Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church/Chapter 13

< Criticism of Mormonism‎ | Books‎ | Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church

Revision as of 15:34, 15 October 2017 by FairMormonBot (talk | contribs) (Bot: Automated text replacement (-\#\* +#))
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 13: LDS Molecular Apologetics"

A FairMormon Analysis of: Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church, a work by author: Simon G. Southerton
Claim Evaluation
Losing a Lost Tribe
Chart losing a lost tribe chapter 13.jpg

Response to claims made in Losing a Lost Tribe, "Chapter 13: LDS Molecular Apologetics"

Jump to Subtopic:


Response to claim: 180 - Most Mormons have had their ancestors posthumously "baptized into the Mormon faith"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Most Mormons have had their ancestors posthumously "baptized into the Mormon faith."

Author's sources:
  1. No source given.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Those who receive baptism for the dead are not "baptized into the faith." Members believe that non-members are thereby given the ability to accept or reject the gospel when they hear it. Baptism for the dead does not make them "Mormons."


Question: Are the dead being "baptized into the Mormon faith?"

The ordinance is provided but is only contingent upon the dead accepting it

Some have misunderstood and suppose that deceased souls “are being baptised into the Mormon faith without their knowledge” [1] or that “people who once belonged to other faiths can have the Mormon faith retroactively imposed on them.” [2] They assume that we somehow have power to force a soul in matters of faith. Of course, we do not. God gave man his agency from the beginning. (See fn11) “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,” [3] but only if they accept those ordinances. The Church does not list them on its rolls or count them in its membership.
Our anxiety to redeem the dead, and the time and resources we put behind that commitment, are, above all, an expression of our witness concerning Jesus Christ. It constitutes as powerful a statement as we can make concerning His divine character and mission. It testifies, first, of Christ’s Resurrection; second, of the infinite reach of His Atonement; third, that He is the sole source of salvation; fourth, that He has established the conditions for salvation; and, fifth, that He will come again. [4]


Response to claim: 181 - FARMS has downplayed the potential of James Sorenson's "global molecular genealogy project"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

FARMS has downplayed the potential of James Sorenson's "global molecular genealogy project."

Author's sources:
  1. No source given.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author needs to provide actual evidence of this claim.


Response to claim: 181 - The Molecular Genealogy Foundation may reveal disconcerting "surprises" in LDS family trees that trace back to "well known polygamists" in the early church

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Molecular Genealogy Foundation may reveal disconcerting "surprises" in LDS family trees that trace back to "well known polygamists" in the early church.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Author's opinion that the project may reveal embarrassing information about the descendants of Joseph Smith and other Church leaders through plural wives. However, no such embarrassing information was revealed. The genetic testing showed that none of the people that had been thought to be descendants of Joseph Smith were related to him at all. The only known descendants of Joseph Smith were through his wife Emma.


Question: Did Joseph Smith father any children through polygamous marriages?

Science has eliminated all of the possibilities that had long been rumored to be descendants of Joseph Smith

It is claimed that Joseph Smith fathered children with some of his plural wives, and that he covered up the evidence of pregnancies. It is also claimed that Joseph Smith had intimate relations with other men’s wives to whom he had been sealed, and that children resulted from these unions.

Critics of Joseph Smith have long had difficulty reconciling their concept of Joseph as a promiscuous womanizer with the fact that the only recorded children of the prophet are those that he had with Emma. Science is now shedding new light on this issue as DNA research has eliminated all of the possibilities that had long been rumored to be descendants of Joseph Smith.

The available evidence does not support the claim that Joseph had intimate relations with married women

There is no question that Joseph Smith was capable of producing children by Emma. It is logical to assume that if Joseph had intimate relations with many other women, that there would be evidence of pregnancy and children. The focus of the critics is primarily on Joseph’s sealings to women who were married to other husbands, since having a child by any of the previously single women to whom he was married would fall within the expected scope of plural marriage.

The available evidence, however, does not support the claim that Joseph had intimate relations with married women. Fawn Brodie, who repeatedly stated her belief that Joseph had intimate relations with many of his plural wives, identified several individuals that she thought “might” be children of Joseph Smith, Jr. Yet, even Brodie noted that “it is astonishing that evidence of other children than these has never come to light.” Brodie postulated, in spite of a complete lack of evidence, that Joseph must have been able to successfully practice some sort of primitive birth control, or that abortions must have been routinely employed.

Brodie does indeed identify some specific individuals whom she claims are likely to have been the progeny of Joseph Smith. These individuals are examined, along with a comparison of Brodie’s claims against modern evidence.

Mother Brodie’s claim (‘’No Man Knows My History’’, p. 301, 345, 465) Modern evidence

Buell

Brodie claims that “the physiognomy revealed in a rare photograph of Oliver Buell seems to weight the balance overwhelmingly on the side of Joseph’s paternity.” Oliver Buell is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2007 confirmed Presendia Huntington Buell’s son Oliver, born sometime in 1838-1839, was the son of Norman Buell.[5] "Only 9 of the 23 genetic markers match when comparing the inferred Oliver Buell haplotype to that of Joseph Smith. Such a low degree of correlation between the two haplotypes provides strong evidence that they belong to two unrelated paternal lineages, thus excluding with high likelihood Joseph Smith Jr. as the biological father of Oliver N. Buell. Further weight is given to this observation by the close match of the inferred haplotype of Owen F. Buell to the independent Buell record in the SMGF data base, which genetic relationship dates back prior to Joseph Smith's era. Additionally, the two genetic profiles were run through a haplogroup predictor algorithm that assigned the Smith haplotypes to a cluster known as R1b and the cluster for the Buell's haplotypes to I1b2a, two deeply divergent clades that separated anciently, thus providing further evidence that the Oliver Buell and Joseph Smith lineages are not closely related."[6]

Alger

Brodie states that “[t]here is some evidence that Fannie Alger bore Joseph a child in Kirtland.” DNA research in 2005 confirmed Fanny Alger’s son Orrison Smith is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.[7]

Hancock

”Legend among the descendants of Levi W. Hancock points to another son of the prophet. If the legend is true, the child was probably John Reed Hancock, born April 19, 1841.” Nothing is yet known regarding the patrilineage John Reed Hancock.

John Reed's brother Mosiah is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2007 confirmed Clarissa Hancock's son Mosiah, born 9 April 1834, was the son of Levi Hancock.[8] "A 12-marker haplotype was already available for a paternal descendant of Mosiah Hancock, generated by an independent commercial laboratory. A comparison of the 12 markers to the shortened Joseph Smith haplotype showed only 5 matches, indicating a low likelihood of a biological relationship between Mosiah and Joseph. Additionally, we queried the SMGF database with the 12 Ycs Hancock markers. Six independent records returned matching all 12 markers, all having the surname Hancock with documented connections to Mosiah's grandfather Thomas Hancock III."[9]

Lightner

The son of Mary Rollins Lightner “may as easily have been the prophet’s son as that of Adam Lightner.” George Algernon Lightner, born March 22, 1842, died as an infant and therefore had no descendants. DNA testing cannot help determine paternity.

Hyde

Mrs. Orson Hyde’s sons Orson and Frank “could have been Joseph’s sons.” Orson Washington Hyde, born November 9, 1843, died as an infant and therefore had no descendants. DNA testing cannot help determine paternity.

Pratt

Mrs. Parley P. Pratt’s son Moroni “might also be added to this list.” Moroni Llewellyn Pratt is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2005 confirmed Mary Ann Frost Pratt's son Moroni, born 7 December 1844, was the son of Parley P. Pratt.[10]

Snow

”According to tradition,” Emma beat Eliza Snow and caused her to abort Joseph’s child. Both LDS and non-LDS reviewers have found several flaws in the story about Eliza.[11] Emma's biographers note that "Eliza continued to teach school for a month after her abrupt departure from the Smith household. Her own class attendance record shows that she did not miss a day during the months she taught the Smith children, which would be unlikely had she suffered a miscarriage."[12]

Jacobs

Zina was “about seven months pregnant with Jacobs' child at the time of her marriage to the prophet.” (Brodie, p. 465) John D. Lee and William Hall stated that Zina had been “pregnant by Smith.” Zebulon Jacobs is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2005 confirmed Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs's son Zebulon was the son of Henry Bailey Jacobs.[13]

Josephine Lyon

In 1915, Sylvia Sessions Lyon's daughter, Josephine, signed a statement that in 1882 Sylvia "told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith, she having been sealed to the Prophet at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon was out of fellowship with the Church." For many years, it was not known whether Sylvia was referring to her daughter as being a literal descendant of Joseph Smith, or if she was referring to the fact that she had been sealed to the prophet. However, DNA research ultimately proved that Josephine was not a descendant of Joseph Smith.

In an article published in Mormon Historical Studies, Brian C. Hales demonstrates that Sylvia considered herself divorced prior to marrying Joseph polygamously. [See: Hales, Brian C. "The Joseph Smith-Sylvia Sessions Plural Sealing: Polyandry or Polygyny?" Mormon Historical Studies 9/1 (Spring 2008): 41–57.]

For more detail regarding the investigation into possible children from Joseph's polygamous marriages, please refer to the book chapter on this subject.


Response to claim: 184 - The Indian Student Placement Program was an attempt to turn them "white and delightsome"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Indian Student Placement Program was an attempt to turn them "white and delightsome."

Author's sources:
  • Thomas Murphy, doctoral thesis.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is nonsense.


Question: Did some Church leaders believe that the skin of the Lamanites would turn white?

Some Church leaders, most notably Spencer W. Kimball, made statements indicating that they believed that the Indians were becoming "white and delightsome"

Once such statement made by Elder Kimball in the October 1960 General Conference, 15 years before he became president of the Church:

I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today ... they are fast becoming a white and delightsome people.... For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised.... The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. [14]

President Kimball felt that the Indians were becoming a “white and delightsome” people through the power of God as a result their acceptance of the Gospel. This was not an uncommon belief at the time. At the time that this statement was made by Elder Kimball, the Book of Mormon did indeed say "white and delightsome." This passage is often quoted relative to the lifting of the curse since the phrase "white and delightsome" was changed to "pure and delightsome" in the 1840 (and again in the 1981) editions of the Book of Mormon. The edit made by Joseph Smith in 1840 in which this phrase was changed to "pure and delightsome" had been omitted from subsequent editions, which were actually based upon the 1837 edition rather than the 1840 edition. The modification was not restored again until the 1981 edition with the following explanation:

Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Is the lifting of the curse associated with a change in skin color?

The Lamanites are promised that if they return to Christ, that "the scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes:"

And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.

And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.2 Nephi 30:5-6

The Book of Mormon indicates that the lifting of the curse of the Lamanites was the removal of the "scales of darkness" from their eyes

It seems evident from the passage in 2 Nephi that the lifting of the curse of the Lamanites was the removal of the "scales of darkness" from their eyes. It is sometimes indicated that Lamanites who had converted to the Gospel and thus had the curse lifted also had the mark removed. If the mark was more in the eyes of the Nephites than in a physical thing like actual skin color, its removal is even more easily understood.

And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year. 3 Nephi 2:15-16

As with the invocation of the curse followed by the application of the mark, this passage indicates that the curse was revoked and the mark was removed when the Lamanites' skin "became white like unto the Nephites." The Book of Mormon makes no mention of any change in skin color as the result of the conversion of Helaman's 2000 warriors, yet these Lamanites and their parents had committed themselves to the Lord, and were often more righteous than the Nephites were.

Thus, although a change in skin color is sometimes mentioned in conjunction with the lifting of the curse, it does not appear to always have been the case. And, as discussed above, it may well be that Nephite ideas about skin were more symbolic or rhetorical than literal/racial. This perspective harmonizes all the textual data, and explains some things (like the native Lamanite and his band of Nephite troops deceiving the Lamanites) that a literal view of the skin color mark does not.

Leaders were probably unaware of a change made by Joseph Smith to the first edition text

Joseph Smith altered the phrase "white and delightsome" (in 2 Nephi 30:6) to "pure and delightsome" in the second edition of the Book of Mormon. This change was lost to LDS readers until the 1981 edition of the scriptures. It may, however, demonstrate that Joseph Smith intended the translation to refer to spiritual state, not literal skin color per se.


Response to claim: 184 - "Mormon folklore" claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon "misdeeds on the part of their ancestors"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

"Mormon folklore" claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon "misdeeds on the part of their ancestors."

Author's sources:
  • Thomas W. Murphy and Simon G. Southerton. 2003. "Genetic Research: A 'Galileo Event' for Mormons," Anthropology News, 44:20.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author provides no source for this "Mormon folklore."


Response to claim: 185 - LDS scholars experienced in DNA research have spoken only to Mormon audiences

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

LDS scholars experienced in DNA research have spoken only to Mormon audiences.

Author's sources:
  1. Scott R. Woodward, "DNA and the Book of Mormon," FAIR. (2001)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

This is nonsense. One LDS author on DNA matters is John Butler, an internationally recognized expert in the use of forensic DNA—he literally wrote the textbook used by law enforcement on this matter. Butler has spoken to many audiences about DNA matters.
  • John M. Butler, "A Few Thoughts From a Believing DNA Scientist," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/1 (2003): 36–37. off-site wiki
  • John M. Butler, "Addressing Questions surrounding the Book of Mormon and DNA Research," FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): 101–108. off-site wiki


Response to claim: 185-186 - In response to the DNA issue, the Church linked to an article written by Jeff Lindsey, "a chemical engineer with no professional training in DNA research"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

In response to the DNA issue, the Church linked to an article written by Jeff Lindsey, "a chemical engineer with no professional training in DNA research."

Author's sources:
  1. www.lds.org, "Mistakes in the News," 2003.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is classic ad hominem. What matters are not Lindsey's credentials, but whether his argument is accurate. The author never engages Lindsay's evidence or argument; he simply treats it as unworthy of attention. Ironically, the author of the book here under review has no professional training in population genetics (he is a plant biologist), and yet he expects us to accept his assessment.

Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Emotion—The author attempts to manipulate the reader's emotional response instead of presenting a valid argument.

<The author wishes to discredit anything he labels "apologetic" (i.e., any work that might contest his naive and ill-informed reading of LDS scripture). He does not engage their arguments, but uses a variety of tactics to avoid or dismiss them. The author sometimes claims that "apologetic" answers are not endorsed or promoted by the Church (allowing him to suggest that either such answers don't count because they aren't "official," or such answers are radical and therefore ultimately unacceptable—and the Church knows it.

Yet, the author knows that this claim is false, since he cites Jeff Lindsay on p. 185-186. Lindsay is an "apologist," and his work is cited by the Church's official website. There are also other examples of the Church using "apologetic" responses in a formal way.

The work repeats itself on p. 185-186, 202., and 205.

Response to claim: 186 - LDS scientists have responded to DNA findings by claiming that it would be improbable to find evidence of an Israelite presence in the Americas

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

LDS scientists have responded to DNA findings by claiming that it would be improbable to find evidence of an Israelite presence in the Americas.

Author's sources:
  1. David A. McClellan, "Detecting Lehi's Genetic Signature: Possible, Probable, or Not?," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 35–90. off-site

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author has actually elsewhere expressed his agreement with this claim, noting that LDS scientists have argued that "Bottleneck effect, genetic drift, Hardy-Weinberg violations and other technical problems would prevent us from detecting Israelite genes [in Amerindians]. I agree entirely. In 600 BC there were probably several million American Indians living in the Americas. If a small group of Israelites entered such a massive native population it would be very, very hard to detect their genes 200, 2000 or even 20,000 years later."[15]

Interestingly, this admission was later removed from the website of Southerton's publisher. Southerton goes on to argue that the Book of Mormon "doesn't say this," but as we've noted some leaders and scholars have been reading the text that way for at least a century. The author even admits as much on p. 154.

So, this attack works only if one reads the text in the most naive, ill-informed way possible—as the author seems determined to do.

Logical Fallacy: False Cause—The author assumes that a real or perceived relationship between two events means that one caused the other.

The author consistently argues that LDS scholars or apologists are "adjusting" their view on the Book of Mormon because they are being driven back in a rear-guard action by science. But, in fact, some LDS leaders and scholars have argued for a restricted geography and small numeric contribution of Lehites for over one hundred years.These beliefs were not held because of scientific "pressure," but because of their reading of the Book of Mormon text. In fact, the author admits that this has occurred since at least the 1920s (see p. 154)—long before any pressure from genetics issues. Yet, he continues to make the contradictory claim that the Church's defenders are now "on the ropes" and desperate for a solution.

Response to claim: 186 - LDS writers claim that the presence of other people in the Americas actually supports "careful readings of the Book of Mormon"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

LDS writers claim that the presence of other people in the Americas actually supports "careful readings of the Book of Mormon."

Author's sources:
  1. Daniel C. Peterson, "Editor's Introduction," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): ix–lxii. off-site
  • Matthew Roper, "Nephi's Neighbors: Book of Mormon Peoples and Pre-Columbian Populations," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 91–128. off-site

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

LDS writers have been saying this for at least a hundred years, as the author admitted back on p. 154.


Response to claim: 186 - LDS scholars "have come to the conclusion" that Book of Mormon populations comprised a very small part of a much larger group of people on the continent

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

LDS scholars "have come to the conclusion" that Book of Mormon populations comprised a very small part of a much larger group of people on the continent.

Author's sources:
  1. Daniel C. Peterson, "Editor's Introduction," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): ix–lxii. off-site

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Some LDS leaders and scholars have been saying this for at least a hundred years, as the author admitted back on p. 154.


Response to claim: 187 - LDS suggest that it would impossible to use DNA technology to identify a small local colony of individuals

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

LDS suggest that it would impossible to use DNA technology to identify a small local colony of individuals.

Author's sources:
  1. D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens, "Who Are the Children of Lehi?," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/1 (2003): 38–51. off-site wiki

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The author himself agrees with the statement.


Response to claim: 188 - The author claims that it is not likely that "founders effect" or "genetic drift" would "completely frustrate the identification of Israelite DNA in the Americas"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that it is not likely that "founders effect" or "genetic drift" would "completely frustrate the identification of Israelite DNA in the Americas."

Author's sources:
  1. No source given.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This is correct, and LDS scholars agree.


Southerton (2008/2014): "It's true that if a small group (say 10 people) entered a massive population (say 1 million), that it would be hard to detect their mitochondrial or Y chromosome DNA"

Dr. Simon Southerton is one of the most outspoken critics of the Church with regard to DNA and the Book of Mormon:

(2008) In case anyone from FAIR is unclear I will repeat what I wrote four years ago…“IF A SMALL GROUP OF ISRAELITES ENTERED SUCH A MASSIVE NATIVE POPULATION (SEVERAL MILLIONS) IT WOULD BE VERY, VERY HARD TO DETECT THEIR GENES.” Now that FAIR has finally conceded that American Indian DNA is essentially all derived from Asia, I also agree with them that the debate should be about the theology. [16]

(2014) I made the original statement at a time when whole genome sequence analysis was a long way off. It's true that if a small group (say 10 people) entered a massive population (say 1 million), that it would be hard to detect their mitochondrial or Y chromosome DNA. Your odds would be roughly 1 in 100,000 (10 in 1 Million). But technology has moved very rapidly and whole genome studies are now almost routine. So, my original statement is no longer true. [17]

Dr. Southerton is confused if he thinks FairMormon experts on DNA have ever questioned that a considerable portion of Amerindian DNA comes from Asia. They do not have to "concede" anything--they have always held this view. However, Dr. Southerton is mistaken if he believes that "American Indian DNA is essentially all derived from Asia":

a 2013 study states that as much as one-third of Native American DNA originated anciently in Europe or West Asia and was likely introduced into the gene pool before the earliest migration to the Americas.[18]


Response to claim: 188 - The author claims that Book of Mormon states that the Lehite/Mulekite groups were both descended from Jewish ancestors

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Book of Mormon states that the Lehite/Mulekite groups were both descended from Jewish ancestors.

Author's sources:
  1. No source given.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh, and was not a Jew, however, author later makes the correct statement regarding Lehi's ancestry on page 5. The author makes the same error, however on p. xiii. This is our another hint that the author's familiarity with the necessary detail in the Book of Mormon is not adequate.


The work repeats itself on p. xiii and 188.

Response to claim: 189 - The author claims that the ancestry of Israelites living today will all "meet at the Caucasian branch of the human family tree"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that the ancestry of Israelites living today will all "meet at the Caucasian branch of the human family tree."

Author's sources:
  1. No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

It is not clear what this has to do with the Book of Mormon.


Response to claim: 190 - The Lemba prove that it is possible to detect Middle Eastern genes in a foreign environment

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Lemba prove that it is possible to detect Middle Eastern genes in a foreign environment.

Author's sources:
  1. John L. Sorenson, "The Problematic Role of DNA Testing in Unraveling Human History," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/2 (2000): 66–74. off-site wiki

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The Lemba are a special case, only made possible by their links to Jewish priestly families. 98% of known modern Jews cannot be identified by genetic testing.


The work repeats itself on p. 128-129 and 190.

Question: Can the Lemba and Cohen modal haplotype associated with Levite lineage be used to either prove or disprove the Book of Mormon?

The Book of Mormon suggest that there were no Levites among the Lehi party

Thomas Murphy uses the "Lemba" as an example of a group proven to be Jewish via DNA testing. But, this example is misleading. The Lemba were identified as Jewish because of a marker called the "Cohen modal haplotype." This marker is carried by about half of those who claim descent from Aaron, Moses' brother, and only 2-3% of other Jews.

But, the Book of Mormon does not suggest—and in fact seems to exclude—the idea that Levites (the priestly family of Aaron) were among the Lehi party. Without priestly families, one would not expect to find the Cohen modal haplotype! Yet, only 2-3% of modern Jews from non-priestly families (to say nothing of Ephraim and Manasseh—remember, Lehi and company are not "Jews") can be identified by this test. [19] Are these 97-98% of modern Jews then not Jews because the genetic test is negative for them? Excluding the Nephites on the basis of such a poor test that we would not even expect them to pass (since they do not include Levitical families) shows how far the critics will twist the evidence to find fault.


Response to claim: 190 - Church leaders have consistently associated Lamanites with Central America

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Church leaders have consistently associated Lamanites with Central America.

Author's sources:
  1. Whiting, 2003b.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This is correct.


Response to claim: 191 - The Mayan Empire is claimed to be considered by Mormons to be the closest to the people of the Book of Mormon

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Mayan Empire is claimed to be considered by Mormons to be the closest to the people of the Book of Mormon.

Author's sources:
  1. No source specified.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Church has no official position on this issue.


Question: Is it possible that the Nephites and Lamanites are associated with the pre-Classic Maya, and the Jaredites are associated with the Olmec?

There is circumstantial evidence related to geography and timeframe to support this association, which has been reflected in Church materials over the years

Latter-day Saints sometimes associate the Nephites and/or Lamanites with the Maya, and the Jaredite civilization with the Olmec. There is circumstantial evidence to support this:

  • The general consensus among LDS scholars that Book of Mormon events are likely to have occurred in Mesoamerica. This is the location of the ancient Maya and Olmec civilizations.
  • The fact that the Maya and Olmec civilizations are in the proper relative locations and approximate time periods required by the Book of Mormon (A detail, by the way, which Joseph Smith could not possibly have known).
  • The cover of the 2008 Gospel Doctrine manual (Book of Mormon study guide) shows the painting Christ with Three Nephite Disciples, by Gary L. Kapp. This painting portrays Jesus and the three disciples standing in front of a Mesoamerican pyramid.
  • Artwork that has appeared in Church publications and buildings for many years has depicted Book of Mormon events occurring in a Mesoamerican setting. One well-known painting of Christ appearing to the Nephites shows a Mesoamerican pyramid in the background, and to the far left, one of the "elephant-like" snouts associated with masks of the Mayan rain-god Chac.
  • A famous set of 12 paintings by artist Arnold Friberg was included in most copies of the Book of Mormon for many years. These paintings depict Book of Mormon events as occurring in Mesoamerican settings.[20]
  • The Church produced film "The Testaments" depicts Book of Mormon events as occurring in a Central American setting, with Christ appearing in front of a classic Mayan pyramid.
  • "Book of Mormon tours" which take interested members to "see the lands of the Book of Mormon" in Mesoamerica.
  • The Maya and the Olmec have a written language—a requirement for Book of Mormon peoples, who kept records. Mesoamerica is the site of the only literate pre-Columbian population.

It is easy, therefore, to see why Latter-day Saints typically associate the Nephites or Lamanites with the Maya.


Response to claim: 191 - There is too much genetic variation in the X lineage to account for Book of Mormon people to have arrived as recently as 2600 years ago

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

There is too much genetic variation in the X lineage to account for Book of Mormon people to have arrived as recently as 2600 years ago.

Author's sources:
  1. Brown, et al., 1998.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event


Question: Is DNA Haplogroup X2a proof that the Book of Mormon fits best in a geography located in the Great Lakes region?

It does not seem that haplogroup X can serve as good evidence of the Book of Mormon's antiquity

Some claim that the Book of Mormon fits best in a geography located around the Great Lakes, and that this is supported by a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) group called Haplogroup X2a.

While interesting, at present it does not seem that haplogroup X can serve as good evidence of the Book of Mormon's antiquity given the problems of dating and the failure of the model to come to grips with textual issues from the Book of Mormon. Doing so would require us to misrepresent the current state of scientific evidence. This claim also fails to interact responsibly with a fairly large body of literature which has led most LDS scholars to reject the Great Lakes region as a feasible match to the Book of Mormon's requirements.

This conclusion will, of course, need to be revised if further information comes to light.

An additional argument for a Great Lakes setting is made on textual grounds.

While FairMormon applauds the efforts of Latter-day Saints to defend the Book of Mormon against critics' attacks, at present we feel unable to endorse this idea as persuasive evidence for the Book of Mormon's antiquity.

FairMormon and outside experts have examined the views of some enthusiasts on this point. The proponents' goal is to support the Book of Mormon with DNA by tracking mtDNA haplogroup X among native Americans.

The theory postulates that haplogroup X comes from the Levant (i.e., Israel/Palestine), and then reaches Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Western New York with the Lehi colony. Proponents of this model argue, then, that this group actually sailed around Africa and up through the South Atlantic and into the Gulf of Mexico. They then have them landing in what is now Louisiana.

But when Nephi's group fled from Laman's faction, advocates of this model have both the Nephi and Laman factions migrating north to the area designated above. There is no textual evidence in the Book of Mormon to support this, or an Atlantic crossing for the Lehi colony.

As LDS geneticist Ugo Perego put the matter:

  • "Does [haplogroup x] provide evidence to support a pre-Columbian Israelite migration to Western hemisphere? – No."
  • "Some argue that X shows arrival of Lehi, etc. but this is too easy an explanation. The data seems to indicate it was from an ancient group 12,000 years ago, and Lehi's mtDNA has disappeared."[21]

A major difficulty with this speculation is the problem of dating

Haplogroup X, which is centered in Europe and the Levant is thought to have reached North America much earlier than the Lehi party, and to have brought the distinctive Clovis culture to the Americas (which dates from before 12,000 years ago). This culture involves what is often called the Clovis Point tools—that is, pressure flaked tools (arrow heads and so forth), which are not found in Alaska and Asia. This has led some revisionists to advance what has been called the Solutrean Hypothesis—that is, that haplogroup X got to North America (and specifically to the northeast) by people migrating from Europe on tiny skin boats along the edge of ice flows. Even if true, what exactly any of this has to do with the Book of Mormon is not clear, since such immigration would precede Lehi by thousands of years according the current scientific understanding.

Thus, even if haplogroup X2a has its origins on the Middle East, if those origins are thousands of years before the Book of Mormon timeframe, it is difficult to use them as strong evidence for the Book of Mormon account. At best, this demonstrates that the Bering land bridge is not the only source of the pre-Columbian American Indians.

In addition, many of these proponents have not addressed the sophisticated literature already published on the Book of Mormon by believing scholars. For example, they have not come to grips with archaeologist John Clark's assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a Great Lakes model.

Haplogroup X before Lehi

A paleo-Indian burial site in Windover, Florida has been carbon-dated to between 6980–8120 ± 100 years ago. Human brain tissue was extracted from mummified remains, and mtDNA was sequenced. It found haplogroups A, B, C, and D—and some unidentified haplogroups. This was in 1994, and so haplogroup X had not been named and characterized. But, later reports indicate that haplogroup X was found in the sample—demonstrating that (barring modern contamination) Lehi's migration 2,600 years ago cannot be the sole original source of haplogroup X in the Americas, if it is such a source at all.[22] This means that haplogroup X cannot tell us anything about Lehi, since other sources for haplogroup X in the Americas exist.

New data casts multiple founding theory in question

A February 2008 genetics study on American population migration states:

...the differential pattern of distribution and frequency of haplogroup X led some to suggest that it may represent an independent migration to the Americas. Here we show, by using 86 complete mitochondrial genomes, that all Native American haplogroups, including haplogroup X, were part of a single founding population, thereby refuting multiple-migration models.
Our results strongly support the hypothesis that haplogroup X, together with the other four main mtDNA haplogroups, was part of the gene pool of a single Native American founding population; therefore they do not support models that propose haplogroup-independent migrations, such as the migration from Europe posed by the Solutrean hypothesis. (emphasis added)[23]

This remains an active area of research, but it would not be accurate to claim that current science provides a model of these matters which allows haplogroup X to support the Book of Mormon.

Best articles to read next

The best article(s) to read next on this topic is/are:

  1. FAIR's reviews of Rod Meldrum's DVD, DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography. FAIRWiki link
  2. Ugo A. Perego, "The Book of Mormon and the Origin of Native Americans from a Maternally Inherited DNA Standpoint," FARMS Review 22/1 (2010): 191–227. off-site wiki
  3. Gregory L. Smith, "Often in Error, Seldom in Doubt: Rod Meldrum and Book of Mormon DNA (A review of "Rediscovering the Book of Mormon Remnant through DNA" by: Rod L. Meldrum)," FARMS Review 22/1 (2010): 17–161. off-site wiki
  4. Matthew Roper, "Joseph Smith, Revelation, and Book of Mormon Geography (A review of "Prophecies and Promises: The Book of Mormon and the United States of America" by: Bruce H. Porter and Rod L. Meldrum)," FARMS Review 22/2 (2010): 15–85. off-site wiki
  5. Matthew Roper, "Losing the Remnant: The New Exclusivist "Movement" and the Book of Mormon (A review of "Prophecies and Promises: The Book of Mormon and the United States of America" by: Bruce H. Porter and Rod L. Meldrum)," FARMS Review 22/2 (2010): 87–124. off-site wiki
  6. Brant Gradner, "This Idea: The "This Land" Series and the U.S.-Centric Reading of the Book of Mormon (A review of "This Land: Zarahemla and the Nephite Nation; This Land: Only One Cumorah!; and This Land: They Came from the East" by: Edwin G. Goble and Wayne N. May; Wayne N. May; and Wayne N. May)," FARMS Review 20/2 (2008): 141–162. off-site wiki
  7. John E. Clark, "Evaluating the Case for a Limited Great Lakes Setting," FARMS Review of Books 14/1 (2002): 9–78. off-site
  8. John Clark, "The Final Battle for Cumorah (Review of Christ in North America by Delbert W. Curtis)," FARMS Review of Books 6/2 (1994): 79–113. off-site
  9. John E. Clark, "Two Points of Book of Mormon Geography: A Review (Review of The Land of Lehi by Paul Hedengren)," FARMS Review of Books 8/2 (1996): 1–24. off-site
  10. Steven L. Olsen, "The Covenant of the Promised Land: Territorial Symbolism in the Book of Mormon," FARMS Review 22/2 (2010): 137–154. off-site wiki


Response to claim: 192 - LDS writers have overlooked the fact that Mitochondrial DNA research shows that 99.6% of Native Americans migrated to the American continent thousands of years before the Israelites came into existence

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

LDS writers have overlooked the fact that Mitochondrial DNA research shows that 99.6% of Native Americans migrated to the American continent thousands of years before the Israelites came into existence, and none of these are candidates for Israelite origin.

Author's sources:
  1. No source given.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

LDS authors have anticipated such findings by at least a century (see, again, p. 154). This attack works only if one reads the text in the most naive, ill-informed way possible—as the author seems determined to do.


Response to claim: 192 - The remaining 0.4% is likely the result of genetic mixture with people who came to the New World after Columbus

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The remaining 0.4% is likely the result of genetic mixture with people who came to the New World after Columbus.

Author's sources:
  1. Author's conclusion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is the author's conclusion.


Response to claim: 193 - LDS scholars claim that the impact of Book of Mormon immigrants to the New World made an impact "so small that they barely mattered"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

LDS scholars claim that the impact of Book of Mormon immigrants to the New World made an impact "so small that they barely mattered."

Author's sources:
  1. No source given.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The author has actually elsewhere expressed his agreement with this claim, noting that LDS scientists have argued that "Bottleneck effect, genetic drift, Hardy-Weinberg violations and other technical problems would prevent us from detecting Israelite genes [in Amerindians]. I agree entirely. In 600 BC there were probably several million American Indians living in the Americas. If a small group of Israelites entered such a massive native population it would be very, very hard to detect their genes 200, 2000 or even 20,000 years later."[15]
  • Interestingly, this admission was later removed from the website of Southerton's publisher. Southerton goes on to argue that the Book of Mormon "doesn't say this," but as we've noted some leaders and scholars have been reading the text that way for at least a century. The author even admits as much on p. 154. So, this attack works only if one reads the text in the most naive, ill-informed way possible—as the author seems determined to do.

Logical Fallacy: False Cause—The author assumes that a real or perceived relationship between two events means that one caused the other.

The author consistently argues that LDS scholars or apologists are "adjusting" their view on the Book of Mormon because they are being driven back in a rear-guard action by science. But, in fact, some LDS leaders and scholars have argued for a restricted geography and small numeric contribution of Lehites for over one hundred years.These beliefs were not held because of scientific "pressure," but because of their reading of the Book of Mormon text. In fact, the author admits that this has occurred since at least the 1920s (see p. 154)—long before any pressure from genetics issues. Yet, he continues to make the contradictory claim that the Church's defenders are now "on the ropes" and desperate for a solution.

Response to claim: 193 - A great number of Native Americans are now assumed to have been absorbed into New World Israelite civilizations

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

A great number of Native Americans are now assumed to have been absorbed into New World Israelite civilizations.

Author's sources:
  1. No source given.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The Book of Mormon does not describe "New World Israelite civilizations." The small groups of Lehites and Mulekites likely had a cultural impact on the existing inhabitants, however, the resulting civilizations were not Israelite in character.


Response to claim: 193 - "Other people" in the Book of Mormon have "remained invisible" to most readers

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

"Other people" in the Book of Mormon have "remained invisible" to most readers.

Author's sources:
  1. No source given.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Just because someone does not notice something does not mean it was there. Again, the author seems determined to ignore any solution to his problem, and read the text in the most blinkered, ill-informed way possible.

Logical Fallacy: Strawman—The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

Since scholars have long pointed to many textual clues which point to the existence of other non-Lehites in the New World, the author must dispense with such ideas if he is to succeed in portraying the Book of Mormon at odds with science. However, he does not engage the textual evidence that Latter-day Saints have found in abundance—he merely insists there is no evidence there.
The work repeats itself on p. 160, 193., 195., and 204.

Question: Why aren't other inhabitants of the America's mentioned in the Book of Mormon?

The Book of Mormon is likely a "kinship record," which is a history written from the point of view of a social clan: the Nephite ruling class

The Book of Mormon is not primarily a history of a people. It is the history of a message—the doctrine of Christ—and those who either embraced or rejected it. It is also likely a "kinship record," which is a history written from the point of view of a social clan: the Nephite ruling class. Thus, the text focuses the majority of its attention on the doctrine of Christ, and how that doctrine affects the relatives of the kin group keeping the record.

The Nephite record keepers clearly understand that there is more going on, and are quite clear that the labels "Nephite" and "Lamanite" are political terms of convenience, where membership is varied and fluid. As Jacob said:

But I, Jacob, shall not hereafter distinguish them by these names, but I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi, and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites, or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings. Jacob 1:14

Boyd K. Packer: "The presentation of the Book of Mormon as a history of the ancestors of the American Indians is not a very compelling nor a very accurate introduction"

Elder Boyd K. Packer emphasized that the Book of Mormon's view of itself is often not how some members of the Church portray it:

The Book of Mormon is often introduced as "a history of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent, the ancestors of the American Indians." We have all seen missionaries about the world with street boards displaying pictures of American Indians or pyramids and other ruins in Latin America. That introduction does not reveal the contents of this sacred book any better than an introduction of the Bible as "a history of the ancient inhabitants of the Near East, the ancestors of the modern Israelites" would reveal its contents. The presentation of the Book of Mormon as a history of the ancestors of the American Indians is not a very compelling nor a very accurate introduction. When we introduce the Book of Mormon as such a history–and that is the way we generally introduce it–surely the investigator must be puzzled, even disappointed, when he begins to read it. Most do not find what they expect. Nor do they, in turn, expect what they find…The Book of Mormon is not biographical, for not one character is fully drawn. Nor, in a strict sense, is it a history. While it chronicles a people for a thousand and twenty–one years and contains the record of an earlier people, it is in fact not a history of a people. It is the saga of a message, a testament.[24]


Response to claim: 193-194 - "Gentiles who inhabited the Americas before, during and after the Book of Mormon period are potential Lamanites"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

"Gentiles who inhabited the Americas before, during and after the Book of Mormon period are potential Lamanites."

Author's sources:
  1. 2 Nephi 1:5
  • John L. Sorenson and Matthew Roper, "Before DNA," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/1 (2003): 6–23. off-site wiki
  • D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens, "Who Are the Children of Lehi?," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/1 (2003): 38–51. off-site wiki

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This claim makes no sense.


Response to claim: 194 - Mormons have "traditionally thought" that any Asian presence in the New World occurred after the Book of Mormon period

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Mormons have "traditionally thought" that any Asian presence in the New World occurred after the Book of Mormon period.

Author's sources:
  1. No source given.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author needs evidence for this claim. Even Bruce R. McConkie (a good example of "traditional views") saw many sources and influence on Amerindian populations:

The American Indians, however, as Columbus found them also had other blood than that of Israel in their veins. It is possible that isolated remnants of the Jaredites may have lived through the period of destruction in which millions of their fellows perished. It is quite apparent that groups of orientals found their way over the Bering Strait and gradually moved southward to mix with the Indian peoples. We have records of a colony of Scandinavians attempting to set up a settlement in America some 500 years before Columbus. There are archeological indications that an unspecified number of groups of people probably found their way from the old to the new world in pre-Columbian times. Out of all these groups would have come the American Indians as they were discovered in the 15th century.[25]

In any case, if the "traditional view" does not match the Book of Mormon text, then it should be set aside.


Response to claim: 195- The children of Lehi were to be "kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The children of Lehi were to be "kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves."

Author's sources:
  1. 2 Nephi 1:8-9
  • 2 Nephi 1:10-11
  • Matthew Roper, "Nephi's Neighbors: Book of Mormon Peoples and Pre-Columbian Populations," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 91–128. off-site

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

This promise applies only as long as the children of Lehi were righteous. They lost this blessing even within Book of Mormon times.

Response to claim: 195 - There are no explicit references to non-Israelites living near the Lehites or Jaredites

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

There are no explicit references to non-Israelites living near the Lehites or Jaredites.

Author's sources:
  1. Brent L. Metcalf, "Reinventing Lamanite Identity," Sunstone, 131:20-25 (2004).

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

No explicit references. There are, however, many implicit references. See also a response to the source: John A. Tvedtnes, "Reinventing the Book of Mormon (Review of: “Reinventing Lamanite Identity,” Sunstone, March 2004, 20–25)," FARMS Review 16/2 (2004): 91–106. off-site

Logical Fallacy: Strawman—The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

Since scholars have long pointed to many textual clues which point to the existence of other non-Lehites in the New World, the author must dispense with such ideas if he is to succeed in portraying the Book of Mormon at odds with science. However, he does not engage the textual evidence that Latter-day Saints have found in abundance—he merely insists there is no evidence there.
The work repeats itself on p. 160, 193., 195., and 204.

Response to claim: 195 - Five hundred years after their arrival, groups were still identified as having descended from Laman, Lemuel, Ishmael, etc

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Five hundred years after their arrival, groups were still identified as having descended from Laman, Lemuel, Ishmael, etc.

Author's sources:
  1. Alma 43:13

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author is assuming what he wants to prove—that all such labels were about descent, rather than political or religious affiliation.


Response to claim: 196 - Familial terms used in the Book of Mormon imply a genetic link

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Familial terms used in the Book of Mormon imply a genetic link.

Author's sources:
  1. Moroni 9:1
  • Author's conclusion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The Book of Mormon itself makes it clear that except in a very early period, tribal designation is a political, not genetic matter.


Question: Does the use of tribal affiliation in the Book of Mormon imply a genetic link between the members?

The Book of Mormon text makes it clear that tribal designation has a political role, not a genetic one

The Book of Mormon text makes it clear that tribal designation has a political role, not a genetic one. Individuals switch tribal designation as their religious and political loyalties shift. The critics view of them as strictly genetic categories cannot be maintained beyond the first few years of settlement.

Contrary to these claims, the Book of Mormon is clear that tribal designation is a political, not genetic matter.

On author noted:

An analysis of the terminology applied to peoples in the Book of Mormon could reveal useful information on this subject. This is not the place to do that fully, but the approach can be sketched and some of the results anticipated. References to the key people of the record vary: (1) "Nephite(s)" or "the Nephites" occurs 339 times; (2) "people of the Nephites," 18 times; (3) "people of Nephi," 4 times; (4) "children of Nephi," twice, and (5) "descendants of Nephi," twice. Usage of the second and third expressions gives us something to ponder about the composition of the people referred to.

The meaning of the first expression is made clear early by Jacob when he says, "those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites." Then he continues the definition in an interesting way: ". . . or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings" (Jacob 1:14). A few lines earlier Jacob had reported that when Nephi anticipated his own death, he had designated "a [successor] king and a ruler over his people . . . according to the reigns of the kings. . . . And whoso should reign in his stead were called by the people, second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth, according to the reigns of the kings; and thus they were called by the people, let them be of whatever [personal] name they would" (Jacob 1:9, 11). Jacob here makes clear that his definition of "Nephites, or the people of Nephi" hinges on political allegiance to a king, a king who always bore the title "Nephi." This definition does not depend at all on whether "Nephites" were or were not literal descendants from Nephi, nor whether they had Sam, Jacob, Joseph, or Zoram, the founding fathers of the group, among their ancestors. In fact Jacob's terminology may refer to the original father Nephi only indirectly. What he says in verse 11, where the term "Nephites" is first used, is that those classified under that term were simply all who were ruled by the existing monarch, the current "Nephi." No reason is evident to me to believe that in the 338 usages after Jacob begins the practice that "Nephite(s)" means anything else. It is essentially a sociopolitical, not an ethnic or linguistic, label.

Cases where the text reports that political allegiance changed are consistent with this notion. Thus the children who had been fathered, then abandoned, by the renegade priests of Noah chose to "be numbered among those who were called Nephites" (Mosiah 25:12). That is, when they came under the sovereignty of the current head of the Nephite government, they both gave their allegiance to him and changed their group label to "Nephites." In a parallel case earlier, "all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi" (Mosiah 25:13). Conversely, when Amlici and his followers rebelled against Nephite rule and "did consecrate Amlici to be their king," they took a unique group name to mark the political rebellion, "being called Amlicites" (Alma 2:9). Meanwhile "the remainder"—those loyal to Alma, the continuing official ruler—"were [still] called Nephites" (Mosiah 25:11). Again, when the Zoramites transferred allegiance from the Nephite government to the Lamanite side, they "became Lamanites" (Alma 43:4, 6). We see, then, that the Nephites constituted those governed by the ruling "Nephi," who was always a direct descendant of the original Nephi. But the label does not of itself convey information about the ethnic, linguistic, or physical characteristics or origin of those called Nephites.

It is true that the name "Nephites" sometimes connotes those who shared culture, religion, and ethnicity or biology.5 But every rule-of-thumb we construct that treats the Nephites as a thoroughly homogeneous unit ends up violated by details in the text. Variety shows through the common label, culturally (e.g., Mosiah 7:15; Alma 8:11–12), religiously (e.g., Mosiah 26:4–5 and 27:1; Alma 8:11), linguistically (e.g., Omni 1:17–18), and biologically (e.g., Alma 3:17, note the statement concerning Nephi's seed "and whomsoever shall be called thy seed"; Alma 55:4). "Nephites" should then be read as the generic name designating the nation (see Alma 9:20) ideally unified in a political structure headed by one direct descendant of Nephi at a time. [26]


Response to claim: 197 - Joseph Smith and other leaders taught that the Book of Mormon described the origins of the Indians in the western hemisphere

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith and other leaders taught that the Book of Mormon described the origins of the Indians in the western hemisphere.

Author's sources:
  1. Matthew Roper, "Nephi's Neighbors: Book of Mormon Peoples and Pre-Columbian Populations," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 91–128. off-site
  • Matthew Roper, "Swimming the Gene Pool: Israelite Kinship Relations, Genes, and Genealogy," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 129–164. off-site

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Joseph Smith and other leaders believed that all Native Americans were descendants of Lehi or Mulek's group.


Oliver Cowdery (Jul 1835): "A history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered to Europeans by Columbus"

Oliver Cowdery to W.W. Phelps in Messenger and Advocate

A history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered to Europeans by Columbus, must be interesting to every man; and as it would develope the important fact, that the present race were descendants of Abraham....[27]

Note that "this continent" refers to both North and South America; Columbus never set foot in the present day United States; he was confined to the the Caribbean, South America and Central America. (Click here for maps of Columbus' voyages.)


Response to claim: 197 - Mormons "tend to be hazy" regarding what past Church leaders have said regarding geography

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Mormons "tend to be hazy" regarding what past Church leaders have said regarding geography.

Author's sources:
  1. No source given.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

No, they haven't.

Logical Fallacy: Bandwagon (Appeal to the Masses)—The author believes that this claim is true simply because all of his or her buddies believe that it is true, despite the lack of actual evidence supporting it.

The author frequently makes claims about what "most Mormons" believe. How does he know? What surveys has he done? The author strives to portray members as gullible, ill-informed, confused, and manipulated. But, he presents no evidence save his opinion. Why ought members trust someone who obviously has such a low opinion of them?
The work repeats itself on p. 42, 135., 135-136., 136., 137., 142., 143., 197., 200., and 202-203.

B.H. Roberts: "we need not be surprised if we sometimes find them mistaken in their conceptions and deductions"

And let me here say a word in relation to new discoveries in our knowledge of the Book of Mormon, and for matter of that in relation to all subjects connected with the work of the Lord in the earth. We need not follow our researches in any spirit of fear and trembling. We desire only to ascertain the truth; nothing but the truth will endure; and the ascertainment of the truth and the proclamation of the truth in any given case, or upon any subject, will do no harm to the work of the Lord which is itself truth. Nor need we be surprised if now and then we find our predecessors, many of whom bear honored names and deserve our respect and gratitude for what they achieved in making clear the truth, as they conceived it to be—we need not be surprised if we sometimes find them mistaken in their conceptions and deductions; just as the generations who succeed us in unfolding in a larger way some of the yet unlearned truths of the Gospel, will find that we have had some misconceptions and made some wrong deductions in our day and time...[28]


Joseph F. Smith (25 May 1903): "the question of the situation of the city (of Zarahemla) was one of interest certainly, but if it could not be located the matter was not of vital importance"

On May 25, 1903 President Joseph F. Smith attended a convention on the Book of Mormon at BYU Academy in Provo, Utah. After several individuals and expressed and presented their views on the subject, “President Smith spoke briefly and expressed the idea that the question of the situation of the city [of Zarahemla] was one of interest certainly, but if it could not be located the matter was not of vital importance, and if there were differences of opinion on the question it would not affect the salvation of the people: and he advised against students considering it of such vital importance as the principles of the Gospel . . . . [He] again cautioned the students against making the union question–the location of the cities and lands–of the equal importance with the doctrines contained in the book . . . . [President Anthony H. Lund] advised those present to study the Book of Mormon, and be guided by the advice of President Smith in their studies.[29]


Joseph F. Smith (circa 1918): "President Smith declined to officially approve of the map, saying that the Lord had not yet revealed it"

The present associate editor of The Instructor was one day in the office of the late President Joseph F. Smith when some brethren were asking him to approve a map showing the exact landing place of Lehi and his company. President Smith declined to officially approve of the map, saying that the Lord had not yet revealed it, and that if it were officially approved and afterwards found to be in error, it would affect the faith of the people.[30]


George F. Richards (1922): "The land of North and South America is a very much favored portion of our Father's footstool"

The land of North and South America is a very much favored portion of our Father's footstool, and he has declared with his own mouth that it is a land of promise -- a chosen land -- above all other lands.[31]


Anthony W. Ivins (Apr 1929): "Where was the land of Zarahemla? Where was the City of Zarahemla?...There has never been anything yet set forth that definitely settles that question"

We must be careful in the conclusions that we reach. The Book of Mormon teaches the history of three distinct peoples, or two peoples and three different colonies of people, who came from the old world to this continent. It does not tell us that there was no one here before them. It does not tell us that people did not come after. And so if discoveries are made which suggest differences in race origins, it can very easily be accounted for, and reasonably, for we do believe that other people came to this continent...There is a great deal of talk about the geography of the Book of Mormon. Where was the land of Zarahemla? Where was the City of Zarahemla? and other geographic matters. It does not make any difference to us. There has never been anything yet set forth that definitely settles that question. So the Church says we are just waiting until we discover the truth. All kinds of theories have been advanced. I have talked with at least half a dozen men that have found the very place where the City of Zarahemla stood, and notwithstanding the fact that they profess to be Book of Mormon students, they vary a thousand miles apart in the places they have located. We do not offer any definite solution. As you study the Book of Mormon keep these things in mind and do not make definite statements concerning things that have not been proven in advance to be true.[32]


James E. Talmage (Apr 1929): "the Book of Mormon does not give us precise and definite information whereby we can locate those places with certainty"

April 1929: James E. Talmage, General Conference,

I sometimes think we pay a little undue attention to technicalities, and to questions that cannot be fully answered with respect to the Book of Mormon. It matters not to me just where this city or that camp was located. I have met a few of our Book of Mormon students who claim to be able to put their finger upon the map and indicate every land and city mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The fact is, the Book of Mormon does not give us precise and definite information whereby we can locate those places with certainty. I encourage and recommend all possible investigation, comparison and research in this matter. The more thinkers, investigators, workers we have in the field the better; but our brethren who devote themselves to that kind of research should remember that they must speak with caution and not declare as demonstrated truths points that are not really proved. There is enough truth in the Book of Mormon to occupy you and me for the rest of our lives, without giving too much time and attention to these debatable matters.[33]


Melvin J. Ballard (Apr 1930): "We were made to know that the Gospel message would find thousands who had the blood of Israel in their veins in South America"

Many years ago while doing missionary work in Montana I was given to understand by the whispering of the Spirit, as I wondered why the Lamanites had not been brought into the Church at an earlier period--the Lord made known to me that there were many things that he had to do for them before they were prepared to accept the Gospel message. I believe that the things the Lord had in mind are being accomplished and that their day dawns also. I was impressed with it on that memorable Christmas morning in 1925 in South America when Brother Wells, Brother Pratt and I knelt in that beautiful grove of weeping willow trees on the banks of the Rio de la Plata and dedicated the land for the spreading of the Gospel, and the Spirit of the Almighty was upon us. We were made to know that the Gospel message would find thousands who had the blood of Israel in their veins in South America. Then we saw the day when it would go to the fifteen million of Father Lehi's children who are in that land, and that the shackles, politically, would be broken, the day of retribution would come, the day of deliverance, and that they would come into a full realization of the promises of the Almighty. For, for that very purpose, we read in the third section of the book of D&C, was the Book of Mormon given, to bring them, the Lamanites, to a knowledge of the truth.[34]


Heber J. Grant (1937): "I am a firm believer that this country, both North and South America, is the choice land of the world"

I am very thankful that I am not in the least pessimistic or at all alarmed about the work of the Lord. I am a firm believer that this country, both North and South America, is the choice land of the world, a land choice above all other lands, according to the words of the prophets in the Book of Mormon. I believe in its final destiny. I believe that there is an over-ruling Providence protecting this country. I believe that this is the only place in the United States of America where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could have been established and continued without the most terrible persecution, worse than anything we ever had.[35]


LDS Department of Education Study Manual (1938): "the Book of Mormon deals only with the history and expansion of three small colonies which came to America and it does not deny or disprove the possibility of other immigrations"

Indian ancestry, at least in part, is attributed by the Nephite record to the Lamanites. However, the Book of Mormon deals only with the history and expansion of three small colonies which came to America and it does not deny or disprove the possibility of other immigrations, which probably would be unknown to its writers. Jewish origin may represent only a part of the total ancestry of the American Indian today.[36]


Question: Did Joseph Fielding Smith reject the theory that the final battlefield of the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica rather than New York?

Joseph Fielding Smith, before he became President of the Church, argued for a New York location as the scene of the final battle

One review of this topic notes:

In 1938 Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote an article published in the Deseret News arguing against what he then termed the "modernist" theory that the final battlefield of the Nephites and Jaredites may have been in Central America rather than in New York. In 1956 this article was included in a selection of Elder Smith's writings compiled by his son-in-law Bruce R. McConkie. Although Elder Smith would later become president of the church in 1970, his article arguing for a New York location as the scene of the final battlefield was written many years before he assumed that position, and he apparently never revisited the question as president of the church. There is evidence that Elder Smith may have softened his opposition on the Cumorah question. In a letter written to Fletcher B. Hammond, who argued emphatically for a Central American location and had sent Elder Smith a copy of his findings, the apostle explained, "I am sure this will be very interesting although I have never paid any attention whatever to Book of Mormon geography because it appears to me that it is inevitable that there must be a great deal of guesswork."  Apparently, he did not consider his 1938 argument as settled and definitive or as a measure of doctrinal orthodoxy.

Joseph Fielding Smith acknowledged that this was his opinion, and that others were entitled to their own opinions regarding this subject

Sidney B. Sperry, after whom an annual Brigham Young University symposium is named, was also one who initially supported the New York Cumorah view (that is, an area of New York as the final battlefield of the Nephites and Jaredites). During the 1960s, as he began to explore the issue, he came to a different conclusion... Reversing his earlier position, he wrote: "It is now my very carefully studied and considered opinion that the Hill Cumorah to which Mormon and his people gathered was somewhere in Middle America. The Book of Mormon evidence to this effect is irresistible and conclusive to one who will approach it with an open mind. This evidence has been reviewed by a few generations of bright students in graduate classes who have been given the challenge to break it down if they can. To date none has ever been able to do so."  Sperry, who was very familiar with what Joseph Fielding Smith had previously written, told him that he did not feel comfortable publishing something that contradicted what the apostle had written, but that he and other sincere students of the Book of Mormon had come to that conclusion only after serious and careful study of the text. Sperry said that Elder Smith then lovingly put his arm around his shoulder and said, "Sidney, you are as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine. You go ahead and publish it." [37]

It seems clear, then, that Elder (later President) Smith did not regard his views as the product of revelation, nor did he regard it as illegitimate to have a different view of the matter.


Melvin J. Ballard (Apr 1938): "for these millions who are in Mexico, Central America and South America their day must come"

To the descendants of Father Lehi, who have suffered so long, for whom we received the precious record of the Book of Mormon, it did not come to us for our sake, it was committed into our hands to hold in custody for these millions who are in Mexico, Central America and South America their day must come. It is coming, and I see the hand of God preparing for their deliverance. But you, you must lead the way.[38]


Washburn and Washburn (1939), An Approach to the Study of Book of Mormon Geography: Book cover

Cover of Washburn and Washburn (1939) focusing attention on a Mesoamerican location.
  • J.A. Washburn and J.N. Washburn, An Approach to the Study of Book of Mormon Geography (New Era Pub. Co., 1939). Note that the cover circles Mesoamerica.


J. Reuben Clark (1940): "Thus the hemisphere – Zion in its full area –was becoming “a land of liberty"

Clearly, if the people of this land, this whole land of America, all of it, must serve Jesus Christ, `the God of the land,’ or be swept off, and this is the gist of all and every blessing promised for, and every judgment uttered against this land, the God must so provide that men in all the Americas could serve him. The era of the Gentiles must be an era of freedom of worship throughout the Hemisphere else Zion could not be established. This was God’s plan and must be brought about....

Then in the early decades of the last century, both before and after Joseph’s First Vision, God moved upon the other peoples, one by one, to assert and win their independence, and as fast as hey won it, they one by one – I am speaking with historical accuracy – set up their new governmental systems in the framework of our Constitution, sometimes in the first instance, practically copying it word for word. Different juridical traditions have led them to develop their governmental systems along diverging lines from ours, but in great principles their fundamental document is a replica of our God-given instrument. Thus the hemisphere – Zion in its full area –was becoming “a land of liberty.”[39]


LDS Department of Education Study Manual (1940): "There is a tendency to use the Book of Mormon as a complete history of all pre-Columbian peoples...The book does not give an history of all peoples who came to America before Columbus"

There is a tendency to use the Book of Mormon as a complete history of all pre-Columbian peoples. The book does not claim to be such an history, and we distort its spiritual message when we use it for such a purpose. The book does not give an history of all peoples who came to America before Columbus. There may have been other people who came here, by other routes and means, of which we have no written record. If historians wish to discuss information which the Book of Mormon does not contain but which is related to it, then we should grant them that freedom. We should avoid the claim that we are familiar with all the peoples who have lived on American soil when we discuss the Book of Mormon. . . There is safety in using the book in the spirit in which it was written. Our use of poorly constructed inferences may draw us far away from the truth. In our approach to the study of the Book of Mormon let us guard against drawing historical conclusions which the book does not warrant.[40]


George Albert Smith (Oct 1940): "They will find that it contains, in addition to what the Bible has told us about the world, what the Lord has said about this Western Hemisphere"

I recommend that not only you Latter-day Saints read the Book of Mormon, but that our Father's other children read it. They will find that it contains, in addition to what the Bible has told us about the world, what the Lord has said about this Western Hemisphere -- that this should be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles and that no king should dwell upon this land, but that He, the God of Heaven, would be our King and would fortify this land against all the nations, that this should be a land of peace and happiness, on Condition that we would honor the God of this earth, the Father of us all. The factor controlling this promise is that we must keep the commandments of our Heavenly Father or it cannot be realized.[41]


David O. McKay (1843): "and this includes Canada and the southern republics, was a choice land when the Jaredites left the land of Shinar approximately four thousand years ago"

America, and this includes Canada and the southern republics, was a choice land when the Jaredites left the land of Shinar approximately four thousand years ago. So it was fourteen hundred years later when Lehi and his colony formed the nucleus of a nation, prospered on the bounty of the country, and after a thousand years perished because of transgression. America was a great land when the stately Indian chiefs ruled their tribes, which thrived from the Bering Sea in the north to the Panama and towering Andes in the South.[42]


Ezra Taft Benson (Apr 1955): "the Promised Land, the land of Zion, includes all of North and South America"

I found they [those in 11 Latin American nations he had visited] liked to be referred to as Americans.... I found they were happy to learn that to the Latter-day Saints the Promised Land, the land of Zion, includes all of North and South America.[43]


Lowell T. Bennion (Sunday School - 1955): "The Book of Mormon itself does not purport to be a history of all pre-Columbian peoples in the Western Hemisphere"

“The Book of Mormon itself does not purport to be a history of all pre-Columbian peoples in the Western Hemisphere. It simply tells briefly the story of these three peoples who came to this Continent. Its story ends in 421 A.D. What may have happened elsewhere on the American Continent before, during, or after the Nephite record was written (600 B.C. - 421 A.D.), we have no way of knowing.”[44]


Harold B. Lee (11 Nov 1959) "it seems all are in agreement that the followers of Lehi came to the western shores of South America"

...from the writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and of other inspired men, it seems all are in agreement that the followers of Lehi came to the western shores of South America....I believe we are (today) not far from the place where the history of the people of Lehi commenced in western America.[45]


Mark E. Peterson (1982): "Now, a General Authority might speculate, I suppose. We have had speculation, for instance, on the part of some with respect to Book of Mormon geography"

…we all have our free agency. God doesn’t rob anyone of that. And sometimes even a General Authority has used his agency in a wrong direction…Now, a General Authority might speculate, I suppose. We have had speculation, for instance, on the part of some with respect to Book of Mormon geography, and it is plain, unadulterated speculation and not doctrine. And if a General Authority has speculated on Book of Mormon geography he did not represent the view of the Church while doing so.[46]


Dallin H. Oaks (29 Oct 1993): "the Book of Mormon is not a history of all of the people who have lived on the continents of North and South America"

Here [BYU, 1950s] I was introduced to the idea that the Book of Mormon is not a history of all of the people who have lived on the continents of North and South America in all ages of the earth. Up to that time, I had assumed that it was. If that were the claim of the Book of Mormon, any piece of historical, archaeological, or linguistic evidence to the contrary would weigh in against the Book of Mormon, and those who rely exclusively on scholarship would have a promising position to argue.

In contrast, if the Book of Mormon only purports to be an account of a few peoples who inhabited a portion of the Americas during a few millennia in the past, the burden of argument changes drastically. It is no longer a question of all versus none; it is a question of some versus none. In other words, in the circumstance I describe, the opponents of historicity [i.e. those who argue that the Book of Mormon is not a literally true record, as it claims] must prove that the Book of Mormon has no historical validity for any peoples who lived in the Americas in a particular time frame, a notoriously difficult exercise. You do not prevail on that proposition by proving that a particular Eskimo culture represents migrations from Asia. The opponents of the historicity of the Book of Mormon must prove that the people whose religious life it records did not live anywhere in the Americas.[47]


John A. Widtsoe (Jul 1950): "under the Prophet's editorship Central America was denominated the region of Book of Mormon activities"

John A. Widtsoe (Council of the Twelve)

As far as can be learned, the Prophet Joseph Smith, translator of the book, did not say where, on the American continent, Book of Mormon activities occurred. Perhaps he did not know…. [The 1842 Times and Seasons article] seems to place many book of Mormon activities in that region. The interesting fact in this connection is that the Prophet Joseph Smith at this time was editor of the Times and Seasons, and had announced his full editorial responsibility for the paper. This seems to give the subjoined article an authority it might not otherwise possess….

They who work on the geography of the Book of Mormon have little else than the preceding approaches with which to work, viz [that is]: that Nephites found their way into what is now the state of Illinois; that the plates of the Book of Mormon were found in a hill in northwestern New York State; that a statement exists of doubtful authenticity that Lehi and his party landed on the shore of the land now known as Chile; and that under the Prophet's editorship Central America was denominated the region of Book of Mormon activities.

Out of diligent, prayerful study, we may be led to a better understanding of times and places in the history of the people who move across the pages of the divinely given Book of Mormon.[48]

…out of the studies of faithful Latter-day Saints may yet come a unity of opinion concerning Book of Mormon geography.[49]


Ezra Taft Benson (Apr 1960 and Oct 1962): "This is a choice land - - all of America"

This is a choice land - - all of America - - choice above all others.”[50]

...this choice land of the Americas....[51]


Marion G. Romney (6 Apr 1963): "I have for the past two years been supervising the Latin American missions...the Lamanites, many of whom live in these missions"

I have just greeted and welcomed our people from Latin America. my Spanish may not have been such as they could understand, but you are in no position to challenge my interpretation of it. I love these, my brothers and sisters. To me they are white and delightsome. And of course I love you, too....I have for the past two years been supervising the Latin American missions. it may not, therefore, be wholly inappropriate for me to say something about the Lamanites, many of whom live in these missions. [52]


Harold B. Lee (8 Jul 1966): "if the Lord wanted us to know where it was, or where Zarahemla was, he’d have given us latitude and longitude, don’t you think?"

Some say the Hill Cumorah was in southern Mexico (and someone pushed it down still farther) and not in western New York. Well, if the Lord wanted us to know where it was, or where Zarahemla was, he’d have given us latitude and longitude, don’t you think? And why bother our heads trying to discover with archaeological certainty the geographical locations of the cities of the Book of Mormon like Zarahemla?[53]


BYU Master's Thesis (Aug 1968): Uses Mesoamerica as presumptive culture source for costumes destined for a Book of Mormon re-enactments

BYU Master's Thesis for an August 1968 Speech and Dramatic Arts department uses Mesoamerica as presumptive culture source for costumes destined for a Book of Mormon re-enactments.

Amanda J. Brown, "A Design Study in Costume for Projected Dramatic Productions Prescribing a Book of Mormon Setting Identified Herein as Late Preclassic Mesoamerican Culture," Master's Thesis, Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts (August 1968). off-site


Paul R. Cheesman (Nov 1968): "There are those who believe that there are two Hill Cumorahs...Advocates of this theory establish their analysis primarily from the internal evidences of the Book of Mormon"

There are those who believe that there are two Hill Cumorahs. Their theory is that the hill on which Mormon fought the last battle with the Lamanites is not the same hill in which Joseph Smith found the gold plates. Advocates of this theory establish their analysis primarily from the internal evidences of the Book of Mormon. Others conclude that there is only one Hill Cumorah, and that the place where Joseph Smith and Moroni met was the same place Mormon and Moroni visited in the fifth century. There is no official Church view.[54]


Ezra Taft Benson (1972): "I wish that every person in my country, in your country, in all of the Americas on this entire continent would read the Book of Mormon, and in it the prophetic history of these lands"

It should be comforting to all Latter-day Saints that the Lord has given great promises in that sacred volume, the Book of Mormon, promises that should give us comfort and assurance on the condition that we live the gospel. How I wish that every person in my country, in your country, in all of the Americas on this entire continent would read the Book of Mormon, and in it the prophetic history of these lands and the clear warnings for the future. Read what Father Lehi said in 2 Nephi 1:6-8. Read what his son Jacob said in 2 Nephi 10:10-14. Read also 1 Nephi 22:17 . . . . But we must also keep in mind the warning of the Brother of Jared in the second chapter of Ether, verses 9 and 10 . . . . Then in the twelfth verse. My beloved brethren and sisters, these things are true.[55]


Marion G. Romney (1975): "As the conflict intensified, all the people who had not been slain—men...gathered about that hill Cumorah"

In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the “hill Cumorah.” (Morm. 6:6.) On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought to an end the great Jaredite nation.

You who are acquainted with the Book of Mormon will recall that during the final campaign of the fratricidal war between the armies led by Shiz and those led by Coriantumr “nearly two millions” of Coriantumr’s people had been slain by the sword; “two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.” (Ether 15:2.)

As the conflict intensified, all the people who had not been slain—men “with their wives and their children” (Ether 15:15)—gathered about that hill Cumorah (see Ether 15:11). —(Click here to continue) [56]


Spencer W. Kimball (Feb 1977): "There are probably sixty million Lamanites in America"

Spencer W. Kimball in Mexico, 1977,

[p. 2] Columbus discovered America in 1492. After him came many colonizers and explorers. The Puritans and Pilgrims came from Europe . . . . For four hundred years the Lamanites were scattered throughout the Americas. Cortes came here, and Pizzaro went to South America. They had great influence upon the people. They scattered them and persecuted them....

[3] One of the first efforts of the Prophet Joseph Smith was to take the gospel to the Lamanites. Continuing until now, we have preached the gospel to the Lamanites. There are probably sixty million Lamanites in America. They are happy for the gospel as it comes to them. . . . In many natural resources, the land of America is rich and will produce abundantly. This is for you, for us, and for all the good people who live upon the land of America. Protection against enemies has been promised. In all the Americas, neither kings nor emperors will combine to take the land. Great promises are given us, if we live the commandments God has given us....

One of the first efforts of the Prophet Joseph Smith was to take the gospel to the Lamanites. Continuing until now, we have preached the gospel to the Lamanites. There are probably sixty million Lamanites in America. They are happy for the gospel as it come to them. . . . In many natural resources, the land of America is rich and will produce abundantly. This is for you, for us, and for all the good people who live upon the land of America. Protection against enemies has been promised. In all the Americas, neither kings nor emperors will combine to take the land. Great promises are given us, if we live the commandments God has given us.[57]


Hugh Nibley (1978): "one tragically short-lived religious civilization that once flourished in Mesoamerica and then vanished toward the northeast in the course"

In a reprint of an article written in 1967, Nibley added:

The overall picture reflects before all a limited geographical and cultural point of view--small localized operations, with only occasional flights and expeditions into the wilderness; one might almost be moving in the cultural circuit of the Hopi villages. The focusing of the whole account on religious themes as well as the limited cultural scope leaves all the rest of the stage clear for any other activities that might have been going on in the vast reaches of the New World, including the hypothetical Norsemen, Celts, Phoenicians, Libyans, or prehistoric infiltrations via the Bering Straits. Indeed, the more varied the ancient American scene becomes, as newly discovered populations of Near Eastern, Far Eastern, and European origin, the more hospitable it is to the activities of one tragically short-lived religious civilization that once flourished in Mesoamerica and then vanished toward the northeast in the course of a series of confused tribal wars that was one long, drawn-out retreat into oblivion.[58]


Ezra Taft Benson (Jan 1979): "God raised up wise leaders among your progenitors which afforded Latin American countries political freedom and independence"

God raised up wise leaders among your progenitors which afforded Latin American countries political freedom and independence. I only mention the names of a few whom God raised up to accomplish His holy and Sovereign purposes: Jose de San Martin, Bernardo O’Higgins, and Simon Bolivar. These were some of the `founding fathers of your continent. I believe it was very significant that when independence came to the countries of South America, governments were established on constitutional principles–some patterned after the Constitution of the United States. I believe this was a very necessary step which preceded the preaching of the gospel in South America.[59]


Ezra Taft Benson (Dec 1980): "wise and inspired men in North, Central, and South America were raised up who proclaimed the sovereign truth that all men"

The Lord recognized that truth will only prosper where religious freedom exists. Religious freedom cannot be fully enjoyed without a full measure of political freedom. So before the gospel was restored, wise and inspired men in North, Central, and South America were raised up who proclaimed the sovereign truth that all men—not just the privileged, the rich, or the rulers—but all men have divine rights. Among these rights are life, liberty (which includes our freedom to worship), and right to property (See D&C 101:79).[60]

When a Book of Mormon prophet referred to the nations of the world, this hemisphere was designated as `good’ (Jacob 5:25-26).[61]


Hugh Nibley (19 Aug 1983): "All this took place in Central America"

All this took place in Central America, the perennial arena of the Big People versus the Little People.[62]


John Sorenson, Ensign (1984): "the immediate land covered by the book’s events was probably only hundreds rather than thousands of miles long and wide"

John Sorenson wrote, in a two-part article published in the Ensign:

As early as the turn of the century, a few Saints began to look more carefully at what the Book of Mormon itself said on this matter. They found statements there indicating that the scene for Jaredite and Nephite history was likely more limited than they had previously supposed. Then, in 1939, the Washburns published a detailed analysis of the geography in the Book of Mormon based strictly on its own statements and demonstrating the consistency of those statements. Since the publication of their work, An Approach to the Study of Book of Mormon Geography, analysts of the scripture have found still more data in the Book of Mormon’s own statements suggesting that the immediate land covered by the book’s events was probably only hundreds rather than thousands of miles long and wide.[63]

Following the above, publication of John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 1.


Neal A. Maxwell (1986): "Whether located in Meso–America or elsewhere, they were one people among many peoples on this planet and perhaps even on the western hemisphere"

Individuals and settings of obscurity are not unusual to the Lord's purposes. Meridian–day Christianity was initiated on a very small geographical scale and with comparatively few people. The larger, busy world paid little heed to it. Likewise with the Book of Mormon peoples. Whether located in Meso–America or elsewhere, they were one people among many peoples on this planet and perhaps even on the western hemisphere.[64]


Question: Did the First Presidency identify the New York "Hill Cumorah" as the site of the Nephite final battles?

The First Presidency's secretary apparently answered a question according to his own understanding - No revelatory basis exists for this position

The First Presidency's secretary apparently answered a question according to his own understanding, and then at the direction of the First Presidency later clarified/corrected his statement to indicate that while many Latter-day Saints have expressed opinions about the location of Cumorah (or other Book of Mormon geography issues), the Church has no official geography. No revelatory basis exists for any geographical scheme outside of the Book of Mormon text itself.

A letter from the Secretary to the First Presidency said that "that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon"

In 1990, F. Michael Watson (secretary to the First Presidency) sent a letter to a questioner which read as follows:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Office of the First Presidency
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
October 16, 1990
Bishop Darrel L. Brooks
Moore Ward
Oklahoma City Oklahoma South Stake
1000 Windemere
Moore, OK 73160
Dear Bishop Brooks:
I have been asked to forward to you for acknowledgment 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.
The Brethren appreciate your assistance in responding to this inquiry, and asked that you convey to Brother Sparks their commendation for his gospel study.
Sincerely yours,
(signed)
F. Michael Watson
Secretary to the First Presidency
Letter from F. Michael Watson sent 16 October 1990.

Two statements made available within the next three years clarified the Church's opinion on the matter

It is apparent that Bro. Watson seems to have been speaking on his own understanding of the matter, and not as an official declaration of Church policy. Two statements made available within the next three years clarified the Church's opinion on the matter. The first was the publication of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Although not an official statement of Church policy, two members of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elders Oaks and Maxwell, served as advisers during the production of the Encyclopedia. Thus, we have the following statement published in 1992:

In 1928 the Church purchased the western New York hill and in 1935 erected a monument recognizing the visit of the angel Moroni (see Angel Moroni Statue). A visitors center was later built at the base of the hill. Each summer since 1937, the Church has staged the Cumorah Pageant at this site. Entitled America's Witness for Christ, it depicts important events from Book of Mormon history. This annual pageant has reinforced the common assumption that Moroni buried the plates of Mormon in the same hill where his father had buried the other plates, thus equating this New York hill with the Book of Mormon Cumorah. Because the New York site does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Book of Mormon geography, some Latter-day Saints have looked for other possible explanations and locations, including Mesoamerica. Although some have identified possible sites that may seem to fit better (Palmer), there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site that has been suggested.
—David A. Palmer, "Cumorah" in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

The Secretary to the First Presidency later clarified his earlier statement: "there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site"

On April 23, 1993, F. Michael Watson arranged for a clarification letter after a discussion with a FARMS staffer. The text is similar and consistent with what was published in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism the previous year:

The Church emphasizes the doctrinal and historical value of the Book of Mormon, not its geography. While some Latter-day Saints have looked for possible locations and explanations [for Book of Mormon geography] because the New York Hill Cumorah does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Cumorah, there are no conclusive connections between the Book of Mormon text and any specific site.[65]

Since the text of this letter was published in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, some critics have charged the FARMS authors with either manipulating the Church into sending the letter, or forging the letter text altogether.

Matt Roper of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship located a faxed copy of the same statement sent from the Office of the First Presidency, along with its cover page, and sent FAIR a copy with permission to post it. The 1993 fax was sent by Senior Executive Secretary for the Office of the First Presidency, Carla Ogden, to Brent Hall of FARMS. (Sister Ogden continues to serve in this position as of 2009). The text of the fax matches exactly the text reported to have been in the response by Watson as described in the FARMS Review. The cover letter reads as follows:

I thought you would be interested in this FAX from Michael Watson, secretary to the First Presidency. We have been receiving a number of questions from the Oklahoma, Texas area where anti-Mormons are using a letter from Brother Watson to a Bishop where Brother Watson said that the Church supports only one location for Cumorah, and that is the New York location. I talked with him on the phone the other day and told him of the questions that were coming to us. He responded that the First Presidency would like to clear up that Issue and he would FAX me with that clarification.

Thanks

[signed] Brent [Hall]

Fax from the Office of the First Presidency to FARMS dated April 23, 1993.

(Phone and numbers have been redacted from these scans; they are otherwise unaltered. The top of the First Presidency's fax had "Apr 23 '93 12:25 PM FIRST PRESIDENCY SLC P.1" in fainter letters applied by the receiving fax, which does not appear on the scan.)


Encyclopedia of Mormonism (1992): "The Church has not taken an official position with regard to location of geographical places"

The Church has not taken an official position with regard to location of geographical places [of the Book of Mormon].[66]


Notes

  1. See Ben Fenton, “Mormons Use Secret British War Files ‘to Save Souls,’ ” The Telegraph (London), 15 Feb. 1999.
  2. Greg Stott, “Ancestral Passion,” Equinox (April/May 1998): 45.
  3. D&C 138:58
  4. D. Todd Christofferson, "The Redemption of the Dead and the Testimony of Jesus," Ensign (November 2000), 9. off-site (Footnotes have in places been integrated into the main text; citation for has been slightly modified.
  5. DNA Tests rule out 2 as Smith descendants, Deseret News Nov. 10, 2007.
  6. Ugo A. Perego, Jayne E. Ekins, and Scott R. Woodward, "Resolving the Paternities of Oliver N. Buell and Mosiah L. Hancock through DNA," JJHWA, 133.
  7. Ugo A. Perego, Natalie M. Myers, and Scott R. Woodward, “Reconstructing the Y-Chromosome of Joseph Smith Jr.: Genealogical Applications, Journal of Mormon History Vol. 32, No. 2 (Summer 2005) 70-88.
  8. Deseret News, 2007.
  9. Ugo A. Perego, Jayne E. Ekins, and Scott R. Woodward, "Resolving the Paternities of Oliver N. Buell and Mosiah L. Hancock through DNA," JJHWA, 134-135.
  10. Perego, Myers and Woodward, 2005.
  11. This bit of folklore is explored in Maureen Ursenbach Beecher et al., "Emma and Eliza and the Stairs," Brigham Young University Studies 22 no. 1 (Fall 1982), 86–96.. RLDS author Richard Price also argues that the physical layout of the Mansion House makes the story as reported by Charles C. Rich unlikely, see "Eliza Snow Was Not Pushed Down the Mansion House Stairs," in Richard and Pamela Price, Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy: How Men Nearest the Prophet Attached Polygamy to His Name in Order to Justify Their Own Polygamous Crimes, Volume 1 (Price Publishing Co, 2000), chapter 9. Price's dogmatic insistence that Joseph never taught plural marriage, however, cannot be sustained by the evidence.
  12. Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd edition, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 136. See also discussion in Danel W. Bachman, “A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy Before the Death of Joseph Smith,” (1975) (unpublished M.A. thesis, Purdue University), 140n173.
  13. Perego, Myers and Woodward, 2005.
  14. Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference Report, October, 1960
  15. 15.0 15.1 Simon Southerton, e-mail, “Answering the DNA apologetics,” 15 February 2005, 18h42 (copy in author’s possession).
  16. Simon Southerton, "Finally, I agree with LDS scientists-apologists," posting to an ex-Mormon discussion board, Sept. 6, 2008. (emphasis in original)
  17. Simon Southerton, explaining his 2008 statement to FAIR, February 2014. Cited in updated Letter to a CES Director (2014).
  18. "Book of Mormon and DNA Studies," Gospel Topics Essays at lds.org (prepared beginning in 2013). The paper cited is Maanasa Raghavan et al., “Upper Palaeolithic Siberian Genome Reveals Dual Ancestry of Native Americans,” Nature 505 (20 November 2013): 87–91.
  19. See "Cohen Modal Haplotype," in David G. Stewart, Jr., "DNA and the Book of Mormon," FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): 109–138. off-site wiki FairMormon link
  20. [citation needed] Swanson?
  21. Ugo Perego, "Haplogroup X in Light of Recent Book of Mormon Claims," 2009 FAIR Conference, Sandy, Utah (6 August 2009); notes in author's possession; off-site (last accessed 2 December 2009). See a published article dealing with the same material: Ugo A. Perego, "The Book of Mormon and the Origin of Native Americans from a Maternally Inherited DNA Standpoint," FARMS Review 22/1 (2010): 191–227. off-site wiki
  22. WW Hauswirth et al., "Inter-and Intrapopulation Studies of Ancient Humans," Experientia 50 (1994): 585–591; Peter Forster et al., "Origin and Evolution of Native American mtDNA Variation: A Reappraisal," American Journal of Human Genetics 59/4 (October 1996): 939; Jason A. Eshleman et al., "Mitochondrial DNA Studies of Native Americans: Conceptions and Misconceptions of the Population Prehistory of the Americas," Evolutionary Anthropology 12 (2003): 13.
  23. Nelson J.R. Fagundes, Ricardo Kanitz, et al., "Mitochondrial Population Genomics Supports a Single Pre-Clovis Origin with a Coastal Route for the Peopling of the Americas," The American Journal of Human Genetics 82/3 (28 February 2008): 583-592.
  24. Boyd K. Packer, Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991), 280–282.
  25. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd edition, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), 33. GL direct link
  26. John L. Sorenson, "When Lehi's Party Arrived in the Land Did They Find Others There?," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 1/1 (1992): 1–34. wikiGL direct link
  27. Oliver Cowdery to W. W. Phelps, "Letter VII," (July 1835) Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 1:155-159. off-site
  28. Brigham H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 3 Vols., (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909[1895, 1903]), 2:503–504. ISBN 0962254541.
  29. Deseret News, 25 May 1903.
  30. George D. Pyper, "The Book of Mormon Geography," The Instructor no. 73 (April 1938), 160. Event discussed occurred in about 1918; see John L. Sorenson, Mormon's Map (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000), 7. ISBN 0934893489.
  31. George F. Richards, Conference Report (October 1922), 80.
  32. Anthony W. Ivins, Conference Report (April 1929), 16.
  33. James E. Talmage, Conference Report (April 1929), 44.
  34. Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report (April 1930), 156.
  35. Heber J. Grant, Conference Report (October 1937), 98.
  36. William E. Berrett, Milton R. Hunter, Roy A. Welker, and H. Alvah Fitzgerald, A Guide to the Study of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: LDS Department of Education, 1938), 47–48.
  37. Matthew Roper, "Losing the Remnant: The New Exclusivist "Movement" and the Book of Mormon (A review of "Prophecies and Promises: The Book of Mormon and the United States of America" by: Bruce H. Porter and Rod L. Meldrum)," FARMS Review 22/2 (2010): 87–124. off-site wiki
  38. Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report (April 1938), 44.
  39. J. Reuben Clark Jr., “America’s Divine Destiny,” cited in Messages of the First Presidency, edited by James R. Clark, Vol. 6, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1975), 108. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  40. Roy A. West, An Introduction to the Book of Mormon: A Religious-Literary Study (Salt Lake City: LDS Department of Education, 1940), 11.
  41. George Albert Smith, Conference Report (October 1840), 108.
  42. David O. McKay, Conference Report (April 1843), 17-18.
  43. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, 48.
  44. Lowell L. Bennion, An Introduction to the Gospel: For the Sunday Schools of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Deseret Sunday School Union Board, 1955), 113
  45. Harold B. Lee, Quarterly Historical Report for the Andes Mission, 11 November 1959. Cited in Sorenson, Sourcebook, 390.
  46. Mark E. Petersen, “Revelation,” address to religious educators, 24 August 1954; cited in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed., (Salt Lake City: Church Educational System and the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints, 1982), 136–137; cited in Dennis B. Horne (ed.), Determining Doctrine: A Reference Guide for Evaluation Doctrinal Truth (Roy, Utah: Eborn Books, 2005), 315.
  47. Dallin H. Oaks, "Historicity of the Book of Mormon," Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies Annual Dinner Provo, Utah, 29 October 1993; cited in Dallin H. Oaks, "The Historicity of the Book of Mormon," (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1994): 2–3.
  48. John A. Widtsoe, "Evidences and Reconciliations: Is Book of Mormon Geography Known?," Improvement Era 53 (July 1950), 547.
  49. John A. Widtsoe, foreword to Thomas Stuart Ferguson's Cumorah—Where? (Oakland: Published by the author, 1947), cited by John L. Sorenson, Mormon's Map (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000), 7–8. ISBN 0934893489.
  50. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report (April 1960), 99.
  51. Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report (October 1962), 15.
  52. Marion G. Romney, Conference Report (6 April 1963), 74.
  53. Harold B. Lee, “Loyalty,” address to religious educators, 8 July 1966; in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Church Educational System and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982), 65; cited in Dennis B. Horne (ed.), Determining Doctrine: A Reference Guide for Evaluation Doctrinal Truth (Roy, Utah: Eborn Books, 2005), 172-173.
  54. Paul R. Cheesman, "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon," The Instructor, Vol. 103, No. 11 (November 1968): 429.
  55. Ezra Taft Benson, Official Report of the First Mexico and Central America Area General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in the National Auditorium Chapultepec Park in Mexico City, Mexico August 25, 26, 27, 1972 (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1972), 131.
  56. Marion G. Romney, "America’s Destiny," Ensign (Nov 1975).
  57. Spencer W. Kimball, Official Reports of the Monterrey Mexico Area Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held in Monterrey, Mexico February 19 and 20, 1977, (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1978), 2-3.
  58. "The Mormon View of the Book of Mormon" in Concilium: An International Review of Theology 10 (December 1967): 82–83; in Concilium: Theology in the Age of Renewal 30 (1968): 170–73; and in French, Portuguese, and German editions of this journal. It was reprinted in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1978), 149–53, under the title "The Book of Mormon: A Minimal Statement," with the text from which this segment is cited as a postscript. It was most recently republished in Hugh Nibley, "The Book of Mormon: A Minimal Statement," Journal of the Book of Mormon and Restoration Scripture 19/1 (2010): 78–80. off-site wiki
  59. Ezra Taft Benson, “The Righteous Need not Fear,” La Paz, Bolivia, 10-18 January 1979, in Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 695. ISBN 0884946398. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  60. Ezra Taft Benson, Puerto Rico, 12-17 December 1980.
  61. Ezra Taft Benson, Puerto Rico Priesthood Leadership Meeting, 12-17 December 1980; cited in Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 123. ISBN 0884946398. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  62. Hugh Nibley, BYU Commencement Ceremony, 19 August 1983; cited in Hugh Nibley, "Leaders to Managers: The Fatal Shift," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 no. 4 (Winter 1983), 12-21.
  63. John L. Sorenson, "Digging into the Book of Mormon: Our Changing Understanding of Ancient America and Its Scripture, Part 1," Ensign (September 1984), 27. off-site For second part of the article, see off-site
  64. Neal A. Maxwell, But For A Small Moment (Salt Lake City, Utah: Desert Book, 1986), 18.
  65. Correspondence from Michael Watson, Office of the First Presidency, 23 April 1993. Cited with commentary in William J. Hamblin, "Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 161–197. wiki off-site GL direct link
  66. John E. Clark, "Book of Mormon Geography," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, (New York, Macmillan Publishing, 1992), 1:178.