Websites critical of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are popping up regularly, some gaining more traction than others. FAIR has responded specifically to some of them, like the so-called “CES Letter,” “Letter to My Wife,” and MormonThink. There are many other similar websites that FAIR has not responded to, partly because the topics raised in these sources are usually addressed in our wiki anyway, and partly because many of these sites overlap, because they are mostly re-hashing old arguments. [Read more…] about Yet another critical website pretending to be something it’s not – “LDS Discussions”
Part 68: CES Letter Conclusion [Section B]
by Sarah Allen
This particular portion of Jeremy’s conclusion starts to get spicy. There will be a lot of questions being asked in a very hostile tone, some of them for the first time in this version of the Letter (he removed an entire section on the Scriptures that was pretty antagonistic, but still references it in his conclusion).
I realize that this relentless antagonism is considered by many to be a feature of the CES Letter, rather than a bug. However, to me, it’s just all very sad. Instead of realizing that just maybe he was wrong in his strident assumptions about the Gospel and allowing the Spirit to teach him something, he let bias and misinformation shatter his own his faith and turn him hostile and angry. Since then, it’s led him to actively destroy the faith of thousands of others while profiting off of their misery. He’s dug a pit for himself and now, the only way out is on his knees. So far, he hasn’t been willing to try that. I genuinely do hope and pray that changes someday, because Alma the Younger told us all exactly what happens when we go down that path without repenting.
Picking up here where we left off last week: [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 68
Part 67: CES Letter Conclusion [Section A]
by Sarah Allen
After almost a year and a half, this series is drawing to a close. All we have left here is Jeremy’s conclusion (which is 3 pages long) and then my own concluding thoughts. It’s been a long road, with a lot of reading, studying, and personal growth. I’ve personally learned a lot, and putting aside so much of my free time to study the history of the Church and its primary documents has strengthened my own testimony more than I ever anticipated.
It’s funny; one of the common claims you hear from people who have left the Church is that the more they studied, the more they became convinced it wasn’t true. For me, it’s been the opposite. The more I study the Gospel and its history, the more deep my belief becomes. I’ve said before that you can’t study this stuff on your own, you have to study with the Spirit.
Maybe that’s the difference, maybe not. I can’t read anyone else’s mind. All I can do is speak to my own life, and it tells me that what you get out of an experience mirrors what you put into it. If you’re hoping to find reasons to leave the Church, you’ll find them. If you’re hoping to find reasons to stay, you’ll find those, too. And if you’re looking to grow your testimony while learning more about the Church you belong to, researching all of these questions on your own is a great way to do it. [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 67
by Braeden Dyer
[Courtesy of Wilford Woodruff Papers]
Since beginning my work for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project, one aspect of Wilford’s life which has struck me, and made me ponder, has been the opposition which he faced. He faced immense physical and social opposition—just one account of which we see in this excerpt from his autobiography. Countless times within his journals, he says that he is “very low” with one ailment or another, yet he keeps working on his duties as it is in his unconquerable nature. [Read more…] about Come, Follow Me Week 29 – Ezra 1; 3-7; Nehemiah 2; 4-6; 8
We’d especially like to thank Derrick Duncan for volunteering his time and talent to narrate it.
Part 64: CES Letter Other Concerns/Questions [Section F]
by Sarah Allen
Picking up the next portion of the “ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM” topic heading, Jeremy begins with a quote from President Oaks:
Elder Dallin H. Oaks made the following disturbing comment in the PBS documentary, The Mormons:
“It is wrong to criticize the leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true.” [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 64
[We have more information about Under the Banner of Heaven here.]
“God is greater than the United States, and when the Government conflicts with heaven, we will be ranged under the banner of heaven against the Government.” This sentence, supposedly spoken by John Taylor, has been made famous by Jon Krakauer. He used it for the title of his book, Under the Banner of Heaven, which has now been transformed into a fictionalized detective drama mini-series streaming on Hulu. But those words were never actually spoken by John Taylor. They were made up by an anonymous Salt Lake Tribune writer.
The Salt Lake Tribune was started in 1870 by three men that had left the Church. It changed hands many times but was overtly anti-Mormon until 1901, when its new owners began changing its tone somewhat. During those first 30 years, much of the reporting on the Church was downright obnoxious, and probably not meant to be taken seriously. This includes the article on page four of the January 6, 1880 issue, about a stake conference that took place the previous Sunday. (The available scan of the newspaper page is very difficult to read. In my transcription I used “(?)” after words that I thought were correct but wasn’t completely sure, and I used “[?]” in place of words I found completely unreadable.) It begins with: [Read more…] about Under the Banner of Misattribution
Part 62: CES Letter Other Concerns/Questions [Section D]
by Sarah Allen
Before we get started, something happened this week that I wanted to address. This particular matter is resolved and I’m not trying to call anyone out, but I wanted to say this in case something similar happens in the future: I know that there is a lot of dishonesty and manipulation in this Letter, and a lot of people have been personally affected in some way by those lies. Feelings are high, I get that. But there is a difference between calling out dishonesty and insulting a fellow child of God. I try very hard not to personally attack Jeremy but rather, his words. If anyone reaches out privately to vent their frustrations with him, I will not allow him to be called names or otherwise insulted in my private messages. He is a child of heavenly parents, like we all are, and he deserves to be treated as such. As frustrating as this Letter can be, Jeremy deserves our prayers, not our condemnation. I do pray for him, and I hope the rest of you will join me in that.
With that said, the CES Letter picks back up with the second topic header of this section, “CHURCH FINANCES.” [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 62
Part 61: CES Letter Other Concerns/Questions [Section C]
by Sarah Allen
Recently, we all had the chance to feast on the words of our prophet and apostles, among other wonderful speakers, as they expounded on the words and teachings of Christ. I had a beautifully moving experience, and I hope the rest of you did as well. It was interesting to see so much focus on temple work. It goes hand-in-hand with other lessons the Brethren have been imparting over the past few years to fortify our foundations and learn how to receive and recognize spiritual guidance. Conference doesn’t have much to do with the discussion topic today, but I appreciated the messages we received. The temple really is at the center of our religion, second only to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We need to rely heavily on both if we’re going to return home to our Father one day.
Today, we’re moving on to topic header #2 in this section, “CHURCH FINANCES.” This is a topic our critics love to run with, using incorrect or at least incomplete information to frame the issue. Unfortunately, Jeremy Runnells is no exception. There are a lot of inaccuracies in the allegations I’m about to cover. He begins with several right off the bat: [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 61
Part 60: CES Letter Other Concerns/Questions [Section B]
by Sarah Allen
Today I’d like to finish out the first topic header of this section. For those who don’t remember, this header is titled “CHURCH’S DISHONESTY, CENSORSHIP, AND WHITEWASHING OVER ITS HISTORY.” Last week, we covered the Priesthood restriction again, and this week, we’ll be talking about Zina Huntington, Brigham Young, and Church Historian Steven E. Snow. If we have room after that, we’ll push on to the next topic header, but that’ll probably have to happen next week.
The CES Letter picks up with the following: [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 60