October 19, 2014 Meeting
Between Runnells and Ivins

Transcript

President Ivins: We're in here.

Jeremy: Nice to meet you.

President Ivins: You too. Have a seat right here. Well, it's a little warm in here. We've had quite the fall. Tell me ... first, you want a chocolate?

Jeremy: Sure. Can't say no to chocolate.

President Ivins: [laughs]

Jeremy: That's actually pretty smart to have that there.

President Ivins: It works out good. Tell me about you.

Jeremy: Um...

President Ivins: Where did you grow up?

Jeremy: Southern California.

President Ivins: What part?

Jeremy: Um, Orange County.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: Los Angeles.

President Ivins: Los Angeles. What city?

Jeremy: Uh, Irvine, Mission Viejo, a bunch of different cities in Southern California.

President Ivins: Okay. Moved around a little bit?

Jeremy: Yeah.

President Ivins: How come?

Jeremy: Uh, just...A lot of it has to do with my parent's divorce.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: And then, you know, just different job situations and so forth.

President Ivins: Did you go with your Mom?

Jeremy: Uh, with my Dad.

President Ivins: With your Dad, okay. And where is he now?

Jeremy: Uh, [REDACTED].

President Ivins: Is he. Do you visit him at all?

Jeremy: I'm sorry?

President Ivins: Do you visit him at all?

Jeremy: Uh, yeah, of course, I'm still close to my family so.

President Ivins: Oh, oh there you go.

President Ivins: And your Mom, where does she live?

Jeremy: Um, in the [REDACTED] area.

President Ivins: Okay, so they're both in [REDACTED]...

Jeremy: Well, actually my Dad's in [REDACTED]...

President Ivins: Oh, really? How long has he been there?

Jeremy: Mmm...probably about 10 years, no, about 13 years or so.

President Ivins: Okay. So, high school was where?

Jeremy: Excuse me. Um, I went to high school in Irvine, California.

President Ivins: Okay. And after that?

Jeremy: After that I was...got on my mission to New York City.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: And served mission for the deaf.

President Ivins: Oh, how was that?

It was great. I loved my mission.

President Ivins: That's fantastic. What year was that?

Jeremy: Ah, that was actually 2000 to 2002.

President Ivins: Okay. Wonderful. Just New York, New York.

Jeremy: Yeah. So during 9/11, so that was pretty interesting.

President Ivins: So you were there during 9/11? What was that like?

Jeremy: It was, uh, uh it, there's like a before and after. You know, there's before 9/11 and after 9/11 and there was a big change in people and just more kindness, more consideration. Um, I taught several families that lost uh, you know, family members during 9/11. So, you know, everybody saw the uh, towers come down and you know, everything on TV, but to me, it was, it went beyond that, it was actually, it was seeing the victims and family and how they were um, you know, processing that.

President Ivins: Where were you when you found out?

Jeremy: I was in the South Bronx. But, it's only about, I believe it's about 15 miles. But, I was able to go on the roof and I could see the uh, the smoke. And I could see...I saw the second plane hit the sec, uh, the second tower.

President Ivins: You did?

Jeremy: Yeah, it's pretty crazy.

President Ivins: It is pretty crazy.

Jeremy: Yeah, and then, course later in the, I mean, everything shut down. The subways shut down, the buses shut down. Um, the F, the uh, the F16 flights, uh you know, the fighter jets were screaming across the sky. So, it was a, uh, I remember that day like it, I mean, everybody does, like it was yesterday.

President Ivins: Yeah. Wow. How'd that change you?

Jeremy: Um...it showed me that life is fragile. Life's, um, it can be snuffed out, any minute. So, basically, that take full advantage of it.

President Ivins: Did you get to call home?

Jeremy: Um, that day?

President Ivins: Yeah.

Jeremy: Well, we didn't, we didn't like get calls, but like, you know, our parents would call in the mission office.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: Or mission home.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: So, you know, the mission president, his wife, would you know, let us know that our parents called and...

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: ...whatever.

President Ivins: Okay, so after your mission, what happened?

Jeremy: I came home to [REDACTED].

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: Uh, keep in mind that I left my, I left for my mission in Southern California and then my parents, my my dad moved over to [REDACTED]...

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: ...and then came home to a world that, I hadn't been...home, coming to a world that I never knew, you know, what I mean. So, that was interesting. Um, I started uh, I enrolled to go to BYU.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: So, I went to BYU and did the whole thing for 4 years, graduated.

President Ivins: In what?

Jeremy: In Marketing.

President Ivins: Okay. Good for you.

Jeremy: Yeah.

President Ivins: Fantastic. That's a great degree, especially now.

Jeremy: Yeah. I mean, it's great. Uh, I had a great experience at BYU.

I mean, overall I had a great experience growing up in the church. I mean, it was, the church was good to me. I enjoyed scouting. I had fantastic scoutmasters. Fantastic, um, you know, uh quorum leaders, um, bishops, stake presidents, um, BYU was a great experience.

President Ivins: What ward were you at BYU?

Jeremy: I'm sorry?

President Ivins: What ward were you in at BYU?

Jeremy: I can't remember. It was a while ago.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: I graduated in 2006.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: So, I can't remember.

President Ivins: Where did you live?

Jeremy: I lived in, uh, we move to, uh, I lived in 3 different areas. So, one of them was [REDACTED].

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: Um, I'm not sure you know where that is.

President Ivins: I do. I was a bishop down there.

Jeremy: Oh, really?

President Ivins: Yeah, in [REDACTED] Apartments.

Jeremy: Really?

President Ivins: So, right next to [REDACTED].

Jeremy: That's cool.

President Ivins: Yeah.

Jeremy: Uh, the other one was we moved into I think it was called uh [REDACTED].

President Ivins: Uh huh.

Jeremy: Right next to the [REDACTED] place.

President Ivins: So, when you got married, right?

Jeremy: Yeah.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: Um, yeah, right after I got married we moved there. And then we moved to just across the street from the uh um [REDACTED].

President Ivins: Okay. That's great.

Jeremy: And after I graduated, um, you know I worked at a few jobs in Provo. At one job really, or 2 jobs, I'm sorry. And then, uh, uh I got a job offer to [REDACTED]...moved down there, we lived down there for about 3 or 4 years and then we moved back up to [REDACTED] in 2010.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: ...and then uh, uh a year later, moved to [REDACTED] and we've been, or 2 years later, or a year later, uh, we've been here in [REDACTED] for about 3 years.

President Ivins: So, you met your wife at BYU?

Jeremy: Mm Hmm.

President Ivins: Okay. How was that?

It was great! It was uh, we uh, we we tease about it. We met at the uh Wilkinson Center.

President Ivins: Uh huh.

Jeremy: So, it was a, so it was a, John Bytheway type uh courtship. You know, what I...meaning BYU and the Wilkinson Center of all places.

President Ivins: [laughs]

Jeremy: [laughs] So, um, that was pretty funny. Um, yeah, we dated for probably about [REDACTED] before I asked her to marry me in the uh [REDACTED]...and then uh...

President Ivins: Really?

Jeremy: Then we got married in the uh [REDACTED] Temple. [REDACTED] Temple was also where I got my endowment, so...

President Ivins: I love the [REDACTED] Temple.

Jeremy: Yeah, it's a pretty a cool Temple. It's right next to the [REDACTED] freeway or the [REDACTED]...Um, yeah, pretty cool Temple. I've always liked it, so.

President Ivins: Okay. Awesome. Okay. So, what's happened recently in your life?

Jeremy: Um, I think you know a lot of the story, I'm pretty public.

President Ivins: Mmm hmm.

Jeremy: So, I'm curious what you know about it.

President Ivins: Well, I've gone on the website. I saw your interview on on, Mormon, what do they call it, Mormon...

Jeremy: Mormon Stories.

President Ivins: Mormon Stories. And I've read a little bit about it. Not a lot. I'll be honest with that, I think I've read enough...to understand where you're coming from and...

Jeremy: Have you read, did you read the CES letter itself?

President Ivins: I have not.

Jeremy: Like, you haven't opened it or anything like that?

President Ivins: I haven't. No.

Jeremy: And so what have, what have you read?

President Ivins: Just what, mostly the interview about your disbelief in Joseph Smith.

Jeremy: Okay.

President Ivins: And that worries me.

Jeremy: Do you, um, I'm curious why you haven't read the CES Letter?

President Ivins: It's a time commitment.

Jeremy: Okay, well, you can't understand what my concerns and what happened without reading the CES Letter.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: So...

President Ivins: Why don't I do this. I will commit to read that.

Jeremy: Okay.

President Ivins: And then we can meet again. Would that be alright?

Jeremy: That would be it, that would be great.

President Ivins: Okay. And uh, I think I can do that this week.

Jeremy: Awesome.

President Ivins: And we can meet next Sunday.

Jeremy: Uh, if you want me to, sure.

President Ivins: I do. Yeah, I really do. And we can go from there.

Can you tell me in your words what happened?

Jeremy: Um, sure, so [sighs]. Kind of a long story, but I'll make it as short and brief and clear as I can. Um, I was a fully believing and active member of the church um, up until uh the spring or summer of 2012.

In 2012, in February 2012, um, I was reading the news online and I came across a news article by um, just a news article uh, and it was talking about um, Mormons besieged by the modern age and in that article was a quote by um, Church Historian Elder Marlin K. Jenson. And he was asking a Q&A session at Utah State University, why members are leaving in droves over history. And his response was, um, we are experiencing an apostasy that we haven't seen since Kirtland over these issues and that really shocked me. I couldn't...at that time it was uh...I was a...correlated believing Mormon. I mean, I really believed in the Church, I had a testimony of it, I just couldn't believe that. It just shocked me that people were leaving over history, ya know. I was wondering what is it about history that they're leaving over?

President Ivins: Mmm hmm.

Jeremy: Um, so I started uh, you know, looking online to see what was going on. Came across a few Wikipedia articles. Um, one of the first things I came across was that um, Joseph Smith was married to 34 women and out of those 34 wives, 11 of them were other men's wives. And 7 of them were teenage girls, as young as 14 years old. [clears throat]. And um, that just blew me away because uh, I just thought that polygamy started with Brigham Young. I didn't know that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. And I didn't know that, you know, he was married to 11 other men's wives and 14-year-old girls so that really bothered me.

And then I started looking a little bit more and I came across the Book of Abraham. Um, I saw a comparison to uh, Joseph Smith's translations where the papyri and facsimiles versus what the Egyptological translations including from uh, an Egyptologist...a member of the church. Um, Michael Rhodes. He did a translation and it matches with what non-Mormon translations of, you know, the papyri and facsimile is.

Um, and it just really shocked me and I immediately, you know, talked to my wife and said I'm just really shocked and shaken right now. I found some stuff about this and um, I just kind of put it on the shelf because I was just so blown away by it. And a month passed and after that um, it just kept bothering me in my mind. I, I remember a quote that I heard once, "If we have the truth, no harm can come from investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed." And it was President J. Reuben Clark that said that.

And so, the message I got from that was, if we have the truth, then there's no harm in researching it. There's got to be answers out there. If there isn't, then we got a problem here. Um, I reached out to all my apologetic friends and one of them is, has a PhD. Um, you know, very smart guy. I've reached out to, you know, different leaders that I knew in the Church throughout my life. Um, just to ask to see if they knew anything about these issues.

And it just uh, it just spiraled from there just reading more books. I read a lot of offline books um, read what FairMormon had to say. FairMormon is an apologetic group. They're unofficial. They don't represent the Church officially. Um, and when I started reading FairMormon stuff, not only did they, not only did they not resolve my questions about the polyandry. Polyandry means when you have multiple, when a woman has multiple husbands. So, in the case of Joseph Smith, he had 11, um wives, that were other men's wives. One of them was um, Elder Orson Hyde's wife. When Orson Hyde was on his mission to Palestine, he dedicated the gospel um, he [Joseph Smith] married Orson's wife, Marinda Hyde. And this is, you can see on, you know, familysearch.org it's on there. Marinda Hyde was one of his [Joseph Smith's] wives.

Um, when I looked for FAIR's answers, it was just totally...it just didn't answer the question. And as I looked through FairMormon's website, um, I came across new information that I hadn't heard before. I mean, you know, the Kinderhook Plates, Adam God, um you know, the Priesthood Restoration. Basically, no one ever heard of the Priesthood until around 1834 and when you look at the Book of Commandments and the 1835 Doctrine " Covenants it's redacted as a...that was original revelation but it wasn't like, it was altered. And there's, just all kinds of stuff that I came across.

Um, so after, you know, intense research I was obsessed with this; it just consumed me because I wanted to get to the bottom of this. Um, and by the summer I just, I just no longer believed in the Church anymore.

Um, so fast forward into the next year, my grandpa in my uh...I told my dad and I asked him not to share it with my grandpa who at the time was about 83 years old. Um, I asked, you know, uh, just you know, leave grandpa out of this. He's, you know, in the age where, you know. So my grandpa told me, um my grandpa heard about it and he came up to my house and he asked if um he could help resolve my concerns. And so he asked if I would be willing to talk with and meet with um his friend who is a CES Director.

So, um surprisingly the CES Director emailed me and basically said, you know, lay it out. What are your issues and concerns and let's see if I can take care of them.

So, um I'm a very thorough guy so I put down everything. I put down all of my questions and concerns and that's what later became the Letter to a CES Director. Um, he responded back to my grandpa and he said that "I read the letter and it was very well written," very well written and that um a lot of these issues are concerns that the brethren have right now and I will uh get back to you with a response.

Um, unfortunately, I never heard back from him again. But, uh, a few months later FairMormon, again, apologetic group, they did an analysis or response to my CES Letter. Um, a lot of their responses were surprisingly, you know, honest. They admitted, you know, yeah yeah this is correct, this is correct. You know, this is a problem. This book or, you know, the Book of Abraham papyri doesn't match what's in the Book of Abraham.

Um, but a lot of the other responses were not true. They were falsehoods. And they were also responses where they uh, directly attacked me personally. So, at that point, I um, I made the decision to defend myself. So that's where Debunking FAIR's Debunking came about and that's where my current website came about.

So, um, I go through every single one of their responses. My defense against FairMormon consisted of almost about 900 pages of content. And I go through each one of the topics. My CES Letter is divided into different chapters. So, for example you have the Book of Mormon Translation, Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham and First Visions and so forth. And that's how I divided my website and my response to FairMormon.

Um, there's a donut in each section as well as overall that shows how much that FairMormon agrees, disagrees, and is neutral on. Meaning that they haven't provided response to, that they're silent on.

Um, after that, I just like, I don't want to do this anymore. I'm tired of it. I'm moving on with my life. I've got businesses that I want to build. I just want to move on with my life. By that time it was close to 2 years.

Um, after that, uh, a gentleman by the name of Daniel C. Peterson. Peterson, he's well known in the Church. He's considered a top apologist. For some reason he decided that it was a great idea to um, make it his presentation at the recent FairMormon conference to uh, basically attack my letter and me.

Um, then I came back and I did a response on him. A rebuttal on him. And I went like the FairMormon response, I went through every single one of his claims and his statements. And that's on my website.

And then another gentleman um, actually one of the better apologists I came across, was actually more respectful um, he just focused on the issues and the arguments as opposed to attacking me personally like Peterson did and FairMormon did. Um, I responded to him over the Book of Abraham and went through each one of the issues.

President Ivins: Who was that?

Jeremy: Um, his name was [REDACTED].

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: Uh, he teaches at BYU. I can't remember if it's BYU Idaho or BYU Provo.

Um, and then another person by the name of Brian Hales, uh, he is a, what I consider Polygamy Revisionist, um, basically, what he did is he wrote two articles. And one of them where he compares me uh to a pawn of Satan. And so, um, I can't...it's like...I didn't come out to...it was never my intention to destroy the Church and it is not my intention to destroy the Church. My intention is to get the information out there that is...that the Church is not um, sharing with the members and investigators.

And to give you a perfect example of that, um, The Book of Mormon Translation. How was the Book of Mormon translated?

President Ivins: Well, we don't know the specific details, but it's a revelation from God, through Joseph Smith.

Jeremy: So, it was revelation from God. What about the gold plates?

President Ivins: They're a key part of it.

Jeremy: I'm sorry?

President Ivins: They're a key part of it.

Jeremy: Okay. So, what, how did he translate it then?

President Ivins: Through the Urim and Thummim

Jeremy: Did he use a rock and a hat?

President Ivins: Rock and a hat, I'm not sure.

Jeremy: He did. So, and it's ... um, when I went ... the stuff that I'm telling you is not from anti-Mormon stuff. The Church has released in the last 10 months several essays. And it's on the Gospel Topics part of the website.

President Ivins: Right.

Jeremy: And there's a essay called Book of Mormon Translation. And in that essay, they admit that the Book of Mormon was translated with a rock in a hat. Now, there's a Urim and Thummim, there's the gold plates and then there's the seers tones. The Urim and Thummim and the gold plates, they sometimes the Urim and Thummim are also called the Nephite interpreters, they're interchangeable.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: They came from Moroni you know, buried in the hill in Hill Cumorah and all that. But the seer stones were not. The seer stones came from Joseph's neighbor's well in 1822, William Chase. He [Joseph Smith] grabbed the seer stone and he used those seer stones to put in his hat. And he was involved in treasure hunting. And that's in the essay as well.

So, Joseph with his family, Hyrum and his dad, Joseph Sr., they would do treasure hunting. Basically they would go to the customers and they would say, you know, you put his face in his hat looking at the seer stone and you would tell him, yes, the gold is over there, the silver is over there, and uh they would get money from the customers and move on to the next customer. That was treasure hunting. And that's what...and it wasn't just Joseph that did it, you know, it was it was uh, other people as well in that time. It was a very superstitious time. They call it the Burnt Over District for a reason.

The Book of Mormon that we have today was not translated with gold plates. It was translated with those stones in a hat. The Urim and Thummim and the gold plates were taken away from Joseph when Martin Harris lost the 116 pages. So, the gold plates, the Urim and Thummim were not returned for translations. So, the Book of Mormon we have today was not even used with the gold plates.

But meanwhile, we have artwork displayed in our buildings, in the church museum, conference center, sometimes Temple, showing Joseph Smith putting his, in movies too, showing Joseph Smith putting his finger over the gold plates as he's translating. And that's not how it happened. This is verified by LDS historians and non-LDS historians. This is not anti-Mormon, especially now that the Church has released its essay. Uh, you can see it for yourself.

President Ivins: When you read the Book of Mormon, you don't feel it's true at all? Is that correct?

Jeremy: I did at the time, but but...

President Ivins: No, I'm talking about now. When you read the Book of Mormon now, do you feel it's not true?

Jeremy: It's not true.

President Ivins: Okay. So, on your mission when you bore testimony on the Book of Mormon, which you did, I would suspect, how did you feel?

Jeremy: I felt that it was true. But the problem is, relying on feelings is not a reliable...I'll give you an example. There are Muslims that point to the Quran and say that they pray to Allah if Islam and the Quran is true and they just felt and they know that Islam and the Quran is true. You have fundamentalist groups, the FLDS and um, United Apostolic Brethren. There are recordings of members bearing their testimony that they prayed...to know if Warren Jeffs is a true prophet for the Lord today and if polygamy is a correct principle. And they, they receive this feeling from the Spirit just telling them that it's true.

There are all kinds of problems...in the 1970s there was a General Authority by the name of Paul H. Dunn. And what he did was he bore witness and he shared powerful stories and testimony about um, war stories and baseball stories. But, those stories were false. They were lies. And the First Presidency, um, censored him and they publicly ... and they made him publicly apologize for lying about the stories, but the problem was that in General Conferences and in Stake Firesides and in all those meetings where he shared these powerful stories and witness of the story, people felt the Spirit. They just knew that it was true. But it wasn't. It was a lie.

I mean, we hear, we hear examples of that all the time. Like, I mean, I've had personal experiences where I've have friends and family members tell me, we went to the Temple, we just felt this spirit ... to buy this home. And it turns out that a few years later, they went into foreclosure. And they're divorced. I...feelings are not a reliable um...method to discerning truth and reality.

President Ivins: So, the Holy Ghost doesn't work then.

Jeremy: It's not...it's not...you have all these religions that are saying the same thing. I pray to God to know if my Church and my book and my leaders are true. But, they're all saying the same thing, but they're fundamentally at odds with each other. I mean, you have the FLDS group that is pointing to this method, the same method um in the witness that Warren Jeffs is a true prophet. And it...it's the same story as Joseph Smith he's being...he was put into prison because he's being persecuted. The Lord's chosen is being persecuted. It just...it's not...I mean, the Adam God, for example, that Brigham Young taught for 20 years that uh, Adam is God the Father. And it wasn't just..."thus saith the Lord" over 2 General Conference talks. It wasn't just another sermon. He actually put it in the veil of the Temple.

And during that time you had Latter-day Saints bearing testimony that Adam is God the Father. Um, Eliza R. Snow, I mean one of her hymns, um I can't remember, it includes Michael in it. That was the doctrine at the time. And polygamy was the doctrine of the time, they just knew it was true because they felt the spirit. You know, it's like yesterday's doctrine is today's false doctrine and yesterday's prophets are today's ... uh, disavowed theories.

Like, there's another essay with the Blacks and the Priesthood. The Church actually disavowed...it actually says it, we disavow the "theories" of these men for teaching the ban on the blacks.

And I...[REDACTED] was a believing member and I showed him this essay from the Church, LDS.org it's right there. I showed it to him. And excuse my language, he said, "This is bullshit. I was there. It was not a theory, it was doctrine, it was revelation. Like, we had we had to get a revelation to reverse the ban on the blacks." So, what was yesterday's doctrine and revelation is today's disavowed theories.

And another part that they put it in there is we disavow the claim or teaching that God punishes or curses based on black skin. Like, that black skin is a consequence of a punishment or curse. But we have the Book of Mormon teaching the exact opposite. So we have, we have all kinds of craziness here and it just keeps going.

I mean, um, I tried to get answers from the Church from this. I really did, I really tried to get answers from the CES Director. I was really looking forward to his response and it never came. And I had to deal with these unofficial apologists who do not represent the Church.

President Ivins: Right, they don't.

Jeremy: And that makes me angry because, um, I don't want to talk to these guys because their theories and their opinions are no more legitimate or special than the crazy high priest guy that everybody rolls their eyes to in Sunday School and priesthood. It's no more legitimate.

I was looking for official answers from the CES Director and thankfully the Church is making progress. I mean, um, there is a direction of transparency through the essays. But the essays are still causing a problem. I'm getting emails from people, um, you know, every week about the essays. What I just mentioned about the Race and the Priesthood, people are disturbed by that.

Another essay is the Book of Abraham. The Church admits that the Book of Abraham, the papyri does not match the Book of Abraham. And they admit that, you know, like the writings of Abraham upon papyri you know, found in Egypt and that header in Book of Abraham basically is not correct. That that the Book of Abraham came about when Joseph received the papyri and that inspired him to receive a revelation to what became the Book of Abraham. But the problem with that is that Joseph Smith translated the facsimiles. We have that. We have the numbers on different parts of the facsimiles and it has have a list of Joseph's translations of them. They're wrong. They're not correct. We know...we can read Egyptian now. We know exactly what they say.

President Ivins: In your opinion.

Jeremy: No. It's not my opinion.

President Ivins: Oh, sure it is.

Jeremy: Huh?

President Ivins: Sure it is.

Jeremy: No, it's not.

President Ivins: I have my opinion, you have your opinion.

Jeremy: You can look at, you can look at it...even the LDS Egyptologists admit this. Like, Michael Rhodes. Honest. Read what FairMormon, FairMormon admits it.

President Ivins: I'll read the letter and I'll go from there. But my concern is, Jeremy, is that you're taking members away from the Church. Is that a true statement?

Jeremy: Okay. My response...

President Ivins: That's a simple yes or no.

Jeremy: Have I taken members away from my church?

President Ivins: Yeah.

Jeremy: Uh, there have been people that have left over the information that's written in the CES letter.

The real question should be, is the information in the CES Letter true or false? Is it correct or is it inaccurate? If there are any inaccurate information in my letter, in my work, I beg you and implore you to tell me, tell me where it's wrong.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: And I will correct it. And I've already corrected about 5 percent. FairMormon, in their response to my letter, my original letter, they pointed out to a few things that were incorrect. And I fixed them. I have an errors and mistakes page still on my website that shows the exact errors that were wrong in my original CES Letter and what I did to fix it.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: And I have no problem fixing it. So, I am not interested in leading people away from the Church. If people want to stay in the Church, awesome. I'm interested in getting this information out because there's a real problem in the Church where we have situations where one spouse is learning information um, that they never heard before in church.

So, for example, when when an individual discovers that Joseph didn't use the gold plates for the Book of Mormon Translation, that he used a rock in a hat, the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham Translation doesn't match the papyri and facsimiles. He's disturbed by it. And so he goes to his wife and he says it and her response is this is anti-Mormon. These are lies. I don't want to hear anything about it. And you have this serious situation where their marriage is hanging on the cliff because the wife did not get the memo. The Church did not give her the memo.

I mean, the essays fortunately are up on the website. But they're hidden on the website. Chapel Mormons, I've talked to a lot of them, they have no idea about the essays. They don't know that the essays are there. They don't talk about this in General Conferences.

President Ivins: The Church just came out with an announcement saying there's a whole section on the church website.

Jeremy: They, they the Church is not ... like a lot of chapel Mormons aren't getting this information, it's not being put in the...

President Ivins: They just read it an announcement over the pulpit about a month ago.

Jeremy: OK, that's what I mean by ... I didn't know that. I haven't gone to church for a while. So that... that's what I mean by ...

President Ivins: Well, well, when you say that the church isn't doing anything about it.

Jeremy: The Church, as I said ...

President Ivins: We are, we are doing something about it...

Jeremy: As I said, the Church is heading toward a direction of transparency and hearing this [claps hands] awesome. That's wonderful news. I'm grateful for that that that's happening. But it hasn't happened for the last couple of decades. This is not new information. The Church has known this information since the 70s.

The RLDS Church, the reason why the RLDS Church doesn't exist anymore and it's the Community of Christ is because they knew this information in the 60s and 70s. The leadership and their historians were actually talking to each other. And when they found out this information they made a different direction and became more honest and transparent. The Church kept it closed. They kept teaching rock and uh gold plates, Book of Mormon Translation, Joseph and Emma, Book of Abraham, everything's good, and now it's when the Internet is happening that we have a real problem. And even the Church Historian now, Elder Snow, is admitting ... he said that we have made the mistake in the past of not disclosing this information and we are now heading toward the direction of that.

President Ivins: Well, they're correcting it.

Jeremy: They're correcting it, but that it's too late, in my opinion. It's too many...a lot of marriages and families have been destroyed over this. And a lot of marriages and families are still getting destroyed over this. And we're not sharing with our investigators what really happened. We're still showing them the pictures of the gold plates. We're not showing the rocks in the hat.

I mean, we're not, we're not giving them all the informa...we're not telling them that Joseph Smith was married to 11 other men's wives. We're not telling him that over a period of 10 years Joseph Smith lied and denied polygamy. He was asked multiple times, "are you a polygamist?", "are you a polygamist?" Even a month before he died, in May 1844, he denied it. He said, he claimed that he only had 1 wife. But, even the Church admits that now...at that time he had at least 30 wives. We know the exact dates of these marriages. Even the Doctrine & Covenants in 1835 said we don't believe in polygamy; we believe in monogamy. That speaks to the character and the integrity of Joseph Smith.

People that are trying to figure out whether or not they want to dedicate their lives and 10% of their income to the church, need to know about this. That's part of free agency. Free agency is having all the information on the table. When there's information withheld, put under the table, that's not true free agency. That's taking away their free agency because they're making their choice they're practicing their free agency based on incomplete and inaccurate information.

I have a problem with that. That's why, that's why I'm doing this. There are people that have read my work and they stayed in the Church. I have no problem with that. But at least they know about it.

President Ivins: But also, there are people that have left the Church.

Jeremy: But they're leaving because of correct information. And again, I challenge you, show me where I'm wrong. Point out any errors and mistakes in my work and I promise you, I will publicly ... I will publicly correct it and state that this is incorrect.

President Ivins: And I can promise you I don't have the time, or the time really to go through all your works. I don't.

Jeremy: Okay.

President Ivins: I'll just be open and honest with you. I'll read the letter and then I will exercise keys from God to make a decision. My concern is is that how do you feel that your membership...you're a member of the Church. How do you feel about that?

Jeremy: I have family and friends that are members of the Church. Like I said, the Church has been good to me. I never really had a um, a desire or interest to resign. I'm not out to destroy the Church. I ... censorship and transparency and honesty is extremely extremely important to me. And uh, it all started with the CES Director asking me to lay everything on the table. That's what I did. And I've been seeking answers ever since.

And if I'm...like if I was actually spreading lies and misinformation about the Church, absolutely that's a real problem. That's a problem. And I I deserve to be excommunicated with. But I am not interested in spreading misinformation and lies. Especially when um, people are leaving the Church over um, this information. I am interested in giving it out so that we can save marriages and families. I've seen too many marriages and families getting destroyed because one of the spouses didn't get the memo from the Church that no, this is not anti-Mormon lies. Like, this is fact, Joseph Smith really was a polygamist, blah blah blah blah.

President Ivins: So, at this point, you don't feel Joseph Smith was a prophet?

Jeremy: Um, at this point, no. But I really...I testified in mission field that he was.

President Ivins: You did? Okay. Okay. And right now, do you feel that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet?

Jeremy: Uh, I do not.

President Ivins: Okay. I just need to know where you stand.

Jeremy: I'm sorry?

President Ivins: I just need to know where you stand.

Jeremy: Uh, yeah, I mean, um yeah, do I think that Thomas S. Monson...

President Ivins: Why do you continue to be a member of the church that you don't believe in?

Jeremy: Because, because um...there's...is having doubt a sin?

President Ivins: But not supporting the leaders of the church that you belong to, I think is.

Jeremy: So, basically what's a sin is not supporting your leaders, that, is that a sin?

President Ivins: I believe that you said that if you belong to an organization you support the prophet that leads that church.

Jeremy: Now, what is support the prophet? Should the prophet, meaning that um, the prophet talks to God?

President Ivins: The prophet does talk to God.

Jeremy: So, if a good member that's not like...just separate me from...if a good member that's not spreading doubts or you know, just keeping her doubts secretly and she she learns for example, um she has a problem like, um, Brigham Young teaching that Adam is our father only to have the next prophet basically saying that's false, that's not true. That's not, that's not that's not doctrine. Or, prophets, 10 prophets, over 130 years teaching that blacks cannot have the priesthood. That God revealed this this teaching and this doctrine, only to turn around and and have the Church disavow their teachings as theories. Like, that speaks to the credibility of these men. So, if she comes to you and says, well, I have a problem. I'm struggling with the idea that Thomas S. Monson speaks to God and he's a prophet because of what I just told you, are you going to condemn her? Is she sinning?

President Ivins: No, I'm not going to condemn her.

Jeremy: You're not going to give her Temple recommend because she can't say that she believes that Thom...

President Ivins: She wouldn't have a Temple recommend because that's one of the que...you know that's one of the questions. Do you sustain President Monson as a prophet, seer, and revelator?

Jeremy: Okay, so she can't have a...she can't have a Temple recommend because her concerns are not being resolved. Like, these are credibility issues on these prophets. And because she can't...she's being honest and ethical with herself, you're going to condemn her by not giving her Temple reccom...

President Ivins: It's not condemning her.

Jeremy: Well, how, what else is it?

President Ivins: Okay, if it's...if she can't answer the questions in the affirmative, so, she doesn't believe, so I would work with her in helping her resolve her issues. I wouldn't condemn her. I wouldn't throw her out. I'd work with her.

Jeremy: So how would she...how would you...um, I'm honestly curious, how would you work with her? How would you resolve the Adam God and the blacks and priesthood things.

President Ivins: I would seek inspiration and revelation when I met with her. I'd seek inspiration and guidance. And try to help her out.

Jeremy: But, but that's not answering the problem. Right, how would you answer the problem?

President Ivins: I don't know. I'd research it, I'd study it out and then I'd come up with the answer the Lord wanted me to give her.

Jeremy: Well, okay. Um, but, you do acknowledge that there are different bishops and stake presidents that are more lenient or more conservative, like that this is not, you know what I mean like ... that's your response to this, but do you acknowledge that there are other stake presidents and bishops that which they will give her Temple recommend.

President Ivins: What's that got to do with it?

Jeremy: That it's illustrating the problem that we have in the Church where, from your point of view, she must be orthodox. She must...

President Ivins: No, I didn't say that. I said that she had an issue with President Monson and I'd help her through it. That's all I said.

Jeremy: But she doesn't ... I didn't say she had an issue with President Monson.

President Ivins: Yeah, you did.

Jeremy: It's just that she doesn't believe that he talks with God. Because based on this other stuff, she has evidence that other, yesterday's prophets haven't talked to God. Like, Brigham Young didn't get um, Adam is God the father from God. Because future prophets said that's false. That's not true. God didn't give him such nonsense.

And you have 130 years of 10 prophets saying "thus saith the Lord, blacks cannot have the priesthood." We are waiting for the Lord to give, to restore the priesthood and then 1978 happened, but then fast forward to 2014 through the Church's essay, we disavow the theories of these men on the teachings blacks can't have the priesthood. We disavow the, the theories of these men that uh, God punishes or curses uh, black skin. You have it in the Book of Mormon.

So, if she came across the essay and looks at this and goes wait a minute, this is a problem. Like, the saints of Brigham Young's day, they looked at him as a prophet, seer, and revelator and he led them astray with that false teaching. The saints, for 130 years, looked at 10 prophets and they led them astray on the blacks and the priesthood. It's so bad. Like, the blacks ... it wasn't just that the black men cannot have the priesthood, it was black families. They could not be sealed together as families in the Temple. They could not get their endowments in the Temple. For 130 years, all the black children of our heavenly father could not get their endowments and be sealed together as a family based on their disavowed theories.

So, these are real problems and concerns and if you can't resolve them or address them, how can she honestly say that, yeah, President Monson speaks to God when she's seen all these problems with President's Monson's uh, previous, you know, with that he that all the men that he succeeded. When you've seen all these problems of yesterday's prophets. Like, in order for her to pass, according to your standard, she would basically have to lie and say, yeah, I believe that President Monson is a prophet. I mean, there's...how...how is there a way around it? How would you resolve that?

President Ivins: I'd have to do the research. I can't answer you right now because I'd have to do the research. We'd meet together on a regular basis until we got the issues resolved.

Jeremy: Okay. And I really, I really appreciate that um open-mindedness and for your willingness to look at it. That's all I ask. That's all I ask is you...I understand that you're a very busy man, professional, but I appreciate you being at least willing to read the CES Letter. All I ask is that you read the CES Letter from beginning to end and then uh I'd be certainly happy to, to come back next Sunday to meet with you.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: Um, nothing personal. No hard feelings or anything.

President Ivins: I'll have [secretary] give you a call and we'll get something set up.

Jeremy: Okay.

President Ivins: If, for some reason, something comes up and I'll, but I'll get through it. As soon as I read it I'll have you back and we'll go from there.

Jeremy: Okay.

President Ivins: Okay.

Jeremy: Very nice meeting you.

President Ivins: Nice to meet you. Thank you, have a good day.

Jeremy: You too.

About the Author

Born and raised in Southern California, Jeremy is a seventh generation Mormon of Pioneer heritage who reached every Mormon youth milestone. An Eagle Scout, Returned Missionary, BYU alumnus, Jeremy was married in the San Diego Temple with expectations and plans of living Mormonism for the rest of his life.

In February 2012, Jeremy experienced an awakening to the LDS Church's truth crisis, which subsequently led to a faith transition that summer. In the spring of 2013, Jeremy was approached and asked by a CES Director to share his questions and concerns about the LDS Church's origins, history, and current practices. In response, Jeremy wrote what later became publicly known as the CES Letter (originally titled Letter to a CES Director).

The CES Director responded that he read the "very well written" letter and that he would provide Jeremy with a response. No response ever came.

“I believe that members and investigators deserve to have all of the facts and information on the table, to be able to make a fully-informed and balanced decision as to whether or not they want to commit their hearts, minds, time, talents, income, and lives to Mormonism.”

Jeremy T. Runnells


Interview with Mormon Stories

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

Debunking

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

Jeremy's response to FairMormon:

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

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

Jeremy’s rebuttals to other Mormon apologist arguments:

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

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

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

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

The Sky is Falling – Part 1

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