The CES LetterBox is designed to enable the distribution of the Letter to a CES Director and other materials in a manner where they can be privately accessed and evaluated by individuals. It does so using open source software derived from the LibraryBox project and very inexpensive hardware.
The CES LetterBox is designed to be safe and secure. No logins are required and no user data is logged. The system is purposely not connected to the Internet in order to prevent tracking and preserve user privacy.
Letter to a CES Director
A native of Southern California, Jeremy Runnells was born in the covenant. A 6th generation Mormon of Pioneer heritage, Jeremy reached every Mormon youth milestone. An Eagle Scout, Returned Missionary, and BYU alumnus, Jeremy was married in the San Diego Temple with expectations and plans of living Mormonism for the rest of his life.
In February 2012, Jeremy experienced a crisis of faith, which subsequently led to a faith transition in the summer of 2012. In the spring of 2013, Jeremy was approached and asked by a CES Director to share his concerns and questions about the LDS Church's origins, history, and current practices. In response, Jeremy wrote what later became publicly known as Letter to a CES Director.
Letter to a CES Director very quickly went viral on the Internet. The CES Director responded that he read the "very well written" letter and that he would provide Jeremy with a response. No response ever came.
"I believe that members and investigators deserve all of the information on the table to be able to make a fully informed and balanced decision as to whether or not they want to commit their hearts, minds, time, talents, income, and lives to Mormonism." - Jeremy Runnells
The CES LetterBox
The CES LetterBox Project began life after I read about the exploits of a Jehovah's Witness who used a LibraryBox to allow access to fellow members of materials that the JW Governing Body had deemed inappropriate for members of the congregation. This material was mostly old copies of JW magazines and pamphlets that no longer taught the doctrine that the Governing Body felt to be correct. It also contained information regarding the date of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, a date that JW doctrine requires to be 607 BC, but which nearly all scholars agree occurred in 586/587 BC (a date acknowledged even in the footnotes of the Book of Mormon).
While it was fun to read about the effect of the individual's LibraryBox upon their local convention, I had to admit that it piqued my curiosity somewhat. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had recently made a number of essays about problematic aspects of their history and doctrine available, but often members did not have the time or inclination to read them. But I think we've all spent time in Sacrament Meeting or even General Conference on our phones. What if access to information that could help people to make a better-informed evaluation of their faith could be provided to those people looking for it?
After a failed attempt to make a simple copy of the LibraryBox project in 2015, I worked hard in getting a polished release finished near the end of 2016, and was able to get the CES LetterBox released soon thereafter.
I have not personally found the CES Letter to be particularly interesting or life-changing. However, for many of my friends it is an integral part of their life story. It seems that the CES Letter carries a weight for most members of the LDS Church who read it such that even those who can ride through with their faith in the Church's divine mission intact necessarily find a more nuanced, careful, and cautious relationship with the earthly organization. In an age where the Mormon Corridor of the US is experiencing profound issues of youth suicides, social friction over acceptance of LGBTQ individuals, and the melding of Church and State in the Utah Capitol Building, an item like the CES LetterBox seems a useful and necessary tool. I hope you enjoy it.
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