Debunking Jim Bennett CES Letter Reply

2018 Forward Response

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Brief Summary

Forward Response

2021 Jim Bennett does not like his 2018 Forward and has stated that it's not charitable toward me.

I applaud Jim on this but I wish he had made his changes 2 years ago after our 2019 lunch when I set the record straight with him on several of the items below. How many people have walked away reading Jim's mischaracterization of me because of inaccurate information in Jim's Forward and Reply?

This page is a rebuttal and response to Jim's 2018 Forward in his "CES Letter Reply" document (pages 2-7).

Jim's 2018 Forward unfortunately contains very little value as it is full of falsehoods, mischaracterizations, ad hominems, strawmen and irrelevant snark.

Additionally, Jim's 2018 attacks and comments are severely outdated and do not reflect new information or our 2019 and 2020 meetings together.

It is frustrating responding to 2018 Jim as this is not the kind, respectful and reasonable 2019 and 2020 Jim that I have had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with for hours offline.

As mentioned, and shown in the video above, Jim also concurs that his Reply is snarky and less than charitable toward me.

There are only two valid and accurate criticisms made in this entire 2018 Forward section by Jim Bennett:

Criticism #1:

I called a Mormon apologist "Danny boy" during a heated Facebook discussion 4-5 years ago around 2016.

Jeremy's Response:

I apologized to Mr. Peterson years ago. Details here.

Criticism #2:

About 4 years ago in 2017, I refused to ship a CES Letter book to a Mormon apologist I considered unethical.

Jeremy's Response:

I apologized to Tarik and shipped him a free copy about 3 years ago. Details here.

Detailed Response

Jim's 2018 Forward

J. Reuben Clark Quote

CES Letter says...
Jim Bennett says...

Jeremy's Response

This is how Jim begins his “Reply”. Jim actually agrees with J. Reuben Clark because he said so in his 2021 Mormon Stories interview:

Sources: Mormon Stories Episodes 1 & 4.

For some reason, Jim just can’t bring himself to publicly agree with me this early in his Jim Bennett Mormonism® Manifesto so he creates the impression that he disagrees right out of the gate.

This impression has led an online commentator to make the following observation:

The CES letter opens by quoting a relevant church figure regarding the ability of investigators and members to research the truth claims without it being against church doctrine. The quote encourages the reader to SEEK TRUTH.

In response, Jim has provided a quote that isn’t relevant to the church in any way, and is asking the reader to make a choice “good or bad” before they have even investigated anything.

Already we see the contrast in the purpose of the documents. The purpose of the CES letter is to find truth, the purpose of Bennett’s response is to confirm previously held notions by picking a side without having all the relevant information.

Jeremy Dislikes Jim

Jim Bennett says...

Jeremy Runnells does not like me. And, really, can you blame him?

Jeremy's Response

Um, okay? I don’t think the reader cares about whether or not we like each other, Jim. This is Cardon Ellis territory where we’re going back to high school (“he doesn’t like me” or “he’s trying to be cool”).

But if anyone is dying to know about my relationship and perception of Jim, this is outdated and not true. I’m pretty sure this is something that Jim has been meaning to update but for some reason he hasn’t.

It wasn’t true in 2019 when I had a 3-hour lunch with Jim.

It isn’t true in 2021. In my December 2020 sit down with Jim, I stated on camera that I think Jim is a good person and that I have respect for him.

In a recent Reddit post, I stated:

In the Preface of this rebuttal, I stated:

"Jim is a good man and a bridge builder. He came to my aid when I needed his help and I appreciate this very much. I will always be grateful to Jim for recognizing, acknowledging and defending my humanity to his tribe when it wasn't to his advantage in doing so."

-Jeremy Runnells

Jim has expressed similar statements of respect toward me on his blog and Facebook post as well as in his 2021 Mormon Stories interviews:

Jim Bennett Photoshops...

Jeremy's Response

I had no idea WTF this was until recently after watching Jim's 2021 Mormon Stories interview.

I remember bringing this up in my 2019 lunch with Jim telling him how stupid and weird I think this graphic is. He gave me an explanation at the time that went right past me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyway, here's 2021 Jim explaining the deal with his photoshopped graphic:

Jeremy & Mormon Apologists

Jim Bennett says...

I’m not alone. He has repeatedly mocked BYU professor Daniel Peterson (who he calls “Danny Boy”) at every opportunity, and just recently, he refused to allow Tarik LaCour, a blogger Jeremy derides as a “dishonest Mormon apologist,” to purchase a paperback copy of his letter.

Jeremy's Response

All of this is true except for Jim's little "at every opportunity" dig.

I did call Professor Peterson “Danny Boy”. Here’s what I later emailed to Professor Peterson:

And it’s true that I did refuse an order from Tarik. I emailed him later and apologized. He got a free book shipped out to him.

I told Jim all of this in my 2019 lunch with him and he mentioned he’d update his “Reply” to reflect all of this but he never updated.

The subtle ad hominem attack that Jim is making here is, "Look at shallow and immature Jeremy is being here...he won't even send a book to a Mormon apologist!" I have sent many books to Mormon apologists. I've even sent one to Brian Hales. Jim Bennett has a book - I gave him a free copy. I didn't appreciate Tarik's actions in slandering me online so I decided that day that I did not want to do business with him. Big deal.

The backstory here that Jim is not sharing is why I called Professor Peterson “Danny boy”. After I resigned my membership in the church in April 2016, Professor Peterson went on spreading the smear that I was excommunicated by the LDS Church.

I reached out to Professor Peterson several times asking him to correct this blatant lie and smear and he kept refusing to do so. So, we got into a little spat on someone’s Facebook post comments section where I publicly called him out on this.

After a few exchanges where we both hurled insults at each other, which unfortunately in the heat of the moment included my “Danny boy” comment, I finally got Professor Peterson to publicly correct this when he wrote the following post on his blog a few hours after our Facebook exchange: Mr. Jeremy Runnells’ transition to non-membership in the Church.

Look...this is an extremely nasty and messy business to be in. I'm human and I'm bound to do human things every once in a while, especially when there's an army of Mormon apologists just constantly and rabidly barraging me with insults while lying about me and smearing me and my name in the mud every chance they get. Both of the above incidents occurred in a very emotional and difficult time in my life. The CES Letter came out in 2013 so it's been at least 8 years now. If the worst that Jim can hook me on in that 8-year track record is a late night Facebook comment (after a long hard day) calling Professor Peterson "Danny boy" and refusing to ship out a book to a hostile Mormon apologist who has defamed me and who I considered very unethical and dishonest? I can live with this. I sleep very well at night.

I apologized to both men for my above-mentioned actions and corrected it.

Did I ever get an apology from either men for their dishonest public attacks and smear campaigns against my name and integrity? No. I didn’t get a free book either.

So, it’s disingenuous on Jim’s part to create this vacuum that makes it appear like I’m a Kwaku-type character who hurls profane and unprovoked ad hominem nasty attacks out of nowhere and “at every opportunity” when my “Danny boy” comment was in a late night heated Facebook exchange with Professor Peterson trying to get him to stop spreading - after a year of multiple attempts with him - the lie he was spreading about me being excommunicated by the Mormon Church - when I in fact resigned.

It's also dishonest of Jim to make it look like I'm always looking for a fight "at every opportunity". Notice how many examples Jim presents in an 8-year period. Look at all the enormous sludge and character assassination attempts that Mormon apologists swing at me on an almost daily basis and compare all of that to what I've done. All their smears and attacks while I was on hiatus / retirement from all things Mormonism these past 3 years? Who's the instigator here? Who can't leave who alone here?

In fact, there's not enough actual material and dirt for Mormon defenders and apologists to use against me that they've resorted to outright creating absolute bullshit fabrications and total lies such as that I committed adultery or I was arrested for beating my wife.

I resisted accepting that the Mormon Church is a cult for years until I got to experience the Scientology Fair Game style smear campaigns constantly utilized and employed against me by its defenders and apologists.

Jeremy's "Intolerant" and "Banking"

Jim Bennett says...

For a man who is furious about a church supposedly filled with insulting apologists that have suppressed opposing points of view, he’s fast and furious with the insults and fiercely intolerant of opposing points of view.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Jeremy currently makes his living by promoting and defending his CES Letter, and by all accounts, his CES Letter Foundation was an outstanding career move. There is no way to know for sure how much he is pulling in, as he, like the church he criticizes for lack of transparency, refuses to allow his donors to know how much money he’s making. (Two years ago, my sources told me it was in excess of $10,000 per month. Given the upgrades to his site and his whole operation, as well as the continued impact the letter has had in the intervening years, my guess is that figure has probably grown over time.)

Jeremy's Response

The above is bullshit and Jim knows in 2021 that it's bullshit.

We talked about this in our 2019 lunch together and I refuted his claims to his face. I'm disappointed to see this lie still perpetuated by Jim years later in his still not updated Jim Bennett Mormonism® Manifesto.

It's actually hilarious that Jim is implying that apologists don't suppress opposing points of view. FairMormon has deleted huge amounts of original responses that they’ve made against the CES Letter in 2014 AFTER I released Debunking FairMormon. I even took screenshots before they deleted. They refused to acknowledge mistakes and lies that they’ve made about me and the letter - just delete, delete and delete down the memory hole.

FairMormon locks their likes/dislikes on public YouTube videos. FairMormon and other apologists lock up their comments section on public YouTube videos and on their blogs.

Apologists don’t give their readers access to direct links to my rebuttals. I give my readers direct links to the apologist's rebuttals and attacks against me and the letter on my website. They don't extend the same courtesy to me.

Apologists have attacked my character, name and integrity six ways to Sunday. Recently, apologist Kwaku El and his buddies have threatened violence and death threats toward me and John Dehlin.

They’ve spread blatant falsehoods about the CES Letter - here’s one easy example about an Ouija Board.

They’ve called me a liar who made up the CES Director and the CES Letter origin story. Here’s my obliteration and complete debunking of this lie.

Now, aside from Jim's influence with his Jim Bennett Mormonism® Manifesto in creating a culture of ad hominem and snarky attacks that was foundational in FairMormon's now canceled TITS videos, Jim has spoken publicly recently condemning this approach. Jim has denounced all of FairMormon’s recent smear campaigns and to his credit, Jim has come to my defense, which I greatly appreciated.

Jim has also served as a witness in proving the existence of the CES Director and the truthfulness of the CES Letter origin story.

As for "intolerance"? Jim obviously ignores the part where I spent a year prior to being contacted by the CES Director in researching and trying to make the "faithful answers" peddled by Mormon apologists work. I tried to save my testimony by considering the apologist's philosophies of men mingled with scripture only to find that their "faithful answers" were obliterating my testimony instead.

Jim also ignores my Debunkings where I consider and analyze apologetic "faithful answers" and respond to them line-by-line.

Intolerant? Sure, I'm intolerant of bullshit. However, this intolerance for blatant dishonest Mormon apologetic "faithful answers" only materialized after I had given them the benefit of the doubt and spent years considering, researching and analyzing their apologetic "faithful answers" and Philosophies of Men Mingled With Scripture. What Jim is also implying here is that I didn't consider or study the apologetic "faithful answers", which is not true. I have studied and considered and I reject their homemade version of Mormonism nonsense that is directly at odds with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its doctrines and teachings.

As for the money accusations, Jim is wrong and he has admitted he is wrong about this in our December 2020 sit down. I am in the process with my certified public accountants in releasing CES Letter Foundation’s financials and will post them on when my CPAs are done.

Combining all of the money and donations I've received since the beginning relating to the CES Letter lined up with all of the thousands of hours of time, all of the energy, all of the research, all of the writing and typing, all of the coding, etc. that I've donated? It's well below minimum wage. Compared to my skills and value in the market? It's nothing.

Anyone who has personally experienced the mind-numbing and brain cell terminating task of fine-tooth combing through over a million words of asinine Mormon apologetics for the purpose of debunking and deciphering Olympic gold medal mental gymnastics for the average person can testify on my behalf that I will never ever get paid enough for my debunkings alone.

CES Letter has always been a side charity project for me. It's not a career. I'm a digital marketing / analytics / optimization professional, entrepreneur and trader. Go look at my LinkedIn profile. There's nothing "CES Letter" on there. It's not how I make my living.

By the way, it is absolutely noble for individuals who do this full-time as they are providing a noble and very important service for individuals and families in crisis as a result of the LDS Church's truth crisis.

Individuals making the claim that I'm in this for the money just do not have a clue. No money is worth this. All of the insane barrage of abuse, character assassinations, hassles and attacks that I've experienced for the donations I've received? No way. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. If this was a job, I would've quit a long time ago.

The honest truth is that I do this because so many good people, in and out of the Church, are looking for help. They just want the truth about the LDS Church's truth crisis. They want to pick up the pieces and heal their hearts and lives. They want to save their relationships. They want to preserve their dignity. And I'm in a position to help them with my talents, knowledge and experience. I get a lot of joy in alleviating despair and suffering.

Jim's inaccurate and dishonest smear and ad hominem attack here is a deflection to distract the reader from the real arguments and issues pertaining to the LDS Church's truth crisis.

An excellent response on the blatant hypocrisy of Mormon apologists attacking critics’ and critics’ organizations for making money:

Mormon Apologist Non-Profits and Violence

More Mischaracterizations and Falsehoods

Jim Bennett says...

One of Jeremy’s primary criticisms of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that its defenders have too much invested in their membership to have an open mind. Yet if that’s the case, what does that say about Jeremy himself, given that an open mind might result in him having to abandon his current livelihood? As he lashes out at his foes, both real and imaginary, he doesn’t seem to realize that by just about every metric he uses to judge the Church he despises, his own CES Letter Foundation fails miserably.

Jeremy's Response

It’s inaccurate for Jim to claim that I believe “its defenders have too much invested in their membership to have an open mind.”

It’s a blanket statement that I do not believe. While there are individual apologists that clearly demonstrate closed-mindedness, there are apologists who do have an open mind. I consider Jim to be one of them as he has demonstrated a willingness to admit problems where there are problems and he has evolved and changed his positions on issues like the Book of Abraham, the rock in the hat translation not being a lie and on epistemology.

I know a lot of defenders of the faith (apologists). I’m friends with a lot of them. Many of them have open minds. So...again, I don’t know what source Jim is using here in this attack.

Abandon his current livelihood”? I don’t know where Jim got this one. I have never abandoned my livelihood in online Marketing, Digital Analytics and Conversion Rate Optimization. Again, go to my LinkedIn page. Notice that “CES Letter Foundation” is nowhere to be found on there.

This is an ad hominem and smear attempt on the part of Jim as he’s mischaracterizing and misrepresenting my livelihood and personal life.

CES Letter Foundation has always been a side charity project for me that I have donated way more of my time and efforts than what I've monetarily received over the years.

As he lashes out at his foes”?'re so dramatic, Jim.

Outdated Views of Jeremy

Jim Bennett says...

For my part, I have never met Jeremy Runnells, and I have never spoken to him. I would like that to change, because, as my late father used to say, it’s pretty hard to hate someone once you get to know them. I do not have any personal animus toward Jeremy, and I went out of my way, in initially crafting my reply, to avoid attacking Jeremy personally, although, in this revision, I must admit I now have considerably less patience for his hypocrisy than I did the first time around. People I love have had their faith destroyed because Jeremy Runnells has passed along arguments he himself hasn’t examined and doesn’t seem to understand, and this bad information is splitting up families and damaging lives. That does not sit well with me.

Still, I don’t know him, and I can’t judge his heart. What I do know is that my line-by-line reply has been downloaded and read in excess of 50,000 times since it went online. I also continue to receive kind messages from people who have read it and found it useful.

Jeremy's Response

Jim and I have met twice - once in 2019 for 3 hours and again in 2020 for another 3 or so hours. Jim talks about our lunch visit on his blog and said:

“And what I learned is that Jeremy Runnells, live and in person, is quite a delightful human being.”

-Jim Bennett

Jim made similar comments in 2020:

Here's what Jim said about me in his 2021 Mormon Stories interviews:

Moving on to Jim's bullshit attacks and claims that I'm destroying faith with "bad information" that is "splitting up families and damaging lives":

Come on, Jim. You know better than this - especially in 2021. Here's Jim acknowledging that I ask good questions and that people don't leave the Church over Jeremy Runnells:

Additionally, John asks Jim in the above video about the puny Mormon god. How is it that a deaf kid like me can write a PDF document that causes so many problems for the Church? The reason why the letter has gone viral and been so influential is not because of me but because I ask the exact same questions - questions that Jim acknowledges above as inescapable and which must be answered - that millions of other Latter-day Saints also have.

This dishonest attack and smear are beyond offensive to me. I am not the one who is "destroying faith" and "splitting families and damaging lives". That responsibility and blame rests solely on the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve from past generations all the way down to the top 15 living "prophets, seers and revelators" today.

I didn't create or perpetuate the LDS Church's truth crisis. They did.

I didn't hide Church history problems from millions of members for generations until the Internet, Google, Social Media and better access to critics forced me to. They did.

People do not leave the LDS Church because of Jeremy Runnells or the CES Letter. Your charge that they do demonstrates a fundamental ignorance on your part, Jim. It reveals how shallow and stupid you think your disaffected loved ones are to abandon and reject the Gospel just because they've read the CES Letter. Newsflash: the CES Letter is not the end of their rigorous and thorough research journey into getting to the bottom of the LDS Church's truth crisis. It's almost always just the very beginning.

People leave because of disturbing Gospel Topics essays verified facts. It's beyond insulting to these folks and your disaffected loved ones and the absolute nightmare they've gone through. It's demeaning and is an attempt in invalidating their countless hours of reading, research, fasting and desperate prayers to restore their testimonies and make the Church true again.

There is a reason why LDS historian and scholar, Patrick Mason, said the following about the CES Letter and that he disagrees with your claim that the CES Letter is "bad scholarship" and has "bad arguments or information":

You're 100% wrong here, Jim. You're barking at the wrong tree for your religion's truth crisis and its radioactive contamination that is affecting individuals and families. Go bark at that tall phallic building on North Temple instead.

Here's 2021 Jim invalidating and weakening his above attack and smear against me by acknowledging that the LDS Church has hid its history and that there are problems:

TITS founders and former FairMormon spokesmen Cardon, Kwaku & Co. have also made the same extremely offensive attack on me and John Dehlin by calling us "homewreckers for profit". They claim that John and I are supposedly "banking" off of the ashes of destroyed families and marriages due to our work and activism.

These are among the thousands of testimonials about the CES Letter:

I shared the above testimonial to a Facebook group and got additional testimonial comments to the post below:

Other testimonials:

You often see couples sharing about how the CES Letter was influential to them and their marriages in Mormon Stories interviews. Ditto with Reddit Ex Mormon posts where it's common to see a post at least once or twice a week. Ditto with Mormon and Ex Mormon groups on Facebook.

I've not only experienced thousands of heartwarming testimonials online...I've talked to couples face-to-face in the real world. I've had dozens of experiences over the years at Sunstone and in random public places meeting couples telling me through tears and hugs that the CES Letter saved their marriages and families.

John Dehlin has similar testimonials about how Mormon Stories saved marriages and families and he has had the same interactions I've had meeting couples face-to-face.

The real culprit that is destroying marriages and families is the LDS Church's truth crisis. Full stop.

The real "wrecking families for profit" is the pandemic GameStop / Tesla banking First Presidency and Q12 who care more about their secret multi-billion slush fund than truly being honest and transparent to their members about Mormonism's founding and history. On top of their truth crisis, they have the nerve to slander and denigrate family members who leave the church.

The CES Letter is primarily just pointing to the LDS Church's official Gospel Topics essays confirming that the Church and its leaders have a truth and narrative problem.

You don't have to take my word for it. Here are pro-LDS historians, leaders and scholars admitting that the LDS Church has a truth crisis:

The Changing LDS Narrative

This attack on me and individuals like John Dehlin is just a deflection to keep members distracted from the real culprit and problem here: The LDS Church's truth crisis.

The absurd smear that I destroy families for profit is extremely offensive to me. It's just not true. I know from personal experiences (including having been in a mixed-faith marriage), my interactions with thousands of people struggling with the Church's truth crisis, my own heart and intentions as well as my deep understanding of the LDS Church's truth crisis that the opposite is true: the CES Letter gives couples and families a fighting chance to get through and out of the LDS Church's truth crisis intact.

"bad scholarship"

Jim Bennett says...

The CES Letter is bad scholarship making arguments that its own author doesn’t seem to understand, citing sources he hasn’t bothered to read. Overall, its charges do not stand up to scrutiny, and it is possible to confront each and every one of them head on and come out with a strengthened testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ on the other side.

Jeremy's Response

What Jim doesn't tell you here is that what comes out on the other side, especially in Jim's case, is a homemade Jim Bennett version of Mormonism that contradicts the positions and teachings of the Brethren and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Here's Jim acknowledging Jim Bennett Mormonism®:

As for Jim's attack about the CES Letter being "bad scholarship" and that the "arguments he himself hasn't examined and doesn't seem to understand"? 2021 Jim acknowledges that I ask good questions:

LDS scholar and historian, Patrick Mason, disagrees with you, Jim:

Let's go ahead and find out in this line-by-line debunking of Jim Bennett Mormonism® Manifesto exactly which party here is operating under "bad scholarship" and "arguments he hasn't examined and does not understand".

Hint and spoiler alert: I'm not the one here clinging to "faithful answers" while peddling and selling a completely homemade contradictory version of Mormonism.

"Faithful Answers"

Jim Bennett says...

Jeremy's Response

FairMormon does the same thing with their logo:

“Critical questions. Faithful answers.”

Notice that it doesn’t say “Truthful answers” or “Factual answers” or “Correct answers”.

Faithful answers” is code for “apologetic spin”.

Anyone who has used FairMormon, for example, in trying to get “faithful answers” in saving their testimonies after discovering the LDS Church’s truth crises by reading the Church’s essays or finding out Joseph Smith married young girls and women already married to other men (polyandry) or that Joseph is wrong with his translation claims about the Book of Abraham learn very fast just how bad and destructive FairMormon’s “faithful answers” really are.

Former members often credit FairMormon and its “faithful answers” as the single source that either introduced them to numerous troubling issues about the Church, Church history and Joseph Smith or which annihilated what was left of their testimonies when they sought help from FairMormon in saving their testimonies to begin with.

Please Donate

This is such a massive project that is consuming so much of our time. If you've benefited and received value from this rebuttal so far and would like to see us finish everything, please consider paying it forward with a tax-deductible donation. Anything and everything help.

Donations of $75 or more will receive an autographed (with note of appreciation) CES Letter paperback book from Jeremy Runnells personally. Please email [email protected] confirming donation, address and autograph requests.

Debunking Mormon Apologists CES Letter