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 2 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:

  • Joseph Smith’s polygamy.
  • Racism in the Book of Mormon.
  • The LDS Church priesthood and temple ban on members of African descent.
  • The LDS Church’s teachings regarding LGBTQ members and same-sex marriage.
  • What is the role/need for Mormon prophets?

Also, please do not miss my dear friend Bill Reel’s super in-depth interview with Jim if you happened to miss it.

Download MP3


  1. Lori January 3, 2021 at 12:18 am - Reply

    I feel like Jim’s experience in the mormon church is a gross misrepresentation of the vast majority of the Mormons of the same age. We were NOT told about polyandry and we were not told Joseph Smith had multiple wives… so many things deliberately hidden from the church and now gaslighting is happen ing as the church is pretending all of this was common knowledge… members can not choose to believe some things and not others… in my experience you can’t pick and choose which things you believe and which ones you don’t. It is or isn’t true. If this is Gods only true church on the earth today with one true and living prophet then it should be Alot closer to perfect.. how in the word is he justifying soooooo many things. These episodes with Jim giving every far out justification and round about explanation imaginable is infuriating for me to listen to.. he sounds fairly condesending and smug but not able to look at facts without making excuses.. it is not comfortable to listen to. It feels disingenuous. Kind of a lot of hours to have Jim basically say even though there is all of these truths laid out that are very bad, I choose to look the other way and stay in the church. Very, very dismissive. He does not listen to understand he listens to argue…ughhhhhh.. infuriating .

    • frankbefrank January 3, 2021 at 12:53 pm - Reply

      Lori, I agree with you completely. I do not find Jim credible in the least. He continues to play mind games that are a total turn off to me! His comments, rather than being well thought out and valid defenses for his position, I found to be nauseating trifle!

    • Debra Skomer January 4, 2021 at 4:41 pm - Reply

      Lori, I agree with you completely.

    • Wade Sillito January 7, 2021 at 6:52 pm - Reply

      You’re right, Lori……listening to Jim’s pathetic, weak, apologetic responses can become infuriating. His inability to accept truth is rather pathetic. He is a man who has just run over a squirrel on the highway and is trying to convince us all that he is not to blame…..the squirrel was trying to commit suicide!!!….quite a stretch Jim!!!!

  2. John Mazanis January 3, 2021 at 9:09 am - Reply

    I am tremendously encouraged by this episode. The interviews with Jim Bennett continue, in my view, to blaze a trail for faithful and questioning perspectives alike to engage one another in respectful and ardent dialog. Every time I hear the words, “I can see that…” or “I can understand why…” and even, “I acknowledge…”, for me, it is building steps [possibly one day] spanning the chasm between many of us who find ourselves alienated from the people, culture, and normative expression of our once strong belief in the “pure and simple” teachings of the restoration narrative. The resulting energy of that willingness to recognize and engage the issues, begins to clear a pathway to sit with the complexity that makes up a person’s faithful perspective despite the challenges. It is abundantly clear that the religion we are all apart of is anything but simple. Whether in its totality, or in examination of its parts, the controversial intricacy of Mormon history is evident and needs to be engaged as demonstrated by the platform John has provided with Mormon Stories in these interviews.

    • Garth January 4, 2021 at 11:51 am - Reply

      I totally agree with you, John! Sitting down and having open, respectful dialogue is the first step. The next step can be for all parties to step away, think about it, and then come back to the table. It’s unrealistic to expect either party to become converted to the other person’s views in the first sitting.

  3. MarkLee January 3, 2021 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Knowing what Jim knows I’m sincerely happy he is able to keep his faith, I wasn’t so lucky. Like Jim I grew up in Southern California. I was in the Church 40+ years, went on a mission, took a religion class every semester, graduated from BYU in the early 90’s and (one example) “NEVER” knew JS had multiple wives. With no internet and studying only church produced material at what stage of life should I have learned this? (pre-mission? mission? college?). As for me, I’m “not” ok with the omissions. John kept trying to get Jim to see the countless issues in the aggregate; however, Jim seems to be focused on each issue individually and rarely ever concedes there’s even a problem. Similar to a Politician Jim is well trained in not answering a question directly, I turned the Podcast off several times in frustration. I’m convinced there’s a certain percentage of members that are simply always going to be a member No-Matter-What, Jim is part of this camp! Unfortunately, I don’t think Jim’s explanations are scalable to the majority of members that are up against a faith crisis. I think there’s just too many hurdles for the well informed member (well informed… meaning those that look beyond church material). I didn’t count the number of question that Jim had to defend; however, the likely hood that Jim’s position is correct is astronomical unlikely.

    • Steve H. January 4, 2021 at 3:49 am - Reply

      Yes, this is why John brought up Occam’s razor; eventually many of us conclude that the chance the countless excuses you have to believe for the church to be true are valid is miniscule compared to the simple explanation that JS was a con. A big part of my journey out of the church was realizing that the “one true church” shouldn’t need to lie about or misrepresent nearly every aspect of its history.

  4. Debra Skomer January 4, 2021 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    I can’t help but recall what happens when humans decide that one of their core beliefs is wrong. Like, the sun evolves around the Earth. When scientists gave up the geocentric model (in spite of death threats by the Catholic Church), suddenly, all of their observations of celestial bodies made sense. Reality fit with our explanation fo reality. All the ways people tried to make sense of the irregularities were immediately made unnecessary when we gave in to THE truth… that the Earth is not the center of our universe.

    This has happened, over and over and over again, to humans as we have grown up over hundreds of thousands of years. (Note: the Earth and our universe is older than you might “believe”… and I can’t believe I have to tell anyone that today in 2020.)

    Now, we are faced with core religious beliefs (from all religions), that are a remnant of our infancy as homo sapiens. In spite of Jim’s sincerity, he is trying to make things fit with his pet belief that Mormonism is true and good, and that Joseph Smith is a prophet. If you let go of the core belief that God is real and that Mormonism is the one true faith, and accept that God-stories are fairy tales, and that Joseph Smith is simply a charismatic religious leader like so many others, then, everything makes sense (like human DNA, and who is related to whom).

    You do not have to explain away anything with tortured logic. You don’t have to find bizarre excuses/explanations for what we observe in this world that contradicts the foundational principles of your, or any, religion. At out 2:30:00 into this episode, Bill is talking about homosexuals, and what God wants or does not want. If you give up the personal belief/fantasy in God… you don’t have to even wrestle with this issue. It’s a non-issue. If you stop thinking that women are not capable of certain roles in your society… no problem! Women always rise to the occasion. Society gets it right, long before old, white men have revelations.

    Jim has applied his admirable intellect to Mormon apologetics. But his arguments fall short. He has chosen his treasured place in this world over the truth… and over the wellbeing of others.

  5. Terry January 5, 2021 at 11:32 am - Reply

    Wow…”earliest members of the church misinterpreted the BOM??” He has an answer for everything doesn’t he? Like others, I take issue with him saying he knew all of this when he was young (he looks to be about my age I’m guessing). I did not learn any of this until I read The God Maker’s and it shook me to the core! Answers like his allowed me to pack it all up on my proverbial shelf for many years, but in the end listening to a podcast where all of these issues and then some were laid out all at once I realized there is just TOO MUCH! If there were just a couple of things that were problematic it would be easy to rationalize. But in reality, it all sounds every bit as ridiculous to me now as L. Ron Hubbard and his crazy story about Xenu! NONE of it is logical or reasonable. It’s all speculation. If it makes him happy and content to believe it then good for him. I can never go back.

  6. David Green January 6, 2021 at 10:00 am - Reply

    I appreciate Jim for his willingness to step up and tackle these difficult issues. I think he has a few things wrong. It is a minor point but I believe he meant Helen Kimball, not Sarah Kimball when talking to Joseph Smiths involvements with the Kimball family. Another point where I believe he has it wrong is whether there was sexual relations with other men’s wives. I don’t think we can discount the Sarah Pratt account. Yes she was a hostile witness but that isn’t grounds to discredit her account. I don’t think it is correct to dismiss a persons account because they opposed his dealings with them. She claimed he proposed a sexual relationship with her after committing her to keep his proposal secret. What about Ann Eliza Young’s account where she said in her book “One woman said to me not very long since, while giving me some of her experiences in polygamy: ‘The greatest trial I ever endured in my life was living with my husband and deceiving him, by receiving Joseph’s attentions whenever he chose to come to me.'”
    There is Brigham Young’s comment found in the Journal of Discourses 4:77-78, Nov. 9, 1856 “If he acts like a devil, he has brought forth a doctrine that will save us, if we abide it. He may get drunk every day of his life, sleep with his neighbor’s wife every night, run horses and gamble; I do not care anything about that, for I never embrace any man in my faith. But the doctrine he has produced will save you and me, and the whole world; and if you can find fault with that, find it.”
    I can produce more accounts and evidence but refrain in order to keep my comments from going too long here.

  7. Beth January 12, 2021 at 8:33 am - Reply

    This gentleman is obviously very intelligent, and I find the podcasts engaging and eye opening to both sides. However, I wonder if average members can get through all the mental gymnastics. I personally still have some faith even though I wrestle with much. I often feel a tinge of resentment for my years crushed by scrupulosity. Trying to be “Spencer W. Kimball” miracle of forgiveness type worthy. And our own church and it’s leaders don’t live by those standards. Not even close. Didn’t Dallin H Oaks even elude to “the church doesn’t apologize”.

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