John Tvedtnes' e-mail about diploma mill

Subject: Re: James Trimm
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 14:27:06 -0600
From: John Tvedtnes <>
To: purnhrt <>

At 02:15 PM 7/10/00 -0500, you wrote:
>Greg told me that you had posted to one of the forums about the source
>of Trimms doctorate. Do you still have the e-mail, and if so, would you
>plese forward it to me. I was just starting to check into this. I would
>appreciate any help that you could offer in this matter.

I no longer have it, though I have answered that question for several
people.  I can just give you my recollection.  I had hints from others that
Trimm's doctorate (which he prints as part of his computer-generated
letterhead on correspondence) was from a diploma mill.  I asked him about
it and he referred me to the Albuquerque, NM, address of the college from
which he got his degree, which was some sort of Catholic (but NOT Roman
Catholic) institution.  He also gave me the name of the bishop who ran the
college so I could write to him.  Rather than just write, I checked the
Albuquerque phone directory for the college.  When I didn't find it, I
called the Albuquerque Better Business Bureau.  They told me that the
address was a mail drop used by various companies, many of which did
mail-order business.  This seemed to confirm to me that Trimm's degree was,
in fact, phoney.  I approached him with the new information and he
acknowledged that the Albuquerque address was just a mail drop and that the
bishop actually lived in Arizona and I could call him there.  I declined,
knowing that any "bishop" who might answer a telephone could make up any
story he wanted, especially if he ran a diploma mill.  It all reminded me
of a fellow I know when I was doing graduate work at the University of
California in Berkeley.  To get out of the draft during the Vietnam war,
then going on, he had purchased an archbishopric from the Universal Life
Church (available by mail, of course, for a fee).  He had also purchased a
bishopric for his dog!

I told Trimm that it didn't really matter to me if he had a degree or not,
as long as his research held up under scholarly scrutiny.  But I was
concerned if he lied about his credentials just to lend support to his
work.  I found that same kind of duplicity in the fact that he was
operating as Rabbi Yosef at the same time that he was posing as some sort
of Jewish Evangelical.  Like you, it's not what he believes that bothers
me, but that he represents himself differently to different people.

I should note that Trimm and I had some ongoing correspondence before he
got on-line with web sites and e-mail lists and that we spoke a few times
on the telephone.  He told me of his plan to put up a web site that would
provide evidence that the Book of Mormon is an authentic ancient Jewish
document (which, BTW, I believe).  So when the Rabbi Yosef site went up and
there were postings under both the name Rabbi Yosef and James Scott Trimm,
I knew this was the site he had set up.  I didn't know why he was using the
pseudonym until after he got on the Messianic e-mail list.  Some members of
that list were bad-mouthing the Book of Mormon, while others were defending
it.  When the book's critics began claiming that Trimm opposed it, I
decided that enough was enough and I exposed him as Rabbi Yosef.  This
action is what precipitated my removal from that list.

I don't wish Trimm any ill.  I just wish he would be truthful about
himself.  If he wants to change his beliefs, that's his business.  But to
represent himself in the way he has is, to me, objectionable.  But I'm not
sure that it calls for action of a beit din.  After all, one can believe
that Shabbatai Tsvi was the Messiah and still remain a Jew.  And even Meir
Lansky, bag-man for the Mafia (though, as a Jew, not eligible to be a "made
man"), was not expelled (though the state of Israel refused to allow him to