jeremy runnells CES Letter

Evolution has planted within us a deep sense of tribalism. Once our means of survival, now this tribalism creates unnecessary wedges of “otherism” between us. The corrupt like to capitalize on this instinct by blaming and shaming those who are outside the tribe.

Throughout time, a few brave women and men have sought to bridge the imagined gap that separates “us” from “them.” Many of them were killed in the effort. But because their dogged determination to stand up to injustice and bigotry, they changed the course of history.

Because of those courageous people, slavery was abolished and blacks eventually became equal citizens. Because of those people, women gained the right to vote, to hold office, and to serve in capacities that once excluded them. Because of those people, gay marriage was legalized and LGBTQ individuals are becoming more and more accepted by society.

Though they were hated and persecuted in their time, those valiant individuals knew history would vindicate their efforts. And it has. Both the bigots and the bystanders have faded from view, while the movers and shakers are immortalized in our collective memory.

Today, our fight does not require the sacrifice of our blood, but it may require some of our life. Our fight may require us to sacrifice some of our comfort, some of our relationships, and some of our good standing among others. Though our sacrifice may not be as dramatic, it is just as significant.

The LDS Church, like every other organization trapped in the mire of their own prejudice, continues to draw lines in the sand to separate “us” from “them.” It brands those with legitimate questions apostates and enemies, forever demonizing them in the eyes of their family and friends. It belittles women, confining them to scripted roles and valuing them only by their ability to produce offspring. It produces an ethnocentric worldview that demeans people of other races and nationalities. It blames homosexuals for societal decay and traps its LGBT members in depression with no hope for release beside death.

Too many LGBT individuals have committed suicide because they could not reconcile their inherent nature with the LDS narrative. Too many women have trudged through their lives in submissive depression because they were not allowed to live up to their potential. Too many dark-skinned members have questioned their own worthiness due to racist doctrine. To many families have been torn apart because a member can no longer believe.

It is time to take a stand. It is time for the silent voices to find themselves. It is time for the bystanders to become activists. If every person who has quietly left the church stood up today and told their friends and families what they really believed, it would shake the church to its core.

When Harvey Milk was battling for gay rights, he said, “Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all.”

In that same spirit, I am inviting every closeted ex-Mormon to be open about their where they stand. We can’t stop the demonization of ex-Mormonism until we humanize it with our own faces.

This week is the perfect opportunity. Jeremy Runnells, author of the infamous CES Letter, is being summoned to a disciplinary council where he will likely be excommunicated. His only crime is that he has asked sincere questions about the LDS church. Because his letter has influenced so many to leave the faith, he is now being punished.

The CES Letter is one of the most effective documents in getting people to see the truth of the LDS church. The more people who see it, the more people will leave. Those who don’t leave may at least begin to understand where ex-Mormons are coming from. Either way, the truth must be told, and we are the ones to tell it.

Stand with Jeremy. Stand with John Dehlin, Kate Kelly, Marisa and Carson Calderwood, Rock Waterman, Michael Quinn, Sandra Tanner, and every other “apostate” who put their reputation on the line to do what was right. You are likely only where you are because of them. Now is your chance to pay the favor forward and help enlighten someone else. You don’t have to pick a fight. You can and should be respectful and loving. But be authentic.

When I left the church, I told my family and then Facebook. Because of that post, several of my friends have likewise left or are leaving. When I met John Dehlin at a Mormon Stories event, all I could do was thank him. I told him I felt like I had been reborn, that I was seeing the world again for the first time. Perhaps you’ve felt the same thing.  Now you can give that to someone else. You can be the one who looses the chains that bind the intellect and compassion of Latter-day Saints.

Now, I don’t pretend to know what is best for every person. There are precarious situations that do not allow for such blatant announcements. I would not encourage anyone to do anything that would jeopardize their mental, emotional, professional, or even physical security. Each person must decide what is best for them and their family.

This call to action is for those who want to tell others but are presently too afraid. This call to action is for those who are in a place to make a difference. Do not go gently into that good night! Be brave!

Do it for the 34 LGBT youth who committed suicide in wake of the church’s bigoted policy change! Do it for the impoverished saints who go hungry so they can pay tithing, while the demagogues make a feast of fat things in their lavish chambers! Do it for the suffering Utah citizens who can’t get medical marijuana because the church’s pressure on legislators! Do it for every single man, woman, and child who has ever been physically or emotionally abused by the LDS church!

Do it in the way you think best. Make the “I Stand with Jeremy” graphic your Facebook profile picture. Write a letter. Make phone calls. Post the CES Letter itself. It doesn’t matter how you do it; just do something.

The media is not picking up Jeremy’s story. Somebody has to let people know what is happening, what has already happened. So why not us? Why not now?

It’s been said that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. If you want to see a world purged of bigotry and injustice, know that it starts with you and me speaking up.

The church has controlled the narrative for almost 200 years. They have hid their history, manipulated their doctrines, vilified their critics, and crippled their own members for far too long. The bigoted tribalism must end. It’s time we take a stand.

It is time for us all to decide who we are
Do we fight for the right to a night at the opera now?
Have you asked of yourselves what’s the price you might pay?
Is it simply a game for rich young boys to play?
The colors of the world are changing day by day
Red — the blood of angry men!
Black — the dark of ages past!
Red — a world about to dawn!
Black — the night that ends at last!

 



Richard R. Lyman
Richard R. Lyman
Well-dressed and down for a good time, Richard R. Lyman was the most recent apostle to be excommunicated. The poor guy actually believed what Brigham Young said about only polygamists being in the Celestial Kingdom. I guess you're only allowed to take "spiritual wives" when you're President of the Church. Follow on Twitter: @tgilliland789
  • Sker

    I don’t need to see the earth cleansed of the LDS church, per se. I’d just like to see the church be cleansed.

    I’d like to see:
    * The one true church become interested in the truth.
    * The church with the “gospel of repentance” actually repent (with associated apologies, Dallin Oaks) of the hurt it’s caused.
    * The church with the “gospel of forgiveness” actually forgive people who leave and not demonize them.
    * The church with the “gospel of love” to actually LOVE it’s women, people of other races, and LGBT people.
    * The church to actually be open about its finances and policies rather than hide both in the hands of a few, select men.
    * The church to practice the law of common consent as outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants and their lesson manuals which have passed through the correlation committee.

    These “special witnesses” of Jesus, need to make a proverbial whip and cleanse the temple. I’d like to see them clean the inner vessel before working on the outer.

    There would be a lot more hurt and a lot less “persecution” from those who left if the church could do those things and a few others.

  • David Keithly

    Is anyone else concerned that the “demonization of exmormons” is being compared to slavery, women’s rights and gay rights? This seems a bit too heavy-handed. I get the importance of showing those both inside and outside the church that it’s okay to leave, but I really don’t think the level of rhetoric or the specific comparisons are appropriate in this situation.

    • Richard R. Lyman

      It’s not a comparison. It’s a list. African-Americans, women, and LGBT members have all been oppressed by the church. So have ex-Mormons. Many of those ex-Mormons left because of the church’s oppression of those people. So why shouldn’t they say something?

      • David Keithly

        The fact that the article begins by describing the historical struggles of blacks, women and LGBT individuals, and then shifts gears to talk about the demonization of ex-mormons clearly invites comparison. The call to action even relies on a Harvey Milk quote to spur people to “come out.” To say that the article isn’t a comparison is like the Church coming out and saying that the recent handbook policy doesn’t actually mean what it says. It’s clearly not true.
        I agree with the premise of the article, just not the delivery. Ex-mormons should “come out.” I did. If more ex-mormons came out, it would go a long way to addressing the stigma that attaches to those who leave the church. My concern is that the over-the-top rhetoric will turn people off to the message.

        • Richard R. Lyman

          Ah, I see. I was looking from a different perspective. I get what you’re saying. That’s okay if you don’t think the delivery was right. To me, the fact that people are killing themselves, families are being divided, and people are being exploited all with a backdrop of racial and sexual oppression makes me alright with drawing on that historical imagery.

    • charles rivera

      Bitter divorces, the unfair custodial care of children favoring the Mormon spouse, the disowning of family members who left Mormonism, shunning, depression, suicide and God knows what other horrific acts of hate and violence have been the bitter fruits of the demonization of Ex-mormons. Just because it hasn’t happened to you (or to me for that matter), or is not media material or the common knowledge to the public, doesn’t mean there is zero parity with at least women’s or gay rights.

  • fecklessderek

    I can’t help but wonder if life is more complicated than you see it – your world of good guys and bad guys and enlightened and unenlightened.

    • Richard R. Lyman

      Enlightenment is a spectrum on which I place myself at the beginning. People are a complex sum of their DNA, upbringing, and environment. While we can’t always judge motives or label someone as entirely “good” or entirely “evil,” we can judge the value of actions on society as positive or negative.

      It is my belief that the LDS church, while doing a fair amount of good for people, is also responsible for a lot of bad. The bad parts will only go away as people speak out against it.

      Perhaps we are not so black and white as you have supposed?

      • fecklessderek

        Yeah the nuance doesn’t come through, to me. Seems more like a 6th rate Hitchens/Dawkins/Maher approach.

        • Richard R. Lyman

          C’mon, Dawkins doesn’t even have a sense of humor 😉

          Stick around. Or don’t. Your choice. Some people like the flavor. If you don’t, it’s no problem to me.

  • fecklessderek

    I’m so confused about the problem with the CES letter person being excommunicated. I’m also confused about why he or anybody cares?

    Like if I got a letter from the Donald Trump campaign saying that i was no longer allowed in their group i’d be like, “ok great”

    • Richard R. Lyman

      Jeremy’s wife and children are members of the church who believe that their family sealing is necessary for them to be exalted. Excommunication places undue stress on him and his family.

      • fecklessderek

        So are they opposed to excommunication? I would imagine most believing mormons see Jeremy as having violated his temple covenants willfully and with no desire to repent. He’s actively fighting against believing mormons beliefs. I don’t think the CES Letter is very even handed – seems pretty straightforward what the goal is.

        I do think from a Church PR standpoint excommunication is a bad idea. The problem is that I think the church leadership actually believes in the sanctity of the covenants and feel like they need to something when they are being violated in the Church’s eyes.

        If a member wants to avoid an “ugly” excommunication all they need to do is write a letter of resignation. But I think these exmormon people may see the benefit of being ex’d (publicity for their cause and or themselves) outweighs the harm it causes for those close to them.
        Now if somebody like Rock Waterman or Kate Kelly want the Church to change and still believe in certain parts of the Church – that’s probably the trickiest situation. Carol Lynn Pearson fits well enough here in her ward without the need to throw stuff in people’s face. I admire her a great deal.

  • fecklessderek

    “Today we stop respecting the beliefs of others, because we are right and they are wrong.”

  • Nancy

    Demonization of ex Mormons doesn’t occur in society but it does in the Mormon community. Just recently Russell Nelson called people who vocally disagree with the new LGBT policy “servants of Satan” other than being called Satan I do not know how much more demonized you can be than that. A common explanation for people leaving the church is that we did/didn’t do something to get the spirit of Satan. Upon telling one family member I was no longer attending church , she cried and let me know I no uncertain terms how much I was letting her down. So I try to keep a low profile now.

  • Loran

    “Evolution has planted within us a deep sense of tribalism.”

    This is not a scientific statement but a purely conjectural
    extrapolation from evolutionary theory into psychology and cultural
    anthropology.

    “Once our means of survival, now this tribalism
    creates unnecessary wedges of “otherism” between us. The corrupt like to
    capitalize on this instinct by blaming and shaming those who are
    outside the tribe.”

    Strap yourselves in, because the LDS Left is
    about to indulge itself in something the historic Left has been doing
    for two centuries: using science to justify and establish its
    ideological nostrum and activist preoccupations.

    “Throughout
    time, a few brave women and men have sought to bridge the imagined gap
    that separates “us” from “them.” Many of them were killed in the effort.
    But because their dogged determination to stand up to injustice and
    bigotry, they changed the course of history.

    Because of those
    courageous people, slavery was abolished and blacks eventually became
    equal citizens. Because of those people, women gained the right to vote,
    to hold office, and to serve in capacities that once excluded them.
    Because of those people, gay marriage was legalized and LGBTQ
    individuals are becoming more and more accepted by society.”

    Slavery (a social and economic institution), suffrage (femaleness is an
    inherent genetic feature), and homosexuality (a complex, ideosyncratic
    psychological, environmental, and biological phenomena, a behavior or
    set of behaviors, and a culture) all fall along a continuum. Homosexual
    behavior and gay culture is equivalent to black skin and genetically
    determined sex.

    “Though they were hated and persecuted in their
    time, those valiant individuals knew history would vindicate their
    efforts. And it has. Both the bigots and the bystanders have faded from
    view, while the movers and shakers are immortalized in our collective
    memory.

    “The LDS Church, like every other organization trapped in
    the mire of their own prejudice, continues to draw lines in the sand to
    separate “us” from “them.””

    As with the Left on every other
    issue, there is not and cannot be principled disagreement with leftist
    assumptions, perspectives, and beliefs. Those who do dissent from
    orthodox leftist pieties are bigots, haters, and cretins. There is no
    room for alternate viewpoints based in long and studied analysis,
    different core vales, and principled critique.

    “It brands those with legitimate questions apostates and enemies,”

    It does, of course, no such thing.

    “forever demonizing them in the eyes of their family and friends.”

    Most of the “demonizing,” if any, is in most cases self-inflicted and
    based in the behavior and rhetoric of excommunicated members after their
    severance from the Church.

    “It belittles women, confining them to scripted roles and valuing them only by their ability to produce offspring.”

    1. The author’s knowledge and understanding of LDS doctrine is effectively zero.

    2. He’s also being overtly mendacious, at all events.

    3. Men in the Church are valued primarily in their roles as husbands,
    fathers, and their ability to produce offspring (apparently, the author
    believes that women produce offspring asexually) and for their part in
    the mortal struggle to make the family unit eternal.

    “It produces an ethnocentric worldview that demeans people of other races and nationalities.”

    Mendacity or abject ignorance? Pick your poison.

    “It blames homosexuals for societal decay and traps its LGBT members in depression with no hope for release beside death.”

    1. I will not speak for the Church here or attempt to divine how the
    church might answer this claim. For myself, as a member, however, I
    will say that I blame the Left (i.e., the entirety of the contemporary
    Babylonian/Korihorist/Nehorist/Great and Abominable Church
    academic-media-public education-entertainment complex) and one of its
    watershed achievements, the sexual revolution, for that societal decay,
    not homosexuals per se and not homosexuality or the homophile movement
    in the political and cultural arena isolated from the heterosexual
    sexual revolution. The homosexual liberation/rights/marriage movement
    is but a subset of this.

    2. Now, the Church causes homosexuals
    to kill themselves, as if suicide (among other social pathologies) has
    not always existed among homosexuals as substantially disproportionate
    rates.

    “Too many LGBT individuals have committed suicide because
    they could not reconcile their inherent nature with the LDS narrative.”

    This is a philosophical assertion, or even a fundamental metaphysical
    assumption, not a statement of fact for which there is any particular
    evidence. That homosexuality, given its very small representation among
    the human family, may also be an accretion of mortality, and not an
    irreducible ontological feature of the human subject, doesn’t seem open
    to consideration.

    “Too many women have trudged through their
    lives in submissive depression because they were not allowed to live up
    to their potential. Too many dark-skinned members have questioned their
    own worthiness due to racist doctrine. To many families have been torn
    apart because a member can no longer believe.”

    There are also far
    too many half-baked intellectual poseurs and bloviating demagogues
    among the ranks of the excommunicated, some number of which, believe it
    or not, will in the future, or are now working their way back.

    “It is time to take a stand. It is time for the silent voices to find
    themselves. It is time for the bystanders to become activists. If every
    person who has quietly left the church stood up today and told their
    friends and families what they really believed, it would shake the
    church to its core.”

    No it wouldn’t. All it would do is make the
    activists feel good about themselves and allow them to bask in their
    own self-anointed piety and wallow in politically correct peer preening.
    The Church would remain as it was.

    “This week is the perfect opportunity. Jeremy Runnells, author of the infamous CES Letter,”

    I would use the term “trite” after a substantial perusal.

    “is being summoned to a disciplinary council where he will likely be
    excommunicated. His only crime is that he has asked sincere questions
    about the LDS church.”

    Uhhhh…no. That’s not why this is happening. But look, even this blind squirrel finds his nut:

    “Because his letter has influenced so many to leave the faith, he is now being punished.”

    Yes, that’s why he’s going to undergo a church disciplinary council,
    and influencing others to doubt, become alienated from, and leave the
    Church, has been Jeremy’s intent from the beginning. He is an
    evangelical apostate, his personal beliefs, whatever they may be, had he
    not taken this course, would have likely never ended in a disciplinary
    council.

    Odd, but I began to hear the strains of “Theme For the
    Common Man” running through your head about halfway through this.

    • Richard R. Lyman

      “As with the Left on every other issue, there is not and cannot be principled disagreement with leftist assumptions, perspectives, and beliefs. Those who do dissent from orthodox leftist pieties are bigots, haters, and cretins. There is no room for alternate viewpoints based in long and studied analysis, different core vales, and principled critique.”

      As with the conservative believers on every other issue, there is not and cannot be principled disagreement with assumptions, perspectives and beliefs. Those who do dissent from orthodox pieties are bigots, haters, and cretins. There is no room for alternate viewpoints based in long and studied analysis, different core values, and principled critique.

    • LoudNoises

      Said like a true, sanctimonious, dyed in the wool myopic deseret-book-focused, predatory apologist…you go girl!

  • E Wood

    The missionaries will be popping in on us again soon, I believe. I have decided to (very nicely) tell them to come back when women who are full of life experience, such as myself, are afforded the priesthood. Then we’ll talk.

  • formykids

    No disrespect, but this call to action comes across as pretty disingenuous with your own ‘about page’ concealing your identities.

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