FAIR provides an “Ask the Apologist” service to which people send questions. In recent months many well-meaning individuals have asked why FAIR has not endorsed DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography, a DVD created and promoted by Rodney Meldrum.
Mr. Meldrum’s DVD is essentially a four-hour video of a shorter “fireside” presentation he has been making around the nation for months. Mr. Meldrum presents himself as a researcher who has carefully and methodically analyzed information related to Native Americans, LDS history, scientific findings, and scripture. Indeed, he touts his video as “correlation and verification [of the Book of Mormon] through DNA, prophetic, scriptural, historical, climatological, archaeological, social, and cultural evidence.”
That’s a tall order, even for a four-hour video. It would appear that Mr. Meldrum has, in approximately three years of research, uncovered the “verification” (read that as “proof”) that has somehow escaped prophets, leaders, scholars, and students for most of the past two centuries. And, he is on a mission to bring that knowledge to the world, starting with the Church.
To those unfamiliar with DNA science, population genetics, and the historical facts, the information presented in the DVD (and Mr. Meldrum’s presentations) may appear plausible and welcome. FAIR volunteers recently examined the DVD, attended presentations, exchanged e-mails with Mr. Meldrum, and talked with him. After reviewing the material he presents, examining the existing LDS and scientific literature, and consulting experts in the relevant fields, FAIR cannot support or endorse Mr. Meldrum’s theories or presentation. FAIR has unreservedly concluded the following:
- Mr. Meldrum has attempted to assert revelation for those outside of his stewardship, and has used that revelation as a substitute for solid scholarship.
- The DVD contains much material that is misrepresented because the author is unfamiliar with the large body of work that addresses the very topics he seeks to address.
- The DVD plants erroneous concepts and expectations in the minds of viewers, making them easier targets for hostile critics when these errors are inevitably trumpeted by enemies of the Church.
These conclusions are addressed, in varying levels of detail, in two overview papers recently made available on the FAIR Website. The first overview paper is a five-page executive summary, available in either HTML format or PDF format. (The PDF format is better for printing and handing to other people, if desired.)
Church members, when considering Mr. Meldrum’s DVD and presentation, would do well to remember the counsel of President Harold B. Lee:
“Now this is something that needs repeating to this great body of priesthood, because we have a rash of writings by certain persons who claim to be in good standing in the Church, going into considerable detail as they recite their past and present Church affiliations and activities in the forward and advertising. There are sensational predictions and observations, and to make their writings appear to have Church sanction, they use quotations and addresses from Church leaders, past and present, taken out of context in such a way as to make it appear as though these quotations were an endorsement of the book they wish to sell to Church members, who may thereby be induced to accept their writings as from unquestioned sources …. Furthermore, some designing individuals have solicited opportunities to speak at Church gatherings, firesides, priesthood quorums, sacrament meetings. Now, brethren, we feel it is of the utmost importance to lift a warning voice so that our people will be safeguarded against such tactics as an all too obvious self-seeking opportunity to spread their own propaganda for their own interests. We must urge that priesthood leaders use careful discretion in screening out those whose motives may be subject to serious questions.” (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, April, 1973, 127-28).
Mr. Meldrum appears sincere in his beliefs about the Book of Mormon. FAIR is worried, however, by the means Mr. Meldrum uses to promote his beliefs and the damage that his presentation and promotion could ultimately do to the faith of Church members. We have therefore concluded that Mr. Meldrum’s theories should be publicly addressed. These overview papers are just the first treatment of the DNA Evidence for Book of Mormon Geography DVD.