FAQs & Common Attacks
Debunking common lies and attacks against the CES Letter and Jeremy Runnells
- Jeremy never really had a testimony.
- Jeremy is anti-Mormon.
- What's the story? How did this all begin?
- How do you label yourself? "Ex Mormon"? "Anti-Mormon"?
- Are you still a member?
- Jeremy was excommunicated from the LDS Church.
- Jeremy pretends to be a Latter-day Saint seeking answers when he's really not.
- The CES Letter has been debunked.
- The CES Director is fake and Jeremy crowdsourced the letter on Reddit.
- Jeremy is the leader of the "anti-Mormon religion".
- Jeremy is just out to destroy the Church. He can leave it but can't leave it alone.
- "Jeremy Runnells just wants to tear down my faith and leave me comfortless in the theological rubble."
- The CES Letter destroys marriages and families for profit.
- The CES Letter wouldn't have gone viral had Jeremy not put it on the internet. This combined with his website shows his true intention of destroying the Church.
- Jeremy's only goal is to get people to leave the Church.
- Jeremy is obviously doing this for the money and the fame.
- Jeremy set up a nonprofit Foundation and accepts donations. Obviously he's in it for the money.
- "Jeremy is an adulterer" or "Jeremy was arrested for beating his wife".
- Jeremy is a buddhist.
- What's your religion now? What do you believe?
- Jeremy is an atheist.
- The CES Letter is not "rigorous research" or "scholarly".
- Jeremy has no class. He was yelling and being rude and disrespectful in his Court of Love.
- Jeremy refuses to acknowledge his mistakes and errors (or "lies" depending on source).
- The CES Letter doesn't present "faithful answers" or apologetic explanations to the problems. It's deceptive.
- The CES Letter is just a "Big List" designed to overwhelm the reader and destroy his testimony.
- Jeremy advocates vandalism and destruction of Church property.
- Jeremy advocates taking Ward/Stake/School email lists and spamming the CES Letter to them.
- Jeremy is not a scholar.
- Jeremy is just rehashing old anti-Mormon lies that have been debunked a long time ago.
- Other questions?
Jeremy never really had a testimony.
This is an ad hominem attack that Mormon apologists make in their desperate attempts to discredit the CES Letter. Mormon apologist Jim Bennett made this attack in his hit piece and the following is my response:
Here's me talking about my testimony and apologetic attacks like Jim's that attempt to erase it:
Here's my Mormon childhood:
I'm the baby - 1981
All ready for church
Rocking BYU gear at 5
Baptism day @ 8-years-old
Admiring the 6,000-year-old Grand Canyon
Here's some of my journal entries and Sacrament talks from my teen years sharing my spiritual experiences and testimony of the Gospel:
Here's my Patriarchal Blessing. If you believe that Patriarchal Blessings are revelations from the Mormon god, have fun explaining this one:
Here's an embarrassing essay that I wrote as a 15-year-old for my Southern California high school non-Mormon English teacher:
I attended University High School in Irvine, California. In addition to being one of the best high schools in the country, it also has one of the best Deaf & Hard of Hearing mainstream programs in the country. Why am I telling you this? Because I lived 33 miles away in La Mirada, California and I would drive at least 66-80 miles a day round trip in California rush hour traffic. Okay, great, right? Well...guess who had two thumbs and woke up at 4am just about every morning just so that he could make it on time to early morning Seminary 33 miles away in Irvine? This guy.
Oh but wait...there's more. Guess who was on the Varsity Cross Country, Track and Soccer teams and who would have practices and often would not get home (thanks to Southern California traffic) until 7:30 or 8 at night just to be able to eat dinner, do homework and sleep for 4-6 hours so that he could wake up at 4am to go to Seminary again? This guy.
So, jErEmY dIDn'T hAvE a tEsTiMoNy? This alone debunks your attack as no teenager without a testimony will get up that early to fight Southern California traffic for 33 miles just to get to Seminary on time every morning for years. My father never forced me to do this and even told me that I could chill out on this. I was the fundamentalist in the family so there was no chilling out happening. When my dad would be overseas, as he often is for business, I'd still show up to Church on Sundays, Scouts on Tuesdays, Mutual on Wednesdays and Seminary in the mornings.
Here's me at Scout camp with the BYU hat that I wasn't ashamed or afraid to wear often in majority non-Mormon USC territory (most of my high school friends and peers came from Protestant/Evangelical USC alumni families):
Here's me at my Eagle Scout Court of Honor (standing next to Congressman Ed Royce):
Jim, will a letter from Grandma do the trick in convincing you I really had a testimony?
"Jeremy, you have always been a very special grandson to Grandpa and I. Ever since you were a small child, your sweet spirit and big brown eyes have captivated our hearts. We have always looked forward to and have been thrilled to be able to visit you or have you come and visit with us. We have always felt your love for us. We have seen you grow not only in stature but also in your faithfulness in the gospel. You have developed into a very personable, handsome young man. We have seen you fight to overcome the difficulties of a hearing handicap, which we know has not been easy. You have always had the spirit of forgiveness in your heart and have held no animosity to those who may have offended you. This is a very endearing trait.
We know you love the Lord and try to keep his commandments at all times. You have had some very spiritual experiences and have shared them with us..."
- Letter from Jeremy's grandmother
Getting my Endowment - San Diego Temple
Here's just some of the pictures from the LDS Church history tour that I took with my dad and brothers in July 2000 right before I reported to the MTC for my Mission in New York City, which strengthened my testimony of the Restoration and got me even more excited for my missionary service:
Top left: Carthage Jail; Top right: Hill Cumorah;
Mid left: Nauvoo; Mid right: Carthage Jail;
Bottom left: Adam-Ondi-Ahman; Bottom right: Susquehanna River
This was a two week tour that started in Boston (also went to Salem where Joseph stayed with his Uncle) and took us through Vermont (Joseph's birthplace), New York (Palmyra, Sacred Grove, Hill Cumorah, Whitmer Farm in Fayette, Niagara Falls), Pennsylvania (Priesthood Restoration sites, etc.), Ohio (Kirtland, Kirtland Temple, Amish country), Illinois (Nauvoo, Carthage), and ended in Missouri (Independence, RLDS Temple, Temple Lot, Liberty Jail, Adam-Ondi-Ahman).
Here's pictures from my Mission in New York City:
Top left: Mission Farewell; Second Top: MTC; Third Top: MTC; Fourth Top: Statue of Liberty;
Bottom Left: Liberty Island; Second Bottom: World Trade Center pre-9/11; Third Bottom: Central Park; Fourth Bottom: Wall Street;
I seriously cannot believe I'm actually sharing this but if this doesn't change Jim Bennett's mind that I really had a testimony, dammit...that I was willing to embarrass myself like this...nothing will:
Here's a very nice note from my Mission President after receiving our wedding invitation sharing with my wife about my missionary service:
"He was one of our finest elders"
Here's my Mastery certificate from my Mission President that I earned on my Mission (which was not required):
Here's my Book of Mormon that I read around 8 times on my Mission and which I marked the hell out of:
Here's my three Missionary Journals that I wrote faithfully everyday on my Mission writing about spiritual experiences and my testimony:
Here's a picture of my last Missionary journal entry on the return flight home from New York City the day I was honorably released:
I was a very successful missionary who baptized close to a dozen people (rare for ASL missions), including families. I asked to stay longer in the field and was granted another transfer. I was a District Leader both in the MTC and in the field (highest you can really go as an ASL missionary) who achieved the President's Mastery Program (intense Gospel / Scripture study and memorization).
Here's pictures of me in Israel and Egypt where I studied the Gospel:
Top left: BYU Jerusalem; Top right: Jerusalem;
Bottom left: Sea of Galilee; Bottom right: Christ's tomb;
Here's my amazing fiancée and I as EFY counselors at BYU Provo:
Here's my gorgeous and very lovely bride and I on our wedding day at the San Diego Temple:
Here's my graduation at BYU:
Now...I could bullshit you with words but I cannot bullshit you with pictures and videos. Ask yourself as you see the above pictures/video throughout my life and what I was doing in each of those stages if I was a person without a true testimony of the Restored Gospel; like Jim and his apologist buddies are trying to sell you.
Ask yourself if I look like the evil person that they desperately try to paint me as.
One thing you will never hear from my LDS family, friends, peers and leaders from my Wards during my teen (and adult) years along with my peers from my Mission is that I never had a testimony or I wasn't a believing Latter-day Saint. They all know I had a testimony and they wouldn't be able to deny this.
I had a testimony, Jim. I just did. Jim's arrogant and horseshit ad hominem attacks here trying to deceive others that I was the village idiot without a testimony are just completely and totally false.
Jeremy is anti-Mormon.
No. I'm pro-truth. I'm pro-informed-consent.
I reject this vague, loaded, thought-stopping 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.
I live in Utah with many Mormon family and friends that I love and spend a lot of time with. I am not anti-them. I have no problem whatsoever with the Mormon people. These people are not LDS, Inc. and LDS, Inc. are not these people.
A real life analogy that illustrates this is that a family member of mine 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 no longer 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.
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.
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 "faithful answers" only made things worse and introduced me to even more disturbing questions and problems that I had never heard of before.
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 defensive position; not an offensive position.
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 could 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 promoted on the home page of MormonThink.com and everything went next level. FairMormon began attacking me and the letter 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 cesletter.org 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 just kept going 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 increasingly slandered and villianized by Mormon apologists trying to make a name for themselves. I started seeing labels like "liar" and "anti-Mormon" being thrown around against my name. It blew my mind. It still does.
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 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.
After a few years hiatus or retirement of all things Mormonism, I was provoked in 2020 by FairMormon and TITS to come out of retirement and to get back in the CES Letter saddle. I decided to renew my focus and commitment in completing all of the CES Letter related projects and tasks I've wanted to complete.
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 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.
Jeremy was excommunicated from the LDS Church.
No, I was not excommunicated. I resigned my membership.
Anyone who makes this claim is either misinformed or lying. I submitted my resignation during my Kangaroo Court on April 17, 2016.
Below is proof:
I have a whole page of recordings, documents, emails, screenshots, and details on this. No one has to take my word on anything. cesletter.org/resign
Jeremy pretends to be a Latter-day Saint seeking answers when he's really not.
No. I have never pretended to be anything that I'm not.
In the introduction of the CES Letter, I wrote:
”Obviously I’m a disaffected member who lost his testimony so it’s no secret which side I’m on at the moment.”
In the "About" section on the website, I wrote:
"In February 2012, Jeremy experienced an awakening to the LDS Church's truth crisis, which subsequently led to a faith transition that summer.”
On this page, I wrote under the "Are you still a member?" question:
"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.”
Further, I have a webpage found at cesletter.org/resign detailing my resignation from the LDS Church in April 2016.
I was a Latter-day Saint when I was approached by the CES Director and wrote the CES Letter in 2013.
Anyone who makes this claim is either misinformed or lying.
The CES Letter has been debunked.
No, it hasn't.
Mormon apologists and apologetic organizations have attempted to debunk it and failed. I have responded to seven of them (thousands of pages worth of detailed rebuttals!):
Give me a fair chance and read these to see for yourself what "faithful answers" from Mormon apologists really looks like.
The CES Director is fake and Jeremy crowdsourced the letter on Reddit.
One of the more insidious and recent smears leveled against me and the CES Letter is the lie that the CES Director is not a real person and that my claims about the CES Letter's origins is one big elaborate hoax.
Mormon apologists (specifically FairMormon - John Lynch, Scott Gordon, etc. - and the TITS guys) claim that instead of being approached by a CES Director, I basically twirled my evil mustache one day and decided to create a new anti-Mormon empire by collaborating with Reddit Ex Mormon to write the CES Letter.
This is all false. The truth is that I really was approached by a CES Director in March 2013 and I wrote a document that would later become known as the CES Letter between March 22 - April 13, 2013.
I shared my draft of the document on Reddit around this time after I had completed it for feedback to ensure that I wasn't wasting the Director's time but the feedback that I got was superficial and minimal and wasn't anywhere enough to create the document as apologists try to deceive their readers on. I wrote the entire document myself from beginning to end in the span of 3 weeks between March 22 and April 13, 2013.
In December 2020, I asked one of the most prominent critics of the CES Letter and Mormon apologist Jim Bennett to meet with me so that I could prove to him that the CES Director is real and that I really wrote the document and sent it to him in that period in 2013.
Mr. Bennett graciously agreed and we met up to where I opened up my Gmail account in front of him, searched the email thread with the Director, expanded the thread, let him read each email at his own pace, opened up the PDF attachment and slowly went through the whole document. I later forwarded him the original PDF document that I sent to the Director on April 2013 and he has it in his possession. Further, I showed him the Director's current position in the Church and a video of the Director talking in an official Church role.
Mr. Bennett expressed satisfaction that I'm telling the truth and later vouched for me and my claims about the CES Director and the CES Letter origins in his Mormon Stories interview a short time after:
Jim Verifies CES Director
As mentioned above, I wrote the letter between March 22, 2013 to April 13, 2013. During this time, I asked for feedback on my letter twice on Reddit. The purpose of my asking for feedback was to ensure a document that was worthy of the Director's time and efforts. I wanted to give him my best work filled with accurate and complete information and sources of my questions and concerns.
As you'll see reading each Reddit feedback post and all the comments in both posts, there is nothing of substance or value that I was able to use to create the letter. In fact, my rough draft was already close to 90% done by the very first Reddit feedback post on March 26, 2013. You'll see for yourself that 2018 Jim's "crowdsourced from Reddit" attack is a lie designed and engineered to smear me and the CES Letter. It's just not true and 2021 Jim Bennett is a Special Witness that it's not true.
Reddit Feedback Post #1 - March 26, 2013:
Link: Need Feedback! My TBM grandpa asked me to speak to his CES Director friend about my concerns. CES guy offered to talk to me. This PDF is a rough draft of what I'm sending over to both CES guy and grandpa. Need your feedback/advice, guys. Thanks!
Now, go to that link and read each and every comment. Notice that there's nothing on there of substance that I could've used to write the letter. There's no "crowdsourcing" going on here.
In fact, this Reddit post was posted 4 days after the Director had first emailed me on March 22, 2013. I had already written 90% of the letter by March 26th when I posted this Reddit post asking for feedback on my 90% completed letter.
You can see I'm telling the truth with comments from this Reddit post like the following:
These two comments show that by March 26th, I had completed every section of the letter except for the Witnesses section as well as the Scriptures section.
This is why Jim doesn't give you a direct link to these Reddit posts to back up his bullshit "crowdsourced from Reddit" lie and smear. Jim knows that if you read the comments like I'm telling to do here that you'll clearly see that I had completed 90% of the letter by my first "Feedback, please" March 26th Reddit post and that Jim's claim that it was crowdsourced on Reddit is clearly false and debunked.
Moving next to the next "Feedback, please" Reddit Post I made on April 11, 2013 - just 1-2 days before attaching the PDF and sending it to the Director.
Reddit Feedback Post #2 - April 11, 2013:
Now, go to the above link and read each and every comment. Notice that there's nothing on there of substance that I could've used to write the letter. There's no "crowdsourcing" going on here.
It's obvious by this date that the letter was 100% completed and that I didn't get any crowdsourcing help in writing the letter between March 22, 2013 to April 13, 2013.
Jeremy is the leader of the "anti-Mormon religion".
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. This attack is illuminating and humorous because it shows how many Mormons see organizations like a pyramid (top-down hierarchy with a powerful leader at the top) and that there must be a mustache-twirling leader somewhere that if they'd just attack and destroy, the whole hierarchy / empire crumbles and collapses.
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."
Follow No One, Trust Yourself // Nietzsche
Jeremy is just out to destroy the Church. He can leave it but can't leave it alone.
I have tried to leave it. Several times. The Church and its minions (apologists) won't leave me alone.
I was approached by a CES Director in 2013 after a year of trying to get answers and to try to get closure.
I tried to leave it again in the summer of 2013 (after it started becoming more obvious the CES Director wasn't going to respond) but then FairMormon started attacking me.
I tried to leave it again in March 2014 after I released Debunking FairMormon but was pulled back in when Daniel Peterson started attacking me and the CES Letter at the FairMormon Conference. And again when Brian Hales started attacking me.
On and on the attacks came and then there was the Kangaroo Court circus in 2016. The Church wouldn't leave me alone until I excommunicated the Church from my life.
I tried to leave it again in 2017 and was happily retired for a few years until 2020 when FairMormon shocked the Mormon world by releasing the most unChristlike garbage ever called TITS (This is the Show) on its platform and its star, Kwaku El, shared death threats against myself and John Dehlin. They've even come out to declare war against me.
They also did other abhorrent and unacceptable things that I just could not let slide or remain silent on and I was forced out of retirement. In a public post on social media in March 2020, I stated:
I said in December: "I've let FairMormon and their stooges get away for far too long with their numerous falsehoods, mischaracterizations, defamation and blatant smears of my name and character and I'm done."
I've now completed 7 debunkings and will have completed 1 more by the end of next month. I'm updating / fixing the website, revamping the Debunkings section, updating the CES Letter book, adding a new audio version, typing up the new "Now What?" book, writing my autobiography rich with pictures, and much more.
If their goal was to destroy me and the CES Letter, they've failed miserably. I was enjoying my 3+ year hiatus (that I was very close to making permanent) from the CES Letter and all things Mormonism until FairMormon and Kwaku interrupted me out of my hiatus with their stupid juvenile stunts.
I immediately abandoned my hiatus and have since been back in the saddle working hard to take the CES Letter to higher levels in effectiveness and awareness.
When all is said and done a few years from now, FairMormon and Mormon apologists will be thinking this:
"We should've left Jeremy alone in his hiatus."
John Dehlin talked about this:
So, who exactly can't leave what alone here?
Everything that I have done has been from a defensive position. 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. A General Conference can't go by without a smear or name-calling of those who left like "unruly child", "lax disciples" or "lazy learners".
So, it has become very clear to me that leaving the Church alone isn't working as the Church and its minions won't ever leave me alone. They've declared war on me. Consequently, I'm now rededicating myself to the cause and am committing to taking the CES Letter to greater levels of effectiveness, exposure and awareness.
An excellent article on this topic: They Can Leave the Church, But They Can't Leave the Church Alone.
"Jeremy Runnells just wants to tear down my faith and leave me comfortless in the theological rubble."
This is an attack made in 2018 by Mormon apologist Jim Bennett.
I simply share the same exact position as President J. Reuben Clark, who Jim also agrees with:
"If we have the truth, no harm can come from investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."
It was a letter to a CES Director trying to get official answers to resolve my concerns and doubts. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I absolutely reject and resent Jim's 2018 attack here and mischaracterization of my motives. In fact, 2021 Jim rejects this (talks specifically about my motives at the 5:15 mark):
I have no ulterior agenda here. I have no better Jesus to sell you. I'm not banking or getting rich off of this as this has always been primarily a side charity project that I've donated way too much time and energy that I mostly did not have over the years.
I do not care what you place your faith in let alone "tearing it down". I really don't. I do not care if you stay in or leave the LDS Church. It has absolutely zero effect on my life on what your LDS Church status is. I don't know you and I have no idea what is personally best for you and your own life. Only you do. Some people are better off leaving and some people are better off staying. Both are equally valid decisions.
In fact, there have been people who I know personally who have asked me about whether or not to go down the rabbit hole and I told them that I felt, based on my knowledge of them personally, they were better off in the Church today and to leave it alone unless circumstances changed and they were no longer happy and fulfilled in the Church.
My own 85-year-old grandfather had bought Rough Stone Rolling and had it on his office shelf when I visited his home. I asked him about it and if he had read it. He said he planned to and asked my thoughts about basically going down the rabbit hole of Church history. I had already spent about two years prior telling him to not read my CES Letter or to watch my Mormon Stories interview and to just ignore me on this topic. Why? Because I loved and cared about my grandfather very much and I would be damned if I was going to let my elderly, frail and vulnerable grandfather experience a crisis of faith in his mid-80s. I'd rather him believe in the Church's narrative that I'm a lost dark soul who lost my way than for him to personally suffer because of his religion's truth crisis and his leaders' failings to do the right thing.
I have had many LDS missionaries email me over the years. There have been many missionaries that, after discovering their family and background situation along with how many months they've been out on their missions, I felt strongly that it was against their well-being and safety to do a deconstruction of their religion while out in the field. I told them to drop it if they can and to just make the best of their missions. If they felt the need to revisit this when they returned home, they could do so but my advice to them was to love and serve the people and to grow personally as much as they can.
So, "Jeremy Runnells just wants to tear down my faith and leave me comfortless"? What a crock of shit.
Look...all I'm asking here is that all of the information be on the LDS table. Not 20% or 50% or 90% but 100%. I am seeing too much disruption and carnage in the lives of LDS individuals and LDS families because the LDS table is missing too much important data and information. Anything less than 100% on the LDS table is an obstruction to the free agency of the member and investigator in making a valid and complete decision as to whether or not they want to devote their lives, money and devotion to Mormonism.
We have a word for this withholding of key vital information in the real world in marriage proposals and sectors like mortgages, insurance and government: fraud.
The bottom line here is that there are legitimate and very real problems to the LDS Church's narrative and truth claims. Full stop.
You don't have to take my word for it as LDS scholars and historians have acknowledged the LDS Church's truth crisis:
You don't have to take my word for it as you can read the Church's very own Gospel Topics essays that have destroyed faith and left people "comfortless in the theological rubble", as Jim so poetically describes. And it still does everyday.
It is not me who is tearing down faith. It's the LDS Church and its narrative and truth crisis that is doing just that. I didn't create or perpetuate their truth crisis. "Prophets, seers and revelators" since Joseph Smith have. Especially since around 1910 onward when LDS Church leaders began to really see the serious and unsustainable cracks to their theology and foundation.
The real "theological rubble" here sits at the doorstep of the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. The real people who are leaving members "comfortless" with its "theological rubble" is the pandemic GameStop / Tesla banking First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve who care more about their secret $100 billion dollar slush fund than they do being truly transparent and honest with all of their members about its truth crisis.
It is not my responsibility to "comfort" anyone as I am not responsible for the LDS Church's truth crisis and its "theological rubble". This responsibility and blame rests solely on the LDS Church leadership alone.
What Jim doesn't tell you is that I do mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. Even though I did not cause the truth crisis or perpetuate it, I have donated and given many, many hours in emails and conversations with those devastated and left comfortless by the LDS Church's truth crisis by comforting them and telling them that it's going to be okay. By giving them advice on how to navigate through this while keeping themselves and their family relationships intact. One of them being my own father who I have spent many hours in conversations with for years in helping him to process the Church's truth crisis and to be at peace in his late 60s about the Church and his decades of devotion and service to it.
So, I take offense at this turd attack and smear from Jim. I take offense to Jim blaming me for his religion's truth crisis and I take offense to him painting me as this evil person without compassion or kindness who only seeks to destroy and leave people bleeding on their own.
You're just absolutely wrong here, Jim. You're completely and totally barking at the wrong tree. Go bark at that tall building on North Temple instead.
2021 Jim knows that this is not a fair or legitimate personal attack.
The CES Letter destroys marriages and families for profit.
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:
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.
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 $100 billion dollar 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.
The person making this claim does not understand the background story and origins of the CES Letter.
I didn't decide one day to create the CES Letter and cesletter.org.
The only reason why the CES Letter exists is because the CES Director requested it. He asked me for my questions and concerns. I took his offer very seriously as I wanted to hear his answers to the problems. Since I took this very seriously, I asked for feedback on my draft in a closed Facebook group as well as on Reddit. My only focus was to send a tight letter to the CES Director with as little mistakes as possible so as to not waste his time or mine.
Well, the folks who gave the feedback in these groups liked it enough to share it with their family and friends. Next thing I know, my document is on MormonThink.com. And then next thing I know, I'm getting attacked by FairMormon. It was at this point that I realized I was getting pulled and sucked into a current that I didn't want to be pulled into.
As time went on, I learned there were some mistakes and errors in the letter. Additionally, the Church was beginning to release some of their essays verifying yesterday's anti-Mormon lies as facts. Accepting that I couldn't undo the CES Letter or take it off the internet even if I tried, I made the decision to at least make the most accurate and transparent (includes the essays) CES Letter available. I also needed a place for my Debunking FairMormon in defense from their attacks. Hence, why the website was born.
All of my work and efforts have been made from a defense position. It was in response to the CES Director's request or attacks made against me or to ensure that the most accurate CES Letter was available for download so that I wasn't spreading misinformation.
My goal was never to destroy the LDS Church. It was to get official answers from the LDS Church.
Jeremy's only goal is to get people to leave the Church.
No. My goal is not to get people to leave the Church. I have no idea what's best for people and their own lives. I don't presume to know what's best for people and their own lives.
Some people decide to leave the Church. Some people decide to stay in the Church. Both decisions can be just as valid.
My goal was to get official answers to the LDS Church's truth crisis back when I was trying to restore my testimony. I achieved my goal in a different way than I expected: the LDS Church has no answers to its truth crisis and will attempt to punish those who openly ask the questions it does not like being asked.
I believe in honesty. I believe in transparency. I believe in informed consent.
I believe that investigators and members deserve to have all of the information on the table to be able to make a fully informed decision as to what the information means to them and how they would like to proceed with it. People deserve to know about the skeletons in the closet of the organization they're devoting so much of their lives, devotion and money to.
Anything short of this is an obstruction to the free agency of the investigator and member.
Jeremy is obviously doing this for the money and the fame.
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.
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. The times that I have put myself out there in the spotlight, I did it for the greater good. For example, before my 2014 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.
Jeremy set up a nonprofit Foundation and accepts donations. Obviously he's in it for the money.
I find it hilarious that anyone thinks there's real money to be made in nonprofit Ex Mormonism. The reason why I set up the nonprofit is to legally separate myself personally from the CES Letter. The reason why I asked/ask for donations is to ease the burden that all of this tremendous amount of work requires. Some might not respect my time but I respect it and so do my kind and generous donors.
It's hypocritical - to say the least - that I'm attacked for receiving donations when dozens of unofficial Mormon apologetic groups likewise accept and receive donations. They have teams. It's mostly just me.
I further discuss the "in it for the money" nonsense here.
"Jeremy is an adulterer" or "Jeremy was arrested for beating his wife".
False and false.
This demonstrates that they've lost the argument when they resort to blatantly false claims and smears in their desperate attempts to discredit the CES Letter.
I have never once cheated on my wife. I’ve always been faithfully and happily married and I’m still faithfully and happily married today. In fact, we’re like peanut butter and jelly (our pandemic Halloween costumes):
I have never once beaten or physically harmed my precious and beautiful wife and the idea of doing so is abhorrent and repugnant to my DNA. And even if my brain somehow got hijacked and I were to dare try, it would be my amazing hot wife kicking my ass - not the other way around.
These smears are beyond offensive to me and I’m disheartened that I am even having to defend myself from these unreal lies.
When I shared these bullshit claims to my wife, she shook her head and laughed at the absurdity of it all.
I have never once been arrested or in trouble with the law aside from a few speeding tickets.
Jeremy is a buddhist.
No, I'm not.
I never was a buddhist and I am not a buddhist today.
This was one of the charges used against me by the Stake President in my Kangaroo Court to support his "apostasy" claim. It's just not true.
The origin of this false claim and rumor comes from my 2014 Mormon Stories interview with John Dehlin in which I basically made the comment that if a gun was pointed to my head and I had to join a religion, I'd probably join Buddhism as I like some of their zen teachings.
Of course, my comment deliberately got taken out of context and twisted to serve the need of the LDS Church and the Stake President in painting me as an "evil apostate" who joined another religion.
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.
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 foolish to sacrifice today and what we have for sure for a "maybe". Those who argue Pascal's Wager ignore that they ironically reject competing gods and hells of other religions along with a host of problems with this idea. I just reject one more god and one more hell than they do.
"What if you're wrong?" // Richard Dawkins
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.
Jeremy is an atheist.
When Mormonism collapsed for me, I was a non-denominational Christian for a while until I realized that I hadn't applied the same scrutiny toward Christianity as I had to Mormonism. I deep dived into the foundations of Christianity and the bible and I did not like what I found down there.
I was a deist for a few years until I realized that my entire worldview was faith-based rather than evidence-based. I did a lot more reading and research on the subject and realized that deism is not supported by the evidence.
I currently identify as agnostic atheist. What this basically means is that I do not know whether or not there's a god or gods, but based on current evidence (and lack of it), I see no reason to believe there is one. I'm open to changing my views and position when there is evidence.
I do not see faith and feelings as reliable pathways to truth as anyone can claim anything is true based on faith and feelings.
The CES Letter is not "rigorous research" or "scholarly".
A BYU apologist, Hanna Seariac, wrote on Twitter:
There is a term that describes a common tactic and technique that cults and their apologists use to stop inquiry and critical thinking in their members: "thought-stopping". It's part of the BITE Model of Authoritarian Control.
This attack on the CES Letter and other critical resources like Mormon Stories is part of the "Information Control" and "Thought Control" of the BITE Model employed by the Church and its apologists.
The CES Letter was simply a letter from a regular Mormon to a CES Director outlining my concerns and questions about the LDS Church's foundational truth claims. It was not a thesis paper intended for a PhD nor was it meant to take anyone thick into the weeds although the CES Director told my grandfather that the paper was "well-written and it's like a thesis paper".
A big reason why the CES Letter went viral and has had a monumental impact over the years is that it's consumable and digestable. You don't feel like you're reading a boring textbook or a dry scientific paper. It's not written in a condescending or unrelatable way.
The reason why the CES Letter is powerful is because you are passing through a research wormhole that literally shaves off and saves you months and years of waffling and confusion because you're trapped in the apologetic forest overanalyzing irrelevant trees designed to distract you while completely missing the panoramic and sweeping view of the entire forest that the CES Letter provides.
The CES Letter is the headjack that literally streams huge amounts of data relating to the LDS Church's truth crisis in a matter of 2-3 hours what used to take people months and years to download. This is what absolutely terrifies the LDS Church and its apologists and why they're so rabid in attacking me and the CES Letter.
John Dehlin with Mormon Stories did a great TikTok rebuttal to Hanna's attack:
Now, Hanna is correct that the CES Letter is not rigorous in that it's extremely thorough and exhaustive. It's not. It's mostly questions and concerns for the CES Director to answer while pointing to the Church's official Gospel Topics essays. What Hanna is really doing here is implying that the CES Letter is not reliable or trustworthy because it doesn't fine-tooth into all the issues talking about every miniscule detail.
The CES Letter doesn't claim to do this and was not written for this purpose. The CES Letter is not a one-stop shop where people start and end their research. It's often the very beginning of an intense period of deep research into other books and resources that go much deeper and yes, in more rigorous detail on specific topics and issues.
What Hanna doesn't tell her readers though is that I do go deeper and I am very rigorous on the issues in the Debunkings where I individually and line-by-line respond to attacks on the CES Letter as well as discuss the topics and issues in finer detail (thousands of pages worth of rebuttals!)
It is common for Mormon apologists like Hanna and Church leaders like Nelson ("lazy learners") to attack those who left the Church as having not studied enough or researched enough. This attack is part of that ongoing tradition and smear campaign of denigrating those who left as not being enough.
The hard reality and truth is that former Mormons know more about the religion than ~95% of believing orthodox Mormons do. Full stop. Rather than acknowledge the religion's severe truth crisis, Mormon leaders and apologists choose to divert and distract the focus of its members with ad hominems, falsehoods, obfuscations, philosophies of men mingled with scripture (homemade Mormonism) and incomplete information about critical resources and former members.
Jeremy has no class. He was yelling and being rude and disrespectful in his Court of Love.
This one baffled and confused me when I first heard it.
Turns out that when the video below was leaked, someone made a written transcript of the video and posted it online. Well, that someone loves their exclamation points (!) and CAPS and basically put an exclamation after every one of my sentences (after sprinkling a few words with CAPS). So, if you only read the transcript instead of actually watching the video, I can definitely see why you arrived at this false conclusion.
The transcript has since been fixed and all of the exclamation points/CAPS removed to match the tone clearly seen in the video. There was no yelling. There was no shouting. In fact, many have said that I was too patient and too respectful considering the false charges and disrespect shown to me by the Stake President. You decide for yourself:
Jeremy refuses to acknowledge his mistakes and errors (or "lies" depending on source).
Not true. Here's my "Errors and Mistakes" page on the website for the whole world to see: https://cesletter.org/debunking-fairmormon/errors.html
I have no problem whatsoever admitting my mistakes and errors. I care more about the information being correct and accurate than I do about my ego. Besides, what's another mistake to add to the list?
The CES Letter doesn't present "faithful answers" or apologetic explanations to the problems. It's deceptive.
Of course it doesn't. It was a letter to a CES Director in response to the Director's request to a list of my concerns and questions to the LDS Church's foundational claims.
The reason why I wanted the CES Director's response and answers is because they would be more official and hopefully more coherent than the bizarre and contradictory Mormon apologetic pet theories and philosophies mingled with scripture that frustrated me and made me pull out my hair the entire year before the CES Director approached me in March of 2013.
I wasn't writing a book on Mormon apologetic "faithful answers". I was writing a letter with questions for the CES Director to answer.
However, while the CES Letter doesn't focus on Mormon apologetics, my thousands of pages worth of detailed debunkings do. I've responded to at least 7 different Mormon apologists and apologetic organizations, which can be read here:
The CES Letter is just a "Big List" designed to overwhelm the reader and destroy his testimony.
This "big list" attack is also referred to as "Gish Gallop", which is defined as:
One of the most well-worn apologetic cards is that of misapplying logical fallacies. The "big list" or "Gish Gallop" that apologists refer to is a tactic used in debates to drown out reasoned response because there's a time limit. The shotgun approach is effective at giving an opponent too much to address in their allotted time, and it gives the impression that the attacker has "won" because the response is lacking.
Apologists are incorrect that the CES Letter takes any such approach. The internet is not a formal debate club and Mormon apologists do not have a time limit.
The CES Letter is not a Gish Gallop as it's a list in written form of grievances, questions and concerns to a CES Director who, by the way, requested them. The CES Letter is not a Gish Gallop as there is no time limit to respond to it.
The CES Director requested my list of doubts and concerns. I was not trying to win a debate nor did I think I was in a debate with the CES Director when I wrote the letter. It was not written to overwhelm anyone or to destroy anyone's testimony. I was seeking official answers from the Church to resolve my doubts and to hopefully restore my testimony.
The CES Director asked me to lay down my concerns on the table so I did exactly just that. I wanted his official answers. For Mormon apologists to claim that the letter is a "big list" is more of a testament of their fundamental misunderstanding of the CES Letter's background story and purpose than it is that the CES Letter is a "big list."
CES Director: "Give me a list of your issues and concerns about the Church."
Jeremy: "Sure, here's my list."
Mormon apologists: "Big List! Gish Gallop! Big List Attack on the Church."
The apologists and the CES Director are not being drowned out and have had plenty of time to respond to each issue. In fact, apologists have and I have responded to them. You can see a list of my debunkings here.
What's ironic is accusing the CES Letter of Gish Gallop and "Big List" attack when FairMormon and apologetic websites can be accused of the exact same thing.
John Dehlin in his discussion with a Mormon apologist shares his view of apologists using this disingenuous attack against the CES Letter:
The apologetic Gish Gallop attack against the CES Letter is ridiculous. The CES Letter has been online since April 2013. There is no such thing as Gish Gallop online.
There is no timer. The internet is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Jeremy advocates vandalism and destruction of Church property.
False. This is a lie.
I wrote on Reddit on March 26, 2014 (link):
First of all, thank you all so much for reading the CES Letter and for your support. I appreciate it.
I'm concerned about a few things that may or may not have been done by CES Letter fans.
One example that came to my attention was someone writing on a CES advertisement posted on a Ward posting board: "For more information, visit cesletter.com".
Another example is grabbing email addresses from Ward/Stake Directories to mass email members with the CES Letter PDF attached.
I'm all for sharing this information but it is my hope that we'll be respectful (and legal) about sharing it at the same time.
Please do me a personal favor and don't write on papers on Ward posting boards or take email addresses from the Ward/Stake Directories. There's a respectful/right way to share this information and there's a wrong way to share this information. This falls in the latter.
Thanks for your understanding.
EDIT: It appears that some folks are not getting that I'm not asking for respect for LDS, Inc. I'm asking us to respect the property and privacy of others. Members are not LDS, Inc. Members have as much right to their private information and privacy as we do.
Local Ward members/leadership are not LDS, Inc. They're people. The meeting houses are their spaces and turf. Let's be classy and not be dicks about it.
I have never advocated the destruction of property or of vandalism. I spoke out and asked that no one disrespect LDS meeting houses or LDS property (including email lists and membership information).
Jeremy advocates taking Ward/Stake/School email lists and spamming the CES Letter to them.
This is false. I have never advocated such a thing and have even spoke out against individuals using email lists to spam the CES Letter with.
I've already addressed this above here.
Jeremy is not a scholar.
And I never claimed to be one.
Mormon apologists - desperate in discrediting me and the CES Letter - have created strawmen by elevating me and the letter to academia standards and then attacking me and the letter from there.
I'm not a scholar. I'm just a regular dude who wanted official answers to the LDS Church's truth crisis. I was doing everything I could to restore my testimony and to try to make the LDS Church true.
The CES Letter is just a letter to a CES Director. Nothing more. Nothing less. It was a document "laying it all out" in hopes that the director could resolve my questions and concerns.
I've learned a lot over the past 7+ years in the trenches dealing with Mormon apologists and being mentored by Mormon historians.
I've written thousands of pages worth of debunkings and rebuttals. Contrary to the "Village Idiot" that Mormon apologists desperately need me to be, I am very knowledgeable on this topic and I have tried my best to extend and share this knowledge to others in a meaningful way so that they themselves can escape the Mormon Apologist House of Mirrors quicker.
Jeremy is just rehashing old anti-Mormon lies that have been debunked a long time ago.
Talk about a dramatic one-liner that stops critical thinking right in its tracks. "Thought-stopping" as it's called with the BITE Model of Authoritarian Control.
If you think yesterday's "anti-Mormon lies" were "debunked" or that they've been "debunked" a long time ago? You haven't read the Church's Gospel Topics essays verifying that yesterday's "anti-Mormon lies" are indeed today's essays verified facts.
Dozens of Mormon historians, scholars and leaders disagree with you, including the ones in this video:
You are deluding yourself if you think "All is well in Zion" and that there's no validity or merit to the so-called "anti-Mormon lies".
If there are any other questions or attacks that I have missed, please let me know at [email protected] so that I can address them here.