I didn't want my first post (other than the intro) to be about religion, but this is a hot topic around these parts right now. I have a lot to say about this and I fear that if I wait too long it will no longer be relevant.
Disclaimer: I was raised LDS in a non-traditional (for LDS culture) single-parent household. I was semi-active my entire life up until I got married in the LDS Temple. I did not have the 'faith building' experience in the temple that I anticipated and since then have not felt connected to the church and have not participated for 7 years. However, I live in Salt Lake City and so I am surrounded by the culture and it's very much a part of my life.
Ordain Women is a group of LDS church members who believe that women should be able to hold the priesthood and be more involved in decision making and authority roles that are present in the church. According to their website, Ordain Women is: "Mormon women seeking equality and ordination to the priesthood." For more information visit their website, it does a better job of explaining their mission: http://ordainwomen.org/
The group started because one woman, Kate Kelly, felt inspired that the time is right that women should receive the priesthood. And the LDS church teaches that each person can receive personal revelation from God if they seek it. And Kate Kelly is now facing excommunication from the church for speaking out on this issue that she feels so inspired to defend.
After all, the LDS church started because a young boy, Joseph Smith, felt that something was missing from the churches he regularly attended. He prayed and received a revelation that the current churches weren't entirely true. From this experience he received more revelations and eventually established the LDS church. To read more about what the church teaches, you can go to their website: http://www.mormon.org/beliefs/joseph-smith
After listening to Kate Kelly's earnest interview with our local radio host, Doug Fabrizio; and then the response the next day on the same radio station with a church representative, Ally Isom; I have come to a few of conclusions:
(you can listen to the two shows for free here: http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/facing-excommunication & http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/latter-day-saints-and-excommunication-part-ii)
1. The church is using local leaders as scapegoats to this issue. In the church's response to the excommunication letters, Ally Isom deflects responsibility from the centralized church leaders and puts all of the decision making to Kate Kelly's local leaders. I cannot believe that the church's centralized leaders do not care about this issue. If they didn't seek to control issues as prominent as this one, they would lose all control over their church. Taking the steps to remove Kate Kelly's status as a good-standing member of the church would serve to make a public example of what can happen when you speak out against policies and doctrine. I believe that the church would very much like to see members who raise such questions and gain such a following have their legitimacy as a church member questioned.
However, deflecting this to local leaders allows them to keep their image clean (or so they think) on this matter that is quite heated. It also allows them to pretend that the church leaders at the top are not threatened by this movement. Perhaps they want to appear to be nonchalant about it and uphold a position that they are so powerful that this group doesn't even register on their radar. But I am not buying it. I believe that the local leader, perhaps covertly, were encouraged by top leaders to take actions against Mrs. Kelly (and Mr. Dehlin, who is also being threatened with excommunication, but for different issues. I have not really been focusing on him in this post).
2. Excommunicating Kate Kelly only serves to prove a point that she is trying to make. Women are not represented in the church. They have no leadership responsibilities that allows them to take part in these types of discussions. Frankly, Kate Kelly's case for remaining a member of the LDS church or not will be heard exclusively by men. She will not have a woman involved in the decision making to decide if her actions have warranted excommunication. Imagine if there were no women judges or jury. Imagine that congress was only men. And imagine, in this day and age, if you were to hear a man (or a woman) arguing that this is the way it should be. Fine. If that is your opinion you are entitled to it. But then I am entitled to the opinion that you are a sexist, because believing that women should not have equal opportunities to men is sexist.
3. It also seems a bit hypocritical for a church whose keystone tenet is one of personal revelation. Either the church believes that one can receive personal revelation and should seek those things that are guidance from God, or the church doesn't. But not believing calls into question the church's origins and all of it's teachings. Kate Kelly is not telling women to leave the church. She is not calling any other doctrine into question. She appears to be a righteous member who happens to feel strongly about one thing.
I am not trying to make an argument for or against excommunicating Kate Kelly. I am simply looking at the situation from the outside and have some problems with the way in which the LDS church is handling questioning members. Sometimes I think the Community of Christ may be a better fit for some. I am not a member of the Community of Christ, but here is what I know about it. It was established by Joseph Smith Jr.'s wife Emma and their Joseph Smith III after Joseph Smith Jr. was killed. They have always allowed blacks to hold the priesthood and gave women the privilege back in the 1980s. Most recently they have been discussing allowing gay marriage. For more information on what they believe, visit their website: http://www.communityofchrist.net/
Like I said, I am not a member of the Community of Christ and am not trying to convert people to them. But if you are unhappy in the LDS faith, there are plenty of options that can fill a spiritual void through other religions or belief systems. I think people should seek what bring them happiness and strive for authentic living.