My most recent acts of villainy

My most recent acts of villainy July 8, 2020


Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph
Every morning, before my customary lavish twenty-three course breakfast and the eighteen-course brunch that immediately follows it, I tie a maiden to the railroad tracks that run through Provo and Orem. The virginal innocent shown here in a memorable photo from my files is Gloria Swanson (d. 4 April 1983).


Some new accusations have recently been made against me online.  I don’t want to give those who trade in them any free publicity, but — and I apologize in advance to those who will find this puzzling and cryptic — I feel that I need to respond to them:


  • An email or letter is circulating in which, some have speculated, I tried to interfere with the employment of somebody at BYU for holding views of which I disapprove.  However, the email or letter is not mine.  (I already knew that the person was retiring, incidentally, and accordingly didn’t need to ask.).  I had never seen it until I began to notice it showing up in posts by certain critics.  I have never sought to interfere with anybody’s employment over doctrinal or historical disagreements — nor, for that matter, for any other reason.  (Except, of course, in the very few cases where I’ve been an employer, where affecting somebody’s employment seems unavoidable.)
  • It is being alleged that I reported that BYU employee to the Strengthening Church Members Committee (SCMC) of the Church and/or to his bishop.  This is not true.  Although I see nothing wrong in principle with doing so, I have, in fact, never reported anybody to the SCMC or to a bishop.  As a matter of fact, for whatever it’s worth, I don’t even know whether the SCMC still exists or, if so, who is on it or how to reach it.  (I saw one person claim that he found the allegation that I had recently reported somebody to the SCMC likely to be true because of my previous history of doing so.  But there is no such “previous history.”)
  • It is being alleged that, perhaps with one or more others affiliated with the Interpreter Foundation, I was rebuked by one or more General Authorities and told to cease and desist from unspecified but very bad behavior.  This is not true.  I have never been rebuked by any General Authority, with the possible gentle exception of the story that I recently told here about the bulletin board in my office in Zürich.
  • It is being alleged that high-ranking officials in Church leadership were upset about two reviews that we published in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship and demanded that we withdraw them:  Jeff Lindsay, “A Precious Resource with Some Gaps” ( and John Gee, “The Joseph Smith Papers Project Stumbles” (  It is true that, with these reviews, we found ourselves in the uncomfortable and unexpected position of criticizing a quasi-official publication of the Church.  But no General Authorities contacted any of us about that matter, and there was no demand or request that we retract the reviews.  The two reviews did not sit well, however, with everybody in the Church’s Historical Department, and that led to a lengthy meeting in the Church History Library, some lengthy negotiations, and, eventually, a published exchange:  Matthew J. Grow and Matthew C. Godfrey, “The Joseph Smith Papers and the Book of Abraham: A Response to Recent Reviews” (, followed by John Gee, “Taking Stock” ( and Jeff Lindsay, “A Welcome Response, but Flaws Remain” (


There are probably other such claims out there right now.  I’m simply going from memory.  If there are others, though, and if I feel the need, I’ll address them.


The general principle for these continual accusations against me — this is just a recent and quite representative sample — is a scriptural one, based solidly on a reading of Amos 3:6:  “Shall there be evil in a city, and Dan Peterson hath not done it?”  


However, they’re false.


And yes, I know, the critics pushing them will simply say that I’m lying.  But I’m not.



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