Mormon Kangaroo Court
Against Jeremy T. Runnells

Inside View on How the LDS Church Treats and Silences the Messenger


"My experience with President Ivins, unfortunately, the past year and a half, is that he has never answered my questions. Not a single question.

I have asked you 3 questions over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over. 20 times. And the specific questions that I asked are:

  • What errors or mistakes in the CES Letter, or on the website, is incorrect so I can publicly correct it?
  • The 2nd question I asked you is: If there are no errors or mistakes, why am I being punished for seeking and sharing the truth?
  • And the 3rd question I asked you is: What question am I being punished for?

And you have not answered a single one of them."

-Jeremy Runnells, during his disciplinary council, 17 April 2016.


Introduction

This is a story about how the Mormon Church treated Jeremy T. Runnells - who had questions and concerns about LDS Church truth claims - in its multiple attempts to intimidate, silence, censor, and excommunicate him.

Every single interaction and communication between Jeremy T. Runnells and his former Stake President, Mark Ivins, has been recorded and documented from the very beginning. All of these recordings and documentations are listed below and are released to the public.

No one has to take Jeremy's word on anything. It is all recorded and documented for you to see for yourself.

Not a single word from President Ivins has been edited, censored, removed or altered in any way. Some of Jeremy's words in audio recordings have been censored due to the personal nature of the details and names of individuals, locations, and events involved.

These recordings and release of recordings are 100% legal as all communications between Jeremy Runnells and Mark Ivins took place in the state of Utah where, in addition to Federal law 18 U.S.C 2511(2)(d), Utah Code Ann. 77-23a-3,4 states that Utah is a One Party state and thus it is legal for an individual who is a party to conversations to record and disclose the content of said conversations.

The decision has been made to release everything to the public due to the extremely alarming and disturbing conduct on the part of the Stake President and the LDS Church in their attempts to character assassinate Jeremy Runnells' name, integrity, and character through their extremely vague accusations and insinuations against Runnells along with their multiple attempts to excommunicate Jeremy Runnells.

The decision to release everything also is due to a desire to be transparent and open to the public as well as to provide the public insight and education on how the LDS Church treats its doubters and questioners who dare ask questions and share concerns about LDS church essay verified problems with LDS foundational truth claims.

Quick Summary and Notes

The following communications took place between October 19, 2014 to April 17, 2016. A total time span of a year and a half.

Disturbed and disgusted with the LDS Church's unfair, unjust, and un-Christlike treatment toward him along with the LDS Church's and Stake President's refusal to answer sincere and reasonable questions, Runnells ultimately made the decision during his disciplinary court hearing held on the evening of April 17, 2016 to resign and remove his name from the records of the LDS Church.

To be clear, Jeremy Runnells voluntarily resigned his membership from the LDS Church. Runnells was not excommunicated.

There are TL;DR boxes listed in each section. TL;DR literally stands for "Too Long; Didn't Read". This section is basically for lazy people who don't want to listen to or read the entire thing but who still want the main points and meat of the conversation and what took place.

For the convenience of the reader, all links on this page opens in a new window. So, for example, you can open up the transcripts to audio recordings in a new window while listening to the audio recording on this page.

You're invited to see for yourself and to come to your own conclusions. The recordings and emails speak for themselves.

October 19, 2014

After scheduling the meeting with Stake President Mark Ivins' secretary, Jeremy Runnells voluntarily meets President Ivins for the very first time in Ivins' church office in American Fork, Utah.

The following is an audio recording of the entire first meeting:

Transcript of the above recording is available in HTML here
(Opens in New Window)

TL;DR
  • First meeting ever with Stake President Mark Ivins
  • Runnells introduces himself and explains story of CES Letter
  • Runnells is surprised to see how poor Ivins' understanding of CES Letter and Essays verified issues are
  • Runnells gets Ivins to commit to reading the CES Letter before a follow up visit

November 2, 2014

If you're going to listen to anything, listen to this. This is Runnells' and Ivins' second meeting. No communication or interaction took place between Runnells and Ivins between their October 19, 2014 meeting and this one.

The following is an audio recording of the entire second meeting. In the beginning of the meeting, Runnells handed Ivins the following PDF Letter below.

Transcript of the above recording is available in HTML here
(Opens in New Window)

The following is the November 2, 2014 letter Runnells handed to Ivins in the beginning of this meeting (can be read in PDF here) or read below:

November 2, 2014

Dear President Ivins,

I am writing this letter to you to make sure that there are no misunderstandings or confusion regarding my response to several of your questions that you presented to me in our first and only October 19, 2014 meeting before today's November 2, 2014 meeting.

1. Regarding my Letter to a CES Director and the website where it is currently posted:

I originally wrote the Letter to a CES Director because the CES Director, a friend of my grandfather, directly requested that I communicate my questions and concerns to him in writing as part of his effort to potentially resolve my questions and concerns with the Church's origins and history.

After sending my letter to the CES Director I never received a response back from him to my questions and concerns, nor did he ever follow through with scheduling a meeting between us.

Prior to sending my 80 page letter to the CES Director, I shared the letter with folks on Facebook and Reddit for editing and feedback purposes in my desire to ensure that the information contained in the letter I was sending to the CES Director was as accurate as possible.

The folks that I shared the letter with online for editing and feedback found value in it for themselves to give to their own family members and friends who were asking them why they had doubts and concerns with the truth claims of the LDS Church. This was the catalyst and beginning of the CES Letter circulating on the Internet.

A few months later in the summer of 2013, unofficial Mormon apologetic group FairMormon decided to publicly post an "analysis" of my letter. Unfortunately, FairMormon made direct personal attacks on me, my integrity and my character in their response. In addition to inaccurate personal ad hominem attacks, FairMormon made outrageously false claims in their attempt to discredit both me and the CES Letter.

At the time I was presented with a choice: Allow FairMormon to continue to unfairly and dishonestly publicly tarnish my name, integrity and character without challenge or to defend myself. I chose to defend myself.

As a direct result of FairMormon's personal attacks and dishonest claims, I found it necessary to create my current website to host my direct rebuttals and responses to FairMormon. The only reason why my website exists in its current form today is because of FairMormon's unethical and hostile attack on me and my letter. The website exists for the purpose of being able to directly respond, in an organized manner, to those who have attacked me and continue to attack me.

The intention of the website should not in any way be construed to exist for the purpose of hurting the Church or its members. This is not and never has been my intention.

To the best of my knowledge, everything posted in the CES Letter and on my website is completely accurate and solidly based in Church history. My allegiance from the beginning has been to truth, accuracy and transparency. Where I have erred or made mistakes, I have publicly corrected. In the event it is ever brought to my attention that there are any inaccuracies in the CES Letter or on my website, I am totally and completely agreeable and committed to publicly making the corrections.

2. Regarding my membership in the Church and feelings regarding its leaders:

My membership in the Church is valuable and important to me. Although I no longer have a testimony or literal belief in the truth claims of the LDS Church, I have now come to a place where I respect the leaders and many things in the Church. I wish no harm to and only the best for the Church and its leaders. I believe that leaders in the Church are kind, dedicated, loving, caring, well-meaning and very diligent servants to the members.

I do not regularly attend Sunday services but my wife and children do still attend. I am supportive of them and their desires to attend Church on Sunday. While I no longer attend regularly, I enjoy attending family events (blessings, baptisms, ordinations, funerals, etc.). I also attend some of the activities of the Church such as Father and Son outings, Halloween activities, Christmas activities, etc. Additionally, I have asked to remain on the Elder's Quorum email list to be notified of service opportunities and I have given service several times. I plan to continue to render service to members of the Church for the indefinite future.

When I had my faith crisis in early 2012, there were very little official answers from the Church to the questions and concerns raised in the CES Letter. This was why I sought the help of the CES Director. Fortunately, the Church has made inroads toward more transparency since then by publishing its new essays.

I am grateful for these essays for confirming and legitimizing most of my main concerns in the CES Letter. The essays are a welcome step forward in transparency.

It is my position that if the Church seeks to remove my membership, it is committing a grotesque injustice by punishing me for seeking and sharing the truth, most of which truths are now verifiable today through the Church's new essays. This is especially true in light of my verbal and written promise and willingness to publicly correct any mistakes and errors in the CES Letter and website.

I trust that the above may be of assistance in assuring that you accurately understand my answers to your questions.

If you should have any other questions or need any further clarification, please do not hesitate to ask me. My direct contact information is listed below.

Kindest regards,
Jeremy T. Runnells

TL;DR
  • Second meeting with Stake President
  • This is a key important meeting in the whole Kangaroo process
  • Runnells tests Ivins on his reading/understanding of CES Letter
  • Exchange gets heated at times
  • Ivins refused to give Runnells errors or mistakes in CES Letter but changes position after Runnells corrected him with Handbook "apostasy" definition

November 3, 2014 - January 23, 2016

1.5 years of waiting and radio silence from President Ivins.

January 24, 2016

Runnells receives a text message from Ivins' secretary asking if Runnells could come in to meet with Ivins in his church office in two days (January 26, 2015).

Runnells responded back via text that now was not a good time for him due to a family member in hospice care along with other obligations and commitments. Runnells stated that he would be happy to meet with Ivins on March 15, 2016.

Runnells received no text reply back from Ivins' secretary.

TL;DR
  • Ivins' secretary text messages Runnells
  • Asks if Runnells can come meet with Ivins in two days
  • Runnells responds that he can meet instead on March 15, 2016 due to family member in hospice
  • Runnells receives no text message back from secretary

January 25, 2016

Runnells received a phone call from Ivins himself a little past noon. The phone call lasted under 2 minutes.

Ivins asked Runnells to come in to meet with him the next day. Runnells responded that he had already given his answer to Ivins' secretary and asked if Ivins had received the message from his secretary. Ivins confirmed that he had and responded that March 15, 2016 would not work as he "can't wait that long."

Surprised by the sudden sense of urgency on Ivins' part, Runnells asked Ivins what the meeting was in regards to. Ivins initially refused to disclose the reason over the phone. Runnells responded that since Ivins was unable to disclose the purpose of the meeting, Runnells was unable to get in a car to show up at Ivins' office. Ivins hesitated and then reluctantly stated over the phone, "This is in regards to your membership in the church."

Runnells was shocked as he was expecting the meeting to be a continuation of their November 2, 2014 meeting where Ivins would follow up and return to Runnells with answers as he had pledged to Runnells in their November 2, 2014 meeting.

Regardless, Runnells told Ivins that he has a family member in hospice, that now was not a good time for him, and that March 15th was the date he could come in to meet with Ivins.

After continued resistance from Ivins, Runnells reminded Ivins that Runnells had waited patiently for a year and a half for Ivins to get back to him and thus Ivins owed Runnells the courtesy and decency to give him March 15th due to his family situation. Ivins gave in and agreed to March 15, 2016. The call ended with Runnells telling Ivins to have his secretary call him around March 15th to schedule a time to come in. Ivins responded with "okay" and the phone call was over.

TL;DR
  • Ivins blindsides Runnells with an unexpected phone call breaking Ivins' 1.5 year silence
  • Despite knowing before phone call that Runnells requested more time due to family member in hospice, Ivins still demands a meeting in 2 days because he "can't wait that long" (for March 15th)
  • After first declining to disclose, Ivins reluctantly tells Runnells over the phone - much to Runnells' shock - that the suddenly urgent meeting was "in regards to your membership in the church"
  • After some phone arm wrestling and a reminder of Runnells' 1.5 year patience, Ivins agrees to a March 15, 2016 meeting instead

February 8, 2016

Ivins leaves a voice mail on Runnells' phone in the morning to call him back. Runnells decides to redirect the conversation from verbally via the phone to writing via email.

Instead of calling Ivins back, Runnells emails Ivins the following message @ 1:39pm (screenshot):

President Ivins,

I received your voice mail asking me to call you. I need to communicate via email as it's easier for me than over the phone (I'm still hard of hearing and you're not the easiest guy to hear).

What can I help you with?

-Jeremy

Ivins replies back to Runnells @ 6:15pm (screenshot):

Bro. Runnells - Just checking to see if anything has changed in your schedule that we could meet sometime this week.

Pres. Ivins

Runnells replies back to Ivins @ 7:20pm (screenshot):

President Ivins,

As we agreed on our phone conversation two weeks ago (Jan. 25th), I am able to meet with you on March 15th. This date has not changed. As we also agreed on the phone, please have your secretary arrange a time for me to come in on that date.

Thank you,
Jeremy

Ivins then blindsides and shocks Runnells with his following email sent two hours later @ 9:36pm (screenshot):

Bro. Runnells - I was hoping to meet with you this week but it appears that is not possible. Since our conversation two weeks ago, I have received additional information which facilitates holding a Stake Disciplinary Council in your behalf. The council will be held February 14th 2016 @ 7:15pm at the Stake Center. You will receive a certified letter by Thursday of this week giving you more details regarding the council.

Pres. Ivins

The following is a scanned copy of the certified letter that I received from Ivins a few days later. Take notice of the wording that Ivins used against me to justify a sudden Valentine's Day evening disciplinary council: "additional information" (above email) and "conduct unbecoming a member".


TL;DR
  • Ivins decides to break January 25th gentleman's agreement
  • Completely blindsides and shocks Runnells with a Valentine's Day disciplinary council to be held that evening
  • Uses alarmingly vague insinuations and language such as "additional information" and "conduct unbecoming a member", which Runnells interprets as a character assassination attempt on the part of Ivins and the church

February 9, 2016

Alarmed and disturbed at what appears to be a character assassination attempt, Runnells responds to Ivins' above February 8, 2016 @ 9:36pm email by sending the following email to Ivins @ 9:18am (screenshot):

President Ivins,

Here are the facts:

  • I was approached by a CES Director and asked for my sincere questions and concerns about LDS foundational truth claims.

  • The CES Director read the "very-well written" document, stated that "these are issues which the Brethren (Apostles) are concerned about" and promised a response. He never responded as promised.

  • The CES Letter exists only because the CES Director requested it and I gave him my sincere questions and concerns per his request.

  • I have approached other Church leaders for official answers. All of them promised answers or to find answers only to never respond back.

  • I had two meetings with you (Stake President) in the fall of 2014. Last meeting ended with you stating that I'm a good man and that you would look for answers to try to help me.

  • I didn't hear from you for a year and a half and I only heard back from you when you called me on January 25th to tell me that you wanted me to come in to "talk about my membership in the church".

  • Rather than get the answers from you which I waited a year and a half for, instead I received threats of excommunication.

  • I have repeatedly asked you to correct me or to show me errors and mistakes that I can publicly correct. You have not done this.

  • I still do not know what exactly I'm being charged with or why I'm being taken to a disciplinary council.

  • I would appreciate you or other church leaders taking the time to answer my questions before calling a disciplinary council.

  • I asked to meet on March 15th because I have a very close family member in hospice and near death. I have also recently had ear surgery that I am still recovering from and am half deaf. I needed time to prepare for an ASL interpreter for our meeting.

  • We had a gentleman's agreement over the phone when you called to meet on March 15th and you have now backed from your word by holding a disciplinary council on Valentine's evening. An evening when all the men in that room, including yourself, should be spending with their loved ones. It just feels overly aggressive and mean-spirited.

  • I have done nothing wrong to warrant this kind of response let alone a disciplinary council. I am morally clean, honest with my fellow men and I have a clear conscience. To make it crystal clear on where I stand morally, I have taken the liberty to do what you have never done before deciding to hold a disciplinary court on me: conduct a Temple Recommend interview. See attached Jeremy Runnells' Temple Recommend Interview PDF to see my answers to each Temple Recommend question.

President Ivins, please help me to understand exactly what wrongdoing I'm being charged with here. What have I done wrong? Why haven't you given me mistakes and errors to correct, as required by the Church Handbook of Instructions and as I have pleaded with you to do for the last year and a half?

Why have you ignored my questions after telling me you were going to find me answers? Why are you treating me like a criminal when I am not one? Indeed, you told me in our last meeting that you thought I'm a good man.

All I wanted was the truth. I wanted my church's answers and defense to very troubling facts I learned about Joseph Smith and the church's origins and history. I started my questioning expecting the church would remain victorious on the other end as I had complete faith and hope that the church was true and had the answers. I'm not alone here. There are thousands and thousands of members who are struggling to get answers from the church to its foundational truth claims problems. Marriages are at stake. Lives are at stake.

Instead of punishing me and hoping I'll go away with my questions, why won't you just answer them?

Sincerely,
Jeremy

[Attached to email was this Runnells Temple Worthiness PDF]

Later this evening (February 9, 2016) @ 7:40pm, CES Letter Foundation issued a press release announcing the upcoming Valentine's Day disciplinary council: Jeremy Runnells, Author of CES Letter, Faces LDS Church Excommunication:

CES Letter Foundation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CES Letter Foundation
Phone: 801.609.8301
Email: media@cesletter.org

Jeremy Runnells, author of the popular Letter to a CES Director faces excommunication from the LDS Church on charges of apostasy

American Fork, UT (February 9, 2016) - Jeremy Runnells, author of the popular 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 Mr. Runnells' sincere attempt to obtain answers to legitmate questions and doubts through proper church leadership channels. Instead of providing pastoral support to Mr. Runnells, the LDS Church has chosen to continue its recent trend of excommunicating members who openly question or doubt church teachings.

CES Letter began as a letter Mr. 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.

A public press conference has been scheduled for Runnells on February 10th, 2016 at 7:00pm Mountain Time at 50 West Club & Cafe in downtown Salt Lake City (50 Broadway, Salt Lake City, UT). The venue is open for dinner prior to the press conference at 6:00pm. Parking is available in surrounding lots. All interested media, along with supporters of Runnells, are invited to attend and show support.

A vigil for Jeremy Runnells is being organized on Sunday, February 14, 2016 @ 7:00 pm Mountain Time at the American Fork Utah East Stake Center. Address is: 825 E 500 N, American Fork, Utah.

For more information and developments on this story, see http://cesletter.org.

TL;DR
  • Runnells defends himself and defuses Ivins' vague insinuations and character assasination attempt by doing something Ivins should have done but which didn't: ask Temple worthiness questions
  • Runnells outlines his defense and history to give Ivins his position and perception that holding a disciplinary court against him is a grotesque injustice
  • CES Letter Foundation releases a public press release announcing a disciplinary council held against Runnells on Valentine's Day evening

February 10, 2016

Runnells holds a press conference to announce and discuss the upcoming disciplinary council as well as to discuss details on what has occurred between Stake President Ivins and Runnells up to that point.

February 10, 2016 CES Letter Foundation Press Conference

Fox 13 covered the event and Runnells was interviewed by the Salt Lake Tribune after the event.

Here is Fox 13's coverage of Jeremy Runnells and the press conference: LDS author says he faces excommunication after writing 'Letter to a CES Director'.

Hilarious Side Note:

Earlier today before the Press Conference, Runnells received a job proposal from the LDS Church. In response, Runnells posted the following on his Facebook wall:

Which is it, LDS Church? Do you want to hire me or fire me? #worstvalentinedateever


TL;DR
  • Runnells holds a press conference to discuss Ivins' treatment toward him and Ivins' decision to hold a Valentine's Day evening disciplinary court against him
  • Fox 13 and Salt Lake Tribune attended event and interviewed Runnells.
  • Fox 13 did a piece on Runnells and the event: LDS author says he faces excommunication after writing 'Letter to a CES Director'
  • Runnells hilariously gets job proposal from LDS Church

February 11, 2016

The very next morning after the press conference, Ivins sends Runnells the following 5:14am email to postpone the Valentine's Day disciplinary council (screenshot):

Dear Brother Runnells - Thank you for the email and the expression of your feelings regarding your current situation. I do disagree with many of the things you shared in your email. However, in light of your recent surgery and the fact that you have a close member who is near death, I have decided to postpone the disciplinary council scheduled for February 14th. I would like to keep our appointment to meet on March 15th and then schedule the disciplinary council for March 20, 2016. If you would like to meet before March 15th, please let me know and I will adjust my schedule accordingly. Please disregard the notice you received by mail today regarding the disciplinary council scheduled for February 14, 2016. Another formal notice will be delivered to you regarding the scheduled disciplinary council.

Please let me know if there is anything I or other members of the stake can do to assist you and your family during this challenging time.

President Ivins

Later that day @ 2:45pm, CES Letter Foundation issues another press release announcing the postponement: LDS Church Postpones Court of Love Against Jeremy Runnells:

I received an email this morning from my Stake President, Mark Ivins, indicating that the disciplinary council has been postponed until March 2016 - it will not take place on Valentine's Day. I'm pleased that I and everyone else involved, including the high council, will be able to spend time with our loved ones on a day set aside for commemorating love.

I'm somewhat confused and surprised by this news, however, because President Ivins and I had originally agreed upon a March date to accommodate my situation with a family member in hospice care. He contradicted this agreement by moving the date up, with a simple explanation that there was "additional information" that required it.

But now, after the press release, press conference, media interviews and tremendous reaction/response on social media, he is willing to move it back to the original date. I don't want to suggest that this is all his fault - I realize that the source of this "additional information" may be instructing him on what to do.

Regardless, I wish to express gratitude to President Ivins for his offer to hold an informal meeting in March before any disciplinary court to explain to me exactly what the charges are and why disciplinary action is being taken against me. I still do not know what the charges are or why any disciplinary action is needed or necessary.

Keep calm and carry on,
Jeremy

After the above press release by the CES Letter Foundation, Runnells emailed Ivins the following 3:25pm email (screenshot):

President Ivins,

My response to your news can be read here: http://cesletter.com/lds-church-postpones-court-of-love-against-jeremy-runnells.html

I do very much look forward to our appointment on March 15th to discuss exactly what it is that you disagree with and exactly what it is that you feel qualifies me for a "court of love".

Enjoy your Valentine's!

Best,
Jeremy

TL;DR
  • Ivins emailed the very next morning at 5am after my press release announcing that he decided to postpone the Valentine's Day evening court of love to March 20th. Ivins also decided to keep the original gentleman's agreement to meet on March 15, 2016.
  • Guess whatever the "additional information" that just demanded a Valentine's Day disciplinary court be held against Runnells wasn't that urgent or important after all...

February 27, 2016

Runnells posts a link on Facebook to Elder M. Russell Ballard's "know the essays like the back of your hand" CES Address and writes:

Elder Ballard: Don't turn to Google for answers, turn to us for answers.

Jeremy Runnells: Great. Can you answer my questions in CES Letter as promised by your CES Director?

LDS Church: No. You're invited to your Court of Love next month.

"If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak." - George Albert Smith


February 28, 2016

After close to a three week break, Ivins breaks silence by emailing Runnells the following 4:57am email (screenshot):

Brother Runnells - As a follow-up to my previous email, I plan to meet with you on March 15th 2016 as previously scheduled. I would like to meet at 7:30pm; please confirm your attendance. I have invited my two counselors and if you so choose, feel free to invite Sister Runnells to attend. Also, the disciplinary council scheduled for March 20th 2016 is cancelled.

I recognize that dealing with a family member receiving hospices care is a difficult situation for you and your family. If there is anything we can do to assist, please let me know.

Thank you,
President Ivins

Runnells replies back to Ivins' above email with the following 3:37pm email (screenshot):

President Ivins,

I can come in on March 15, 2016 @ 7:30pm.

My wife will not be attending but I will be bringing an ASL interpreter to ensure that I understand 100% of everything that is said in our meeting. My situation has changed since our last meeting in the fall of 2014 as I recently lost half of my hearing.

I look forward to talking to you.

Best,
Jeremy

TL;DR
  • Ivins asks Runnells to verify that March 15th informal meeting is still on. Runnells confirms
  • Runnells gives Ivins notice of his intention to bring an ASL interpreter to the March 15th meeting

March 6, 2016

Ivins' response to Runnells' February 28, 2016 @ 3:37pm email is the following 8:19pm email (screenshot):

Dear Jeremy,

I am sorry to learn that a deterioration in your hearing has caused you to have concerns about being able to understand the content of our upcoming meeting on Marth 15th. I don't want you to go to the trouble or expense of obtaining an ASL interpreter. Also, the confidential nature of our meeting makes the presence of an interpreter a concern. As you know, translation is not always precise, and I don't want there to be any misunderstandings between the two of us.

Accordingly, as long as your hearing problems persist, I think it will be better for us to communicate back and forth in writing, which is also what you had suggested in an earlier email. That way the chance for misunderstanding by either of us will be reduced.

To start our dialogue, I would like you to send me a letter or email by March 10th explaining to me what you are trying to accomplish in posting your doctrinal concerns across the internet, seeking funding on the internet to address and develop new material related to your concerns that you have with Church doctrine, updating and translating those concerns into different languages, etc. After reviewing your website and your statements, there are many who might suggest that you are openly and publicly acting in opposition to the Church. I would like to receive your response about that, and about why you are taking these actions to extensively publicize your views.

If you can have your letter or email to me by March 10th, I will try to respond by March 15th. That way, we can avoid unnecessary delays. I look forward to your response and hope that your hearing situation is not permanent and that you will soon be able to function without any limitation.

Sincerely,
President Ivins

TL;DR
  • Ivins doesn't want Runnells bringing in an ASL interpreter for their informal March 15th meeting
  • Ivins agrees to move their conversation over to writing
  • Ivins asks Runnells specific questions relating to CES Letter

March 7, 2016

Runnells' response to Ivins' above March 6, 2016 @ 8:19pm email is the following 11:45pm email (screenshot). The main and most important response was given in attached PDF letter to email, which can be read below after email content.

President Ivins,

No trouble or expense at all. Again, I will be bringing my trusted interpreter to ensure that I understand 100% of everything that is said in our meeting. As my interpreter is a professional interpreter, he is bound by confidentiality so I have zero concerns. Also, no worries about preciseness as I have complete and full confidence in my interpreter to get it right.

I want to add that I trust that you will be fair to me and will follow Handbook 6.10.2 by giving me written notice by email and certified mail at least 6 days in advance, as you have done in the past, to announce any disciplinary council taken against me. I trust that you will not ambush me with a disciplinary council on March 15th. If you do plan a council on March 15th, Handbook and common decency requires that you provide me written email and certified mail notice at least six days in advance.

Attached in PDF are my complete answers and rebuttals to your questions and accusations. Also attached is my November 2, 2014 letter to you for your reference.

I believe I have answered all of your questions. I have in turn asked several of my own to you. I do so look forward to reviewing my answers to your questions with you as well as hearing your answers to my questions.

Best,
Jeremy

The following is the PDF letter Runnells attached to email to Ivins:

March 7, 2016

President Ivins,

I'm still waiting for your answers to my CES Letter questions. You stated at the end of our November 2, 2014 meeting that you were not a historian but that you wanted to help me and that you were going to pull in other folks who could help me.

Imagine my shock, after waiting for your answers for a year and a half, to get a phone call from you instead telling me you wanted me to come in to "discuss my membership in the church." No answers...just threats of excommunication.

Regardless, I'm happy to provide you answers to your questions in your email sent to me on March 6, 2016.

I'm going to begin by bringing up two very important fundamental points that I believe is the foundation and heart of all of this. By laying out these two points, I'm in turn helping to sufficiently and completely answer your questions.

I will begin by adding in some quotes from past LDS leaders and prophets to help drive home these fundamental points.

Quotes:

"If we have the truth, no harm can come from investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed." - President J. Reuben Clark

"If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak." - George Albert Smith

"Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false..." - President Joseph Fielding Smith

"That is the way I feel about it. Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens." - President Gordon B. Hinckley

"I have been very grateful that the freedom, dignity, and integrity of the individual are basic in church doctrine. We are free to think and express our opinions in the church. Fear will not stifle thought. God himself refuses to trammel free agency even though its exercise sometimes teaches painful lessons. Both creative science and revealed religion find their fullest and truest expression in the climate of freedom." - Elder Hugh B. Brown

"Historians did not create problem areas of the Mormon past, but most of us cannot agree to conceal them, either. We are trying to respond to those problem areas of Mormon experience. Attacking the messenger does not alter the reality of the message."
- D. Michael Quinn, former assistant to LDS Church Historian Leonard Arrington

"There must be no forbidden questions in Mormonism." - President J. Reuben Clark

"Some struggle with unanswered questions about things that have been done or said in the past." - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"I think in the past there was a tendency to keep a lot of the records closed or at least not give access to information. But the world has changed in the last generation - with the access to information on the internet, we can't continue that pattern; I think we need to continue to be more open." - Elder Steven E. Snow, Current Church Historian, Truth in Church History

Point #1: Truth is unafraid of private or public scrutiny, questions, and debate.

Free Agency = Free Flow of Information

Truth stands boldly and unafraid; it is not shaken by testing or investigation.

Truth has no fear of the light. If an individual or organization seeks to silence doubt or questioning - in the private room or in the town square - it is filled with fear and its house is built on sand.

Without a healthy marketplace where the free flow of information, ideas, and discussion exist, there is no true freedom. There is no true free agency when an organization withholds, obstructs, inhibits, and censors information - positive or negative - from its members.

As current Church Historian Steven Snow states above, the church followed and continues to follow a pattern of keeping records closed and not giving members access to information. Even though the church does not censor as much as it used to in the pre-Information Age, it still unfortunately censors and obstructs information from getting out to its members.

Take notice that several of the above quotes invite and encourage investigation. What's an investigation? It's looking at all of the information on the table, both positive and negative. The minute that the church interferes with a member's or investigator's investigation by withholding or blocking any information from the investigator is the minute that the investigation has been corrupted by the church and the free agency and freedom of the investigator or member is obstructed and robbed.

For many, many members of the church, including myself, "doubt your doubts" or "pray about it" or "give Brother Joseph a break" or "lean on my testimony" or "stay in the boat" or "God not Google" are not answers to the problematic facts that directly undermine and challenge the LDS Church's foundational truth claims.

Fortunately, Elder M. Russell Ballard gave a recent talk to the Church Educational System this month where he acknowledges this:

"Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and the teacher responded, 'Don't worry about it.' Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue."

No more, Elder Ballard said, no matter how sticky the issue...

"To name a few such topics that are less known or controversial, I'm talking about polygamy. Of seer stones. Different accounts of First Vision. The process of translation of the Book of Mormon. Of the Book of Abraham. Gender issues. Race and the priesthood."

Elder Ballard pointed to the church's essays (https://www.lds.org/topics/essays) and instructed his listeners to "know the content in these essays like you know the back of your hand."

This is great news as Elder Ballard has just given his apostolic permission to members, including me, to be more open about and discuss the problematic issues threatening the church's foundational truth claims, many of which are confirmed and verified in the church's essays.

I have expressed my position on cesletter.org:

"I believe that members and investigators deserve 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."

Point #2: Church censorship and stifling of public discussion of accurate church essay facts in the Mormon marketplace of information literally obstructs the free agency of members of the church.

Please Correct Me

In my letter that I handed to you in the beginning of our November 2, 2014 meeting, I wrote:

"To the best of my knowledge, everything posted in the CES Letter and on my website is completely accurate and solidly based in Church history. My allegiance from the beginning has been to truth, accuracy and transparency. Where I have erred or made mistakes, I have publicly corrected. In the event it is ever brought to my attention that there are any inaccuracies in the CES Letter or on my website, I am totally and completely agreeable and committed to publicly making the corrections."

This offer still stands today. I have not only offered this in writing but several times in our conversations in our October 19, 2014 and November 2, 2014 meetings.

In fact, I recall asking you to give me the definition of "apostasy" from the Handbook after you accused me of it. You took out your handbook and read the following snippet:

Immediately after you read "persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or higher authority," I immediately responded by stating to you repeatedly:

"I am asking you to correct me and you are not correcting me."

To this day, I have not been called to repentance and asked to correct any errors or mistakes in the CES Letter or on my website by you or any other priesthood leader. Again, show me where I am wrong or where I am teaching something that is factually not true and I will be more than happy to publicly correct the errors or mistakes on my website for all to see.

Point: You and the church have not corrected me nor given me any errors or mistakes to correct, as required by Handbook of Instruction 6.7.3 , before holding any disciplinary action against me.

Any disciplinary action against me without giving me errors or mistakes to publicly correct along with the opportunity to publicly correct and repent of would be a grotesque injustice against me.

Having laid out these important foundational points, I will now directly answer your questions:

Question #1

You ask: "What are you trying to accomplish in posting your doctrinal concerns across the internet."

With respect, President, your question demonstrates that you either have forgotten the letter that I gave you to read in our November 2, 2014 meeting or that you still do not understand the background and evolution of the CES Letter. For your convenience, in addition to enclosing the letter I handed to you in the beginning of our November 2, 2014 meeting, I am also copying/pasting the relevant part that helps to answer your question:

I originally wrote the Letter to a CES Director because the CES Director, a friend of my grandfather, directly requested that I communicate my questions and concerns to him in writing as part of his effort to potentially resolve my questions and concerns with the Church's origins and history.

After sending my letter to the CES Director I never received a response back from him to my questions and concerns, nor did he ever follow through with scheduling a meeting between us.

Prior to sending my 80 page letter to the CES Director, I shared the letter with folks on Facebook and Reddit for editing and feedback purposes in my desire to ensure that the information contained in the letter I was sending to the CES Director was as accurate as possible.

The folks that I shared the letter with online for editing and feedback found value in it for themselves to give to their own family members and friends who were asking them why they had doubts and concerns with the truth claims of the LDS Church. This was the catalyst and beginning of the CES Letter circulating on the Internet.

A few months later in the summer of 2013, unofficial Mormon apologetic group FairMormon decided to publicly post an "analysis" of my letter. Unfortunately, FairMormon made direct personal attacks on me, my integrity and my character in their response. In addition to inaccurate personal ad hominem attacks, FairMormon made outrageously false claims in their attempt to discredit both me and the CES Letter.

At the time I was presented with a choice: Allow FairMormon to continue to unfairly and dishonestly publicly tarnish my name, integrity and character without challenge or to defend myself. I chose to defend myself.

As a direct result of FairMormon's personal attacks and dishonest claims, I found it necessary to create my current website to host my direct rebuttals and responses to FairMormon. The only reason why my website exists in its current form today is because of FairMormon's unethical and hostile attack on me and my letter. The website exists for the purpose of being able to directly respond, in an organized manner, to those who have attacked me and continue to attack me.

I didn't wake up one day and decide to create CES Letter and cesletter.org. Ditto for Debunking FairMormon's Debunking and my responses to other unofficial Mormon apologists who attacked me.

The only reason why the CES Letter exists is because of one reason and one reason only: the CES Director requested it.

The reason why my responses to FairMormon and other unofficial Mormon apologist attacks exist: to defend my name, character and integrity fromFairMormon's blatantly dishonest attacks, at full display on http://cesletter.com/debunking-fairmormon. Additionally, its purpose is to have an open discussion on the issues troubling so many Latter-day Saints - a conversation, by the way, these Mormon apologists started and initiated first with their attacks against me.

The only reason why cesletter.org exists is because I needed a centralized place to be able to provide my defense and responses to the various personal attacks on my integrity by FairMormon and other unofficial Mormon apologists. Additionally, I needed a centralized authorized place for people to access the most up-to-date and accurate CES Letter as the original was before any of the church's essays. I wanted to make sure that the church's essays along with corrections were included in the document.

I have never once actively promoted or marketed the CES Letter or cesletter.org on any paid media (PPC, Banner Displays, Billboards, Mailings, etc.). Total marketing spend in 3 years: $0.

As mentioned above, the CES Letter went viral online because of other people who also share the same questions and concerns I do, independent of my involvement.

What errors and 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?

Question #2

You ask: "Explain your seeking funding on the internet to address and develop new material related to your concerns that you have with Church doctrine."

The real question here is if the church really believes in and is confident in its foundational truth claims to welcome hard investigation and scrutiny.

The real question here is if the church believes in a healthy and balanced Mormon marketplace of information that includes both positive and negative facts about its truth claims.

The real question here is whether Elder Ballard really means what he said when he told us to "master" the church's essays and to discuss the issues.

I accept and embrace the theme from the quotes above. I'm a firm believer in free agency and individual freedom. I'm a firm believer that the free flow of information is absolutely essential and paramount to the free agency of the individual.

If the church seeks to suppress negative facts being discussed in the Mormon marketplace of information and to excommunicate those who have doubts, questions and concerns, the church demonstrates that it really is not interested in balance or any real and meaningful intellectual conversation on the concessions given in its essays.

In other words, by censoring and suppressing individuals like me who are contributing to the Mormon marketplace of information, the church is demonstrating that all of the claims made above by its leaders along with Ballard's "master the essays" are ultimately just empty words.

The CES Letter Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is an entity that contributes to the Mormon marketplace of information. Like other unofficial Internet Mormon organizations such as FairMormon, Mormon Interpreter, SHIELDS, etc., the CES Letter Foundation accepts donations.

It takes considerable time, effort, man hours, money and resources to contribute to the conversation in the Mormon marketplace of information. FairMormon, Mormon Interpreter and other Mormon organizations understand and get this, which is exactly why they also accept donations as well.

To claim or imply that the acceptance of donations is wrong for CES Letter Foundation but totally okay for organizations like FairMormon and Mormon Interpreter is to demonstrate that the church does not value balance, free flow of facts and any real honest intellectual discussion in the Mormon marketplace of information.

FairMormon themselves have published most of the issues found in my 80 page CES Letter followed by their unofficial, uneven, and unsatisfying "answers" and pet theories promoting a bizarre version of Mormonism that Chapel Mormons would not recognize. FairMormon even lists more issues than the CES Letter does. In fact, I credit FairMormon for helping to make the CES Letter go as viral online as it has.

Why is it wrong for me to publish issues but not for them? After all, there are many Mormons who leave the church after going to FairMormon in an attempt to get answers to their doubts and concerns only to find more questions and issues than they had to begin with. Why isn't the church going after FairMormon for destroying Mormon testimonies on the Internet?

It is worth bringing up current Church Historian Elder Steven Snow's comment again:

"I think in the past there was a tendency to keep a lot of the records closed or at least not give access to information. But the world has changed in the last generation - with the access to information on the internet, we can't continue that pattern; I think we need to continue to be more open."
- Elder Steven E. Snow, Current Church Historian, Truth in Church History

Part of the church's antiquated pattern that it still clenches to in 2016 is the pattern of trying to censor and punish open/public discussion and debate on the issues - especially when doubt and critical questions are expressed by members. This pattern has been disastrous for the church in the Age of Google and Facebook. This pattern of applying 20th century censorship and control tactics in a 21st century social media connected world is seen as nothing short of Orwellian.

Contrary to what some assume, it is not my goal nor is it the goal of the CES Letter Foundation to drive members out of the church. My goal has been to get official answers from the church as promised me by its CES Director three years ago. My goal is to defend my name and integrity from blatant dishonest attacks. My goal is the truth, which is why I have asked you and the church repeatedly to correct me and show me errors and mistakes for me to publicly correct.

It is not me or the CES Letter itself that causes people to leave, if they do, but rather the facts and information verified by the church's own essays and other LDS approved sources that test and challenge testimonies. It is not only the disturbing facts that trouble members, it is the betrayal that many members feel learning these troubling facts for the first time after a lifetime of discipleship and faithful study of correlated church history.

What errors and 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?

Question #3

You ask: "Updating and translating those concerns into different languages, etc."

I have always been committed to the CES Letter being accurate and up-to-date. When I sent the CES Letter to the CES Director in April 2013, the church had yet to release its first essay. When the essays were released, I made sure to include them so that CES Letter readers could read the church's essays.

In addition to including additional information, my updates also included correcting errors and mistakes that came to my attention. Updating the CES Letter is a good thing as without updating it, I would be doing a disservice to CES Letter readers as well as the church by not correcting errors and mistakes along with not including the church's essays.

As for translations, I have spent exactly $0 on translations. The only reason why I'm offering translations is because volunteers have given me translations of the CES Letter in their own languages. Some of these volunteers have offered the translations before I announced to the public that I was including translations. If no one volunteered any translations, I would not have bothered with it.

Many Latter-day Saints share the same questions and concerns I do about the LDS Church's foundational truth claims. They're starving for answers. These questions and concerns are not confined to the English language and these Latter-day Saints are not confined to the United States. It is a global issue for the church.

What errors and 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?

"Opposition to the Church"

You state: "After reviewing your website and your statements, there are many who might suggest that you are openly and publicly acting in opposition to the Church."

"The honest investigator must be prepared to follow wherever the search of truth may lead. Truth is often found in the most unexpected places. He must, with fearless and open mind 'insist that facts are far more important than any cherished, mistaken beliefs, no matter how unpleasant the facts or how delightful the beliefs.'"
- Elder Hugh B. Brown

While I can understand and appreciate that point of view, President, my response is that it is not only an inaccurate perception but it is a simplistic one that is very black and white.

Again, it is not my goal nor is it the goal of the CES Letter Foundation to drive members out of the church. My goal has been to get official answers from the church as promised me by its CES Director three years ago.

Again, it is not me or the CES Letter itself that causes people to leave, if they do, but rather the facts and information verified by the church's own essays and other LDS approved sources that test and challenge testimonies. It is not only the disturbing facts that trouble members, it is the betrayal that many members feel learning these troubling facts for the first time after a lifetime of discipleship and faithful study of correlated church history.

The church's essays are shaking many, many members' testimonies. In fact, there are members who see the essays themselves as acting in opposition to the church and its foundational truth claims.

The great irony is that yesterday's "anti-Mormon lies" are now today's church essay facts.

Yesterday's historians and members with questions have been disciplined and excommunicated on accusations that they were "acting in opposition to the church" simply by publishing and discussing the very same information and facts verified today publicly by the church's own essays. Many wonder if the church will ever reverse those excommunications and apologize to those historians and individuals for being ahead of their time by speaking and writing the truth.

What errors and 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?

What Am I Being Punished For?

President, I wrote the following in my November 2, 2014 letter to you:

"It is my position that if the Church seeks to remove my membership, it is committing a grotesque injustice by punishing me for sharing the truth, most of which truths are now verifiable today through the Church's new essays. This is especially true in light of my verbal and written promise and willingness to publicly correct any mistakes and errors in the CES Letter and website."

This is still my position and offer today.

I have done nothing wrong. As Mormon historian and scholar D. Michael Quinn wrote:

"Attacking the messenger does not alter the reality of the message."

If a disciplinary council were held for my asking questions, pursuing truth and defending my name, the church would show that it was speaking out of both sides of its mouth - professing open and honest dialogue, yet punishing those who choose to participate at that level.

In the end, President, I know that you will do what you feel is appropriate. Some leaders, like Hans Mattsson, an area authority in Sweden, when confronted with members asking these difficult and unanswered questions, took the attitude of realizing that if members in his stewardship had sincere questions, then it would be wrong for him to discipline them without first examining the issues completely himself. Once he did that he realized that those questions were significant and the church would best serve its members by providing answers. Rather than acting in an authoritarian manner against his fellow Saints and disciplining any of them who had questions, he saw that it was his pastoral duty to be an advocate for them and to help elevate those questions to higher levels of authority so that authoritative answers could be provided.

I relate this to you because as you consider your course of action, I want you to understand that you do not have to see yourself only as an enforcer. You can be an advocate for the Saints in your Stake. Understand that good, sincere members who value truth will study church history from many sources - the church essays, FairMormon, and even the CES Letter. They will have legitimate questions that remain unanswered. You have the authority and responsibility to stand up for truth and right.

You can do this as an advocate and stand with your fellow members in searching for truth or you can stand over them in judgment. The choice is yours.

If I were to be excommunicated and kicked out of the church for asking questions and for sharing truth despite my verbal and written offers to publicly correct any mistakes and errors in the CES Letter or website, the church would be telling the world that it is not interested in honesty, transparency, and fairness.

Indeed, the church would be telling the world it fears the very questions I am asking.

Jeremy T. Runnells

TL;DR
  • Runnells discusses the Mormon Marketplace of Information and its importance to free agency
  • Runnells responds to several accusations made against him by Ivins

March 8, 2016

Runnells' beloved grandfather passes. This is the family member referred to above as being in hospice.

Runnells' tribute to his grandfather.

March 10, 2016

Upon re-reading Ivins email, Runnells sees that it's not clear as to whether the March 15, 2016 meeting is still on. Runnells decides to email Ivins to confirm about the March 15th meeting with the following 3:04pm email (screenshot):

President Ivins,

Can you confirm that our meeting on Tuesday, March 15th @ 7:30pm in your office is still on?

Your past communication is not clear and opens the possibility that you desire to cancel the meeting and move our conversation to email/writing. My assumption has always been that the 15th meeting is still on but wanted to make double sure.

Thanks,
Jeremy

TL;DR
  • Runnells seeks clarification from Ivins on whether March 15th meeting is still on.

March 11, 2016

Ivins replies back to Runnells' March 10, 2016 @ 3:04pm email with the following 5:02am email (screenshot):

Brother Runnells,

I appreciate your response to my email. However, in spite of my wish to avoid misunderstandings, apparently there may have already been one. There was never a remote thought of holding a "surprise" disciplinary council on March 15th. I would have thought that my email indicating a willingness to communicate with you in writing would have made that clear. In the event that a disciplinary council is ever convened on your behalf, you will be given appropriate notice of it.

Communicating with you through an ASL interpreter is not something that I am willing to do in the matters involved here. You have already demonstrated your abilities and willingness to write your thoughts. I am willing to communicate with you directly, in writing, unfiltered. Instead of a meeting between us on March 15th, I invite you to participate in a private written dialogue. If you wish to do this, there are certain conditions:

1. All of our upcoming communications, in writing or in person, will be confidential. They will not be published nor posted in any format: print, electronic or otherwise.

2. As an act of good faith, while our dialogue takes place, your CES Letter website and any other related or similar websites, blogs, tweets, ect., will be taken down and you will stop distributing your materials about the Church to others.

3. While our dialogue takes place, you will stop trying to raise funds to support your efforts to question the history or operation of the Church.

4. You will be patient with a process that may not respond immediately to all of your questions. It may take time. The Lord tends to make us work, study, learn and trust before He gives answers in His way, according to His timetable and on His terms.

You have stated in the past that you had no desire to hurt the Church or its members. I am glad to hear that, although you need to understand that some of what you have said and done has done just that. If you are sincere in your expressed desire to keep your Church membership and to explore answers to your questions, it will be my privilege to work with you. Please let me know if you are willing to abide by these terms.

Sincerely,
President Ivins

TL;DR
  • Ivins attempts to take their conversation away from light of transparency to dark of secrecy
  • Ivins attempts to censor Runnells and CES Letter by demanding censorship and removal from Mormon Marketplace of Information

March 12, 2016

Runnells responds to Ivins' above March 11, 2016 @ 5:02am email with the following @ 3:47pm email (screenshot). The main response is in the attached PDF, which can be read below after email content:

President Ivins,

Please see attached "Runnells Response to Stake President 3.11.16 Email" PDF.

Best,
Jeremy

The following is the PDF letter Runnells attached to email to Ivins:

March 12, 2016

President Ivins,

This is my response to your 3.11.16 email.

Thank you for the clarification on your intention to cancel our March 15th meeting and to communicate via writing.

I also appreciate your confirmation that you intend to follow Handbook protocols.

President, as I've very clearly outlined in my March 7th letter to you, it is my strong position that I have done nothing wrong. I also very clearly demonstrated to you the following principles and concepts:

  1. "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed." - President J. Reuben Clark
  2. Truth is unafraid of light, questioning, investigation, and scrutiny. In fact, truth demands it. This is true whether investigation is taking place in the private room or in the town square.
  3. The free flow of information and a healthy, balanced marketplace of information are paramount and crucial to the freedom and free agency of the individual.
  4. Free agency - supposedly the church's most cherished and foundational principle (after all, Heavenly Father lost 1/3rd of his children fighting for it) - demands not only the existence of a healthy and balanced marketplace of information but access to full and complete information and facts - both positive and negative.
  5. Free flow of all information = true free agency.

These principles and values are my principles and values. These values are ingrained into my own DNA. In fact, few things infuriate me more on this planet than censorship and the obstruction of free flow of information. To censor and to obstruct is to limit and to steal the freedom and free agency of everyone. As current Church Historian Elder Steven E. Snow concedes, the church's pattern has been to not be transparent or complete about records, facts and information.

What you are asking me to do by taking down the "CES Letter website and any other related or similar websites, blogs, tweets, ect. [sic]" and to "stop distributing your materials about the Church to others" is to censor sincere questions as well as hard facts and truths (and its open discussion in the Mormon marketplace of information) about the church's foundational truth claims, as verified and confirmed by the church's own essays.

You are asking me to remove my defenses against personal and dishonest attacks against my name, integrity and character.

You are asking me to limit and to obstruct not just my own free agency but the free agency of members and investigators of the church who also share the same sincere hard questions about the church's foundational truth claims.

Why won't you and the church just answer the questions? Why all of this 1984 nonsense and secrecy?

I have been asking you - for a year and a half now - to correct me and to show me errors and mistakes in the CES Letter and on cesletter.org so that I can publicly correct them. Why won't you just answer my questions, President?

What errors and 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?

Attacking the Questioner and Messenger

You wrote:

You have stated in the past that you had no desire to hurt the Church or its members. I am glad to hear that, although you need to understand that some of what you have said and done has done just that. If you are sincere in your expressed desire to keep your Church membership and to explore answers to your questions, it will be my privilege to work with you.

With respect, President, where have you been? I asked you these questions a year and a half ago in the fall of 2014. You agreed to help me back then only to go radio silent and to break that silence with a phone call on January 25, 2016 threatening me with excommunication. You tried to hold a court on me on Valentine's Day without talking to me. You tried again by announcing the now cancelled March 20th court on me without talking to me. But now...it's a "privilege to work with [me]"?

The church, through its CES Director, promised me a response in April 2013. Three years ago. I never heard back from him again. The church has had three years to answer the questions as promised me. Why still no answers?

Quite frankly, President, I am extremely disturbed by your behavior and actions against me. As you know, we ended our November 2, 2014 meeting on a good note where you expressed to me that you thought I was a good man and that you wanted to help me. However, because you're "not a historian," you were going to pull in others to help answer my questions and concerns.

I waited patiently for a year and a half for your help. I was floored when you called me on January 25, 2016 not to give me answers - as I was expecting - but to threaten my membership instead.

I was disturbed by your actions on February 8, 2016 when you decided to break our January 25, 2016 gentleman's agreement to have an informal meeting on March 15, 2016 by not just breaking it but blindsiding me with announcing a disciplinary court to be held on Valentine's Day evening. You never called me to repentance. You never pointed out errors or mistakes in the CES Letter or cesletter.org for me to publicly correct, despite my multiple requests to you. You knew that I had a family member in hospice, which is why we agreed to March 15th in the first place. Yet, you still attempted to break our agreement by pushing to excommunicate me for reasons I did not know or understand.

It felt like bullying to me. It was not Christlike in any way.

I was extremely alarmed and disturbed by your actions on the week of February 8th with your claim that newly "additional information" demanded a disciplinary court be held against me that week on Valentine's Day. I was even more alarmed and disturbed when I read your disciplinary court notice a few days later stating that a court was being held against me because of "conduct unbecoming a member." I had no idea what you were talking about or accusing me of. These actions and very vague insinuations felt like a character assassination attempt on the part of you and the church by insinuating that I was being disciplined for moral failings (i.e. - adultery, rape, spousal abuse, child abuse, child molestation, or whatever other despicable evils left to the imagination of members who hear excommunication because of "conduct unbecoming a member" and "additional information").

Fortunately, you've cleared this up by clearly showing that any disciplinary action against me is not because of moral failings on my part but because of what you mistakenly perceive as "apostasy" through CES Letter and my being open with questions and doubts about church essay verified problems with LDS Church foundational truth claims.

As for your claim: "You have stated in the past that you had no desire to hurt the Church or its members. I am glad to hear that, although you need to understand that some of what you have said and done has done just that."

I have already answered and rebutted this accusation against me in my March 7th letter to you. For your convenience, I am copying/pasting from there to answer/rebut your accusation once again:

It is not my goal nor is it the goal of the CES Letter Foundation to drive members out of the church. My goal has been to get official answers from the church as promised me by its CES Director three years ago.

It is not me or the CES Letter itself that causes people to leave, if they do, but rather the facts and information verified by the church's own essays and other LDS approved sources that test and challenge testimonies. It is not only the disturbing facts that trouble members, it is the betrayal that many members feel learning these troubling facts for the first time after a lifetime of discipleship and faithful study of correlated church history.

The church's essays are shaking many, many members' testimonies. In fact, there are members who see the essays themselves as acting in opposition to the church and its foundational truth claims.

The great irony is that yesterday's "anti-Mormon lies" are now today's church essay facts.

Yesterday's historians and members with questions have been disciplined and excommunicated on accusations that they were "acting in opposition to the church" by simply publishing and discussing the very same information and facts verified today publicly by the church's own essays. Many wonder if the church will ever reverse those excommunications and apologize to those historians and individuals for being ahead of their time by speaking and writing the truth.

Again, my questions:

What errors and 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?

Jeremy T. Runnells

TL;DR
  • Runnells responds to Ivins' censorship demands

March 14, 2016

Runnells publicly announces the latest updates (screenshot):

Many of you have emailed me or contacted me to ask for an update on the LDS Church's Excommunication attempts against me.

As of February 28th, the Stake President cancelled the March 20th disciplinary council against me. So, two disciplinary councils were set up and cancelled. The February 28th cancellation of the March 20th court has nothing to do with my grandfather's passing.

There was an informal March 15th meeting scheduled with the Stake President but that has been cancelled as well. SP was the one who cancelled.

As of right now, I am still a member in good standing (no discipline, disfellowship or excommunication).

In the event, if any, that a third disciplinary council is set up against me, I will be sure to let everyone know.

Thank you all so much for your support.

TL;DR
  • Runnells updates the public on latest with communications with Stake President Mark Ivins

March 20, 2016

Ivins responds to Runnells' March 12, 2016 @ 3:47pm email with the following 5:05am email (screenshot):

Dear Jeremy,

After reading your latest email to me, I thought I should be certain that I understand your position. It appears as though you are unwilling to take down your website and other materials you have posted concerning the Church on the internet, are unwilling to stop trying to raise money for your endeavors regarding the Church, and are rejecting my proposal to have a private and confidential written dialogue about your concerns with Church history and doctrine. Is my understanding correct?

Sincerely,
President Ivins

TL;DR
  • Ivins ignores Runnells' clarification questions and tries to corner Runnells

March 24, 2016

Runnells responds to Ivins' March 20, 2016 @ 5:05am email with the following 11:56pm email (screenshot):

President Ivins,

Your understanding is not correct.

I am asking you questions seeking clarification and understanding from you as to how you and the church justify your demands to censor me, obstruct my free agency and the free agency of others, and to take our conversation away from the light of transparency and openness into the dark of secrecy and non-transparency.

I am trying to understand why you are not answering the following questions I have asked you over and over and over the past year and a half:

  • What errors and 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?

I have answered your questions and I have outlined my defenses and reasoning to your accusations against me. Why won't you just answer the questions in addition to clarifying how your demands are reasonable and congruent to the foundational principles of free agency, transparency, honesty and freedom?

I have done nothing wrong. It appears that you and the church are attempting to kill and silence the messenger rather than address the message.

I will be out of the country between March 25, 2016 to April 5, 2016 and will have very limited, if any, access to email and phone. Obviously, I will also be unable to receive and sign any certified mail.

I remind you of your written agreement to abide by Handbook and respectfully request that you treat me fairly by not holding a disciplinary council in my absence. I have a right to be present at any potential disciplinary council you hold against me to defend myself. I trust that you will be honorable and will respect this request and the Handbook by not attempting to hold a disciplinary council against me in my absence and inability to defend myself.

It is my sincere hope that your next email to me will contain answers that I have been asking you for - many times - over the past year and a half. Questions which you agreed to help me get answers to - with zero conditions attached - in our November 2, 2014 meeting.

Jeremy T. Runnells

TL;DR
  • Runnells tells Ivins that his understanding is incorrect as he is asking clarification questions about Ivins' demands

April 8, 2016

Runnells received a physical April 7, 2016 letter delivered by the Stake Clerk from President Ivins announcing a Disciplinary Court against Runnells to be held on April 17, 2016 @ 6:00pm.

This letter can be viewed either in PDF or the two images below.

Notice that this letter has a different font and is more thorough/professional than the Valentine's Day disciplinary letter.

Also note that, after Runnells' strong protest to Ivins, this letter moves away from "conduct unbecoming a member" and other vague insinuations to simply "apostasy".

TL;DR
  • Ivins continues to ignore Runnells' clarification questions and sends Runnells another disciplinary council letter
  • Disciplinary council is set for April 17, 2016 @ 6pm

April 9, 2016

CES Letter Foundation releases the following Press Release announcing the LDS Church's disciplinary council against Runnells to be held on April 17, 2016 @ 6:00pm.

CES Letter Foundation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CES Letter Foundation
Phone: 801.609.8301
Email: media@cesletter.org

Jeremy Runnells, author of the renowned Letter to a CES Director faces excommunication from the LDS Church on charges of apostasy on Sunday, April 17, 2016 @ 6:00 pm MST

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.

For more information and developments on this story, see http://cesletter.org.

TL;DR
  • CES Letter Foundation releases Press Release announcing LDS Church's disciplinary council against Runnells for April 17, 2016.

April 10, 2016

Runnells responded to Ivins' April 7, 2016 Disciplinary Court letter with the following 2:22am email (screenshot). The main response is in the attached PDF, which can be read below after email content:

President Ivins,

See attached PDF for my detailed response to your April 7, 2016 disciplinary court letter.

-Jeremy

The following is the PDF letter Runnells attached to the email to Ivins:

April 10, 2016

President Ivins,

I received your letter announcing a disciplinary council to be held against me on April 17, 2016. This is my response to your April 7, 2016 disciplinary court letter.

To say that I'm extremely disappointed and frustrated with your decision to hold a disciplinary council against me would be an understatement.

As I wrote in my last email to you on March 24th:

"It is my sincere hope that your next email to me will contain answers that I have been asking you for - many times - over the past year and a half. Questions which you agreed to help me get answers to - with zero conditions attached - in our November 2, 2014 meeting."

Rather than answering the questions, you went ahead and followed your year and a half pattern of consistently refusing to answer my sincere questions while attempting to excommunicate me on unfounded accusations.

Why won't you just answer the following questions, President?

  • 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?

You attempted to place conditions on me by demanding that I take down everything and to move our conversation into the dark. Your demands were disturbing as they sought to obstruct and destroy the free agency of myself and others, to obstruct the free flow of information, and to imbalance the Mormon marketplace of information.

I have asked you questions seeking understanding and clarification from you as to how you and the church justify your demands to censor me, obstruct my free agency and the free agency of others, and to take our conversation away from the light of transparency and openness into the dark of secrecy and non-transparency. You likewise refused to answer and clarify.

After 3 years of waiting from the CES Director to fulfill his promise to give me answers to my sincere questions and concerns and after a year and a half of asking you over and over and over and over for answers and for you to fulfill your pledge to help me get answers, it is now becoming very clear to me that the church does not have answers.

It is now becoming very clear to me that you and the church not only do not have answers to the very serious problems to LDS Church foundational truth claims, you and the church are actively seeking to censor, silence, and kill the messenger rather than address the message.

In your April 7th disciplinary council letter I received from the Stake Clerk, you accused me of apostasy along with the following accusations as grounds to justify holding a disciplinary council against me:

  • Published materials and participated in interviews which have attempted to discredit the Church;
  • Publicly expressed your view that the Church's scriptures are fraudulent; and
  • Expressed opposition to Church leaders, including the Prophet Joseph Smith.

I will now respond to each one of your above accusations:

  • Published materials and participated in interviews which have attempted to discredit the Church;

I have already responded to and rebutted this accusation in my March 6, 2016 letter to you. The fact that you are still using this against me demonstrates that either you still do not understand the background and evolution of the CES Letter and related subsequent work or you are dishonestly ignoring the facts.

The Church's own essays (https://www.lds.org/topics/essays?lang=eng) discredit many of the Church's own foundational truth claims. Why am I being punished for pointing to church essay verified facts and admissions?

I have asked you over and over and over and over and over to show me any errors and mistakes in the CES Letter and elsewhere (this offer has included and still does include my interviews). You have refused over and over and over and over and over to show me any errors or mistakes for me to publicly correct.

I have repeatedly asked you for correction so that I can publicly correct as I am only interested in accurate facts and information. You have consistently refused to not only point out any errors or mistakes but you have never called me to repentance before attempting to hold not one but two now cancelled disciplinary councils against me.

  1. Publicly expressed your view that the Church's scriptures are fraudulent;

The Church's own essays (https://www.lds.org/topics/essays?lang=eng) discredit not just the Book of Mormon but the Book of Abraham and the Book of Moses. Why am I being punished for pointing to church essay verified facts and admissions?

Some examples:

Book of Mormon:

"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse" - Race and the Priesthood essay

This directly contradicts the Book of Mormon itself:


Book of Abraham:

"Neither the rules nor the translations in the grammar book correspond to those recognized by Egyptologists today...Scholars have identified the papyrus fragments as parts of standard funerary texts that were deposited with mummified bodies." - Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham essay

In other words, Joseph's Book of Abraham translations are wrong. Joseph Smith translated a standard funerary document that has nothing to do with Abraham or anything he claimed in the Book of Abraham. Everything Joseph translated in the Book of Abraham, including the facsimiles, are incorrect as verified by modern Egyptologists.

"These fragments date to between the third century B.C.E. and the first century C.E., long after Abraham lived." - Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham essay

By "long," the church means 2,000 years. This means the papyri did not come from Abraham's own hand as Joseph and the church claimed the last 175 or so years. This essay statement directly contradicts the statement found in the Book of Abraham:

"The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus." - Book of Abraham

The evidence against the Book of Abraham is so damning that the church abandoned, through its essay, its long held position that Joseph Smith did a literal translation from papyri. Rather than a literal translation, the church is now selling a contradictory and bizarre "Catalyst Theory," which states that the Book of Abraham didn't come from a literal translation - as the church has long taught Joseph Smith claimed - but rather from revelation.

Book of Moses:

"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse" - Race and the Priesthood essay

This directly contradicts the Book of Moses itself:

"...there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people..." -Moses 7:8

  1. Expressed opposition to Church leaders, including the Prophet Joseph Smith.

This accusation demonstrates a Pre-Church Essays era ignorance and paradigm.

The Church's Race and the Priesthood, Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo, Book of Mormon Translation, First Vision Accounts, and Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham essays not only are in open opposition to Joseph Smith and church leaders, they directly contradict carefully correlated church narratives taught to generations of Latter-day Saints.

The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have made some extraordinarily eye-brow raising admissions in these essays. Among these admissions:

"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life;" - Race and the Priesthood

In other words, yesterday's prophets are today's heretics. Yesterday's doctrine is today's disavowed "theories". Yesterday's "anti-Mormon lies" are now today's church essays facts.

Hindsight is 20/20. Yesterday's prophets, seers, and revelators were not only wrong on so many important doctrines and claimed revelations - they contradict each other.

Brigham Young was wrong about Adam being God, for claiming it was received by revelation, and for introducing this false doctrine into the veil of the Temple.

Brigham Young was wrong about Blood Atonement.

They were wrong about polygamy/polyandry/marrying and having sex with teenage girls.

They were wrong for over 130 years on the blacks. Not only was the Priesthood denied but black individuals and black families were denied - for 130 years - the blessings of the Temple because of what the Race and the Priesthood essay admits and disavows as "theories" originated by racist Brigham Young in 1852. Worse, this racist teaching was accepted by 130 years of prophets, seers, and revelators all pointing to God himself as the source and gatekeeper of the ban.

They were wrong about Mark Hofmann's fraud and forgeries.

They were wrong about so many other things.

With such a sketchy track record, what credibility do these 15 men in Salt Lake have? Why do they deserve our blind loyalty and unquestioning obedience?

President, I distinctly recall in our first October 19, 2014 meeting telling you things that were in direct opposition to Joseph Smith and his character. I remember telling you about the polyandry - how Joseph married other living men's wives - as well as how Joseph lied to Emma, the Saints and the world about his dozens of polygamous marriages in the dark. When I told this, you had every reason to accuse me of direct opposition to Joseph Smith and that what I was telling you were "anti-Mormon lies."

Well, something remarkable happened a few days later on October 22, 2014. The church released its very disturbing and problematic Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay verifying that what I told you in our meeting just three days earlier was true and factual. In fact, this essay went further than I did by admitting the crazy but factual anti-free agency story of an angel with a sword threatening Joseph Smith with destruction if he didn't practice polygamy.

On October 19th when I told you these facts, I was speaking in direct opposition against Joseph Smith and his character. It was a vicious "anti-Mormon lie."

Yet on October 22nd? It was no longer in direct opposition to Joseph Smith and his character. In fact, October 19th's "anti-Mormon lies" suddenly became October 22nd's church essay facts.

This event illustrates the problem: what you perceive as "opposition" and "anti-Mormon lies" are really church essays verified facts and church essays verified truth.

I have done nothing wrong. All I've wanted was the truth. All I've wanted was to resolve my doubts and concerns about the discrepancies of what I was learning in Sunday School and Church correlated narratives to the disturbing historical and doctrinal facts now verified by the church's own essays.

To drag me into a disciplinary court is a grotesque injustice. To excommunicate me is an atrocious grotesque injustice. You are attempting to spiritually murder me while refusing to answer the very reasonable questions I have asked you so many times the past year and a half.

In your letter, President, you stated the following:

"As His representative in the stake where you reside, I want you to know that I stand ready to help you and your family in any way that I can."

Then help me. Please answer my questions.

Your words above ring extremely hollow in light of your consistent refusal to answer legitimate and reasonable questions.

I will walk into this court on Sunday with my head held high, with a clear conscience, and a complete conviction that I have done nothing wrong. I will defend myself vigorously.

Jeremy T. Runnells

TL;DR
  • Runnells sends Ivins one last letter in response to his latest disciplinary council letter seeking answers to his questions
  • Runnells also responds to several of Ivins' accussations against him

April 14, 2016

In response to and protest of Mark Ivins' inhumane ASL interpreter ban (See April 7th Disciplinary Council letter), CES Letter Foundation released the following:

When Jeremy Runnells was 14, a General Authority blessed and promised him that his hearing would be naturally restored. This never happened.

Jeremy lost half of his hearing six months ago. Even with cochlear implants, Jeremy is legally deaf.

Now, he faces excommunication. He's asked to have a deaf interpreter.

His stake president's response:

"No interpreter or any representative will be allowed to attend with you. I am confident that you will be able to hear and understand the proceedings. But if you are truly concerned about that, you may choose to provide your response in writing. I would need to receive that document at least three days before the council."

This ignited a firestorm online and in social media. The general consensus and reaction was outrage, disbelief, and shock.

Ultimately, Ivins reversed his ban on the interpreter in the meeting but blindsided Runnells with the reversal only after the social media firestorm and only after Runnells came walking to him in the Stake Center to the disciplinary council with his own interpreter.

Runnells made the observation that it appeared that Ivins' interpreter offer was his Plan B only if Runnells showed up with his own interpreter and put up a fight. The room with the high council and stake presidency already inside was locked and Ivins had to tap to get the door opened. No interpreter was present in the room. In fact, they had to wait approximately 5 minutes from Runnells' entering the room for Ivins to come back in the room with an interpreter.

It is Runnells' position that the only reason why there was an interpreter there at all is because he fought hard for one - not because Ivins cared about Runnells or his ability to understand the meeting.

TL;DR
  • Ivins banned ASL interpreter in disciplinary council
  • Runnells shares ban with social media. Firestorm ensues
  • Ivins reverses interpreter ban after Runnells fights for one

April 17, 2016

Jeremy arrives at the American Fork East Stake Center @ 6pm and gives the following statement to the crowd gathered in the church parking lot before walking into his disciplinary council:

Thank you all for coming tonight. I appreciate it.

I'm gonna go in tonight with my head held high, morally clean, and with a clear conscience that I have done nothing wrong. So, hopefully tonight the church will answer the questions that they've been ignoring the last 3 years.

Thank you all. I'm gonna head in.

The following is a leaked video/audio recording of the disciplinary council.

Leaked Video of Jeremy Runnells Disciplinary Council

- Jeremy Runnells Resigns -

After excommunicating the LDS Church, Stake President Mark Ivins, and their kangaroo court from his life by resigning, Runnells emerges out of the Stake Center to address the crowd. The following is a video and transcript of Runnells' speech:

Jeremy Runnells' Post Resignation Speech

Transcript of Speech


I want to first thank each and every one of you for being here tonight. It means a lot. It's my understanding that there's several of you who have come from out of state. I'm really touched by that.

A decision has been made. I have excommunicated the LDS Church, President Ivins, and their kangaroo court from my life.

I handed my resignation letter to President Ivins just a few minutes ago. My membership evaporated the second that I gave President Ivins my resignation letter. I am no longer a member of the church.

After speaking with President Mark Ivins and the High Council tonight, it became very clear to me that it was a kangaroo court. They refused to answer any questions that I asked them.

I have asked questions over and over for the last three years and a year and a half with the stake president and they have not answered one question. It has became very clear to me that the church does not have answers to their truth crisis.

The questions that I asked the stake president over and over the last year and a half has been:

  • What errors and mistakes are there in the CES Letter or 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?

And he never answered any of those questions once. Yet, that didn't stop him from attempting to spiritually execute me. And I find that very, very disturbing. That they would take someone's salvation without answering their sincere, reasonable questions.

I am disgusted by the LDS Church's and President Ivins' multiple attempts to place me in the same category as murderers, rapists, and child molesters for simply seeking official answers to church problems.

I have done nothing wrong. I just wanted the truth. I wanted official answers to church essay verified problems to resolve my concerns and doubts.

For those of you who are silently struggling with doubts...stop doubting your doubts.

Cherish your doubts. Explore your doubts. Resolve your doubts. Doubt is the beginning to knowledge and wisdom.

The only power that the church has is the power you give them. Tonight...I took back my own power.

Thank you.

Jeremy Runnells' Resignation Letter


April 17, 2016

President Ivins,

This letter is my formal resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it is effective immediately. I hereby withdraw my consent to being treated as a member and I withdraw my consent to being subject to church rules, policies, beliefs, and "discipline". As I am no longer a member, I want my name permanently and completely removed from the membership rolls of the church.

For the purpose of expediting this process my personal information is as follows:

[Redacted for Privacy]

I have given this matter considerable thought. I understand what you consider the "seriousness" and the "consequences" of my actions. I am aware that the Church Handbook says that my resignation "cancels the effects of baptism and confirmation, withdraws the priesthood held by a male member, and revokes temple blessings." I also understand that I will be "readmitted to the church by baptism only after a thorough interview."

My resignation should be processed immediately, without any "waiting periods". I am exercising my constitutional right to extract myself from this religion with dignity and therefore my resignation is effective immediately and unconditionally. I expect this matter to be handled with respect.

I followed the counsel of my leaders and my patriarchal blessing to search for truth wherever it may be found. Indeed, I began seeking answers to my questions with the complete expectation of a victorious outcome in favor of the LDS Church's foundational truth claims.

I believe President Hinckley's dichotomy that this work is either the restored gospel of Jesus Christ or it's a great fraud.

I believe President J. Reuben Clark when he said:

"If we have the truth, no harm can come from investigation.
If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."

I believe President Joseph Fielding Smith when he wrote:

"Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a Prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead people, then he should be exposed, his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false..."

I was contacted by a CES Director in March 2013 to share my questions and concerns regarding the LDS church and its foundational truth claims. CES Letter was my response. The CES Director confirmed that he read the "very well-written" letter and acknowledged that these are issues "which the Brethren are very concerned about" and he promised that he would provide a response. Unfortunately, no response ever came.

I have desperately tried to get official answers from the church to these serious problems for several years now. After four years of research into Joseph Smith and LDS origins, doctrine, and history and after years of silence from the CES Director and leaders of the church (including a Church Historian and leaders such as President Ivins), I have come to see for myself that the LDS Church does not have answers to its foundational truth claims problems and truth crisis. I have seen some icing but no cake. I have seen hats but no cattle.

I have offered leaders - both verbally and in writing - many times to publicly correct any mistakes or errors in the CES Letter and website. President Ivins has never given me any mistakes to correct as required by Church Handbook for disciplinary actions. My offer still stands to this day as I am only interested in correct facts and information.

I am a product of Mormonism. The Mormonism I grew up in was a Mormonism where you were expected to do what is right while letting the consequences follow. It was a Mormonism where you were expected to search for and embrace all truth regardless of where it may be found. It was a Mormonism that claimed the freedom of the individual and free agency as one of its most cherished principles. All of these ideals and principles deeply and profoundly resonated with me. They still do.

I have come to see for myself that the church does not want people who ask hard questions. Despite the CES Director and Stake President, Mark Ivins, offering to answer my questions or to find answers to my questions, I have found that rather than getting answers, I instead get silence and ultimately threats of excommunication. It has become obvious from my meetings with church leaders that they are only interested in blind obedience at the expense of what's right rather than to do what's right at the expense of obedience.

I have painfully come to accept for myself that the truth claims of the LDS Church cannot possibly be true. I have discovered, borrowing the above words of Joseph Fielding Smith, that Joseph Smith was a deceiver who willfully attempted to mislead people and that he should be exposed, his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false.

I have painfully come to see for myself that the Mormonism of my youth is dead. It has been replaced by an Orwellian system that values unquestioning obedience and conformity over the pursuit of truth and virtue of individual free agency. Doubt your doubts, God not Google, stay on the boat rather than to seek and accept truth no matter its source and where it leads. Do what is right and the consequence is excommunication.

I am resigning from the church due to its extremely disturbing lack of transparency and honesty to its members and investigators about the real Joseph Smith and the real origins and history of Mormonism.

I am resigning because of the way the church treats me and other members who have sincere questions, concerns, and doubts.

I am resigning because I absolutely resent and am disgusted by the LDS Church's and President Ivins' treatment toward me and their attempts to spiritually murder and place me in the same category as murderers, rapists, wife beaters, and child molesters through the archaic, barbaric, and un-Christlike use of excommunication when I have done nothing wrong and have sought official answers to my questions and concerns about church essay verified problems through proper church channels.

I am resigning because I refuse to submit myself to a dishonest Orwellian kangaroo court filled with men who value obedience and conformity over morality and integrity.

I am resigning because I have come to learn for myself after years of asking for - and being promised - official answers that the LDS Church does not have answers to its truth crisis and serious problems and challenges to its foundational truth claims.

I am resigning because I no longer want to be a part of or associated with a fundamentalist religion that does not value and respect intellectual honesty, free agency, transparency, and truth.

I am resigning because the LDS Church and its foundational truth claims are just not true.

I resign morally clean, honest with myself and my fellowmen, and with a clear conscience knowing in my heart that I have done what is right and I'd do it all over again.

In case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.

Jeremy T. Runnells

[Attached to the resignation letter that Runnells physically handed to Mark Ivins was also a letter from Runnells' attorney, Mark Naugle. See PDF of Runnells' attorney's letter.]

Jeremy later received, through his attorney, an April 20, 2016 confirmation letter from the LDS Church verifying his resignation:

Quotes from Disciplinary Council

"I don't know how to repent of the truth. I don't know how to repent of church essay verified facts. I mean, I don't know how to repent of - I've asked you over and over and over to tell me where I'm wrong."

-Jeremy Runnells


"I'm not discrediting the church. The church's essays are discrediting the church."

-Jeremy Runnells


"Mormon history is discrediting the church."

-Jeremy Runnells


"Yesterday's 'anti-Mormon lies' are now today's Church essays."

-Jeremy Runnells


"This is crazy. This is really crazy."

-Jeremy Runnells' reaction to Kangaroo Court


"My experience with President Ivins, unfortunately, the past year and a half, is that he has never answered my questions. Not a single question.

I have asked you 3 questions over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over. 20 times. And the specific questions that I asked are:

  • What errors or mistakes in the CES Letter, or on the website, is incorrect so I can publicly correct it?
  • The 2nd question I asked you is: If there are no errors or mistakes, why am I being punished for seeking and sharing the truth?
  • And the 3rd question I asked you is: What question am I being punished for?

And you have not answered a single one of them."

-Jeremy Runnells


"The real problem here is not whether I'm writing falsehoods or lies, I've never been accused of that, it's that I'm public about this information. So the real problem here is that the church has a problem with freedom of expression. The church claims to believe in free agency, but it doesn't. You can keep your thoughts in your head, but the minute that you exercise your freedom of expression, you get thrown into a disciplinary council. So the church doesn't believe in free agency."

-Jeremy Runnells


"I believe in the Mormon Marketplace of Information. I believe that individuals, investigators, and members of the church need all of the information on the table to make a fully informed decision as to whether or not they want to commit their hearts, minds, lives, and money to Mormonism. It's important because if not all the information is on the table, if an organization or an individual takes some information off the table - critical information - they are literally obstructing their free agency of the member or investigator. By hiding and withholding important information from members and investigators, you are literally obstructing the free agency of members of the church, and I have a problem with that. I believe in the Mormon Marketplace of Information."

-Jeremy Runnells


"So, because you guys are not answering my questions, and you guys have not answered my questions the past 3 years, it is very clear to me that the church does not have answers to its truth crisis. The church does not like individuals asking questions about its truth claims.

This is a kangaroo court. I'm done with this court. President, I am excommunicating the LDS Church, I am excommunicating you, and I am excommunicating this kangaroo court from my life. Here is my resignation letter. Goodbye."

-Jeremy Runnells


News/Media Articles

Author of 'Letter to a CES Director' out of LDS Church

-Fox 13 News


Author Jeremy Runnells Resigns From LDS Church at
Excommunication Hearing in American Fork

-Gephardt Daily


Author of 'Letter to a CES Director' Resigns from Mormon Church

-Salt Lake Tribune


Observations

The following brief video is a great observation of this entire process:

How the Mormon Church Punishes Dissenters. The Court of Jeremy Runnells.

Flip the Script: The How and Why of Jeremy Runnells' Exit

Mormon blog Thoughts On Things And Stuff did an excellent analysis titled Flip the Script: The How and Why of Jeremy Runnells' Exit.

Among the gems in the article:

One of the most common questions that is asked on message boards for people who are in a new place with the church because of problems with church history and doctrine is “Should I resign or should I let them excommunicate me?” Many reasons have been given for both approaches. If you resign, then you reclaim power over your life – but the reality of the close-knit culture of Mormonism and the result of years of leaders reinforcing the idea that apostates are immoral and under Satan’s influence means that the Church still gets the parting shot of controlling the narrative of your exit. It will be assumed that sin led to your departure. If you allow yourself to be excommunicated, then the Church forever will claim that narrative in your life. It’s the mortal wound they give you on the way out. You might not understand how deep the wound cuts.

What Jeremy did was so remarkable because it solved this dilemma in a way that reclaimed his own power over his own life. “I excommunicate the church from my life” – That statement is so potent because it asserts real authority. You are the owner of your life and your identity. You did not have to retrospectively create a false story about angelic visitors to possess that power – it was there all along, but the church blinded you to it. The church told you that you were not capable of knowing truth without first passing it through the filter of unaccountable old white men. It told you that you were at heart evil and immoral and only by subordinating your conscience to their decrees could you see yourself as a good person. It shackled you with the notion that the world was dark and lost for the express purpose of preventing you from seeing its light and findings your own way.

“I excommunicate the church from my life.” Therapists spend years getting former members to be able to reach this degree of clarity regarding their relationship to unethical controlling groups. Let that statement be the one that starts you out on a life which is determined by your own conscience, will and judgment. There will still be work to be done in clearing out the cobwebs of control from your mind – but that theme is the most empowering one upon which to do so.

Conclusion

In Jeremy's own words:

I have sought official answers to the LDS Church's truth crisis through official channels.

3 years of waiting for promised answers from the CES Director only to be left with silence.

1.5 years of waiting for answers/corrections from Stake President Mark Ivins only to be met with silence, threats, and ultimately an excommunication hearing that I myself terminated in disgust with my own resignation.

I tried. I really tried.

I did it their way only to find lots of icing but no cake. Lots of hats but no cattle.

I entertained the answers of unofficial apologists. I even went into the trenches with one of them that took me close to 900 pages worth of content in rebuttals and defenses against their attacks on my personal name and integrity as well as their false claims.

As fun as it was wrestling with these unofficial apologists and defenders, the reality at the end of the day is this: unofficial Mormon apologetics are simply the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. They are unofficial men with unofficial pet theories and unofficial claims that the LDS Church refuses to stand behind.

They are irrelevant. They do not matter.

These unofficial defenders of the church and their pet theories are no more legitimate or official than the wacky pet theories and claims of that weird old High Priest guy that everyone rolls their eyes to in Sunday School (every ward seems to have one).

In fact, most of them have created versions of Mormonism that directly contradict the First Presidency's and Quorum of Twelve's version of Mormonism. They're in apostasy. Most Chapel Mormons would be disturbed and shocked at the new Mormonism that these unofficial apologists mingle and preach with scripture.

After 4 years of research and trying to get official answers through official church channels and going through all the unofficial apologetic nonsense, the road has finally led me to the following conclusions:

  • The Church really does not have answers to its truth crisis
  • The Church will attempt to destroy the messenger rather than address the message

This entire process of trying to get official answers and getting thrown into a disciplinary council close to being spiritually executed has validated and confirmed to me in a very real and personal way that I no longer want to be associated with this organization in any way.

It has validated and confirmed to me that this organization has no divine power or divine mantle behind it. It is 100% man-made from beginning to end.

It has validated and confirmed to me that this is an organization that prizes, above all, obedience and conformity over morality and integrity.

The only real power that this religion has is the power that you give it. I restored my own power that night when I excommunicated the LDS Church and their kangaroo court from my life.


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.