logical errors and contrived interpretations, combined with academic arrogance and censorship of alternative views.
More and more people recognize the same thing and when no alternatives are available--when it is M2C or bust--they go bust.
It's an unnecessary, and unjustifiable, tragedy to deprive Church members of information about School of Thought 3.
I think the teachings of the prophets are clear, consistent, and persistent, with the added benefit of being supported and corroborated by extrinsic evidence.
I think it is foolish to repudiate those teachings by promoting M2C.
Fortunately, more and more people are learning about School of Thought 3.