Cc: Dennis A Wright <DAW@STARCOMM.NET>
To: Rev. John L. Smith, of Utah Missions,
Dear Rev. Smith:
I received your letter of 20 March. Thank you for contacting
Yes, the footnote in my article in Book of
Mormon Authorship Revisited, to which you allude, does refer to you. And
in an article now in preparation, I refer to you and UMI by name in my discussion of this
little episode. I have decided that roughly fifteen years are enough time in which
to have come clean, and that I have covered for you too long. Your remark that my
"question about 'Alma' was unworthy of any extensive study or reply on [your]
part" is (a) patently untrue and (b) no excuse for your failure to act on the promise
you yourself made to me, in writing, that, if I could show you to be in error on this
point, you would say so in the pages of The Evangel.
You dismiss the matter of "Alma" as unimportant. Yet
it was you and UMI who brought it up. And you saw fit to repeat your fallacious
argument on the matter at least once and possibly twice AFTER I had provided you the
evidence you requested, demonstrating beyond any possible doubt that you were wrong, and
AFTER you had promised to report on that evidence if I supplied it to you. You never
did so report.
Your dismissal of "Alma" as insignificant parallels
precisely what both Rev. Michael Reynolds and Robert McKay told me, repeatedly, while they
explicitly and defiantly refused to tell the truth about it to your readers.
"You are majoring in the minors," Rev. Reynolds used to say. Mr.
McKay even went so far as to publish a little piece about the issue and about some
anonymous Mormon's "problem" with it, professing ignorance as to what could be
behind it -- while, all the while, he knew EXACTLY what was going on. Of course, one
of the things at issue here was, and has always been, the integrity of UMI.
has not come out of this looking very well.
Why, exactly, is "Alma" unimportant? UMI thought it
plenty important when it seemed to be evidence AGAINST the Book of
brought it up. UMI repeated the argument. UMI repeated the argument even when
it knew the argument was false. UMI expressly refused to clear up this
"minor" error, even against UMI's own direct promise to do so. Why?
Why, when it is recognized as clear evidence FOR rather than against the Book of Mormon, does "Alma" suddenly become too
trivial to mention?
Since the name "Alma" has now been found in several places
in ancient Semitic documents (more, even, than are mentioned in my article) as belonging
to a man, your arguments from the text of the Old Testament are completely irrelevant --
except to make the Book of Mormon's use of "Alma" as a personal name belonging
to a Semitic male even more striking, since Joseph Smith could not have derived it from
the Bible. And your other arguments, with all due respect, seem merely an obvious
attempt to change the subject. (It is apparent, by the way, that you do not
understand at all the argument advanced by my article in Book of
Mormon Authorship Revisited.)
Finally, you predict that I will "eventually go the way of
Steve Benson, Stanley Larsen [sic], Brent Medcalfe [sic], Sterling McMurrin, Michael
Quinn, Samuel Taylor, and others!" I am not sure why you think that I am going
to become a practicing homosexual and be excommunicated like Mike Quinn. Have I ever
given you any reason to expect something like that? Should I warn my wife? And
why would you think that I am about to become an atheist or agnostic, as Benson, Larson,
Metcalfe, and McMurrin have or did? And why would you, as a minister of the
Christian faith, seem to think such an outcome desirable? Very puzzling. It
is, of course, quite likely that I will continue to be active in the Church, as, to the
best of my knowledge, was Sam Taylor. In that, you may be right. I certainly
Reread my article in Book of Mormon
Authorship Revisited. It is a DEFENSE of the Book
of Mormon against silly and unwarranted attacks. You misread it very
badly if you see it as any kind of admission that you and UMI are right, or are
"winning" the battle you have chosen to wage against the Church of Jesus Christ.