I’ve paid very little attention to Jonathan Neville, an extremely vocal proponent of the so-called “Heartland model” of Book of Mormon geography, whether on this blog or anywhere else. I’m not persuaded by his claims and I’m not overly interested in them. But he’s lately been targeting me on his blog, making serious allegations about me. He’s made some of them before, but he’s recently added one or two novelties, and I think that I need to respond to them. (In the same blog entry where he attacks me and makes false allegations against me, he pronounces me, with commendable accuracy, “a wonderful, faithful, smart, and all-around great guy.”)
First, referring to the Witnesses film project with which I’m deeply involved, Mr. Neville suggests that folks like me are the very last people that anybody should believe regarding the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, and that organizations like the Interpreter Foundation are “the least credible organizations imaginable to support the testimonies of the Book of Mormon Witnesses.” “The strongest attacks on the credibility of the Three Witnesses,” announces Mr. Neville, “come directly from within the Church” — from such organizations as the Interpreter Foundation.
His accusation is noxious, absurd, and false, and I promise that this film project — really, it’s a cluster of related efforts — will be as accurate as we now how to make it, and that it will powerfully support the credibility of the Witnesses.
Secondly, Mr. Neville declares that, like other targets of his, I’m “paid to study the scriptures and ‘interpret’ them.”
But this is utterly false, too. I’m paid to teach Islamic and Arabic studies at Brigham Young University. Period. Scripture study and apologetics I do on my own time and on my own dime.
Thirdly, Mr. Neville notes, with consummate irrelevance, that I and others like me “have a much higher standard of living than most members of the Church around the world.”
That is likely true. I’m certainly better off financially than the indigenous Aymara Saints that I met just today, who live on a man-made reed “island” called Apu-Inti on the Peruvian portion of Lake Titicaca. But so, beyond any shade of possible doubt, is Mr. Neville. In fact, it’s very likely that Mr. Neville is better off, financially speaking, than I am. He is, after all, an attorney, while I’m a college professor. I frankly resent Mr. Neville’s clear implication that I’m exploiting the humble tithepayers of the Church in order to live a life of privilege and self-indulgence. He has no call to make such an accusation.
Finally, Mr. Neville writes that I and my friends claim to have been “hired by the prophets to guide the Church.”
But this, too, is flatly and unequivocally false. Neither I nor anybody I know has ever made such an arrogant and ridiculous claim.
For an effective response to Mr. Neville on this matter from somebody whose identity I do not know, see
Posted from Puna, Peru