I've mentioned a few times that I'm working on a book on LDS apologetics. The topic came to the forefront recently with articles published in the Salt Lake Tribune that I'll mention below.
This is a good time to reiterate the observation that the M2C/SITH citation cartel includes not only the Interpreter, Book of Mormon Central, FAIRLDS, and Meridian Magazine, but also Mormon Stories and the CES Letter. All of these groups and their principals share the theme that the prophets were wrong about the New York Cumorah, and all of them agree that Joseph Smith didn't really translate the plates.“Joseph Smith’s claim that he used the Urim and Thummim is only partially true; and Oliver Cowdery’s statements that Joseph used the original instrument while he, Oliver, was the scribe appear to be intentionally misleading.”
Fortunately, the ranks of these citation cartels is shrinking.
The Maxwell Institute and BYU Studies used to be part of the cartels, but the Maxwell Institute jettisoned the M2C logo along with its previous M2C advocacy. Steve Harper, the new editor at BYU Studies, appears to have jettisoned the obsessive M2C advocacy that his predecessor, Jack Welch, conducted for years. Well, BYU Studies still features the M2C maps, but at least the editorial content in recent issues is a little more balanced and inclusive now than it has been in decades.
Unfortunately, though, the remaining six are moving full steam ahead. They're all prospering, raising more money, expanding their social media influence, and telling everyone who will listen about their successes (as they define them).
For example, 3 weeks ago MormonStories, which has 55.2k subscribers, released a short video featuring SITH that has accumulated 386,000 views so far. The response from FAIRLDS and the rest of the cartel is to (i) concede that Joseph actually used SITH to produce the Book of Mormon, and (ii) ludicrously claim that was always taught in the Church.
An alternative response that the SITH cartel never considers is that Joseph actually did translate the plates, as he and Oliver claimed. In my view, the historical and linguistic evidence corroborates what Joseph and Oliver said. That's not to say there were no SITH witnesses, but as I've discussed at length elsewhere, these witnesses conflated their observations with their assumptions and inferences, and they were motivated by trying to refute the Spalding theory.
As with M2C, the SITH citation cartel seeks to repudiate the teachings of the prophets instead of corroborating those teachings. This is easy to understand when done by MormonStories and CES Letter, but it's appalling when done by FAIRLDS, Book of Mormon Central, the Interpreter, and Meridian Magazine, each of which portrays itself as promoting faith.
Yesterday the Salt Lake Tribune published a couple of articles about John Dehlin and his MormonStories podcast.
This excerpt pretty well summarizes what I've observed as well: “People are raw emotionally and lost in a lot of ways, with their worldview flipped upside down,” said Ethan Gregory Dodge, co-founder of the Truth & Transparency Foundation (formerly MormonLeaks). “He comes across as someone who has all the answers and then starts asking for money. People will give John money out of gratitude, but eventually fall out of love with him.”
His “business model thrives on drama,” Dodge said. “The more drama he can drum up, the more podcast downloads and YouTube hits he will get.”
In a sense, Dehlin has an easy job. He just has to point people who have a faith crisis to the writings of LDS scholars in the citation cartels who have repudiated the teachings of the prophets. Then he asks, if Joseph and Oliver were wrong about the translation and historicity of the Book of Mormon, what's left?
Today the Trib published another article.
As Dehlin and others have observed, problems with Church history and Book of Mormon historicity are among the main issues people have put on their "shelf." When we get answers from LDS apologists that basically agree with the critics, particularly regarding SITH and M2C, it's not surprising that people feel their shelves have broken.
I've discussed Mormon Stories on one of my blogs: https://mormonstoriesreviewed.blogspot.com/
Book of Mormon Central spends millions of dollars annually to promote its agendas. One of its main initiatives is its youtube channel, with its M2C logo, that has 149k subscribers. Its most popular video so far is the Tyler and Taylor show's Come Follow Me episode on Moses 1, released 2 months ago, that has 326k views.
promotes M2C was released a year ago. It has 223,000 views.