Effective immediately, I’m resigning as executive editor of Interpreter for the following reasons.
1- My department told me today in essence that both my editorial work with Interpreter, and publications with Interpreter will not be considered serious scholarship. They explicitly advised me to publish in other venues. (This has been, by the way, the consistent policy of both my department and college for a quarter of a century. I have consistently been told essentially the same thing about not publishing with FARMS by every administrator. The fact that I’ve published with FARMS in the past has directly led to delayed promotion and sub-cost of living pay raises.) I am tired of receiving poor evaluations on my scholarship because publishing with FARMS and now Interpreter is considered unscholarly by BYU.
Addendum: I need to make one clarification here. The academic policy of BYU is to reward publications that have national or international merit. The catch phrase is publications “outside the BYU bubble.” I support this policy. And, indeed I have published books with HarperCollins, Rutledge, and Thames and Hudson, all academic presses with international reputations. The unintended consequence of this policy, however, is that (for whatever reasons) certain LDS-related topics–like studies affirming the historicity of the BOM, the prophetic authenticity of JS, apologetics, etc–will not be published by secular university presses and journals. Hence they cannot be published in non-LDS publications. This policy has nothing to do with a repudiation of apologetics or the Book of Mormon. It has to do with the attempt to raise the academic reputation of BYU. The problem is, if such studies are not done at BYU, they will simply not be done at all. Hence the catch-22. I edit and publish with Interpreter. BYU administrators inform me that I should publish in other venues. They are doing so in a sincere effort to guide my academic activities to meet BYU policy. There is nothing insidious about it. The result, however is that if I publish with FARMS or Interpreter, I am considered to have low productivity, because publications count as scholarly only if published outside the BYU bubble.
2- The directors of the Maxwell Institute complained to the administration about my public criticisms of their new policies. The administration, without giving me a chance to see or respond to those complaints, told me to stop criticizing the Maxwell Institute’s new direction.
3- I’m tired of the relentless torrent of abuse from anti-Mormons and apostates, including them sending anonymous slanderous email accusations to university administrators.
4- A person I thought was a friend recently decided to describe me (indirectly) as an apologetic hack instead of a real scholar. (This, by the way, has been the fundamental, most insidious, and perpetual slander of apostates–that a believing LDS scholar don’t do real scholarship. It is also, a classic example of ad hominem.) It’s rather depressing when your friends desert you.
5- I love research and writing. But I literally hate the bureaucratic and editing work required to run Interpreter. I’ve spent a great deal of my free time for six months trying to get Interpreter up and running. I think it is firmly established and viable now. Someone else can take it from here on out.
It’s clearly time to move on. I will have nothing more to say on these matters, and will not be taking phone calls, answering emails, or posting comments on the subject. (Sorry, I need a break.)
I wish Interpreter well, and believe it has a very important role to fulfill in LDS intellectual and spiritual life. The Board of Editors and associates have done a truly miraculous job in producing a journal ex nihilo–the third volume will be published this week. I appreciate all their efforts in creating the journal. I have every confidence that they can move ahead to a great future without me.