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Jim Bennett and Bill Reel and the Issues of the CES Letter Part 1

We sit down with Jim Bennett, son of former Utah Senator Bob Bennett, to discuss Jim’s response to the CES Letter. This interview takes place over several different days and comprises looking at the troublesome issues the CES Letter presents and reviewing where Jeremy Runnells and Jim Bennett disagree. I try to play a mediator between Jim and the ideas of the CES letter. Granting ground where I think Jim offers a reasonable response as well as pushing back where I think the CES Letter presents a credible case.

In part 1 Jim gives us a history of him and his father and the why of his response to Jeremy Runnells CES Letter. We then tackle Joseph Smith’s Treasure Digging, The First Vision, and begin to get into the multiple aspects of the Book of Mormon including Translation and the level of absurdity in some of the narrative’s stories.


60 thoughts on “Jim Bennett and Bill Reel and the Issues of the CES Letter Part 1”

  1. Many concerns here, though Jim does have many good points. Thanks for your views! On the First Vision(s) my first concern is Not that the contradictory 1832 vision version was cut out of JS’ journal and hidden by the manipulative church historian for a time.

    My bigger concern is that it took 18 years for the final version version to materialize which totally contradicts what JS taught for 16-18 years prior to 1838 including the 1830 BoM and the first BoC and the Lectures on Faith prior to 1838.

    The 1838 vision version is totally Not in line with JS’ total teachings before 1836 – thus our now officianl first vision version IS completely Anachronistic and impossible for 1820 or for any time before 1836. The very fake-ish 1838 first vision version is thus a Bold Faced Lie and contradiction which can’t be explained away. Yet it remains a sacred Lie which has become the foundation which the rest of the lies are built upon, the foundation of Christ’s true church???

    Doesn’t Christ equate with unchanging Truth? Moroni 10

    Explain that away without Leaders pissing on my leg and the Pharisees telling me they are saving me.

    “Lie upon Lie, Decept upon Decept…” does not Reel me in anymore, Bill.

  2. I had the honor of meeting Senator Bennett as a smug undergrad at the U in the communications department. I thought I was something when I asked if he was Deep Throat before we knew about Mark Felt. He calmly said no, he was not, and it was clear he’d heard that question a few times. He was erudite, warm, welcoming and generous with his time, and since then I’ve thought he was maltreated by a party that did not appreciate his moderate wisdom and instead went down the path of ideological purists like Mike Lee. We’re all worse for the way he was treated.

    So that’s what I think of when I listen to Jim. And I have to say, having read your rebuttal to the CES Letter, Jim, you were nothing like I expected. This was a great conversation and I thank both of you for engaging.

    But it’s also a near-perfect example of what you both said more than a few times during the conversation–those who want to remain in the church will see information one way, and those who don’t will see it another.

    That said, a few things have me flummoxed. I can’t accept the straw man that disgruntled former members are simply disappointed that church leaders and BoM characters and flawed. To me, that’s not the problem. Actual humans don’t sail across the ocean before Columbus in wooden submarines with magic rocks. Small groups of humans will find it hard to smelt ore for tools and nails before finding sufficient lumber to build a boat AND sail around the Cape of Good Hope to eventually land in the New World. Humans in the millions leave behind linguistic and archeological evidence.

    And events perceived as miracles for a lack of scientific knowledge don’t remain miracles when we can explain them. When science fills in the gaps, God is no longer the explanation.

    Anyway, thanks, Jim, and Bill. The church needs a lot more people like Jim who are willing to engage in the conversation. Most would simply not. I look forward to the remaining chapters.

  3. I’m very thankful that I was a convert that was and still is the only member of my extended family ever to have been involved with the church because If I had come from polygamist stock and had such “distinguished” progenitors and current family members, I might have to use the same kinds of pretzel logic, obfuscation and just plain ridiculous arguments expressed by brother Jim Bennett, no relation I hope.

        1. I don’t think Bill Reel ever purports himself to be the type of person who does “takedowns”. Rather, he is consistently thoughtful, open-minded, and knowledgeable on the subjects that he often discusses.

          But I’m sure it’s easier to keep on believing if you discredit the people who provide information that makes you uncomfortable.

      1. We have some wannabe Don King hype man acting like Bill Reel is somebody that we should be impressed with??? Every time I listen to him, the more unimpressed I am.

          1. Yes 🙂 I listened to parts of all 6… (I can’t take that much abuse to listen to 6 hours of that) and I stand by my statement (cute wink back at you narcissist)

          2. and my final comment was not based on your conversation with Mr. Bennett which I found was actually interesting, but the promotion of this by you and others

          3. Way to stay classy, Bill. You see, faced with a lack of facts, ad-hominem attacks are all they’re left with.

  4. “La boca chueca” is the belief that you drink something hot in the winter and then you go out in the cold and your mouth will end up crooked because of the muscular spams due to the change of temperature and what not. It has nothing to do with going insane. Nobody believes that.

    Second, Bennett discounts miracles by saying that they can be explained scientifically, which doesn’t make them miracles anymore. He tries to interpret the miracles in the BoM by saying that maybe they didn’t happen exactly like the book says. But if that’s true, then it’s not a miracle, it’s just a simple event that has nothing to do with god or answers to prayers or worthiness. And comparing a battle of two very experienced armies with teenagers who never fought in their lives is not a fair or right. It’s a terrible argument.

    Finally, he says it’s not right to ignore the issues by saying that Joseph is a Prophet and problem solved, and yet, that’s exactly what he does throughout the show. He aknowledges the issues but says the BoM teaches him good stuff, so there.

    All in all, I was not very impressed with Bennett’s weasel explanations. Hopefully it’ll get better in the next episodes.

  5. I listened for about 5 minutes, then turned it off. First he brings up the Ed Decker morons as being a source of doubts for him in his youth. Puh-leez, talk about setting up a straw man to knock down.

    Then he’s aghast that Jeremy Runnels thinks rocks in hats are silly.

    Why do I give a flying fig what the son of a senator has to say about the Utah based tithing syndicate anyway?

  6. I am still absolutely stymied how Bill, and others (Hanns, Runnells?), who have been in the CES, bishopricks etc, did not know that Joseph was a polygamists until later in their church histories. How is that possible? When I was on a mission in Europe, everyone who knew next to nothing about the church, knew that Joseph had more than one wife. Ditto Young. These people knew nothing about Mormonism, but they knew that. It’s like Mormon 101 basic trivia.

    1. I joined at 17 and did not serve a mission. There was nothing in correlated material (outside of D&C132 but also acknowledging the manual sais stay away from the polygamous points in 132) that discussed Joseph’s polygamy. Not sure where I would have learned that? Can you point me to a correlated source. I read it in “anti” sources but was taught to dismiss it as anti.

    2. I did serve a mission and didn’t know Joseph engaged in polygamy. Even if I had, do you think it would have been presented to include polyandry and the story about an angel with a flaming sword? Would it have explained that Emma didn’t know about many of the wives he took and that he was sealed to twenty-something women before her? I don’t think they would have because it looks bad. It is bad. The reason I find this frustrating is that you sound much like the church, even if you don’t intend to, in terms of criticizing those who didn’t know what they didn’t know. The church also labeled those who leveled these accusations against Joseph Smith as anti-Mormon. I learned what the church wanted me to learn.

      1. Lesley O'Connell-Maritz

        Jan and I joined in 1962; we concurr with Bill and David M.We were gagged not “to know what we did not know.” The poor missionaries who were sent to “teach” us.

    3. @James,let’s be concrete about what information about polygamy was available before the internet (2:00 to 8:29)

      I learned far more about polygamy in my Utah history class that we had to take in 8th grade than I ever did in Church. As a teenager (during the 70s), I asked several adults (parents, teachers, advisors)questions about polygamy multiple times. It wasn’t until the 90s when more information was available that I understood that everything I was told in the 70s (was used to provide substance for old maids; at its height only 2% of the Church practiced it) were lies. More publications were released about 18 years ago, followed by Hales series that are less than a decade old.

    4. James, Joseph’s polygamy has not, until recently, been taught in any way at church. I lived in England as an adult and Joseph being married to anyone besides Emma was never discussed at any church meeting that I ever attended. I was a branch Relief Society President and I did not know Jospeh married, not only other women, but other men’s wives and teenagers including his own foster daughter. My mom is from England and she did not know that Joseph married other women during his lifetime. There was never any material teaching about Jospeh’s polygamy. I discovered this disturbing information by reading the gospel topic essay on the church website in 2015. Everyone NOW claims that they always knew this information but it isn’t true. I went to my parents and my in-laws and my bishop and NONE of them knew that Joseph had other wives during his life. My in-laws were missionaries at the Conference Center at this time and they called me liar and my MIL cried and said that she couldn’t believe that I would speak about the prophet in such a negative way. Our relationship has never been the same since, and, surprise SUrprise….my MIL told me 2 months ago that she ALWAYS knew that Joseph had other wives besides Emma.

      Trying to indicate that others are stupid for not knowing information that was never included in any lesson manuals or ever discussed at any church meeting is unfair. I never knew that I needed to doubt my church leaders. I never knew that I was supposed to ask non-members to tell me the REAL story of my church. I trusted my leaders. I obeyed when I was told from the pulpit to only read church approved sources. I was trusting and I believed and trusted my church leaders. I was exactly what they taught me to be.

    5. Every published statement of J. Smith on polygamy has him denying that he ever participated in it. Most TBM’s up until the past 20 years tended to take him at his word and assume that as the prophet of God, he would not repeatedly lie publicly about it, and falsely excommunicate those who accused him of it. It wasnt until brave historians began to publish their evidence that JS was in fact a serial marrying man that the previous cultural dogma of Joseph and Emma: the match made in heaven, began to erode.

    6. During my mission in Sweden I read the following statement from Joseph Smith:

      “…What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.” (History of the Church, vol 6, p. 411)

      Based on the above statement, I was convinced that Joseph was not a polygamist, although at the time of that statement he had already secretly taken 25 wives. Can you understand why I reached that incorrect conclusion? His statement is pretty forceful and as a believer, at the time, I simply accepted it as fact.


      At 24 years old after seminary, mission, Sunday School, institute, visits to church historical sites, Born and raised in the SLC factory, countless local and ‘special’ firesides, read the Friend, New Era, Ensign, read about 40 different books from Desert Book, Teaching the the Presidents of the Church.

      I was a 4.0 student in High School, full-ride to University and graduated law school.

      It’s crazy as I look back now – watching a South Park episode, seeing the seerstone. No, I was taught and shown that Joseph used the U&T to translate, the Gold Plates sitting right beside him on the table at times.

  7. I joined at 14. Everyone knew. How did everyone who is NOT Mormon know? These people weren’t into reading about it either. On my mission we’d introduce ourselves on buses, streets etc, and people everywhere would ask about polygamy and Smith and Young. They ALL believed we still practiced it. It was common knowledge. Kind of like everyone associates Catholics with Mary. Interestingly, everyone also asked us why we had no beards and whether we still didn’t use electricity or cars (thought we were Amish). I learned about polygamy in seminary, institute, and on my mission. My mission president talked about it during zone conferences, in a good way, saying that it would be practiced in the eternities. We also told investigators about it. This is all mid 1990s. Everyone knew. I think Jim even had a hard time with the idea that people like Runnels, Hans, etc did not know. My 2 cents

    1. Can I draw a distinction? Yes, it was commonly known everywhere that Mormons were polygamists, especially Young. Did you regularly hear Joseph Smith’s name mentioned as party to the practice? I did not, and I would argue that the church has tried to shield his legacy and reputation from such allegations to this day. The Joseph Smith movie they show (showed?) in the JS building is a total whitewash that portrays the Smith marriage as a grand love affair. Not a hint of other wives in it. I take it your experience was different?

      1. I knew Smith had plural wives when I was a kid back in the 90s. It was discussed in church, frequently, as a good thing. My mission president told the elders at zone conference that they would have multiple wives. 1997. I didn’t read alot either. Yes. John LDS people knew basically three things, Joseph Smith, polygamy, and that we have beards and don’t use electricity. The last one being false of course. Granted, this was all in Europe, where people including church members were less sheltered from church history than in Utah.

        1. @James

          Although you were apparently aware that Joseph Smith was a polygamist, many other deeply-active people (myself included) were not aware of this, and in fact many of us didn’t believe Joseph was a polygamist because Joseph himself claimed that he wasn’t. Joseph flat out lied about this. So it should not be surprising that many active members did not (and do not) believe that Joseph was a polygamist.

          Josephs lie:

          “…What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.” (History of the Church, vol 6, p. 411)

  8. Let me start with a huge round of applause for Jim and Bill. I loved Part 1. I disagree with Jim in parts. I disagree with Bill in parts. But that tells me we have a super productive conversation that is more that just an echo chamber in either way. Now to my observations …

    If you want a good drinking game, take a drink every time Jim uses “perfect” or “infallible” or “sinister” in Part 1. I kid, but there is a tinge of honest concern that those terms are straw man for my concerns.

    I could not care less whether church leaders are perfect or fallible.

    I could not care less if church leaders are well meaning or have sinister motives.

    What I *do* care about is whether church leaders are sufficiently reliable, that is, trustworthy in the sense that they can be reasonably relied upon as a source for accurate information.

    As one example, I am confident that Joseph Smith acted repeatedly as a source of inaccurate information, that is, as a seer who provided the location of buried treasure and the requirements to obtain the treasure for purposes of treasure digging. (Based on Jim concession that it was foolish for Joseph to believe in these practices, I expect Jim would concede that there was no treasure, that treasure does not disappear further into the earth, that there were no guardian spirits, and that Joseph’s information provided in his role as a treasure-digging seer was inaccurate.)

    I couldn’t care less whether Joseph honestly believed in his abilities. What I do care about is that he provided inaccurate information which he claimed to provide via supernatural means, which others believed in.

    Joseph later provided information (the text of the Book of Mormon) which he claimed to provide via a supernatural device, which others believed in.

    Given (1) Joseph later used the same supernatural device to generate text of the Book of Mormon and (2) the generated text of the Book of Mormon includes anachronisms, which are substantial evidence of inaccurate information in my opinion, I am comfortable that Joseph was not a sufficiently reliable source of accurate information. It’s not merely that he isn’t perfect. It’s that he isn’t sufficiently reliable to be worthy of my trust to make life decisions based on what he says.

    I can put on my shelf whether Joseph had sinister motives.

    Looking forward to Parts 2 to 6.

  9. Before Listening to LDS Apologists excusing the Church withholding troubling history from members (like Jim Bennett here), read this:

    Mormon Definition of Lying, Gospel Principles Manual, Chapter 31 “Honesty”

    To Lie Is Dishonest

    Lying is intentionally deceiving others. Bearing false witness is one form of lying…. There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest. The Lord is not pleased with such dishonesty, and we will have to account for our lies. Satan would have us believe it is all right to lie. He says, “Yea, lie a little; . . . there is no harm in this” (2 Nephi 28:8). Satan encourages us to justify our lies to ourselves. Honest people will recognize Satan’s temptations and will speak the whole truth, even if it seems to be to their disadvantage.

  10. Thanks Jim for discussing difficult historical topics. When I first discovered Joseph was a polygamist and a liar, I was looking for someone like you to help me understand this information. Unfortunately, in my experience, no one seemed to really know this information about Joseph so I was left to figure it out on my own and now I know far too much.

    I’ve only listened to Part 1. You do present another way to look at things. I don’t agree with you. Concealing truth is never a good move. it is not anyone’s job to manipulate me into a testimony. You say that leaders concealed facts because the facts are not flattering. Thats a poor excuse for not being transparent. Prophets and apostles should be providing spiritual guidance and not spiritual dictatorship. You said concerning the leaders not being transparent, “I don’t think they are offering unreasonable interpretation of the facts” and “its entirely reasonable to be telling the story they are telling”. I vehemently disagree with you. Joseph being presented as justified in coercing women in to marriage with him is despicable. Joseph lying to his wife (supposedly his eternal companion) is despicable. Promoting such a vile practice such as polygamy as so important that breaking the law and lying to the people closest to you is despicable. Polygamy dvalues women. As a female the idea of polygamy teaches me that my worth depends on my being able to bear children. Polygamy teaches me that it takes 10 or 20 or 100 of me to equal ONE man. Polygamy teaches me that no matter how righteous I am in this life, in the next life I lose my companion, my partner. I lose my marriage partnership and become part of a child birthing team. I lose what I’ve been taught is the most important thing, my eternal temple marriage. Polygamy teaches me that Talmadge was correct when he says in his book, Jesus The Christ, that God’s purpose is to have his SONS return to him. (Paraphrased) Polygamy teaches me that I need to be presided over. Polygamy teaches me that my partner is justified in lying to me. Polygamy teaches me that I am not valuable as ME. I’m a replaceable uterus. It’s not me that counts. My worth comes from my physical ability to bear children.

    I have prayed and cried for 25 years to my Heavenly Father to forgive me for whatever it was that I had done wrong that he made me female. I have prayed to understand why I am not significant enough to deserve an equal loving relationship in the next life. I have begged to understand why polygamy is a godly principle. The prompting I received to study on the church website was an answer to that prayer. I learned the dishonesty that accompanied polygamy. The story about the angel is a manipulation by Joseph. The scriptures say that we should, “Be ye therefore perfect AS our Father which is in heaven is perfect.” If the NT is true ( if we believe in the doctrine of Jesus Christ) then our father in Heaven IS perfect. He doesn’t manipulate, coerce, lie or threaten to make people manipulate, coerce and threaten others. God doesn’t teach truth with lies. God doesn’t violate our agency to manipulate us into the testimony that he wants.
    Why does Mormonism change the nature of God to make Joseph look better? Only Mormons believe that God is a manipulator and takes away our agency while believing that everything Joseph did was justified.

    You do a great job of presenting a different view. That is what I was looking for 3 years ago. I’ve never read the CES letter and I realize that some of this stuff I don’t really have an opinion on but the nature of God is pretty big for me. Polygamy is a game changer for me. I can’t go back to feeling bad about myself because I’m female. Ive grown far too much and I can’t go backwards.

  11. Great podcast! Thanks Bill for doing what you do. I know you are an inspired means God is STILL using to help many of his children only you can help. I m a former bishop still active in the church. I can say honestly that it is people like you and John Dehlin who helped me stay “in the boat”! Thank you. Jim thank you. I like your views. You guys are awesome!

  12. Bill, I didn’t think I’d enjoy this conversation, but I actually found it very interesting and even enlightening at times. Jim is a good rep for the reasonable yet faithful Mormon crowd, and many of his points are worthwhile. I do think that his discounting of church leadership’s role and responsibilities in “covering up” problematic history is very flawed, for one serious reason. I have heard it posited many times that the church, like any private organization, bears no responsibility to publicize its own errors and contradictions. This would be true if not for the following. The church presents itself as the one and only true and living church on the Earth, and the only .org with the priesthood authority to perform the ordinances necessary for salvation. They represent that they alone have continual access to the mind and will of God, our father and his son, Jesus Christ. They tell us that this mortal life is the time established for us to work out our salvation with God and they lay out a strict, “straight and narrow” pathway to accomplish it. It’s represented as the most important decision we will ever make in eternity, and it culminates in a series of covenants in the temple where we are required to give all of our time, talents, property and devotion, up to and including our very lives if necessary, to the building up and maintenance of the LDS church, if we want to ascend to the highest level of salvation in eternity. This little commitment is sprung upon us out of the blue, without warning, in a compromising position where to stop and think about it, or want to consult with a lawyer first would be terribly embarrassing in front of friends, loved ones and family. We are not allowed to openly discuss these things outside of the temple We are being asked to covenant everything, and if we refuse we are in that moment relegated to third class status in the church’s eyes. When you buy a house or a business, also a big decision, but not as big as what we go through in the temple, the seller is required to disclose any negative history, information or liabilities(floods, fires, lawsuits, etc) that may be relevant or material to the decision on the table. This full disclosure is legally required so that the buyer can make a full reasoned decision with all the pertinent facts Fully expose. Anything that’s hidden or undisclosed that comes to light later is grounds for reneging on the Agreement, or even a lawsuit. Why is the church allowed to ask us to make the most important decision and commitment we will ever make without being required, even feeling obligated to disclose every available piece of information that may carry weight in making that decision? Any effort to hide church history, contradictions in doctrines and policy and statements or actions that objectively prove that the current official narrative is provably false is indistinguishable from outright fraud, and on the church’s own terms, has both temporal as well as eternal raminfications. Just because they may believe they are doing good and that they are only human and make mistakes like everyone else, does not excuse them from their responsibilities or the consequences of their actions. There may come a time when some enterprising attorney will take up this cause as a class action lawsuit, because there is real money, real life altering consequences with real world damages associated with this whole process. And in that circumstance, the church might finally be forced to reveal everything they know and every secret they still have stashed away in the corporate vaults that may have material impact on someone making informed consent to the covenants required in the endowment.

  13. I still can’t figure out how people didn’t know. This whole I was a bishop or relief president doesnt mean much. You weren’t called because you had more gospel knowledge. Everyone and their dog who was and is not Mormon knows that JS had more than one wife. It may be that the disaffected largely consist of people who did not know. in any event. I think polygamous marriage is fine. It is even natural and supported by biology if you want to keep God out of it. Unlike homo marriage

    1. The most likely reason why non-Mormons knew about Joseph Smith’s polygamy is that non-members had free access to “anti-Mormon” sources. Members were counseled to not view “anti-Mormon” documents. In this way, members were kept in the dark while non-members knew the truth of Joseph Smith’s polygamous marriages. Please don’t pretend that Joseph Smith’s polygamy was common knowledge because you know very well that it wasn’t. I joined the church in 1991 and I was taught that polygamy started with Brigham Young not Joseph Smith. And the reason Brigham Young started polygamy was because there were too few men for all of the available women. The church had a very heavy hand in allowing people to believe that Joseph Smith had no part of polygamy. The film Joseph Smith: The Prophet purposefully deceived the viewer. It leads viewers to believe that Joseph was only married to Emma Smith. It does not talk about ANY of the polygamous wives Joseph had. Why is that? It’s because they were purposefully being deceptive. You have to at least admit that much. Gospel Principles manual describes was dishonesty is and the portrayal of Joseph’s marriage to Emma as the only one is pure deception.

  14. Celia, I love you. I don’t know you beyond your voice here and I thank you so much for your statement.
    James, give it up. You are not influencing anyone who can think for themselves.
    Polygamy has NEVER been commanded by God. How grateful I am to be free of it. My tears were with me for over 30 years. Mormon Doctrine is heinous. It is all borrowed from many sources.
    The mormon temple, polygamy, nature of God, priesthood, salvation, all of it is so full of crap. It may be embarrassing to admit you were in a cult for over 55 years but I will. And now I’m out and never going back.

    1. I’m glad it resonated with you. Polygamy is an evil, sexist and abusive practice that Mormonism tries to turn into the test for Mormon heaven. Talk about making black look white. Otherwise decent and successful men throw honesty, logic and the worth of souls into the garbage and use every deceitful tactic to make it appear that polygamy is an honorable practice instituted by an honorable man.

  15. Great job Bill! The mental gymnastics and cognitive yoga is too much to handle..,I appreciate the willingness of Mr. Bennett, but it falls short…far far short.

  16. This is really a great conversation, Bill! I have only listened to the first episode in this “John Dehlin-isk marathon interview”, and am anxious to hear the rest. I find Jim to be very congenial and a good listener. I love his voice, a combination of Bruce R. McConkie and his father, who I am saddened by his early death. Sen. Bob Bennett was severely abused by his party in favor of a full-on hard right nay-sayer.

    I am enjoying that you are both working to find some common ground and seem to both respect each other’s opinions.

    I am thankful for this conversation by a man who is not all defensive and trying to prove his point. I am glad that it works so well for Jim, and that he seems to definitely understand your position and all the problems that the CES letter brings up. That he is un-ruffled by this is truly amazing to me, as I have an extremely difficult time in letting so many incongruencies in so many issue slide by.

    As to those who believe that Joseph Smith’s polygamy and polyandry are or should be well known in the church, I am here to tell you that as a life-long Utah member (over 60 years old) with pioneer stock, and a very avid reader of church materials (Note: only church published materials consumed) all my life, it was a shock to me about JS’s marriages as well as a rock in a hat only a few years ago when I read other history. My own father totally diss’d Fawn Brodie, and also gave the party line from way back in the 30’s and 40’s that Emma was a wicked woman (ala Brigham Young). I get that organizations don’t want to tell the perceived embarrasing issues to the world, but the narrative has been so carefully crafted over so many years that it does border on full-on deception/dishonesty.

    Again, I am fully enjoying your conversation, and wouldn’t mind having such a pleasant conversation with Jim myself, but I am at a point where I just can’t un-learn the actual history and deception that I have been taught all my life.

  17. One episode in. It’s great to hear you both talking respectfully about these topics. I am happy to hear both sides of these issues presented thoughtfully. Well done.

    This point may be addressed in later episodes, but I can’t help feeling like Mr. Bennett is describing a church I have never known. Members have just as much access to God as the Prophet? The Book of Mormon is full of exaggerations? Members talk openly about troubling church issues? This isn’t the church I know.

    I was taught that the prophet cannot lead you astray. I was taught that if I receive revelation that contradicts the prophet, I am wrong. I was taught that The Book of Mormon was the most correct book on earth. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard difficult issues talked about at church, and each time the discussion was quickly shut down. And I’m not talking about the church of 1980. This is my ward today.

    I feel that Mr. Bennett is doing exactly what he claims church leaders have done – paint the church in the best possible light, even if that means exaggerating at times.

    If my stake president heard a member teach that the members have as much access to God as the prophet, he would consider holding a disciplinary council. That’s not an exaggeration; I’ve seen it happen.

  18. Bill…you are too much of a gentleman. I understand the need to be cordial and diplomatic when speaking to someone who disagrees with your position…it allows the discussion to move forward. However, I feel as though you let Jim of the hook several times in the spirit of being diplomatic. I’ve listened to a number of your podcasts and I love them all. You make forceful and valid points but again I feel as though you concede where you could have come off the top rope! I’ve never moderated or hosted a discussion like the one between you and Jim so perhaps I am speaking out of turn. I just saw a number of opportunities for you to silence Jim on points he was trying to make.

  19. Through the first podcast and once again I’m completely unimpressed with the arguments of an “apologist”. Talk about mental gymnastics and nothing but unsupportable opinion. Once again just rolling my eyes listening to a “believer” trying to spin the history and defend the Church. Some just choose to believe despite the facts, end of story.

  20. But IT WAS common knowledge to me and my friends in my non-Utah non-US ward. And it was common knowledge to many people who weren’t reading anti mormon literature. Like my non-mormon parents and friends. Like i said, many non members on my mission also believed we were never meant to shave, use electricity, or drive. Maybe there is something true about the notion that Americans, in general, are just very uninformed about much. That was my impression when I moved here, and it still is. Sorry if that sounds like typical European condescension.

    1. What! A person who grew up in a non Mormon community with non Mormon parents knew that JS was a polygamist! Color me shocked!
      You are not understanding that in the traditional Mormon communities and in the traditional Mormon homes, THIS. WAS. NOT. TAUGHT. EVER.

  21. I know I’m going to have a hard time getting through this if your guest’s first argument for the BoM is literally and argument from ignorance fallacy AND you don’t call him out on it. “I haven’t heard a better explanation” is not evidence for supernatural intervention!

  22. Bill, your claim of being a “mediator” between Jim and the CES letter is laughable. Though you (Bill) made a few minor concessions, they were all only “partial” or “to a point”, or “with a caveat”. Further, I don’t think Jim made one single point, that you didn’t follow up with “but that said” or similar. Also, I think you asked Jim to enter this discussion under somewhat false pretenses. At the outset, I believe you tried to call it a discussion, and pretty explicitly stated that it wasn’t to be a debate. If that were true, why couldn’t a single one of Jim’s points go unchallenged. I think this fact says more about your ego, Bill, then it says about the validity (or invalidity) of Jim’s points. Jim made one of the strongest, most frank, and sincere apologetic defenses of the church that I have ever heard, in real time, and at a substantial sacrifice of time…..many hours. And he did so graciously.

    Bill, please take another look inside and ask yourself why you feel the need to follow up on every single statement Jim made. Please ask yourself why you felt the need to make a bullet-point list of “concessions” made by Jim. And a challenge to you, Bill, see if you can do it without any ifs, ands, buts, caveats, etc. I don’t think you have it in you.

  23. Wow. This guy is ridiculous. To say it is the fault of the members that they don’t know Joey Smith is laughable. I’m a lifelong member and about the same age as Mr. Bennett. I bet I didn’t miss church 5 times growing up. My family has deep polygamist ties…even moving to Mexico to live polygamy. I’m a seminary grad. Return missionary. BYU grad.

    Nowhere did anyone ever teach me that Joey was a polyg. I found out at 27 years old when a woman from the BYU church history dept told me in a casual conversation. I have spoken to countless lifelong members in recent years and they had no idea. A 67 year old RS pres and lifelong member. My mom at age 70 didn’t know. She a lifelong member. It’s shocking when u find out. And then to find out he married 14 year old, mother daughter combos, women with husbands. Dude was a freaking perv. Con man. Chalatan.

    It tells me the church was ashamed of Joey’s perversions and made an effort not to discuss. Sin of omission in my opinion.

    And I especially like Mr. Bennett’s comments earlier that if the prophet has a revelation and declares it that you as a member are entitled to your own revelation to determine if u think it’s right or wrong. If u disagree you are free to express it. Are u kidding?

    Speaking against the brethren will surely get you in trouble. If you disagree you you can’t get a temple recommend. “Do you support the prophet and sustain him as God’s mouthpiece on earth”? Yes, I support everything except the punishment of children whose parents ar gay. Bishop: sorry, no temple recommend for you. If no recommend then no highest level C kingdom.

    What f’ing church is Bennett living in? Oh, I forgot. His dad was US senator. Great grandfathers were church presidents. We won’t punish him.

    This guy is absurd. F him.

  24. Jim Bennett I lose more and more respect for you by the minute.

    Now you say you’re not bothered by Joey Smithusing a rock in a “translate” B of M??? Your reason is because God knows that JS is drawn to this sort of quirky belief system so God just figures, well, if that helps him translate the plates then okay. WTF? So now God confor,s to JS quirky beliefs???

    Jim doesn’t care if JS believes in treasure hunting or magic? It just kind of like believing in horoscopes or fortune telling? Bennett thinks it’s nonesense to believe in such things but it’s okay for the one human on earth chosen by God himself to be his mouthpiece to follow such foolishness. Let’s all just believe the dude telling fortunes. Jim thinks it not sinister to practice such foolishness and why is everyone caught up in this behavior? I’ll tell u why. Because he charged people money to find this bullshit treasure knowing full well it didn’t exist. Jim…it’s called conning you jackass.

    So the world is living in darkness for hundreds of years without a prophet. Then God suddenly decides the guy he’s going to use as his worldwide mouthpiece and restorer is a guy that charges people to find treasure for them knowing it doesn’t exist.

    Bill, how do you listen to this shit and just not want to shred this guy? He seems smart but he chooses to believe in and defend nonesense.

  25. Just listening to this series now. Jim infuriates me with his “level” of honesty. Look, either one is honest, or they’re not. He asks at one point “what do you want from the church”. Are you honest in ALL your dealings with man. When you expect me to give you thousands of $ every year in tithing I expect fully honest from you. Not various “levels” of honesty

  26. On polygamy, I believe growing up in the 60s and 70s In the church I knew about Joseph Smith and polygamy. I did not know anything about polyandry until much later.

  27. What a great conversation! Thanks Bill and Jim for engaging.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else find it perplexing that JS didn’t mention God the Father in his 1832 account (the only account actually written by his own hand)? It seemed like Jim and even Bill didn’t think that was a big deal. Maybe it’s just me, but if God introduced me to Jesus Christ, I don’t think I would want to leave out that detail in any version. Even if I were writing it to myself in my own journal.
    There’s one ugly doctrine that rooted from the first vision story. Just after JS was killed, a few prominent leaders stated that JS filled the position of the Holy Ghost because he was the only person to witness God the Father and Jesus Christ at the same time, therefore he completed the Godhead. Not kidding!

    Anyway, I look forward to hearing the rest of the conversations between Bill and Jim.

  28. What a great conversation! Thanks Bill and Jim for engaging.

    Does anyone else find it perplexing that JS didn’t mention God the Father in his 1832 account (the only account actually written by his own hand)? It seemed like Jim, and even Bill, didn’t think it was a big deal. I thought they would have given it a little more weight in this discussion. Maybe it’s just me, but if God introduced me to Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t leave out that detail…in any account or version. Even if I were writing it to myself in my personal journal. Just saying.

    There’s an ugly doctrine that stemmed from the first vision story. Right after JS was killed, a few prominent leaders of the church began teaching that JS filled the position of the Holy Ghost in the Godhead because he was the only person to witness God the Father and Jesus Christ at the same time, therefore he completed the Godhead. Not kidding!

    Anyway, I look forward to hearing the rest of the conversations between Bill and Jim.

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  30. It’s crazy the justifications that has to follow if you presuppose the church is true, like from the corbridges talk, if the primary question is jesus is true and smith is a prophet therefore the church is true, this idea doesn’t follow, jesus doesn’t at all depend apon smiths integrity or honesty, smith could have revealed stuff and the church today doesn’t follow him anyway, they are very selective but none of this is necessary to believe in god, from a biblical view it’s incoherent, the things people will swallow because they feel it’s necessary to prove some kind of loyalty is wrong and very likely evidence of the opposite, members don’t accept gods revelation of himself in the scriptures because of the perspectives the church pushes on them, the doctrines are often the polar opposite from what scripture clearly reveals, modern revelation is very likely choosing these men over what god has to say.

  31. Your experience in CES was MUCH different than mine. My Mission Prez did not know a single thing about Joseph’s polygamy – or at least denied that this happened on at least 1 occasion.

    Seminary, mission, institute, taught GD for 3 years, was SS president for 2 years… There was absolutely no mention of POLYGAMY in the church texts re: Pre Utah polygamy. In fact, I visited the church historical sites in Missouri, Illinois and New York – polygamy NEVER came up (2002).

    If it’s commanded of God why shy away from it?

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