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Bill Hamblin

My Assessment Of The Situation At The Maxwell Institute

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I just posted this on my blog:

https://mormonscript...well-institute/

==========

There have been a lot of rumors floating around the internet recently regarding a scandal brewing at the Maxwell Institute. In order to provide a reality check and quell some of the more wild and brazen speculations of apostates and anti-Mormons on the fringes of Mormondom, I’ll provide the following summary of my understanding of the situation. Some of the details may not be completely accurate, but I have original memos or eye-witness oral sources for almost all of this information.

Last week, Gerald Bradford ([email protected], 801-422-8619) Executive Director of the Maxwell Institute ([email protected], 801-422-9229), dismissed Dan Peterson ([email protected])--arguably the most prominent contemporary LDS apologist--as editor of the Mormon Studies Review, where he has served for twenty-three years.

This is the culmination of a long-term struggle between radically different visions for the future of the Institute. Peterson wishes to continue the traditional heritage of FARMS, providing cutting edge scholarship and apologetics on LDS scripture. Bradford wants to move the Institute in a different direction, focusing on more secular-style studies that will be accessible and acceptable to non-Mormon scholars. Bradford is especially opposed to LDS apologetics, which he wants to terminate entirely as part of the mission of the Institute. He feels apologetics should be done by FAIR (The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research http://www.fairlds.org/ ) or other groups.

Throughout the past two years Bradford has censored several articles that Dan planned to publish, thereby delaying publication of the Review. Bradford finally concluded that he refuses to publish the most recent issue of the Review, which has been essentially ready to go to press for six months. He plans to seek a new editor for the Review to move it in the entirely new direction he envisions.

After Dan was fired as editor, he said that he felt he could no longer serve the Institute in good faith as Director of Advancement (i.e. fund-raiser), since the Institute was intentionally abandoning its original mission, and Dan did not support the new direction Bradford was taking the Institute. Dan was then threatened with further possible action against him to try to force him to continue raising money for the Institute that abandoned him. It’s worth noting that Bradford fired Dan by email while Dan was on a multi-week journey in the Middle East--in part raising funds for the Institute--specifically so Dan could not be in Provo to defend himself.

This event concludes a nearly decade-long struggle for the soul of FARMS and the Institute. The contemporary Maxwell Institute is something quite different from the FARMS of ten years ago. (Note that only one of the five “directors” of the current Institute is actually involved in Book of Mormon Studies: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/about/administration.php). Astute observers will note that there has been a steady decline in both quantity and quality of Institute publications over the past few years. (Indeed, more cutting-edge books on the Book of Mormon have being published in the past few years by Kofford Books, Salt Press, and even Oxford University Press than by the Institute.) They may also observe that most of the original core of FARMS scholars from a decade ago, including me, have nearly ceased publishing with the Institute, having been systematically marginalized, alienated, or ostracized by the Institute as it tried transform itself to conform with this new vision. Needless to say, most of the original FARMS scholars have been dismayed by this inexorable movement to remake the Maxwell Institute.

I have had no desire or inclination to publicly comment on this situation. However, this situation became public when an employee at the Maxwell Institute secretly leaked confidential memos concerning Dan’s firing to anti-Mormon apostates, who have posted these memos on the web, and have been gleefully slandering and ridiculing Dan on their message boards ever since. Since the situation has been made public by this leak from within the Maxwell Institute itself, I felt that Dan deserved the benefit of a fair public summary of the real situation. I also felt that interested Latter-day Saints, especially long-time supporters of the original mission of FARMS, deserved a more complete assessment of the situation, rather than being forced to rely on anti-Mormon and apostate slander and speculation. I felt Dan deserved better, much better than this.

The Institute, for its part, has gone into full damage-control and stonewall mode, refusing to make a public announcement, or even to answer emails or phone calls on the subject from their bewildered subscribers and donors who have heard rumors of the affair, many of whom have for years donated money to the Institute specifically to facilitate Book of Mormon studies and apologetic efforts such as the Mormon Studies Review.

I’m posting this summary of my understanding of the situation to alleviate further slander of Dan by apostates. Dan did not ask me to do this. I alone am responsible for this memo.

I'm sure Dan would appreciate any expressions of sympathy and support that could be emailed to him at: [email protected] (Anti-Mormons and apostates, please get lost.)

[Note: Apparently a phrase I used means something different in English English than American English, so I made a slight editorial change. I apologize if I offended anyone.]

Edited by Bill Hamblin

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If they don't do BOM things then $$$$ will dissapear

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Thank you for posting. The event is of course tragic and misguided, but it's good to have the facts from a responsible and knowledgable individual.

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Without taking sides or pretending to know things I don't, I will say that I am sorry that Dan is going through this situation. He has made impressive contributions to LDS scholarship and apologetics.

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It is always sad when someone builds something needed and successful only to have someone else who lacks vision manage to take control and destroy it by trying to slide their own agenda in on the successes of others. Yes politics where ever it rears its head can be ugly.

All the best to Dan.

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i think the world of Bro. Peterson!! I wish him all the best!

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My prayers and best wishes to Professor Peterson and his family. As always, he (and they) will perservere and prevail. I'm quite confident in stating that he can count on my support, and those of his on-line family in any future endeavors.

My prayers and wishes also to the Maxwell Insitute as Gerald Bradford takes a razor to its throat.

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This is too bad for Dan. However, I'm excited about the new direction the institute will take.I think fair should do the apologetic stuff and the Maxwell institute should focus more on scholarly pursuits.

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The problem is there is significant overlap; if a topic is used in apologetics, does this mean it will be ignored by MI or will the author have to tiptoe around the apologetic implications...and then there is the funding needed to publish quality books.

And if the trend is not just scholarly publications, but secular scholarly publications.....where are we to do for the indepth faithful scholarly publications that FARMS has given us so much of over and above the apologetics.

Edited by calmoriah

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As an aside (and in case anyone missed it), there are contact numbers for Mr. Bradford (801-422-8619) (bradfordmg[email protected]) and the Institute (801-422-9229) ([email protected]).

Perhaps it's just the Browncoat in me, but I will be using these numbers and links to express my disapproval of this decision and the disgraceful fashion in which it was handled (and I encourage others to join me in doing so).

That having been said, to whom else should we make our ire palpable? To whom (within the BYU and Church heirarchy) is the Maxwell Institute responsible?

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Bradford wants to move the Institute in a different direction, focusing on more secular-style studies that will be accessible and acceptable to non-Mormon scholars.

I am assuming that most of the funding for the MI comes from faithful members interested in scholarship by faithful scholars. It has appeared to me to be the primary audience of the MI publications in the past. If so, it seems very strange to turn one's back on one's supporters in order to seek connection with those not providing funding while disregarding those who do.

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Since the situation has been made public by this leak from within the Maxwell Institute itself, I felt that Dan deserved the benefit of a fair public summary of the real situation.

At least Dan now knows who the informant is. On the other board, someone is always posting threads about Dan by using information from a secret informant at MI. At least we now know that this informant had an axe to grind against Dan because of a different vision for the Review.

The bigger question is: has the Review been unended by an informant who was feeding an exmormon board with information about Dan?

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Dan's wisdom and direction for MI are inspired. That makes me wonder where Jerry's ideas are coming from. ;) I would say that I do not and never have minded being a "peculiar people". I believe getting off track to accommodate the secular field is wrong and temporal-minded. You can never go wrong with in-depth reviews of the BOM.

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I see SHIELDS is still around and DCP has recently contributed.

Edited by BCSpace

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This is too bad for Dan. However, I'm excited about the new direction the institute will take.I think fair should do the apologetic stuff and the Maxwell institute should focus more on scholarly pursuits.

There is a fine line between apologetics and scholarly pursuits when it comes to a religious publication. Unless the Institute begins to publish articles that are critical of mormonism, the Review will still be an apologetic journal because it only deals with one side. A scholarly journal needs to publish various articles with different slants, including a more critical slant of mormonism. I am not sure if the Review can do this without a major fallout.

The ouster of Dan was personal and not business since I don't believe that the Review can publish articles that are critical of mormonism.

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Dan's wisdom and direction for MI are inspired. That makes me wonder where Jerry's ideas are coming from. ;) I would say that I do not and never have minded being a "peculiar people". I believe getting off track to accommodate the secular field is wrong

If the vision is to include hard-hitting scholarly pieces from scholars who have various interpretations, including a more critical interpretation of mormonism to increase debate and dialogue among scholars and academics who are interested in Mormon Studies, it may work. But it also may not do the lds church any favors since there needs to be an apologetic journal for members to read.

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The bigger question is: has the Review been unended by an informant who was feeding an exmormon board with information about Dan?

Equally of note is that these sorts of inter-office communications (especially regarding matters of employment and employee discipline) are private and confidential.

Whomever leaked them can be jailed and the Maxwell Institute held financially (and perhaps criminally) liable for his perfidy.

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Whomever leaked them can be jailed and the Maxwell Institute held financially (and perhaps criminally) liable for his perfidy.

Could be lucrative if MI accepts Matthew 5:40. Someone who believes in Luke 16:9-11 should try it.

:pirate:

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Dr. Hamblin,

Thank you so much for providing some clarity to this awful situation. In my opinion, both you and Dr. Peterson have done exceptionally great work in defending the faith. I am so sorry that this has happened. I can hardly believe how cruel and underhanded this all seems and I'm just disgusted with how Dr. Peterson has been treated. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family. I have always been impressed with his scholarly and apologetic work and I hope to see it continue. Dr. Peterson, if you're reading this, I only "discovered" you through the internet a few years ago, but I want to say that you have been a blessing in my life. I mean that sincerely. Thank you for all you have done.

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Equally of note is that these sorts of inter-office communications (especially regarding matters of employment and employee discipline) are private and confidential.

Whomever leaked them can be jailed and the Maxwell Institute held financially (and perhaps criminally) liable for his perfidy.

I think that it is interesting that someone's informant would stick his or her neck out like this. Over the years, Dan has been plagued by an informant reporting information to an anon. poster on a more or less exmormon board. Hopefully, Dan now knows who the informant is. And certainly now that Dan is gone, this informant is out of a 'job'.

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Throughout the past two years Bradford has censored several articles that Dan planned to publish, thereby delaying publication of the Review.

One of which was The Interminable Roll - Determining the Original Length of the Scroll of Hor, an important article deriving from comprehensive analysis of the Joseph Smith Papyri, and which contained not a single paragraph that could be construed as "apologetic" in nature.

The biases at work here extended beyond the issue of apologetics to also encompass those determined to be "outsiders" and "non-academics," such as Greg Smith and myself, notwithstanding the fact that the Review and the field of Mormon Studies have been enriched many times in the past two decades by the contributions of non-scholars.

It now remains to be seen where and when these suppressed articles will be published.

Edited by William Schryver

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Could be lucrative if MI accepts Matthew 5:40. Someone who believes in Luke 16:9-11 should try it.

:pirate:

The real question on this issue is whether or not Dan wants to go "nuclear" or not.

The bad behavior that we know about opens the doors to lawsuits over criminal mismanagement, hostile work places, wrongful termination, and others.

With a lawyer even half-awake, Dan could destroy both Bradford and the Institute- but at what cost?

Unless we assume that Bradford has acted unilaterally and exceeded his authority, MI, BYU, and the Church would undoubtedly take up the costs of the defense, diverting resources needed elsewhere to cover Bradford's misdeeds.

Even if he were vindicated, Dan would necessarily be burning a lot of bridges- both between himself and his putative employer and between BYU, MI, and the donors who support them.

Other than Bradford's ego and the enemies of the Church, who wins?

Edited by selek1

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Dr. Hamblin,

Thank you so much for providing some clarity to this awful situation. In my opinion, both you and Dr. Peterson have done exceptionally great work in defending the faith. I am so sorry that this has happened. I can hardly believe how cruel and underhanded this all seems and I'm just disgusted with how Dr. Peterson has been treated. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family. I have always been impressed with his scholarly and apologetic work and I hope to see it continue. Dr. Peterson, if you're reading this, I only "discovered" you through the internet a few years ago, but I want to say that you have been a blessing in my life. I mean that sincerely. Thank you for all you have done.

If there is a bright side to all this is that Dan can now spend more time with his wife and family and now that the informant has no more information to inform, he will be left in peace. Dan has given apologetics a bright light which is one reason the exmormons were bullying him.

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Dan Petersen;

Your name and works have only recently been brought to light in my life. I came across your works while investigating the accusations against Mormonism, joseph Smith, the Book of mormon, the Book of Abraham, etc. I've been very, very grateful for the work you have done in these areas. Iv'e been enlightened by you and I can even say my testimony of the truthfulness of the LDS church and its sacred scriptures have grown in unique ways in part from reading your works. This firing has come at a very turbulent time in your life I know. You and your loved ones are in my thoughts and prayers.

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The biases at work here extended beyond the issue of apologetics to also encompass those determined to be "outsiders" and "non-academics," such as Greg Smith and myself, notwithstanding the fact that the Review and the field of Mormon Studies have been enriched many times in the past two decades by the contributions of non-scholars.

It now remains to be seen where and when these suppressed articles will be published.

However, Will, you and Greg were both seen to be apologists because you both were posting here defending the lds church. Guilt by association.

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