Sugar and Spice and RIGHTEOUS FURY!!!

Kate Kelly published a commentary on her upcoming disciplinary council. I’d like to comment on that commentary, and I decided the best way to do that was within the text itself. You can find it below, along with my thoughts.

I feel sad, because it sounds like Kelly’s resolved to leaving the Church, and using this as a catalyst to maintain media attention for however long her 15 minutes lasts. Too bad.

On Sunday, I will be tried in absentia

I know of at least one group that has offered to help foot the bill for her return to Virginia, if finances are making this prohibitively difficult. Heck, I’d contribute to a “Get-Kate-to-Virginia” kickstarter if she really wanted to go. Also, she did fly to SLC to protest during the Priesthood Session… twice… so, there’s that.

I wonder if Kelly prefers being tried in absentia. That’s fine, by the way, if that’s the case. You just lose your right to score sympathy points when it’s really your decision.

for apostasy by the leaders of my former congregation in the Mormon church. I face potential excommunication for the simple act

Is the complexity of the act really material? By small and simple things are great things brought to pass. My bet is that the impact, the influence, of an act, has more bearing than it’s simplicity.

of opening my mouth and starting a conversation

Is that really all she’s done?

about gender equality in the church

Well, her perception of gender equality. Many women, including Mormon feminists, disagree with Kelly’s assessment.

and the deep roots of this institutional inequality.

We really need to take some time to define inequality, and maybe even differentiate between cultural and doctrinal manifestations of it.

My grave situation

Make no mistake, it is grave. Excommunication effectively cancels out Kelly’s saving ordinances.

is another example of how silencing women

Clearly, you’re not silent, so if this is what the Church is going for, they’re failing miserably.

has long been a top communications priority for patriarchical (sic) institutions, both literally and figuratively.

Do you really mean to imply that the Mormon Church is one of those institutions for which ‘silencing women’ is ‘a top communications priority’?

In the Mormon church, all positions of authority and leadership require ordination to the priesthood

Sure, but in addition to other things. Like worthiness. Or specific social situations – bishops must be married, for example. Or, um, callings. It’s not like you apply for the job…

– and no women can be ordained, though the vast majority of male members, age 12 and up, are.

The implication being that these 12 year old boys are holding positions of authority? Or at least positions of more authority than unordained women? Um… does Kelly even go to church?

This means that no women can lead any official rites and ceremonies, despite the fact that there is no specific Mormon church doctrine explaining why women are not ordained.

We do many things for which there is no specific reason given. Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge and all that.

In early 2013 I felt inspired

Could just as well have been bad seafood as the Holy Ghost. That’s why we have “two lines of communication“. I’m not bound to uphold anything you feel inspired to do just because you say it was inspired.

to create a movement seeking equality for and ordination to the priesthood for Mormon women. The backlash was fairly immediate from many more orthodox members of the church, but my congregation’s leaders in northern Virginia said nothing to me for over a year.

This always bugs me, because we will never hear from her local leaders about their side of the story, and rightly so. Confidentiality is too important. We should take any account of disciplinary interactions with appropriate skepticism.

Last month I moved away from Virginia and, after I left, I was placed on “informal probation” by my former local congregational leaders and can no longer participate in church activities in any congregation or church, regardless of where I go. One of the stipulations listed in the letter from my leaders is to literally keep my mouth shut.

I bet that’s word for word, too. Or… maybe they meant only under certain circumstances.

It says, “If you are invited to pray or read a passage or comment in a class or other Church meeting, you must decline.”

See, very specific circumstances. And this is not unique to Kelly, but is often part of church probation for those who experience it, men and women alike. No matter – the stage Kelly is really interested in is a much more national one, not some Utah Sunday school class.

Under this directive, I am not even allowed to speak when spoken to in church.

That’s the conclusion she arrives at? Is she forgetting those specific circumstances? She can chat, visit, otherwise fellowship, and probably sing the hymns; in other words, really a majority of potential talking is still open to her. Besides, church isn’t meant to be a soapbox for Kelly’s social platforms – that’s why I hated the Wear-Pants-to-Church farce – and we can survive a few weeks without her insight into the Old Testament.

I am, however, encouraged to continue to tithe.

I see what you did, there… Well, you know what they say about (spiritual) death and taxes.

Being silenced this way feels as though a physical

(yet figurative)

gag has been placed in my mouth each Sunday, and the pain of knowing my feelings and ideas are unwelcome is sharp.

Probably less that her feelings and ideas are unwelcome and more that her attitudes and actions are apostate.

I am deeply saddened that my beloved church is considering forcibly ejecting me

Not really an accurate “elevator pitch” for what excommunication or disciplinary councils are or do.

for living out what I was taught in a primary song as a child: “do what is right,

“Right” is a very important word in this clause, and her adherence to it is debatable. Hence the disciplinary council.

let the consequence follow”.

(They’re going to.)

Religious women with concerns about gender inequality, like myself, are faithful people,

(Particularly faithful to their causes.)

yet we have earnest questions.

There are questions, and there are agendas.

Our voices speak words of concern with love. Far from being censured, the valid questions we are asking should be taken seriously at the highest levels of our institutions,

Have they not been? Kelly has been ring-leading a media masquerade for over a year now, and has received a number of official and unofficial responses from leaders and lay members in the LDS Church. You can’t equivocate “taken seriously” with “bowed to all my demands”.

And what of all the folks that disagree with #OrdainWomen? Do not the earnest concerns of others merit Kelly’s consideration? I don’t see how she’s listened to any of the words, spoken with concern or love, contradicting her positions.

no matter what creed or faith. After all, women make up at least one half of all church membership worldwide.

For me it is because of my faith – and not in spite of it – that I have a desire to stand up for myself and my sisters.

She should concern herself with facing the right way.

I have been taught a vision

By who?

of a truly cooperative future where men and women are complete equals.

Again, we gotta do some defining! What is a “complete equal”?

In fact, Mormon doctrine teaches that we have Heavenly Parents: Mother and Father. As Mormon poetess and pioneer Eliza R Snow wrote in a cherished Mormon hymn:

This idea is also conveyed in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, and is really the only ‘new’ thing we get from that proclamation. I imagine Kelly has a lot less love for that document, though.

In the heav’ns are parents single?

No, the thought makes reason stare!

Truth is reason; truth eternal

Tells me I’ve a mother there.

Knowing that our Heavenly Parents are both male and female

This sentence is really awkwardly phrased. I’m hoping she means “Knowing that we have both a Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father…”

teaches me that our potential as women is limitless. However, I do not see that eternal equality reflected in the contemporary church.

In my professional work as a human rights attorney, I have had the great honor of working with courageous women from all around the world. From Western Sahara to Cuba to Zimbabwe, I have been inspired by courageous women of all faiths, who face great consequences – many far greater than I do – for pursuing equality in and outside of their faith traditions. They have taught me that there is no reason that our churches, mosques and synagogues should be the last bastion of sexism in the world. 

Again, just to be clear – the Mormon Church is an example of one of “the last bastion(s) of sexism in the world”?

Because of them, I can more clearly see the face of God, and She is beautiful.

Whew. Okay, you lost me.

Significant, worldwide progress to achieve gender equality necessitates progression from inside every religious tradition,

We switch a lot between talking about the Mormon Church and religion in general. Is equivocating the two really best for this discussion?

because injustice and discrimination inside our faiths hurts all of us, not just the women in those faiths.

But while religion can be – and has been – used to perpetuate insidious discrimination, it has also been a motivation for many courageous people to seek social justice throughout history. Religion can – and should – be a catalyst for good. It can encourage men and women to re-think outdated gender roles and help us all become more accepting and inclusive.

Changes and reforms within faith traditions ought to come from inside our organizations.

Tell me more about where changes and reforms should come from for an organization purportedly led by prophets, seers, and revelators.

Women like me are asking heartfelt questions and seeking to improve the churches that we love. Instead of being punished for speaking out, we need to be listened to and taken seriously.

Again, show me how, aside from not getting their way, they are not being listened to or taken seriously?

Every institution can benefit from greater participation from one half of its body.

I get that this is a reference to the whole 50%+ women thing, but really, we want active participation from everyone.

To remain relevant in today’s world,

Tell me more about how this should be the primary goal of a religious institution, particularly one purportedly led by prophets, seers, and revelators.

religious institutions will thrive by tackling tough questions of gender equality, engaging with concerned women and helping move us all forward, together.

We will be reverent and we will be respectful

Not sure that’s how I would characterize this movement thus far.

but we will not be silenced.


2 thoughts on “Sugar and Spice and RIGHTEOUS FURY!!!”

  1. Interesting.
    Thanx 4 sharing.
    I think women should be given the priesthood IF men can be given the ability to breastfeed babies.

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