Frequently Asked Questions


What's the story? How did this all begin?

I just wanted the truth. After learning disturbing facts and information about Joseph Smith and Mormon history in 2012, I wanted answers to help resolve my doubts. I spent a lot of time trying to get answers from apologists. To my surprise, their "answers" made things worse and introduced to me even more questions and problems I had never heard of or considered.

Contrary to what apologists say about me, I didn't decide one day to write the CES Letter and put it out there on the internet to "destroy tender Mormon testimonies." All of my work has been from a defense posture; not an offense posture.

The CES Director approached me first. He asked me to share my questions and concerns with him. Seeing a glimmer of hope that he might have official answers that were better than the unofficial Mormon apologetic crap I was frustrated with, I took his offer seriously. I wrote a letter to him. I emailed it to him. He read it and stated that it was "very well-written" and that he would give me a response. Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months, and months turned to years. I never heard back from him again.

Prior to sending off the letter to the CES Director, I shared my draft in a closed Facebook group as well as on Reddit. I wanted feedback to ensure that it was as accurate as it can be so that I didn't waste the director's time or mine. Unbeknownst to me at the time, a lot of people liked it and started sharing it with family and friends. This is how it started going viral on the internet. Next thing I know, the document is listed on MormonThink.com and things take off. Then FairMormon attacked it a few months later and I found myself pulled into this current that I never sought or wanted.

When FairMormon started attacking me, they made a lot of false claims and ad hominems about me and the letter. Further, a few mistakes came to my attention that I corrected in the letter. I needed a centralized place to defend myself from FairMormon's attacks as well as to provide the latest update of the letter to ensure that accurate information was floating around. When the LDS Church started releasing its essays, I included the essays in the letter in a spirit of transparency for my readers. This is how www.cesletter.com was born. My primary motives were for the above reasons. Not because I wanted to destroy Mormonism or any of the similar claims that apologists make up.

As time went on, things just kept blowing up and the letter kept going more and more viral. A lot of questions were being asked about the author of the letter and what his motives were. I was invited by John Dehlin of Mormon Stories in the spring of 2014 to come on his podcast and share my story. This was extremely uncomfortable for me and was very much outside my comfort zone but I did it because it needed to be done and I needed to share about the background story of the origins and development of the CES Letter. I needed to share why I wrote it.

As the letter went more viral, I was slandered and villianized more and more by Mormon apologists. I started seeing labels like "liar" and "anti-Mormon" being thrown around against my name. It blew my mind. It still does to this day.

In the fall of 2014, I was approached by my Stake President. This began a circus that ultimately ended on April 17, 2016 when I - out of disgust for the LDS Church's truth crisis, censorship, silence, and attempt to slander my name and reputation - excommunicated the LDS Church from my life (resignation). All of this is recorded and documented and no one has to take my word on anything. See www.cesletter.org/resign.

I did it their way for years. I sought official answers to the LDS Church's truth crisis through official channels. In the end, I've learned for myself that the LDS Church not only does not have answers to its truth crisis but they will attempt to punish you if you openly ask the questions they don't like being asked.

I've set up a nonprofit called CES Letter Foundation under the advice of my attorneys for various reasons. One of them to separate myself legally from the CES Letter for protection. I have been hypocritically attacked by apologists (they accept donations too!) for accepting donations despite the fact that all of my work is absolutely free. It has been very difficult for myself and my family over the years in all the moonlighting and weekends spent defending myself from FairMormon and other Mormon apologetic attacks. I just want to go quietly into the night. It's hard to do this when I'm being attacked by aspiring amateur Mormon apologists seeking to making a name for themselves at my expense with their dishonest claims.

Are you still a member?

No. I resigned my membership during my Kangaroo Court in April 2016 - out of disgust for the LDS Church's truth crisis, censorship, silence, and attempt to slander my name and reputation. You can find all of the facts, details, and recordings here. No one has to take my word on anything.

How do you label yourself? "Ex Mormon"? "Anti-Mormon"?

I label myself "Jeremy". "Human". "Husband". "Father". "Friend".

I no longer consider myself Mormon or Ex Mormon. I'm just Jeremy. A fellow human. A fellow seeker. A fellow wanderer and explorer in this vast and amazing universe we all find ourselves in.

Inspired by a comment made by a friend, Scott, I'm borrowing and altering his words to drive home this point:

For me, having been a Mormon is like the other stages of my life. It’s something that I was, and it’s something that I did. It had its positives and negatives. But my current self is not defined by my former relationship to that church. I lived in New York City – I’m not an ex-New Yorker. I attended and graduated from BYU but I’m not ex-BYU.

I’ve graduated from Mormonism. It’s a part of my past but it no longer is a part of my present and future. To me, it’s something like my missionary journals…I’m reminded of my past from time to time seeing the journals on my bookshelf but it no longer has much power or much influence over my present life and my future.

Are you the leader of the Ex Mormon movement?

No. I have a hard enough time being the leader of Jeremy Runnells and his life.

I was accused by a General Authority of being the "leader of the anti-Mormon religion," which I find absolutely hysterical. The truth is that the movement - if you can call it that as it's not organized - has no leader. Nor should it have any leader. As I tell folks who might see me as a leader:

"Stop following others. Lead yourselves. Never give away your own power and authority."

Why are you doing this? Why can't you leave the Church alone?

Why am I doing what? Defending myself?

Everything that I have done has been from a defense posture. The only reason why the CES Letter exists is because the CES Director requested it. I didn't make it go viral - the folks I asked for feedback input did. The only reason why Debunking FairMormon exists is because FairMormon went out of their way to attack me with lies. There were errors and mistakes in the original CES Letter and I needed a centralized place for people to download the correct and accurate CES Letter as well as a home for my defense against FairMormon and other apologetic attacks. Hence, why the website was born. I created the CES Letter Foundation to personally separate myself legally from the letter and to create a board that I can hopefully one day hand over the keys to.

The Church and its minions won't leave me alone. They won't let members leave its organization with their dignity intact. They can't stop talking about us without throwing in words like "lost the light", "deceived by Satan", "porn", "disobedience", and "weak" in the same sentence.

The "mistake" I made was to do what I was programmed in Mormonism to do: to seek truth at all costs while letting the consequences follow. To my surprise, doing exactly just that has eventually led me to somehow become this so-called "anti-Mormon." I'm still floored on how things have taken a life of its own.

I don't want to do this anymore. I want to quietly go into the night. I want to create businesses. Focus on raising my family. Go to Disneyland. Explore the world. I don't want to talk about or write about Mormonism anymore. I got my answers (spoiler: it's not true) and I'm moving on with my life.

An excellent article on this topic: They Can Leave the Church, But They Can't Leave the Church Alone.

Are you "Anti-Mormon"?

No. I reject this vague, loaded, and Orwellian term. It's used by the LDS Church and programmed into its members to turn off exposure to "the rest of the story" that the Church does not want its members to know. It's a "turn it off" switch that also kills off critical thinking in members relating to the LDS Church's truth crisis.

It is absolutely astounding to me still to this day how an honest search for truth in pursuit of restoring my testimony of the restored gospel has somehow turned me into this Voldemort “anti-Mormon” who is supposedly this leader of the movement. I’m told that I can’t leave the Church alone but the Church and its minions won’t leave me alone. The reality is that I’m not “anti-Mormon.” I’m happily married to a Mormon, for Zeus' sake. I’m not anti-her or anti-anyone of my Mormon family and friends. I have no problem whatsoever with the Mormon people. These people are not LDS, Inc. and LDS, Inc. are not these people. If I’m “anti” anything, I’m anti-LDS-Inc.-hiding-and-obfuscating-its-truth-crisis-from-investigators-and-tithe-paying-members-who-deserve-to-know-all-of-the-disturbing-information. Whew…that was a mouthful. Also, I’m anti-Justin-Bieber.

Critic? Fine. Anti-Mormon? No.

I have many dear Mormon family and friends that I love. I have zero problems with the Mormon people. I am not anti-them. A real life analogy that illustrates this is that a family member of mine recently went through the temple with her family to get sealed with her family members. I, of course, didn't go but she needed photos taken after with a high-quality camera and I happened to have one. I got in my car after they were done and went on the temple grounds and even into the lobby. I took the pictures (and luckily succeeded as one of them hangs on the wall in their home). I don't believe in temples and what goes on in there. I had a lot of other places I'd rather be at the time. But I did it because I love and care for the Mormons in my life and if that means doing things I don't like - like going to a place that does not welcome me - I'm gonna do it to support my Mormon family and friends.

What's your religion now? What do you believe?

Despite being accused by my former Stake President in the Kangaroo Court of being a Buddhist (I'm not and never have been), I subscribe to no gods or religions. By the way, the Buddhist thing came from a comment I made in my Mormon Stories interview where I basically said that if a gun was pointed to my head and I was forced to join a religion, I'd probably join Buddhism as I like some of their zen teachings. Of course, this somehow morphed into me being a Buddhist in one of the false charges and accusations made against me by the Stake President.

I believe in love. Kindness. Empathy. Compassion. Respect.

This is the life that we know for sure that we have. We may or may not have anything after this. We don't know but it's stupid to sacrifice today and what we have for sure for a "maybe". I believe in today and this very moment. I believe in life before death.

I believe in evidence. I believe in asking questions. I really like the scientific method. Faith and feelings are not reliable pathways to truth as anyone can use faith and feelings to support any conclusion they create.

You're obviously doing this for the money and the fame.

Combining all of the money and donations I've received over the last 5 years 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.? It's well below minimum wage. Compared to my skills and value in the market? It's nothing. 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 barage 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.

And for "fame"? Anyone who knows me personally knows that I'm an introvert who squirms in the spotlight. Given a choice between a party and a quiet evening of books, movies, or games with my wife and kids? I'm picking the latter. I'm embarrassed when people come up to me at Costco or Rubio's (for some reason, it's always at Rubio's) or that Nevada Indian Reservation that sells fireworks (true story). The times that I have put myself out there in the spotlight, I did it for the greater good. For example, before my Mormon Stories interview, people envisioned an angry and loud anti-Mormon out to destroy the Church with his letter but were surprised to see a soft-spoken deaf guy who mispronounced a few words along the way.

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.

What's your response to this apologist or that apologist?

You can see all of my debunking of Mormon apologists here.

Other questions?

See Common Attacks and Lies Against CES Letter and Jeremy Runnells

About the Author

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.”

Jeremy T. Runnells


Interview with Mormon Stories

Part 1 On Growing Up Mormon and the Genesis of the CES Letter 
Part 2 Jeremy Discusses the CES Letter in Detail 
Part 3 Rapid Firing Round, Reaction to the Letter 

Debunking

Several unofficial Mormon apologists, including FairMormon, have provided responses to CES Letter:

Jeremy's response to FairMormon:

The only official response, to date, is the series of recent essays by the LDS Church, which is available on the Church’s own lds.org website.

A comprehensive critique of each essay is available here on MormonThink.com.

Jeremy’s rebuttals to other Mormon apologist arguments:

A Zombie’s Reflections on That Mormon Apologist’s Reflections

Jeremy’s rebuttal to Daniel C. Peterson’s FairMormon Some Reflections on That Letter to a CES Director presentation.

The Book of Abraham: “Except for Those Willfully Blind, the Case is Closed”

Jeremy’s rebuttal to Brian M. Hauglid’s Jeremy Runnells and the Book of Abraham essay.

The Sky is Falling – Part 1

Jeremy’s rebuttal to FairMormon’s Kevin Christensen’s Eye of the Beholder essay.