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The LDS Church meets feminism: the quest of Mormon women to be ordained
April 14, 2014 2:47 PM   Subscribe

An interesting look inside the Ordain Women movement seeking the priesthood in the LDS Church. This group of women are seeking the priesthood... not the priesthood that a Catholic bishop holds but a lay priesthood that would allow them to be on the same footing as their 12-year-old sons.
posted by timpanogos (22 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for posting this. There have been a lot of articles on this, and this one in the Atlantic is by far the most accurate and gives the most complete picture that I've seen.
posted by The World Famous at 3:39 PM on April 14


BTW, what makes it complete compared to other coverage is its clear explanation of the way the "priesthood" in Mormonism is structured and conferred, compared with other religions.
posted by The World Famous at 3:43 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


Seems relevant: recent "wear pants to church" activism.
posted by prefpara at 3:45 PM on April 14


Women can be hopeful? My initial reaction to entrenched patriarchy is fury. I have to pause, get my emotions in check and remember that change comes very slowly. The power imbalance between men and women in religion and in politics is grave. I often fear women are halfway through their lives before they recognize the truth of this and realize they've spent most of their efforts and their youthful capital supporting their own disenfranchisement.
posted by Anitanola at 3:48 PM on April 14 [14 favorites]


Gosh ladies, welcome to the real world. I attended a meeting at a Catholic church several years ago. There were over 100 women there; all were wearing pants/slacks except one woman who was wearing a skirt. She was Hispanic, and had come from work.
posted by Cranberry at 3:54 PM on April 14


The LDS church is nothing if not adaptable, and I expect that within a few years they will do a serious redirection on this issue. There's simply becoming too much pressure internally to keep the status quo unchanged.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:04 PM on April 14


The FAQ on the Ordain Women site is a good starting point for anyone who wants to dig a little deeper. Some brilliant women work on the site and the movement, and even the most conservative, ridiculous defenders of Mormon patriarchy I know have eased their position considerably upon actually reading the FAQ.
posted by The World Famous at 4:06 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Echoing TWF above. The Mormon* priesthood is all-encompassing and, shall we say, existentially intense within the cosmology. It is not merely the authority to speak for the church or for God, it is also held by many members to be a sort of Divine Theory of Everything in Mormonism**. Looking at it from that perspective you can see how big of a deal this is.

Also, this section of the Wiki article on LDS priesthood is pretty relevant to the issues at hand.

*Referring of course only to the largest branch of Mormonism, the one based in Salt Lake City. The second-largest branch, The Community of Christ (formerly the Re-Organized LDS church) gave women the priesthood back in the 1980s)
**Not that many would phrase it in quite this way; that was just the best short-hand comparison I could think up

posted by Doleful Creature at 4:16 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


The LDS church is nothing if not adaptable...

Hi. This is the opposite of what I have always thought. Would you mind giving some examples to illustrate this to me? Thanks!
posted by hal_c_on at 6:48 PM on April 14


Polygamy used to be the sine qua non of Mormonism. Now it is anathema to the LDS church based in Salt Lake City. (It is practiced by offshoots of course.)
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:25 PM on April 14




Yes, Mormons have revelations at convenient times. If you ask a Mormon about it, they'll say that God gave them the revelation exactly when they needed it.
posted by Hatashran at 7:30 PM on April 14 [3 favorites]


Huh, like Barb wanted to do on Big Love? Cool.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:30 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


Hatashran, that would depend entirely on which Mormon you ask. For example, that's not what I would say.
posted by The World Famous at 8:37 PM on April 14


Hi. This is the opposite of what I have always thought. Would you mind giving some examples to illustrate this to me? Thanks!

As mentioned, polygamy and race are the two obvious examples. There have been one or two really good threads about the LDS church and women here in the recent past and I think if you can find them you'll find it interesting.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:53 PM on April 14


I always thought it a bit ridiculous when some acne-face teenager wore a name tag that said "Elder", but I was shocked (and incensed) when I found out that all men - but no women - were priests. The Mormons haven't come by in a very long time (maybe the rainbow flag in the window discourages them), but I always planned that when they did, I would just tell them that I would never even consider joining a church with that kind of gender bias.

But since then, I've found a nice synagogue with a female rabbi - but she doesn't disapprove of male rabbis, so that's fine.
posted by jb at 8:56 PM on April 14


If you ask a Mormon about it, they'll say that God gave them the revelation exactly when they needed it.

Some would say that it comes when you ask.
posted by weston at 9:28 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


i think that what needs to be said, is that women in lds contexts know, and weild adroitly soft power, and that is legitatmate power.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:23 PM on April 14


soft "power" (I would say that it is no power, only an easily ignored influence) is no replacement for simple equality.

if soft power is so great, why don't the men of LDS switch places? Women will be priests, make all decisions, let men do lots of work but make sure that they always have to report to a woman, but the men will wield the "real power".
posted by jb at 10:35 AM on April 15 [6 favorites]


I'm not a Mormon, but I don't have the impression that Mormon women are after "power" (leaving aside the idea of separate-but-equal "soft power"). They want to be able to be full members of their church and do all the things they think God wants them to do, and not be excluded from tasks because of their gender.

I have a female relative who wanted to be a priest (Episcopalian, not Mormon), because she was devout and wanted to serve. She wasn't able to back then, and that eventually drove her from her church.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:39 AM on April 15


I'm sorry, but the idea of "soft power" is just incredibly patronizing. LDS women should be able to participate fully in their own religion, at every level.

From a fantastic interview from several years ago with Chieko Okazaki, former 1st Counselor in the LDS Church's General Relief Society Presidency (seriously, read the whole interview if you have time):

Chieko Okazaki: We asked one time if we could be on the building committee
and the temple committee, because sometimes we think, “Why
did they build it this way?”—because it doesn’t work very well for
the women’s needs. And we wanted to be on the temple committee,
because there are many things that affect women in the temple.
But we were never allowed to be a part of those committees. I
think we could help a great deal, but you have to have leaders in
the Church who are willing to make that possible.

Greg Prince: Do you see that as perhaps coming from beneath?
That as you have new generations of women who are the wives of
bishops and stake presidents, and who are ward and stake Relief
Society and Young Women leaders, that they are going to grasp
the reins a little bit stronger than their predecessors?

Chieko Okazaki: I have to say that, in my sixty-four years in the
Church, I sometimes see a little bit of a change that the women
themselves prompt, but most of the time, I haven’t seen women
who would make that change possible. Wherever I go, I think that
they already know their place. Maybe they’d be able to be more
open if there were open-minded bishops or stake presidents who
would listen to some of the feelings and the ideas of the women.
But when women get the message that their job is to be supportive
and just agree with the decisions of the bishop, they become
clams.

Greg Prince: Should the Relief Society president sit in on bishopric
meetings?

Chieko Okazaki: It would be a great idea. They are in the council
meetings, but in many council meetings the person who is in
charge is the only one who is talking. I’m on several community
boards, and sometimes I’m the only woman there or one of two or
three women. I’m on the YWCA advisory board; I’m on the advisory
board for the University of Utah Graduate School of Social
Work; and I’m on the Belle Spafford Chair board. If I got the message
that I was supposed to just sit there and listen to the men, I’d
quit that board. I’d say, “What am I here for?” I speak up a lot in
all of these board meetings.

In contrast, in 1995 when “The Family: A Proclamation to the
World” was written, the Relief Society presidency was asked to
come to a meeting. We did, and they read this proclamation. It
was all finished. The only question was whether they should present
it at the priesthood meeting or at the Relief Society meeting.
It didn’t matter to me where it was presented. What I wanted to
know was, “How come we weren’t consulted?”

Greg Prince: You didn’t even know it was in the works?

Chieko Okazaki: No. They just asked us which meeting to present it
in, and we said, “Whatever President Hinckley decides is fine with
us.” He decided to do it at the Relief Society meeting. The apostle
who was our liaison said, “Isn’t it wonderful that he made the
choice to present it at the Relief Society meeting?” Well, that was
fine, but as I read it I thought that we could have made a few
changes in it.

Sometimes I think they get so busy that they forget that we are
there.
posted by The World Famous at 10:40 AM on April 15 [4 favorites]


LDS women should be ordained, and if you believe the Toscano's they were in the 19th century. LDS's view of ordinaiton makes the rites they enact more complicated than Anglican or Catholic ordinaiton, for example mothers blessings, the ability to speak in church, the relief society and the primary presidency, temple rituals, garments, being missionaries, and even the propehtic quality of work like Eliza Snow or Lucy Mack Smith. Acknowedging complexity and refusing over simplifying does not mean that I do not think that deacons should be girls and boys.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:08 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


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