The CES Letter project is now at the crossroads. Help me determine its future.
As everyone experiences, life is ever changing and evolving and complex. There are small subtle changes and there are major changes which sometimes are very sudden and unexpected. For me, there’s life before the CES Letter and there’s life after the CES Letter. The pre-CES Letter life is now forever gone and my life and the lives of my family have changed dramatically.
It all started with questions. I needed official answers to those questions. This desire for answers and truth eventually led to a CES Director crossing my path. He asked for those questions and I gave them to him. He promised answers but those answers never came. To my bewilderment, these questions went viral and later became publicly known as the “CES Letter”. Little did I know at the time that this letter would alter my life and those of my family in so many ways – some good and some bad.
The past few years have been unbelievably consuming, unexpected, exciting, frustrating, rewarding and overwhelming. I have spent hundreds of hours in research, writing, editing, graphic design, web development and so on in making the CES Letter, cesletter.com, Debunking FAIR’s Debunking and rebuttals to Mormon apologists possible and more importantly, free. Just doing all of this alone is truly a full-time job – with overtime. I did it on my own free time late into the nights and on the weekends while holding another full-time job to support my family. This doesn’t include the demands of family life and household responsibilities as well.
The CES Letter project and I are now at the crossroads. The current path and status quo is just no longer sustainable or healthy for me and my family. I’m writing to communicate with my readers and supporters about the crossroads so that my family and I can move forward in a sustainable and healthy way.
While the CES Letter has its rewards, it mostly comes with a lot of responsibility and burden. I’ve lost so much of my privacy. My name is now in the public domain and has been used for both praise and disdain. I have lost employment opportunities here in Utah as a result of it.
I never sought or desired all of this attention. I’m a private person and mostly an introvert so all this noise still makes me uncomfortable. But it is what it is and I’ve come to accept that it’s bigger than me and my own comfort zone. I know it’s helping a lot of people, which is why I did my interview with Mormon Stories John Dehlin. I felt that folks needed to understand the background, spirit and person behind the CES Letter. Participating in that interview took tremendous personal courage and was very outside my comfort zone, but I did it because it was important and it was worthwhile.
I have no regrets. I know in my heart that I have done what is right and I’d do it all again.
The responsibilities, expectations and tasks required for the CES Letter project is enormous. It requires more than I can give with a full-time job to support my family. I can no longer neglect the needs of my wife and children by using up my free time and their time with me in order to try to make a dent on the CES Letter project. The huge stress, burden and pressure from this took everything I had thus far to not give up.
I’ve come to accept the reality that maintaining everything while accomplishing all that’s needed to bring the CES Letter to the next level in accessibility and effectiveness – while burning the midnight oil and giving up the weekends – is not a sustainable or healthy way to live.
I’ve also come to a point in my life where I cherish my minutes, my hours and my years. More so now having just seen a friend from my BYU days pass suddenly of cancer, leaving behind her two little boys and husband. Unlike my days as a believer, I accept the real possibility that this life may be all that I have. This realization makes life and time and what I do (and don’t) that much more precious and important.
I have three little ones with special needs and a loving wife at home that I have sacrificed too much of my free time and family time on the computer to keep up with the CES Letter project. My little 5-year-old son brought this home to me one evening when he came in with a game asking, “Daddy, do you want to play with me?” At that moment I was so focused on writing my response to a Mormon apologist’s essay that I told that little boy “not now.” He went off into the other room in tears. I immediately stopped typing, stood up, and walked over to him to ask why he was sad. “Daddy doesn’t want to play with me anymore.” I gave that little boy a hug, assured him that I love playing with him, grabbed the game box from the other room, and played on the floor with him for the next hour.
I can’t continue like this. I cannot afford to miss out on my children’s childhoods and some of the prime years of my life under the crushing burden of 2 full-time jobs. My children need the undivided mind and time of their father and I need breathing room so that I can accomplish what I’d like to accomplish with the CES Letter project without the burden of choosing between time with my kids and working on defending the CES Letter against teams of apologists.
I’m at the crossroads with the CES Letter. The current path and status quo is just not sustainable or healthy for me and my family. It’s just too stressful. The price tag is too high.
So, there are now two paths for me and my family to move forward on.
I draw the line in the sand on the CES Letter project and move on with my life and career. No more 2 full-time jobs. I get my free time with my wife and children back. The following is a list of things that I unfortunately will not be able to continue on in this path:
I continue to work on the CES Letter project by ensuring it’s updated and effective. I’m no longer under the crushing burden of 2 full-time jobs and I can continue to work and improve upon the CES Letter project and not have to make the tough choice of sacrificing my free time away from my wife and kids. What Path B looks like:
If it were up to me, my choice is Path B.
I am so grateful to the individuals who have shared with me how the CES Letter changed their lives, their marriages and families, giving them the information to restore their own freedom, autonomy and choice. I believe that 100% transparency, openness and honesty is extremely important in achieving true and complete free agency and choice. To me, this is the real power of the CES Letter: it opens the door and journey for many individuals, couples and families to reclaim freedom in their own lives.
Reading and hearing the stories of how the CES Letter and its subsequent work have changed lives and saved marriages and families have brought me tremendous satisfaction and joy. I want to continue to make it better and more effective. I want to continue to help as many folks as I can. It’s what I enjoy doing. I feel that I have a gift and I have more to give. I know that I can continue to make a difference.
However, I’m also prepared to move on with Path A. While I would be greatly disappointed if it came to that and I had to stop my work with the CES Letter project, I’ll have my coveted time with my children and wife back. I will no longer be stressed out with two crushing full-time jobs. I’ll be able to be much more present. I will be able to breathe again.
There are some who will cynically point to this and say that I’m in it for the money. Not true. I paid for this dearly. I’m still in the hole with this. This has come with a huge personal price tag the past few years. While I’m extremely grateful for the donations and generosity I’ve received thus far, the reality is that taco money is pennies on the dollar to what I’ve given in time, energy, emotion, productivity, encouraging and advising others, responding to daily emails, opportunity cost, loss of privacy and reputation.
I tried to walk away from this and move on with my life. I came back into the ring because of new attacks against me and the CES Letter and I still had it in me to defend myself and the letter. However, after years fighting this battle on the midnight oil and weekends away from my family, I’ve now reached the end of my rope. I’m burned out.
The reality is that I just cannot continue to do both paths simultaneously as I have been doing the past few years. It’s just too difficult, time consuming and overwhelming. As much as I’d love to check off every item in the above To-Do list, bills still have to be paid and food has to be put on the table and taco money is not enough to make Path B possible. I’ve now come to a breaking point where I have to choose one path over the other.
I need you to back me up here by helping me to hold the line in this very important fight. I need your understanding and support. If the CES Letter and all the work after it has brought value to your life and made it better, please pay it forward so that I can in turn continue to help the honest in heart seekers.
Vote with your donations. Be a Monthly Supporter today. If I receive enough monthly support, Path B will be possible and I will be able to take the CES Letter and its subsequent work to a whole new level. I will have the additional time, resources and breathing room to continue to make a difference.
This is not easy for me to ask this. I feel vulnerable doing this but unfortunately I’m at my wit's end here with the status quo. It’s just too difficult and unsustainable for all of us.
I leave the future of the CES Letter project in your hands.
For those of you willing to pay it forward by helping those who follow you in the same journey of discovery and freedom, with all my heart, thank you.
Vote for Path B by Being a Monthly Supporter Today:
Born and raised in Southern California, Jeremy is a seventh generation Mormon of Pioneer heritage who reached every Mormon youth milestone. An Eagle Scout, Returned Missionary, BYU alumnus, Jeremy was married in the San Diego Temple with expectations and plans of living Mormonism for the rest of his life.
In February 2012, Jeremy experienced an awakening to the LDS Church's truth crisis, which subsequently led to a faith transition that summer. In the spring of 2013, Jeremy was approached and asked by a CES Director to share his questions and concerns about the LDS Church's origins, history, and current practices. In response, Jeremy wrote what later became publicly known as the CES Letter (originally titled Letter to a CES Director).
The CES Director responded that he read the "very well written" letter and that he would provide Jeremy with a response. No response ever came.
“I believe that members and investigators deserve to have all of the facts and information on the table...to be able to make a fully-informed and balanced decision as to whether or not they want to commit their hearts, minds, time, talents, income and lives to Mormonism. Anything less is an obstruction to the free agency of the individual.”
- Jeremy Runnells