Letters to Kate Kelly

Back on June 12th, in my critique of the fourth discussion posted by those seeking female ordination, I wrote:

I understand someone is being given the opportunity to admit they were wrong. Yet for some reason, this individual claims they cannot get to the venue where such a discussion would be appropriate. In the event that the challenge is financial and the barrier is distance, I have frequent flyer miles I would be happy to donate if it facilitates a quick and emphatic admission of wrong. I think I am even local to the venue in question, so there wouldn’t even be a need for hiring a rental car.

Several days came and went, and I decided to make my offer more obvious. I drafted the following while sitting in Relief Society. I even submitted it for publication, but there was another post in the queue, so mine was waiting.

________________________________________________________________

Hi Kate (or Ms. Kelly as I’ve sometimes addressed you),

I understand you are stuck in Provo, Utah, and do not have funds to travel back to Vienna, Virginia, for the appointment your bishop has invited you to attend.

I just wanted to let you know that I’m happy to donate my frequent flyer miles so you can travel back to Virginia next weekend.

I also happen to have vast networks of family and friends both in Provo and in Northern Virginia. So if you lacked the ability to get to and from airports, or lacked funds to secure a place to stay during the time here, I can find people who would be happy to help you get about and rest while here. I might even be able to find people who would be willing to help out there in Provo during your brief absence.

In the event that you would rather not return to take advantage of your bishop’s invitation, I would urge you to reconsider.

Love,

Meg

P.S. – I’m the woman who took the picture of you and Claudia at the Exponent II 40th Anniversary event in Potomac, MD.

________________________________________________________________

As with many things, I shared this with my husband. Now my husband Bryan is a kind and gentle soul, so he suggested I simply e-mail Kate. A public post would not seem particularly friendly, he reasoned.

I realized that if my aim was to offer Kate a way to travel to Virginia, he was right. So I swallowed that part of my motivation that was getting Kate to stop claiming she couldn’t get to Virginia, and I sent the message to her via the “Contact Us” link on her website that advocates ordination for women. The e-mail was sent 6/15/2014 @ 1:50p EDT.

Flipping around to the various news stories early the next morning, I realized that the letter the Church wrote to Kate, the one she provided to the New York Times, contained her direct e-mail address. So I took the opportunity to send the following e-mail directly to her:

Subj: Offer of frequent flier miles so you can get to Vienna
Date: Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 3:58 AM

Hi Kate,

I sent a message via the OW site, but since saw your direct e-mail address on the letter from your Stake President that is posted online.

Just offering that if you did want to come back to Vienna next weekend, I’m happy to let you fly using my frequent flier miles. I’ve done that for others before.

I’m sure you have plenty of friends who would be willing to drive you and host you, but if not, I could find you resources for local transportation and lodging both in Provo and here in Northern Virginia.

Not sure if you remember me, but we met briefly at the Exponent II 40th anniversary event. I was the one who took the pictures of you and Claudia Bushman with your phone, the one who blogs over at M*.

By the way, I mentioned at that event my supposition that Eliza Snow’s poem had been modified. Turns out I was right that the poem had been modified, though not right about the details of how it was modified. The modification still suggests the possibility that Eliza didn’t original write the poem to celebrate the eventual marriage of Jonathan Holmes and Elvira Cowles, but that it was a poem Elvira was writing about Jonathan from the position of privileged knowledge, as might occur if he had been asked to be her public husband. From the other poems, it seems clear that, if pregnant, Eliza suffered a miscarriage in November 1842, eliminating the need for her to have a public husband.

I personally find it rather empowering considering the possibility that Eliza Snow was seduced by John C. Bennett’s movement (possibly by Bennett himself) yet still went on to become arguably the most powerful Mormon woman ever.

I am also descended from Austin Cowles and John W. Taylor, two who disagreed with the Church leaders of their day. I don’t agree with what either of them did (with apologies to Ellen Sandburg), yet I honor them for the good they did do. I expect each of them will have been persuaded to fully embrace the gospel as it is despite their earthly qualms, and I expect the same will be true for you.

I know it seems impossible to you now to consider the terms being requested of you. But you are the Alma or Zeezrom of our day. You don’t have to keep fighting against the Church any more than they did. Think of the patience of the Genesis Group and the good those black saints eventually wrought.

If you seek to influence the Church, come to Vienna and embrace the requested changes. Such submission may well earn you the scorn of the world and those hundreds who have openly embraced your cause. But if you believe in the Church enough to be so passionate about improving it, how can you rejoice in the number who are abandoning it on your behalf? There are some who will never return, no matter what you decide now. But the number of those lost will not decrease as you persist in your current path.

Sincerely,

Meg Stout

I’ve been checking me e-mail for the past week, and hadn’t seen anything. So today I sent another note:

Subj: Reminder of flight offer
Date: Sat, Jun 21, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Hi Kate,

I’m sure you’ve been busy in the last few days.

I just wanted to re-iterate my offer of the frequent flyer miles, should you wish to return to Virginia for tomorrow’s proceedings.

I saw an interesting interview with one of the September Six, talking about how she and others had not availed themselves of attendance at the disciplinary council, but that another woman who did attend the disciplinary council was not, ultimately, excommunicated.

There may be any number of reasons why Kate is unable to travel. Independent of that, there may be any number of reasons why Kate is unwilling to accept this offer from me. And it could be that she simply never saw the offer of flight miles.

I could wait to post this until after Sunday night’s events are concluded. But by posting this now, there is an off-chance that Kate might notice this offer and have a chance to avail herself of the chance to come back to Virginia. The weather is shockingly delightful at the moment. I have nothing better to do tomorrow that would preclude my assisting Kate getting to the Oakton Stake Center, were she to decide that’s what she wants to do.

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the LDS church for over four decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation, and is working on a midrashic treatment of the events in Nauvoo associated with early polygamy.

29 thoughts on “Letters to Kate Kelly

  1. I am saddened and somewhat confused by Kate’s continued refusal to participate in her disciplinary council, if she values her membership, covenants, ordinances, etc. Her dismissal of the proceedings as a “kangaroo court” and decision to participate in a candlelight vigil in SLC are a clue as to Kate’s attitude.

    Did you have a chance to read Kate’s letter and her friend Nadine’s legal brief (is Nadine a lawyer?), which was posted on the OW website recently? Both documents are quite something. Kate’s argument seems to be that she not an apostate because grew up in the church, she went on a mission, she says she is a Mormon, she felt good when she launched the OW website, and she should be left to “worship in peace.”

    Your husband’s advice was quite thoughtful.

  2. Ah – 51:53 minutes of interview… I’ll take your word for it.

    That’s a fun wrinkle on the technology thing. So basically anywhere in the world she chose to go, the disciplinary council could still be held with the original local officers, via Church-owned devices. Talk about continuity of operations.

    On the other hand, I’m not the biggest fan of remote communications. For example, it’s nice that we can have stake conference sessions where the visiting dignitaries don’t actually have to travel hundreds and thousands of miles to be with us. But that studio they use for the purpose could be better-lit and better-decorated, in my opinion.

  3. @ Annie –

    I believe “Nadine” is Nadine Hansen, a lawyer in Cedar City. Back during the Prop 8 brouhaha she launched a website called Mormons for 8, the point of which was to tie donations to the Prop 8 campaign back to specific Church members and name those members specifically. Other individuals (not Hansen, so far as I know) merged this data with address information to produce maps of LDS Prop 8 donors.

    If you live in California, and supported Prop 8, and your house or your local chapel was vandalized in the aftermath of the election–you probably have Nadine Hansen to thank for it.

  4. @JimD

    Oh my word, that is shocking. Even if you disagree with a cause, it is not okay to set up people to be targeted for violence. I suppose those would be called hate crimes if it were the other way around.

    @Meg

    AGREED, and I also think a live audience, even a small one, would go a long way toward helping those sessions be less… flat? I don’t know. I do appreciate that we can hear from GA/AA more often that way. I also appreciate that they make an effort to find at least one person with a similar cultural background to the target audience. It seems I always get to see east coasters, which I appreciate.

  5. It is probably worthwhile to post Sis. Kelly’s defense of herself:

    http://ordainwomen.org/my-defense-against-the-charge-of-apostasy/

    Annie’s summary of her defense is pretty good above. I would add that it is clearly directed at the non-Mormon or ex-Mormon or questioning Mormon audience. She is absolutely intent on turning herself into a martyr to fight the evil church that she claims she loves so much. There is of course an easy solution for her, which is to follow the instructions of her bishop, but this would stop her public campaign against the Church (again, the church she claims to love so much).

    Nadine’s legal brief is beyond ridiculous. She destroys her own claim near the end pointing out clearly that apostasy includes:

    “1. Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.
    2. Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or higher authority.”

    This is, of course, exactly what Sister Kelly has done, so Nadine is destroying her own case.

    Very, very sad to see the Korihors of our day play out this little drama in front of our eyes.

  6. Meg, over the course of the week, I have seen no less than 10 offers from various people and groups who have offered to pay for a plane ticket, provide lodgings, and anything else that Kate Kelly might need to get to her meeting with her bishop. At this point I think she likes the attention from the colossal tantrum she is staging. For a person who claims to love the Church so much, she doesn’t seem to be availing herself of the opportunity given to her, to state her case, in person.

  7. Perhaps she makes the mistake of being so enamored of her written defense (not to mention the hundreds of supporting letters) that she feels her personal presence would not benefit the proceedings.

    I was amused at the notice that her bishop acted incorrectly because he didn’t send the notification in the prescribed way. Of course, the entire intent of that is to ensure that the notification is received. Kate could have simply feigned that she never got the notice, that she was unaware of why her new ward hadn’t offered her a calling. But there is no doubt that she got the notice, since the New York Times was so kind as to publish it for everyone.

    It’s nice to know other people were offering to pay her way back to Vienna. I’d heard indications that multiple offers had been extended, but only knew of my own offer for certain.

    Well, I guess I’m glad there’s no fireside over at the Oakton Stake Center that I’m supposed to attend. Seems like it could be a bit crowded in the parking lot.

  8. Thank you Geoff. I didn’t want to be the first to make the Korihor comparison.

    Someone stated in a comment somewhere on some blog that KK was moving to Kenya. is that correct, and if so when did she or will she leave? Has anyone read anything about that?

  9. This may be hearsay, but my friend is friends with KK, and the Kenya move is in the works. KK is getting things together for it. She mentioned preparing for an international move on her most recent FMH podcast interview without naming the country.

  10. Too many capital K’s here–Kate Kelly, Korihor, Kenya… Too early to start singing Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya…?

  11. This post sounds very mean-spirited. Why are you so invested in whether or not Kate Kelly shows up anyway? That’s her decision to make.

  12. @S Butterworth: Of course it is her decision to make but she shouldn’t get away with dodging the issue by saying that she couldn’t attend because she couldn’t afford the trip. Its a dodge and disingenuous on her part. She deserves to be called on it.

  13. Meg met Kate Kelly and liked her. She became personally concerned with the situation. Since then events have proceeded through the decision to publicize what was happening through what many consider a biased media platform. Meg sincerely meant her offer and believed it might be accepted. It is possible that other similar offers were made in a spirit of love, although some may have been merely a challenge. Being older and somewhat more cynical than Meg, I didn’t think there would be any reply, civil or otherwse, because to acknowledge the offer in any way would interfere with what appears to be an agenda of portraying the subject as a victim.

  14. People will always make time for what they want to make time for. KK is not making time for this and not making it easy. If she can do video conferences to the media of the world, she can most certainly attend her disciplinary hearing via video conference. In fact, in the KUER radio interview, the Church PA official, said that video conference was an option and that the bishop had asked Church HQ about that option and they said yes.

    So back to my statement: People will always make time for what they want and what is truly important to them.

    Hypothetical example: Let’s say someone won a lottery ticket but the terms and conditions were such that they only had 24 hours to get from, say, Salt Lake City to Sydney, Australia. Let’s say they had to be at a certain address in Sydney by 8:00 pm. I guarantee that this person would be doing every single thing humanly possible to make it happen and there would be no excuses. They would find a way to make it happen. I guarantee it. If it was important to that person, they would find the time and the way to get there.

    Now, I know that a Church disciplinary council is not the lottery. But is it not the opportunity to start anew, use the Atonement to change and make a course correction and then come back to the fold? To me, that is infinitely more important than winning the lottery. The OW movement is made of professional organizers. They found ways for funding to get women to attend their protest on Temple Square all the way from New Zealand. NEW ZEALAND. Yet somehow they are unable or unwilling to do this. I think we all know why and all the smoke and mirrors should be a red flag for the OW followers and even the moderates.

    Simply put, it is an outright refusal to attend and then profess that the hearing is being done in absentia to the media and to further drag the Church and the Bishopric through the mud.

  15. She says she moved to Utah. So, didn’t she move her membership? Or is she trying to hide out?

  16. @ Annie
    KK has told the press that she is temporarily in Utah with her husband awaiting their visas so her husband can do research in Kenya.

    I am interested in what KK will do next. KK can’t be a SAHM because she is not a mom, although last week for some reason there was a picture of her holding a baby you would assume to be hers, courtesy of KK. She graduated from law school two years ago, got a fellowship from the Robert F. Kennedy Center For Justice and Human Rights in 2013, and briefly worked there afterwards as an attorney. The RFK Center has now removed her, and her bio link, from their website, which makes me think she is not just on a sabbatical. Due to the huge numbers of attorneys/law students who want to be international human rights attorneys and the dearth of available positions worldwide, the competition for such jobs is fierce. Having less than two years experience as a lawyer, I can’t imagine an organization hiring her and letting her work remotely from Kenya. Further, under such circumstances and the nature of the practice area, I can’t imagine solo practice would be a feasible option. That said, Kate is very smart and capable. My guess is that as soon as it becomes strategically/politically expedient to leave Kenya, she will be able to get an advocacy job of some sort.

    @ Geoff B:
    Here is a link to an article (about halfway down) discussing Nadine Hansen’s involvement in the effort to target the LDS church and Mormons who contributed to the Prop 8 campaign:

    http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2008/11/anger_on_gay_marriage_vote_dir.html

    KK states that NH is her “dear friend and mentor”. If KK’s relationship with NH was a typical attorney/client one, NH’s lack of activity in the LDS church and her role in the targeting of the LDS church and individual Mormons over Prop 8 involvement would not be of significance. However, they are co-activists who worked together to build an advocacy group targeting the LDS church through political means. It makes me feel a bit uneasy for those conducting KK’s hearing, as well as their families.

  17. Kate claims her plans to move had been in the works for several months. Initially it appears she was planning to move to Kenya. She met with her local leaders on May 5th. We have her description of that verbal exchange that initiated her probation. I suspect the leaders were conveying the idea that the website was crossing the line, and actually proceeding with publishing the promised discussions would definitely cross the line. It is likely at this point that the local leaders in Vienna requested the hold on her records. While such a hold must be approved by pretty high-level authority (possibly the First Presidency), this was still a local matter.

    In May 9th, per her brief, Kate then moved to Utah, en route to Kenya. From Utah Kate proceeded to begin publishing the discussions.

    On June 8th, the Vienna leaders sent Kate a letter formalizing the probation and the terms associated with that probation. They also invited her to the June 22nd disciplinary council. Given that Kate was no longer in the DC area, they worked out a scheme for her to participate in the meeting via VTC.

    On June 12th, Kate’s response, characterizing this as her pending excommunication, went out via multiple media channels. Since that time Kate has continued to interact with the media, creating of this a cause celebre.

    By the time my daughter mentioned social media was blowing up about Kate’s pending excommunication (my first indication of the matter), Kate was likely too committed to her course for my offer to probably be accepted.

    But though I’ve only met Kate the one time, I know as surely as I know anything that I have loved her for an eternity. When I wrote that she is the Alma or Zeezrom of our time, I intentionally picked individuals who, though at one point fighting against the Church, later repented.

    Kate prefers to think that her current actions should not be characterized as fighting against the Church. I am reminded of a question one of my sisters asked when she was five or six (this sister later went on to serve a mission in Barcelona, Spain). My sister asked, “What if God is the devil, and the devil is God?”

    My response to my sister, and my response to Kate, is that you watch and see the fruits of God or His supposed followers and the other camp.

    At some point, Kate will realize the impact she has made and see it as God sees it. I see no move on Kate’s part to discourage the candlelight vigils or the individuals currently withdrawing their names from membership in the Church. I don’t see Kate discouraging individuals from the promised mass withdrawal from the Church on July 24. For these reasons, I suspect that when she sees her impact as God sees it, she will have two options:

    1) She will feel great despair, as Alma did. As Alma wrote, “I was racked with eternal torment… Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments… I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror. Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.” In the face of this despair, Kate will have a chance to either throw herself on the atonement of Christ, repent, and forgive herself, or she might be unwilling to forgive herself, knowing how much she loves those who she misled who will not choose to repent.

    2) She will be angry with God for daring to censure her for her acts and respond accordingly.

    Alma went on to do much good. Kate could transform this moment and do much good. But just as Alma had to spend the rest of his life with the consequences of his youthful campaign against God, so Kate will never be able to wholly undo the damage she has wrought so far.

  18. By the way, I think there’s still a chance Kate could change her mind, even now.

  19. Meg, you are correct that Alma is a better comparison. Let’s hope she changes her mind before damaging the testimonies of more brothers and sisters.

  20. More than making no move to discourage the vigils, Kate has encouraged them. She has advertised the location of the one she will attend and told people that there are at least 50 others.

    A mentor is someone you look up to, who teaches you their ways. So.. Kate looks up to a person who has been inactive for at least 6 years (Nadine said that in 2008) and has been fighting the church for at least as long? Nadine seems to have quite a bit of resentment built up. The brief was really something.

    The brief, the letter, the newspaper statements, all of it is pretty frustrating to me, because they ignore the actual accusation of apostasy by saying, essentially, that all Kate did was ask questions, which is patently false.

  21. Geoff and Meg,

    I think we hope KK is similar to Alma, but so far she is not. We hope that she will become so in the future (hopefully the very short future, as in a few hours from now).

    At this point, she is similar to Korihor in her arguments.
    -Look up with boldness
    -Enjoy your rights and privileges
    -Make use of that which is your own
    -The brethren usurp power and authority over us
    etc.

    And now my brain went rogue and said, “I wonder what Alma Y taught while he was in apostasy…”

  22. Not that this bears a great amount of importance in the issue, but I believe a bishop can put at least a temporary hold on a membership record being transferred. I was under the impression this was so the original or former bishop could have contact with the next bishop. I am not sure that normally, once a record is requested and leaves that a bishop knows where it went. I can see a number of reasons a bishop would do this and am not surprised KK’s bishop in Virginia held her record. I think if I were going to be KK’s new bishop I would be grateful for a little background from the previous bishop.
    But, please correct me if I am wrong. I don’t want to perpetuate misinformation.

  23. I’ve seen this described (holding records) elsewhere. But I don’t have access to the handbook. But it appears to have been something legitimately within the stewardship of Kate’s Vienna bishop to do so.

  24. @Cidget007. Re: Paying the price…Very angry post. It’s sad seeing people committing church Harakiri over OW and KK. So much undeserved rage towards the church and it’s leaders. Feel sorry for these members that has been swept in this wave of apostasy.

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