The Value of Transparency? My Discussion So Far with Kate Kelly

Okay, I guess I set myself up for this. 🙁

So I sort of waded into the discussion / argument on this post about Ordain Women. In those comments I mentioned that I have a dear friend that is believing LDS and has felt supportive of Ordain Women. She had asked me to contact Kate Kelly and ask her about her beliefs. (Presumably because I have experience with making the questions increasingly pointed until I either get an answer to my real question or the person refuses to answer.)

I made the mistake of mentioning this in the comments and attempted to run a middle ground between Hunter and Geoff’s points of views on Ordain Women. I have no doubt that a person can be a believing member of the Church — even in the most common and classic sense — and also support Ordain Women.

However, the big question we are asking here is if Ordain Women is actually being run by people that don’t believe the LDS church has a restored — through angels — priesthood in the first place. Nothing Kate Kelly has said to date has given me any reason to suppose she doesn’t and in fact she comes across very believing to me. But I also know that its easy to use misleading language and that many often do just this. So I really wanted to ask her directly, but I am prepared to take her word for it one way or the other.

I was actually live chatting with Kate for a brief moment. I wrote up for here my reasons for why I feel tranparency on her beliefs mattered as the leader of a public movement but did say that if she just wasn’t comfortable talking about her beliefs, I’ll accept that and leave her alone.

I wanted to show the argument I made to her, so I’m posting our conversation (which is like 99% me) here. [Edit: Kate made only three quick entirely public statements, so I felt there was not the slightest confidence being betrayed. The choice to show the conversation publicly was a choice to show my words publicly. But since I’m not being Bloggernacled on the fact that I made “Kate’s prive words public” I am going to humor this very strange attack and remove Kate’s words entirely and just summarized what happened for her side since this changes not a single thing in the post.]

Bruce says:

Hey Kate Kelly,

I noticed we had some mutual friends on Facebook and wanted to contact you about your ordain women’s movement.

My own relationship with the LDS Church is somewhat complicated, but I am more or less a faithful believing Latter-day Saint. I’m sure you get questions regularly from various members want to know about what you believe and where you are coming from given the nature of your movement.

Are you open to being asked questions about your beliefs and about your own relationship with the LDS church and giving honest answers? Because I would like to understand your beliefs better and understand where you are coming from.

-Bruce Nielson

Kate says:

[Kate sends me three publicly available links about her and OW]

Bruce says:

Hi Kate, read through what you sent me, except never did figure out which profile was yours. So I still have questions. When we get to questions of where you are coming from, there is no discussion at all about your beliefs or your faith. There are only statements about seeing the Church as good or never planning to leave it. Honestly, that doesn’t really answer my question.

You served a mission, so you know what my key question is here. Do you in fact believe that the LDS Church had the priesthood restored to it by angels and that no other church has any sort of priesthood authority and therefore — to use an example — the Catholic Church members will need to eventually accept an authorized baptism via the unique priesthood authority that only the LDS Church has? (i.e. the whole point of temple work)

I’m sorry to put it in such detail, because of course I know you understand why I’m asking and why it matters in a case like this. Are you willing to answer this directly? Or is this something you feel you can’t answer and want to keep your real beliefs private on? For what it is worth, while I don’t at this time support the Ordain Women movement, I have been a long time believer that women will receive the priesthood at some point in the future. So the idea is not strange to me. I’m just trying to understand where you are coming from on this. And I think this question does matter.

Bruce says the next day:

Hi Kate, can you help me with this question?

Kate says:

[Kate tell me that because of my and other people’s questions she’s created the “Ask Kate Kelly Anything” forum where you submit questions and she will choose ones to respond to on a podcast and encourages me to use it.]

Bruce says:

Hi Kate. I do appreciate this, but I note that by doing this I have to submit a question that may or may not get asked on a podcast. Given the nature of my question, I have this considerable concern about you approaching my sincere question in this way. Please understand, I’m not trying to make any accusations or assumptions at all about you or where you are coming from, I’m just trying to go to the source for information. I hope you can see why this is a sincere thing for me to do. If it’s okay, I’d like to give you a little background so you understand where I’m coming from. So like I mentioned previously, I am not unsympathetic to the idea of women receiving the priesthood. So your basic idea here is not something I feel is doctrinally impossible. In fact, I await the day that women will receive the priesthood.

Kate says (in real time):

[Kate again encourages me to submit a question on her “Ask Kate Kelly” forum.]

Bruce says (a moment later):

But I happen to be a long time “bloggernacle vet.” And it took a few years for me to understand this, but there are some people on the bloggernacle that are non-transparent and even dishonest in how they represent themselves. I have documented in the past a number of the tricks they use to avoid having to answer sincere and relevant questions. There are essentially two tactics used to falsely represent themselves and two that are a more honest, but that refuse to answer any questions:

  1. Use of anger: Essentially you sincerely ask “well, you are claiming the church should change in this way or that, but those changes seem inconsistent with doctrine to me. I guess I’d like to know if you do or don’t believe in the truth claims of the LDS Church before we go any further.” And the response will be an angry “How dare you call me an apostate!” as a way of not having to answer the pertinent and sincere question needed to move the dialogue along. I will definitely give you credit for not using this tactic! 🙂
  2. Leaving false impressions: This tactic is to make a statement using words [or phrases] that are well understood by Mormons one way but to intentionally use them in a different and misleading way. For example, if I ask someone in your movement “Do you believe the LDS Church has restored the priesthood through visitations of angels, as they currently teach?” a misdirecting answer might be “Oh, I definitely believe the priesthood comes from God!” Now in this context, given the nature of my very specific question, the answer *seems* to be implying that this hypothetical person does in fact believe the LDS truth claim that there was no priesthood on the earth and that it had to be restored by angels. But in fact, that’s not what they actually said literally. What they said was “I believe the priesthood comes from God.” But perhaps what they really meant was “well, all religions are recognized by God and all religions have a sort of ‘priesthood’ that God recognizes. This is as true for the LDS church as for any religion.” Now I hope you can see how such an answer is in fact intentionally misleading.
  3. Redirect people to official and controlled statements and refuse to answer other questions: This tactic is essentially to only answer questions that are convenient to the speaker and to stay opaque on questions that are perceived as undermining to the speakers position. I had Joanna Brooks do this to me. Since she represents Mormons in public, I was honestly curious to what degree she believes in LDS beliefs. I asked her things like if she thought the Book of Mormon was an actual ancient historical document written by a man named Mormon or if she believed the LDS church held priesthood restored by angels and they are the only priesthood holders on the planet (as I’ve asked you). She sent me a link to an official statement of her beliefs – it answered none of my questions – and then refused to answer any other questions.
  4. Claim that the questions are irrelevant: Essentially this tactic is to claim that Mormonism is a broad cultural movement and there is no such thing as an ‘orthodox Mormon’ and therefore they find these questions irrelevant and do not care to answer them.

Kate, I sincerely am hoping that you do in fact believe the LDS teachings about priesthood and that in fact that is *why* you want to hold the priesthood. I sincerely am hoping that you can confirm to me point-blank that, yes, you believe John the Baptist came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and restored the Aaronic priesthood to them and that then later Peter, James, and John restored the Melchezidek priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery . And I’m hoping you can confirm that this priesthood had been lost from the earth and that that is why it needed to be restored and that today Thomas S. Monson is God’s anointed mouth piece and prophet to the whole world. I think you doing this would add great credibility to your project.

However, if you can’t confirm these things, I hope you’d see why that might be information that the followers of Ordain Women should be aware of and should be able to choose for themselves, based on full disclosure of information, if this is a movement they want to be a part of. I think you’ll find that there are many that are okay with you and the other leaders of Ordain Women [if you do not] believe in the truth claims of the Church. Many Mormons have many different feelings on this topic. I am simply suggesting that transparency and honesty are virtues worth having in and of themselves and that people should be able to make decisions based on knowing where you are really coming from.

Personally, I don’t really care what you believe. I am maybe not the most standard believer myself and I’m pretty sympathetic to non-standard beliefs. My only real issue is with transparency and honesty and allowing people to make their own informed decisions.

Now that I’ve explained my background and thoughts, I would really appreciate it if you wouldn’t just ignore my requests or tell me that you will only answer questions through a very controlled podcast situation. I am not interested in submitting my questions to a podcast where you get to select which questions to ask and how to phrase them or represent them or where I am incapable of asking follow-up questions by which I can make sure I understood what the answer really meant (as per tactic #2 above).

I am okay with you using tactic 3 or 4 if this is something you really feel strongly about. If the previous links are the only official information you care to give out about your beliefs, just tell me that, Kate and I’ll leave you alone, I promise. But I really hope you’ll consider what I’m saying and really search your heart over this very important questions of transparency and honesty. This is something the LDS church has not done as well on as I would have liked to see, but I do feel they are really moving in the right direction now (have you seen the new seminary manuals!) But in my opinion it’s a two-way street. Ordain Women should practice the same transparency to also allow people to make informed decisions. Even if you disagree with me, can you at least see why I might want to make a sincere attempt to talk you into it? And how do you personally feel about the LDS church’s track record of transparency? Is this an area you have thought they needed to improve in? If so, can you see that it is perhaps right for you as a public figure to practice this as well?



At this point, Kate disappeared and the conversation stopped. She had been real-time for a moment there. I will give an update in a few days as to whether or not she replies.

I want to add something else. I really did try to be gracious and non-confrontational. I hope people will forgive me where they feel I handled things poorly. I was sort of rushing to write that last comment because I had her real-time. So please be gentle if you think I said things poorly.

Also, I know some people really just disagree with the idea of asking questions like this at all. Liberals on the Bloggernacle, in particular, (even believing ones) have long told me they find it hurtful and offensive. It may surprise them that I agree with them. The difference between me and them on this is that I find people pretending to believe things they don’t or not being transparent on questions that matter even more hurtful and offensive. As with all things rational in life, you can never just look at one side, you must compare both sides.

My main point to Kate Kelly was that transparency is a two-way street. I am hoping this is a point she agrees with me on, at least. The people in Ordain Women should know if the founders believe the current Church teachings about priesthood and should be able to decide if that affects their involvement or not. Maybe it will for some and maybe it won’t for others. I think there is some nuance here that should be part of the public dialogue, so let me ask the following questions for discussion so we can get multiple view points:

  1. Okay, so say the leaders don’t believe LDS Doctrine on the priesthood, but say they still believe the LDS Church does have a priesthood from God (perhaps because God recognizes all religions as having ‘priesthood.’) Does that then mitigate the situation through nuance? Does it maybe imply that we are still dealing with ‘believers’ in some legitimate sense and therefore what difference does it make if they believe the current official doctrine or not?
  2. Okay, so suppose the Ordain Women’s movement is primarily even outright non-believers. But aren’t we still dealing with a real women’s issue here? Isn’t ‘priesthood equality’ still an issue within the LDS Church worthy of discussion and isn’t a desire to help the church make a change — even if it came from faithful practicing but non-believing members — still something worthwhile to many?
  3. Is there a right to privacy of belief here? Given the public nature of the movement and the leaders, clearly I don’t think that is the case. But maybe I’m wrong. Is there a moral requirement that if these are card-carrying members — regardless of their personal beliefs — that it just isn’t our business to ask them about their beliefs?
  4. What about the concept of two-way transparency. I made the point I thought it was good policy, but could I be wrong here? Might there be more of a need for a large institution like the LDS church to be transparent and not nearly so much for a smaller organization like Ordain Women to be transparent?

Please discuss. Perhaps there is some room here for more than one point of view and I’d encourage commenters to stick with discussion about ideas and not personal attacks on people — not even the Ordain Women’s leaders. It’s okay to say you think such-and-such action has moral ramifications, but please try to not personalize that to “so-and-so is immoral” because my experience is that people are not generally intentionally being deceptive. If they wanted to be intentionally deceptive, they could just do an outright lie. They haven’t done that. So we are probably dealing with differing points of view on the four questions above.

If I haven’t heard back from Kate Kelly in a day or two, I’ll do a follow up post.

105 thoughts on “The Value of Transparency? My Discussion So Far with Kate Kelly

  1. Thanks for your post, Bruce. I do think it is an interesting question, though I tend to doubt that Kate Kelly will ever get herself into a situation where she answers something that direct. I did find one phrase you used at the end of your post kind of interesting though – faithful practicing but non-believing members. I suspect you were using faithful to help describe practicing (as in they were diligent in their actions and participation in the church), though I must admit to finding the combination of faithful and non-believing a little humorous at the beginning. After some additional thought, I guess most if not all of us would fall into the category of the person we read in the scriptures that said, “I believe, help though my unbelief”. (paraphrased) I suppose that particular individual could also be considered a faithful, but non-believing follower of Christ.

  2. Thanks for posting this because it brings up a very important point. I’ve often thought that Joanna Brooks does not in fact believe all the tenets of the Mormon religion, but no one ever directly asks her. I’ve often wondered what would happen if Sis Brooks or Sis. Kelly sat down with an apostle or other ecclesiastical leader who asked them the temple recommend questions specifically. I don’t know what either of their beliefs really are and have no way of knowing, but I do believe they lead on others to think they believe more than they really do. Once again, I have no way of knowing, but if anyone asked me or many other members point blank we would answer immediately or belief in a prophet, the restoration, etc.

  3. I think testimony should be born as a person is prompted by the spirit, and generally not in a QandA form. I am pretty sure that President Monson accepts and believes the fundamental truth claims of the church, even though he rarely testifies of them in the level of detail that Kate has been asked to, above. I am told that people sometimes ask Richard Bushman to bear personal testimony in a format they, the listener prefer–something like the “five finger” testimony sometimes taught in primary. But that is not the form of his testimony. Are their teachings or opinions or thoughts less valid because they do not articulate “testimonies” in a format or specifically mention particularized truth claims? Would President Monson or Brother Bushman be justified if asked the questions asked of Kate to simply refer people to their written testimonies? When people ask me, I simply refer them to my profile. When I bear testimony, I say what I believe. I do not list my doubts or what I may question or what I disbelieve.

    My understanding is that Kate holds a temple recommend. There are three belief questions asked to obtain a TR. It seems to me none of our business to probe beyond those questions to find out particular nuances or doubts or questions. If she has enough belief to satisfy her leaders to enter the temple, that is enough for me to consider her a believing LDS.

    But that is just me.

  4. I think this is important because many of these public figures — such as Joanna Brooks or Kate Kelly — claim to be faithful, believing, practicing members of the Church. They have a vested interest in maintaining that image, because if they aren’t, their entire program will be seen differently by many of their followers. They would no longer be seen as insiders expanding the contours of Mormon thought, but as outsiders attempting to subvert members of the Church from the inside.

    And so they do not want their beliefs called into question. But it is very telling to me that they don’t answer direct questions of this sort, but instead misdirect, redirect, or ignore them. This leads me to suspect they really don’t believe the truth claims of the Church, but cannot afford to reveal that publicly without jeopardizing their cause. This strikes me as even more intellectually dishonest as some people claim the Church has been.

  5. David H,

    Thank you for your comment. I feel torn over this. On the one hand, I basically agree with you. On the other, I’ve know people that are honestly trying to undermine people’s beliefs that use the same sorts of tricks. Where is the dividing line between a need to be informed and a need for privacy or not probing? I think it’s a tough question. I’m doing my best on this. Currently — subject to change as I think it through — I do see public advocates as having an extra responsibility here for much the same reason a public insitution like the church has such a responsilbity. But you make so many good points here and sometimes I doubt myself.

    However, I do have to outrightly differ with you on one point. The idea that Kate Kelly holds a TR shouldn’t be brought up at all, in my opinion. People treat a TR as if its a sort of vetting by a Bishop. You just treated it that way. But John Dehlin has pointed out repeated — and correctly — that that isn’t the case. John points out that a person that doesn’t believe in God at all can easily get a TR without lying. Holding a TR is personal, not public, because the Bishop is NOT allowed to ask clarifying questions because they want the persons own conscience to dictate here. So I feel you are wrong to treat it as a sort of public stamp of approval by a Bishop.

    And I hope it is obvious how a public movement is very different than a TR and thus the fact that a TR is personal does not necessarily translate to honest questions to the leaders of a movement that have direct relevance to interest in the movement to many.

  6. You did fine. I’m really tired of the same canned answers myself. It’s as if someone who accepts some of what Ordain Women, All Enlisted, etc. expound must be presumed to accept all of it, and I know that this is not the case for every individual. The problem is that these various movement(s) all refer to each other for issues, solutions, and tactics but we have no idea who really believes what.

  7. Very interesting Bruce. Let’s see how this plays out. I disagree with David H that people should not be expected to bear testimony in a Q&A format, especially because this is THE central question with regards to the OW movement, i.e., they claim to be believing, faithful members of the Church when we know that many of the intellectual leaders of the movement are not.

    Imagine, for a moment, that the OW movement was completely transparent and pointed out the full history of the Toscanos and Kaimi Wengers, etc, etc. How many believing, faithful latter-day Saints would want to follow such a movement? In addition, reporters would be forced to point out that the leadership claims to be faithful members of the Church but is in fact not. The OW’s entire narrative would fall to pieces.

  8. It’s weird – this conversation of yours strikes me as ironically similar to OW’s discussions with Church leaders. I don’t now how the “Ask a question” is going to go for them, but I suspect it’ll be much the same, picking the questions you can answer well (and be widely understood), leaving the rest for speculation.

    It’s a hazard of being a large group, those being in charge not being able to handle the massive number of requests for audiences (or even brief notes) that come through.

    Maybe both the Church and OW need a “Big Block of Cheese Day”

  9. Geoff,

    I was more hot headed back then, I admit. I had just quit Mormon Matters, as detailed on my blog post series on that (part 4 coming soon) and then I saw what happened at T&S and was feeling really dislusioned about the entire Bloggernacle due to what I saw at the time as significant honesty / transparency issues that happened to tie in to my biggest concern about Mormon Matters. So I wish I hand handled things better.

    Yes, Kaimi does not answer my questions. However, if you look at the links to what “Cafetria Mormon” says (who is Kaimi) he pretty much lays out what he really believes and feels about the LDS Church and it’s beliefs. So he ‘accidently’ became transparent. Kaimi was listed as one of the OW leaders, btw. See comments in thread of last OW post.

  10. Bruce, I am not sure what you handled poorly. You were complimentary and asked him pointed questions that he refused to answer. It would have taken him 10 minutes to answer those questions but he chose not to. This seems pretty telling to me.

  11. If we believe in the very tenants of our faith, we believe in a prophet of God, be it President Monson, or even past prophets of God like President Hinckley, and we believe in what they state as “doctrine.” In 1995 (almost 20 years ago now), President Hinckley issued the Proclamation on Families. In the body of the talk before he announced the Proclamation (the address is called, “Stand Strong Against the Wiles of the World,” he stated that the Proclamation is : a reaffirmation…of our principles and doctrine.” Now in that Proclamation it is specifically stated what our roles as women and men are in the Church. Now whether or not Sister Kelly likes or accepts this or not, it was spoken by a Prophet of God. Some people like to have their own interpretation of these things, I don’t personally know her, but I love her as a fellow sister in Christ. I do not believe in advocating what a Prophet has clearly said is not our role. As I have said a thousand times perhaps, study the gospel, study the Prophets. I have all I can do to do just that! I believe (as President Monson has said to them in the letter addressed to OW specifically through his spokewoman yesterday), “Do not protest on Temple Square, and he asks them NOT TO DO THIS! I value my Church membership so much that I would never go against what a Prophet of the Living God has asked me to do. We may not like it, we may even have varying opinion on any issue, and that is okay. Everyone has their free agency, but again the prophet spoke! OW do what you want to do with the letter, but a Prophet, the mouthpiece of the Lord told specified where you can protest, otherwise if you don’t, you may not have your Church membership for long. In any instance, I listen and pay attention to what the PROPHETS have said, what the SCRIPTURES have said about any particular issue. I don’t “pick and choose” what to believe. Just because the Proclamation is not canonized, does not mean it is not DOCTRINE! I’ve said my piece.

  12. I remember being asked to bear my testimony once (in seminary) and I got up and told them I didn’t have a testimony.

    I’ve had my moments when I wasn’t sure I believed in the Mormon worldview. But I have consistently had experiences with the divine, and the divine kept telling me to remain a Mormon.

    Then I figured out that the divine wasn’t just telling me that as a temporary suggestion.

    There are those who are beloved children of God who haven’t fully embraced the traditional Mormon worldview. However those of us who do embrace that worldview should know that God is still God, no matter what his children say or do.

    I can imagine that there are individuals, male and female, who see traditional Mormon culture and say to themselves:

    “I get that Joseph saw God and an angel, but there are some weird things in Mormon history and Mormon culture. I don’t accept that every folkway of my beloved religion necessarily sprung full-grown from the mind of God.

    “If we fundamentally don’t have female feedback at key levels of the Church organization, how are we ever to find a space where God could even reveal to the hidebound a way to be more inclusive?”

    In other disciplines we find unexpected secondary damage due to unanticipated interactions. For example, it turns out the confluence of race and poverty results in much higher rates of morbid obesity and cardiac mortality among minorities. When people have controlled for economic conditions, they have presumed that other conditions were the same, and have attributed these health problems to race, when racial differentiation in provision of services (e.g., fresh food) that is either creating or exacerbating the difference between minorities and whites with respect to health.

    In Mormon circles we have differences between the roles men and women play. Even without questioning whether priesthood must fundamentally be shared to achieve equality, we can still look at the cultural folkways and examine whether there are disproportionate negative impacts on women who are children of God versus men who are children of God.

    One huge difference we have is the availability of historic role models. The lives of men can often be examined and held up without reference to their family situation. Therefore we have no lack of male role models to cite. Women, on the other hand, were traditionally so involved in their families that it is hard to examine the life of a woman without reference to her family situation. Here Mormon history has proved problematic, because the vast majority (even totality) of notable Mormon women from our history were wives of polygamists. When we refused to talk about polygamy, our historic women become ciphers. Even in the case of the few who can remain without necessarily highlighting polygamy, we are left with a fundamentally truncated persona, a persona that sometimes becomes shattered when select aspects of that woman’s life are discussed. This has happened to Eliza Snow for many women who have read Mormon Enigma. A previously honored woman becomes pariah for them because Newell and Avery produced (in my opinion) an incomplete and opinionated picture of the situation between Eliza, Emma, and Joseph.

    From reading Joanna Brook’s book and corresponding with her, I am sympathetic to the journey she is on. I don’t know Kate Kelly, but I question the utility of the path she is on, even if her objectives are fully honorable. This is merely because open defiance and opposition (e.g., scorched earth tactics) don’t usually result in the kind of consensual change that facilitates rapid transformation.

    Changing the subject, I’m making lasagna for my ward Relief Society birthday celebration and taking my 18-year-old autistic daughter with me. This while simultaneously composing next Monday’s post involving the widow of a man killed at Haun’s Mill who was seduced by Chauncy Higbee, John C. Bennett, and Joel S. Miles, as well as being propositioned by the vast majority of the known members of Bennett’s band of evil doers.

    I can imagine being fully committed to the traditional Mormon position that priesthood power came from God to Joseph Smith and still sometimes questioning whether every folkway and historical occurrence in our shared experience was fully directed by God.

  13. Meg, a question: so let’s say you were asked to answer a list of questions regarding the Church. Here are the questions that Bruce asked Kaimi back in 2009:

    Do you believe the LDS Church has unique authority?
    Do you believe salvation for the dead actually does something for the dead?
    Do you believe the Book of Mormon is actually a record (of any sort) about real people that actually existed?
    Do you believe (Jos Smith) was visited by a The Father and the Son as actual personages in a grove of trees?
    Do you believe the Father has a body of flesh and bone as tangible as man’s?
    Do you believe Joseph Smith was called as a Prophet to the whole world?

    How would you answer? I would answer yes without hesitation to the questions above. Note: I don’t believe that a faithful Mormon *must* answer yes. We are allowed to ask questions and to be skeptical and to work out our faith our own ways. But the point is that 1)OW leaders claim to be faithful members of the church but 2)refuse to answer questions regarding the truth claims of the Church.

    The point is that it is completely OK (and very honest and admirable, imho) to not be sure about certain areas of Church doctrine. It is NOT OK to claim to be something that you are not.

  14. An invitation to write more? Be still my heart…

    Q. Do you believe the LDS Church has unique authority?

    A. Absolutely. Do I necessarily believe that every child of God within the LDS church always acquits their responsibilities in comlpete accordance with God’s will, no. But then again, that’s one of the reasons we need a savior and an atonement.

    Q. Do you believe salvation for the dead actually does something for the dead?

    A. Absolutely. So why are you hanging out on this blog instead of either doing family history or performing ordinance work in the temple?!?!? Oh, that’s right. Need to eat and sleep and earn money for same and raise the next generation…

    Q. Do you believe the Book of Mormon is actually a record (of any sort) about real people that actually existed?

    A. Absolutely. And I think God performed massive miracles in bringing it forth so that it wasn’t constrained by the problems of the written language in which it was recorded. Which is why Joseph could “translate” it by looking at a stone in his hat.

    Q. Do you believe (Jos Smith) was visited by a The Father and the Son as actual personages in a grove of trees?

    A. Yes. And I also believe it is possible that other children of God who have been visited at times by God and Jesus. However Joseph Smith’s calling was unique. (Much to Joseph’s distress. I think he would have loved to be able to share that burden.)

    Q. Do you believe the Father has a body of flesh and bone as tangible as man’s?

    A. I haven’t handled it, but I have no reason to question the scriptural description. I like to joke with Him that I don’t mind if he’s nine feet tall with green scaly skin and blood-red eyes, but He just laughs at me and I giggle back.

    Q. Do you believe Joseph Smith was called as a Prophet to the whole world?

    A. Yes. As is our current prophet. Which is part of why I think it’s foolhardy for women representing a minority view from a tiny portion of the world’s population to try to sway the Church to their position. It’s a bit like a minnow trying to influence the course of a great river. Though I admit a single mosquito can cause me to wave my arms around in a manner vastly disproportionate to the relative mass of the mosquito.

  15. Bruce is correct regarding the transparency issue. If one knows exactly where these women are coming from, especially, what their belief are regarding the Priesthood, then you will take them at face value and strive to understand their point of view, even if you don’t agree with them; but as it stands now, no one really knows what they really believe, therefore, there is much room for suspicion about those beliefs and motivations. I am one of those suspicious people.

    One issue that strikes me as peculiar is this, if this is a spiritual matter, as most us would understand it to be, why are they going about using political tactics in the public square, such as protesting in front of the Conference center, and agitating by asking for tickets to the Priesthood meeting and contacting the press. If their motivations were purely spiritual ones, why aren’t they talking to the leaders in the line of authority about their concerns, or having an OW day of fast to ask the Lord regarding the matter. Or a Temple day to pray quietly inside the temple, in the peaceful Celestial Room to ask the Father about His withholding the priesthood from women since the creation of the earth. I am sure He will tell them whether they will get it any time soon, or not. If these women believe in prayer, they should know God will answer their prayers and concerns, and they will know for a fact the Lord’s mind on this matter.

    I think they are petitioning the wrong men. The should direct their discontent to the One that has the ability and capability of bringing any changes in regards to this subject.

    The way they act, it makes it look like they want to portrait in front of the world that the Brethren (“the men in charge”) are mean old sexist men that are purposely withholding the priesthood from women in the church, and that they do have the power to change the policy, if they wanted to, but won’t do it due to their prejudices.

    IMHO they should come forward and clearly state what they really believe regarding the Priesthood and why they wanted it so badly, besides the old feminist “it’s a women’s issue” thing, which clearly nobody, especially the women in the church believe it’s about.

  16. Meg,

    If you were the leader of OW and you just gave those answers, there would be no doubt as to what your beliefs are and where you were coming from.

  17. Bruce … this is a very good write up. and thank you for taking the time to be so detailed with her. It’s obvious she gave you the brush off, which is unfortunate, but I do think you were and are sincere with your questions. Thanks for your work on this.

  18. In our Ward, in our Stake, and in perhaps a few other Wards and Stakes of the Church, and certainly in past General Conferences and maybe in this upcoming one as well (we’ll see if its mentioned), it seems that almost all we talk about is becoming like the Savior and in providing Christ-like service to our fellow beings. I have listened to many podcasts and read several articles in which participants of the OW movement were interviewed and I have never, ever, even once, heard the mention that those of the movement were seeking priesthood authority so that they could become more like the Savior, and serve their fellow men and women like he would serve if He were here. Certainly, this must be because I have just missed the discussions/interviews where this has been the thrust of the conversation. If someone could direct me to where I might find such discussions I would greatly appreciate it.

  19. By the way, Kate Kelley’s profile is here:

    She’s local to me – wonder if she’d like to hang out.

    I think Kelley makes the case in her video that it was as a missionary in a patriarchal society (Spain) that she saw how the church struggled because so few men were members of the church there to take on leadership roles.

    She also grew up in Oregon. Which doesn’t seem like the bastion of respecting women from other clues I’ve gotten. So as she reflects on how she’s seen women be treated in the church, she sees problems. And she’s come to the conclusion that the thing Mormon women “lack” that would make everything better is the priesthood.

    I submit that the thing women in her experience lack is the respect of the men around them. I also submit that giving women in those communities the priesthod would just make the men throw up their hands and say, “I knew all this sissy religion stuff was effeminate. Bro, lets go grab some beers and ditch this religion stuff.” Which would leave the Church in a net position that is worse than where it is with a few men attempting to rise to the occasion.

    Kate is an international human rights lawyer, so that is the language of change she is familiar with – the litigious approach to shaming wrongdoers into treating people with dignity. I don’t get the impression that she’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, per se, but I do think she’s staked out an untenable position and is holding fast to that position, to the ultimate detriment of the cause she proposes to espouse.

  20. I’m from Oregon… I take Umbrage to the put-downs of Oregon. Can’t vouch for Spain, but if the roles were reversed, and a faithful, conservative Mormon put down an entire country… the left would be howling with cries of racism and xenophobism.

    Which doesn’t seem like the bastion of respecting women from other clues I’ve gotten.

    Then you need to re-read yo ur clues. It’s the liberals that destroy women, and don’t respect them.

  21. Here’s a note I wrote the ladies over at Ordain Women:

    Hi Ladies,

    I’ve been intrigued to watch Ordain Women move out, from the standpoint that I have worked in support of the US Navy and have seen their internal transformation as they have eliminated barriers for women and gays within that organization.

    The thing that we saw was Navy leadership realizing that their prior, reasonable, limitations on women’s service was going to cause huge problems in the future. So they performed their homework, conducted surveys, talked with key leaders, and heard the folklore.

    One big hot button was the damage submarine service would cause in the event that a women were pregnant. Our submarines are powered by nuclear energy, and the casual wisdom was that the enclosed, nuclear, environment would be particularly harmful for pregnant women and women of child-bearing age.

    Based on that conversation it appears Navy leadership brought in health professionals to assess this postulated claim. I believe they did a full survey of the dangers associated with submarine service. What they appear to have found was the overwhelmingly damaging effect of tobacco smoke on those serving aboard submarines, no matter their gender.

    Thus we had the ban on all smoking on submarines. It was a huge culture shift. Though I am not an anthropologist, per se, I have been trained in ethnographic research. To my eye, it’s clear that Navy leadership heard their incumbent members, investigated the matter, and came back with a response to truth.

    And now, after years of planning and preparation, women are starting to serve aboard submarines, with a long-term plan to eliminate all bars to service that are not founded on extremely sound bases.

    Getting back to the LDS Church. If your goals are to enable the Church to leverage the full membership and eliminate the double standards, I’m not sure your approaching this in an effective manner. For one thing, you’ve created a polarized situation where, were the leadership inclined to expand the roles in which women can serve, they now would be inhibited from doing so because it would be seen as yielding to the political pressure you are bringing to bear. The behavior of God with respect to the Church has been consistent guidance to rely on the arm of faith rather than flesh. And so making this such a huge political point inhibits the Church from going in the direction you are pointing, at least in the way that would allow you or the Church to feel that your political agitation had made the difference.

    I’m old enough that I was at the tenth reunion of Exponent II. We had among our number a man (I think the only male there) who was trying to get us all to take political action against the church to protest the effective Mormon stance on nuclear weapons. At the time we women consistently pointed out to him that political action was not the way to get Mormon leadership to change.

    Ironically, I’m pretty sure some of the ladies I met at that reunion then went on to agitate for “equal rights” and praying to Mother in Heaven and standing up in General Conference and raising their hands to oppose the leaders of the Church. If you are not familiar with those times, you may want to brush up on your history. You can be certain that the leadership of the Church (male and female) do remember those times.

    So I guess my question back to you is what you are trying to actually achieve. If you are willing to support your belief that women should be ordained to the point that you oppose the Church, you’ve stepped over a line and lost your ability to influence the organization you propose to love.

    I might suggest that an interesting way to respond to the Church’s stance regarding the Priesthood Meeting is to possibly meet as a group in the press area (or whatever it’s called) during the Women’s broadcast and watch the proceedings on your tablets, etc. Then repeat that behavior again at the Priesthood Meeting. In this manner you would be demonstrating that you are operating peaceably. Beyond being non-violent, your behavior would demonstrate respect and love towards those you wish to influence.

    Lastly, a comment on your statements. For the most part you say you *believe* women should be ordained. That is an unfortunate choice of words, for true believers do not give themselves flexibility to react to effect that which they *think* is right. I hear the echo of my high school humanities teacher, who claimed you could never debate with a believer, only with a thinker.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been blogging over at Millennial Star. I believe a substantial portion of what ails Mormon culture and folkways originated in the misunderstandings resulting from the terrible events in Nauvoo in the 1840s. (See

    I invite you to consider the alternate explanation for what happened, a history in which Joseph and Emma were working hand in hand, where Joseph respected Emma and Emma supported Joseph. Unfortunately it’s a history where terrible things happened to innocent women and well-meaning men were corrupted. But God and Joseph forgave all who would repent. And a cloak of silence fell to protect the wounded.

    I don’t think Joseph or Emma or Eliza or Brigham ever anticipated the harm their respectful silence would cause the Church. I submit, though, that God does realize the harm that has been done. I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure He spoke to me in March 2001, telling me to write about my female ancestors, Elvira Annie Cowles, Elvira’s three daughters who all married the same man, and Elvira’s two grand-daughters who married John Whitaker Taylor, the apostle excommunicated for disagreeing with the Church’s revised stance on polygamy.

    For years I had no clue why God would want me to write about this. I argued with Him constantly. My non-Mormon professors were sure I would get excommunicated for writing about such a topic (um, no). And circa 2009/2010 I found what God meant me to find. Then I let it ferment for a few years while I went and acted on another assignment He’d given me.

    If you want to remake Mormon culture, the house where you live, to quote Kate, I suggest that rather than apply pressure to a discrete point where you frankly don’t have good leverage, you would do better to revise the history of your culture. Help God remake our understanding of our past, the past that resulted in devaluation of women and minorities. Own your forebears and their best hopes and dreams rather than the cartoon many teach the rising generation.

    We are here in the weeks before General Conference. You have a chance to prove you are, indeed, faithful. Whether or not you heed my call to remake our past, please act in a manner that retains your power to influence righteously.


    Meg Stout

  22. I see h_nu objects to my dismissive characterization of some cultures.

    Oregon is interesting, and my views are primarily colored by two things:

    1) Kate Kelly’s own statements about the disparate treatment she sees women receive

    2) The way my male relatives who live in Oregon treated my female relatives (one really bad and abusive marriage that involved kinky sex that would make John C. Bennett blush).

    If Spain and Italy and other traditionally patriarchal societies have overcome their various pasts, that’s great. Looking at Spain’s recent past, Franco rescinded many of the rights females had been granted in the early 20th century, helping the Catholic church “restrict women to the home and confine them to the private sphere.” (see That era is only forty years in the past. Hence my expectation that when Kate Kelly served her mission there she was still seeing echoes of a patriarchal culture that does not value women equally with men.

  23. So, in order for a society to “value” women, they must have untrammelled access to abortion and CEO boardrooms.

    Come on, Meg. That’s just Gloria Steinem boilerplate rhetoric.

  24. Regarding “disparate treatment”, I would venture to say that’s just life. I’ve been rudely treated by men, women, and children. It doesn’t make me want to join damn-fool idealistic crusade.

    Two of my first three commanding officers were members of a minority, and one was a black female. Try telling her that life is unfair to women.

  25. I would advise Kate Kelly to stop playing the victim card. “We poor women, constantly oppressed by an overbearing patriarchy.”. That modality perpetuates the very idea that she is supposedly fighting against: that women are the weaker, inferior sex.

    I can’t stand the school of resentment and entitlement. Want respect? Influence? Position? Honor? Then pay the price and earn it. No excuses.

    Time to put the big girl panties on, as we say in the military.

  26. The author of this post has made speculative statements about Kate Kelly’s beliefs and drawn a line in the sand based on mental meanderings. I wonder how the author responds to the temple recommend question regarding honesty after displaying such dishonesty of character by taking a private conversation and publishing it in an open forum. Me thinks there is a rather large beam in one’s eye here…

  27. It seems to me that Ms. Kelly’s response was perfect. Here’s why:
    1) She might be concerned that a person might disingenuously represent himself as a friend of a friend, then publish a very personal conversation on the internet without her permission.
    2) She might be concerned that a person would come to her with a question ostensibly about his own faith, but has a hidden agenda to satisfy his own curiosity about her.
    3) She might feel that questions about her personal faith that are more invasive than a temple recommend interview are not the business of random strangers from the internet.
    4) She might sincerely not have a lot of time on her hands, which is why she redirected the conversation elsewhere, including an appropriate forum for questions to her. If I told a person that questions about my organization were better addressed TO my organization that to my personal space, and they kept writing me longer and longer messages, I’d be inclined to stop responding as well. It’s like in “What About Bob,” when Bill Murray’s character thought it would be acceptable to visit his psychiatrist at his home.

  28. OR Kate Kelly might be the public leader of a group promoting changes in the LDS priesthood being publicly asked to clarify her beliefs as to what that priesthood is. She actively seeks national public attention, press conferences, newspaper interviews, to let the world know that she should be ordained an elder, so it’s not quite a private, personal matter.

  29. Meg Stout,
    1.) If you had any sort of academic training, you would hopefully know that anecdotes don’t describe an entire state… “The way my male relatives who live in Oregon treated my female relatives.”

    Given the time, I could query people from every state in the union to find “male relatives who live in [that state] who [mistreated] female relatives.” I could also find “female relatives who live in [that state] who [mistreated] male relatives.”

    Or to quote my bio-statistician wife… “The plural of anecdote is not data”

    2) No one knows what you’re talking about because you have to “approve” my comment, to overcome the draconian, Orwellian censorship imposed on me by M*.

  30. Michael Towns,

    When did I mention abortion? I just talked about kinky sex.

    I will invoke the image of an omniscient God sharing with all of us at the judgement day (I love data, so this is something I really look forward to). In that day I like to think we will know as we are known. And in that day I predict that our hearts will bleed for those of our sisters and brothers who suffered in ways we were too proud to admit in life.

    The entire panorama will matter to us, but we will be torn by those whose sufferings were made worse by our own actions. Lots of love, lots of remorse, lots of forgiveness.

    That is why I believe God tells us we must forgive all (D&C 64).

    So can we respond to the OW folks as though we love them and forgive them, but still have concerns about their path? I think that’s what Jesus would do. I think that’s what Joseph would do.

    Emma and Hyrum, on the other hand, would love them but require they produce proof that they were believers or they would be culled from the membership.

    I think I’ll align myself with the instincts of Jesus and Joseph, but I think Emma and Hyrum sometimes get things done that love alone cannot.

  31. John Mansfield, that doesn’t have anything to do with what I wrote. I was pointing out that this conversation was misrepresented as private and published without her permission, that she was NOT being publicly asked anything, that she gave an appropriate public forum for the matter to be discussed publicly, and despite her repeated requests, and brief responses, Bruce’s questions became ever longer, more personal, and more complex, which was disrespectful. Being a public figure doesn’t mean a person’s private space shouldn’t be respected. There’s an attempt here to hold OW to the same standards of honesty and transparency(not being met by Bruce when he’s deceptive about his intentions) as the leaders of the church, but you probably wouldn’t think it appropriate if I started knocking on Boyd K Packer’s door with questions or blowing his phone up with texts.

  32. You do know that Kate Kelly has a job right? She works full time as a human rights attorney. Perhaps she doesn’t have time to chat over the internet with every random person who wants to interrogate her. Reading your blog post it seems clear she was trying to politely say “I don’t have time for this unscheduled interview you’re imposing on me, but if you’ll please submit your questions I’d be happy to answer them.” By the way – here is the link for submitting questions:

  33. Jimmy, you have a very strange idea of what constitutes deception. Bruce was completely open from the beginning, pointing out exactly what his intentions and questions were.

    When you are in a dialogue with somebody (or trying to have one) and you are seeking information, it is pretty normal that your questions will be longer, more personal and more complex.

    As for her private space, nobody is asking her about her private life, her relationships, her work, her academic career or any other aspect of her private life. The only relevant question is: do you believe in the truth claims of the Church? And, as Bruce points out, the usual tactic is to answer “yes” in general without giving any specifics. The specifics are where we find out the truth.

    Kate Kelly has made claims that her group is led by loyal members of the Church, when much of the intellectual leadership clearly are not loyal members of the Church. She refuses to answer very simple questions about her beliefs. These questions are extremely relevant because they get to the heart of whether the group she helps lead truly is what it claims to be.

  34. Bruce Nielsen can address the concern whether he misrepresented himself or betrayed confidence. The questions of personal belief that he asked, however, are not some weird tangent. You may be on to something about his questions becoming too long, too devoted to his own frame of mind about why he cared about his questions. Keeping it short, but repeating the point might have been better. “You’re leading a movement to have women ordained to the priesthood, so your beliefs about the LDS priesthood are completely relevant, and your links don’t say much about that. Do you believe Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ordained under the hands of John the Baptist, and later by the ancient apostles Peter, James, and John?”

  35. Oh, puuuulease! I’m no bloggernacle vet nor do I even have an OW profile, but even I can see what’s happening here.

    Bruce’s motivation is obviously not transparency so much as being able to monopolize someone’s time and expect another to drop a testimony on command.

    *Insert image of male drill sergeant shouting in female recruit’s face, “Drop & bear me your testimony!” here.*

    Perhaps Bruce should reread The Millennial Star’s comments policy about “generally accepted standards for good taste and decorum”. Better yet, he could read up on social skills, boundaries, rhetoric, or critical thinking, but I digress.

    Kelly’s testimony is demonstrated by the temple recommend and her other writings. Bruce appears like someone who’s offended that he wasn’t granted an interview, and doubly offended because the potential interviewee’s status now appears even higher than the interviewer’s.

    If Bruce is going to question the integrity of one’s temple recommend interview answers, why would he accept the integrity of HIS interview responses? That’s quite a statement from Bruce about his regard for Kelly’s integrity, priesthood authority, and his own interviewing abilities.

    This article demonstrats Bruce’s need for an inordinate amount of external validation, and has transparency issues of his own with regard to his bloggernacle tactic usage.

  36. Kate Kelly has been more than transparent. It is the Church that has a major problem with transparency. They have mysterious “discussions” about women, presided over by men and only hinted at by the church Public Affairs people. So far the one tangible thing to come out of these mysterious discussions has been women’s pictures put up at the conference center, as if that does anything significant the measurable problem of gender inequality in the church. If the Church wants to stop the flood of resignations and people going inactive, they are going to have to do much better with transparency. That’s the real problem and where the real focus belongs, in my opinion, which you probably won’t post, but I want you to know that shifting the focus to Kate Kelly is not going to distract from where the main focus ought to be — on the church and the transparency of the leaders or lack thereof. You can attack Kate Kelly until you are blue in the face, but that will not change what is becoming more and more obvious to more and more people about the church’s very real problems with transparency.

  37. I think you are being a bully, Bruce, and trying very hard to pretend not to be. Expressing that you are “torn” and really trying to think hard about it, etc, is, so far, a cover, not a sincere commitment to humility and kindness toward others.

    I think the chat-copy-paste-and-post style is gross, I think the barrage of insistent messages is disconcerting, and if we ever needed an example of how internalized male privilege causes otherwise decent people to participate in bullying without appearing to realize it, this is a good example.

  38. Looks like a link went up somewhere around 7 AM, and the response is to shoot the messenger to sidetrack the message.

  39. Looks like the horde has arrived, armed with such silly rhetoric as “male privilege” and the like.

  40. Yeah, John M, typical tactic on the part of the left: bully the person trying to have a conversation.

    OW clones: Kate Kelly could take five minutes to answer Bruce’s questions, and this issue would go away (if of course she believes in the Church’s truth claims, as she says she does). The fact that she does not speaks volumes.

    Until she does, we will have to assume she is being deliberately deceptive. Loyal church members should not be fooled by this tactic.

  41. John, yes, that is what’s happened. I don’t mind. I think angry rants, to a degree, speak for themselves. But at some point I (or Geoff) will put a stop to the Bloggernacling to keep the thread from becoming overwhelmed. Posts with cussing will be deleted immediately. But I think people that have strong opposing feelings need to have their say too and that they are using really bad arguments and personal attacks speaks volumes in my opinion. People will have to make up their own minds.

    I want to address the idea that I’ve put a private converation up. Yes, I did. But the private side was 100% mine, so I have a right to do so. Kate Kelly’s side was 100% statements or reference to statements that are already public. Let’s repeat them here:

    Talk abt that here

    & here

    And, my OW profile, which is on

    Bruce, in part bc of your & other’s many questions we created this form/ forum. Feel free to submit! [gives link].Ask Kate Kelly anything!

    As I said, go ahead and submit!

    That’s it! Wow! Confidence betrayed! 😉

    It is rather humorous that people are so desperate to find something wrong or evil with what I’ve posted that they latched on to this without noticing that Kate’s statements are 100% public statements already.

    The purpose of this post was actually to try to explain my own thinking, which is contained all in my own statements. And I explain in the first paragraph the very sincere reason why I’m doing it — to help out a friend that supports them but wanted to know what they believe.

    John, you’re right I should have shortened it.

    It seems to me that the real question here is if the OW movement does have any ethical duty to disclose something like that. If you take the side they do, then I’d hope you see that you should be taking the side that Church should be transparent too. If you take the side they don’t, then I hope you see that you should be taking the side that they don’t. But perhaps the case could be made either way.

  42. Reminder to readers:

    So far, OW intellectual leaders include the following:

    Margaret Toscano. Excommunicated.

    Kaimi Wenger. Inactive, questions the church, cafeteria Mormon, deliberately tried to mislead people about his lack of Church activity.

    Joanna Brooks, does not accept the truth claims of the Church, trying to change the Church, does not accept prophetic authority.

    Kate Kelly, refuses to answer pointed questions about her beliefs in the priesthood, the prophets and the Savior and whether the Church represents the restored Gospel of Christ.

    It is a free country (sometimes), and people can continue to associate with OW if they would like, but they should be under no illusions that the movement in any way represents “faithful Mormons.”

  43. I’d like to offer a hypothesis as to why Kate Kelly and her isotopes won’t answer certain questions. For example, to answer “yes” to the question “Did John the Baptist actually appear in person and give priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery?” would open up an epistemological can of worms that would essentially castrate (hee hee) their movement.

    If they answer “yes”, then they would have to answer why John the Baptist gave the priesthood to two men, and not a man and a woman. Obviously, they don’t want to have to address the implications.

    And of course, if they answer “No, I don’t believe that John the Baptist really came and gave priesthood to two males.”, well….the implications of that are equally disconcerting to their movement due to the bad juju that creates.

    So, it’s a lose/lose for Kate Kelly to answer a point blank question about believing in the Church’s literal truth claims. The safe course for her and her movement is to obfuscate.

  44. Yet another reminder: the temple recommend interview asks whether you associate with groups opposed to the Church. The OW movement is opposed to the Church. Do not risk your temple worthiness by associating with such a group.

  45. I’m always amused by that question, because I live in the world. I routinely associate with people who oppose the church, like the fellow at a technical meeting who started going off about his interaction with Utah Mormons during his graduate school days. I waded in and started talking, making clear I am a Mormon and people can be weird, but hopefully making a friend, or at least letting him know that he was dissing a religious group that included the sponsor who would be making the decision on whether to transition the technology he is working on.

    Not that I would ever make a technical decision based on the mental, emotional, physical, or social hygiene of the person who presents a technology. But being unhygienic in any of the many ways (including dissing people’s religion) isn’t a way to win friends and influence people.

    Another note – there’s associating with groups and then there’s associating with people. Margaret Toscano isn’t someone I’ve actually associated with, but her sister was in my ward and sends me Christmas letters and we were in book group together. So for me Margaret Toscano is the sister of my friend.

    Similarly Kate Kelley works in the same city I do and attends a ward whose building I frequently visit. I’m not sure I’ve seen her in the halls of that building, but if I did see her, I wouldn’t back myself up to the wall and make a big point of avoiding her.

  46. “Similarly Kate Kelley works in the same city I do and attends a ward whose building I frequently visit. I’m not sure I’ve seen her in the halls of that building, but if I did see her, I wouldn’t back myself up to the wall and make a big point of avoiding her.”

    Well I’m glad you’re a normal human being, Meg. I don’t know anyone who would actually act the way you’ve described, so let me ask: why bring up an obvious silliness?

  47. Michael, I really don’t have an issue with Meg’s comment. I think she is just reminding us of that side — she knows we’d all do that. Reminders like that are helpful if a situation gets heated precisely because they are obvious.

  48. If the Ordain Women movement wants to truly effect change, they are going to have to win hearts and minds, and specifically, the hearts and minds of folks like me who are naturally suspicious of movements utilizing the political agitation model that works so well at universities and special interest groups.

    In order to win over conservative folks like myself, they are going to have to engage in actual dialogue, complete with substantive arguments in favor of their position.

    Hiding behind feminist tropes like “male privilege” will do absolutely nothing to win the argument, because tropes aren’t arguments.

    If OW is serious — truly serious — about what they are doing, then I should expect that they would welcome any opportunity to change the heart of a guy like me. Instead, they ignore. And if they don’t ignore or marginalize, they attack.

    So, Ordain Women, this man, cloaked in “male privilege”, stands ready to talk, one on one, with any OW woman or person who wants to have an adult conversation utilizing some give-and-take. This is the only way that you’re going to gain actual respect.

  49. Excellent post.

    Kelly has made herself a public figure and one who goes out of her way to talk interviews with the press. It’s highly relevant as to what she believes since she’s making such a public brouhaha about not having the priesthood.


  50. One last thought: The church is being forced to become more transparent. That, in my opinion, is a very good thing. We should expect those, like Kelly, who are asking for changes to the church to be just as transparent. Hiding the truth makes it look like, well, you’ve got something to hide.

  51. FWIW I think the question is “Do you support, agree with, or affiliate with, any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to, or oppose those accepted by, the church….” To hang out and associate with non-members or even antis is not the issue. It’s whether you support them, agree with them, or affiliate with them, all of which have fairly distinct meanings. And what teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the church? That’s the subject of another post.

  52. So when someone asks me “Do you believe in the truth claims of the Church,” and I say, “I don’t know. I’m still trying to work that out,” does that automatically make what I have to say less valuable than someone who gives a flat out, “Yes”? Does that make me less of a Mormon? Does that make my concerns meaningless?

  53. “So when someone asks me “Do you believe in the truth claims of the Church,” and I say, “I don’t know. I’m still trying to work that out,” does that automatically make what I have to say less valuable than someone who gives a flat out, “Yes”? Does that make me less of a Mormon? Does that make my concerns meaningless?”

    No. It does mean that you have the courage of integrity and honesty, though, and that you’re not trying to play a game. Some of us appreciate that.

  54. I believe that private individuals have a right to keep their testimonies/beliefs private. I believe that once a person has chosen to become a public persona, then they are fair game for the questions they are asked.

    Questions zinged at Mitt Romney were generally fair game as a public person. The same questions shot out/about to his adopted grandchild, would not be.

    That the Church and scriptures teach us, in fact command us, to share our testimonies in all places and all times (Alma 18), also becomes an important point for private individuals. If you were to ask me those questions, I would say that I do indeed believe John the Baptist and Peter, James and John, among other angels, restored priesthood and keys to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. I believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and contains historical persons in it. I cannot say if every statement in it is historical or not. For instance Jacob taught that the Lamanites wore loin cloths and ate red meat in their hunter-gatherer lifestyles; while Ammon found civilized Lamanites that dwelt in cities and cared for sheep, etc. I’m not sure if one or both of these are correct, or wrong. However, I do believe that Nephi and Moroni were actual human beings.
    I do believe that President Monson, his counselors and 12 apostles are prophets, seers and revelators, and the only individuals on the earth holding all the keys of the priesthood. I do believe there is a “priesthood of all believers” based on faith and present in many churches, but it is different from the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, which come only through ordination by those authorized.

  55. “So when someone asks me “Do you believe in the truth claims of the Church,” and I say, “I don’t know. I’m still trying to work that out,” does that automatically make what I have to say less valuable than someone who gives a flat out, “Yes”? Does that make me less of a Mormon? Does that make my concerns meaningless?”

    Jen, this is an excellent and very important question. Of course it does not make you less valuable if you admit to questions. In many ways it makes you more valuable because you may be one of the lost sheep that the Savior asks us to leave the fold and go find. But the issue at hand is not whether you are more or less valuable. The issue at hand is: if you belong to a group that claims to be led by “faithful Mormons” and you are not a faithful Mormon but pretending to be one, you are being dishonest, and people should know about it. So, just to use a hypothetical, if Kate Kelly cannot honestly say she believes in the truth claims of the Church, she should come out and say that. In my opinion, it would show a tremendous amount of honesty and integrity for her to do this. But her position up until now is to emphasize the fact that she is a faithful Mormon, and we simply do not know if this is true or not.

  56. So when someone asks me “Do you believe in the truth claims of the Church,” and I say, “I don’t know. I’m still trying to work that out,” does that automatically make what I have to say less valuable than someone who gives a flat out, “Yes”? Does that make me less of a Mormon? Does that make my concerns meaningless?


    Of course your concerns are not meaningless. “I don’t know” is a perfectly reasonable answer.

    But saying that you do not know clearly changes the dynamics of what it means to want the priesthood and petition the prophets for it. What does it mean to petition for something that you aren’t even sure is real? What does it mean to petition a prophet for new revelation about women and the priesthood if you aren’t even sure if he is a prophet or has authority or that he is uniquely capable of receiving revelation? It also raises the question of what is meant by “faithful” members of the church?

    Here is the conundrum:

    Receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood involves an oath and covenant to receive the Lord’s servants . (See In part this means that you submit to the authority and direction of those to whom the Lord has given priesthood keys.

    But if you don’t believe that they have been given priesthood keys then it doesn’t even make sense to ask for the priesthood. Why would you want to covenant to submit to someone who you don’t even believe has authority?

    Trying to receive the priesthood by rejecting the guidance of the Lord’s authorized servants is a contradiction because the oath and covenant of the priesthood itself requires that we receive his authorized servants.

    Can you see how the answers to the questions posed by Bruce are relevant to the whole controversy– especially with regard to the leaders of the movement?

  57. I went to the “Ask Kate” form and submitted a few questions.

    I was reminded of the item that arose in September 1830, when Oliver Cowdery tried to tell Joseph what to do. D&C 28:6-7 basically tell Joseph (and Oliver via Joseph) that the individual in charge is the individual in charge. Others are welcome to advise, but no one is to presume to command the individual who leads the Church, for “no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant [the prophet], for he receiveth them even as Moses.”

    As for ordaining women, in July 1830, Joseph was told that Emma was to be “ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church.” (D&C 25: 7) Emma was ‘ordained,’ which is now termed ‘set apart,” and she did expound scriptures and exhort the church. And she didn’t need priesthood to do what she did.

    Michael Towns, you seem to be mad at me today. Not sure why. I think we’re on the same side on this.

  58. I’ll also chime in to respond to Jen regarding believing in the truth claims of the Church.

    If priesthood isn’t a unique power associated with the only authorized church and is merely a pre-requisite used to gate who can do what in one church of many, then it doesn’t matter if those who disagree with the leader(s) of the church proceed to badger, lobby, and shame those leaders into making that priesthood universal to eliminate gender differentiation that in some instances is presumed to lead to negative outcomes for one gender relative to another gender. This is analogous to a club and processes associated with joining the club.

    If, on the other hand, the Mormon church is, in fact, the only fully-authorized organ to effect the salvation of mankind through all generations of time and all peoples, then it’s not appropriate for those who disagree to claim to be supporters while vigorously working to badger, lobby, and shame the leaders to change. Such an organization is not a club, but something more controlled. Military analogies spring to mind, or other organizations with critical pre-requisites that have and maintain clear lines of authority.

    As for transparency, people can’t be transparent about stuff they don’t know. For example, it would not be possible for leaders of the Mormon church to publish a roadmap to female ordination to the priesthood. To paraphrase David O. McKay, an expection for such presumes that the leaders are in charge (rather than leading “as Moses”).

    That said, we all, as members, are encouraged to let those who lead know how we are impacted. There is a great deal of individual adaptation possible, even in an organization led by the divine. When that individual adaptation hurts, we are wrong if we don’t cry out for help. And if our hurts are not addressed by the organization, we can be agents unto ourselves to beautiful our corner of God’s garden.

    That said, beautifying our corner of God’s garden would not include arrogating to ourselves priviledges that are not ours.

  59. Meg,

    Me being critical shouldn’t be misconstrued as me being mad at you. It’s not personal at all. You’ll notice that I have made many supporting comments on your Faithful Joseph series. I am just irascible. Think of me like Dr. McCoy.

  60. ” Meg, “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer.” (TOS: “The Devil in the Dark”)
    …to which (Meg) Kirk replies, “You’re a healer, there’s a patient. That’s an order.” Speaking of healing all this pain, I asked what, at the end of a long listening session with a sister who was hurting and in pain over (insert topic), could be done? The answer: give me what I want. And that’s where I see all the calls for civility and niceness to be good, but ultimately, to be futile. When someone hinges their relief from pain on another person doing something (like ordaining women), and the person won’t or can’t dot it, the pain will remain. Unless the person in pain seeks solace in the great healer, Jesus Christ.

  61. “I’m just irascile.” followed up by IDIAT’s Star Trek quotes.


    There are pains and then there are pains.

    If a woman sees the church foundering because of lack of leadership, despite the availability of women who could lead, that woman can attempt to organize the women to assist. That’s how the Relief Society was founded, after all.

    If a woman longs to be the one to voice the blessing on her child’s head (or baptize her only child), then it’s a matter of setting expectations. Her pain has been caused by the difference between the actual world and an imaginary world that exists in her head.

    If a woman has been told she is of no account because she’s “just” a woman, then someone else needs to be calibrated on the equal regard God has for all His children. And the woman needs to be reassured of the actual gospel, that Christ saves all because all of God’s children are precious.

    Et cetera.

    When an individual is in pain, pray that:

    God grant you the words to explain the things you cannot change,

    The courage to change the things you can change,

    And the wisdom to know the difference.

  62. For those who haven’t seen it, the latest antics from the OW movement is to get as many women as possible to wear purple to the Women’s Meeting in two weeks.

    Question: Does this seem like the tactics of a spiritual organization or a political one?

    Based on their latest antics, it’s safe to say this group is not one truly interested in getting revelation from the brethren. It’s about applying as much pressure as possible to force change.

  63. The choice of purple must be because they like Tinky Winky.

    Or it could be because purple is the color used to represent gay and lesbian pride.

    Or it could be because Tinky Winky is a symbol of gay and lesbian pride.

    Or it could be because purple is the color you get when you mix blue and pink, colors recently associated with men and women respectively. Or the colors historically associated with women and men respectively.

    Or it could be because purple used to be a color reserved for the emperors of Rome, indicating power.

    Or it could be because they did a poll of those in the room when the idea came up and everyone had a purple shirt or outfit.

    In any case, it’s at least different from carrying white roses, the signature protest symbol of choice for a prior group.

  64. Now I am really angry. Purple is my favorite color. This is a clear micro-aggression.

  65. I guess the high standards of orthodoxy expected for women seeking to hold the priesthood exceeds that of many men who already do hold the priesthood.

  66. Meg, I think this is a brilliant comment:

    “If priesthood isn’t a unique power associated with the only authorized church and is merely a pre-requisite used to gate who can do what in one church of many, then it doesn’t matter if those who disagree with the leader(s) of the church proceed to badger, lobby, and shame those leaders into making that priesthood universal to eliminate gender differentiation that in some instances is presumed to lead to negative outcomes for one gender relative to another gender. This is analogous to a club and processes associated with joining the club.

    If, on the other hand, the Mormon church is, in fact, the only fully-authorized organ to effect the salvation of mankind through all generations of time and all peoples, then it’s not appropriate for those who disagree to claim to be supporters while vigorously working to badger, lobby, and shame the leaders to change. Such an organization is not a club, but something more controlled. Military analogies spring to mind, or other organizations with critical pre-requisites that have and maintain clear lines of authority.

    As for transparency, people can’t be transparent about stuff they don’t know. For example, it would not be possible for leaders of the Mormon church to publish a roadmap to female ordination to the priesthood. To paraphrase David O. McKay, an expection for such presumes that the leaders are in charge (rather than leading “as Moses”).”

  67. I’m having a hard time engaging with the topic of women’s ordination when the BN’s obnoxious behavior is so distracting. Who is he to demand an interview and then pout when he doesn’t get attention?

  68. Taylor, it is difficult for me to take your comment seriously when it is so obnoxious. Who are you to leave a comment demanding certain behavior from somebody else and then pouting when they ignore it?

  69. Some additional observations:

    Having spent (wasted?) 45 min watching the Salt Lake Tribune Hangout where Kate Kelly was front and center, I am left wondering whether Ordain Women is less about women’s roles in the Church and more about the ego needs of Kate Kelly. She comes across as very vain and self-centered.

    Secondly, along more theoretical lines: what if it were proven that ordaining women would actually hurt men’s roles in the Church? Would OW advocates still continue their crusade? By making the “priesthood” an “adult thing”, as opposed to an opportunity for males to bond and serve, it would without a doubt change the institution. The very nature of the Church would change. I think OW advocates know this. Their true desire is to fundamentally change the Church, because they no longer appreciate or believe in the status quo. Either they don’t believe the truth claims, or they really do believe that they are the special vanguard unit of more evolved, more “in tune” people in the Church. In other words, they are just laying the foundation for the eventual progressivization of the LDS Church. (And by progressive, I am talking left wing values.)

    Kate Kelly said something interesting in the Hangout. She indicated that her push for female ordination would not be a push to change the Relief Society as it is. She said that she wants to keep her treasured Relief Society experience since it’s her “favorite” part of Church. But her statement is illogical. You can’t change the nature of a thing and keep the thing as it was status quo ante. Put another way, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. But that is what she is apparently asking for. As a result I cannot take her seriously.

    I really expected some greater sophistication from a person who goes out of her way to tout her law degree. She’s obviously a smart cookie, but I have to wonder what her true aims and beliefs really are. She’s not being truly open, because contradictions abound.

  70. Hi Taylor,

    Not all of us chatting about this are “BN.”

    As I’ve pointed out, women are ordained routinely in the Church, in the sense that hands are laid on their heads to give them specific authority to fulfill callings.

    I think it would be instructive if we had many members of the Church who were Levites, with a right to preside as Bishops without being ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood. I can imagine they might object, claiming that they wanted to be ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood, to the office of High Priest, rather than be allowed to perform those callings as a mere Priest or Elder. They could argue that being excluded from the High Priest’s quorum in their Stake puts them at a disadvantage, cuts them off from opportunities, and limits their exposure to role models.

    Women have long poured their lives into Godly service. Like the hypothetical Levite, they are able to serve and administer and lead without the need for having an additional priesthood conferred on them. Like the hypothetical Levite, some women feel this cuts them off from opportunities and limits their exposure to role models.

    From my standpoint, allowing ordination to positions (being set apart) while maintaining a gender differentiation with respect to priesthood helps deconflict the ways in which men and women serve. In this manner, members of the Church are able to serve God’s children in an orthogonal manner, reducing confliction when two faithful individuals at the head of a family are anxiously engaged. The loving couples engaged in Church service tend to naturally respect each other, and will tend to avoid scheduling activities in a manner that would cause the need for both men and women to be away from their home base simultaneously.

    It’s like the way sine and cosine combine to create “an eternal round.” Cosine could wish to be sine, and point out that in almost every important way cosine and sine are similar. They oscillate with the same frequency, they have the same heights and depths. Why, then, cosine might ask, is sine allowed to rise as the ordinal increases from zero, while cosine is consigned to fall? Let us all be equal, cosine might agitate.

    But if cosine were sine, then there would be no way to express depth. The whole would collapse to a simple line, with limited capacity relative to the circular whole that was possible when cosine and sine existed in separate spheres.

    That was a completely math geek way to express this, and one might argue that in so many families where there isn’t gender differentiation at the head (e.g., divorced or widowed parents or those who have never been married), there is no “circle,” just limits on the purview of those single gender heads of household to engage in the work of The Lord.

    However we should also recall that in this Church one does not gain position by seeking it. One is called to serve. In my experience Stake Presidents and Bishops and Mission Presidents are as likely as not to have a subsequent calling as primary teacher for the 4 year olds or nursery assistant.

    Ironically, the entire tactic OW is employing is exactly the kind of strident tactic various men in Church history have taken, causing a need for such to be removed from service. One such case was Moses Thatcher in the late 1890s. So even if women were at some point given priesthood, those involved in OW have “trained” themselves to be thorns in the side of the organization, which is not the way the Church runs. The ideal is Zion, where we are one in heart and mind (c.f. Moses 7: 18). So were The Lord to decide to give priesthood to women, those who had agitated for this would be very unlikely to be the women called to serve in previously male-dominated roles.

    (I think it’s funny how my computer keeps correcting “the Lord” to “The Lord” in this comment.)

  71. Dear Meg,
    You have totally geeked me out, and thereby have gained a follower.

    That sin/cosine example is just awesome.

  72. “Yet another reminder: the temple recommend interview asks whether you associate with groups opposed to the Church. The OW movement is opposed to the Church. Do not risk your temple worthiness by associating with such a group.”

    I specifically asked about OW in my last Temple recommend interview, and was told they have nothing to do with that question. Perhaps you know better than my Stake President though Geoff.

  73. Tracy, your temple recommend interview is between you, your stake president and the Lord. The real emphasis is on you, however. If you don’t see a problem with a group that has been told by the Church to protest in the same area as the anti-Mormons, then that is your business. This same group directly opposes the modern-day prophets and asks members to oppose the prophets. I wouldn’t risk it personally, but it is your life and your eternal salvation at stake, not mine.

  74. Geoff, by pharasaically setting yourself up as judge and arbiter of other’s righteousness, “[risking] your life and your eternal salvation” is precisely what you’re doing. Unless you’re comfortable being judged as harshly as you do others, and don’t mind projecting an online image of someone I’d never want to meet in real life. In which case, have at it.

  75. Hey, if we keep this delightful banter up, we can get to 100 comments on this post.

    I looks like a couple of comments are worthy of retort.

    I will note that the word is “Pharisaical” – so please let us spell correctly and capitalize as required. For some reason that comment makes me want to say something about flinging metaphorical boogers. Except I wouldn’t want anyone to make an a priori decision to never want to meet me in real life.

    As for Stake Presidents, my interviews with such leaders indicates they are often a bit unaware of what’s going on along the “intellectual” front. I remember one stake leader, who is now a general authority, asking me quite honestly what had happened in the early 1990s. He really had no idea about the sturm and drang regarding the September Six, for example. Just to say that it’s actually possible that Geoff’s concern is valid, even though your Stake President didn’t think OW was an issue.

    So let’s go for it! 100 comments, here we come.

  76. It is absolutely hilarious that an Rolf would accuse me of being a “Pharisee” when I am saying the onus is on the person’s relationship with the Lord and clearly pointing out that I cannot judge, only that person can.

    In addition, we have the supposed non-judgmental Rolf saying he would not even like to meet me based on comments on a blog without catching the irony that he is the most judgmental person of all. Rolf, you are the reigning high priest of modern-day Pharisees!

    As I say, it is a typical liberal tactic to attack people trying to have conversations. This thread has been full of this behavior, and I am letting it slide so readers can see the Mormon liberal behavior in its full ugliness. My aim is not to convince any liberal activists, many of whom don’t even go to Church anymore and are taking their own difficult, painful paths. My aim is instead to help people see what the OW movement is truly all about: foul attempts to change the Church by people who don’t even believe in it.

  77. Regarding the excellent comment mentioning Levites, I think it’s rather cool that their having the Aaronic Priesthood by lineage, rather than needing to be ordained, is also in the handbook of instructions. I don’t know if we’ve actually ever found any Levites, but it could be discouraging to be told you’re going to be Bishop, no matter where you move, until you die (and maybe even after).

  78. Meg,

    Will you consider posting/expanding your Sine/Cosine parable as a stand-alone post? I think it is just excellent and would love to link to it separate from the context of this comment thread.

  79. Meg, I agree with Jmax that the parable would make a great post. Just an idea: you may also want to mention the Chinese concept of yin and yang, which is somewhat related to your example.

  80. I just want to remind people to be careful about not making this personal, even towards the OW leaders.

    Call me crazy, but if someone *doesn’t* believe in the truth claims of the Church, maybe it’s not so suprising they feel a need to find things to fix and change in the church since the church probably holds a lot less meaning for them based solely on its teachings alone. And maybe trying to judge them from our own point of view (i.e. “you should wait for a revelation”) makes little sense (i.e. if they don’t even believe in such revelations any more.)

    I think the issue at that point is really over the fact that maybe a voluntary organization shouldn’t be changed from within by people who aren’t sure they even believe in it. But that is a very different issue it seems to me then the way we’d tackle this when talking to someone that believes in ordaining women that also believes in the truth claims. (i.e. then “follow the prophet” statements make some level of sense.)

    As with most things, the ethics of the situation are complicated — or maybe not so much ‘complicated’ as ‘less than obvious’ unless you share all the same starting assumptions. We can at least acknowledge that there are no true villians here, only people with incompatible world views trying their best to do what they think is right but are doing it in ways that hurt the other side.

    I believe in the Popperian idea that even if we scream and yell at each other, we at least get to learn that there are people that feel very differently from us and that it always changes us just a little bit. We are a long ways off from truly understanding one another yet, but perhaps we’ve made just a little bit of progress by both sides raising issues and stating how strongly they feel.

  81. Bruce, I don’t disagree with anything you wrote above, but it does not change the fact that it is morally wrong for a minority who does not believe in a voluntary institution to try to change that institution over the will of the majority. The great thing about a voluntary institution (as opposed to an involuntary one) is that you can always go join another institution that is more to your liking. To attempt to impose your minority will on an institution that a majority enjoys is the very definition of bullying.

    This is why people who want to change the Church should follow the existing channels of the institution, i.e., they should discuss with their bishops and pray for change, but they should not take their disagreements public. It is obvious that the majority of people who become disaffected with this process eventually stop coming to Church, which is a shame but is preferable to attempting to bully other members into subscribing to a cause they do not believe in.

  82. Geoff, that is the big ethical question for me too.

    When I went to lunch with J Max I did point out to him that even this is a bit more complicated because, at least for children, we don’t have a lot of options. Obviously that is not a problem at all unique to the church but is rather just part of the nature of being a child. I saw a blog post form a woman that was teaching her daughter that while she was being raised in the church, she was to decide for herself what she believed. This was being presented as a sort of non-tyranny. Now, as it turned out, this woman — while still active in the church — got all her doctrinal beliefs from the Universal Unitarians. And you see where I am going with this — so in fact she was teaching her child to believe just like her. And she runs the same risks. If her child one day decides to become an Evangelical (or *gasp* a believing Mormon) she will find herself in the very same situation that any parent does that has a child go ‘wayward.’

    I call this ‘Symmetry’ where we attempt to solve a problem by reintroducing the same problem. We are far more alike than different because of this.

    I think that is what happens. Someone grows up in the church when they have few choices and ‘get indoctrinated’ (i.e. are taught by their parents the best their parents had to offer — choose to label as you will). Then they reach adulthood and make changes in their life and ‘become their own man/woman.’

    The thing that is so hard is that a person in this position may never truly realize that — now that they don’t believe, even if they think the church is good and worthwhile and they intend to stay in it — that they have now made an adult choice to say for whatever reason. They are now an adult. They are now making their own choices. No one is forcing them any more.

    A person that doesn’t believe has more options than a person that doesn’t. For example, a person that does not believe the Church has the only priesthood on earth and that all churches have ‘priesthood’ can legitimately go to any other church that ordains women and get ordained. Someone that believes the LDS Church alone holds the priesthood does not have that option.

    The activists forget this. They are quick to turn the above true statement into something it isn’t — a demand that they leave. Then they attack that straw man (i.e. “how dare you tell me to leave my own church!”)

    But if the Church is forced into change because Kaimi Wegner advocated ‘civil disobedience’ — AGAINT A VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATION THAT ISN’T KEEPING HIM THERE — Kaimi has now taken all people that the changes didn’t work for and given them no place at all to go. He had options, even if he didn’t choose them. They did not.

    How can there not be an ethical issue here, however complicated it may be?

    I suppose that’s why I see the beliefs of the OW leaders are directly important to the question — though obviously some people strongly disagree with me.

    Kaimi at least has a point in the case of wearing pants. Some may rather disagree with the tactics that come across as not so much a breach of decorum (is it even that?) but an attempt to attach women’s decorum (is it?) to a sort of rebellion against priesthood leaders that in fact never set any such standard in the first place. But at its heart, there is nothing wrong with wearing pants. So we should keep that in mind and temper our views.

    The case gets harder when we’re talking about lobbying for priesthood. I am just so much more sympathetic when we’re talking about believing women when non-believing ones. I can at least see where they are coming from in the first case. In the second case, it seems rather unethical. I expect OW is a mixture of both, and I guess I see that as OWs problem — they don’t see the obvious divide that exists between a sincere believing woman that just wants to be heard and isn’t sure how and including out right non-believers like Margaret Toscano and Kaimi Wegner himself who really have no beliefs at all blocking them from finding a church and religion that fits their beliefs better. OW lump it all in together and are suprised when this causes them issues and raises suspicions. But that really was just the natural consequence of choices they made.

  83. Btw, great quote off the comments of Kaimi’s post over at T&S:

    [quoting ordain women] As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.

    [Nathaniel Givens then says] That quote from the Ordain Women website… doesn’t separate between the public eye of other Mormons, and the public of the world in general. Someone could reasonably understand from this that OW intends to pressure the Church via publicly shaming and embarrassing it before the eyes of a world that, especially to conservative Mormons, is already seen as fundamentally hostile. It appears to be an alliance between OW and the non-Mormon community (especially socially liberal groups like the main stream media) on the one hand, and the Church on the other.

  84. Hi Bruce,

    I believe Kate Kelly has now done her Q&A session according to FMH. I have not had a chance to listen to it and honestly, I don’t see myself listening to the whole thing, but I wonder if your question or a question like yours was answered?

  85. Bruce, I think this is key:

    ” For example, a person that does not believe the Church has the only priesthood on earth and that all churches have ‘priesthood’ can legitimately go to any other church that ordains women and get ordained. Someone that believes the LDS Church alone holds the priesthood does not have that option.

    The activists forget this. They are quick to turn the above true statement into something it isn’t — a demand that they leave. Then they attack that straw man (i.e. “how dare you tell me to leave my own church!”)

    But if the Church is forced into change because Kaimi Wegner advocated ‘civil disobedience’ — AGAINT A VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATION THAT ISN’T KEEPING HIM THERE — Kaimi has now taken all people that the changes didn’t work for and given them no place at all to go. He had options, even if he didn’t choose them. They did not.”

  86. Geoff B. and Bruce, I think you overlook the paralells between theological progressives and the political progressives we have been observing of late. The endgame is winner-take-all; and I suspect that if you caught Wenger and some of the other OW ringleaders in a moment of true transparency they’d admit that the notion of their ideological opponents having “nowhere to go” is a feature, not a bug.

  87. JimD, I so can’t argue with you.

    I’ve long maintained that John Dehlin, in his own way, honestly does believe he is helping the church. He believes the end game that is predesinted for victory is his own moral worldview. (Say, complete acceptance of gay marriage.) Since that is where it is going anyhow, the Church will destroy itself if it doesn’t change, thus he is helping the church change and avoiding its destruction. (For those that want to object that the Church can’t be destroyed because God will protect it, bear in mind that John does not believe in any of the truth claims of the Church, so of course he wouldn’t agree with that. It’s not even clear that he believes in God.)

    But if you could strap John (or Kaimi) down and administer a truth drug and say “okay, so suppose it turns out that the Church can’t change its stance on gay marriage without destroying itself, are you still in favor of the Church making this change?” I really have little doubt both would say “Yes!”

    So you are right Jim, it’s a feature not a bug.

    However, that just makes it all the stronger a legit ethical issue.

  88. I suppose that means the same concern applies to OW. If we could sit the leaders down and ask “Suppose ordaining women in the LDS church does in fact hinder the Church’s growth and development, are you still in favor?”

    And of course whether they answer “yes” or “no” will entirely depend on whether or not they actually believe in the LDS church’s defining truth claims.

    So I again see your point, JimD.

  89. Dude, I missed all this cool chatter about me posting a separate post about sine and cosine because I was reading “I am Malala” for book group.

    Challenge accepted, post will go up sometime later today.

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