Jeremy Runnells, hailing from a seventh-generation Mormon heritage, achieved all the milestones within the LDS Faith: earning his Eagle Scout rank, serving as a full-time Missionary, and graduating from BYU. His journey took a transformative turn in 2012, in which he dove into a deep exploration of the church’s truth claims. A CES Director asked him to share his concerns and questions, which prompted Jeremy to write a letter to this CES Director, which when he shared it online to check his facts, went viral, becoming the well-known CES Letter today.
Seeking answers from a CES Director and receiving no response, Jeremy courageously defended his stance against attacks from apologists, and established cesletter.org for transparency. In 2016, expressing frustration with the church’s handling of truth and facing his own disciplinary council, he decided to resign, or as he puts it “excommunicate the church from his life”. Jeremy now views Mormonism as part of his past, having transcended it, and embraces a present and future grounded in love, kindness, empathy, and open-mindedness. His CES letter has helped many to see the truth crisis the church is facing, and when organized into the format many can finally see the forest for the trees. They are able to process their own shelf-breaking as less of a faith crisis and more of a self-transformation.
I was born and raised in Southern California, as a seventh generation Mormon of Pioneer heritage and I reached every Mormon youth milestone. An Eagle Scout, Returned Missionary, BYU alumnus, I was married in the San Diego Temple with expectations and plans of living Mormonism for the rest of my life. I was a Mormon.
In February 2012, I experienced an awakening to the LDS Church’s truth crisis, which subsequently led to a faith transition that summer. In the spring of 2013, I was approached and asked by a CES Director to share my questions and concerns about the LDS Church’s origins, history, and current practices. In response, I wrote what later became publicly known as the CES Letter.
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.
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.
For me, having been a Mormon is like the other stages of my life. It’s something that I was, and it’s something that I did. It had its positives and negatives. But my current self is not defined by my former relationship to that church. I lived in New York City – I’m not an ex-New Yorker. I attended and graduated from BYU but I’m not ex-BYU. I was a Mormon.
I’ve graduated and transcended from Mormonism. It’s a part of my past but it no longer is a part of my present and future. To me, it’s something like my missionary journals… I’m reminded of my past from time to time seeing the journals on my bookshelf but it no longer has much power or much influence over my present life and my future.
I believe in love. Kindness. Empathy. Compassion. Respect. I believe in today and this very moment. I believe in life before death. There is awe, wonder and mystery in the Universe. I embrace open-mindedness over dogmatism.Jeremy Runnells
This is a spotlight on a profile shared at wasmormon.org. These are just the highlights, so please find the full story at https://wasmormon.org/profile/jeremyrunnells/ or https://cesletter.org/faqs-common-attacks/#story. There are over a hundred more stories of Mormon faith journeys contributed by users like you. Come check them out and consider sharing your own story at wasmormon.org!
When creating a profile, you may select a privacy level you are comfortable with. There are options to display a profile publicly, to not receive a spotlight on social media, to keep it private to only other site members, or to have the profile completely unlisted. wasmormorg.org is for you to share your story how you want, not to dox you.