On Monday, I sat in a state of quiet panic waiting for the news I feared most, dreading the ringing of my phone. And then it came: My daughter, Kate Kelly, was excommunicated from the Mormon church for “conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church” after publicly advocating for the ordination of Mormon women to the church’s priesthood. The life was sucked out of the room. I sat in stunned silence—speechless and immobile.
Credit Image: Justin Krebs on Flickr
Yes, this is just days ago, though I know it may be hard to believe. After all, this is 2014, not the Middle Ages.
In 2014, women are still banned from holding the priesthood in the Mormon church and other churches around the globe.
In March 2013, my daughter started an organization called Ordain Women and opened a space for people to put up profiles and state their own reasons for their belief that women should be ordained. I was one of a handful of women who proudly posted my profile. Now, there are more than 400 profiles posted, and thousands of women and male allies who are openly asking in other forums for women to be allowed to hold the priesthood and be allowed to participate in the general leadership of the church. Who will be the next to be trashcanned by the church? Time will tell. I may be the next in line.
My son put it this way: “They want to kick you and Kate out of the church because you love the church and want to do more for the church. Are they crazy?”
In the name of religious freedom, there are religions throughout the world which openly and proudly discriminate against women. And too many of us, including myself, have tolerated and affirmed this practice with our silence.
This dichotomy plays out in the daily lives of Mormon women in hundreds of ways. Just a few examples illustrate this.
A Mormon woman gives birth to a son, and when that son turns 12, he will be ordained to the priesthood and will hold more power and authority in the church than she will ever have, no matter how faithful, dedicated or righteous she is.
At a Mormon history site, a woman’s young sons are called up out of the audience and those sons are told how ”special” and “valiant” they are because they will soon hold the priesthood. All the while the woman’s young daughters are sitting next to her looking at the ground.
A young woman is told by her male leader while serving a full-time mission for the Mormon church that she is the most outstanding missionary in the district and he wishes he could give her a leadership position, but she is only a woman.
I will no longer remain silent. I will continue to speak up for people, who through no fault of their own, were born female. The cost may be horrific – devastation, shunning and exclusion from the church I have loved and to which I dedicated my life – but the alternative is worse: to continue to silently speak the lie that women are not worthy.
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