Monday, February 28, 2022

John Dehlin and the rest of the M2C/SITH citation cartel

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.

Royal Skousen, the retired BYU professor and the premier scholar on the physical texts of the Book of Mormon, expressed the basic idea in the pages of the Interpreter: “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.”

https://www.academia.edu/67756647/Agenda_driven_editorial_content_in_the_Joseph_Smith_Papers

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.

Questions surround podcaster John Dehlin and the quest to build an ex-LDS community (sltrib.com)

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.” 

‘Mormon Stories’ podcaster John Dehlin makes $236K a year from his nonprofit. Is that too much? (sltrib.com)

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. 

THRIVE’s aim: Help Latter-day Saints when their ‘shelf breaks’ and they want out of the church (sltrib.com)

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.

Tyler and Taylor are awesome, great guys, faithful Latter-day Saints, etc. As professionals, they are effective at teaching and persuading. 

If they didn't teach M2C and SITH, they'd be even more effective. 

Their M2C video that explicitly promotes M2C was released a year ago. It has 223,000 views.

The obvious problem with Book of Mormon Central is two-fold. They are preaching to the choir, basically raising and spending millions of dollars to entertain the Latter-day Saints, while we observe declining growth of the Church and expanding popularity and influence of critics such as Mormon Stories and CES Letter.

The second problem is they are subverting the whole point of Come Follow Me.

In a recent stake conference, our visiting authorities asked us to emphasize personal study and reflection instead of merely watching these professionally produced Come Follow Me videos.

In a world saturated with social media, videos and games, the illusion of learning is pervasive. People can watch Tyler and Taylor and think they've really learned something, but the point of Come Follow Me is not entertainment. The program seeks to motivate the Latter-day Saints to study the scriptures and implement the principles.

We all know the problems with the other members of the citation cartels, including the CES Letter, the Interpreter and FAIRLDS, so no need to rehash them here. 
_____

One last thought. 

Primary classes have long taught the parable of the sandy foundation vs. the foundation of rock. 

The scriptures and the teachings of the prophets are the rock.

The speculations of scholars and critics, including SITH and M2C, are the sand.








Friday, February 25, 2022

Futility of "correspondences"

A few days ago we were visiting the Louvre in Abu Dhabi and spent some time in the opening exhibit that celebrated similarities among cultures around the world and throughout time.


This display of Gold Masks from Northern China (907-1125), Lebanon (600-300 BCE), and Peru (100 BCE - 700 CE) asked the question, "Why is it that so many civilizations covered the faces of the dead in gold? Does gold, as an incorruptible substance, confer eternal life, liberating our existence from the fine realm? With its luster, it perpetuates the light of life by suppressing the darkness of death... Immortality appears to be the universal hope of mankind when faced with death."

The other displays featured 3 similar examples each of decorated vases, sculpture of motherhood, houses of the dead, figures in prayer, and dancing figures from around the world, dating as far back as 2800 BCE. The exhibit emphasized the commonality of people regardless of culture.

It reminded me of the futility of finding "correspondences" as evidence of the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica.

One of the main M2C apologist arguments consists of finding "correspondences" between Mayan culture and the text of the Book of Mormon.

The 826-page M2C Bible, Mormon's Codex, has three parts: 

Part 1: Orientation

Part 2: Correspondences by Topic

Part 3: Correspondences from Archaeology and History

The entire book consists mainly of illusory correspondences; illusory because they are typical of most, if not all, human societies.

Terryl Givens' infamous Foreword to the book notes that "this present work encompasses hundreds of 'correspondences,' or points of 'particular similarity' involving geography, chronology, archaeology, biology, and other disciplines..."

The basic M2C logic works like this:

Nephites were farmers.

Mayans were farmers.

Therefore the Nephites were Mayans.

We can all see it's a ridiculous logical fallacy, but our M2C scholars have nevertheless "sold" it to Latter-day Saints who are eager to reject the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. 

Of courses, there's nothing inherently irrational about finding such "correspondences" between the Book of Mormon and real world cultures. The Book of Mormon describes real people living in the real world, and as the Louvre exhibit showed, people everywhere have similarities in their cultures. 

What's irrational is thinking that these correspondences outweigh the teachings of the prophets, particularly what Joseph and Oliver said. 

And particularly when there are even closer "correspondences" between the text and the ancient inhabitants of North America.



Friday, February 11, 2022

What if the prophets were correct about Cumorah?


Questions about the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon have led a lot of people to question their faith, yet our most prominent LDS scholars continue to discredit the prophets on this topic.

If Latter-day Saints accepted what the prophets have taught about the New York Cumorah, we would have a more profound understanding of the text and greater unity in the Church. 

Instead of confusing students (and everyone else) by insisting that Joseph and Oliver were wrong, our scholars would teach that Joseph and Oliver were honest, reliable, and credible.

Instead of the chaos arising from people advocating their own ideas about the location of Cumorah, everyone could unite behind the prophets.

Instead of blithely pretending historicity doesn't matter, we would all see how "proof of its divine authenticity" (to use Joseph's words) serves to reinforce the convincing power of the Book of Mormon.

Such unity and understanding would reinvigorate efforts to share the Book of Mormon with the world.

What impedes this progress?

_____

Despite the effort to "de-correlate" the New York Cumorah by removing it from Church history,* everyone can read those teachings. Even the most adamant M2Cers such as FAIRLDS and Book of Mormon Central reluctantly acknowledge that the prophets have taught that Cumorah is in New York.

Why do they fight these teachings?

The M2Cers invoke four main reasons.

1. Conflation of teachings. Throughout Church history, there has been a clear distinction between the fact of the New York Cumorah and various opinions/speculation about the location of other events. A key point: the location of Cumorah doesn't determine the location of other events. There are hundreds of potential sites for Book of Mormon events, and untold possibilities have been long lost to history. Yet modern LDS scholars conflate the two separate topics to confuse people into thinking the fact of Cumorah was mere speculation. That's outcome-driven revisionist history that everyone can see.

2. "No evidence." M2Cers insist that the prophets were wrong about Cumorah because there is "no evidence" in New York. But that's a misreading of both the evidence and what the Book of Mormon itself says.

It's true that there is "no evidence" in western New York of the type of society the M2Cers have dreamed up to fit their Mesoamerican theory. But there is also "no evidence" in the Book of Mormon itself for such a society. The text never refers to massive stone pyramids, volcanoes or the three Js of Mesoamerica: jaguars, jade, and jungles.

It reality, there is plenty of extrinsic evidence in western New York, but it's not what the M2Cers seek. If people accepted the teachings of the prophets, they would interpret the text accordingly.

The extrinsic evidence (archaeology, anthropology, geology, geography) corroborates what Moroni said when he told Joseph that the abridged record was "written and deposited not far from" Joseph's home near Palmyra. The evidence corroborates the actual descriptions in the text, and such evidence should inform our interpretation of the text.

3. "Doesn't fit." M2Cers insist that the prophets were wrong about Cumorah because western New York doesn't fit their interpretation of the geography-related passages in the text. But insisting on only one possible interpretation of the text violates a fundamental principle of textual interpretation.

Anyone who reads the Book of Mormon can see that the passages describing geography are relatively vague. The vagueness of the term "land northward" is compounded by the question whether it is a proper noun or a relative term. In Utah, Salt Lake City is both the land northward and the land southward, depending on whether the reference is Provo or Ogden. 

The terms "narrow neck," "small neck," and "narrow neck of land" could refer to the same geographical feature or to different features. The term "head of the river" could refer to the source or a confluence. Common English usage circa early 1800s finds examples of multiple meanings for these and other terms.  

4. Heartlanders are nationalists. Lately some M2Cers have resorted to a straw man fallacy to deter the Latter-day Saints from learning about the teachings of the prophets regarding Cumorah. They claim that people who accept the New York Cumorah are American nationalists. In reality, Latter-day Saints who still believe the teachings of the prophets have a variety of view about other Book of Mormon settings. Many Latter-day Saints who accept the New York Cumorah don't live in the U.S. and couldn't care less about American politics. 

_____

The question boils down to whether we accept or repudiate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. 

We've discussed all of this before. Some LDS are far better informed than others about all of this.

Those interested in more detail can peruse this blog or books on this topic that have more detail and footnotes, such as Between these Hills and Letter VII

___

* The "de-correlation" of Cumorah is evident not only in the efforts of FAIRLDS, Book of Mormon Central and the Interpreter, but also in Saints, Vol. 1, the editorial content of the Joseph Smith Papers, Opening the Heavens, the BYU and CES fantasy maps, and pretty much every recent commentary on the Book of Mormon and most artwork. Despite all of this, the teachings of the prophets remain part of the historical record.


Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Classic Post #6 - Agree and Agree-to-disagree chart

This comparison chart compares M2C (the Mesoamerican/Two-Cumorahs theory) with 1NYC (the One New York Cumorah).

Proposition

M2C

1NYC

1. The most important aspect of the Book of Mormon is its message.

Agree

Agree

2. The Book of Mormon is an inspired translation of an actual ancient record of actual people who lived in the real world.

Agree

Agree

3. The ultimate objective of our research/writing is to motivate people to read the Book of Mormon and strengthen their faith in Christ as a result.

Agree

Agree

4. Another objective of our research/writing is to help people better understand the text of the book by understanding its setting, culture and context.

Agree

Agree

5. The Church has no official position on where Book of Mormon events took place.

Agree

Agree

6. In Letter VII, Oliver Cowdery identified the valley west of the Hill Cumorah in New York as the location of the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites.

Agree

Agree

7. Joseph Smith instructed his scribes to copy Oliver’s letters, including Letter VII, into his journal as part of his life story.

Agree

Agree

8. Joseph Smith gave permission to Benjamin Winchester to republish Oliver’s letters, including Letter VII, in his newspaper called the Gospel Reflector

Agree

Agree

9. Don Carlos republished Oliver’s letters, including Letter VII, in the 1842 Church newspaper called the Times and Seasons (T&S).

Agree

Agree

10. On Sept. 9, 1841, Dr. Bernhisel gave Wilford Woodruff a copy of the Stephens' popular archaeology books about Central America to give to Joseph Smith

Agree

Agree

11. On Nov. 5, 1841, Wilford Woodruff wrote a letter to Dr. Bernhisel that is not extant.

Agree

Agree

12. A thank-you letter dated Nov. 16, 1841, was sent to Bernhisel on Joseph Smith’s behalf. No one knows who wrote the letter because the handwriting remains unidentified and no journals mention it.

Agree

Agree

13. A series of editorials were published in the T&S during 1842 that linked the Book of Mormon to archaeological findings in North and Central America. They cited the Stephens books and archaeology books by Josiah Priest. All were published either anonymously or over the signature of Ed. for Editor.

Agree

Agree

14. From February 15 through October 15, 1842, the boilerplate of the T&S said the paper was edited, printed, and published by Joseph Smith.

Agree

Agree

15. Joseph Smith originally obtained the plates from a stone box Moroni constructed out of stone and cement in the Hill Cumorah in New York.

Agree

Agree

16. Brigham Young said Oliver told him that he (Oliver) and Joseph had made at least two visits to a room in the Hill Cumorah in New York that contained piles of records and ancient Nephite artifacts.

Agree

Agree

17. Mormon said he buried all the Nephite records in the Hill Cumorah (Morm. 6:6), the scene of the final battles of the Nephites, except he kept out the plates he gave to his son Moroni to finish the record.

Agree

Agree

18. D&C 128:20 reads, “And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed,” followed by references to other events that took place in New York.

Agree

Agree

19. The geography passages in the Book of Mormon are subject to a variety of interpretations.

Agree

Agree

20. To date, apart from Moroni’s stone box and the plates and other objects Joseph Smith possessed and showed to the Witnesses, no artifact or archaeological site that can be directly linked to the Book of Mormon has been found anywhere.

Agree

Agree

21. Cultural characteristics can be discerned from the text.

Agree

Agree

22. The New Jerusalem Ether wrote about is located in Jackson County, Missouri.

Agree

Agree

23. Mayan civilization collapsed around 800 A.D. and Mayans migrated to North America, where they lived for several hundred years before returning to Central America.

Agree

Agree

24. The Newark Ohio earthworks are the largest earthworks in the world and demonstrate knowledge of astronomy and geometry.

Agree

Agree

25. There were a million ancient mounds in North America before the Europeans arrived.

Agree

Agree

26. There are two million skeletons buried in mounds in Illinois alone.

Agree

Agree

27. As an Apostle and Church Historian, Joseph Fielding Smith said the two-Cumorah theory caused members to become confused and disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. He reiterated this when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve in the 1950s in his book Doctrines of Salvation.

Agree

Agree

28. The land of Zarahemla is north of the land of Nephi and lower in elevation than the land of Nephi.

Agree

Agree


Friday, February 4, 2022

FAIRLDS, Cumorah, and plain and precious things

Nephi said "there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book" (1 Nephi 13:28), referring to the Bible. Readers wonder what things were taken and how were they taken away. Various authors have offered possible answers.

It's even more interesting to observe the process playing out in our day among the Latter-day Saints.

Presumably, the ancient scribes thought they had good reason to edit the scriptures.

In our day, we have a group of LDS apologists, many of whom manage and contribute to an organization  now known as FAIR (aka FAIRMORMON and FAIRLDS), who are determined to take away plain and precious things from our well-documented Church history. 

Presumably, these equivalents of ancient scribes also think they have good reason to revise Church history. But really, there are no good reasons for what they're doing. 

Simply put, these LDS apologists will not "understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be." (2 Nephi 32:7)

This is a timely topic because critics of the Church have recently pointed out how these LDS apologists have changed their narratives, leaving faithful Latter-day Saints wondering who is more honest and accurate: the critics or FAIR?
_____

One of the "plain and precious" truths regarding the Book of Mormon relates to its divine authenticity as an actual history.

In 1835, President Oliver Cowdery spelled out this truth "as plain as words can be" when he wrote the first detailed history of the Restoration with the assistance of Joseph Smith. Responding to critics who claimed the Book of Mormon was fiction, President Cowdery emphasized the fact that the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place in the mile-wide valley west of the hill where Moroni had deposited the plates; i.e., the hill Cumorah in western New York. 

We can all read this account right in Joseph Smith's own history, here:

The contemporaries of Joseph and Oliver knew about Cumorah because Moroni had identified the hill as Cumorah when he first met Joseph. Moroni explained that the record had been "written and deposited" not far from Joseph's home. Church leaders who knew Joseph and Oliver, as well as those who succeeded Joseph, reiterated the truth about Cumorah repeatedly and consistently. A partial list is here: https://www.mobom.org/modern-prophets-on-cumorah

Because they have convinced themselves that the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica, groups such as FAIRLDS have by necessity repudiated the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah. 

Instead of heeding the teachings of the prophets as their guide, they adopted the Mesoamerican/two Cumorahs theory (M2C) originally invented in the early 1900s by RLDS scholar L.E. Hills. M2C claims the "real" Cumorah is somewhere in southern Mexico while the "so-called Cumorah" in New York was merely a false tradition that Joseph, along with his contemporaries and successors, adopted in their speculative ignorance.

We wouldn't care what these apologists think--people can believe whatever they want to believe--except that they have been teaching M2C to generations of young Latter-day Saints.

When I was at BYU, I fell for M2C because I trusted my professors who were presented as "experts" on the Book of Mormon. I read all the FARMS newsletters and books, attended the conferences, etc. 

Scholars such as Royal Skousen and Jack Welch have deliberately manipulated Church history to eliminate any references to Cumorah. 

The editors at the Joseph Smith Papers consistently purge Cumorah from the historical context (although they can't change the actual historical sources, fortunately). 

Even the Saints book, Volume 1, censored Cumorah.

By now, the "plain and precious" truth about Cumorah has been all but lost. Only those "engaged learners" who still study the teachings of the prophets know about the New York Cumorah.
_____

This topic was highlighted in social media recently, as we'll see below. I blogged about it five years ago, here.

It has to do with a letter dated October 18, 1990, from the Office of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded to an inquiry from a Church member in Oklahoma City. The letter reads: 

“I have been asked to forward to you for acknowledgement and handling the enclosed copy of a letter to President Gordon B. Hinckley from Ronnie Sparks of your ward. Brother Sparks inquired about the location of the Hill Cumorah mentioned in the Book of Mormon, where the last battle between the Nephites and Lamanites took place.

The Church has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon.”

There is (or should be) nothing controversial about that letter. It merely states a well-known fact from Church history, which anyone can read. 

Just 15 years earlier, in the October 1975 General Conference, President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency had explained the New York Cumorah in detail, with language "as plain as words can be." 

Three years later, in the October 1978 General Conference, Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve reiterated it once again. Nothing had changed by 1990. No one claimed any new revelation to usurp what Moroni told Joseph Smith in 1823 or any of the ensuing teachings that corroborated the New York Cumorah. 

However, a group of M2C-advocating apologists sought to discredit the 1990 letter, the way they had been discrediting the previous teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. They are affiliated with FAIR, which rejects the credibility and reliability of all Church historical sources and statements by LDS General Authorities that teach the Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is in western New York. 

The 1990 letter was signed by F. Michael Watson, Secretary to the First Presidency, a common practice, so FAIR focused on Elder Watson. FAIR's position is set forth on its webpage, here: 

In January 2022, the podcast Mormonism Live, which often pokes fun at LDS apologists, released two episodes, one on the "Two-Cumorah theory" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoTsWIbTy2M (8,000 views) and one on "Mormon Apologist Skullduggery - The Mystery of the Second Watson Letter" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4tYNWFkO6o&t=5s (8,300 views). 

The podcasts explain the tactics FAIR uses to persuade the Latter-day Saints to disbelieve the teachings of the prophets about Cumorah. They cleverly use the apologists' own arguments to deconstruct the New York Cumorah, and then point out how the Mesoamerican setting is not credible. 

It seems obvious to me that FAIR (and other M2C promoters) and Mormonism Live are essentially collaborating on creating a false narrative about Church history regarding Cumorah (as well as other issues). 

I don't object to anyone believing whatever they want to believe, but both FAIR and the critics at Mormonism Live refuse to consider, let alone present, the faithful alternative narrative that corroborates the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah. Their readers and listeners are left with the mistaken sense that they have been told the whole story.

We can expect critics to present only one interpretation of the evidence. That's what critics do, and it's popular because it's entertaining and confirms the biases of their audience.

But it continues to astound faithful Latter-day Saints that organizations such as FAIR refuse to acknowledge and respect alternative faithful narratives about such a basic, plain and precious teaching as the New York Cumorah. 
_____    

Elder Watson released a public statement in January, 2022, to clarify the facts to avoid further misunderstanding and confusion. It has been posted various places, but you can see it here:


If you look at the attachment to Elder Watson's response, you'll see screen captures of the FAIR response as it was in January.

FAIR received a copy of Watson's January 2022 statement but declined to put it on their website. Instead, they inserted a new paragraph (without explaining or dating the insertion).

(Some have complained that the fax was private and should not be cited--but why would Watson send a private note to FARMS if it was not anticipated that it would be used to answer the questions being put to FARMS? The letter has long been available publicly, since its text was published by FARMS soon after its receipt.)

That paragraph is typical of the FAIR apologists. It casts aspersions without addressing the issues or explaining the context. 

Few people will take the time to compare the FAIR website to the podcasts on Mormonism Live (and I don't recommend either source), but it's easy to see which one is more historically accurate. 

Regardless, both FAIR and the critics teach basically the same thing; i.e., that the prophets were wrong about the New York Cumorah.
_____

At some point after I blogged about this in 2017, FAIR added two paragraphs that deserve comment. The first cites Saints, Volume 1.

More recently, the Church has issued other statements and taken further action

Saints: Vol. 1 (2018): The Church's official history does not name the hill in which Joseph found the plates.

The Church's official history, Saints, tells the story of Joseph's recovery of the plates from the hill near his home. The account does not, however,  ever use the label "Cumorah" for the hill. This is an odd omission if the official prophetic stance on the Hill Cumorah is fixed on the New York site.[3]
This is hardly an "odd omission." It's an entirely predictable omission, given the agenda of the editors of Saints, as I discussed here:


FAIR must think their readers are fools to make this argument. When the problem is FAIR seeking to take away the "plain and precious things" about Cumorah, it hardly bolsters their argument for them to point out another egregious example of manipulating Church history to create a false historical narrative present.

To summarize: 

1. Saints creates a false narrative present; i.e., characters in the book do not have 1827-1844 ideas about the New York Cumorah that is well established in original sources. 

 2. Instead, the characters in Saints know nothing about Cumorah, a reflection of the late 20th century "two Cumorahs" theory created by M2C intellectuals.

 3. In responses to criticism, the editors of Saints published an essay that seeks to explain their censorship of Cumorah with a series of inconsistent and counterfactual justifications.

 4. The editors of Saints ultimately admit they censored the term Cumorah to "uphold" so-called "neutrality," a euphemism for accommodating the M2C theory of Book of Mormon geography. 


That FAIR gets away with this type of apologetics indicates that FAIR readers are lazy learners who merely want to be told what to think.
_____

Now, let's look at the next addition to FAIR's post about the 1990 letter (below). They quote from the Gospel Topics entry on Book of Mormon Geography.

Here, we should all remember that what is posted on the Church web page now is not the original version of this entry. The original version repeated much of the FAIR apologetic rhetoric. After I pointed out that some of it was misleading and incorrect, the Church released a revision three weeks later that corrected some, but not all, of the errors.

It's also important to note that the entry does not even mention Cumorah. Thus FAIR uses it to perpetuate the M2C apologist effort to conflate two separate issues:

1. The New York Cumorah, which has been well established as a fact by the teachings of Joseph, Oliver, their contemporaries and successors.

2. The uncertainty about other locations, which has also been well established by the teachings of Joseph, Oliver, their contemporaries and successors.

The entry refers to "numerous opinions about the specific locations of the events discussed in the book." Those opinions have ranged from South to Central to North America. Orson Pratt's footnotes in the 1879 Book of Mormon reflected the opinion nature of those ideas.

However, the New York Cumorah was never expressed as an opinion. Oliver Cowdery explicitly stated it was a fact. Lucy Mack Smith related it as a fact, based on what Joseph told her about Moroni's visit. David Whitmer stated it as a fact. In all the teachings of Joseph's contemporaries and successors as Church leaders, the New York Cumorah was never proposed as an opinion. Orson Pratt's footnotes in the 1879 Book of Mormon showed that Cumorah was a fact, in contrast to the other possible sites for Book of Mormon events.

Thus, the Gospel Topics entry on Book of Mormon Geography doesn't even address Cumorah.

Finally, notice the last paragraph of FAIR's addition. They claim neutrality on Book of Mormon geography. This is the same rhetorical trick employed by Book of Mormon Central, BYU Studies, the Interpreter, etc.

Yet every reader of these publications can see that they promote M2C exclusively and attack the New York Cumorah whenever they are forced to mention it. 

M2C is embedded in the very logo of Book of Mormon Central and FARMS, which are two of the facades of the Potemkin village along with FAIR.

FAIR is so brazen that right on the same page where they claim neutrality, they include the M2C logo and a link to another anti-New York Cumorah article!




It's awesomely amazing that anyone falls for this duplicity.

With all of this in mind, read FAIR's explanation and see what you think. 

The Church also addressed issues of Book of Mormon geography in the Gospel Topics essays available on the Church's official website

Since the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have expressed numerous opinions about the specific locations of the events discussed in the book. Some believe that the history depicted in the Book of Mormon—with the exception of the events in the Near East—occurred in North America, while others believe that it occurred in Central America or South America. Although Church members continue to discuss such theories today, the Church’s only position is that the events the Book of Mormon describes took place in the ancient Americas. ...

The Church does not take a position on the specific geographic locations of Book of Mormon events in the ancient Americas. Speculation on the geography of the Book of Mormon may mislead instead of enlighten; such a study can be a distraction from its divine purpose.

Individuals may have their own opinions regarding Book of Mormon geography and other such matters about which the Lord has not spoken. However, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urge leaders and members not to advocate those personal theories in any setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support for those theories. All parties should strive to avoid contention on these matters.[4]

In accordance with this request from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve apostles, FAIR's only position is that the Book of Mormon is a genuine ancient record, whose events occurred somewhere in the ancient Americas.


the end