Jeremy Runnells, Author of CES Letter, Faces LDS Church Excommunication Today

CES Letter Foundation
A vigil for Jeremy Runnells is being organized today: Sunday, April 17, 2016 @ 5:30 pm Mountain Time at the American Fork Utah East Stake Center. The address is: 825 E 500 N, American Fork, Utah.

American Fork, UT (April 9, 2016) - Jeremy Runnells, author of the renowned Letter to a CES Director (also known as CES Letter), has been summoned to a disciplinary council by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on charges of apostasy. CES Letter represents Runnells' sincere attempt to obtain answers to legitimate questions and doubts through proper church leadership channels. The LDS Church has chosen to continue its recent trend of excommunicating members who openly question or doubt LDS foundational truth claims.

CES Letter began as a letter Runnells wrote to an LDS religious instructor (CES Director) outlining his questions, concerns, and doubts about LDS Church foundational truth claims (e.g., Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham historicity, Joseph Smith's polygamy and polyandry, LDS priesthood restoration, multiple first vision accounts). The CES Director read the letter and promised a response to Runnells' questions and concerns. No response ever came.

Upon its public release, CES Letter went viral and immediately became a Mormon internet phenomenon, providing validation and support to tens of thousands of questioning current and former LDS Church members. CES Letter has been downloaded an estimated 600,000 times to date, and over 12,000 LDS Church members have reached out to Runnells after reading the CES Letter.

Runnells reports that he met twice with his LDS Stake President, Mark Ivins, in the fall of 2014. During these discussions Runnells sought answers for questions posed in CES Letter and raised concerns about the LDS Church's recent historical essays (http://lds.org/topics/essays). President Ivins assured Runnells that he wanted to help, and that he would obtain answers. Runnells did not hear back again from President Ivins until January 25, 2016 when Ivins telephoned Runnells to inform him of his intention to challenge Runnells' LDS Church membership. Runnells requested a delay until March 15th, citing a close family member in hospice care, which was originally accepted by Ivins. On February 8, 2016 Ivins reversed his decision and informed Runnells of his disciplinary council scheduled for February 14, 2016.

Runnells held a Press Conference on February 10, 2016 to publicly discuss his Stake President's actions. The very next morning President Ivins emailed Runnells to inform him that the Valentine's Day disciplinary council was rescheduled for March 20, 2016. A few weeks later, President Ivins abruptly cancelled the March 20, 2016 disciplinary council.

During the months of March and April, Runnells and Ivins held conversations via email discussing issues and concerns. A theme consistent in the conversations is Runnells' pleas for Ivins to answer his questions and Ivins' refusal to answer them. Among the main questions Ivins consistently and repeatedly refused to answer are:

  • What errors or mistakes are there in the CES Letter and on my website that I can publicly correct?
  • If there are no errors or mistakes, why am I being punished for seeking and sharing the truth?
  • What questions am I being punished for asking?

On April 8, 2016, Runnells received a letter from Ivins informing him that there will be a disciplinary council held against Runnells on Sunday, April 17, 2016 @ 6:00 pm Mountain Time.

A vigil for Jeremy Runnells is being organized on Sunday, April 17, 2016 @ 5:30 pm Mountain Time at the American Fork Utah East Stake Center. Address is: 825 E 500 N, American Fork, Utah.


PDF version of Press Release

Last Updated: April 17, 2016, 4:49pm MST

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 a crisis of faith, 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 concerns and questions 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).

CES Letter very quickly went viral on the Internet. 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.

In the fall of 2013, unofficial LDS apologetic group, FairMormon, publicly released an analysis of CES Letter.

In response, Jeremy wrote Debunking FAIR's Debunking.

“I believe that members and investigators deserve to have all of the 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 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.