The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards “The Book of Mormon does not supplant the Bible. It expands, extends, clarifies, and amplifies our knowledge of the Savior. Surely, this second witness should be cause for great rejoicing by all Christians.” - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Monday, February 29, 2016

Can we agree on one thing?

I keep hearing about the Hill Cumorah. By this I mean the site of the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites. One one side, you have people who believe the Hill Cumorah is in western New York. On the other side, you have people who believe that Hill Cumorah is somewhere in Central America (Mesoamerica).

I don't care if people hold different opinions, but I do care when people misrepresent or suppress the facts.

I propose that everyone agree to these facts.

1. Oliver Cowdery's Letter VII unequivocally identifies the New York hill as the Book of Mormon Hill Cumorah. He wrote: "At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed. By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the Book of Mormon, you will read Mormon's account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah. (It is printed Camorah, which is an error.) In this valley fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites—once so highly favored of the Lord, but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren. From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope, or doubt.

2. Oliver Cowdery's letter was published in the Messenger and Advocate.

3. Joseph Smith had his scribes copy this letter into his journal as part of his own history.

4. Joseph Smith gave express permission to Benjamin Winchester to reprint Letter VII in the Gospel Reflector, which Winchester did in 1841.

5. Don Carlos Smith reprinted Letter VII in the Times and Seasons in 1841.

6. D&C 128 refers to Cumorah in the same paragraph that refers to Moroni's visit to Joseph in his home near Palmyra, the three witnesses in Fayette, and the events in Harmony and along the Susquehanna River.

7. Every Church leader who ever wrote on the topic agreed that the Book of Mormon Cumorah was in New York, at least through at least 1920.

8. Orson Pratt's 1879 footnotes were equivocal about many Book of Mormon locations, but not about Cumorah--which he unequivocally stated was in New York.

9. As an Apostle and Church Historian, Joseph Fielding Smith unequivocally declared that the Book of Mormon Cumorah was in New York, and that because of the two-Cumorah theory, "some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon."

10. No Church leader has officially stated that Cumorah was anywhere but New York.

Agreeing to these facts should be easy. They are all well documented. I'm not aware of any serious questions about these facts, but if there are any, I'd like to know about them.

I bring this up because of authors and speakers, articles, books and web pages that, in my opinion, deceive readers by suppressing these facts. A case in point is fairmormon here. Anyone seeking information about Cumorah who goes to fairmormon will be outright deceived by the sophistry of the rhetoric there and the suppression of the facts of Church history. Fairmormon doesn't mention Oliver Cowdery or Letter VII, Joseph's inclusion of the letter in his journal, or the multiple reprintings of the letter. They do mention Joseph Fielding Smith, but instead of quoting his extensive analysis or even providing a link, they provide only a misleading summary and conclusion.

I've written about this before but fairmormon hasn't changed the page. That tells me they don't want members of the Church--or investigators--to know the truth. This casts doubt on everything else they publish. It's fine if they want to squeeze a Mesoamerican interpretation out of the facts, but they should trust their readers enough to make up their own minds, and I don't think anyone who reads the actual history will agree with the sophistry on display at fairmormon.

I'll write about the fairmormon comments on archaeology soon.


  1. Agree with your sentiments on this one. I'm especially disheartened by FAIR's utter lack of ... fairness. Or accuracy. Or honesty on this issue. It's not that they don't know; it's that they *believe* they know better.

    I hope this post finds those who need to read it.

    1. Russ,

      It's not just that they "believe" they know better, it's intellectual hubris as well. Heartlanders are afterall, just part of the great unwashed masses.

    2. I agree it's difficult to understand FAIR's approach to this issue. FAIR is a puzzle to me. They have some great stuff, but they write nonsense about Book of Mormon geography. I attributed it to the Mesoamerican lenses; if they removed those, they would realize they are only confirming the biases of the citation cartel, a small and diminishing group. It's going to take a big change at FAIR to make them relevant to most LDS, not to mention the rest of the world.

  2. Heartlanders? I agree that perhaps a label is needed, but why does it have to sound so lame? Isn't a heartlander somebody who listens to John Cougar Mellencamp? I jest... but really, I'd prefer no label but my own. However, if we must, there has to be some sort of distinction in this competition of shifting paradigms. May I suggest a few name ideas to replace heartlanders? Feel free to suggest others...

    idea #1: The Cumorahmen
    idea #2: Johnny Nev and the Back-East Brawlers
    idea #3: Mohinri-Northamericaners
    idea #4: The Mesoamericanist Mitigation League (MML for short)
    idea #5: The One Cumorah Club
    idea #6: The Book of Mormon North American Greographical Society (BOMNAGS?)
    idea #7: The Mighty Mormon Mounders
    idea #8: The New England Zion Zelots

    Just to name a few.

    1. My favorite label is LDS. Every active, believing LDS should be able to agree to these facts, at least. People are entitled to their own beliefs, but not their own facts. But when we can't get the citation cartel to even agree to these basic facts, what more can we do?