Thursday, February 11, 2016

CES Letter Author Jeremy Runnells to Face Disciplinary Action: The Non-Scandal

As all students of Christianity know, poor St. Sebastian was viciously martyred after simply voicing some innocent doubts about Diocletian and the Roman government. 

Those who have studied the history of Christianity will be familiar with the term hagiography. The term derives from Greek and means, essentially, writings about saints. Hagiographical accounts were valuable tools to inspire faith and devotion in believers by chronicling the life, miracles, and not infrequently persecution and/or martyrdom of the subject. Today, however, hagiography has also come to take on a pejorative sense for a biography that is uncritically reverential or positively biased in the portrayal of a given individual.

Fox 13 News has picked-up the non-story of Jeremy Runnells being called in for a disciplinary hearing. Frankly, Jeremy is a textbook example of apostasy as defined by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has quite literally set up a non-profit foundation so that he could get paid to attack the Church and lead people out of it. (Yes, seriously.)

Yet, in his press release (an auto-hagiography, if you will), Jeremy paints himself as a tragically persecuted doubter and martyr who just wants his own questions answered.
CES Letter represents Mr. Runnells’ sincere attempt to obtain answers to legitimate questions and doubts through proper church leadership channels. Instead of providing pastoral support to Mr. Runnells, the LDS Church has chosen to continue its recent trend of excommunicating members who openly question or doubt church teachings.
Let’s do a little history. Since Jeremy is hung up on how the Church lied, whitewashed, and omitted history, and since he is dedicated to “100% transparency, openness and honesty,” I presume he won’t be upset with a little fact-checking of his story.

Jeremy can boast more than one epistle in his corpus. In October 2012 he wrote the so-called “Open Letter to Elder Quinten L. Cook.” This letter drips with sarcasm as he blatantly mocks Elder Cook’s General Conference talk from that month. This is more than 3 years ago, and it is quite clear where he stands. (I'll wait while you go ahead and read it.)

A month later, on November 15, 2012, he openly stated, “I’m [born-in-the-covenant], [returned missionary], Temple Married who left the church a few months ago (haven’t resigned yet).”

So, at this point Jeremy had already left the church. Although he hadn’t formally resigned, he indicated that he intended to at some future point (“yet”). Not only that, but in the same message he stated, “I have a [true believing Mormon] wife who still takes kids to church. I want to know the most effective way to save them from Mormonism so they won't have to go through what I went through.” Not only does he already consider himself as “out” of the Church, he is trying to lead others—namely, his wife and children—out of the Church as well.

Forgive me if this does not look much like a sincere person just looking for answers. Mind you, all of this was before he even wrote the CES Letter. You see, his mind was already made up when his grandfather asked him “to speak to his CES Director friend, about [his] concerns.” So what did he do? He drafted the CES Letter, then asked a bunch of ex-Mormons online for “feedback/advice.” He even sent them a second draft, asking again, “Let me know what you guys think before I send.”

Since then, at Jeremy’s encouragement, the CES Letter has become an ex-Mormon tract, used as a weapon against unsuspecting family and friends in hopes that it will destroy their testimonies. When people started to point out that there are answers to his questions (including FairMormon, Daniel Peterson, Brian Hauglid, Brian and Laura Hales, Kevin Christensen, Michael Ash, Jonathan Cannon, Jeff Lindsay, and yours truly multiple times), rather than graciously accept them or perhaps reconsider his thoughts on these matters, he doubled down and responded with vitriol, sarcasm, and rhetorical posturing. Don't believe me? Look no further than Jeremy's vitriolic, sarcastic, and petulant response to Dan Peterson. 

Jeremy insisted on “debunking” and writing “rebuttals” until the compulsive urge to respond to everything and anything contradicting the CES Letter became too much. At that point, instead of walking away, he essentially quit his day job and set up a non-profit foundation for leading people out of the Church. Some of the goals he has set for himself include:

  • Catching up and debunking FairMormon’s newest claims and attacks (full-time job)
  • Rebuttal to Mormon polygamy apologist Brian Hales
  • Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV Rebuttals to Mormon apologist Kevin Christensen
  • Rebuttals to other Mormon apologists
“Apologists,” of course, are those who are defending the Church, and Jeremy has dedicated himself to rebutting virtually anything they say. The CES Letter has become his identity and he can’t stand having it “attacked.” Just this last October he wrote, “I don’t care about the LDS Church anymore. Its foundational truth claims are demonstrably false.” If he doesn't care about the Church, as it is "demonstrably false," then why is he so concerned about remaining a member? Perhaps so he can continue to grandstand as a simple Mormon with sincere questions, as he has done for the press? Whatever the answer, it is obvious that this has become an deeply personal issue for Jeremy, not a simple matter of him having some questions.

In July 2015, someone started a thread in the ex-Mormon subreddit asking why Jeremy had not yet been excommunicated. In response Jeremy protested that it would be a “grotesque injustice” to excommunicate him. "Grotesque." Even if you think excommunicating Jeremy is wrong, I hope you can see that this is a grotesque overstatement. Sex trafficking, rape, child slavery, murder, genocide—these are "grotesque" injustices. Telling someone that if they are going to openly mock the leaders and fight against the beliefs of an organization then they cannot be a part of that organization anymore? In any other world outside the myopic, twisted, bigoted virtual corridors of /r/exmormon this would be seen as common sense.

Still, Jeremy’s comments are revealing. He says, “I didn’t lead people away from the Church. I don't accept this phraseology. People made their own decisions to leave the Church after learning information that was kept concealed from them. All I did was share my reasons for doubting and pointed to the sources.”

I'm sorry, but you just can’t go around spreading arguments for a certain point of view and then disclaim any responsibility for what happens when people are exposed to and accept those arguments. To just simply deny responsibility is, well, irresponsible. (Especially since Jeremy can be found coaching people on how to best share it, whom to share it with, how to get people “open” to the idea that the Church is false, etc.) This rhetorical trick is clever, but is little more than a version of the "just asking questions" fallacy.

Still think Jeremy is just someone sincerely looking for answers? He has recently made the unequivocal statement, “Yes, my position in 2015 is that the LDS Church is based on a foundation of fraud.” Doesn’t get much clearer than that. While he goes on to say that he “was still wrestling with figuring things out 2 years ago when [he] was approached by the CES Director,” we have already shown that this was not the case, and that he had made up his mind at least 6 months before.

And since I already know that Jeremy is going to cry ad hominem here (it is his standard response to anyone who ever questions his account of things), let me point out, paraphrasing him (as quoted by Fox News):
I asked questions (about his current version of the story), I shared my concerns (with its accuracy), and I shared facts and information that are backed by his own statements and actions. So if sharing the truth, and publicly, is ad hominem, then I think that’s a problem. 
It is undeniable that Jeremy Runnells is in open apostasy against the Church, and as such is unsurprisingly being subjected to a disciplinary council. His disciples may write gushing (if not wholly misleading) hagiographies of him to be used as didactic tools among the (un)faithful, but responsible news organizations will hopefully do their homework before blindly buying into his blatantly deceptive narrative and ludicrous non-scandal.

76 comments:

  1. I just read Jeremy's Open Letter to Quinten L Cook like you suggested. I cannot believe the arrogance and the anti-mormon bigotry. He blasphemes God's prophet Joseph Smith by accusing him of sleeping with 14-year old girls like some sort of perverted monster and people are wondering why he's being excommunicated? Where are these anti-mormon lies coming from?

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    1. "Where are these anti-mormon lies coming from?"

      In Jeremy's case, most likely from a fundamental ignorance of the best available historical scholarship from the likes of Todd Compton, Brian Hales, Craig Foster, Greg Smith, J. Spencer Fluhman, and others, who have all commented on the lack of evidence for sexuality between Joseph Smith and Helen Mar Kimball.

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    2. Helen Mar Kimball? Why would the Prophet be sexual with someone who was not his wife?

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    3. Refer to the church's own essays. The church has confirmed that Joseph a Smith married Helen Mar Kimball, a girl "a few months shy of her fifteenth birthday."

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    4. Stephan,

      "Helen Mar Kimball? Why would the Prophet be sexual with someone who was not his wife?"

      I'm not sure what you're asking, but I think what you're getting at is what lies at Joseph Smith's concept of "sealing" and what that entailed, which could include both sexual and non-sexual unions with women as plural wives.

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    5. Unknown,

      Yes, I'm very much aware of the essay "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo." In fact, I've actually read it! Have you? Did you notice the part where the essay says, "Helen Mar Kimball spoke of her sealing to Joseph as being 'for eternity alone,' suggesting that the relationship did not involve sexual relations." Important not to miss those kinds of details.

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    6. I'm confused. You're not seriously suggesting that the Prophet committed adultery on Emma, are you? That was a lie invented by the Brighamites out in Utah after the Prophet's death. I get that the FLDS and followers of Warren Jeffs still believe this but nobody has produced any descendants to the Prophet except through his lawful marriage to Emma. And she was pregnant with their youngest child when he was martyred. So we know he was fertile.



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    7. Wait a second Stephen... Are you seriously suggesting that the Prophet was sealed in marriage during his lifetime to someone who was not his wife Emma? And that she was 14 to boot? What independently corroborated evidence do you have for this?

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    8. The Essay completely takes what Helen wrote in her autobiography out of context. She writes:

      "She [Vilate Kimball] had witnessed the SUFFERINGS of others, who were older & who better understood the step they were taking, & to see her child, who had scarcely seen her fifteenth summer, following in the same THORNY PATH in her mind she saw the MISERY which was SURE TO COME as the sun was to rise and set; but IT WAS ALL HIDDEN FROM ME.

      I thought through this life my time will be my own
      The step I now am taking's for eternity alone,
      No one need be the wiser, through time I shall be free,
      And as the past hath been the future still will be. (Autobiography, pg. 2) found here, https://dcms.lds.org/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE6157955

      Helen THOUGHT that the step would be for "eternity alone." That is the correct context here. Notice the absolutely tortured language. This was not about a few missed dances. Why, because as Helen later wrote:

      “The principle (polygamy) was established by the Prophet Joseph Smith and ALL who have entered into it in righteousness, have done so for the purpose of raising up righteous seed…” https://archive.org/stream/whywepracticepl00whitgoog#page/n16/mode/2up

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    9. Source "independently corroborated evidence": The Mormon Church! (Read the CES Letter. :-) )

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    10. Stephan E. FitzRandoph,

      I'm not 100% sure if the DNA tests have reached a conclusion on this, but there's a pretty good chance Joseph had sexual relations with Sylvia Sessions based upon what she told her daughter. See Brian Hales' website: http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/common-questions/sexuality-2/sylvia-session-evidence-of-sexuality/.

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    11. Josh,

      Off the top of my head I'm pretty sure Ugo's tests have shown the DNA is inconclusive on the issue of Josephine's parentage. In this case we have to resort to historical documentation to make a case for or against Joseph being her father.

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    12. I've heard varying reports. I know that at least some of her descendants, active members of the church, acknowledge that they are also JS descendants. Regardless, I think it's fair to take Sylvia at her word. But of course, you may disagree.

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    13. Josh,

      I actually do take Josephine at her word, more or less. I think it's a very good possibility that she is Joseph Smith's daughter.

      What I'm not so sure of is whether Joseph's sexual union with her mother Sylvia, assuming it happened, was before or after she was living with and married to Windsor Lyon. That, I think, is much less clear.

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    14. For sure. Who knows if we'll come to a definite conclusion there?

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    15. Stephen, the Prophet Joseph Smith was lawfully married to Emma Hale Smith. For him to engage in a sexual union with another woman named Sylvia would be adultery. Don't you find it a tad strange that you are accusing the Prophet of adultery while simultaneously accusing Joshua Runnells of hypocrisy? Are you not engaging in the same hypocrisy in claiming to be an apologist for the prophet while claiming he engaged in adulterous relationships?

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    16. Are you guys being serious with your questions? Because the answers are simple, Joseph Smith did not commit adultery, he was faithful to his wife as defined by the law and order of Heaven :)

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    17. Anonymous @ 3:47 Joseph played pretty fast and loose with "the law and order of heaven." Stephen and others may disagree, but I think it's pretty hard to defend that notion when Emma was unaware Joseph had married several different plural wives.

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  2. And the nerve of insinuating that the Book of Abraham wasn't literally translated like Joseph Smith said. He needs to get with the times.

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    1. "Insinuating"? Jeremy has flat-out called the Book of Abraham a modern forgery. The "smoking gun" of Joseph Smith's fraudulence I believe were his words.

      More to the point of your cute little remark, the thing you are insinuating, that the so-called "catalyst theory" is some recent concession on the part of the Church in a desperate apologetic ploy, is misleading.

      http://www.plonialmonimormon.com/2014/07/the-catalyst-theory-in-church.html

      http://www.plonialmonimormon.com/2015/03/admission-and-omission-what-is-churchs.html

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  3. Joseph Smith had sex with his 16-year-old maid? The lies these anti-Mormons tell!!! I am sick and applaud how they defame the prophets character! Next they are going to say that he imposed on free speech by burning a newspaper.

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    1. I'm sure you guys over at /r/exmormon think you're terribly clever, but this shtick is just dumb, and not at all funny.

      What I'm saying is, please don't quit your day job to pursue a career in comedy, which requires things like, you know, originality and personality.

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    2. Agreed. Most 16-year-old girls are extremely fertile. How could the Prophet sleep around with teenagers and not impregnate one? Especially when his wife Emma continued to bear him children until his death?

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    3. In 1840, the average age when a girl got her first period was 17. That could have been one of the reasons the 14, 15, and 16 year olds weren't getting pregnant.

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    4. So why didn't Joseph Smith impregnate any of his alleged older wives? Why has DNA evidence only proven the ancestry of his children through Emma?

      Children can be traced through the "plural wives" of Brigham Young, John Taylor and others who broke with the church after Joseph's death in order to carry out the Utah apostasy. But no claim of being descended from Joseph has survived DNA testing, other than those through his wife Emma.

      The critics should be focusing their criticisms on Brigham Young rather than the Prophet. Most of their complaints (polygamy, secret masonic temple ordinances, Book of Abraham, etc...) were Brighamite additions after Joseph Smith's death.

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    5. Readbooks, perhaps you'd be so kind as to share with us the source of that historical trivia.

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    6. I am not from over at Reddit.... I actually never used it a day in my life, but now I should check it out. Thanks for the career advice though! ;) Cheers, Mate.

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    7. Stephan, at this point only mother-daughter and father-son relationships can be followed with high certainty. For women this relationship is traced with mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited solely from the mother, and for men it is traced with Y chromosome DNA, which is inherited solely from the father.

      The difficulty in determining descendancy from Joseph Smith is that you 1. first have to identify living candidates, 2. determine a sufficient DNA profile of Joseph Smith from living known descendants, then 3. make a determination based on DNA that has been mixed with the DNA of other people at each generation and 4. rule out the possibility of the DNA markers having come from other intermarriages into the Smith family tree.

      My understanding from reading an essay by Dr. Ugo Perego is that no candidates have been verified as Joseph Smith's descendants through a wife other than Emma, but that at least one living candidate remains as a possibility that can't be either confirmed nor ruled out by DNA testing.

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    8. Randy here's one source. Search for yourself on Google for more.


      https://books.google.com/books?id=sBYmAwAAQBAJ&lpg=PA75&dq=age%20of%20menarche%20in%201830%20british&pg=PA82#v=onepage&q=age%20of%20menarche%20in%201830%20british&f=false

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    9. "My understanding from reading an essay by Dr. Ugo Perego is that no candidates have been verified as Joseph Smith's descendants through a wife other than Emma, "

      EXACTLY

      On the other hand we know of several verified offspring through the so-called "plural wives" of Brigham Young, John Taylor, Orson Pratt and others who aposticized from the church to pursue polygamy after Joseph Smith was murdered in the Carthage jail.

      Polygamy was neither taught nor practiced by the church restored by Joseph Smith. It was a Brighamite invention.

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    10. "Polygamy was neither taught nor practiced by the church restored by Joseph Smith. It was a Brighamite invention."

      Still not sure if you're trolling or not, but in either case, you're wrong.

      https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo?lang=eng

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    11. Of course that essay will claim that polygamy was practiced in Nauvoo. The essay is published by the Brighamites seeking to justify their apostasy after the Prophet's death. But for someone who is alleged to have bedded so many women, no offspring can be traced except through Emma.

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    12. Poligamy was practiced, end of the discussion, do you want a reliable and totally perfect source? Ask God, but ask with a real intent.

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  4. Hey Stephen. You basically summed up thoughts on this story although much more eloquently. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought this situation was a little absurd.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from the egyptian papyrus! And they found the original to prove it! So there!

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    1. It's a little more complicated than that. Please consult the following:

      https://www.lds.org/topics/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham?lang=eng

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  7. I was a little confused about the so-called Book of Abraham so I did some research to find out what all the fuss is about. It is definitely another example of Brighamite apostasy after the Prophet's death. Joseph Smith may have translated it but he clearly never considered his translation inspired or holy scripture like his translation of the Book of Mormon. This is why we don't include it with the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.

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  8. "He has quite literally set up a non-profit foundation so that he could get paid to attack the Church and lead people out of it. (Yes, seriously.)"

    Gasp!

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    1. Anonymous @7:16 AM, There's nothing wrong with a non-profit foundation. Just as there's nothing wrong with excommunicating Jeremy Runnells for it. It's the whole "excommunicating people who just have questions", "why can't there be a safe place for doubters" narratives that I see being addressed here.

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    2. Precisely right, Bryant.

      Jeremy is free to start a non-profit. Heck, I work for a non-profit right now. No shame in that.

      But what he is not free to do is start a non-profit deliberately aimed at attacking the Church and drawing out its members and then feel outraged and cry victim when people call him to account for it.

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  9. My God ... how do you keep up with all these comments? I mean, seriously, it seems like you make the slightest mention Runnells and the 'anons' come out of the wood works and start throwing out as many random-baiting-comments as possible.

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  10. the "non-story" seriously? Stephen who are you too decide what is and isn't a story. People are obviously interested in this, therefore it is a story. And you assuming that this "nonprofit was set up to lead people out of (the church)" is quite presumptive. He has said many times that he is supportive of people that stay or go. His CES Letter gives no advice as to what a person should do. Can you spell out in 1 or 2 sentences why an excommunication would be appropriate? And how exactly would you define apostasy? Many if not most of the items he writes about would be agreed to by one or more faithful LDS apologists. These are not blatant lies there is history behind these claims.

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    1. I thought this was the relevant point made in the original article. What are your thoughts, Jake, on this being justification for excommunication?



      Not only does he already consider himself as “out” of the Church, he is trying to lead others—namely, his wife and children—out of the Church as well.

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    2. Literally basically every single thing you mention here was addressed in the OP.

      "And how exactly would you define apostasy?"

      Doesn't matter how I would. It matters how the Church defines it, to wit:

      "Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine."

      How on God's green earth is Jeremy not an apostate based on this definition?

      "Many if not most of the items he writes about would be agreed to by one or more faithful LDS apologists."

      Yeah, no. Jeremy tried that silly "FAIR agrees with me!" routine, but it's bogus.

      "Jeremy Runnells has claimed that FairMormon has agreed with him on a large percentage of various claims he has made, even going so far as to claim agreement on items that FairMormon did not respond to. With regard to historical facts, Mr. Runnells's citations are sometimes incorrect and his interpretations, even of correctly cited historical facts, are unwarranted. In short, FairMormon disagrees entirely with the conclusions reached by Jeremy Runnells."

      http://en.fairmormon.org/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Online_documents/Letter_to_a_CES_Director/Debunking_FairMormon

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    3. With all due respect, Stephen, here's the problem Brighamites such as yourself run into when you argue that the Prophet taught and engaged in plural marriages. You meet your own definition of apostasy.

      I would invite you to read Joseph Smith's powerful words (pp 11-12, cited from LDS sources) responding to the false allegations he was a polygamist.

      http://restorationbookstore.org/articles/nopoligamy/jsfp-visionarticles/JSFP-Vision077.pdf

      Notice how the Prophet candidly equates polygamy and spiritual wifery with adultery. He also denounces those who accuse of him of the practice as engaging in slander.

      One should not be surprised. Joseph Smith is merely repeating the Apostle Paul's teaching in 1 Cor 6:9 condemning adulterers to perdition. Joseph Smith recognized that one cannot be both an adulterer and a true prophet of God and so he vigorously defended both the truth and his reputation.

      But claiming he was both you are doomed to a half-hearted apologetics effort. Since it is apologetics based not upon the truth but in apostasy from God's word as taught by the Prophet before his death.

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    4. With all due respect to you, I'm tired of debating this issue, which has nothing to do with the OP. So get back on the topic of the post, please. Any further comments spamming this post with your crank pseudo-history from the Prices will be deleted. Cheers!

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  11. I was born and raised a Catholic. When I decided it was not for me, I left. No letters to anyone, no setting up non-profit organisations. I then studied the LDS Faith. I studied, prayed, and received an answer that Joseph had been called as a Prophet. I continue to study. In my studies I have studied a lot of anti-Mormon literature. I find the anti-Mormon stuff steers away from comparing the modern Churches with the Church organised by Christ and his Apostles in the meridian of time. I have studied this in depth, and can only see one Church which comes close.

    Having read much of the "evidence" against Joseph Smith, I didn't realise that speculation and hearsay were classed as evidence. There is so much stated about tests that have been carried out on DNA of the American "Indians," proving that they were not descended from the "Jews." Can you imagine the sample size needed to prove that? First of all, where would you get the DNA of pure bred Jews? The Lord was constantly reproving them for mixing with indigenous peoples they had mingled with. Which ones are pure bred, and which are watered down? Then look at the western Continent, and you see the same problem. HOW would any scientist prove such a link? Why would any scientist of any respect begin to believe he could? The answer is simple. Star a story, quote no clinic or scientist, and wait for the gullible to bite like a foolish trout taking a lure floated beyond his nose.

    My faith remains what it always was, based on answers to prayers, and bolstered my miracles I have seen and been involved in. I have no objection to those that want to believe otherwise, but please grant me that same respect.

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    1. Excellent points. Also realizing that approximately 90% of indigenous peoples in the Americas died within 200 years of European contact due to disease, slavery or outright massacres. This could have eliminated entire genetic lines.

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    2. Excellent points,Alan. Realizing that besides the points you bring up, approximately 90% of indigenous peoples died within 200 years of European contact due to disease, slavery or outright massacres. Entire genetic lines were eliminated, making any real conclusions about genetic information extremely difficult to make.

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    3. Alan, the text actually says the Lehites were not Jews, but the children of Joseph and Asenath, as such, would have totally different mDNA than Jews.

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  12. I find it interesting that in all the comments here, and all the trolls, not a single one has even attempted to dispute the basic premise of this post, to wit: Jeremy Runnells is clearly in open apostasy against the Church, and it would not be a grotesque injustice to excommunicate him.

    Common, r/exmormon. Aren't you guys Jeremy's friends? Are you even going to try to defend his absurd narrative?

    I've seen your threads about taking advantage of this opportunity, about drumming up media attention so as to "raise awareness" of the CES Letter and hence expose more people to the "truth" that the Church is founded on a fraud. You all know Jeremy is in open apostasy, and you all know his narrative is absurd. But you want to use it to galvanize support for your cause, and so you don't care. It helps accomplish your aims and goals, so you roll with it. Where is the honesty, where is the integrity you all crow so loudly about?

    Just admit it: Jeremy Runnells is an open apostate, and he deserves to be excommunicated. Then let the implications of that realization sink in: nothing to be outraged about; nothing to go to the media with; no reason for vigils and "I stand with Jeremy" profile pics; no cause to rally around. Go home, enjoy your lives, and stop getting outraged by non-scandals.

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  13. "They leave the Church but they can't leave it alone"

    Prove this wrong.

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  14. Seriously people... Those who do not agree or believe in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, go your way. Leave the Church alone. If you don't believe you don't believe. Find what works for you. The only reason I can see people leave and attack the Church is the little light they may have left festers inside. This encourages the behavior of attack, whatever helps them convince themselves inside they're right. I don't see people from the Roman Catholics refuting the Pope..They just leave. We have a right of religious freedom that is to choose what to believe. Those beliefs should allow us to act in freedom not have it infringed upon by others who do not agree. When others attack that is not like CHRIST. Overall people are not perfect only CHRIST. I will never interpret Church History through the lens of today nor the lens of man. Spiritual things can only be discerned through the spirit and attack is not one of the gifts of the spirit.

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    1. When the LDS Church stops proselytizing and sending out Missionaries, perhaps your wish will come true. Until then, ex-Mormons and anti-Mormons will continue to fight against (what they believe is) a false religion which pretends to be Christ's true church (restored).

      As to your example of ex-RCs, I will say I've seen plenty of former RCs who fight against the Pope/Vatican and their false doctrines.

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  15. As one who has left the church but doesn't feel compelled to rally around Runnells, let me say that there are fewer damaging things that you can say to an ex-Mormon than, "If you've left, why can't you leave it alone?" Because it just not that simple. You don't just stop going to church; your life changes fundamentally. And 99.9% of the time, you have friends and family that are and always will be members of the church. You can't center your life around a religion and all it entails for a lifetime and then just "move on." Runnells may be worthy of excommunication, but that doesn't mean ex-Mormons don't get to have negative opinions of the church as an institution.

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    1. It is simply for a lot of LDS converts who join the church. How often do you find converts who were Catholic speak much against the Catholic Church? Yes ex-Mormons can have negative opinions about the Church. That may be expected but it is what they do with those opinions. Most of them I would think move on with their lives and may occasionally have something negative to say about the LDS Church. When one starts dedicating much of their life in attacking their former faith, they clearly can't leave it alone.

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    2. ^ Many people who fall away from the Church want answers. They're frustrated that they've been lied to their whole lives - and that their family/friends are now going to alienate them and continue believing - despite the evidence (or lack of evidence) to support any of it.

      And yes, there are a ton of former members of nearly all religions who will speak out aggressively against their past faith.

      As it's clear you want to defend you precious 'truth' when confronted with actual truth and history, I don't expect you to understand the betrayal one feels when they uncover the true history of the church.

      Even worse is that the church tries to promote the idea of questioning things and doing your own research... that is, until you find something substantial and valid... then you're an apostate for ever having questioned it.

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    3. "when they uncover the true history of the church."

      A huh. The "true" version of Mormon history presented by the CES Letter is so compelling, in fact, that Runnells has had no problem publishing his findings in reputable, peer reviewed, academic venues. He has practically won over the entirety of members of the Mormon History Association, the Joseph Smith Papers Project, the John Whitmer Historical Association, and countless other Mormon historical societies to his groundbreaking and unassailable version of Mormon history.

      "Even worse is that the church tries to promote the idea of questioning things and doing your own research... that is, until you find something substantial and valid... then you're an apostate for ever having questioned it."

      Don't be ridiculous.

      (And for what it's worth, it does the ex-Mormon position no favors for such rhetorical outlandishness.)

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    4. Yes, Anonymous @ 3:19 p.m. don't be ridiculous. The church doesn't promote the idea of questioning things AT ALL. At least, not without the pretense of, "If you arrive at a conclusion different from ours, you're wrong, you haven't looked hard enough, or just don't have enough faith."

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    5. "If you arrive at a conclusion different from ours, you're wrong, you haven't looked hard enough"

      I think it's cute when ex-Mormons get upset with Mormons for having this attitude when they themselves exhibit it many times towards "TBM"s and "apologists." (That is, of course, assuming they don't default to the standard "you're just experiencing cognitive dissonance/confirmation bias" line first.)

      Pot, meet kettle.

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    6. Tell me if I were to go into a Sunday School class and express my doubts about polygamy being inspired that I wouldn't encounter either of those sentiments, Stephen. Maybe not in a class at BYU, but not a chance I could get away with that in church.

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    7. "not a chance I could get away with that in church."

      Probably not, but that's not my point. My point is both sides do this to the other, so it's hardly something ex-Mos can exclusively claim to feel victimized over.

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    8. Perhaps, but generally speaking, Mormons don't get scarred from comments made by ex-Mormons. But perhaps you can tell a different story than me. I've forgotten most of the anti-Mormon and ex-Mormon jerks I met on my mission and what they said, but I will never forget the Mormons who took it upon themselves to be the biggest jerks when I expressed my doubts/concerns and decided to leave the church.

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    9. Josh, I am sorry that you didn't have someone understanding to lead you through your doubts and concerns, but I must ask- Did you get baptized for that lead you to the waters or did you because Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost confirmed that it was what he wanted for you.

      The people of the church are imperfect, hence the reason we are here. I will admit that I am not a perfect attender of church, and yes some have offended me, but the church has not. I have had a Stake President, a Bishop, and various Quorem leaders fail me through out my years in the church, but in the end Heavenly Father has touched my heart, has performed undeniable miracles before me, and has answered my prayers in many ways.

      Can you imagine Joseph and the others trying to put it all together. They the spirit to guide, and at time angelic help, but in the end they had to do the best with what they had. We understand better today and have much greater educational potential, and so we accuse them as liars and hypocrites. We don't call 2 year old a liar when he we ask what is 2+2 and says 1. We don't call him a hypocrite when he demands to play with an others toy but won't allow others to play with his toys.

      Everything we know today couldn't be given to Joseph or others right at the beginning. As Nephi states "step by step, precept upon precept". Above all the, the Prophets and Apostles are fallible men, just like any of us (they just have there issues a little more control). Joseph often stated he was imperfect (well of course he was, otherwise we would have never been here). We all need to stop looking at church history from our critical eye, we weren't there. Not everything was documented, people held grudges, and people wrote about things they thought they knew but didn't.

      If the Lord tells me that the Church is true, the Prophet was called by Him, and that the Book of Mormon is his word, then that is all I need. Whatever lies, half-truths, or misinterpretations made by others will not effect my testimony, because I got it from the source, and not second, third, or fourth hand knowledge.

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    10. Steve K,

      I was born and raised in the church. Served a mission. Lived the ideal Mormon life. I didn't leave because someone offended me. I left because I could no longer stomach the inhumane treatment of LGBT Mormons. Upon leaving the church, a closer study of the origins of Christianity, as well as Mormonism, led me to lose my faith in God/Jesus altogether. I respect your decisions in regards to your faith. I personally have found more peace and happiness outside the confines of Mormonism and will never be returning.

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    11. You say:"If the Lord tells me that the Church is true, the Prophet was called by Him, and that the Book of Mormon is his word, then that is all I need. Whatever lies, half-truths, or misinterpretations made by others will not effect my testimony, because I got it from the source, and not second, third, or fourth hand knowledge." .......I agree......our testimony must come from the Lord. We must decide to stick with the prophet God gives us. And we must pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true, then live by it's precepts. It is only going to get more and more challenging to stick by these 3 basics as time goes on and evil increases. The sophistries of men and devils will pull even more away from the real truth. God help us to continue in His gift of steadfastness.

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  16. CES letter is not an exercise in "asking questions" (it is an explanation of why the author "lost his testimony") It is not even "expressing doubts" (doubt implies that one is unsure of one's conclusions, something the CES letter leaves little room for). We should not tolerate the false narrative that Mr. Runnels is being persecuted for these two things.

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  17. So... The church simply isn't addressing the CES letter because the author wasn't sincere in his asking about it? Instead, their move is to try and discredit it by simply pointing out that he wasn't a sincere believer at the time of authoring the letter.

    Bravo! That totally makes sense! If he wasn't sincere, then no points are valid and everyone can continue in the belief that the Church leaders are always correct - even when other church leaders retroactively the not-so-popular teachings of previous leaders.

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    1. First of all, "the Church" isn't doing anything. I, Stephen Smoot, as an individual am making a specific argument here, not the Church.

      Second, nobody is saying that because Runnells is being more than disingenuous in the crafting of his public persona (which he demonstrably is), that therefore means the arguments of the CES Letter are invalid. I have never made that argument.

      Third, to say that nobody, "the Church" or otherwise, is addressing the CES Letter is totally false. See above for well over a dozen responses to Runnells' various claims in the CES Letter proper.

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  18. My once lds grown son, by pure logic, has chosen to be atheist. He reads the subreddit lies written by 'once-were-mormons' as I say. THIS is very disheartening to me as it fuels the fire of not seeking/believing truth. I can only hope by the truth that God gave me in a blessing that if I remained faithful, my son will return. I really wish some of these 'once-were-mormons' would stop trying to gather followers...but misery loves company.

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  19. I'm really bothered by the exmo's faking like this is some kind of injustice. "all he did was ask questions." No, that's not all he did. Anyway. Here's my response to the issues in the CES Letter. http://www.churchistrue.com/blog/ces-letter/

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  20. In my opinion, the most intriguing part of this non-story is, why did the church take so long to get around to this disciplinary hearing?

    I think it was obvious from the day he published the CES letter that his intention was to do harm to the church and destroy the faith of as many members as possible. Why did the PTB wait so long in taking this action?

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