Author of ‘Letter to a CES Director’ out of LDS Church after disciplinary council

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AMERICAN FORK, Utah -- A crowd gathered outside an LDS Church in American Fork Sunday night to show support for Jeremy Runnells, who was attending a disciplinary council that ultimately resulted in the end of his membership in the Mormon faith.

People clapped and cheered, as well as held signs that said, "Thank you Jeremy," to show support.

To them, Runnells was breaking new ground by breaking away from the LDS Church.

"I just really felt like this is history, and I had to be here," said Jerry Byers, who traveled from California for the event. "Nobody's put together something like this."

Jeremy Runnells gained prominence after writing a lengthy piece called "letter to a CES [Church Education System] Director."  Earlier this year, Runnells said he was facing excommunication as a result of his writings questioning some tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In his letter, Runnells raises a number of doubts and questions about the Mormon religion and its history. Some of the topics include Joseph Smith's polygamist practices and the writings in the Book of Mormon.

Runnells said he was promised a response by the CES director, but he said that never came. He said he was then approached by his stake president (a regional leader who oversees several congregations), who he said also promised answers.

"Three years and no answers from the CES director, and a year and a half of no answers from my stake president," he said. "It became very obvious that the church does not have answers."

Runnells said in January, he finally got communication--but it called for disciplinary council.

According to a Mormon resource site, the purpose of a disciplinary council is to discuss sins with the person, pray, and figure out how to move forward.

The results can range from no action, to excommunication.

"This is how the Church is treating people who have questions, people who rise up and say, 'Hey, can you answer this? This doesn't make sense,'" said Steve Holbrook, who helped organize a vigil for Runnells before his disciplinary council meeting.

On the CES Letter website it states Runnells was facing charges of apostasy, but states he feels the letter, "represents Runnells' sincere attempt to obtain answers to legitimate questions and doubts through proper church leadership channels."

Runnells said during disciplinary council he was told it was unacceptable to go public with his concerns and questions.

After his meeting, Runnells came outside and proclaimed: "I have excommunicated the LDS Church." He said he was the one who decided to resign.

Runnells is legally deaf, but the applause that broke out rang loud and clear. Some said this shows the church needs to change, or at least, start answering questions.

Officials with the LDS Church declined to comment on the disciplinary council, saying they are private matters.

208 comments

  • Andy Hunter

    Mormon church leaders are unable to answer honest enquiry.
    Their only answer to the honest enquirer of truth, is threat and discipline.
    Church leaders are spiritually dead. Tithing money is their temporary saviour, and which affords them their counterfeit sense of security and power.

    • bob

      Rather dimwitted. If you don’t believe in it, why be a member? And if you don’t want to be a member, why make a scene?

      That’s not “courageous.” It’s someone who craves attention.

      As far as I’m concerned anyone who believes that an invisible spaceman is watching his every move has to be a bit “off”, but I really don’t care what other people choose to believe.

      • retard watcher

        If everyone who didn’t want to be in the church wasn’t in the church, nobody would be in the church. It’s great that someone can ask questions, and if they weren’t publically displayed then the church would just bury the issues. I think people who remain in the church are there because they are basically entrapped and not courageous enough to just leave. Leave your family and friends and all that economic and moral investment into the pocket of the machine… not so easy to admit that your grandpa, father and son are all retards (clinically speaking).

      • Troyboy1

        The problem is, you try to leave the so called church, and they keep harassing and sending people to track you down. They find it difficult to just cut you loose and let you be. That’s why people who want to leave have to fight their way out.

      • BOB

        @TROYBOY1
        No troyboy1, when you write your letter asking to have your name removed from their records they don’t try and track you down. Nice rumor but false.

      • Finally Free

        @Bob That’s really funny, when I resigned they continued to send me email, called me to try and get me back, and within a year were back to sending people to check up on me

      • Hewwro

        Funny how often I see you aggressively defending your church like an ass. Do you honestly think you are doing any good for your church? Do you honestly think that you are ‘leading by Christ’s example’ the way you judge, condemn, denigrate those who have left the tribe?

        Your attitude for those whom have left is much more in line with children whom are butt hurt over their friends going to play with other friends and leaving them out. People who actually walk-the-walk from your church would be more likely to give people a “good luck” rather than the messages you provide. It is toxic people like you that make people begin questioning their faith, when they see the horrible example that you lead by.

        I can’t wait to see this church fall. The signs of weakening are showing. Growth has slowed, retention is down… you are on a sinking ship and you don’t realize it :)

      • BOB

        @HEWWRO
        When a child throws a temper tantrum and doesn’t get his own way it is best to ignor him. Mr. Runnells isn’t looking for sympathy and so why give him any?

      • Chris

        I resigned and within 2 weeks the bishop was at my door telling the person who answered who wasn’t me that I resigned. He has come back twice since. They do too keep harassing you, However, to borrow from John Larsen, what kind of sociopath would give their entire life to the church, money time, hopes and dreams, discover such problems and then just waltz off in to the night and never mention any of it again? Your line of criticism is ridiculous.

      • Jason

        @Hewwro
        Don’t hold your breath bud. Signs of the church weakening? I’m no expert, but to me it seems like every conference they are announcing multiple new temples to be built. A church that’s supposedly obsessed about money, (according to every anti\ex Mormon on reddit) wouldn’t be spending millions of dollars to build and maintain a temple if it wasn’t serving the spiritual needs of thousands of people in an area. So interpret that how you like, but like I said, don’t hold your breath about the church falling.

      • Spencer Reid

        To the people that say the church doesn’t harass people who are excommunicated or have their names removed from the churches records, has never done that. My wife had her name removed from the records 10+ years ago, and to this day we still get people coming to our house wanting her to come back to the Fold. Even though she repeatedly tells them she does not interested in going back to the Church. IN the Local ward they went as far as having the Bishop come over and try to talk to us about the church.

      • BOB

        @RETARD WATCHER
        Those who don’t want to be in church never show up, and those who want to be there fill the chapel Retard Watcher.

    • Phil Ollero

      Tithing money is great but that’s not a reason to excommunicate. Do you ever wonder why the church don’t own a private jet to transport it’s leaders? They can afford to buy 5 Jumbo jets and yet not buy even one. The president of the church don’t get a salary. The reason why the church don’t acknowledge his letter is because they don’t want yo embarrass him. It is a private as far as the church is concern.

  • Kdc

    Lol, this guy actually tried to ask logical, fact based questions to cult elders and thought he’d get logical, fact based answers? I mean the elders and leaders do all the thinking for you; that’s like taught in cult 101. Silly rabbit!

    • BOB

      Jeremy Runnells sowed the seeds of his apostasy a long time ago. He carefully nutured and watered it until it matured. Nothing short of visit from a heavenly angel would have satisfied him at this point. Nothing new here. It is the same old story that has been repeated countless times since the beginning.

  • HaroldTheCat

    My Congratulations to Jeremy Runnells for resigning from the Mormon Church and taking his power back.

    Our 1st Amendment right, freedom of assembly, gives consenting individuals and churches the right to associate with each other. Likewise, one or both can freely dissociate from the other through expulsion or just simply by walking away as a matter of choice. So, Mr. Runnells has every right to separate (resign) from membership in a church and likewise the LDS Church can separate (excommunicate) Mr. Runnells from their organization. This societal custom is akin to many businesses that won’t tolerate an employee making certain unwanted claims, questions, and comments about their executives or their product line, and consequently could dismiss the employee within the bounds of the law. Even though threatening Runnells with excommunication is lawful, as non-participants we can only speculate if it was the proper thing for church leaders to do within the context of the gospel and church government.

  • Anotherbob

    Ending the membership should be considered a reward as opposed to a result of disciplinary action, good for him for finding freedom from this cult.

    • BOB

      The apple orchard benefits when dead limbs are pruned, and likewise the garden benefits when the weeds are removed.

      • Bert

        When the lawnmower blade is set too low, the grass burns up from exposure to the sun that was there all along.

      • BOB

        @BERT
        Probably why the farmer waters his crops. Look at any apple orchard Bert. You can always spot the ones that have farmers who are successful.

      • anotherbob

        Sounds like something a religious elitist boner would say. Instead of being Christ like and valuing everyone regardless of how they live their life or what church they do or don’t belong to, you’re comparing those that leave/don’t agree with the church to that of weeds and dead limbs who are worthless. You’ve already stated this response multiple times in the same thread so I’d imagine you try and use this analogy in everyday conversation whenever possible. At least Jeremy is asking questions and trying to understand the inconsistencies of what he is taught, as opposed to to accepting what’s force fed down his throat like a good obedient sheep like yourself should.

  • tracy

    my parents were excommunicated in the 70’s for the same exact thing. They asked questions and it was viewed as bad. I was very young but recall very clearly when it occurred because I was no longer allowed to play with my friends at school anymore — or rather, they were no longer allowed to play with me. The LDS church expects blind acceptance of everything they say, even if it contradicts something previously or seems in complete contradiction to the Bible. They will tell you the Book of Mormon always trumps the bible.

  • Dee

    The parallel between Runnels and Martin Luther is apparent, as is the behaviour of the LDS Church to that of heretic burning catholicism from the dark ages.

    How on earth do LDS leaders sleep straight when they face genuine questions, based on solid factual information that in effect corrects the way they’ve misrepresented the history of the LDS Church? How is it possible a dozen or so men can sit in those chapels and seek to condemn men like JR for the act of presenting factual questions that very reasonable overturn the lies the church has fed its own flock for generations?

    The Nuremberg trials established the fact that men are guilty of their own crimes, and an attempt to blame leaders above them offers no excuse. In this instance we see men like Stake leaders ignoring the evidence, ignoring the need for a fair and impartial hearing, ignoring morality, and seeking only to offer what is as far as mormonism is concerned an Eternal Death sentence on people like JR.How can they sleep straight?

    I wonder if the LDS Church leaders realise that in future generations they’ll all be regarded as moral defunct? As abusers. Not one of them will leave a legacy as anything other than either morally blind or a criminal and a manipulator.

  • ANOTHER-ANOTHERBOB

    Apostasy is not something new. It began when Cain slew Able. There is a difference between honest sincere questions and attacks on the teachings of the Mormon Church.

    • BOB

      Whether Jeremy Runnells is or isn’t a homosexual is a moot question. What questions about homosexuality do you think he may have asked?

      • Hewwro

        If it’s a “moot question” then why the hell did you bring it up?! :-D The wiring in your head is all sorts of F’dup. I love how you so confidently announce how he is “obviously a homosexual”, as if you are an expert at detecting homosexuals; you also failed to do any sort of digging about Jeremy to determine if your false notions were accurate. This reveals how flawed your thought process is, which goes something like this:
        1. Observe something that goes against your views
        2. React with aggression and on assumptions (DO NOT RELY ON FACTS!)
        3. Deny any flaws in your own reasoning
        4. Deflect any arguments or questions that prove you wrong
        5. Act like an ass and treat others in a demeaning way that is un-Christlike
        6. Pat yourself on the back for being self-righteous. CLEARLY you are Celestial Kingdom material! [/sarc]

      • C'MON HEWWRO

        @hewwro
        Only the slow-witted fail to realize that there are multiple Bob’s and Anotherbob’s on this web sit HEWWRO. Are you slow-witted or what?

    • Hewwro

      Another close-minded white sheep, defending a church that is fraudulent. The event was put on by people he knew, not himself personally, so your accusation is false — then again if facts meant anything to you, you wouldn’t be Mormon.

    • BringerOfLight

      Hardly. He waited over a year and a half to get some answers that nobody in the church was willing to give. The CES Letter got big without him even trying. It went viral on its own after he posted it. He more or less started doing the things he did to cope with the attention he was getting, and the amount of traffic he was getting on the web. This is hardly 15 minutes of fame, this has been a slow crescendo into the spotlight over the last 3 years. None of which he necessarily wanted or asked for.
      He’s not lost. He found himself, maybe for the first time ever.

      Maybe you should read the CES Letter yourself. Its completely cross-referenced with all church-sanctioned sources. Maybe you’ll actually learn something about this organization you likely (based on your comment) blindly obey. The Church’s “moral regulations” for lack of a better term are the very thing they rail against. Coercion to do right, or else.
      A man chooses, a slave obeys. Which are you?

  • DJ

    Jeremy, I empathize with the dilemma you describe. I suffered through the same crisis at a time when I was in the Stake mission presidency and had been a High Counselor. The Christian support system that Brigham Young founded works well BUT the theology requires so much amending that it fails the test of Truth. Leaving that entrenched way of life is a personal apocalypse. It feels like you’re in a tunnel with no light at the end. I learned the following:
    1. People will say you “Left” the church, or you “Quit” the church. Remind yourself that you “Fired” the church. That’s a positive statement, not loaded with the judgment of the “faithful” but narrow-visioned members.
    2. You can’t move on until you virtually “Kill” the old you. Don’t drag it around with you no matter how empty and betrayed you feel. Possibly even suicidal.
    3. There is a path ahead of you which is filled with light and love. It took me 20 years of patiently tending to my daily routine until my path became obvious. Unexpectedly, it was family from the other side who steered me to a path I would have summarily rejected in my Mormon life. It was worth suffering the apocalypse to replace the “conditioned” spirituality with a true connection.
    I can’t suggest what will come your way. But, hold to the good that you still honor and patiently stay open to the true God who loves you. DJ

  • MrSelatcia

    It should be noted that although Jeremy is legally deaf he was refused the help of an interpreter. The church had no interest in his input.

  • BOB

    The apple orchard benefits when dead limbs are pruned, and likewise the garden benefits when the weeds are removed.

  • Adam W.

    It is very safe to rail against the Church–they do not contend back. Unfortunately the same people who are critical of “blind obedience and belief” take Mr. Runnell’s claims at face value. Bravo to those brave enough to stand up to the Mormon Church knowing full well all they have to lose is their membership (which they care precious little for anyway). Those critical continue to ask the same questions that have been answered many times before. They simply don’t like the answers. This, of course, is clearly an indicator that they have been mishandled and abused all those years they were forced to go to church. As for myself, I have had honest questions in the Church and, while some things are still unexplained, I have received answers.

    • Wannabob

      Exactly. People who leave the church are the most arrogant people in the world. They seem to think that they are the only ones who ever had those questions when the fact is many of us have had the same questions and found satisfactory answers in the scriptures, teachings of the prophets, and through prayer and personal revelation. I learned about most of the things he questions in my religion classes at BYU. They’re nothing new and nothing that hasn’t been addressed previously.

      • KJ

        Wow, WB. “People who left the church are the most arrogant people in the world.” Look at yourself. You do not know the people who left the church. You know nothing.

    • Briahnna Perkins

      You were able to get an answer as to why it was okay for Joseph to marry other mens’ wives?! Please inform the apostles, because even they are asking church researchers to figure that out! Especially since the revelation on polygamy in D&C 132 said they needed to be virgins. But hey, rules are only rules if they can be bent by those in charge, right?

  • Bob

    Thank you Jeremy. You are an inspiration. The Church can no longer keep all its secrets buried. You are a true pioneer!

  • Dave

    After reading the letter, I can say that while I agree there is plenty of evidence that the LDS branch of Mormonism has some serious perception and honesty issues, I didn’t find anything in the letter that prove Mormonism itself false. If one thinks the Book of Mormon is pointing towards the Catholic Trinity, for example, join the Community of Christ. They are just as Mormon as the LDS branch of the faith. And, this is but one example.

    I will be going through this and publishing a response on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ in Christian Fellowship, though it may take a month or two as I have a full time job and other responsibilities. But the world should know that the heavens are not closed and the answer can be found in personal study and personal revelation. There is no reason to think that Jesus isn’t real or that Mormonism isn’t true just because one branch of our faith doesn’t have answers to questions.

  • Wannabob

    Take a look at the website linked in this article. He is asking for people to donate money to him. We are only getting part of the story. I would bet the leaders responded to his questions, but he wanted an excuse to get out and ask people to send him money. Even Kate Kelly, who asked leaders to pray about women getting the priesthood refused to accept a very direct answer to her question spoken over the pulpit in general conference. This guy has it even better than that since he can share the only narrative of what happened and people will believe him because they are also looking for an excuse to hate the church.

    • Milksteak

      Right, so that’s the pattern from the in group to keep people in line. Ad hominem attacks on the character of critics. We get it, you feel existential angst at the idea the church isn’t what it claims to be and the answers to life’s difficult questions may not have easy answers, so this is your strategy for avoid contradictory information.

    • Cameron

      That’s true, I actually met with Jeremy once, and he asked me to sell my car and donate the money to him so he could continue his “research.” I found it annoying that he was doing the exact same thing he condemns Mormons for doing.

  • don williams

    JR should sue the LDS Church for 30 Years of tithing at 10% of income.
    They took his money under false pretenses as a ponzi sccheme.
    Then they would have to answer his questions or open up the flood-gates fo lawsuits

    • BOB

      You’re such a silly rabbit Don. If he won then he’d have to pay back taxes to the IRS for the deductions he claimed.

      • Brad Porter

        Just because Mr. Runnells claims to have debunked Fairmormon’s response doesn’t mean he was successful. He wasn’t. The reference above provides detailed and exhaustive responses to Mr. Runnells claimed debunking, illustrating the weakness of his responses. I like to use the example of Noah and the flood because it is rather simple. If Mr. Runnells cannot concede Fairmormon’s points on this subject, it would appear that he is not really interested in answers, but only interested in advertising the questions. If I were in Church hierarchy, I would consider his letter “fair”ly responded to.

    • Hewwro

      You’re selectively choosing what material to read and looking to only accept what appeals to your emotions and preconceived notions. Try to debunk the CES Letter yourself, without relying on biased sources. Here’s what you do… read the CES Letter, and dig into LDS Church history for yourself to see if you can find any elements of the letter that are not accurate or are dishonest in some way.

  • Nancy

    Wow after scanning the comments I didn’t see any Christlike or even remotely kind remarks from any believing Mormon church member. No wonder people are leaving the Mormon church in droves.

  • Pablo

    Don’t let the comments attacking Mr. Runnells’ motives distract you from the fact that Mormons believe pre-Columbian Native Americans used to roam the plains on horse-drawn chariots and that the first 7 presidents of the church practiced polygamy, some with girls as young as 14 (a few months shy of 15th birthday), including Lorenzo Snow taking teen brides 40 years his younger.

    • TBM

      Goto the Churches website and find out how many wives Brigham had. LDS.org says 2. And the same is being said by the tour guides at the beehive house. The real answer is 55+. But he the church continues to lie about its true history.
      And when converts find out they have been lied to, they don’t take it very well! Read the first vision account in the Pearl of great Price. Then read the original account from Joseph Smith on LDS.org. Oops. Somebodies lying again. And it s the Church!

  • TBM

    After the Church gets through thinning the heard.The remaining members will all be Bob’s. Imagine that. A Church with no sinners.

    • Hewwro

      Bingo! As the rational and sane people learn more about the LDS Church and determine it’s false, all that will be left over is the fanatics whom blindly follow whatever they are told and avoid facts at all costs. Facts kill religion, best that believers stay away from those.

  • BOB

    @NANCY
    The wise mother doesn’t show a lot of sympathy for the child that throws a temper tantrum, hits his head on the wall, and then comes crying to mommy.

    • Hewwro

      Look who’s throwing the tantrum here BOB :-D How much time do you spend in the comments section on every church related article? You’re deluded.

      • Tommy

        Haha I like how you call everyone who doesn’t agree with you “deluded.” I guess you gotta say what you do to make yourself feel less deluded and obsessed in a comment section. To me this comment should be a dictionary example of ‘hypocrisy.’

      • Hewwro

        It has less to do with “agreeing with me” and more about cognitive dissonance. Yes, you’re deluded if you immediately reject any sources of information based on the assumption that the information is “anti-mormon” and is therefore unreliable. Until you have taken the so called “anti-mormon” material and done your own research, you are deluding yourself by cowardly hiding in your bubble where you continue muttering to yourself “I know this church is true! I know this church is true!”.

  • Bob

    I’m not deluded. I ate jello with Joseph Smith yesterday in one of my visions. He said not to listen to people like you!

    • Hewwro

      If you were deluded, would you know it? Why should anyone here listen to people ‘like you’? Your behavior and treatment of others is completely out of sync with what your church teaches. Fanatics — such as yourself — tend to have a difficult time with self-realization and understanding this problem.

    • Hewwro

      “You’d mock if people expressed sorry for Mr. Runnells and you’d condemn if they don’t”

      Are you a future seer Bob? Do you have a magic rock in a hat that tells you what people would or wouldn’t do? I’m mocking you because of your obsessive desire to use the comments section as a sounding board (even-though only a handful of people will ever read your rubbish) and for what? What do you expect to come of your remarks?

      I don’t personally care what your opinion is of Jeremy or anyone else, I’m not here to defend Jeremy, but out of curiosity as to what you actually expect your comments to do? They aren’t intended to lure people back to the LDS Church, so that can’t be your intent. Your comments are often put-downs, poorly researched, and false accusations and don’t represent your church well at all. So what’s the point?

      I’m a curious observer — like studying a mental patient’s behavior, trying to learn the depths of their madness and way of viewing the world. So far my observations have led me to wonder if you enjoy the thought of inflicting misery and shame upon other people, much like a bully would do. I don’t think you wish good fortune anyone whom opposes your church, you seem to only wish the worst for them and treat them like they are despicable people, not realizing that it is you whom is despicable in your behavior.

      It truly is fascinating. You cling to your religion as if it is the source of purity and good, but do a piss poor job of implementing those values that are at the core of your church’s teachings. You’re a walking contradiction, a hypocrite, lurking in the comments section doing more damage to your church than good :)

    • Razor

      They even have a link to the CES letter in the article. Go FOX13. Your awesome! The Brethren may not be happy about the coverage. They like it to keep it on the down low when they shoot themselves in the foot!!

      • BOB

        Your problem with the Mormons RAZOR is the position they take on inmorality. Funny thing for a religious organization to get involved in. Don’t you agree?

  • BOB

    @HEWWRO
    Only the slow-witted fail to realize that there are multiple Bob’s and Anotherbob’s on this web sit HEWWRO. Are you slow-witted or what?

  • Doubtful

    I don’t believe in the Church, but it’s clear to me Runnels is an apostate from the LDS church and excommunication was a reasonable response by them. Runnels is no longer just seeking answers to his questions but obviously using this as a forum to promote his beliefs. It appears the original questions were sincere, but now there’s a website soliciting money for those who support Runnels message. There are carefully worded questions about why his questions aren’t being answered and no mention of the other sides point of view (presumably saying something to the effect that they won’t answer them now stop making this a public spectacle).

    Go live your life Jeremy. I think you got what you wanted.

    • Regina

      “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation.
      If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”
      – President J. Reuben Clark –

      • BOB

        The day has come when good is called evil, and evil is praised. You’re problem involves your association with the LGBTQ community, and I’m guessing not everyone in your family approves of it.

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