Church asks OW movement to stand down

Read this story here.

To sum up, the Church has told a movement of dissident Mormon women who say they want the priesthood that their demands are not helping create meaningful discussions for Church members.

From the Deseret News story:

The letter, signed by Jessica Moody, also said the church is unable to fulfill a request made by the “Ordain Women” group for tickets to the church’s semiannual general priesthood meeting next month because the meeting “is designed to strengthen men and boys as they receive specific instruction about their roles and responsibilities.”

“Women in the church, by a very large majority, do not share your advocacy for priesthood ordination for women and consider that position to be extreme,” Moody said. “Declaring such an objective to be non-negotiable, as you have done, actually detracts from the helpful discussions that church leaders have held as they seek to listen to the thoughts, concerns, and hopes of women inside and outside of church leadership. Ordination of women to the priesthood is a matter of doctrine that is contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for His church.”

Members of Ordain Women (OW) were told that they should keep any demonstrations against the Church to the “free speech zones” outside temple square, which is a subtle but pointed message to the group that their demands force them outside of the mainstream within the Church.

“Your organization has again publicized its intention to demonstrate on Temple Square during the April 5 priesthood session. Activist events like this detract from the sacred environment of Temple Square and the spirit of harmony sought at General Conference. Please reconsider.

“If you feel you must come and demonstrate, we ask that you do so in free speech zones adjacent to Temple Square, which have long been established for those wishing to voice differing viewpoints. They can be found on the attached map.

“As fellow Latter-day Saints and friends of the church, we invite you to help us maintain the peaceful environment of Temple Square and ask that you please follow these details in your continued planning. In addition, consistent with long-standing policy, news media cameras will not be allowed on Temple Square during General Conference.

The OW movement is also being told to refrain from propaganda efforts similar to those used at past conferences where the movement tried to use public media to show themselves as oppressed martyrs. Despite their efforts, almost no women in the Church show much sympathy. Recent polls have shown that more than 90 percent of Church women do not want priesthood ordination.

After months of agitation, the OW movement has garnered a total of 2,076 “likes” on its Facebook page. A counter-movement started last week called “Mormon Women Stand” already has 2840 “likes” with hundreds being added every day. The “Mormon Women Stand” page says the following: “As we ‘Stand’ together, we…unequivocally sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles…and stand in support of how the Lord has delegated priesthood authority to organize and administer the gospel among all of His children.”

Meanwhile, members of the OW movement apparently believe that the prophets are not as inspired as they are.

The Church has spoken on this issue. Will the supposedly faithful members of the OW movement listen or will they move to direct opposition to the Lord’s Church?

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

47 thoughts on “Church asks OW movement to stand down

  1. I’m going to go with, OW will still agitate. Because I don’t think they want to take the answer they’ve been given.

  2. After seeing a copy of the letter from the Church on my Facebook feed, I immediately went to the OW website and was shock, SHOCKED I say, that they have not made any changes to their publicly stated plans. I hope that they try to repeat what happened last October, if for no other reason than to illustrate the inherent dishonesty of the group.

  3. Would you say the letter means “stop asking for priesthood ordination”? Or is it saying “stop asking for priesthood ordination in a public confrontational way”?

  4. DavidH, Church leaders are more subtle and endlessly more patient and compassionate that I am, so I cannot say with much precision what they mean. What I would say is: “stop pretending to support the Church when you don’t which is clearly dishonest and hypocritical” and “stop evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed, which is a direct violation of temple covenants.”

    In any case, I don’t think there is anything wrong with privately praying for the priesthood or discussing it with your friends, etc. I don’t recall the Church ever asking members to stop asking for things privately. The temple recommend interview (I just went through it, so it is top of mind) talks about groups that oppose the church, meaning do you belong to a *group* that opposes the Church. It does not ask *do you have thoughts* that might contradict a specific teaching. So, I would interpret that to mean: if you really, really, REALLY are a woman who wants the priesthood, then please continue to petition the Lord privately for the priesthood, but don’t agitate publicly in a confrontational way.

  5. This seems rather clear:

    “Ordination of women to the priesthood is a matter of doctrine that is contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for His church”

  6. OW will not stop ever, no answer of ‘no’ from the church will ever satisfy them. They have been quite clear on that. Behind the women’s ordination protest demonstration, if you look at the sites they primarily converse in you’ll see that there lurks a whole gamut of demands, same sex marriage solemnized in the temple, elimination of all difference in roles between genders, etc.

  7. Also OW presents itself as dedicated Latter-Day Saints but that’s only a front, most members are ex or anti Mormons. In fact ex-Mormons Margaret Toscano and Holly Welker are high up in the OW leadership, Google what they’ve written.

  8. I commented on another post about the definition of apostasy. Perhaps the letter is a second admonition and their effort to publicly attend the PH session will be deemed a repeated opposition to leaders. I believe thus far the local church leaders of OW have treated them with kid gloves. Maybe those gloves are about to come off.

  9. Highly amusing to see the conniption they’re having over being asked to confine their antics at Conference to the free speech zones with all other antis. Gives ’em a clear warning about where they’re headed and a chance to rethink their priorities.

    Not a fan of the Church’s PR department generally, but they seem to be playing their hand well here.

  10. I can understand how some sisters would want the blessing of having the experiences we men have in the priesthood. I sometimes ponder what it would be like to be an apostle or a stake/mission president, etc. That said, I do not actively petition the Church over it. I serve where the Lord would have me serve.

    I encourage sisters having a greater role in the work of the Lord. I hope bishops seriously listen to the sisters in the ward, and give them as many opportunities as possible.

    That said, we also need to honor and respect the teachings of the prophets. Humility requires that we obey the prophets, even when it is hard. The Church’s statement did not tell them to stop asking, but only not to disrupt Conference or turn it into a media circus, by standing in the free zone. We will see just how obedient and humble these sisters can be, versus trying to embarrass the Church in the eyes of the world.

    I will say that there are some things I do not like about Church policy/practices. However, I have learned that me being humble and obedient is more important than having everything my own way. We need to learn to look outside ourselves and become lost in the service of the Lord, rather than make everything about me.

    I appreciate those sisters that feel unequal and hurt.

    I appreciate even more the many sisters that humbly submit to the prophets and quietly serve wherever they are called to do so. These are my heroes.

  11. C. Rider, that makes sense now. I certainly found it strange that “faithful” women of the church who understand the doctrine will start an organization that wants to agitate. Ex and anti are more likely to do that.

  12. It’s obvious that those behind the Ordain Women movement have no idea what the priesthood really is. Sadly, most men in the church don’t know what it really is either.

  13. But of course, priesthood is a 10 letter word that gives you a scrabble score of 16. What else would one need to know?

    I must admit, my brother and I laughed out loud the time in the early 1980s when Elder McConckie began a talk by telling us he was going to tell us all we needed to know about the priesthood. That was funny.

  14. First, I don’t support the ultimate goal nor the methods of Ordain Women. I think they are ultimately hurting their own cause. Also, I do support the Church’s position to keep Temple Square as a peaceful place. Especially during General Conference.

    But enough with pooping on the sisters who make up OW. You can announce your support for a particular worldview without having to denigrate those who disagree with you. Mostly, some here act as if this letter settles everything on these points of policy and doctrine and think it’s time to do some serious Doctrinal Wrestlemania.

    Look, this letter is a direct and reasonable effort to try and dissuade OW from gathering on Temple Square. Full stop. It is not the Church’s last doctrinal word on the issue of women and their participation in the activities of the Church. And it is most certainly not license to start pointing fingers and falsely accusing fellow members of the Church of all sorts of nastiness. Knock it off. Some of you here remind me of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.

    Geoff, I’m looking at you: call off the dogs. They will listen to you.

  15. Hunter, not going to happen, at least from me. The OW movement is filled with dishonest people trying to use public pressure on the prophets for a completely misguided attempt to force the Church to make changes. I find this movement completely wrong-headed.

    To be clear: there is absolutely nothing wrong with privately petitioning for changes in the Church or for more understanding or for the prophets to be guided in a certain direction, etc. But the moment that the OW movement took this effort public and decided that they were inspired while the prophets were not, they lost all possible chance of gaining respect or sympathy. And the fact that they are continuing to take this effort public for the upcoming Conference despite this letter from the Church makes it clear that they have set themselves up as opposition to the Church. The temple recommend interview makes it clear that associating with such groups is problematic (and probably can put in jeopardy your temple-worthiness).

    In addition, Hunter, I would say that groups that sound harmless like this have the potential to attract well-meaning sisters and affect their testimony and temple worthiness. The OW group should be seen for what it is: a group that is in opposition to the Church.

    (If the OW group does not protest GC and changes their goals and methods and encourages private prayer rather than public protest, I am more than willing to praise them and retract the comment above. I hope that happens).

  16. Hunter, I will say this: you make the following point: “And it is most certainly not license to start pointing fingers and falsely accusing fellow members of the Church of all sorts of nastiness. ”

    If you can give me an example of somebody *falsely* accusing fellow members of the Church of all sorts of nastiness, and prove that the accusations are false, then I will “call off the dogs” in the sense that I will point out that the accusation is false and ask people not to make false accusations. The accusations I see above in the comments appear to be true to me. I am willing to be convinced I am wrong.

  17. Thanks, Geoff. I appreciate your consideration.

    This is no fun, but here are the accusations that I think are either false, untrue, or at the very least completely uncharitable:

    “OW presents itself as dedicated Latter-Day Saints but that’s only a front, most members are ex or anti Mormons.”==> Really?! OW is just a bunch of ex-Mormons and anti-Mormons? Wow. I say this is false.

    “[OW members have a] whole gamut of demands, [including] elimination of all difference in roles between genders, etc.”==>Demonstrably false. They’re on record stating as much.

    “Highly amusing to see the conniption they’re having” and “Gives ‘em a clear warning about where they’re headed [implying apostasy]”==> Conniption? Really? This is hyperbole, not factual, not accurate. And accusations of apostasy? Unknowable, likely false. Why accuse without evidence? (And why would someone’s conniption be “highly amusing”?)

    “It’s obvious that those behind the Ordain Women movement have no idea what the priesthood really is” ==> Unknowable, probably false.

    “OW will not stop ever, no answer of ‘no’ from the church will ever satisfy them.”==> How can anyone know this?

    In the end, if we step back and think about a sister or brother in our Ward who we fear is headed to apostasy, should we exercise charity and show them a better way, or do we just show them the door? It seems to me that too many like to play “Judge in Israel” over their fellow members. I say, avoid the ad hominem attacks and instead offer a better way. But as to the nasty rhetoric, stop it.

    [stepping off soap box]

  18. I remain unconvinced that Saul Alinsky-type agitation tactics mesh well with our Church. Sure, it works well in Washington DC and it works well at the picket line. And it plays well to the New York Times liberal elite crowd.

    Not sure it works in a restored gospel context.

  19. Hunter, the leadership of the OW movement is *mostly* anti- and ex-Mormon. The membership may or may not be, which is kind of the point, i.e., the leadership is misleading the membership by claiming to be loyal members of the Church.

    On your second point, I can’t comment. Perhaps somebody else can.

    Hyperbole, yes. This is the nature of blogging. I’m willing to let that slide.

    It is obvious to me that the OW movement has no idea what the priesthood is, but on the other hand it is obvious to me that almost all men also have no idea what the priesthood is, so I am also willing to let that slide. The power of the priesthood is way beyond our earthly understanding, which is kind of the point.

    It definitely appears to me that a “no” will not stop them given that they have said as much.

    Nasty rhetoric? I find this thread extremely mild compared to just about every thread in the history of Mormon blogs. So, Hunter, you make a couple valid points but mostly I think you are overreacting.

  20. When the question is posed to the OWs: “what happens if the answer is no” I’ve never seen it ever answered, only avoided when the question is posed in discussions. On another page someone said it’s answered on the website (again would not state it in the thread) And this question gets asked constantly! So here is the answer from OWs site, down in the FAQ page: pertinent excerpt:
    “…encourage the Mormon community to coalesce around the goal of women’s ordination. Help them see that anything less is insufficient…”
    So it’s an ultimatum, protest will continue until you comply! It reveals the wolf in sheeps clothing, which is why they never answer this upfront.

  21. Hunter, upon consideration, I think you are seeing an unusual pattern on this thread and it is a bit shocking to you because it is so unusual. And that pattern is: commenters are standing up for the Church and being frank and honest about it. This is unusual for readers because the typical Murmurnacle post goes something like this:

    Post: The church leadership is wrong because of….
    –comments from yes-men and yes-women: right on, great post, good point, good scholarship, blah-blah-blah.
    –one daring comment questioning the post and defending the church.
    –Yes-men and yes-women pile on the one comment, insulting the commenter and then return to their usual comments about how the leadership is wrong, blah-blah-blah.

    At M*, we simply don’t have these types of posts, and this is a bit shocking for the average Mormon blog reader because it is so different.

    What we DO have is posts defending the Church and challenging the people claiming to be Church members who are not. And, yes, this seems strange to the average reader *because it is so rare and does not follow the usual pattern.*

    Hunter, this may be why you find this thread a bit unnerving.

  22. Ok, so I sort of think Hunter has a point. I am not interested in saying untrue things about Ordain Women and I’m hesitant to brush their leadership with a single brush before we know to what degree they are or aren’t believers. (Used in the classic sense of those that believe in the defining truth claims of a religion. I fully accept the term “believer” can have multiple possible and even mutually exclusive legitimate meanings.)

    I have a close friend that is supportive of OW and she is a believing member of the Church. And when you know her story and background it isn’t all that shocking she’s at least somewhat supportive of OW at this time. So I’d have to admit to at least a tiny bit of sympathy due to my association with someone that sympathizes.

    But I am also wondering if the point of view that the OW leadership is — perhaps not anti but — maybe non-believers might also be true. This worries me quite a bit at this time because they haven’t been the most forthcoming about their beliefs in the Church’s truth claims.

    And I do NOT feel it is okay for a group of people that don’t actually believe in the doctrines of the priesthood as taught by the LDS church (i.e. only LDS church has it period) to go out and deceptively advocating for women to be ordained to a priesthood they don’t even believe in. Honestly, if that is what they are doing, they need to go find a religion that works for them — or start their own Mormon sect — and leave alone those that this religion is working for. If the OW leadership don’t believe, they have the option to leave and it won’t mean much to them (since all religions are equally true to most non-believers) but those that do believe have no equivalent option. So there is a HUGE ethical issue here if the OW leaders are in fact non-believers as they are being accused here.

    I am opposed to all ideas that we need to somehow force all religions to be identical like John Dehlin believes. Let religions find what works for the majority of their memembership and let them live and die based on those choices if they fail to do so! OF COURSE there are always going to be some religions that ordain women for fear of equality issues if we don’t force outward equality and OF COURSE there are always going to be those that do not ordain women for a variety of also valid reasons — tradition itself not being the least of such valid reasons. Some people LIKE tradition and want it to stand and for a voluntary organization — which is what all religions are — there is simply no ethical issue here. And there are reasons beyond tradition as well. Catholics feel there is a certain necessary symbolism involved. Good on them is that works for them. And some religions do it out of a desire to be as Bible-like or primative Christian like as they know how. Again, good on them if that is the nature of their religion. Let those it’s not working for leave. Give people plenty of options, please, and let’s not liberalize the entire world and make it utterly without choice. A Dehlinish religious world is not a religious world at all.

    On the other hand, let’s say the OW leadership is in fact actually believers (except for the Toscanos). What then? Aren’t they then just as stuck and unable to leave their religion precisely because they feel this is the only Church that has priesthood authority? If they are believers, while I can’t agree with their methods, I can at least see where they are coming from.

    So I REALLY want to understand where the OW leadership is coming from and if they are believers or not. I think it is safe to say that Margaret Toscano is a non-believer. So that is a bit concerning. And if we do have a group of non-believing leaders holding themselves up as faithful I would definitely see that as dishonest and something that needs to be exposed so that people can make informed decisions precisely because of the obvious (above mentioned) ethical issues that exist in that case.

    On the other hand, I know from experience that believing liberal Mormons often make the mistake of forming alliances with non-believers like the Toscanos. The Toscanos are articulate and are less than open about their own non-belief. They act like “well, we’re excommunicated but still loyal to Mormonism.” But ‘loyal’ here really means Rejectionist in this case. They don’t believe in the Church at all, but they are very interested in coming up with ways to re-imagine it into how to match their moral worldview. In their opinion, this is a form of loyalty. Again, I see massive ethical issues here because, as non-believers they have the option to find a religion that works for them and stiring up one that didn’t work for them is honestly a sort of vindictiveness that needs to be exposed and opposed.

    But what about Kate Kelly? Is she a believer that has unfortunately included non-believers out of a perceived need for support from any source she can get? (Hurting her own cause in the process) Or is she herself a non-believer and a Rejectionist? (i.e. She finds meaning in her life not from belief in the Church but from trying to change it from within to match her moral world view precisely because she no longer believes in it and sees it as purely human run and therefore in need of activism to force a change.) I honestly don’t know at this time and I am open to both possibilities. I’m prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt until I have evidence otherwise.

    To that end, I wrote to her to ask her directly and she sent me a bunch of links. I read the links and still had no idea.

    In my experience, we are not dealing with dumb people here. If she is a believer, she’ll answer me directly now that I am reasking the question more pointedly because she won’t want people to honestly think she is a non-believer.

    If she is not a believer, she’ll either attempt a dodge as an answer (give a misleading answer meant to leave me with a false impression — I’m good at catching these due to my time on the Bloggernacle), get angry at me and accuse me of an ‘orthodox test’ to avoid needing to answer at all, come up with some other reason not to answer, or just refuse to respond. If any of these happen, I can be reasonably certain that she is no longer a believer. (Or perhaps she sees ‘belief’ in some very non-standard way that she isn’t interested in explaining because it would hurt her cause. I.e. she’s being deceptive.)

    Some will say “But what if she just lies?” Well, honestly, my experience is that non-believers do NOT directly lie about this. Typically they became non-believers precisely because they found themselves facing intellectual honesty issues in the first place. Their slide into a totally deceptive and intellectually dishonest lifestyle tends to be slow and invisible to them so they have lost their ability to see just how unethical they are now acting. So they WON’T directly lie because they need to preserve the inner illusion that they are doing this all out of a need to be intellectually honest with themselves. So they are literally forced to dodge, not answer, or get angry rather than lie for their own inner sanity.

    And if they do lie, great! Now we have them on record as believing in priesthood authority and that opens up a whole line of dialogue that needs to be had directly with them given the nature of this unique priesthood authority.

    Frankly, I am really hoping Kate Kelly IS a believer. I’m not against ordaining women myself — though I’m 100% non-activist. And I would have to admit that there are probably real pros and cons either way. So I’m content to let the leaders lead on this and look forward to the day when women do receive the priesthood (or a priesthood — my nod to Adam Greenwoods point that it may not be the same order of priesthood). But I have at least minor sympathies to activists because they do often point out areas for improvement that we can then implement in a believing way.

    On the other hand, I keep asking myself this: what if God (through the appointed leaders) actually did want to send a revelation to ordain women? Now that OW is all over the news, how could God (and the Church) do this without looking like they just gave in and that revelation is not leading the church? In short, I’m VERY worried that OW is making it impossible for such a revelation to come. And this really bothers me too because I personally believe the day is coming and has to come or else how can we call become one with God and all share God’s power?

  23. Geoff,

    See my long comment to Hunter above. If Kate Kelly responds and confirms to me belief in the truth claims of the Church (and I’ll be happy to ask the other leaders as well) are you willing to conceded that maybe we did brush them too broadly as antis as Hunter is suggesting and maybe we should pull back on the rhetoric a bit? (We can still support the church and disagree with them.)


    If Kate Kelly dodges or refuses to answer, are you willing to concede that there are serious ethical issues with her behavior and that this thread wasn’t really that far off after all? (Perhaps ‘anti’ was still too strong a word, but ‘non-believers’ would not be if you are taking the standard way people understand that word as related to belief in a religions truth claims.)

    In short — I’m suggesting it’s entirely possible to resolve this difference of opinion and I am actively working on trying to get an answer and I’ll be happy to report back what the result is so that we can settle this argument with hard facts based on whether or not Kate Kelly can give me a straight answer to a totally and completely valid question.

  24. The OW movement isn’t a religious movement but a political one. It’s really a bunch of women who’s political beliefs and philosophies are conflicting with a faith they claim to believe in.

    From the OW webiste:

    “Ordain Women does not question the importance of motherhood and fatherhood. Rather, we reject the use of motherhood to justify limitations on women’s authority in the LDS Church.

    Equality is not about sameness; it is about removing obstacles to access and opportunity. We refuse to tolerate inequity in our secular institutions. Ordain Women asserts that we must also reject it in our homes and religious communities.”

    They want the priesthood not because they want to serve others but because they want leadership positions in the church. They want to be bishops, stake presidents, and prophets.They want to mold the church into something that consistent with their values instead of trying to figure out what the Lord wants.

  25. It’s becoming harder and harder to accept the proposition that the OW leadership are faithful believers in the Church in any way that would be recognized by the rank and file of the Church. I have spent WAY too much time on this and have become convinced that there are little reason to accept that this group is in any way committed to the Church. I’ve asked direct questions similar to those mentioned by Bruce above, and have not received a single response.

    There are training materials on the OW website that specifically address how to have conversations with your bishop and/or stake president. These encourage the women involved to avoid open discussions on these issues and to set boundaries in those conversations that are designed to help the OW members to retain their temple recommends in a manner that I would consider dishonest.

    Likewise, I think that the OW crowd hasn’t fully thought out the theological implications of their demands. If they have, they have been less than forthcoming about it. For instance, a common refrain is that they are not seeking to force all women to be ordained, but rather are seeking merely for the opportunity. This cannot be reconciled with the current practices and doctrines of the Church.

    Can ANY male go to the temple (even for baptisms) without holding the priesthood? No. According to the Doctrine and Covenants, can ANY male have ANY place in the Kingdom of God without holding the Melchizedek Priesthood? No. Can ANY male in the Church be considered active AT ALL without being ordained to some office in the Priesthood? No.

    OW needs to be called on the silly nonsense about how they’re not advocating that any women be forced into holding the Priesthood, because to do so is to argue against your doctrine of gender equality which they exalt above all others. If female ordination is to be simply a matter of personal preference, there would be no equality. If OW wants equality, then they would have to take the position that any women not being ordained would face damnation. In order to be consistent, OW either needs to advocate for universal female ordination, or OW needs to advocate for major modifications to the Temple ordinances and half of the Doctrine and Covenants to remove the compulsory priesthood ordination of men as a condition of salvation.

    Can you imagine how much work would need to be done in order to redo all of the initiatory ordinances for every female who has had her temple work done to accomplish this?

    Additionally, a common refrain I’ve heard from the OW crowd is that the Church isn’t engaging them in a “conversation of equals.” If they believe that the Church is indeed led by a prophet of God, then no such conversation can occur. If they don’t believe it, then they are not faithful and dedicated members of the Church.

  26. “There are training materials on the OW website that specifically address how to have conversations with your bishop and/or stake president. These encourage the women involved to avoid open discussions on these issues and to set boundaries in those conversations that are designed to help the OW members to retain their temple recommends in a manner that I would consider dishonest.”

    Michael, can you point me to this?

  27. Bruce N, your logic is excellent, as usual.

    I am not willing to accept that *one* member of OW claiming to accept the truth claims of the Church (in an on-line forum) means the things you claim it does. As others have pointed out, the OW movement is sneaky in the way they make claims. They are following the Dehlin formula of basically lying so its followers can stay in the Church and therefore change it to the church they would like it to be (rather than the Lord’s church). This tactic is dishonest and I don’t want any members fooled by it.

    Now having said that, I really wouldn’t have any big problems with the OW movement if they were to call for *private* rather than *public* supplication for change.

  28. “Ordain Women Aug. 1 Sunstone Presentation Video
    On Aug. 1, 2013 four leaders of Ordain Women, Lorie Winder, Kate Kelly, Hannah Wheelwright & Kaimi Wenger presented at Sunstone in Salt Lake City, Utah. After brief presentations, they took questions from the audience and that people had submitted online.”

    Oops, strike two. Kaimi Wenger is known to be someone that doesn’t believe in the truth claims of the Church either.

    Still looking for what Michael mentioned.

  29. Okay, here are some interesting training materials.

    Useful phrases to remember:
    “You might be right.”
    “I will keep praying about this.”
    “From my perspective, I’ve been concerned about …”
    “Thank you. I’ll think about that.”
    “Please be patient with me as I work this out.”

    Bishop questions your worthiness to hold a temple recommend
    Identify goals: 1) keep your temple recommend 2) continue to support LDS
    women’s ordination
    Consider that your Bishop’s strong feelings on women’s ordination or OW are
    not likely to change in the near future. Focus the conversation on your desire
    to hold a temple recommend, attend and serve in the temple, connect to
    God, strengthen your testimony, find answers, etc. You are unlikely to
    accomplish your goals by making this a debate or questioning the Bishop’s
    judgment and authority. He is questioning your worthiness to hold a temple
    recommend because of your support of OW, but don’t fall into the trap of
    arguing about women’s ordination. Continually redirect the conversation to
    your faith in the gospel and your desire to be in the temple.

    Both from:
    Productive Conversations Toolkit
    Found at

    I confess, I do not find either of these particularly concerning or dishonest. They sound like decent advice to me. I compare this to John Dehlin’s similar write ups on how to get through a temple recommend interview and it is night and day. John advocates for misrepresentation. I do not see that — at least not explicitly — being said here.

    It comes down to motive of the leaders, I’m afraid.

  30. Sorry for the delay in posting … work got in the way …

    Bruce, it looks like you found what I was referring to. I’ll admit that there isn’t an overt smoking gun to found in it, as it was written with OW’s primary audience in mind, which is women in the Church who may be sympathetic to ideas of fairness and who may join with OW without examining closely how distinct and different the goals of that group seem to be from the Church. This is why they don’t answer direct questions. They can’t afford to put anything in print that will allow rank and file members of the Church, not to mention their local leaders, to hang the apostasy tag on them. Given that I have come to the conclusion that OW’s public pronouncements are dishonest by their omissions, I am reading a bit between the lines. Whether or not this is fair is a fair question, but their actions speak much more clearly than their words in my mind, and I can’t come to a coherent understanding of their words and deeds without assuming that they’re not being honest when they profess love and fidelity to the Church.

    In short, the document you link to guides OW sympathizers to avoid discussing female ordination, church history and doctrine with their local leaders. Instead, it encourages women to divert those questions into discussions of how their feelings have been hurt by gender injustice in the past. To the extent that it is encouraging women to avoid answering questions regarding their stands directly, which it does, I think that it is encouraging dishonesty in their dealings with their priesthood leaders. I don’t think the OW crowd has a problem with that, but I do.

  31. Geoff,

    I see your point. But trust me, I am good at this. Any attempt to dodge the question through a sneaky answer will simply get a more pointed question from me. They will have to not respond if they want to hide the truth from me. So a non-response will be highly suggestive of an answer. People don’t hide things like this unless they are in fact doing this solely for political and not religious reasons.

    My friend that supports OW, the truth is I am able to have comfortable conversations with her precisely because she is transparent with her beliefs. She tells me what she does or doesn’t believe. I know where she is coming from, I know I’m getting an honest answer. That then means I can build on common ground. I can refer to her beliefs (those that she has told me she believes) and suggest how there might be another side to the argument given those beliefs. We come away from our discussions both built up because usually we both conceded that the other has a point and that in many ways the question of ordaining women is a war of two virtues (typically placing likely increased women’s voice against the likely increased male participation due to requiring their involvement via priesthood duty) with no obvious answer as to which is the higher virtue. So we end up disagreeing but agreeing on so many points.

    If Kate Kelly or the other leaders won’t offer to have the same sort of dialogue based on trust and based on transparency and frankly based on shared faith and shared beliefs, then it is not clear how to have the needed dialogue at all.

    For example, exactly how do I have a sincere dialogue with Margaret Toscano about ordaining women? We are coming from two entirely different worldviews and different beliefs. It’s like trying to discuss with a Catholic why Mormons should pray to the Virgin Mary or accept Papal authority. Obviously you CAN have such a conversation but we know it’s outright proselytizing in such a case and we treat it as such.

    But then that’s the point. I know plan well Margaret is not interested in the Mormon church ordaining women because she thinks that is in the best health of the church. She may honestly believe it is, but frankly if push came to shove, given her need to try to change the church to match her political values, the ultimate question would come down to this: what if ordaining women actually does hurt the church even for women? What if — let’s build a hypothetical scenario — male participation drops? It’s well known that religion is more effective on average for women than for men. This is a statistical reality even for the LDS church. But the LDS church — given their duty model of religion — has very probably benefited from increased male participation due to requiring men to perform certain duties that only they are allowed to perform. Now this is a hypothetical scenario. I can’t prove this chain of causes. But it is not an unreasonable assumption either. When put in this way, one may legitimately think of male priesthood as being an equalizing factor that creates equality of effectiveness. As we should be aware, there is no one all-consuming form of ‘equality.’ Typically you are balancing one kind of equality off another because it’s impossible to achieve both.

    So what I am asking is this. Suppose we did a whole bunch of studies and test programs and we found that in fact male priesthood is such an equalizing factor and that the church does have higher levels of male participation due to their choice to have male priesthood. This in turn means that the church is a more desirable place for women because they can more easily find faithful mates. (There is a real life scenario where this comes up with college acceptances. Men apply less to college but the number of accepted is usually very equal. There is a good chance that colleges are knowingly or unknowingly doing a sort of back room ‘affirmative action’ to get more men into college so that their college is more balanced in terms of gender so that more *women* are interested in attending college there.)

    So what if we knew for a fact this was the case? My friend would change her mind very quickly. She wants the church to be successful because she believes in it. She wants women to have a greater voice and she wants women to have the blessing of the priesthood, but her ultimate goal is the success of the church.

    But this wouldn’t be true for Margaret Toscano. She cares about a certain type of political equality more so than the health of the church. She would easily prefer that the church be less effective — who cares, it’s not true anyhow and it’s just a human institution? — and ordain women then be more effective and not ordain women. And given her non-belief, why wouldn’t she want that?

    So where does Kate Kelly and the other leaders of OW stand? If they are believers, I can honestly ask them questions like this and I can honestly have dialogue with them because we have shared beliefs and this is a church – a religion! – its sole purpose for existence is to create a community of shared beliefs. If they are non-believers then they are in fact in some sense an outside force trying to dictate how believers need to behave. They are proselytizing, not trying to improve the church. It is difficult to see how to have dialogue with them that is effective and productive that doesn’t go right to the heart of the matter – why not find a religion that works for you since you don’t believe in it anyhow? And it’s difficult to believe that is an argument they have any chance of making effective precisely because it is precisely the ethical thing to do.

  32. Ok, Michael we can agree to disagree on this. I do not find anything here in this dishonest.

    However, let me give you my answer to this:

    “Given that I have come to the conclusion that OW’s public pronouncements are dishonest by their omissions, I am reading a bit between the lines. Whether or not this is fair is a fair question, but their actions speak much more clearly than their words in my mind, and I can’t come to a coherent understanding of their words and deeds without assuming that they’re not being honest when they profess love and fidelity to the Church”

    Yes! “Reading between the lines” is appropriate if you do so with a non-response to a direct pointed question. Kate Kelly has already responded to me so I know she sees my messages. She gave me a response that was a ‘dodge’ but sending links is not uncommon and trying to give a quick response isn’t either. So by itself I see no issue yet.

    The real issue is if now that I’ve reasked the question again (twice now) and left no doubt as to what I’m asking and explained why it rationally mattered to the discussion — will she respond? If she doesn’t, we can be virtually certain she is a non-believer (in the sense of not believing the priesthood was uniquely restored to the LDS church via angels) and that her motivations are therefore questionable. If she does respond and can affirm honest belief, then I’m prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt on intentions if not wisdom. I’ll keep everyone posted on if she responds.

  33. Bruce, I’ve not had a discussion with Kate Kelly on this and will be interested in updates. I have had a couple of interesting conversations with others in the OW fold which have resulted in a pointed refusal to answer these questions. While that doesn’t necessarily translate to the movement as a whole, it has been consistent in my experience.

  34. Insist on seeing shades of gray long enough, and the day will come when you are utterly incapable of perceiving either black or white.

    Trying to crash a church meeting you weren’t invited to, and to which you have no hope of actually being admitted, but in hopes that your expulsion will shame the church into compliance, is wrong. And people who apologize for such behavior are defending the wrong, even if they do come from or sympathize with a group that chooses to call itself “underprivileged”.

  35. The first time I read through those interview suggestions, I thought it was telling people not to fall into the trap of being honest about their feelings about and support for OW. Reading it a second time, I realized that that’s not what it said.

  36. Apparently we have the opportunity to “Ask Kate Kelly Anything.” She’ll answer selected questions on a podcast over at FMH. It’ll be interesting to see what questions she chooses to answer, and whether any of them will be from OW detractors.

  37. Geoff, you said, “Hunter, upon consideration, I think you are seeing an unusual pattern on this thread and it is a bit shocking to you because it is so unusual. And that pattern is: commenters are standing up for the Church and being frank and honest about it.”

    Nah, it’s that you’ve created a reputation for being a frank-speaking but reasonable commentator with a good heart. And some of the snide comments and accusations being flung (on the basis of a Public Relations letter!) seemed a little over the top for one of your posts and out of character for you. (P.S. I disagree with the premise that pooping on fellow Church members equals “standing up for the Church.” Ever.)

    Bruce: I appreciate your smart comments. Thanks for the taking the time to spell them out. Good stuff.

  38. Bruce, you asked: “Hunter, If Kate Kelly dodges or refuses to answer, are you willing to concede that there are serious ethical issues with her behavior and that this thread wasn’t really that far off after all?”

    Yes, and no. Yes, if the group’s founder is not a believer in the foundational claims of the Church, yes, that would be a problem for me, and mostly because they claim to believe! But everything I’ve seen from the leaders, with the exception of one leader (I forget her name), is that they are absolutely card-carrying, believing members. Now, it may be hard for some conservative members to *accept* that they believe in the same Church, but I’m willing to believe them when they talk about their belief in the Church. (Having said that, I know that Margaret Toscano has joined in with them at least with having a profile on their webpage, and this does raise a huge red flag for me.)

    Still, “non-believer” and “anti-Mormon” can be two very different things. We owe it to each other to not be lazy, and to make careful distinctions. I’m not ready to call a supposed non-believing Kate Kelly an anti-Mormon. (Again, especially where she has claimed belief in the Church.) But I see many commentators unwilling to make the distinction between the two terms. Basically, I see lots of folks online making the illogical leap that if someone’s understanding of the Gospel is drastically different than theirs, it must be apostate/anti-Mormon, and hence worthy of ridicule. Bah!

  39. Hunter, I think you make a good point above. There is definitely a difference between a “skeptical but believing Mormon,” a “non-believer” and an “anti-Mormon.” You are correct that precise language is always better.

    Here is the problem: all of us know skeptics, non-believers and anti-Mormons who have helped move people away from the Church. I find it tragic to see people being influenced this way and lose eternal blessings because of it. And the worst thing, which both Bruce and I have repeatedly see happen, is when people hide their non-belief while pretending to raise “innocent” questions about the Church.

    Because i have seen this happen so often, one of my missions is simply to warn people about this. Based on what I have seen, the OW movement is in the category of “a group that will move people away from belief in the Church.” This does not mean the majority of its members are non-believers or anti-Mormons, but it seems to me that the (hidden) goal is to move people away from the Church rather than towards it.

    As I have said above, there is nothing wrong with privately supplicating to have the priesthood. The problem starts with public protest movements, especially during Conference and especially in temple square. I simply cannot see how any good can come from this for the women involved and for people who may be influenced to leave the Church or question the Church because of this movement.

  40. Hunter,

    I agree with everything you said. This is on going for me. Post to come in a moment that will show my conversation with Kate Kelly so far. I explain in detail my concerns and why I am hoping for a direct answer from her.

  41. Good stuff, Geoff. I agree with you that some members are not all genuine or honest when questioning Church practice or doctrine. The maddening part is that it’s sometimes (always?) impossible to know someone’s heart. (And as a backdrop to this whole discussion, I totally agree with you that, believers or not, no good is coming of this particular action. Not only is it damaging to the Church and its members, I believe it’s setting back the cause of conversing about women’s issues. Huge bummer all around.)

    Because of that, we have to strike the right balance. We can’t immediately start yelling “Witch!” [sorry, clumsy reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail] without evidence. It doesn’t bode well for the rising generation to know that if they have questions, they will be branded as heretics (or worse). I guess it’s an “innocent as doves, wise as serpents” kind of thing for me. I try to be shrewd, but I’m not afraid of questioning, and I don’t want us to slide the scale too far to the “hyperventilate” side whenever someone is questioning or frustrated.

  42. I tend to agree with Hunter’s last, but with one caveat. The OW crowd haven’t presented a question so much as an ultimatum. Their Mission Statement states that “Ordain Women believes women must be ordained in order for our faith to reflect the equity and expansiveness of [the Church’s] teachings … ” and “we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.” They are not asking for an explanation for why women are not or should not be ordained to the priesthood, nor are they asking for some acknowledgement that the Brethren have considered the question and gotten some negative response. Instead, they are demanding that the Church adopt a specific course of action because “we refuse to tolerate inequity in our secular institutions. Ordain Women asserts that we must also reject it in our homes and religious communities.”

    I agree that individual members of the group may have different goals and intentions than those stated publicly on their website. I expect that most of the OW sympathizers would be satisfied and leave the group if one of the Twelve got up in conference and explained that the brethren had prayerfully considered the issue and received an answer that women were not to be ordained. I expect that a majority would be satisfied if that address included a statement on why this is the case. However, the individuals responsible for the content of the website certainly would not if we are to give their own words any credence.

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