Which is why I can’t recommend FairMormon to anyone who has questions.
They also tend to make authoritative statements on behalf of the Church while they omit inconvenient sources and use sophistry to mislead readers, at least in my opinion. I’ve told them about my concerns but they’ve completely ignored them.
Here’s an example from their web page: “the Church has no official geography. No revelatory basis exists for any geographical scheme outside of the Book of Mormon text itself.”
That’s quite a statement to make about the D&C and Oliver’s historical letters, many of which describe heavenly visitations but, according to FairMormon, are not “revelatory.”
This FairMormon web page establishes the FairMormon/Mesomaniac position that an anonymous fax, plagiarized from an article in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, overturns the explicit statements of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, all of their contemporaries, and other modern prophets and apostles who have spoken on the issue of one Cumorah in New York, including in General Conference.
See what you think after you go through this analysis.
I’m going to post their page below with my comments in red.
Question: Did the First Presidency identify the New York “Hill Cumorah” as the site of the Nephite final battles? Of course, the answer is unequivocally yes. Joseph was President of the Church and Oliver was Assistant President at the time they wrote and published Letter VII. But FairMormon won’t tell you that. Instead, they focus on an obscure letter written in modern times, as you’re about to see.
The First Presidency’s secretary apparently answered a question according to his own understanding – No revelatory basis exists for this position. Notice how FairMormon characterizes Letter VII as not “revelatory” without informing readers that the letter even exists, let alone that Joseph and Oliver wrote it, that Joseph made sure every member of the Church in his day had access to it, that all of his contemporaries accepted it, and that no Church leader has contradicted it since.
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”
Two statements [they’re really one statement, as you’ll see] made available within the next three years clarified the Church’s opinion on the matter
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. [Look at the logic here. Elder Watson referred to specific statements made by Joseph and Oliver, as well as others made in General Conference, including by members of the First Presidency. According to FairMormon, none of those constitute official statements. However, a self-serving article that made its way into the Encyclopedia of Mormonism is supposed to reflect the official position of the Church. (Although FairMormon also says it is “not an official statement of Church policy,” their claim that there is no official position on Cumorah is based on this article.) I say the article is self-serving because it was written by David Palmer, who wrote the book In Search of Cumorah that certainly reflects one form of official position–the official position of the Mesomaniacs. Does anyone think Elders Oaks and Maxwell realized they were conferring official policy status onto Palmer’s book by allowing this article to be published in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (assuming they even read it)?] Thus, [this word carries a lot of weight here] 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,
[The rhetoric here is clever. First, as I’ve mentioned, the entry in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism was written by David Palmer, who cites his own book as authority (FairMormon omits the citation at the end of the article, of course, possibly because they’re starting to realize how ridiculous the citation cartel is, and this entry on Cumorah is one of the most blatant examples of that.) Nowhere in Palmer’s article does he even mention Letter VII, despite it’s being the most explicit and unambiguous statement about Cumorah in Church history. (In his book, he alludes to Letter VII IN A FOOTNOTE, without quoting it, and citing only the Messenger and Advocate as if Letter VII was an obscure oddity. He doesn’t tell readers that Joseph helped write the letter and explicitly endorsed it at least three times.) Instead, in his article Palmer writes that the pageant has “reinforced the common assumption that Moroni buried the plates in the same hill where his father had buried the other plates.” Palmer, FairMormon, and all the Mesomaniacs want people to believe that Letter VII, which declared the New York Cumorah to be a fact, written by the Assistant President of the Church with the full approval of Joseph Smith, is nothing more that an expression of a “common assumption” that was wrong. This is how these Mesomaniacs are teaching that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church about Cumorah being in New York.]
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,
[This statement is based on Palmer’s imaginary list of requirements, set forth in his book and designed to fit Mesoamerica, that include the necessity for volcanoes that never even appear in the Book of Mormon. His requirements also include this: “the hill must be large enough to provide a view of hundreds of thousands of bodies.” This is the same claim made by anti-Mormon critics, of course. But the text–and Letter VII itself–explain there were only “thousands” of Jaredites and “tens of thousands” of Nephites/Lamanites killed at Cumorah. Not “hundreds of thousands” (or millions).
FairMormon wants you to believe that the Brethren take the official position that the Hill Cumorah in New York (labeled as “the New York site”) cannot possibly be what Joseph and Oliver said it was. It’s yet another way of telling the world that Joseph and Oliver were ignorant speculators who misled the Church. And yet, when you go through the actual text and compare it to the archaeology, anthropology, geology and geography, the New York Cumorah fits nicely.]
some Latter-day Saints have looked for other possible explanations and locations, including Mesoamerica. [Notice how only one alternative is even mentioned, and no surprise, it’s Mesoamerica. This is how the Mesomaniacs have managed to infiltrate the Church, by suppressing information (Letter VII) and censoring any alternatives to their own theories.] Although some have identified possible sites that may seem to fit better (Palmer), [there’s his self-serving citation to himself that FairMormon wants you to believe Elders Oaks and Maxwell specifically approved] 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 [a nice euphemism; It was actually plagiarized from the article by just reordering some sentences] what was published in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism the previous year:
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. [Notice they never provide a copy of this letter. Maybe one exists. If so, plenty of people would like to see it. It’s exceptionally strange that the author of an article would claim to quote a letter that he does not possess and cannot explain who does possess it. Meanwhile, the actual letter from Elder Watson that started all of this does exist, as they show in this web page.]
Matt Roper of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship located a faxed copy of the same [how do we know it’s the “same” if we don’t have the original letter? Remember, this fax is plagiarized from Palmer’s EOM article] 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:
[The fax says nothing about Elder Watson. It is nothing more than a plagiarized excerpt from the Palmer article in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. FairMormon wants us to believe that this essentially anonymous, plagiarized fax constitutes official Church policy that overrules every statement by the modern prophets and apostles, starting with Joseph and Oliver, including those made in General Conference by members of the First Presidency. If you want to believe this is how the Church reveals official policy, feel free to do so. I’m, shall we say, skeptical.]
- A scan of the cover letter is here. (Or a smaller version).
- A scan of the fax from the Office of the First Presidency is here. (Or a smaller version).
- 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
Source: Book of Mormon Wars