Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book of Mormon geography wars

Excerpts of Mormon geography conferences to compete this weekend by Michael De Groote, Deseret News

They call it the "heartland" model of Book of Mormon lands. Within the movement, phrases like "Joseph Smith knew" are almost holy mantras and the word "Mesoamerica" is a cussword.

The name and face of this geographic theory is Rodney Meldrum, the founder and president of a for-profit organization called the Foundation for Indigenous Research and Mormonism, or simply the FIRM Foundation.

The heartland theory holds that the bulk of the Book of Mormon took place in North America. Most LDS scholars, however, think the evidence places the ancient civilizations of the Book of Mormon in the areas of Mexico and Guatemala called Mesoamerica.

The heartland group has splintered in two, and a battle is about to take place in the form of dueling conferences this weekend.

On one side, you have Meldrum, described on his Web site,, as a "Book of Mormon DNA researcher, lecturer and author."

On the other side, you have LDS Travel company, LDS Promised Land company and two of Meldrum's comrades-in-arms, Bruce H. Porter and Wayne May, publisher of the long-running Ancient American magazine.

On Thursday and Friday, Meldrum will host the fourth semi-annual National Book of Mormon Prophecies Conference: A Celebration of the Prophet Joseph," at the Zermatt Resort and Conference Center in Midway.

At the same time, LDS Travel and LDS Promised Land are presenting a competing conference, "Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon Geography," an hour away in Sandy at the South Towne Expo Center.

Meldrum accepted an invitation to speak at the conference, but after a few weeks and questions over sharing profits, Porter said a mutual decision was made for Meldrum to withdraw. Meldrum organized and promoted his own conference.

Whether the Book of Mormon heartland geography theory market can bear two competing venues remains to be seen.

1 comment:

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