Top 5 Reasons That Letter from Public Affairs Broke My Heart

Here’s the letter from LDS Public Affairs Spokeswoman Jessica Moody. Here, with Mormonads, is why I’m so disappointed…

1. We can make room for everyone. “Some wonderful conversations have been held over recent years, and are continuing to be held, relative to women in the church…” Wait, by who? I think it’s fair to disclose what’s being discussed and who is discussing it, and in fact, we could make room for a few more viewpoints. I don’t know who is having those conversations or what they involve, but I do know that many of the women asking to be included are being deliberately excluded. I’ve come to expect more from the church I love. Make room for everyone. Look around. Is someone starving spiritually or socially because your group has turned its back?

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2. We don’t belittle. Our four-year-old is our wildcard, and I say that with a lot of love. The go-to tricks to pacify her when I have zero intention of taking anything she’s saying seriously are to (a) acknowledge (“I know you never want to exit the vehicle again, and those concerns have been noted” or “I realize purple makes you angry. I will take that into consideration.” ) and (b) redirect with a bit of distraction (“Look! There’s a ball outside the car! Hop out and let’s go see!” or my favorite, “Want some gum?”) The old acknowledge-redirect one-two is fine for a preschooler but downright maddening when used with grown-ups who want to have a meaningful conversation. When Moody says, essentially, “We are unable to fulfill your request for tickets. You’re welcome to join the Women’s Meeting!” it sounds/looks/feels like “Hmmm, sorry, don’t care. Want some gum?”  The women involved here may be many things, but they aren’t four.

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3. Labels hide people. OW has clarified many times that they’re a group of faithful women and that their request for tickets is not a protest. No signs, no shouting, no nothing, just reverent women asking for a seat at the table. For Moody to repeatedly use inflammatory language (“Activist events like this…” and “If you feel you must come and demonstrate”) just seems mean, and to relegate so many faithful RMs and moms and grandmothers to “the free speech zones adjacent to Temple Square,” lumping them in with so many garment-burning, vitriol-shouting people who identify as Anti-Mormon is both cruel and inaccurate. I know how tempting it is to label people you don’t understand or that threaten you, and I’m sure that LDS Public Affairs is concerned and on the spot. I also firmly believe what I’ve been taught for years: that as followers of Christ, “we know that behind each tag is a real person with feelings, hopes and dreams. So use the designer’s label–Child of God.”

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4. We don’t follow the crowd. I am shocked and saddened at how much the “you’re a tiny group” argument has taken hold in this discussion. Moody said, “Women in the church, by a very large majority, do not share your advocacy…” I’ve known since early primary that many times, when you stand up for what you believe in, you stand alone. The Savior has a legacy of reaching out to those in the minority, and while we don’t know everything about His life and ministry, we know enough to say that the ninety and nine didn’t determine His behavior toward the one. The argument that “hardly anyone agrees with you” or “most people think this is extreme” or “you’re a teensy fraction” has no place in this discussion, let alone as a substitute for substantive reasons. Popularity is overrated. Sometimes the crowd is just plain wrong.

popularity 5. It’s more important to be nice. I’m confident that LDS Public Affairs Department isn’t sure how to handle this, and I know they’re important. To say that year-long efforts to bring women’s roles in the church to the forefront “detracts from the helpful discussions that Church leaders have held as they seek to listen to the thoughts, concerns and hopes of women inside and outside Church leadership” is needlessly dismissive and unkind. This could be a helpful discussion. The only thing that’s preventing this discussion from becoming helpful is that Church leaders are NOT seeking to listen to the thoughts, concerns and hopes of these women. To say, in essence, that what these women are saying is just noise that takes away from what the VIPs are trying to discuss is flat-out mean. In the Lord’s Church, we are all VIPs and our sincerely held views and perspectives should all be welcome. I’m disappointed to see this group dismissed so summarily. I grew up with this MormonAd in my scriptures:

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107 thoughts on “Top 5 Reasons That Letter from Public Affairs Broke My Heart

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! To read this brings tears to my eyes, after two days of such vitriol. You have expressed such kindness and thoughtfulness and gentleness, characteristics that were regularly demonstrated by our Savior, Jesus Christ. God bless you and your caring soul.

  2. This may be my favorite summary of the many, many…many I have read. I’m pretty sure it’s the heaping dose of kindness. So, thank you! I needed this today.

  3. You are a gazillion kinds of awesome. Your post is wise and kind, and I appreciate that you evaluate the letter without even taking a position on Ordain Women.

  4. I love this. Thank you so much for writing it. I, too, was heartbroken by the Church’s PR statement. It seemed incredibly dismissive and marginalizing–the exact reason that Mormon Feminists feel to make their voices known through unorthodox means. Sadly, they’re perpetuating the problem…

  5. Pingback: Shall I Lament God’s Impotence, Decry His Immorality, or just Denounce Mormonism? | Irresistible (Dis)Grace

  6. Thank you so much for your caring and kindness; it’s like a soothing salve on an old wound. Thank you for taking the time to record your response to such a hurtful letter. I am a faithful member of the LDS church and a supporter of Ordain Women – I can be both! I appreciate your goodness.

  7. Really beautifully written and well thought out. I love the clever use of our own Mormonads to counter the unkindness. Thanks for posting this.

  8. This does not make me happy! What words would you have liked Public Affairs to use? We have two special meetings for conference. One is designed for the women of the church and one designed for the men. If you are a male you go to the male meeting, if you are female you go to the one for the females…??? Be careful when you start twisting the good principles taught to fit your own agenda. I don’t understand why there are women of the church making such an issue about something so petty. If you really look closely at the things that are happening in our world you will see a devaluing of our men. Yes, I agree that women have much talent in areas of leadership. But we really need to bolster up our men not take away their value.

    • I appreciate you asking! The concerns I articulate in this post are more about tone than substance. I would have loved to hear a bit more kindness and inclusiveness, and I’m prayerful and confident we’ll all hear a gentler tone from LDS Public Affairs going forward. If considering the idea of ordaining women is off the table, and if the group will not be allowed into the priesthood session, I would be pleased with a response like, “While we are unable to accommodate your request for tickets, and while women’s ordination is unlikely, we commend your prayerful efforts to help our Church. Instead of seeking admission to the priesthood session this conference, we hope you’ll join us for…” and then an invitation to a sit-down discussion, or an email address to send concerns, or a contact for future discussions, really any sort of forum for inviting input. Those are the principles I’ve been raised with and ones I can get behind.

      • I would hope that you would trust our Prophet, who, if you believe in the Gospel, know that he talks personally with our Heavenly Father. Instead of causing unhappiness among so many women, why don’t you use Faith, Humility and love, and honor our Heavenly Father and our Prophet. Unrest, questioning our Prophet and his responses to your questions, unhappiness when you don’t get your way…these are areas that Satan can really use to bring unhappiness and unrest to female members if this bandwagon continues. If and this is a big if…Heavenly Father ever desires for his daughters to hold the Priesthood…it will be on his terms and in his time frame. All the demonstrations, letters, demands, etc. will not force him to do what you think is your right. Do you really think that if your voice is loud and you gather MANY sisters to your campaign that Heavenly Father will relent and hand over the Priesthood to his daughters? I think not. I, as a daughter of my Heavenly Father am proud to be his daughter. I don’t want to be his son! I know that I share the Priesthood with my eternal companion…and I know that without me he cannot attain the Celestial Kingdom. I honor my Heavenly Mother and my heart hurts every time I hear about this campaign for Women to hold the Priesthood. In the meantime you are bringing ugly messages to the world. You are causing people that already look down on our religion to add to their hate. Really, you are all a small minority in comparison to the many Sisters who do not believe in your ideas and wants. The rest of us stand strong and with a desire to serve our Heavenly Father in every way he desires. We don’t question our Father in Heaven nor do we question his Prophet. I pray every day that he will touch your hearts and your very intelligent minds with peace and love. That you will know if your desires are righteous. What would you do if President Monson did sit down with you and listened to every word you had to say…and then told you that Heavenly Father would not entertain your desires? Would you stop or would you continue to lament that President Monson is unfair to all of you and your movement. I believe that President Monson is listening to Heavenly Father and is giving you your answer. In this way you may still cry foul, but you cannot claim that he is unfair in his words. Sometimes silence is an answer from Heavenly Father.

      • I’m still not sure that a difference in the words would have assuaged the OW movement. I respectfully disagree.

      • I really don’t understand the difference between “We are unable to fulfill your request for tickets. You’re welcome to join the Women’s Meeting!” & “Instead of seeking admission to the priesthood session this conference, we hope you’ll join us for…”
        It sounds exactly the same to me.

    • “I don’t understand why there are women of the church making such an issue about something so petty.”

      Well, part of the reason why the OW issue is important is because the Priesthood of God is referred to as “something so petty” within the context of discussion about the tone and language of the Church’s PR response to OW’s request for tickets to the Priesthood session of General Conference. That’s a problem in and of itself.

      • I’m pretty sure that they are referring to women wanting to get tickets as being petty, not that the Priesthood is petty.

    • I agree with you completely. I guess I am one of the majority in the church spoken of in the letter, but I love that men have their meetings and responsibilities and women have ours! Why are roles getting so jumbled that no one knows anymore who should be doing what in the world. Let’s let Heavenly Father lead this church his way and either believe and obey or make your choice. The first law of the Gospel is obedience!

    • But..males go to the female meeting, preside over it and are the keynote speakers at it. It’s not exactly a “female meeting.”

      • You use the word “males” as if it’s your average Joe Blow attending. Let’s remember who you’re referring to…our beloved prophet presides over all meetings he attends. Why would it be different at a “female meeting?

        Please help me understand…in your eyes, because a male is attending a Relief Society meeting that it should give females the right to attend a Priesthood meeting? And how does this effect your righteousness…your salvation…your eternal progression?

        Please help me understand because I just don’t see it.

  9. Do you not understand that the doctrine of the church doesn’t change? And the doctrine says only men have priesthood. This is whether you like it or not. It’s not about equality, It’s about the doctrine.

    • do you understand she didn’t say she was supporting/against the movement? Do you understand that Christ’s teachings, to love your enemy, don’t change? To leave the 99 to find the 1? Whether you like it or not. Its the doctrine.

    • “the doctrine of the church doesn’t change”

      That’s not really accurate. There are several doctrinal issues that have changed, one of the most recent and most noted being black males receiving the Priesthood. The focus of my example is not on that they were males, but that they were black, which used to be a disqualifying element for ordination to the Priesthood.

      • Blacks and the priesthood was not a doctrinal issue, as discussed here: http://ow.ly/uMSiG. That doctrine hasn’t changed. As I’ve been teaching the Old Testament to my Primary class I realize more and more that the doctrine does not change. People try to change it, and they often lose their place when they do so. See a Talmudic commentary on Melchizedek (Malki Tzedek) for a prime example of changing things and the consequences.

      • I’m a guy and I’m not going to dismiss you, but I do feel the need to respond to you. You say you’re convinced that doctrine never changes. I say I’m convinced that you have never read “This Is My Doctrine” by BYU professor Charles Harrell.

        Keep an open mind–check it out sometime–but please don’t embarrass yourself by being so rigid and dogmatic about something so clearly not true (such as that doctrine never changes).

        http://gregkofford.com/products/this-is-my-doctrine

    • Hi Kim, I appreciate your response. You may have noticed I didn’t even address doctrine or policy or even priesthood in this post. My concerns are specific to the tone of the letter from LDS Public Affairs. We can lift the tone of this whole discussion. I believe in us.

      • I do hear what you’re saying, and appreciate you trying to be just as civil as the church asks us to be.

    • Kim,

      As a scholar of Mormon history, I can tell you that Church policy and doctrine have changed more times since 1830 than could possibly be written here. I’ll just mention a few examples: From 1830 to the early twentieth century, it was common practice for Mormon women to administer healing blessings to others through the laying on of hands. In 1890 W ilford Woodruff issued the manifesto that led the Church to abandon its long held tenet of polygamy. In 1978 another official declaration extended the priesthood to black men. Before that time, black members were not even allowed to receive the saving ordinances of the temple. In short, we profess to be a Church that believes in the principle of continuing revelation. Each change in our history came when people asked questions.

      • Asking questions is fine, as long as we are willing to accept the answer the Lord gives us, even if it’s not what we want to hear.

        Remember that story about Martin Harris? Even when Heavenly Father lets us have our own way instead of listening to him, it doesn’t end well.

  10. I usually don’t leave comments, but your blog post has popped up several times on my FB feed. I know several women who are involved with OW, and I consider them dear friends, so I am sympathetic to their concerns.

    That being said, I think that you have taken a polite, albeit benign statement and twisted it to make it sound mean and exclusionary of which it is not. Every point you made was an assumption and a jump. There was nothing populist, exclusionary or mean about the statement from the church. The OW women want to protest? Go ahead! We have a place for that. You want to attend a meeting? Please do! This is when the meeting is. The fact that OW is a minority is exactly that, a fact. Not a judgement.

    Please consider what you say and how you say it. It makes you sound paranoid and victimized, neither of which I am sure you are.

    • Just because you feel that way does not mean that everyone should feel that way.
      Each person is entitled to their feelings and the words in this letter were hurtful to many people.
      It doesn’t matter of you don’t think they should be. They do.
      Instead of calling them babies an acknowledgment of their feelings would be great.
      Maybe a little sympathy. “I’m sorry that this hurt you. It sucks and I’m sorry.”

      • I’m afraid that if I said “I’m sorry this hurt you,” no matter how sincerely I said it, it would be taken as condescending, patronizing, or at the least, sympathetic but not empathetic. I’m afraid my friends’ responses might be, “Well, I don’t want your sympathy. I want change.”

        That said, I am sorry for how this has hurt sisters. Genuinely sorry. I also did not get from the statement the same things that prudypolly did, and feel that the way she attached mormonads to them seemed to twist the mormonads, since there are some ways in which we cannot be fully inclusive, like in who is allowed to attend the temple. Allowing temple attendance is not meant to be exclusionary as though temple goers are an elite part of the church. It is simply set up so we can prepare ourselves spiritually; there’s a rubric for what helps us to gain that level. Anyone and everyone is invited to come, in that case, but there is a process to meet that.

        My personal opinion is that in the church opening up the priesthood session to be viewed online in real time is already a large action to show they they do hear and consider internet viewpoints (the “new” way for viewpoints to be able to be discussed virally, thus allowing thousands more to weigh in on those viewpoints).

        Still, I am genuinely sorry for the hurt that so many sisters feel, and especially them feeling marginalized. I feel only kindness toward all of you that I disagree with.

    • Ann, I love what you wrote. And I agree completely. I thought the letter was kind and heartfelt. If I would have written it, I probable would have said something along the lines of this: “If you sustain the Prophet and truly believe that he is the Lord’s spokesman on this earth, then why are you repeatedly trying to petition with The Lord? You asked, the brethren said no.”

      Where is the line between faithfully asking and defiantly disobeying? You say your stance is “non-negotiable.” If the church used that term with you, you would be up in arms about it.

      I really do wonder how many of the OW women actually attend the general women’s meeting? Don’t belittle the rest of us who actually feel valued and heard in the church just because you don’t. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the doctrine.

      • I agree with Ann, Kimbooly, & Tiffany.

        To me, it seems like this post is looking for animosity that isn’t there.

        “If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.” -Abraham Lincoln

    • I disagree. I do not call myself a feminist, and I am not involved with Ordain Women, however I was shocked by the response of the church to these women. I have many friends who struggle with inequality in our church, they are just as valuable as you or I.

      As a spokeswoman for the church, Sister Moody has an important role to set the tone of how anyone different should be treated. Suggesting that members who are different are not welcome on Temple Square has opened the door for a flood of hostility and invitations for these women and men to leave the church. This is in direct conflict with the teachings of Jesus Christ and his apostles (Has everyone forgotten Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk from last conference? I suggest you read it again).

      To those people who are suggesting that if women have a problem with their role, they should just leave, let me assure you, they are. One woman I served with in the Primary Presidency (she was the president) she also served as Relief Society President for several years and as a extremely talented musician, was very involved in ward and stake musical endeavors, struggled with many of these same issues until one day, she just had her, her husbands, and their four children’s names removed and hasn’t been to church since. It is our loss.

      I agree that if they don’t want them on temple square or to ever hold the priesthood, a invitation to meet and discuss many of the reasonable requests on their petition would have been much more appropriate.

      This treatment of members is not in line with the church I grew up in, and if it continues, I will be first to sign the petition and join them.

      • Here is the problem with meeting with those with opposing viewpoints and “discuss many of the reasonable requests”– it then reinforces that the church can or should change based on public social pressure and petitions, rather than on divine revelation. While public social pressure in general has helped church leaders to reconvene and continually pray for divine revelation, which will be your response to me, I personally think there are better ways to go about expressing concerns and requests.

        I don’t know. I don’t know what the answer is. I do know that even if I wasn’t happy with the statement, I feel strongly enough in my testimony of church leaders trying to do their best in seeking & interpreting revelation, that I would then accept their stance, and if I felt I had personal revelation about further change, I don’t know. I would probably recognize that I could be aware of the future change without going against the current decision made.

        There is a big difference between “sustaining” church leaders, and completely agreeing with their decisions. We are taught to reason it out in our own minds and pray about it. One can disagree without speaking evil of the church leader/s, and we can still respect and sustain them while speaking of our concerns.

        But in this case, the statement was given, and then it’s my belief that I put some faith into their efforts to make changes, and respect that they’re trying to do their best.

      • Your words express my feelings perfectly. I don’t feel a need to attend priesthood session, however, the leaders should be treating these women with more respect.

    • Hi Ann, Thanks for your comment. I’m surprised to hear that you think I’m being paranoid and victimized. I don’t feel either of those things so your description doesn’t resonate with me. What I feel is disappointment in how this discussion is playing out. My aim is not to twist any statements; I’m just trying to articulate my feelings and why reading that letter from LDS Public Affairs filled me with sadness. The OW folks don’t want to “attend a meeting” nor do they, as I understand it, “want to protest.” I’m hopeful we’ll all see more thoughtful, open-hearted public responses going forward.

      • I hope that my words do not make you feel labeled or shunned. I hope they have been respectful even though I didn’t get the same message that created so much heartache for you. I hope I don’t come across as dismissing your feelings, nor the feelings of other women who are also upset and feel marginalized. I have stated my own opinion, but I am sorry for all the hurt. I really am, and I respect that your perspective is different from mine.

  11. Sorry Kim the doctrine does in fact change. Having a living prophet means we believe in continuing revelation. The church used to state being gay was a personal behavior choice. It now states that same sex attraction is something people are born with. Not to mention polygamy, blacks holding the Priesthood, changes to the temple ceremonies, etc. Doctrine can and does change.

  12. Thank you for this.
    It doesn’t matter if these women are wrong or right or of you agree with them or not. Its not anyone’s job to argue with or be dismissive of their feelings; to them or tell them they are being petty, dumb, or should have their recommends taken or leave the church.
    Its also not the church’s PR departments job.
    There should be a kinder dialogue.
    No one is demanding anything. We are asking with respect and hope to be treated with respect and love in return, much like Christ would act.

    • I read the letter a few times. The Church is asking YOU with respect to NOT protest at this Conference. If you must bring your message to Conference- they have pointed out a place where you are welcome to share your message. This is private property and the Church reserves the right to determine what activities they will allow according to the purposes of the event.

      The purpose of General Conference is to go LISTEN to the Lord through his chosen messengers. This is the time to listen. We come with humble hearts and open ears and we come to listen. It is not the time to go and ask for a stage to speak.

      If the desire of OW was to simply hear the Priesthood session they would be fine listening from home. They are going to communicate something and that will compete with and distract from what the the Lord is communicating through his servants.

    • There is nothing respectful about the way OW is doing this.

      This letter WAS kind. People have to find problems where there are none.

      And really, how many times do they need to say no? Your demand (yes DEMAND), was acknowledged. You received a response you didn’t like, & you keep pushing. It speaks volumes about OW’s true intent.

      Everything about this is disrespectful to the Lord, at that’s at best.

      You are CHOOSING to be hurt and offended. Just more fuel for the fire in your eyes. It’s an excuse to continue this despicable agenda.

  13. I am kind of in agreement with Ann. I read that letter from PR over and over and I found it to be objective, to the point, and a direct answer to your question. Let’s take a step back and look at their point of view…the church is being asked something that they have either 1) not received direct revelation about or 2) they have received revelation about and the answer is “no.” So how do they go about telling a group of such passionate, intelligent, wonderful women in OW, “no.” It would be hard, and no matter how you phrase it, someone would be offended or irritated because it is not the outcome you hoped for, that is just human nature right? to be disappointed. That is understandable. I love you women and admire that you had the guts to “ask” and anyone that degrades or belittles you is not being kind, I agree with that. The Prophet and his Apostles love you, have you ever seen President Monson get up to speak with hatred or disregard in his voice towards anyone…no! You are loved and of great value to our church!

    • I know that everyone has a different approach of what they feel is reasonable, much like in parenting.
      Its fine if this letter was fine to you. It’s okay to not really understand why what was said was hurtful.

      The bottom line is that you can’t tell people that they shouldn’t be hurt by this. Or even that you don’t understand why they are.

      As a parent I always try to validate my child’s feelings. Even if I think they are being dramatic or over reacting, those feelings are still coming from somewhere.

      Let’s not dismiss people’s real feelings just because we don’t agree with them. Just let them know that you are aorry they were hurt by this and that you as a sister in the gpspel care about them and know that Christ cares about them.
      That’s it. That is all that needs to be said.

    • Hi Leah, Thanks for your thoughts on this. Though I am not part of OW, I agree that this puts the church in a tough spot. I wrote a bit about another experience I had that seems relevant here (https://prudypolly.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/seekfirst/) because I think this LDS Public Affairs response is stifling the conversation a bit prematurely and that this exchange will only, as they say, up the ante. What are the greater concerns of the women of OW? What life experiences shape who they are and what they’re doing? Do they offer valuable perspectives that higher-ups may not be attuned to? I think so. I think that’s likely worth a discussion. I know the prophets, apostles and other leaders love all of us, and my hope and prayer is that instead of trying to stifle this conversation dismissively, our leaders (or at least the LDS Public Affairs department) might consider this is an opportunity to gather useful info. That’s why I found the letter a bit heartbreaking.

  14. Point 1 – I would guess that those who received this letter would know what discussions were taking place. I would guess it to be those “formally” in the group (not just the supporters of the group), and if the formal group wants to discuss the discussions taking place, I’m sure they will.

    Point 2 – I don’t see an acknowledge-redirect here. I see points being connected. Thanks for asking for the tickets, but just as we don’t give tickets to your husband for the women’s session, we are just as unable to give you tickets for the men’s session. They have their session, you have yours.

    Point 3 – Not a protest, except that I’ve seen all over facebook preceding past General Conferences that women were encouraged to protest outside the Conference Center, or to wear pants to church, or demonstrate in various ways because they want the priesthood. To deny that this tactic has been employed in the past is disingenuous. I feel that the church has been very gracious in asking to please keep any protests or demonstrations in the proper area, as it DOES distract from the spirit for those trying to attend. Why on earth would this be any problem? I think you may be taking offense here where it was not at all intended.

    Point 4 – Sometimes the crowd is just plain wrong. Sometimes the minority is just plain wrong. A tiny group of people has asked for consideration in a matter. The consideration has been given and answered. When consideration is given, the answer isn’t always going to be the “yes” that you were hoping for. Heavenly Father has revealed that what you’re asking for is not to be at this time. For the sake of all of us women who aren’t asking for something that He doesn’t currently see fit to give, (this may be for our good rather than to our detriment) please don’t beg and plead until you get the answer you want. It hurts your cause. Also, in this example, of course we and Christ would all leave the 99 to go searching for the lost 1. But, when 99 want one thing and 1 wants another, it’s not the same. Going by your example, 99 are lost while you, the 1, is there in front of the Shepherd.

    Point 5 – Protesting, shouting, making demands of those in leadership positions IS distracting. I don’t know how they could have said what they wanted to say any more kindly than they did. When you want something, it’s important to speak kindly through the proper channels. Go to your bishop or stake president. Write letters TO the church rather than AT the church through blog posts and facebook unrest and public displays of your displeasure (wear pants to church days). Getting news coverage isn’t the nice way of going about things. How would you have preferred this to have been written?

    Over all, I do believe that this was all answered rather clearly in the last General Conference. The Lord has not granted your request right now. Go home, pray over it, pray to know if this was truly the answer the Lord has given, and then abide by the decision. Try again in a few years, if you’d like. But the constant pressure ends up appearing as women nagging for more-than-equal status. Right now, I DO feel like we’re all equal. Women are represented in what you call the VIPs. Women have their own conference session while men have their own. Women have a very strong and admirable role in the church right now, as do men. But they are separate. Separate does NOT mean lacking equality. Please, abide by the Lord’s decision. Stop shouting and making demands. It makes the whole church look bad when the disgruntled few are so loud.

    I promise I am being inquisitive and not judgmental, but WHY do some women want the priesthood? Do you feel slighted? Do you want more responsibility? Do you feel that it would bring more inspiration? What is behind the desire? I know “equality” is generally stated, but I don’t feel at all less than equal, or that I need “the same” to be equal. Would “the same” include men attending Relief Society? What is the desired outcome and solution?

    Men and women are innately different. Being the mother of both boys and girls, I have noticed MANY times that no one has to tell boys that they’re boys, or girls that they’re girls. They naturally take to certain attitudes, behaviors, and characteristics that have become associated with the different (not unequal) genders. I think it is admirable that the LDS Church recognizes this rather than dismissing it, and then unifies each gender’s roles separately rather than blending them where there is no need.

    • VHJ,

      I loved your well thought out rebuttal to this post. I consider myself to be an extremely confident, self-assured, headstrong LDS woman and I have never felt belittled or less than in the church in any way. I can be somewhat sympathetic to their feelings because obviously somewhere along the way these women have felt and continue to feel marginalized in some way. (Not all men exercise their priesthood in righteous and loving ways, and those instances where that may happening are due to influences of MAN, not God.) However; I can honestly say I just don’t get where these women are coming from. Our gender roles are sacred and from a loving Heavenly Father who knows and wants what is best for us as His children. Not to be too simplistic or dismissive, but…if LDS women were meant to have the Priesthood, then we would already have it. The Heavenly Father I know and love would not deny us as His daughters a blessing He feels would be for our good and for our eternal progression.
      This is the Lord’s church and He is at it’s head. He is in charge, His will is revealed though his living prophet and may it ever be so.

      • 1. I know the women the letter was addressed to, and they have not been invited to further discuss the issue of ordination, or other measures to improve equity between men and women with church leaders. They have requested meetings, and these requests were not answered. If said discussions are taking place, it isn’t happening with the leaders of OW.

    • Hi VHJ, Thanks for your thoughts on this. Here’s my brief take on some of your points.

      1–it’s my understanding that those who received this letter and the “official OW” folks are not privy to any of these conversations, nor have they received any communication from our leaders. I could be wrong on that. But part of why I found that cute dog Mormonad relevant is because it seems like these women are being excluded from a broader discussion they have a lot to contribute to.

      2–I appreciate your perspective, but the issue is not just admission to the priesthood session, and I feel like the LDS Public Affairs department knows that. That’s why it reminds me of the old “acknowledge re-direct”; I’m dodging my four-year-old’s ACTUAL concerns (because they are usually nutty :)) about exiting the vehicle or wearing purple or whatever. It’s a refusal to engage. To simply say “Not gonna happen. But try this.” without offering any explanations or even citing anything or validating anything or discussing anything feels a bit more condescending to me than I’d expect from a church like ours.

      3–I appreciate the context, and I think you’re right that some women seek opportunities to protest. But the wear pants to church effort and let women pray and OW and others have all been separate movements, and from what I saw in October, the experience many women who requested tickets to the priesthood session had was really reverent and peaceful and non-confrontational. They are (as far as I know) a group of active, faithful, dedicated women with a long history of church service, and to treat these insiders as outsiders and paint them with the same broad brush the screamers and garment-burners get seems like an unfortunate, inaccurate, exclusionary choice. Maybe I am taking more offense than was intended, though, and I hope you’re right.

      4–The consideration hasn’t been given and the question hasn’t been asked and answered. I’m not asking for ordination here at all. I’m highlighting the concerns I have that several church spokespeople (Ruth Todd last fall and Jessica Moody this week) keep highlighting “you’re a small minority” as part of their response. That has no place in this discussion. I agree with you that sometimes the minority is wrong and sometimes the majority is wrong. Also, I should clarify that I’m not saying I’M “the one,” just that those who are struggling or in pain (as many of these women clearly are) deserve our love. The Lord will not forget ANY of us, nor forsake ANY of us. That’s the whole point of the gospel. The vitriol involved in this broader discussion is honestly terrifying to me.

      5–I’d disagree with your characterization of shouting and making demands. I have only seen thoughtful requests for consideration. As for how to share concerns kindly, well, that’s tough, because there’s not really a private place that exists for that, so in 2014, that becomes the internet. Overall, bishops and stake presidents are fantastic men (I have had some truly amazing ones, and I’ll be forever grateful for crossing paths with them), but sharing large-scale concerns with them about structural inequalities isn’t going to get very far. And from what I know, if you write letters TO the church, they get bumped back to your local leaders.

      I don’t have the answers as to what OW or other women with concerns (or anybody with concerns, for that matter) SHOULD do, and I also don’t have the answers about what the church should do in every situation. These are complicated discussions, but I’ve seen that the best solutions appear as we share our opinions and perspectives prayerfully and with respect. I think we will all be blessed as we seek to elevate this discussion with love and understanding.

    • VJH, someone else asked Jana Riess very similar questions on her blog yesterday and I loved her response. Thought you might appreciate reading a different but thoughtful response to these questions:

      “Great questions. Thanks! I believe that spiritual responsibilities help us to grow, and that our task in life is to grow to become more like our Heavenly Father. One of the ways we can do that is by exercising the priesthood that He restored to the world. Currently, women have access to some of the blessings of priesthood by being recipients of priesthood ordinances; however, Mormonism is a religion of active faith, not passive reception. We learn and grow more when we are full participants, acting in God’s name to bless the world.

      “Your second question is about why I continue being Mormon when I don’t believe in every part of its doctrine. Well, as a first step, let’s think carefully about the difference between culture and doctrine. It’s not doctrine if women wear pants to church, for example; that’s a cultural question. It’s not doctrine to note that the church needs a more progressive approach to how it deals with social justice; that’s already a significant part of our doctrine but we (I!) don’t always live up to it.

      “If we’ve taken that first step and thought carefully about the culture/doctrine issue, if we still find that we’re on the “other side” of a question than our religion teaches, we have a choice. We can stay or we can leave. There are only a few questions that the Church has defined as doctrinal where I disagree with the Church’s current position: same-sex marriage, women and the priesthood, and our pneumatology.

      “But I am certainly not going to abandon a religion that has blessed my life in a thousand ways just because of a few areas where I disagree. The items in our temple recommend interview are the core teachings: I believe in Christ. I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is inspired. I love the temple. I try my best to live the standards of my religion.

      “Is the church perfect? No. (Am I perfect? NO WAY!) I don’t think it’s fair to expect perfection from my church, and I don’t think it’s realistic in this life for a single institution to meet everybody’s requests. The church is changing, not as quickly as I’d like, but enough for me to maintain hope for the future. I love both the church and the gospel. While I have found much beauty and depth in other religions, Mormonism is my spiritual home.”

      – See more at: http://janariess.religionnews.com/2014/03/18/im-mormon-feminist-anti-mormon-protestor/#sthash.4BeQQJmj.dpuf

  15. I am concerned with the number of members who so readily and publicly criticize our church and it’s leaders. This type of post is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and can have far reaching consequences, many of which you probably didn’t intend. You are publicly criticizing a church you claim to love over some poorly chosen words? Do you not see how these devisive words simply fuel the fire of our enemies? The scriptures warn us that the only way the Lord’s church will ever be destroyed is from within. What we post on the internet should help strengthen the church and it’s members and promote missionary work. This post does neither.

    • Well said. I’m really getting sick of people speaking out publicly against the church. It’s a really bad example for nonmembers, and how do we expect our church to grow and thrive if there is all of this conflict within? The words people write on blogs and/or Facebook will have far-reaching negative effects that the authors are unable to see.

    • Hi Angie, thanks for your thoughts on this. Honestly, I have a lot of love and compassion in my heart for all sides of this debate and I, too, want what’s best for our church. I’m doing my best to be kind and respectful and not fuel any fires; I will also share my feelings and trust the Spirit, and I think this post reflects my best efforts at all those things. I worry that labeling each others’ sincere efforts with terms like “wolf in sheeps’ clothing” or “church-destroying” will have a more divisive effect than sharing my disappointment in a respectful way.

    • I fear that fundamentalists such as yourself make the Church look worse than anything Ordain Women does. Ironically your words are quite divisive and that will cause more disunity than simple disagreement (whether publicly or privately) between Saints who love the Church but approach it with different perspectives.

      Ricard Poll says it with a lot more patience and compassion than I do though, so I’ll just refer you to his talk:

      http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2014/03/what-church-means-to-people-like-me-aka.html

    • I love this comment! That is how I feel about the New York Times Article on this subject as well. We just need to promote wholesome and positive thoughts about our church to non members.

      • And what would we gain from glossing over problems and painting a false and rosy picture as though “all is well in Zion”? We’d then loose all credibility.

        I prefer Richard Bushman and Henry Eyring’s approaches, and would apply it to te cig itch collectively:

        Bushman:
        “We put ourselves in a precarious position if we propagate a view of Joseph Smith that conceals part of the man. When a young graduate of BYU learns for the first time about Joseph’s plural marriages or his temper, disillusion can set in. If all this was hidden from me in my religious courses, the graduate asks, can I trust what I have learned? To be credible we must be candid.”

        Eyring:
        “We should be willing to enjoy a full picture of our heroes, leaders, and history. I believe that when we ignore the “darker side” we leave ourselves unprepared for the revelation of some unhappy deed or event of past or present. We might be better off if we leave the warts on and let a few of the skeletons out of the closets ourselves for open examination. On the other hand, there are dangers in debunking everyone and everything that is a little above the ordinary. We ought to seek a happy balance of letting the truth flow forth without either hiding or digging for problems.”

  16. You obviously don’t get the big picture. I guess the whole “Ordain Women” movement is just another major stumbling block for our day, as is the case with marriage equality. Satan, I’m sure, is having a hay day right now as people’s testimonies are tried and tested. If God wanted women to be ordained to the priesthood He would reveal it to the prophet, and it wouldn’t come as a result of a Facebook group or group of women seeking to be admitted to the priesthood session of conference.

    • Hi Heather, I’m not sure you know enough about me or my take on things to comment on my big picture views, and I’m not taking a stance here on women’s ordination, but I honestly appreciate your input and am glad you feel comfortable enough here to speak your mind.

  17. Where has the prophet ever said in a statement “no” or addressed these concerns? I don’t know of any response by the prophet and the first presidency. Is there one?

  18. I must have missed something. Where in the letter did it say that the leadership had prayed about it and received revelation that women will not be given the priesthood?

  19. Thank-you! I am not a member of the OW movement, but I read the letter from the public affairs department and felt some of the same things that you point out in your mormonads. I was glad to hear that conversations relative to women in the church are being held, I was thrilled to see the age for women missionaries lowered, although I wondered why it is still a year older than the men. My biggest concern is the line brought up in the letter that “a very large majority”… Wow, really?!!? Since when did we become a group where the majority rules?

  20. I never cease to be amazed how every few years, disgruntled women invade our Church’s domain. Leave if you are sooooo dissatisfied, then leave us alone. The Church IS true and if you know that to be the case, then you will also know that your interest in gaining the Priesthood is a mute point. Contending is a worthless objective. Get over yourselves (OW) and Follow the Commandments, plain and simple! If you were truly interested in learning about the Priesthood, you would just watch that conference session and so be it. “Me think thou does PROTEST too much!” If you win then the Church wouldn’t be true. It IS, sooooo you won’t! Channel your energies into something worthwhile, BUT leave us alone! PLEEEAASE!!!

    • Hi Pinkie, Thanks for your thoughts on this. It sounds like your comments are directed at the OW folks more than at me and at this post about tone. The “get over yourselves and follow the commandments” and the “leave if you are so dissatisfied” responses aren’t that helpful, though I’m sure you’re frustrated and angry so it’s easy to say those things without thinking about how they might come across. I’m hopeful that together, we can all elevate the tone of this broader discussion to one of love and inclusion.

    • I have felt like many of the comments on this thread are attempting to be respectful, but I’m frustrating with those who are criticizing prudypolly and accusing her of “demanding” things, as well as venting their feelings about the OW movement, of which she has already explained she isn’t even a personal part of. Are people lumping her sadness at feeling the statement prematurely closed discussion lines, to the civil disobedience the OW movement and other such movements/petitions that are also happening (like pants-at-church movements and the fb GC prayer petition)? As far as I understand they are not fully linked together.

      But please, I beg of all the commenters, please don’t tell disgruntled women to leave the church. While some disgruntled women may be looking for reasons to leave, many of them are seeking with true hearts to give input to discussions about the church moving forward. I personally disagree with a lot of the ways they are doing so, but that is my opinion just as much as their opinion is theirs. Either type of woman (the one who is looking for reasons to be offended & leave, vs the one who feels strongly enough to speak vocally not to NOT sustain leaders, but to ask questions and to seek being part of discussions where their input is valid)–either type of woman is a daughter of God, and even if I don’t agree with you, even if I do think that some ways some of them are going about it are disruptive, I can still love them and hurt with them and validate that they are hurting. (I promise, I’m not trying to give back-door insults here be re-asserting my differing opinions)

      We are an meant to be an inclusive church, warts and all. I think the hard thing about being frustrated with some things is desiring to give input without being seen as stirring up contention or “steadying the ark.” There is a big difference between contending and wanting to better understand and be a part of discussions as the church is currently seeking to sift out what is tradition, culture, or divine principle.

      Sorry, prudypolly, for sort of hijacking some of your comment threads. Didn’t realize I had so much to say. I feel like many of these comments are not caustic, but I haven’t read them all, and see that there are some like the one here that are. I’m sorry about that. I have seen that you are respectful to all even though I imagine you are even more hurt by some of the things being said about you by people who don’t know you at all. I don’t know you at all, but I can see that you are staying civil. Kudos for that. I think we need to all be more civil, I really do.

  21. Just think of how you FEEL when reading this article and the positive responses to it. These women are good and trying to do what they feel is best, but it is clear that it is not what the Lord feels is best. It is not up to us to decide upon the Doctrine of the church. Any changes made have always come from the first presidency themselves, through the Lord. Please do not drive yourselves into apostasy by fighting against our leaders. I personally don’t really care about the arguments either way and how things are worded, I care about YOU, and all of my sisters everywhere. The spirit testifies to me that this is not right, and that our role in the church is perfect. We need to stop fighting against one another and stirring up contention, and instead of praying for CHANGE, pray for UNDERSTANDING of our divine role. Heavenly Father knows our pain and heartache, if a change is warranted, He will grant it in His time. If we do not accept this, we are not trusting in Him and therefore need to evaluate our personal testimony. Please, instead of turning on each other, turn to the Lord. He will hear your pleas and if you have an open heart He will grant you peace and understanding. And if a change is needed, He knows and will in His time grant that as well.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I hope you find what you are looking for. 🙂

  22. I want to ask this question here because there seem to be a lot of OW supporters, and I’d really like to understand a few things, and for someone to comment on my statement. First I’ll say I do not support the OW ideas. I’ll just put that out there. Though I have read a lot on the topic, I can’t truly understand their points of view fully since I have a different opinion. There seem to be a lot of sub-topics about ordaining women, and I don’t really want to discuss those. The main thing that seems to come up over and over is (what I’m questioning) that they want the leaders of the church (President Monson I presume) to essentially ask God if this can happen. Is that correct? Many comparisons have been brought up like blacks and the priesthood, polygamy, and other changes where all that was needed was to inquire of the Lord and eventually the changes were made. I see that.

    It seems to me that an answer has already been given, though. Last conference I remember two talks addressing this subject (not directly “No, women can’t have the Priesthood”) but it was mentioned in other ways. Second, don’t people think that the brethren HAVE talked about this? They have meetings every week, they know about the OW movement, they know women are coming to temple square again for priesthood session, they obviously have received letters about it, they have obviously prayed about this, and made decisions on the matter. I think they have thought this through and even sent out a press release about the whole matter basically saying, No, this is a doctrinal issue, and therefore women do not have the priesthood. Isn’t that an answer? That part is my main issue with the whole OW movement. I can understand questioning. I can understand that women having concerns about their roles and place in the church. Sure, even ask church leaders directly. I don’t have those same concerns, but I understand others do. The press release was signed by a woman, but don’t you think the Prophet and/or Brethren were involved? I doubt anything is sent out to the public without the first presidency being involved in writing it or approving it. Overall, it is from church (apostles/president), and it said, please don’t come to ask for tickets, and if you do, you must demonstrate elsewhere. I personally thought it was worded kindly. If OW group really believes he is a prophet as they say they do, they why don’t they heed that counsel? (Whether or not it’s really a demonstration is debatable depending on who you ask) So again, my thought is that the Prophet is answering the OW request, he has thought about this, and the answer is no. I think they want him not just to ask God if they can have the priesthood, but that they want the answer to be yes and will not stop until they get that answer.

    Here are some other questions: haven’t the OW sisters said their own prayers about this matter since it is of great concern to them? Have they received a Yes answer that women should be ordained? Have they felt prompted to go against what is being asked of them from church leaders? I really want to know what their personal answers have been. Do they think they are supporting the prophet and apostles (temple recommend question)? They may be kind and peaceful women who have testimonies of the gospel, but I can’t help but think it is still a form of distention when they have been told that women are not to have the priesthood, asked not to come and demonstrate, and to stand with the anti-mormons if they do. If I got a press release from the church sent to me, I think I’d have to question my actions.

    And finally, the first point of this blog is not fair. No, of course the church doesn’t make room for everyone with every idea or action so I don’t think that argument is not a good one. MormonAds are for youth and I’m pretty sure it is saying to include others in a general way. Be their friend, talk to them, include them in activities, etc.

    Comments welcome, though I likely won’t respond again. Thanks in advance for any answers you give me regarding the issue of “asking”.

    • Hi Penelope, I appreciate your input. I think the conversation you’re seeking is taking place in hundreds of other spaces right now and to be truthful, I don’t have it in me to respond in depth, but I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your perspective. I can’t speak for the women involved in OW, but from what I see, it appears that many have felt personal revelation that they should share their views and experiences and bring this issue to the forefront. And if the goal is, in part, to start a conversation, well, look around, because it’s working! 🙂

      Also, I included the cute puppy Mormonad because of the letter’s mention of conversations happening without the women who want to contribute to them. I’m not saying everyone should have a seat at every table, but if we have faithful sisters who are moms, grandmas, RMs married in the temple, who have concerns and pain and perspectives to share, I’m hopeful that our church leaders can “make room” for them in some of these conversations.

      • I don’t think anyone familiar with Church history thinks that a few talks in General Conference is the definitive answer to long standing questions about a male only priesthood. At least anymore than the Brethren who sincerely defended the status quo before 1978 because they assumed it was “the Lord’s revealed doctrine” when it turns out that it was anything but. (Google the First Presidency’s response to Dr. Lowry Nelson when he questioned that.) It took awhile but OD-2 makes it clear that only in 1978 the Brethren finally received the revelation that actually made the Lord’s will be known.

        Remember that Elder D. Todd Christofferson, in the April 2012 General Conference, said that “it should be remembered that not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. It is commonly understood in the Church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, not meant to be official or binding for the whole Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “a prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such.”

  23. So much has already been well said, so I won’t repeat at length.

    I agree with the notion that the PR woman could have been more sensitive about “many women do not share your viewpoint,” etc.

    As other have already stated, Christ went beyond the 99 for the 1. In this situation, it doesn’t matter which opinion or belief is right. What matters is that each person’s beliefs are held in equal importance, regardless of how far outside the circle they may be.

    On the other hand, I do want to point out that if we look at the definition of “protest,” we see that indeed this action of marching to the front doors is a protect.

    “A protest (also called a remonstrance or a remonstration) is an expression of objection by words or by actions to particular events, policies, or situations.”

    That said, this protest here is a peaceful protest.

  24. Well, thanks for the response, but I think there are a few things you overlooked or personally invented. Forgive me if any of this seems abrasive or harsh, it’s not meant like that, but here’s my response to each of your points:

    1. The idea of “make room for everyone” can only be taken so far. If a man wants to go to relief society on a Sunday meeting, do they have to “make room”? Or vice versa, with a woman coming to Elder’s quorum? What if I wanted to sit in on a bishopric meeting? Would they have to make room? Or another quorum or class presidency meeting? Do they have to make room for me? What if I wanted to attend someone else’s personal interview with the bishop or stake president? Do they have to make room? Yes, we are an inclusive church because we follow Christ. But there is a line somewhere, which you apparently are aware of and trying to cross. (Though you almost had me with the use of puppies… They get me everytime) If this letter comes from church headquarters, then it’s a pretty safe guess that these “conversations” have been held by those in church headquarters, presumably by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.
    2. When I read this letter, I in no way saw the “belittlement” you speak of. The “acknowledge-redirect one-two” as you call it, is a perfectly normal way of handling issues (even with adults) and is in no way belittling, it’s just how they answered your question. There are a dozen ways to answer it, and I think if they had used another method, you’d look for something wrong with that, too.
    3. I do agree with you that labels can be damaging in different ways. However, OW themselves have made a title of their organization, are active in promoting their cause, and have publicized the fact that they will perform some sort of demonstration. Therefore, using words like “your organization” and “activist events” and “come and demonstrate” are perfectly normal words to use to describe what OW has made for itself. I’m sure we can agree there are much harsher words they could have used. Them suggesting that a demonstration be moved away from Temple square is not an attempt to put you with the garment burners and vitriol shouters, they are simply saying that something like this doesn’t belong on Temple Square, and should go somewhere else.
    4. Of course, not following the crowd when you believe the opposite is hard. Moody said in a very simple and factual way the fractional comparison of OW to the rest of the church. The phrases “hardly anyone agrees with you”, “most people think this is extreme”, and “you’re a teensy fraction” indeed do not have a place in this discussion. I just want to remind you that you brought them in, not Moody. The idea of “Popularity is overrated, sometimes the crowd is just plain wrong” is applicable when your friends want to watch a dirty movie or consume alcohol, but as a church that believes in absolute, not relative, truth, there is a right and a wrong side to every issue; including this one.
    5. Again, the language in this letter is fairly objective. They are stating the facts as they are. To victimize yourself even further by saying they are rude and inconsiderate does not gain you any ground. Multiple acknowledgements and clarifications on this issue have been given by general authorities of the church, but none of them have been the answer that OW wanted, so therefore, to them, their requests have not been answered. This is a slightly more direct, but still certainly not rude, response to this issue.

    In short, this comes down to a misunderstanding (or lack of understanding) of fundamental doctrines. Women don’t have the priesthood, and it’s ok. In many ways, women can do much more than men, even with the priesthood.

    • Hi FellowBlogger, Thanks for your thoughts on this. I’ll try for a quick response to each of your points.

      1) I didn’t mean “make room for everyone” as in “let them in to every meeting.” I meant “make room for everyone” as in “consider including these very women in the broader conversations you say are happening about these issues.” I think we can welcome information and new perspectives without feeling threatened or angry.

      2) Maybe you’re right, though I really wasn’t seeking to find fault and I’m hoping to read a letter soon that really resonates with me in tone if not substance. I guess I was hoping for a bit of discussion, or at least to share some reasoning. Is it really a matter of doctrine? Where is that? When did that happen? What is she referring to? To acknowledge and redirect without responding to the underlying concern seems more condescending than I’ve come to expect from the church I love, which is why I thought the “don’t belittle” Mormonad was appropriate.

      3) I see what you mean, and Moody could certainly have chosen stronger words. I hope we can be careful about “other-izing” our brothers and sisters, though, as these are our sisters. Even seeing the term “activist group” in the Mormon Newsroom’s headline was disappointing to me because it seems like an effort to distance them from the rest of us, when really they are PART of us. I’m not sure what language would be more appropriate, though, and I’ll have to think about that.

      4) Moody, Ruth Todd, and countless others keep underscoring the “you’re a small minority” argument, and I feel like it’s often given more weight than it deserves. You’re right that I added in additional terms that weren’t Moody’s (though she did say “extreme”), and I think that Mormonad portrays the idea that sometimes we stand alone. Though yes, I think they originally meant it more about movies and less about being persecuted by other church members for believing differently. It applies here, too.

      5) I truly do find the “you’re detracting from helpful discussions” line in the letter to be rude and inconsiderate. That’s not “victimizing myself” like you labeled it; it’s just an accurate description of my take on things (and besides, the letter’s not to me, so I wouldn’t be the “victim” here anyway). If I tried to start ANY conversation and someone told me I was “detracting from helpful discussions,” I would feel surprised and insulted and undervalued. I was shocked to see that language from the Public Affairs department because I expect more from the church I love. They’ve busted out classy things before, striking the perfect tone of kind and clever (that Book of Mormon musical response that “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ” was genius), and I was hoping to see a similar approach here on a thorny but important issue. I will keep hoping.

      I agree that you and the OW folks have a fundamental disagreement about doctrine. My post isn’t about the doctrinal issues at all, though; I’m worried about the tone and hopeful we can improve it.

    • Amen to FellowBlogger. My thoughts are the following: 1 – With each written or typed text, letter, phrase, or statement there can be interpretation of intent or tone. It can be taken both ways. the sender only knows the intent for sure. It, for the most part, depends on the recipient and how they want to receive it. I choose to be positive, not get offended, etc. I have seen multiple text conversations go wrong and be received in a different way than they were intended. I believe there is nothing that could have been said in the statement that would make the recipients 100% happy unless they were given everything they wanted and the keys to the car.
      2 – Does every individual or group that has a question or request for change deserve to be involved or meet personally with the Brethren of the Church? I have some personal struggles with how some things are handled with divorced dads. Should I expect someone other than my Bishop, my Stake President, and my Heavenly Father to consider my requests and expect them to schedule a meeting with me? Everyone, individually and as groups of people would be lining up for their chance for their voice to be heard and be part of the conversation. At what point does someone need to quit asking and accept no as the answer, then move on while aligning their will with God’s?

      Last point. When the letter was articulated and sent to the OW (why do they have an acronym), the Church had no intentions originally of releasing this publicly. This was, “In response to multiple requests from news media, the Church has provided a link to the entire letter.” Ordain Women from the beginning has wanted this to be in the public including news media, cameras, etc. This is shouldn’t be about public pressure, but is about aligning you will and desires with God’s will.

  25. I disagree with the stance these women have chosen to take. If they don’t like the decisions made by the church leaders then leave. I am not a bit concerned with holding the Priesthood or going to Priesthood meeting. We both ( male & female) have unique roles and need individual meetings to instruct us in our roles. The church is not going to change ther mind on women and the priesthood.

  26. Though there have been church policies that I have had difficulty with, I am not an OW follower. I do think the tone of the response could have been better. In my many years as a female member, I have occasionally seen behavior from a priesthood holder that would give me understanding why some women may have had experiences leading them to feel that the role of the female is a lesser one in the church. However, I have also seen many priesthood holders be servants to women and men in the church in ways that truly reflect that all of us have the blessings of the priesthood, though our roles may be different.

    My concern is that the implied message, that is coming across from OW, is that women’s roles are lesser than men’s. I have daughters and granddaughters, this isn’t a message I ever want them to believe. My experiences and blessings as a woman have fulfilled me in ways that I doubt could have occurred had I been male. Our roles are not the same, but each is wonderful. I’m for rejoicing in the role of womanhood, and thankful that priesthood holders are there to serve us.

    Jan H.

  27. i was nearly swayed by this article and then i did some thinking about it. i reflected on past letters from the LDS church and thought about their style of communication. it has always been short, well edited, and to the point. there is no beating around the bush. they won’t (can’t) apologize for doctrine and they never will. i do agree that some empathy would be nice/welcomed.
    i mourn with those who feel slighted or ignored, and especially those that have had bad experiences within the church and have had some of my own as well. but, as with anything in life, if we look for the good, we will find it. for me, i’ve determined it’s best that i do this. not just with church things, but everything in my life. i appreicate your article and sentiments.

  28. I truly do not understand why women would want to join the Priesthood session on Conference. It is broadcast now online and we can watch it live or later. We have the Women’s Broadcast and you don’t see men clamoring to be a part of it, do you? We have sessions of Conference that are open to everyone – they are called General Conference. Ordaining women is not something that the Lord has put forth. We have nearly every ability or power available to us that the men have. We have everything that we need now. The need to be ordained is not something we should be asking for. If you look back in history, when women have needed to give a blessing, they have done it and it has been acknowledged and answered many times by the Lord. We have so many other responsibilities, we don’t need to be passing or blessing the Sacrament. We lead, we teach, we can learn anything we want without having the Priesthood. This has nothing to do with belittling, labeling or not being nice.

    • What I truly do not understand why so many LDS women are so easily dismissive of their sisters. Now I realize this may sound like the pot calling the kettle black, but if you “do not understand why” then first seek to understand before lecturing or dismissing the honest of heart.

  29. This is my view on the comment about OW being a small minority. They have raised their voice very loud. They are being heard on radios, TVs, blogs, podcasts, etc. Their words are being repeated many times over.

    Who is hearing the other voices? Who is hearing the millions of sisters who do not share the desires and experiences of this very vocal group? I think it is TOTALLY fair to bring this into the conversation. This is actually a really important part of the story that is pretty much COMPLETELY ignored.

    To the world OW represents Mormon Women. But many Mormon Women are not truly represented by them. OW should recognize this if they want to ease tensions with the sisters who do not identify with them. It’s easy to blame those sisters for contention or judgment but OW also needs to accept responsibility and act in a way that establishes peace with other sisters.

  30. Thank you for sharing this other post for my sake…one of the “I do not understand” fellas. I loved how she talked about the different experiences within her life and how her “train of thought” started to change along the way. I will say, I see no wrong with most of what she said. In fact, I can truly see how she is trying her best in being a follower of Christ.

    Where she starts losing me is at about the 4th major paragraph to the end (and maybe even before the 4th paragraph). Funny, because like the post from Prudy Polly…the tone turns quickly and starts feeling like she’s asking “Why not me?” (making it about her) and the reason the tone turns is because she starts to try and find equality in all things. I’d like to address “equality” later, but it is within this paragraph where she bear’s her witness that a “mother and father have specific roles that cannot switch” and then she states, “That men and women are BOTH involved and BOTH have equally IMPORTANT roles, though different. And I do believe that is the case.” It’s clear to me that she has received a witness from the holy spirit. She knows what a women’s role is. But why then just two sentences later she makes this statement, “Tell me where I stand as a woman.” It’s as if something has just taken what the spirit has confirmed to her and has thrown it out of her head.

    Could it be, after all her study and prayer, at that moment she begins to rely on her own self and casts out what was given to her by her Lord through the Still Small Voice? I know this has happened to me in many occasions. Some answers we receive from the Lord are hard to swallow.

    Now, equality. I believe the root of this “train of thought” has come because of this elusive thing called equality. Is our Lord and Savior a God of Equality? Our God is many things but we just need to read the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matt 20:1-16) to really think about this concept. (Please read it) This parable when I first read it didn’t sit well with me. I too thought…well that’s not fair. I placed myself as the laborer who started at the first hour. Shoot, I would be pissed today if that happened to me at work. Is that fair? Is it fair that while I was (trying to) live worthily during high school…a guy I knew slept around with girls, smoked, had “strong drink” and did anything he wanted only to see him take his wife and kids into the temple to be seal to them for all time and eternity many years later?

    If you look at equality/fairness in terms of “worldly” then yes, that would suck on my behalf right? You mean I could of been doing all those “cool” things too? But if you look at equality/fairness in terms of the “gospel” then you would have seen my face filled with tears of joy as my best friend knelt at the alter across from his wife and his grown kids becoming an eternal family.

    Here’s what the Lord says in Matt 20:15, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?” Equality has nothing to do with the gospel. The Lord will do what he will do…that’s why we’ll never understand his ways no matter how smart we think we are.

    Please be aware of which side you “feminist” stand. As I stated in the beginning…it seems that you truly are trying to search the scriptures and are praying for answers. Please ask yourselves this…if the Priesthood was granted to women or women are granted access to the Priesthood Conference…would that change the way your salvation granted by our Lord? We all want the same goal right?

    From one who fell so deeply in love to a feminist…God be with you.
    A Male Tying to Understand

  31. Amazing job. Maybe the Deseret News should publish this kind instead of articles on how the devil makes you be a bad mom and garbage like that. You truly are a brilliant communicator

  32. I’m having a problem with the way people accuse each other of “causing contention” because they disagree with a church policy. During a RS/PH combined meeting at my ward, we had some counselors from LDS Family Services come in to speak with us about relationships. One of the things they said is that some people try to avoid conflict because they think it’s wrong to contend, but conflict and contention aren’t the same thing. Conflict, they said, is inevitable. But if you deal with conflict in a constructive way, you can avoid contention. Contention is when things get mean.
    If we wouldn’t expect a married couple to agree on everything, it seems unfair to ask that members of the church agree on every principle, doctrine, and policy. Even the Twelve don’t always agree. Contention comes from angry words, name calling, my-way-or-the-highway type speech rather than from not sharing the same opinions.

    • And that… is exactly what OW is saying. “My way or the highway.”

      And THAT is my biggest problem with them.

      I literally was talking with one a couple days ago, & she told me flat out, “If President Monson knocked on my door, & told me know personally, I would still disagree, & I would still fight it.”

      They don’t care what God has to say through HIS servant. They want what they want, no matter what.

  33. Just so I’m clear here, what you want is a face to face meeting with President Monson so you enumerate your request? Then you want him to tell the details of all the meetings he’s had with the Women who are currently called to be auxiliary leaders.? I started thus journey with your group because I didn’t want to be reacting without thinking. You have had an answer from the church. The fact that you don’t like the answer, actually answers the question for me. I’m sorry, I think that ordaining women isn’t a bad idea, I just think you’ve gone to far in your quest for an answer.

  34. The church has meetings to teach and remind men to avoid pornography, treat women respectfully, serve others, prepare for the work force if you’re a boy or work hard to support your family if your a man, be charitable, be a good father, etc, etc, and women have a problem with that? These priesthood meetings encourage men to treat women better among many other great things and I’m so grateful for that!

    As a women, I’ve been in many leadership callings in the church including Primary President and YW President. All female leaders of church auxiliaries are expected to attend ward council twice a month with all the male leaders and are expected to give input on ward problems and issues as well as take turns giving short lessons and saying prayers. My bishop told me many times how much he valued my input. My calling now is as the scouting committee chair. I know next to nothing about scouting, but was called to preside over 12 men who have years of scouting experience. They look to me to run the meetings, make final decisions and make sure everyone is doing their job. I love that as an LDS women, I have been put in leadership positions with men and even over men when I never thought I would have been capable of doing the job. I love that in the LDS church, women are expected to teach, pray and serve just as much as men. I believe our church gives women so many more opportunities to learn, lead, teach, serve and grow than any other church.

    If women were given the priesthood, we need to look down the road. What next? They can be called as bishops, stake presidents, prophets? I can only imagine how hard it would be to try to be there for your kids while being gone 40 hours a week as a bishop. Your husband could be the stake president at the time, wouldn’t that be interesting. I think women are protected by not giving them an extra responsibility of having the priesthood. We get all the blessings from it, yet we are constantly serving as wives, mothers, neighbors, etc.

  35. Pingback: When your dear old friend goes nuts: reflections on church a year later | Prudy Polly and Her Rage

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