Jim Bennett is the author of “A Faithful Reply to the CES Letter.”  He is also the son of the late Utah U.S. Senator Bob Bennett.

In Part 4 of a multi-part series with Jim, we discuss in-depth his approach to maintaining belief in the Mormon church AFTER exposure to all of the historical and social problems currently vexing the LDS church, as highlighted in Jeremy Runnell’s groundbreaking book “CES Letter: My Search for Answers to my Mormon Doubts.”

Today’s episode covers:

  • Women and the church and the Ordain Women movement.
  • The Mormon church’s approach to “Law of Chastity” issues including pornography, masturbation, and one-on-one “worthiness interviews.”
  • The Mormon church’s handling and mishandling of sexual abuse cases.
  • The Mormon church’s treatment (including excommunication) of activists and critics.
  • A closing discussion of the faith crisis “epidemic” within the modern LDS church, and Jim’s opinions about the best way to handle the situation.

To thank Jim for his participation so far in this series, please email him at: jim@canonizer.com.

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  1. frankbefrank January 3, 2021 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    This discussion was, IMO, somewhat less apologetic on the part of Jim Bennett than previous episodes have been. While I faulted him somewhat in episode 3 for what I considered a rather inane defense of the indefensible, here I thought his approach to be more genuine, perhaps more sensible. However, as John pointed out quite well during these discussions, based on the description of the activism required as a catalyst that brings about revelation, why do we need a prophet. Dr. Phil or Oprah is just as good a source to turn to for answers as is a prophet.
    Bottom line, why not recognize and admit that we [yes, I am still a member] are members of “a church”, not “the church” and then just get on with it! The church has the resources to do far more good in the world than it does at present. !f we could just get past this “One and only true and living church on the face of the whole earth” nonsense, it would be a great leap forward. If we could just concentrate on doing good in the world, we could justify our existence. Concentrate on doing good here and now, enjoy this life, let the next one take care of itself, if and when it actually comes!

    • kaigh ell January 4, 2021 at 9:55 am - Reply

      Watering down importance given partaking of whatever idelogical construct, such as down-playing exceptionalism, seems to affect its survivability. Those type of kinds churches exist elsewhere. I.e., at the time of the emperor Julian, Christianity billed itself as /the/ way whereas various pagan paths said any of its many manifestations were all acceptable;(*) and, it seems, who won out in the power struggle between episcopacy & cultic leaders was the side declining to defer in its claims to any of the others, perhaps.
      (*)2nd half of Britannica’s two-paragraph lede @ “Mystery Religion”: //Etymologically, the word mystery is derived from the Greek verb /myein/ [“to close”], referring to the lips and the eyes. Mysteries were always secret cults into which a person had to be “initiated” [taken in]. The initiate was called /mystēs/, the introducing person /mystagōgos/ [leader of the /mystēs/]. The leaders of the cults included the /hierophantēs/ [“revealer of holy things”] and the /dadouchos/ [“torchbearer”]. The constitutive features of a mystery society were common meals, dances, and ceremonies, especially initiation rites. …//) Thus, you, john, jim, & myself were initiated into just another tribe with revelators who channel the divine will for our own (& not necessarily a universal) benefit?

    • Debra Skomer January 4, 2021 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      Frank, I think you make a good point.

      It’s obvious that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is NOT, “THE Church”. But, having known many Mormons, including some of my beloved family members, I experience the Mormons I know as overwhelmingly “good” and “productive”… until they start to 1) set standards that are impossible, thereby causing great harm to themselves, their children, and fellow community members, and 2) start belittling everyone else in the world who is not part of “THE Church”, and creating divisions that are unnecessary and damaging among modern human beings.

      When I think about the values that Mormons agree upon, I too imagine all the good that could be done when people unite round “good” values, and pursue those values. Mormons alone could reduce world poverty… NOW!! They could reduce food-insecurity NOW, in the US, and elsewhere. They could also return tithings to Mormons who have given and given and given, and now find themselves suffering. The LDS church is well-established financially, and its money is earning money, and… they do not need to take money from their members who are living on the edge.

      Religion is like a virus… doing everything it can to survive at the expense of everything and everyone else, including the host (i.e. YOU). They implant in “believers” the need to believe, the need to adhere to rules that are, sometimes, ridiculous, and they implant fantasies that cause pleasure for some, and intense pain for others.

      Mormons have the financial and intellectual resources to immediately save almost all the people on earth that die unnecessarily from preventable diseases. Instead, they focus on spreading a false narrative to the needy, and they spread lies about the nature of reality.

      One last request. Quit going around the world trying to convince people you have THE truth, when you don’t. THAT is a horrible thing to do. It separates people from their own families, their own culture, and binds them to you. YOU change your mind every few decades. Furthermore, you are consistently dragging behind secular society in providing for the wellbeing of people.

      Ahhhh… definitely an interesting episode. However, it reminds me that much human intelligence is wasted on tortured logic intended to “make something true”, when it obviously is not.

  2. James Crane January 4, 2021 at 3:17 pm - Reply

    God claims his work and his glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life. I have no confidence that God can be trusted to help me reach my potential. Either through malice or neglect he allowed his church to prohibit his children from recieving saving ordinances required for eternal life.

    There is nothing appealing to me about Mr. Bennett’s faith.

  3. Kody C January 7, 2021 at 1:08 am - Reply

    I have listened to many podcasts here, and I feel the the need to comment on this one. I absolutely despise how the church conducts personal worthiness interviews. I have been a member of the church my whole life. I am 39 years old, and I have had two very bad bishops, in my opinion, in my entire time with the church, when it came to interview questions and connecting to members. I have had many wonderful bishops, and still I despise the personal worthiness interviews! I have had many personal interview questions. I will share this one. I married my high school sweetheart. I have known her since I was eight years old. I officially started dating her when I was 16 years old. I served a mission, and told her to date others, and we would see what happened. I returned, we decided we were going to get married. Well at this time, my family moved from one city to another so my bishop from my old ward was no longer my bishop. Well my wife, then my fiancee, and I made a mistake… or so we thought. We both had to go into our bishops office to confess what we had done wrong. We had two different bishops. Her bishop was so cool about it. I went with her and sat in his office. My bishop… not so much. He told us we should call off the wedding because statistics were not on our side because we had made a mistake, and we both should have known better. I felt terrible, and it caused me to second guess our wedding. However, I was already studying statistics and thought to myself, you know what even with us not making a mistake, there is still a 40% or higher chance of divorce. My wife and I decided to not take his advice and marry anyways after taking my bishops punishment of not taking the sacrament for two weeks. I am so glad I did not take his advice. I have been married to my wife for over 17 years, and we have 4 beautiful daughters. I refuse to let my daughters go through these type of interviews because of the leadership roulette talked about in this episode. If I was a bishop, and I had young people coming into my office to confess sins, I would have them write their sins(or what they think are sins) on paper and not show me. I would then have them put the list in an envelope and then burn it with the person( outside of the church hehehe), without even seeing it. I would say okay you confessed to the only person(s) you need to confess! Good job!

  4. EVERYBODY_HATES_CHRIS January 7, 2021 at 8:18 am - Reply

    After listening to all of these episodes with Jim, it just reminds me of all the mental gymnastics I tried to perform before finally leaving the LDS church a couple years ago. Seeing interviews like this just solidifies for me that there is a lack of direction and willingness to take responsibility from church leaders for past and present issues, along with a desire to whitewash and not address major issues. My truth journey started with digging into the LDS church’s own history and ended with reading the CES letter and watching numerous Mormon Stories. I will be forever grateful for questioning people with courage such as Jeremy Runnells and John Dehlin that helped me find the courage within myself to take that final leap forward with my family. I’m just so glad my wife and kids were able to leave with me at the same time.

  5. AARON JOHNSON April 20, 2021 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    Dear Dr. Dehlin,
    I love your show and have supported it financially. I also think you’d be wise to reconsider your SJW leanings and here’s why:
    I’m a Zen Mormon who grew up in a liberal non-LDS environment in the Northwest. My friends were named Lake, Quail, and Moon. I know leftist thought very well. I also spent decades in Utah as an active member of the Church. I know rightist conservatism equally well. I think – based on the underlying themes and terms that regularly appear in your speech – that a degree of ideologically-driven presuppositions have tainted your objectivity. In short, I fear the noisily moral posturing, virtue signaling “social justice” trend that’s become popular has overcome your reason. I believe in – and will everlastingly advocate – equality of opportunity for all. Equality of outcome, though: never. History has thoroughly demonstrated that implementing equality of outcome measures has disastrous results. We will never legislate or implement policy ourselves into a balanced, socially just world.

    Placing 50% _________and 50%_________ in positions of “power” – publicly, politically, institutionally, or otherwise – will never level society out. Also, this notion of “The Patriarchy”. What is “The Patriarchy”? For 48,000 years, homosapien females had all but zero control over their reproductive powers – and – males and females like to copulate. Males have occupied positions of “leadership” and the like as a natural result of the biological constraints Nature placed upon their Female counterparts. Having a child IS a lifetime undertaking. Birth control allowed this to change. Sure, tyranny always tends to taint any hierarchy – and – we have A LOT of issues to resolve. Yet it’s excruciatingly disappointing to me that the current popular dialogue continually revolves around “the need to dismantle The Patriarchy” or “social justice for our LGBTQ fellow-beings” rather than finding a way to solve homelessness and provide health care for everyone WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY compensating the professionals who facilite it, and the other serious problems we have, like endless war and loading prisons endlessly for almost trivial “crimes”.

    The majority of people in prison are men, the majority of those who’re homeless are men, the majority of those who die in wars or on the job are men. Where’s The Patriarchy? We need to change the topics we’re talking about. And, we need noth wings to fly. Peace be with you.

    • Karen Pringle September 12, 2021 at 4:25 pm - Reply


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