Lds response to ces letter

Lds response to ces letter DEFAULT

Criticism of Mormonism/Online documents/Letter to a CES Director

FAIR Answers Wiki Table of Contents

Summary: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony (CES Letter: My Search for Answers to My Mormon Doubts as of 2017) is an online document which is critical of Latter-day Saint truth claims. The document is comprised of a list of issues that the author states caused him to lose his testimony, and it is hosted on a number of websites which are critical of the Church. The online document Debunking FAIR's Debunking or Debunking FairMormon is an apologetic attempt by the CES Letter author to respond to an earlier summary version of FAIR's CES Letter response. The author incorporates much of the text of FAIR's original summary responses and then attempts to, in his own words, "debunk" them. Here we have incorporated all arguments from three updates to the CES Letter and responded to them. We have also included responses to Debunking FairMormon. Articles have been edited to correct factual errors spotted by the author and clarify responses.

Readers should bear in mind while interacting with any of the material from the author of the CES Letter that he frequently attempts to portray FAIR and other apologists as delusional and deceitful--frequently citing changes we have made to our responses in his rebuttals to FAIR and often appealing to ridicule. He often tries to discredit apologists by simply showing how we disagree on matters such as Book of Mormon Geography or other trivial things. Readers should be careful to look for this and be aware of how FAIR responds to criticism.

It is true that we have edited our articles that were posted in initial response in 2013 and also created new articles and responses to arguments from the CES Letter over time. This is the refining we expect to receive as we make the defense of the Church better through more study, improved scholarship, and through suggestions from our readers. We may also make mistakes in formulating our response (which we have corrected since the rebuttals to our pages were posted by the author) but we have not sought to deliberately deceive anyone in editing them.

Readers should also be aware that just because FAIR hasn't responded to an argument or a response does not satisfy a question completely, that does not then mean apologetics can't be created or improved in answering that question/criticism. We are a group of volunteer members who seek to defend the faith in our spare time and write however much we can with that time and when we see it as necessary. We expect, as mentioned, to improve our efforts over time with improved scholarship and from suggestions by our readers.

With respect to the disagreement that the author cites among apologists, there are often many ways to faithfully reconcile something. FAIR's goal is to provide every angle. Additionally, the nature of scholarship is to make arguments based upon current scientific findings. Scholarship refines itself overtime as science improves and with it, apologetics. Additionally, the existence of disagreement does not invalidate the strength of an argument. Are we to believe that critics don't have any good points if they disagree on something? Readers should consult the actual scholarship done by faithful scholars and decide for themselves where they stand instead of accepting obfuscatory arguments such as these made by the author.

The CES Letter is a compilation of the most common attacks on the Church. Each of these issues that the author discusses have been repeatedly discussed in both official Church literature and in scholarly articles, notes, and monographs. A monograph could be taken to explain these issues in a satisfactory way and indeed, entire books have been written on many of these subjects. We advise readers to use FAIR as a starting point rather than an ending. The wiki is designed as your first stop for getting immediate first aid, so to speak. It may be advisable that, instead of reading this long response, that readers take time to order books that cover the same issues and read and digest at a pace that is more suitable to their work/family/school schedules, level of knowledge, and so forth.

If this is your first time visiting FAIR we invite you to see our introduction page found here. We strongly encourage the reader to also visit our introductory page to apologetics before reading our response. Debate uses the language of logical fallacy often. If you are not familiar with logical fallacy or at least need a definition for one or more of the logical fallacies listed in our response, we strongly encourage you to visit our logical fallacy page (preferably before reading our response). It will help you to evaluate claims better and make good suggestions as to how we can improve our responses. If you do not understand something in our response, you spot an error, an answer could be augmented or improved, a response could be provided to a claim that we have missed, or if you have any other question(s) and/or comment(s) regarding this document, we invite you to submit your question(s)/make your comment(s) to FAIR volunteers at this link.

The following links respond to individual claims contained in the following documents:

  • Jeremy Runnells, Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony (April 2013)
  • Jeremy Runnells, Debunking FAIR's Debunking (a.k.a. Debunking FairMormon) (July 2014)
  • Jeremy Runnells, Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony (October 2014)
  • Jeremy Runnells, Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony (March 2015)
Chart CES Letter summary061018.png

Response to claims made in "Letter to a CES Director" and "Debunking FAIR's Debunking" by Jeremy Runnells

Jump to Subtopic:

Other responses to the "Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony"

A Faithful Reply to the CES Letter from a Former CES Employee, by Jim Bennett (2018)
Letter to a CES Director: A Closer Look
  • Highly Recommended: Latter-day Saint Sarah Allen has produced a series of posts on the different sections of the CES Letter. These posts synthesize material gathered from faithful sources across books and the Internet about the topics broached by the CES Letter. FAIR is editing these posts and publishing them weekly on our website. Links to each of these posts are being gathered on this portion of our wiki.
Sarah Allen’s Response to the CES Letter

Response to section "Book of Mormon Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author asks why italicized text and errors from the King James Bible are present in the Book of Mormon. He also briefly discusses anachronisms, archaeology, and a theory that the Book of Mormon place names actually originated in the area around New York. The "View of the Hebrews" theory of Book of Mormon authorship is discussed.

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "What are 1769 King James Version edition errors doing in the Book of Mormon?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "That the witnesses never reported Joseph looking at a 1769 KJV Bible during the translation process actually enhances the likelihood that the Book of Mormon is a fraud"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "At worst, Joseph waited until the witnesses weren't around to consult and copy from the 1769 KJV Bible"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "What are these 17th century italicized words doing in the Book of Mormon?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Contrary to FairMormon’s assertion above that God himself revealed the 1769 KJV errors to Joseph, FairMormon is conceding here that Joseph copied KJV text over to the Book of Mormon"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "2 Nephi 19:1...Joseph qualified the sea as the Red Sea"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon includes mistranslated biblical passages that were later changed in Joseph Smith’s translation of the bible"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "If Joseph was trying to make the Bible more correct, he would not change something that was correct according to Isaiah"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "DNA analysis has concluded that Native American Indians do not originate from the Middle East"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Why did the Church change the following section of the introduction page in the 2006 edition Book of Mormon shortly after the DNA results were released?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "It was a teaching accepted and taught by these “prophets, seers, and revelators,” including Joseph Smith himself, for most of the Church’s entire existence until the Church quietly and unofficially made the change in the Book of Mormon in 2006"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Horses...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "FairMormon considers a tapir to satisfy this requirement, I’m sorry but that just won’t work. Tapirs do not pull chariots. Especially chariots without wheels"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "cattle...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "sheep...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "swine...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "goats...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "elephants...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "chariots...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "wheat...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "silk...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "steel...did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "iron did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "There is absolutely no archaeological evidence to directly support the Book of Mormon"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The overwhelming consensus from these unbiased experts in pre-Columbian America archaeology/anthropology and Egyptology is that neither the Book of Mormon nor the Book of Abraham is historical, factual, or congruent to the current and existing data and evidence."(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim:"In addition to the statements made by those professors, here are some more statements made by both LDS and non-LDS archaeologist and anthropologist individuals and organizations...'The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists…."(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "In addition to the statements made by those professors, here are some more statements made by both LDS and non-LDS archaeologist and anthropologist individuals and organizations...'While some people chose to make claims for the Book of Mormon through archaeological evidences, to me they are made prematurely, and without sufficient knowledge.'"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "This is one of the reasons why unofficial apologists are coming up with the Limited Geography Model"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Latter-day Saint Thomas Stuart Ferguson was BYU’s archaeology division (New World Archaeological Funding) founder"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Many Book of Mormon names and places are strikingly similar to many local names and places of the region Joseph Smith lived"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "There was a book published in 1791 by John Walker entitled, A Key to the Classical Pronunciation of Greek, Latin, and Scripture Proper Names"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "FairMormon’s strawman that these towns/cities were discovered only through maps may not be...how Holley found some of the towns"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "The largest city and capital of Comoros (formerly 'Camora')? Moroni"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "the uniform spelling for Hill Cumorah in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon is spelled as 'Camorah'"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "'Camora' and settlement 'Moroni' were common names in pirate and treasure hunting stories involving Captain William Kidd"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "'View of the Hebrews' compared to the Book of Mormon"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "'They borrowed from early 19th century Methodist evangelical camp meetings and the Second Great Awakening in Joseph's 'burnt over district' backyard"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking (20 July 2014 Revision))
  • Response to claim: "'They borrowed from anti-Masonic sentiments of Joseph's time."(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking (20 July 2014 Revision))
  • Response to claim: "Joseph’s father having the same dream in 1811 as Lehi’s dream"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Elder B.H. Roberts came to the following conclusion: 'Did Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon?'"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The staggering parallels and similarities" of The Late War "to the Book of Mormon are astounding"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, October 2014)
  • Brian Hales: CES Letter 15 to 17 Late War
  • Response to claim: "Another fascinating book published in 1809, The First Book of Napoleon, is shocking"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, March 2015)
  • Response to claim: "The Book of Mormon taught and still teaches a Trinitarian view of the Godhead"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)

Response to section "Book of Mormon Translation Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author of the letter asks, "Why is the Church not being honest and transparent to its members about how Joseph Smith really translated the Book of Mormon? How am I supposed to be okay with this deception?"

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "Joseph Smith used a rock in a hat for translating the Book of Mormon"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Sources that I clearly demonstrate were either unofficial, extremely obscure, or not clearly educating the member and investigator about the rock in the hat translation"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: The rock in the hat is confirmed "in an obscure 1992 talk given by Elder Russell M. Nelson"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "he used the same 'Ouija Board' that he used in his days treasure hunting where he would put in a rock – or a peep stone – in his hat"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Why is the Church not being honest and transparent to its members about how Joseph Smith really translated the Book of Mormon?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The issue here is the Church's continued displaying - still in 2014 - the incorrect, inaccurate, and deceptive art in its Conference Center, Church History Museum, Temple Square, Missionary publications, and official publications"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)

Response to section "First Vision Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author states, "Like the rock in the hat story, I did not know there were multiple First Vision accounts. I did not know its contradictions or that the Church members didn’t know about a First Vision until 22 years after it supposedly happened. I was unaware of these omissions in the mission field as I was never taught or trained in the Missionary Training Center to teach investigators these facts."

The multiple First Vision accounts have been discussed many times in official, semi-official, and outside venues.

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "There are at least 4 different First Vision accounts by Joseph Smith"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The dates / his ages are all over the place"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The dates / his ages: The 1832 account states Joseph was 15 years old when he had the vision in 1821 while the other accounts state he was 14 years old in 1820 when he had the vision"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, October 2014)
  • Response to claim: "The reason or motive for seeking divine help – bible reading and conviction of sins, a revival, a desire to know if God exists, wanting to know which church to join – are all over the place"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Who appears to him – a spirit, an angel, two angels, Jesus, many angels, the Father and the Son – are all over the place."(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Why doesn't FairMormon also include the following accounts in their list showing just how “consistent” all of the First Vision accounts are?"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "he still manages to directly contradict himself by reporting “visitation of Angels” as compared to an actual visitation from Deity"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph intended the exact wording to be 'pillar of light' – not 'pillar of fire'"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "FairMormon is arguing here that Joseph Smith did not in fact see God the Father and his son Jesus Christ, which is an apostate view"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "the Church altered Joseph's words to instead read "I received my First Vision...” in the History of the Church"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "The historical record shows that there was no revival in Palmyra in 1820"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "FairMormon and apologists have to do everything they can to stretch the 1817-1818 Revival as long as possible - all the way into 1820"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "the family joined Presbyterianism after Alvin’s death in November 1823 despite Joseph Smith claiming in the official 1838 account that they joined in 1820"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Again, Joseph's mother, Lucy, and Joseph's brother, William, both stated that the family joined Presbyterianism after Alvin's death in November 1823"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Why did Joseph hold a Trinitarian view of the Godhead, as shown previously with the Book of Mormon, if he clearly saw that the Father and Son were separate embodied beings in the official First Vision?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "There is absolutely no record of a First Vision prior to 1832"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "...the following is what LDS historian and member of the Joseph Smith Papers project, Ronald O. Barney, has to say about Fawn Brodie and her book, No Man Knows My History...Richard Bushman extensively used No Man Knows My History as a source in his Rough Stone Rolling biography of Joseph Smith."(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "For something that excited the “public mind against me”… where are the records?"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph Smith's theophany, or First Vision account, was not unprecedented or unique."(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "this actually confirms the point I’m making in that the first vision was unknown to the Saints and the world before 1832"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "In the 1832 account, Joseph said that before praying he knew that there was no true or living faith or denomination upon the earth"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph Fielding Smith, upon discovering the 1832 account, ripped out the pages out of the letter book"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Brian Hales: CES Letter 22 to 23 First Vision
  • LDS Truth Claims: Criticism from 1st Vision and Priesthood Restoration

Response to section "Book of Abraham Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author notes that, "Egyptologists have found the source material for the Book of Abraham to be nothing more than a common pagan Egyptian funerary text for a deceased man named “Hor” in 1st century AD. In other words, it was a common Breathing Permit that the Egyptians buried with their dead. It has absolutely nothing to do with Abraham or anything Joseph claimed in his translation for the Book of Abraham."

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "scholars have found the original papyrus Joseph translated"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "scholars...have dated it in first century AD, nearly 2,000 years after Abraham could have written it"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Egyptologists have found the source material for the Book of Abraham to be nothing more than a common pagan Egyptian funerary text"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "It has absolutely nothing to do with Abraham or anything Joseph claimed in his translation for the Book of Abraham"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: Facsimile 1 "The Abraham scene is wrong"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The following image is what Facsimile 1 is really supposed to look like"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The following images show similar funerary scenes which have been discovered elsewhere in Egypt"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "a side-by-side comparison of what Joseph Smith translated in Facsimile #2 versus what it actually says according to Egyptologists"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph Smith said that this is 'God sitting on his throne'. It’s actually Min, the pagan Egyptian god of fertility or sex"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: Facsimile 3, "Joseph Smith’s translation of the papyri and facsimiles are gibberish"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "86% of Book of Abraham chapters 2, 4, and 5 are King James Version Genesis chapters 1, 2, 11, and 12."(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Why are there anachronisms in the Book of Abraham?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "the sun gets its light from Kolob...The sun shines because of thermonuclear fusion; not because it gets its light from any other star"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "There’s a book published in 1830 by Thomas Dick entitled 'The Philosophy of the Future State'"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was directly asked about the papyri not matching the Book of Abraham in a March 2012 BBC interview"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Is 'I don’t know and I don’t understand but it’s the word of God' really the best answer that a 'prophet, seer, and revelator' can come up with to such a profound problem?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, October 2014)
  • Response to claim: "The Church conceded in its July 2014 Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham essay that Joseph’s translations of the papyri and the facsimiles do not match what’s in the Book of Abraham" (October 2014 revision)(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, October 2014)
  • Citation abuse in Jeremy Runnells' Response and Rebuttal to Brian M. Hauglid's Rational Faiths Essay: B.H. Roberts comment on the Book of Abraham(Source: Response and Rebuttal to Brian M. Hauglid's Rational Faiths Essay)
  • LDS Truth Claims: The Book of Abraham

Response to section "Polygamy/Polyandry Concerns & Questions"

Summary: Regarding Joseph's practice of polygamy, the author states that "Joseph Smith’s pattern of behavior or modus operandi for a period of at least 10 years of his adult life was to keep secrets, be deceptive, and be dishonest – both privately and publicly."

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "Joseph Smith was married to at least 34 women"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Most members of the Church are completely unaware that this alleged...1831 revelation Joseph F. Smith is referring to was a secret (and still uncanonized) 'revelation'"(Source: Debunking FairMormon, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Of those 34 women, 11 of them were married women of other living men"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Among them being Apostle Orson Hyde who was sent on his mission to dedicate Israel when Joseph secretly married his wife, Marinda Hyde"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph was 37-years-old when he married 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Even by 19th century standards, this is pedophilia"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The Church now admits that Joseph Smith married 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball in its October 2014 Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Among the women was a mother-daughter set and three sister sets"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Some of the marriages to these women included promises by Joseph of eternal life to the girls and their families"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Some of the marriages to these women included....threats of loss of salvation"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "threats that he (Joseph) was going to be slain by an angel with a flaming sword if the girls didn’t marry him"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "President Hinckley publicly stating that polygamy is not doctrinal"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "D&C 132 is unequivocal on the point that polygamy is permitted only 'to multiply and replenish the earth' and 'bear the souls of men'"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "These married women continued to live as husband and wife with their prior husband after marrying Joseph"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Emma was unaware of most of Joseph’s plural marriages, at least until after the fact"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, October 2014)
  • Response to claim: "She certainly did not consent to most of them as required by D&C 132"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, October 2014)
  • Response to claim: "The Church’s new October 2014 Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay acknowledges that Joseph Smith was a polygamist"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, October 2014)
  • Response to claim: "The following 1835 edition of Doctrine & Covenants revelations bans polygamy"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Unions without the knowledge or consent of the husband, in cases of polyandry"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger was described by Oliver Cowdery as a 'dirty, nasty, filthy affair'"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph was practicing polygamy before the sealing authority was given"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "A union with a newlywed and pregnant woman (Zina Huntingon)"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: Zina "married Joseph after being told Joseph’s life was in danger from an angel with a flaming sword"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "there is no such thing as an insane polygamist god who demanded such sadistic, immoral, adulterous, despicable, and pedophilic behavior"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The secrecy of the marriages and the private and public denials by Joseph Smith are not congruent with honest behavior"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph’s desire to keep this part of his life a secret is what ultimately contributed to his death when he ordered the destruction of the printing press"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith: 11 Polyandrous Marriages"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Why is there no mention of God commanding Adam or Noah and/or their immediate male children to have many wives?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Latter-day 'prophet, seer, and revelator' Lorenzo Snow strongly disagrees with FairMormon"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Brian Hales: CES Letter 31 to 34 Polyandry
  • LDS Truth Claims: Criticism from Polygamy/Polyandry

Response to section "Prophets Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author expresses concern about changes in doctrine. For example, "As a believing member, I had no idea that Joseph Smith gave the priesthood to black men. I’m supposed to go to the drawing board now and believe in a god who is not only a schizophrenic racist but who is inconsistent as well? Again, yesterday’s doctrine is today’s false doctrine. Yesterday’s 10 prophets are today’s heretics."

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "Brigham Young taught what is now known as 'Adam-God theory'. He taught that Adam is 'our Father and our God'"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Brigham declared that he never preached a sermon that the 'children of men may not call scripture.'"(Source: Debunking FairMormon, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Yesterday's doctrine is today's false doctrine. Yesterday’s prophet is today’s heretic."(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Brigham Young said, 'The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.'"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The same God who 'denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female' is the same God who denied blacks from the saving ordinances"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Jimmy Carter’s IRS threatening to revoke the Church’s tax-exempt status"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Of course, the revelation...has absolutely nothing to do with...Stanford and other universities boycotting BYU athletics"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "As a believing member, I had no idea that Joseph Smith gave the priesthood to black men"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "FairMormon agrees and admits 'we do not know' while offering 3 different scenarios in their attempt to rationalize the ban"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "FairMormon's above response got debunked by none other than the Church itself on December 6, 2013 when the Church released its new Race and the Priesthood essay"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "We just need to edit out the racism and the 'black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse' stuff in the keystone Book of Mormon and we'll be set"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Mark Hofmann...to purchase and suppress bizarre and embarrassing documents into the Church vaults that undermined and threatened the Church’s story of its origins"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Lack of discernment by the Brethren on such a grave threat to the Church"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The following is Oaks’ 1985 defense of the fake Salamander letter (which Oaks evidently thought was real and legitimate at the time)"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Why would I want them following the prophet when a prophet is just a man of his time?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)

Response to section "Kinderhook Plates and Translator/Seer Claims Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author claims that, "Joseph Smith made a scientific claim that he could translate ancient documents. This is a testable claim. Joseph failed the test with the Book of Abraham. He failed the test with the Kinderhook Plates."

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "Joseph Smith made a scientific claim that he could translate ancient documents. This is a testable claim"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph failed the test with the Book of Abraham"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "He failed the test with the Kinderhook Plates"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph Smith was parading around and showing others the Egyptian hieroglyphics he copied off the gold plates around the same time as the discovery of the Kinderhook Plates"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "This is consistent with the New York Herald’s non-Mormon’s account...which refers to Joseph’s copy of the hieroglyphics from the gold plates"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "I’m now supposed to believe that Joseph has the credibility of translating the keystone Book of Mormon? With a rock in a hat?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Moroni’s 5,000 mile journey lugging the gold plates from Mesoamerica...all the way to New York to bury the plates"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "A rock he found digging in his neighbor’s property in 1822"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, October 2014)
  • Response to claim: "5 years before he got the gold plates and Urim and Thummim"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, October 2014)
  • Response to claim: "the same stone and method Joseph used for his treasure hunting activities"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, October 2014)
  • Response to claim: "I'm sure he was wrong on only two out of three. After all, wouldn't you buy a third car from a man who had already sold you two clunkers?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, October 2014)
  • Brian Hales: CES Letter 43 to 44 Kinderhook Plates
  • LDS Truth Claims: Criticism from Translations - Kinderhook Plates, Book of Mormon, Abraham, and Enoch

Response to section "Testimony/Spiritual Witness Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author asks the question, "Why is this Spirit so unreliable and inconsistent? How can I trust such an inconsistent and contradictory Source for knowing that Mormonism is worth betting my life, time, money, heart, mind, and obedience to?" This section touches on themes of epistemology.

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "Every major religion has members who claim the same thing: God or God’s spirit bore witness to them"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Let's play a game! Try to match Atheism and these 8 religions to the following 21 quotes."(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, June 2014)
  • Response to claim: "it would likewise be arrogant of a Latter-day Saint to deny their spiritual experiences and testimonies of the truthfulness of their own religion"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "If God’s method to revealing truth is through feelings, it’s a pretty ineffective method"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph Smith received a revelation, through the peep stone in his hat, to send Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery to Toronto, Canada for the sole purpose of selling the copyright of the Book of Mormon"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "I saw a testimony as more than just spiritual experiences and feelings. I saw that we had evidence and logic on our side based on the correlated narrative I was fed by the Church about its origins."(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "What about the members who felt the Spirit from Dunn’s fabricated and false stories?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "how can they be sure of the reliability of this same exact process in telling them that Mormonism is true?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Even prophets are often wrong."(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, June 2014)
  • Response to claim: "I felt the Spirit watching 'Saving Private Ryan' and the 'Schindler’s List'. Both R-rated and horribly violent movies. I also felt the Spirit watching 'Forrest Gump' and the 'Lion King'."(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Why did I feel the Spirit as I listened to the stories of apostates sharing how they discovered for themselves that Mormonism is not true?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "This thought-provoking video raises some profound questions and challenges to the Latter-day Saint concept of "testimony" and receiving a witness from the Holy Ghost..."(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)

Response to section "Priesthood Restoration Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author states, "Like the First Vision story, none of the members of the Church or Joseph Smith’s family had ever heard prior to 1834 about a priesthood restoration from John the Baptist or Peter, James, and John. Although the priesthood is now taught to have been restored in 1829, Joseph and Oliver made no such claim until 1834. Why did it take five years for Joseph or Oliver to tell members of the Church about the priesthood?"

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "'The late appearance of these accounts raises the possibility of later fabrication.' – LDS Historian Richard Bushman"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "none of the members of the Church or Joseph Smith’s family had ever heard prior to 1834 about a priesthood restoration from John the Baptist or Peter, James, and John"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Why did it take five years for Joseph or Oliver to tell members of the Church about the priesthood?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery did not teach anyone or record anything prior to 1834 that men ordained to offices in the Church were receiving 'priesthood authority'"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery changed the wording of earlier revelations when they compiled the 1835 Doctrine & Covenants"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "adding verses about the appearances of John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John as if those appearances were mentioned in the earlier revelations"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "David Whitmer...'I never heard that an Angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic Priesthood until the year 1834..."(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "If Joseph was already an elder and apostle, what was the necessity of being ordained again?"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking (Debunking FairMormon), July 2014)
  • LDS Truth Claims: Criticism from 1st Vision and Priesthood Restoration

Response to section "Witnesses Concerns & Questions"

Summary: Regarding the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, the author states, "At the end of the day? It all doesn’t matter. The Book of Mormon Witnesses and their testimonies of the gold plates are irrelevant. It does not matter whether eleven 19th century treasure diggers with magical worldviews saw some gold plates or not. It doesn’t matter because of this one simple fact: Joseph did not use the gold plates for translating the Book of Mormon."

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "Joseph Smith, his father, and his brother (Hyrum) had a family business treasure hunting from 1820 – 1827"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Joseph was hired by folks like Josiah Stowell, who Joseph mentions in his history"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "In 1826, Joseph was arrested and brought to court in Bainbridge, New York, for trial on fraud"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "21st century Mormons...are so confused and bewildered when hearing stuff like Joseph Smith using a peep stone in a hat"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "If Oliver Cowdery’s gift was really a divining rod then this tells us that the origins of the Church are much more involved in folk magic and superstition"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "who all shared a common worldview of second sight, magic, and treasure digging"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Martin Harris was anything but a skeptical witness"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "he was known by many of his peers as an unstable, gullible, and superstitious man(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Before Harris became a Mormon, he had already changed his religion at least five times"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Harris continued this earlier pattern by joining and leaving 5 more different sects"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: Martin Harris “declared repeatedly that he had as much evidence for a Shaker book he had as for the Book of Mormon”(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: Martin Harris "had hefted the plates repeatedly in a box with only a tablecloth or a handkerchief over them, but he never saw them"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Why couldn’t Martin just simply answer 'yes'?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Whitmer responded that the angel 'had no appearance or shape'"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "James Henry Moyle...went away 'not fully satisfied...It was more spiritual than I anticipated'"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "As scribe for the Book of Mormon and cousin to Joseph Smith, there was a serious conflict of interest in Oliver being a witness"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "I did not see them uncovered, but I handled them and hefted them while wrapped in a tow frock"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: James Strang and the Voree Plates Witnesses(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Every witness name on that document is not signed; they are written in Oliver’s own handwriting"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "there is no testimony from any of the witnesses directly attesting to the direct wording and claims of the manuscript or statements in the Book of Mormon"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "FAIR again misses the point, which is that no original, signed document of the witnesses’ testimonies exists"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "God Himself spoke to Whitmer 'by his own voice from the heavens' in June 1838 commanding Whitmer to apostatize from the Lord’s one and only true Church"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "the fact that all of the Book of Mormon Witnesses – except Martin Harris – were related to either Joseph Smith or David Whitmer"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "We’re talking about two families which consisted of all believing Mormons...Hardly unbiased and neutral"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "in light of their superstitions and reputations"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The mistake that is made by 21st century Mormons is that they’re seeing the Book of Mormon Witnesses as empirical, rational, nineteenth-century men"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "It doesn’t matter because of this one simple fact: Joseph did not use the gold plates for translating the Book of Mormon"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Oliver Cowdery’s failure to expose the Priesthood restoration fraud during his excommunication proceedings and after his excommunication from the Church"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Citation abuse in the original Letter to a CES Director: Anthony Metcalf's Ten Years Before the Mast(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Citation abuse in the original Letter to a CES Director: Stephen Burnett to Br. Johnson(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Citation abuse in the original Letter to a CES Director: John Whitmer states that he saw the plates by a supernatural power(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Brian Hales: CES Letter 50 to 65 Three Witnesses Including a Rebuttal of Dan Vogel's Claims.
  • Brian Hales: CES Letter 50 to 65 Witnesses Continued
  • LDS Truth Claims: The Witnesses

Response to section "Temples & Freemasonry Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author of the letter asks, "Does the eternal salvation, eternal happiness, and eternal sealings of families really depend on medieval originated Masonic rituals in multi-million dollar castles? Is God really going to separate good couples and their children who love one other and who want to be together in the next life because they object to uncomfortable and strange Masonic temple rituals and a polygamous heaven?" We respond to these questions in this article.

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "Just seven weeks after Joseph’s Masonic initiation, Joseph introduced the LDS endowment"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "We have the true Masonry"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "why doesn’t the LDS ceremony more closely resemble an earlier form of Masonry?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Freemasonry has zero links to the Solomon’s temple"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "If there’s no connection to Solomon’s temple, what’s so divine about a man-made medieval Scottish secret fraternity and its rituals?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Is God really going to require people to know secret tokens, handshakes, and signs to get into the Celestial Kingdom?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Does the eternal salvation, eternal happiness, and eternal sealings of families really depend on medieval originated Masonic rituals in multi-million dollar castles?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "What does it say about the Church if it removed something that Joseph Smith said he restored?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The entire endowment ceremony is an ordinance...FAIR knows that Joseph Smith taught that the endowment is not to be altered or changed"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • LDS Truth Claims: Temple Ordinances (video)

Response to section "Science Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author concludes that "The problem Mormonism encounters is that so many of its claims are well within the realm of scientific study, and as such, can be proven or disproven. To cling to faith in these areas, where the overwhelming evidence is against it, is willful ignorance, not spiritual dedication."

Science is embraced by Mormonism and understanding the past is something we believe helpful to being more perfectly instructed in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Our theology is not threatened by science (D&C 88: 78-79).

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "To cling to faith in these areas, where the overwhelming evidence is against it, is willful ignorance, not spiritual dedication"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "no death of any kind (humans, all animals, birds, fish, dinosaurs, etc.) on this earth until the 'Fall of Adam'"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "If Adam and Eve are the first humans, how do we explain the 14 other Hominin species who lived and died 35,000 – 250,000 years before Adam?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Science has proven that there was no worldwide flood 4,500 years ago"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "This doesn’t stop FAIR from acknowledging and admitting to the impossibility of Noah’s Ark and the global flood"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Other events/claims that science has discredited"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "the sun getting its light from Kolob"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "They carried honey bees across the ocean? Swarms of them?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Does the lack of an explicit statement that they took their prized bees onboard their submarines to the Promised Land necessarily mean they didn't?"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "In addition to the above Jaredite problems, other Jaredite problems and absurdities include"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Apparently Joseph forgot that he claimed Adam saw God face to face (God of the OT being Jesus). It’s also implied that Seth, Cain, and Enoch did as well. All of this contradicts the claim that the Brother of Jared is the first person to see the spirit body of Christ."(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "A beheaded man doing a pushup and trying to breathe? Not likely"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • LDS Truth Claims: Criticisms from Science

Response to section "Scriptures Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author states that "To believe in the scriptures, I have to believe in a god who endorsed murder, genocide, infanticide, rape, slavery, selling daughters into sex slavery, polygamy, child abuse, stoning disobedient children, pillage, plunder, sexism, racism, human sacrifice, animal sacrifice, killing people who work on the Sabbath, death penalty for those who mix cotton with polyester, and so on."

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: "To believe in the scriptures, I have to believe in a god who endorsed..."(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "To believe in the scriptures, I have to believe in a god who endorsed murder, genocide...pillage, plunder...2. Numbers 31...3. 1 Nephi 4...7. Numbers 21: 5-9"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "To believe in the scriptures, I have to believe in a god who endorsed...rape...selling daughters into sex slavery, polygamy...sexism...8. Judges 19:22-29"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "To believe in the scriptures, I have to believe in a god who endorsed...slavery"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "To believe in the scriptures, I have to believe in a god who endorsed...racism"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "To believe in the scriptures, I have to believe in a god who endorsed...human sacrifice"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "To believe in the scriptures, I have to believe in a god who endorsed...child abuse"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "that Laban would send his servants after Nephi and his brothers is ridiculous considering that the same God who had no problem lighting stones and taming swarms of bees"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "God kills all the firstborn children in Egypt except for those who put blood on their doors?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "To believe in the scriptures, I have to believe in a god who endorsed...stoning disobedient children...killing people who worked on the Sabbath, death penalty for those that mixed cotton with polyester...Got a rebellious kid who doesn’t listen? Take him to the elders and to the end of the gates and stone him to death!"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "1. D&C 132"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "I’m asked to believe in not only a part-time racist god and a part-time polygamous god but a part-time psychopathic schizophrenic one as well"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)

Response to section "Other Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author notes that, "Under [Quentin L.] Cook’s counsel, FAIR and unofficial LDS apologetic websites are anti-Mormon sources that should be avoided. Not only do they introduce to Mormons 'internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcomings of early Church leaders' but they provide many ridiculous answers with logical fallacies and omissions while leaving members confused and hanging with a bizarre version of Mormonism."

Jump to Subtopic:

  • Response to claim: 2013 Official Declaration 2 Header Update Dishonesty(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The Church debunks FAIR and ironically contradicts its own 2013 Official Declaration 2 header with the release of its December 6, 2013 essay on Race and the Priesthood"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Zina Diantha Huntington Young"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Brigham Young Sunday School Manual...deceptive in disclosing whether or not Brigham Young was a polygamist"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: Brigham Young Sunday School Manual - "I never claimed that the quotes referred to Brigham Young’s own wives"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "the Church presents a monogamist Brigham Young in its Brigham Young manual"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "The manuals do teach history along with didactical lessons"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Yesterday’s doctrine is today’s false doctrine. Yesterday’s prophet is today’s heretic"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The Church is not transparent to their members and investigators in 2014 about its origins and history"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Something is fundamentally wrong with 'the one true Church' spending more on a multi-billion dollar high-end megamall than it has in 25 years of humanitarian aid"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Would a loving, kind, empathic God really place parents in the horrible position of having to choose whether to feed their children or pay what little they have to a multi-billion megamall owning Church...?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Why did Joseph take the name of “Jesus Christ” out of the very name of His restored Church?"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Some things that are true are not very useful"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "Criticizing leaders"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "the scary internet"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "It is obvious that...Uchtdorf is focusing on the internet"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Going after members who publish or share their questions, concerns, and doubts"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: Strengthening the Church Members Committee(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "When the prophet speaks the debate is over"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)
  • Response to claim: "The very idea that one single man can control and censor debate and the free flow of ideas and information is not only anti-intellectualism but anti-free agency as well"(Source: Debunking FAIR's Debunking, July 2014)
  • Response to claim: "Policies and practices you’d expect to find in a totalitarian system such as North Korea or 1984; not from the gospel of Jesus Christ"(Source: Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony, April 2013)

Response to section "Conclusion"

Summary

Sours: https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/answers/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Online_documents/Letter_to_a_CES_Director

Jeremy Runnells

Critic of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Jeremy T. Runnells is a critic of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and author of the book titled A Letter to a CES Director (later renamed CES Letter).[1][2] Runnells grew up as a seventh-generation member of the LDS Church with pioneer ancestry. He served a mission for the church in New York and graduated from church-owned Brigham Young University.[3][4] In 2012, he began to experience doubts over his faith. A director of institute of the LDS Church's Church Education System (CES) asked him to write his concerns, and in response Runnells sent an 84-page letter with his concerns.[5]

After not receiving a response, in April 2013 he posted his letter on the internet.[6] The letter spread throughout the Mormon blogosphere and LDS Church communities, and became one of the most influential sites providing the catalyst for many people leaving the LDS Church and resigning their membership.[7][6]

CES Letter[edit]

CES Letter Foundation logo

Background[edit]

According to Runnells, after attending a fireside by Marlin K. Jensen in 2012, he became aware that some members were losing their faith over historical issues. Wanting to understand these historical issues, Runnells learned about and was specifically disturbed by Joseph Smith's polyandry, and Book of Abraham historical criticisms. "I began to have these feelings of betrayal. I wasn't the village idiot. I read books - a lot of the approved books. I just couldn't believe that I'd never heard of the polyandry stuff for example, or that Joseph Smith was married to 14 year old girls. It just really shocked me."[4]

When his grandfather heard of the doubts Runnells had, he put him in contact with a CES institute director, who suggested Runnells write a letter with a list of his concerns.[4]

Content[edit]

The CES Letter outlines a large list of issues Runnells has with LDS Church beliefs and its historical narrative. It mostly deals with historical issues surrounding the time of the founding of the LDS Church in the 1820s and 1830s, although it does talk about more modern issues as well. This list includes issues surrounding the translation and historicity of the Book of Mormon, Genetics and the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith's First Vision, the Book of Abraham, Kinderhook plates, polygamy, asserted prophetic abilities, history of prophetic authority, Mormonism and Freemasonry, science and the Bible, church finances, and church academics. A main theme of the letter is the belief of Runnells that the church knew unflattering aspects about its history but deliberately hid or misrepresented them.[2]

Response[edit]

According to the Salt Lake Tribune and The Daily Beast, the letter has been influential in the decision of many now-former members of the LDS Church to resign their membership.[1][8] Numerous responses by LDS Church apologists in blogs, books, and podcasts have been created, including several by FairMormon.[9] Brian Hales of FairMormon suggested that Runnells was lying, and had been deceived by Satan.[10] Runnells posted an extensive rebuttal to FairMormon's response.[11]

No official response from the LDS Church has been released, including from the CES Director to whom Runnells sent his letter; however, Tad R. Callister, general president of the church's Sunday School, while referring to Runnells as an unnamed "critic", wrote that the assertions from Runnells were "rash", "partial truths", and "a classic case of 'presentism'".[12]

The CES Letter, along with a book published by Egyptologist Robert K. Ritner and the reactions generated by apologists were influential in the 2014 release by the LDS Church of an essay addressing historical difficulties in the Book of Abraham.[6]

In 2016, due to the letter's content and public criticisms of the church, his local LDS Church leaders conducted a disciplinary council to determine the membership status of Runnells, but towards the end of the council before a determination had been made, Runnells resigned his membership, exited the church building where the council was being held and stated to a crowd of supporters outside the church, "I have excommunicated the LDS Church ... from my life. ... What errors or 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? I have done nothing wrong. I just wanted the truth."[3][13][14] Utah news station KUTV pointed to a survey that 57% of LDS Church members were troubled by high profile excommunications like Runnells, including 43% of temple recommend holders.[15]

Writer Jana Riess has argued that the impact of the CES Letter has been overstated, yet important. She argues that most members that leave do so for reasons other than historical inaccuracies. Those that do leave over historical inaccuracies, according to her research with Benjamin Knoll, are a smaller, vocal, and growing group.[16] This is contradicted by a survey conducted by Podcaster John Dehlin indicating that historical reasons were a factor in 70% of former members' decisions to leave.[17]

In November 2020, FairMormon released a set of 16 videos[18] responding to Runnells, meant to appeal to Millennials and Generation Z. Latter Day Saint scholar Grant Hardy said of the videos, "I have found them belligerent, sarcastic, sophomoric, inaccurate, demeaning and offensive, ... In no way [do they] reflect Christian discipleship." In response to criticism that the videos were mocking Runnells and other disaffected Latter Day Saints, FairMormon chairman John Lynch said, "We are not trying to mock the people who are affected by the 'CES Letter,' ... We are mocking the letter itself and signal to people that this is a deceitful document, not to be taken seriously."[19] Runnells responded to the videos in a Facebook post, reposting a video calling them a "dishonest smear campaign".[20] In March 2021, FairMormon changed its name to FAIR, and removed the YouTube videos directed at the Runnells and the CES Letter. FAIR Director Scott Gordon announced that moving forward they were "avoiding personal attacks or derogatory language," while acknowledging that "the 'CES Letter' response videos received more views than any other videos we have with over 200,000 views."[21]

Other impacts[edit]

A Spider-Man comic book was published in 2018 that had a patch drawn on the protagonist that read, "CES Letter".[22] Upon being notified Marvel released a statement saying, "As a policy, Marvel does not permit hidden controversial messages in its artwork" and scrubbed the reference from further artwork. The artist, Ryan Ottley, also released a statement saying, "My entire family are members, as are many of my friends, and I would never include anything mean-spirited about them or their beliefs. The reference was in regards to a subject I am interested in and a personal decision I made in my life. It has nothing to do with the character, the story or Marvel."[23]

In 2018, when Lars Nielsen published confidential documents about the investment fund of the LDS Church, he titled his work, "Letter to an IRS Director" in homage to the "Letter to a CES Director" written by Runnells.[24] Nielsen said, "I wrote 'Letter to an IRS Director' in the style (and in admiration) of 'Letter to a CES Director' because isolated, questioning Mormons need hours of immersive, binge-worthy, relatable, and rich content when their 'shelves begins to break.'"[25]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ abPeggy Fletcher Stack "In this new era of doubt, will a stronger Mormon faith emerge?" March 11, 2016 online at:https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=3527240&itype=CMSID
  2. ^ abMichael Ash, "Bamboozled by the 'CES Letter'" 2015
  3. ^ abNancy Van Valkenburg "Author Jeremy Runnells Resigns From LDS Church At Excommunication Hearing In American Fork" Gephardt Daily News, April 18, 2016 online at: https://gephardtdaily.com/top-stories/author-jeremy-runnells-resigns-from-lds-church-at-excommunication-hearing-in-american-fork/
  4. ^ abcJohn Dehlin "Jeremy Runnells and His Letter to a CES Director" Mormon Stories Podcast, June 18th, 2014. online at: https://www.mormonstories.org/podcast/jeremy-runnells-and-his-letter-to-a-ces-director/
  5. ^Kevin Poulson "Inside the Secret Facebook War For Mormon Hearts and Minds" online at:https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-the-secret-facebook-war-for-mormon-hearts-and-minds
  6. ^ abcHarris, M. L., Bringhurst, N. G., & Mauss, A. L. (2020). The LDS gospel topics series: A scholarly engagement. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books. Location 253, 6302 of 8366
  7. ^Lauren Larson "The Mormon Church vs. The Internet" The Verge, Jul 1, 2019 online at: https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/1/18759587/mormon-church-quitmormon-exmormon-jesus-christ-internet-seo-lds
  8. ^Tarpley Hitt "The Trials of YouTube Jesus: A Mormon Apostate Fighting for His Family" Daily Beast May. 05, 2019 online at: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-trials-of-youtube-jesus-a-meme-worthy-mormon-apostate-fighting-for-custody-of-his-kids
  9. ^Anonymous Author(s) "Response to "Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony (CES Letter: My Search for Answers to my Mormon Doubts) and 'Debunking FAIR's Debunking'(Debunking FairMormon)" 20 September 2019
  10. ^Brian Hales, "'There Began to be Lyings Sent Forth among the People': The Message of Jeremy Runnells" August 4, 2014. online at: https://www.fairmormon.org/blog/2014/08/04/there-began-to-be-lyings-sent-forth-among-the-people-the-message-of-jeremy-runnells
  11. ^Jeremy Runnells, "Debunking FairMormons Debunking" online at: https://cesletter.org/debunking-fairmormon/
  12. ^Callister, T. R. (2019). A case for the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book. e-book location 923 of 4186.
  13. ^David Noyce "Author of 'Letter to a CES Director' resigns from Mormon church" The Salt Lake Tribune Published: June 20, 2016 online at:https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2016/06/21/author-of-letter-to-a-ces-director-resigns-from-mormon-church/
  14. ^Lauren Steinbrecher , Rebecca Green "Author of 'Letter to a CES Director' out of LDS Church after disciplinary council" Fox 13 News Salt Lake City, Apr 17, 2016 online at:https://fox13now.com/2016/04/17/author-of-letter-to-a-ces-director-leaves-lds-church-after-disciplinary-council/
  15. ^Larry D. Curtis "Survey: Commitment of LDS Church members chilled by high-profile excommunications" KUTV 2, November 30th 2018
  16. ^Jana Riess "Jana Riess: This is your brain on Mormon Facebook" Salt Lake Tribune, September 19, 2019 online at:https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2019/09/19/jana-riess-this-is-your/
  17. ^John Dehlin, "Understanding Mormon Disbelief:Why do some Mormons lose their testimony, and what happens to them when they do?" March 2012 online at:http://www.whymormonsquestion.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Survey-Results_Understanding-Mormon-Disbelief-Mar20121.pdf
  18. ^https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLw_Vkm1zYbIHqtOJe70CrJyAMf7fvBftZ
  19. ^Peggy Fletcher Stack "FairMormon's new satirical videos take on church critics, but does the humor miss the mark?" Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 12, 2020
  20. ^https://www.facebook.com/runnells/posts/10158069407958737
  21. ^Peggy Fletcher Stack "With its gentler approach, FAIR drops its snarky videos aimed at LDS Church critics" Salt Lake Tribune, March 24, 2021
  22. ^Graeme McMillan "'Spider-Man' Comic Features Reference to Anti-Mormon Book" Hollywood Reporter AUGUST 28, 2018 11:10AM online at: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/amazing-spider-man-comic-features-reference-anti-mormon-book-1138001
  23. ^Graeme McMillan "Marvel Removes Anti-Mormon Reference from 'Amazing Spider-Man' Comic" Hollywood Reporter, August 29, 2018 online at:https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/marvel-scrubs-anti-mormon-reference-amazing-spider-man-1138358
  24. ^Michelle Boorstein and Jon Swaine "These Mormon twins worked together on an IRS whistleblower complaint over the church’s billions — and it tore them apart" Washington Post, Jan. 16, 2020. online at:https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/these-mormon-twins-worked-together-on-an-irs-whistleblower-complaint-over-the-churchs-billions--and-it-tore-them-apart/2020/01/16/a6dcbb16-235f-11ea-bed5-880264cc91a9_story.html
  25. ^Lars Nielsen "Mormons, Here's Why I Published the Revelations About the LDS Church's $100 Billion Stockpile" Newsweek, 18 Dec 2019 online at: https://www.newsweek.com/mormons-heres-why-we-published-our-revelations-about-lds-churchs-100-billion-stockpile-1478084
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Runnells
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FairMormon's
Original Response

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. Anything less is an obstruction to the free agency of the individual.”

- Jeremy Runnells

Sours: https://cesletter.org/debunking-fairmormon/fair-original-response.html
Mormon Stories #1377: Belief After the CES Letter Pt 1 - God, Jesus, Prophets, \

FAQs & Common Attacks




No. I'm pro-truth. I'm pro-informed-consent.

I reject this vague, loaded, thought-stopping and Orwellian term. It's used by the LDS Church and programmed into its members to turn off exposure to "the rest of the story" that the Church does not want its members to know. It's a "turn it off" switch that also kills off critical thinking in members relating to the LDS Church's truth crisis.

It is absolutely astounding to me still to this day how an honest search for truth in pursuit of restoring my testimony of the restored gospel has somehow turned me into this Voldemort “anti-Mormon” who is supposedly this leader of the movement. I’m told that I can’t leave the Church alone but the Church and its minions won’t leave me alone.

I live in Utah with many Mormon family and friends that I love and spend a lot of time with. I am not anti-them. I have no problem whatsoever with the Mormon people. These people are not LDS, Inc. and LDS, Inc. are not these people.

A real life analogy that illustrates this is that a family member of mine went through the temple with her family to get sealed with her family members. I, of course, didn't go but she needed photos taken after with a high-quality camera and I happened to have one. I got in my car after they were done and went on the temple grounds and even into the lobby. I took the pictures (and luckily succeeded as one of them hangs on the wall in their home). I no longer believe in temples and what goes on in there. I had a lot of other places I'd rather be at the time. But I did it because I love and care for the Mormons in my life and if that means doing things I don't like - like going to a place that does not welcome me - I'm gonna do it to support my Mormon family and friends.

If I’m “anti” anything, I’m anti-LDS-Inc.-hiding-and-obfuscating-its-truth-crisis-from-investigators-and-tithe-paying-members-who-deserve-to-know-all-of-the-disturbing-information. Whew…that was a mouthful. Also, I’m anti-Justin-Bieber.

Critic? Fine. "Anti-Mormon"? No.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I've set up a nonprofit called CES Letter Foundation under the advice of my attorneys for various reasons. One of them to separate myself legally from the CES Letter for protection. I have been hypocritically attacked by apologists (they accept donations too) for accepting donations despite the fact that all of my work is absolutely free.

After a few years hiatus or retirement of all things Mormonism, I was provoked in 2020 by FairMormon and TITS to come out of retirement and to get back in the CES Letter saddle. I decided to renew my focus and commitment in completing all of the CES Letter related projects and tasks I've wanted to complete.

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

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

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

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

No. I resigned my membership during my Kangaroo Court in April 2016 - out of disgust for the LDS Church's truth crisis, censorship, silence and attempt to slander my name and reputation.

You can find all of the facts, details, and recordings here.

Jeremy was excommunicated from the LDS Church.

No, I was not excommunicated. I resigned my membership.

Anyone who makes this claim is either misinformed or lying. I submitted my resignation during my Kangaroo Court on April 17, 2016.

Below is proof:

I have a whole page of recordings, documents, emails, screenshots, and details on this. No one has to take my word on anything. cesletter.org/resign

Jeremy pretends to be a Latter-day Saint seeking answers when he's really not.

No. I have never pretended to be anything that I'm not.

In the introduction of the CES Letter, I wrote:

In the "About" section on the website, I wrote:

On this page, I wrote under the "Are you still a member?" question:

Further, I have a webpage found at cesletter.org/resign detailing my resignation from the LDS Church in April 2016.

I was a Latter-day Saint when I was approached by the CES Director and wrote the CES Letter in 2013.

Anyone who makes this claim is either misinformed or lying.

The CES Letter has been debunked.

No, it hasn't.

Mormon apologists and apologetic organizations have attempted to debunk it and failed. I have responded to seven of them (thousands of pages worth of detailed rebuttals!):

Give me a fair chance and read these to see for yourself what "faithful answers" from Mormon apologists really looks like.

The CES Director is fake and Jeremy crowdsourced the letter on Reddit.

One of the more insidious and recent smears leveled against me and the CES Letter is the lie that the CES Director is not a real person and that my claims about the CES Letter's origins is one big elaborate hoax.

Mormon apologists (specifically FairMormon - John Lynch, Scott Gordon, etc. - and the TITS guys) claim that instead of being approached by a CES Director, I basically twirled my evil mustache one day and decided to create a new anti-Mormon empire by collaborating with Reddit Ex Mormon to write the CES Letter.

This is all false. The truth is that I really was approached by a CES Director in March 2013 and I wrote a document that would later become known as the CES Letter between March 22 - April 13, 2013.

I shared my draft of the document on Reddit around this time after I had completed it for feedback to ensure that I wasn't wasting the Director's time but the feedback that I got was superficial and minimal and wasn't anywhere enough to create the document as apologists try to deceive their readers on. I wrote the entire document myself from beginning to end in the span of 3 weeks between March 22 and April 13, 2013.

In December 2020, I asked one of the most prominent critics of the CES Letter and Mormon apologist Jim Bennett to meet with me so that I could prove to him that the CES Director is real and that I really wrote the document and sent it to him in that period in 2013.

Mr. Bennett graciously agreed and we met up to where I opened up my Gmail account in front of him, searched the email thread with the Director, expanded the thread, let him read each email at his own pace, opened up the PDF attachment and slowly went through the whole document. I later forwarded him the original PDF document that I sent to the Director on April 2013 and he has it in his possession. Further, I showed him the Director's current position in the Church and a video of the Director talking in an official Church role.

Mr. Bennett expressed satisfaction that I'm telling the truth and later vouched for me and my claims about the CES Director and the CES Letter origins in his Mormon Stories interview a short time after:


Jeremy is the leader of the "anti-Mormon religion".

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

I was accused by a General Authority of being the "leader of the anti-Mormon religion," which I find absolutely hysterical. This attack is illuminating and humorous because it shows how many Mormons see organizations like a pyramid (top-down hierarchy with a powerful leader at the top) and that there must be a mustache-twirling leader somewhere that if they'd just attack and destroy, the whole hierarchy / empire crumbles and collapses.

The truth is that the movement - if you can call it that as it's not organized - has no leader. Nor should it have any leader. As I tell folks who might see me as a leader:

Jeremy is just out to destroy the Church. He can leave it but can't leave it alone.

I have tried to leave it. Several times. The Church and its minions (apologists) won't leave me alone.

I was approached by a CES Director in 2013 after a year of trying to get answers and to try to get closure.

I tried to leave it again in the summer of 2013 (after it started becoming more obvious the CES Director wasn't going to respond) but then FairMormon started attacking me.

I tried to leave it again in March 2014 after I released Debunking FairMormon but was pulled back in when Daniel Peterson started attacking me and the CES Letter at the FairMormon Conference. And again when Brian Hales started attacking me.

On and on the attacks came and then there was the Kangaroo Court circus in 2016. The Church wouldn't leave me alone until I excommunicated the Church from my life.

I tried to leave it again in 2017 and was happily retired for a few years until 2020 when FairMormon shocked the Mormon world by releasing the most unChristlike garbage ever called TITS (This is the Show) on its platform and its star, Kwaku El, shared death threats against myself and John Dehlin. They've even come out to declare war against me.

They also did other abhorrent and unacceptable things that I just could not let slide or remain silent on and I was forced out of retirement. In a public post on social media in March 2020, I stated:

I said in December: "I've let FairMormon and their stooges get away for far too long with their numerous falsehoods, mischaracterizations, defamation and blatant smears of my name and character and I'm done."

I've now completed 7 debunkings and will have completed 1 more by the end of next month. I'm updating / fixing the website, revamping the Debunkings section, updating the CES Letter book, adding a new audio version, typing up the new "Now What?" book, writing my autobiography rich with pictures, and much more.

If their goal was to destroy me and the CES Letter, they've failed miserably. I was enjoying my 3+ year hiatus (that I was very close to making permanent) from the CES Letter and all things Mormonism until FairMormon and Kwaku interrupted me out of my hiatus with their stupid juvenile stunts.

I immediately abandoned my hiatus and have since been back in the saddle working hard to take the CES Letter to higher levels in effectiveness and awareness.

When all is said and done a few years from now, FairMormon and Mormon apologists will be thinking this:

"We should've left Jeremy alone in his hiatus."

John Dehlin talked about this:

So, who exactly can't leave what alone here?

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

The Church and its minions won't leave me alone. They won't let members leave its organization with their dignity intact. They can't stop talking about us without throwing in words like "lost the light", "deceived by Satan", "porn", "disobedience", and "weak" in the same sentence. A General Conference can't go by without a smear or name-calling of those who left like "unruly child", "lax disciples" or "lazy learners".

So, it has become very clear to me that leaving the Church alone isn't working as the Church and its minions won't ever leave me alone. They've declared war on me. Consequently, I'm now rededicating myself to the cause and am committing to taking the CES Letter to greater levels of effectiveness, exposure and awareness.

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

"Jeremy Runnells just wants to tear down my faith and leave me comfortless in the theological rubble."

This is an attack made in 2018 by Mormon apologist Jim Bennett.

I simply share the same exact position as President J. Reuben Clark, who Jim also agrees with:

It was a letter to a CES Director trying to get official answers to resolve my concerns and doubts. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I absolutely reject and resent Jim's 2018 attack here and mischaracterization of my motives. In fact, 2021 Jim rejects this (talks specifically about my motives at the 5:15 mark):

I have no ulterior agenda here. I have no better Jesus to sell you. I'm not banking or getting rich off of this as this has always been primarily a side charity project that I've donated way too much time and energy that I mostly did not have over the years.

I do not care what you place your faith in let alone "tearing it down". I really don't. I do not care if you stay in or leave the LDS Church. It has absolutely zero effect on my life on what your LDS Church status is. I don't know you and I have no idea what is personally best for you and your own life. Only you do. Some people are better off leaving and some people are better off staying. Both are equally valid decisions.

In fact, there have been people who I know personally who have asked me about whether or not to go down the rabbit hole and I told them that I felt, based on my knowledge of them personally, they were better off in the Church today and to leave it alone unless circumstances changed and they were no longer happy and fulfilled in the Church.

My own 85-year-old grandfather had bought Rough Stone Rolling and had it on his office shelf when I visited his home. I asked him about it and if he had read it. He said he planned to and asked my thoughts about basically going down the rabbit hole of Church history. I had already spent about two years prior telling him to not read my CES Letter or to watch my Mormon Stories interview and to just ignore me on this topic. Why? Because I loved and cared about my grandfather very much and I would be damned if I was going to let my elderly, frail and vulnerable grandfather experience a crisis of faith in his mid-80s. I'd rather him believe in the Church's narrative that I'm a lost dark soul who lost my way than for him to personally suffer because of his religion's truth crisis and his leaders' failings to do the right thing.

I have had many LDS missionaries email me over the years. There have been many missionaries that, after discovering their family and background situation along with how many months they've been out on their missions, I felt strongly that it was against their well-being and safety to do a deconstruction of their religion while out in the field. I told them to drop it if they can and to just make the best of their missions. If they felt the need to revisit this when they returned home, they could do so but my advice to them was to love and serve the people and to grow personally as much as they can.

So, "Jeremy Runnells just wants to tear down my faith and leave me comfortless"? What a crock of shit.

Look...all I'm asking here is that all of the information be on the LDS table. Not 20% or 50% or 90% but 100%. I am seeing too much disruption and carnage in the lives of LDS individuals and LDS families because the LDS table is missing too much important data and information. Anything less than 100% on the LDS table is an obstruction to the free agency of the member and investigator in making a valid and complete decision as to whether or not they want to devote their lives, money and devotion to Mormonism.

We have a word for this withholding of key vital information in the real world in marriage proposals and sectors like mortgages, insurance and government: fraud.

The bottom line here is that there are legitimate and very real problems to the LDS Church's narrative and truth claims. Full stop.

You don't have to take my word for it as LDS scholars and historians have acknowledged the LDS Church's truth crisis:

You don't have to take my word for it as you can read the Church's very own Gospel Topics essays that have destroyed faith and left people "comfortless in the theological rubble", as Jim so poetically describes. And it still does everyday.

It is not me who is tearing down faith. It's the LDS Church and its narrative and truth crisis that is doing just that. I didn't create or perpetuate their truth crisis. "Prophets, seers and revelators" since Joseph Smith have. Especially since around 1910 onward when LDS Church leaders began to really see the serious and unsustainable cracks to their theology and foundation.

The real "theological rubble" here sits at the doorstep of the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. The real people who are leaving members "comfortless" with its "theological rubble" is the pandemic GameStop / Tesla banking First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve who care more about their secret $100 billion dollar slush fund than they do being truly transparent and honest with all of their members about its truth crisis.

It is not my responsibility to "comfort" anyone as I am not responsible for the LDS Church's truth crisis and its "theological rubble". This responsibility and blame rests solely on the LDS Church leadership alone.

What Jim doesn't tell you is that I do mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. Even though I did not cause the truth crisis or perpetuate it, I have donated and given many, many hours in emails and conversations with those devastated and left comfortless by the LDS Church's truth crisis by comforting them and telling them that it's going to be okay. By giving them advice on how to navigate through this while keeping themselves and their family relationships intact. One of them being my own father who I have spent many hours in conversations with for years in helping him to process the Church's truth crisis and to be at peace in his late 60s about the Church and his decades of devotion and service to it.

So, I take offense at this turd attack and smear from Jim. I take offense to Jim blaming me for his religion's truth crisis and I take offense to him painting me as this evil person without compassion or kindness who only seeks to destroy and leave people bleeding on their own.

You're just absolutely wrong here, Jim. You're completely and totally barking at the wrong tree. Go bark at that tall building on North Temple instead.

2021 Jim knows that this is not a fair or legitimate personal attack.

The CES Letter destroys marriages and families for profit.

These are among the thousands of testimonials about the CES Letter:

I shared the above testimonial to a Facebook group and got additional testimonial comments to the post below:

Other testimonials:

You often see couples sharing about how the CES Letter was influential to them and their marriages in Mormon Stories interviews. Ditto with Reddit Ex Mormon posts where it's common to see a post at least once or twice a week. Ditto with Mormon and Ex Mormon groups on Facebook.

I've not only experienced thousands of heartwarming testimonials online...I've talked to couples face-to-face in the real world. I've had dozens of experiences over the years at Sunstone and in random public places meeting couples telling me through tears and hugs that the CES Letter saved their marriages and families.

The real culprit that is destroying marriages and families is the LDS Church's truth crisis. Full stop.

The real "wrecking families for profit" is the pandemic GameStop / Tesla banking First Presidency and Q12 who care more about their secret $100 billion dollar slush fund than truly being honest and transparent to their members about Mormonism's founding and history. On top of their truth crisis, they have the nerve to slander and denigrate family members who leave the church.

The CES Letter is primarily just pointing to the LDS Church's official Gospel Topics essays confirming that the Church and its leaders have a truth and narrative problem.

You don't have to take my word for it. Here are pro-LDS historians, leaders and scholars admitting that the LDS Church has a truth crisis:

The Changing LDS Narrative

This attack on me and individuals like John Dehlin is just a deflection to keep members distracted from the real culprit and problem here: The LDS Church's truth crisis.

The absurd smear that I destroy families for profit is extremely offensive to me. It's just not true. I know from personal experiences (including having been in a mixed-faith marriage), my interactions with thousands of people struggling with the Church's truth crisis, my own heart and intentions as well as my deep understanding of the LDS Church's truth crisis that the opposite is true: the CES Letter gives couples and families a fighting chance to get through and out of the LDS Church's truth crisis intact.

The CES Letter wouldn't have gone viral had Jeremy not put it on the internet. This combined with his website shows his true intention of destroying the Church.

The person making this claim does not understand the background story and origins of the CES Letter.

I didn't decide one day to create the CES Letter and cesletter.org.

The only reason why the CES Letter exists is because the CES Director requested it. He asked me for my questions and concerns. I took his offer very seriously as I wanted to hear his answers to the problems. Since I took this very seriously, I asked for feedback on my draft in a closed Facebook group as well as on Reddit. My only focus was to send a tight letter to the CES Director with as little mistakes as possible so as to not waste his time or mine.

Well, the folks who gave the feedback in these groups liked it enough to share it with their family and friends. Next thing I know, my document is on MormonThink.com. And then next thing I know, I'm getting attacked by FairMormon. It was at this point that I realized I was getting pulled and sucked into a current that I didn't want to be pulled into.

As time went on, I learned there were some mistakes and errors in the letter. Additionally, the Church was beginning to release some of their essays verifying yesterday's anti-Mormon lies as facts. Accepting that I couldn't undo the CES Letter or take it off the internet even if I tried, I made the decision to at least make the most accurate and transparent (includes the essays) CES Letter available. I also needed a place for my Debunking FairMormon in defense from their attacks. Hence, why the website was born.

All of my work and efforts have been made from a defense position. It was in response to the CES Director's request or attacks made against me or to ensure that the most accurate CES Letter was available for download so that I wasn't spreading misinformation.

My goal was never to destroy the LDS Church. It was to get official answers from the LDS Church.

Jeremy's only goal is to get people to leave the Church.

No. My goal is not to get people to leave the Church. I have no idea what's best for people and their own lives. I don't presume to know what's best for people and their own lives.

Some people decide to leave the Church. Some people decide to stay in the Church. Both decisions can be just as valid.

My goal was to get official answers to the LDS Church's truth crisis back when I was trying to restore my testimony. I achieved my goal in a different way than I expected: the LDS Church has no answers to its truth crisis and will attempt to punish those who openly ask the questions it does not like being asked.

I believe in honesty. I believe in transparency. I believe in informed consent.

I believe that investigators and members deserve to have all of the information on the table to be able to make a fully informed decision as to what the information means to them and how they would like to proceed with it. People deserve to know about the skeletons in the closet of the organization they're devoting so much of their lives, devotion and money to.

Anything short of this is an obstruction to the free agency of the investigator and member.

Jeremy is obviously doing this for the money and the fame.

Combining all of the money and donations I've received since the beginning relating to the CES Letter lined up with all of the thousands of hours of time, all of the energy, all of the research, all of the writing and typing, all of the coding, etc. that I've donated? It's well below minimum wage. Compared to my skills and value in the market? It's nothing.

Anyone who has personally experienced the mind-numbing and brain cell terminating task of fine-tooth combing through over a million words of asinine Mormon apologetics for the purpose of debunking and deciphering Olympic gold medal mental gymnastics for the average person can testify on my behalf that I will never ever get paid enough for my debunkings alone.

CES Letter has always been a side charity project for me. It's not a career. I'm a digital marketing / analytics / optimization professional, entrepreneur and trader. Go look at my LinkedIn profile. There's nothing "CES Letter" on there. It's not how I make my living.

Individuals making the claim that I'm in this for the money just do not have a clue. No money is worth this. All of the insane barage of abuse, character assassinations, hassles and attacks that I've experienced for the donations I've received? No way. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. If this was a job, I would've quit a long time ago.

And for "fame"? Anyone who knows me personally knows that I'm an introvert who squirms in the spotlight. Given a choice between a party and a quiet evening of books, movies, or games with my wife and kids? I'm picking the latter. The times that I have put myself out there in the spotlight, I did it for the greater good. For example, before my 2014 Mormon Stories interview, people envisioned an angry and loud "anti-Mormon" out to destroy the Church with his letter but were surprised to see a soft-spoken deaf guy who mispronounced a few words along the way.

The honest truth is that I do this because so many good people, in and out of the Church, are looking for help. They just want the truth about the LDS Church's truth crisis. They want to pick up the pieces and heal their hearts and lives. They want to save their relationships. They want to preserve their dignity. And I'm in a position to help them with my talents, knowledge and experience. I get a lot of joy in alleviating despair and suffering.

Jeremy set up a nonprofit Foundation and accepts donations. Obviously he's in it for the money.

I find it hilarious that anyone thinks there's real money to be made in nonprofit Ex Mormonism. The reason why I set up the nonprofit is to legally separate myself personally from the CES Letter. The reason why I asked/ask for donations is to ease the burden that all of this tremendous amount of work requires. Some might not respect my time but I respect it and so do my kind and generous donors.

It's hypocritical - to say the least - that I'm attacked for receiving donations when dozens of unofficial Mormon apologetic groups likewise accept and receive donations. They have teams. It's mostly just me.

I further discuss the "in it for the money" nonsense here.

"Jeremy is an adulterer" or "Jeremy was arrested for beating his wife".

False and false.

This demonstrates that they've lost the argument when they resort to blatantly false claims and smears in their desperate attempts to discredit the CES Letter.

I have never once cheated on my wife. I’ve always been faithfully and happily married and I’m still faithfully and happily married today. In fact, we’re like peanut butter and jelly (our pandemic Halloween costumes):

I have never once beaten or physically harmed my precious and beautiful wife and the idea of doing so is abhorrent and repugnant to my DNA. And even if my brain somehow got hijacked and I were to dare try, it would be my amazing hot wife kicking my ass - not the other way around.

These smears are beyond offensive to me and I’m disheartened that I am even having to defend myself from these unreal lies.

When I shared these bullshit claims to my wife, she shook her head and laughed at the absurdity of it all.

I have never once been arrested or in trouble with the law aside from a few speeding tickets.

No, I'm not.

I never was a buddhist and I am not a buddhist today.

This was one of the charges used against me by the Stake President in my Kangaroo Court to support his "apostasy" claim. It's just not true.

The origin of this false claim and rumor comes from my 2014 Mormon Stories interview with John Dehlin in which I basically made the comment that if a gun was pointed to my head and I had to join a religion, I'd probably join Buddhism as I like some of their zen teachings.

Of course, my comment deliberately got taken out of context and twisted to serve the need of the LDS Church and the Stake President in painting me as an "evil apostate" who joined another religion.

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

Despite being accused by my former Stake President in the Kangaroo Court of being a buddhist (I'm not and never have been), I subscribe to no gods or religions.

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

This is the life that we know for sure that we have. We may or may not have anything after this. We don't know but it's foolish to sacrifice today and what we have for sure for a "maybe". Those who argue Pascal's Wager ignore that they ironically reject competing gods and hells of other religions along with a host of problems with this idea. I just reject one more god and one more hell than they do.

"What if you're wrong?" // Richard Dawkins

I believe in today and this very moment. I believe in life before death.

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

When Mormonism collapsed for me, I was a non-denominational Christian for a while until I realized that I hadn't applied the same scrutiny toward Christianity as I had to Mormonism. I deep dived into the foundations of Christianity and the bible and I did not like what I found down there.

I was a deist for a few years until I realized that my entire worldview was faith-based rather than evidence-based. I did a lot more reading and research on the subject and realized that deism is not supported by the evidence.

I currently identify as agnostic atheist. What this basically means is that I do not know whether or not there's a god or gods, but based on current evidence (and lack of it), I see no reason to believe there is one. I'm open to changing my views and position when there is evidence.

I do not see faith and feelings as reliable pathways to truth as anyone can claim anything is true based on faith and feelings.


The CES Letter is not "rigorous research" or "scholarly".

A BYU apologist, Hanna Seariac, wrote on Twitter:

There is a term that describes a common tactic and technique that cults and their apologists use to stop inquiry and critical thinking in their members: "thought-stopping". It's part of the BITE Model of Authoritarian Control.

This attack on the CES Letter and other critical resources like Mormon Stories is part of the "Information Control" and "Thought Control" of the BITE Model employed by the Church and its apologists.

The CES Letter was simply a letter from a regular Mormon to a CES Director outlining my concerns and questions about the LDS Church's foundational truth claims. It was not a thesis paper intended for a PhD nor was it meant to take anyone thick into the weeds although the CES Director told my grandfather that the paper was "well-written and it's like a thesis paper".

A big reason why the CES Letter went viral and has had a monumental impact over the years is that it's consumable and digestable. You don't feel like you're reading a boring textbook or a dry scientific paper. It's not written in a condescending or unrelatable way.

The reason why the CES Letter is powerful is because you are passing through a research wormhole that literally shaves off and saves you months and years of waffling and confusion because you're trapped in the apologetic forest overanalyzing irrelevant trees designed to distract you while completely missing the panoramic and sweeping view of the entire forest that the CES Letter provides.

The CES Letter is the headjack that literally streams huge amounts of data relating to the LDS Church's truth crisis in a matter of 2-3 hours what used to take people months and years to download. This is what absolutely terrifies the LDS Church and its apologists and why they're so rabid in attacking me and the CES Letter.

John Dehlin with Mormon Stories did a great TikTok rebuttal to Hanna's attack:

Now, Hanna is correct that the CES Letter is not rigorous in that it's extremely thorough and exhaustive. It's not. It's mostly questions and concerns for the CES Director to answer while pointing to the Church's official Gospel Topics essays. What Hanna is really doing here is implying that the CES Letter is not reliable or trustworthy because it doesn't fine-tooth into all the issues talking about every miniscule detail.

The CES Letter doesn't claim to do this and was not written for this purpose. The CES Letter is not a one-stop shop where people start and end their research. It's often the very beginning of an intense period of deep research into other books and resources that go much deeper and yes, in more rigorous detail on specific topics and issues.

What Hanna doesn't tell her readers though is that I do go deeper and I am very rigorous on the issues in the Debunkings where I individually and line-by-line respond to attacks on the CES Letter as well as discuss the topics and issues in finer detail (thousands of pages worth of rebuttals!)

It is common for Mormon apologists like Hanna and Church leaders like Nelson ("lazy learners") to attack those who left the Church as having not studied enough or researched enough. This attack is part of that ongoing tradition and smear campaign of denigrating those who left as not being enough.

The hard reality and truth is that former Mormons know more about the religion than ~95% of believing orthodox Mormons do. Full stop. Rather than acknowledge the religion's severe truth crisis, Mormon leaders and apologists choose to divert and distract the focus of its members with ad hominems, falsehoods, obfuscations, philosophies of men mingled with scripture (homemade Mormonism) and incomplete information about critical resources and former members.

Jeremy never really had a testimony.

My direct response to this attack can be found in the following 2 minute clip from my first Mormon Stories interview:


Jeremy has no class. He was yelling and being rude and disrespectful in his Court of Love.

This one baffled and confused me when I first heard it.

Turns out that when the video below was leaked, someone made a written transcript of the video and posted it online. Well, that someone loves their exclamation points (!) and CAPS and basically put an exclamation after every one of my sentences (after sprinkling a few words with CAPS). So, if you only read the transcript instead of actually watching the video, I can definitely see why you arrived at this false conclusion.

The transcript has since been fixed and all of the exclamation points/CAPS removed to match the tone clearly seen in the video. There was no yelling. There was no shouting. In fact, many have said that I was too patient and too respectful considering the false charges and disrespect shown to me by the Stake President. You decide for yourself:


Jeremy refuses to acknowledge his mistakes and errors (or "lies" depending on source).

Not true. Here's my "Errors and Mistakes" page on the website for the whole world to see: https://cesletter.org/debunking-fairmormon/errors.html

I have no problem whatsoever admitting my mistakes and errors. I care more about the information being correct and accurate than I do about my ego. Besides, what's another mistake to add to the list?

The CES Letter doesn't present "faithful answers" or apologetic explanations to the problems. It's deceptive.

Of course it doesn't. It was a letter to a CES Director in response to the Director's request to a list of my concerns and questions to the LDS Church's foundational claims.

The reason why I wanted the CES Director's response and answers is because they would be more official and hopefully more coherent than the bizarre and contradictory Mormon apologetic pet theories and philosophies mingled with scripture that frustrated me and made me pull out my hair the entire year before the CES Director approached me in March of 2013.

I wasn't writing a book on Mormon apologetic "faithful answers". I was writing a letter with questions for the CES Director to answer.

However, while the CES Letter doesn't focus on Mormon apologetics, my thousands of pages worth of detailed debunkings do. I've responded to at least 7 different Mormon apologists and apologetic organizations, which can be read here:


The CES Letter is just a "Big List" designed to overwhelm the reader and destroy his testimony.

This "big list" attack is also referred to as "Gish Gallop", which is defined as:

One of the most well-worn apologetic cards is that of misapplying logical fallacies. The "big list" or "Gish Gallop" that apologists refer to is a tactic used in debates to drown out reasoned response because there's a time limit. The shotgun approach is effective at giving an opponent too much to address in their allotted time, and it gives the impression that the attacker has "won" because the response is lacking.

Apologists are incorrect that the CES Letter takes any such approach. The internet is not a formal debate club and Mormon apologists do not have a time limit.

The CES Letter is not a Gish Gallop as it's a list in written form of grievances, questions and concerns to a CES Director who, by the way, requested them. The CES Letter is not a Gish Gallop as there is no time limit to respond to it.

The CES Director requested my list of doubts and concerns. I was not trying to win a debate nor did I think I was in a debate with the CES Director when I wrote the letter. It was not written to overwhelm anyone or to destroy anyone's testimony. I was seeking official answers from the Church to resolve my doubts and to hopefully restore my testimony.

The CES Director asked me to lay down my concerns on the table so I did exactly just that. I wanted his official answers. For Mormon apologists to claim that the letter is a "big list" is more of a testament of their fundamental misunderstanding of the CES Letter's background story and purpose than it is that the CES Letter is a "big list."

The apologists and the CES Director are not being drowned out and have had plenty of time to respond to each issue. In fact, apologists have and I have responded to them. You can see a list of my debunkings here.

What's ironic is accusing the CES Letter of Gish Gallop and "Big List" attack when FairMormon and apologetic websites can be accused of the exact same thing.

John Dehlin in his discussion with a Mormon apologist shares his view of apologists using this disingenuous attack against the CES Letter:

The apologetic Gish Gallop attack against the CES Letter is ridiculous. The CES Letter has been online since April 2013. There is no such thing as Gish Gallop online.

There is no timer. The internet is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

FairMormon Mormon Daniel C. Peterson <em>CES Letter</em>

Jeremy advocates vandalism and destruction of Church property.

False. This is a lie.

I wrote on Reddit on March 26, 2014 (link):

I have never advocated the destruction of property or of vandalism. I spoke out and asked that no one disrespect LDS meeting houses or LDS property (including email lists and membership information).

Jeremy advocates taking Ward/Stake/School email lists and spamming the CES Letter to them.

This is false. I have never advocated such a thing and have even spoke out against individuals using email lists to spam the CES Letter with.

I've already addressed this above here.

And I never claimed to be one.

Mormon apologists - desperate in discrediting me and the CES Letter - have created strawmen by elevating me and the letter to academia standards and then attacking me and the letter from there.

I'm not a scholar. I'm just a regular dude who wanted official answers to the LDS Church's truth crisis. I was doing everything I could to restore my testimony and to try to make the LDS Church true.

The CES Letter is just a letter to a CES Director. Nothing more. Nothing less. It was a document "laying it all out" in hopes that the director could resolve my questions and concerns.

I've learned a lot over the past 7+ years in the trenches dealing with Mormon apologists and being mentored by Mormon historians.

I've written thousands of pages worth of debunkings and rebuttals. Contrary to the "Village Idiot" that Mormon apologists desperately need me to be, I am very knowledgeable on this topic and I have tried my best to extend and share this knowledge to others in a meaningful way so that they themselves can escape the Mormon Apologist House of Mirrors quicker.

Jeremy is just rehashing old anti-Mormon lies that have been debunked a long time ago.

Talk about a dramatic one-liner that stops critical thinking right in its tracks. "Thought-stopping" as it's called with the BITE Model of Authoritarian Control.

If you think yesterday's "anti-Mormon lies" were "debunked" or that they've been "debunked" a long time ago? You haven't read the Church's Gospel Topics essays verifying that yesterday's "anti-Mormon lies" are indeed today's essays verified facts.

Dozens of Mormon historians, scholars and leaders disagree with you, including the ones in this video:

You are deluding yourself if you think "All is well in Zion" and that there's no validity or merit to the so-called "anti-Mormon lies".

If there are any other questions or attacks that I have missed, please let me know at [email protected] so that I can address them here.

Sours: https://cesletter.org/faqs-common-attacks/

Response to ces letter lds

CES Letter

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. Anything less is an obstruction to the free agency of the individual.”

- Jeremy Runnells

Sours: https://cesletter.org/
Returned missionary for the LDS church reads CES letter. Breaking the silence. This is my story.

Sveta, have you been having sex with your brother for a long time. - From the age of eight. He was ten then, and now thirteen.

Now discussing:

After all, you have to pay for the pleasure. Igor hesitated a little and began to lick Sergey's head, listening to the quiet moaning of his partner. In the next minute, Sergey's long member was already reaching Igor almost to the tonsils. - Kapets, you can also choke.



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