The Great Lakes or so-called “Heartland” model is currently being promoted by Wayne May, Rod Meldrum, Bruce Porter and others through conferences, tours, books, dvd’s, etc. Some of their claims require rebuttal and explanation. The contents of this section address these statements and more by Heartland supporters :
1. Anyone who does not accept their geographical model is “discounting and disdaining” the words of Joseph Smith
2. Rainy and dry seasons do not occur in Mesoamerica
3. DNA evidence proves there is no genetical presence of Middle Eastern people in Mesoamerica but there is among Native Americans
4. Book of Mormon lands can only be in the place where Joseph Smith stood (United States)
5. The location of Zarahemla was given by revelation to be on the opposite side of the Mississippi River from Nauvoo, Illinois
6. The North American Adena tribes were the Jaredites and the Hopewell were the Nephites
7. The wild beasts mentioned in the Book of Mormon were buffalo
The Book of Mormon prophesied that a ‘new nation’ would be established in the ‘latter days’ on its ‘Promised Land.’ There are 36 Prophecies and Promises that define this nation. It must be a nation founded by men that God said he ‘raised up’ for the very purpose (D&C 101:77–80) of establishing freedom and liberty through its inspired Constitution. This nation would become prosperous and known as ‘the land of liberty’ and would become a ‘mighty Gentile nation’ that would rise ‘above all other nations’ of the earth. It must also be the ‘Gentile nation’ where the gospel was restored and the New Jerusalem will be built. Only one nation qualifies in each and every one of these prophecies…and that nation is The United State of America. If this is indeed the ‘Promised Land’ as indicated by scripture, then Lehi’s claim as they disembarked onto the new world takes on profound new meaning. He claimed that they had attained the ‘Promised Land’ indicating that they landed on what is now known as North America. The prophets of the Book of Mormon claimed that their history took place on this same ‘Promises Land’ which was promised to them for their inheritance and for a gathering place of the House of Israel in the last days at the New Jerusalem. This too must lie within the boundaries of the new world nation prophesied of in the Book of Mormon and its location is known by revelation to be in Jackson Country, Missouri, USA.
Book of Mormon geography stirring controversy
The theory, popularized by Rod Meldrum and Bruce H. Porter in the past three years, suggests that Book of Mormon events took place in the heartland of the United States, east of the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints long has held that God has not revealed Book of Mormon geography. The church has no official position on where, in the Americas, the civilizations of the Nephites and Jaredites lived and died out centuries ago.
For its first 100-plus years, most Mormons assumed the civilizations ranged over the entire Western Hemisphere, and that the “narrow neck” between “land north” and “land south” described in scripture was the isthmus of Panama.
But, in the 1950s, careful reading of the text led scholars to propose a more limited geography and since then, most of the dozens of theories have focused on “Mesoamerica,” a region that includes southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and the northwestern part of Honduras and El Salvador in Central America.
Most LDS scholars still believe that region is more plausible because it fits the scriptural text and archaeological and anthropological evidence has been found through the years.
Meldrum and Porter come at the question from a different angle, and that’s the source of the controversy.
They claim archaeological and DNA evidence for their model, but they start with what they say are 36 clear “prophecies and promises” in The Book of Mormon and statements by Joseph Smith, indicating he believed the history unfolded in what would become the United States.
For scholars to cling to a Mesoamerican model, Porter says, they must disregard what the church’s founding prophet said.
“Most of the people fighting it are people who have something to lose financially or by reputation,” Porter says. “I feel for them. … How would it be when you’ve spent your life trying to prove The Book of Mormon location … if someone came along and said you’d ignored the statements of Joseph Smith.”
What may have caused the destruction witnessed by the ancient prophets of the Book of Mormon near the time of Christ’s death in Israel? Some have speculated it to be volcanic, yet nowhere does the Book of Mormon mention volcanoes, lava, ash, or even clouds associated with the event. Could the destruction described by ancient prophets in the Book of Mormon near the time of Christ be explained by an event similar to that which occurred in 1811 and 1812 near New Madrid, Missouri which was the largest earthquake series in recorded history in North America? The astounding correlations indicate… yes. Stretching more than 160 miles, a system of earthquake faults lurks beneath the Mississippi River basin, ready to erupt. And it’s happened before. Over 2,000 earthquakes, three over 8.0 magnitude, rocked the eastern half of the US over 5 months. It caused the Mississippi to flow backwards, covered entire regions under 20 feet of sand, and formed 10 new lakes in just a few hours. The physical descriptions of the 1811-1812 sequence are incredibly similar to those of the Book of Mormon. The documentary is available from the bookstore at www.BookofMormonEvidence.org .