‘Ordain Women’ founder prepares her defense for LDS Church disciplinary council

SALT LAKE CITY — Kate Kelly is usually working away online to spread her movement Ordainwomen.org, but on Friday she was typing up a much different message to share.

“I have been asking questions and speaking my mind since I was knee-high,” Kelly said.

She spent much of the afternoon drafting the letter she will be sending as her defense at a disciplinary hearing this weekend, where she’s facing excommunication from the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the grounds of apostasy. Because the hearing is being held in Washington D.C., she cannot attend in person.

“Being invited to the disciplinary council is like being invited to your own funeral,” Kelly said. “And reading that letter is like reading your own obituary. It’s extremely painful and just something that you can’t ever anticipate or prepare yourself for.”

The disciplinary council will be looking at Kelly’s public protests and efforts to get women ordained into the LDS Church’s priesthood, just the same as the men in the church. It’s a movement she started and has no intention of stopping.

“There isn’t a way to solve this problem and really address these issues without doing what we are doing,” Kelly said.

LDS Church Spokeswoman Jessica Moody said the LDS Church welcomes a civil dialogue and has no problem with members asking questions.

In a statement, Moody said in part, “What causes concern for church leaders is when personal motivations drive those conversations beyond discussion, and a person or group begins recruiting others to insist on changes in church doctrines or structure. When it goes so far as creating organized groups, staging public events to further a cause or creating literature for members to share in their local congregations, the church has to protect the integrity of its doctrine as well as other members from being misled.”

The full statement is available at the bottom of this story.

But a local historian, Will Bagley, argues that excommunication has been a tactic of the church throughout history, pointing to six scholars and writers kicked out in 1993.

“How can the church evolve and grow and expand if it refuses to listen?” Bagley asked. “The people that were excommunicated, including several of my friends in1993, were among the most devout Latter Day Saints I’ve ever met.”

Kelly, however, is hoping her future looks different from the past, as she can’t imagine it without her church.

“If I wake up on Monday morning, and I’m no longer a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have no idea what I’m going to do,” Kelly said.

Kelly could also be disfellowshipped, rather than excommunicated. It would allow her to remain a church member, but it would prohibit her from participating in most church activities. She said she does not know when a decision will be made.

The full statement from LDS Church Spokeswoman Jessica Moody states:

“Church leaders have encouraged civil online dialogue, and recognize that today it’s how we communicate and discuss ideas with one another. Our whole Church was founded on the basis of sincere questions asked by a 14-year-old boy. Having questions and seeking answers is normal. Within those earnest questions may lie the seeds of faith.

The scriptures are full of examples of how to receive answers to our questions—to find truth and align our will with God’s—and that process includes studying, praying, learning and discussing Church doctrines. Millions of people do this throughout their lives. How and why one asks is as important as the questions we’re asking. What causes concern for Church leaders is when personal motivations drive those conversations beyond discussion, and a person or group begins recruiting others to insist on changes in Church doctrines or structure. When it goes so far as creating organized groups, staging public events to further a cause or creating literature for members to share in their local congregations, the Church has to protect the integrity of its doctrine as well as other members from being misled.

At the heart of the conversation are matters of faith and doctrine. We believe these doctrines are given to us by God in simple ways: through scripture and through living prophets and apostles. If our personal goals go beyond what has been provided from those sources, we must ask ourselves whether we are we trying to change His Church to match our own perspective.
As a Church, we’ve been looking for several years on what we can improve and change—cultural elements that are not tied to doctrine. We’ve had and will continue to have dozens of meaningful, helpful conversations with a variety of voices and perspectives about cultural changes. From my perspective, it’s a very exciting time to be a member!

It would be completely inappropriate for me to comment on any of the individual cases you’ve heard about recently, as those are personal matters dealt with at a local level. But I can provide some principles. In dealing with all of these issues and questions, a local lay leader is the one who determines how they apply to those he serves. If he becomes troubled by a member’s actions, he can rely on his own spiritual insights, personal prayer, guidance from handbooks and his training to determine how best to address the member’s circumstances. For instance, their standard procedural handbook says: “Local presiding officers should not expect General Authorities to tell them how to decide difficult matters. Decisions on Church discipline are within the discretion and authority of local presiding officers as they prayerfully seek guidance from the Lord.”

29 comments

    • Finny Wiggen

      Were you trying to sound… intelligent?
      Is it your assertion that anyone with a disciplinary council is a “cult…”
      Ie, your employer, the military, green peace, the girl scouts…

      Boy, you just come off as so smart!!

    • BrendaWilds

      Bob,

      My spouse and I were invited and invited and invited by neighbors to let the Mormon missionaries teach us about their church. We finally agreed. Our “cult” alarm went off when we heard about golden tablets (that conveniently disappeared before anyone saw them–and don’t even talk to me about the “witnesses” listed in the Book of Mormon. They later said they “saw” them only with their “spirit eyes.”)

      They collect tithes from their members (plus other donations), but when we asked to see a financial statement from the church we were told that was impossible. Ummm…We are asked to turn over $20,000 a year and we can’t see where it goes? (Cult)

      Women are “expected” to wear dresses, men are supposed to wear white (not pastel) shirts and a tie to church. (Cults have uniforms.)

      Their leader is NEVER criticized. (Cult)

      While we were visiting we heard discussions about someone having resigned from the Mormon church. It was in hushed tones, and everyone was sure they were now going to a “dark place.” (Cult)

      Yep, a cult. They can do whatever they want. We wanted nothing to do with it.

      • Kathi

        My spouse and I were invited and invited and invited by neighbors to let the Mormon missionaries teach us about their church. We finally agreed. Our “cult” alarm went off when we heard about golden tablets (that conveniently disappeared before anyone saw them–and don’t even talk to me about the “witnesses” listed in the Book of Mormon. They later said they “saw” them only with their “spirit eyes.”) I don’t know what you mean about “spirit eyes” I’ve never heard that. The testimony even says thy touched the plates.

        They collect tithes from their members (plus other donations), but when we asked to see a financial statement from the church we were told that was impossible. Ummm…We are asked to turn over $20,000 a year and we can’t see where it goes? (Cult) All you have to do is pray about tithing and God will answer your questions. But to answer the question with what I know,
        1. Service to the poor is a big part of what we do. When the poor of the ward needs food they are taken to the “Bishops’ Storehouse” or they are given a list of what their needs are and someone else will get groceries for them. The bishop helps with utilities when people are going through hard times. I know these things because I’ve been involved in serving and when I was a teenager my family recieved help. I’ve been involved in helping the local wards do food storage and during Katrina we were not able to get as much food because half the trucks were being used to bring food to those effected by it. And Katrina is just one example of this. The money is also used to build and maintain church buildings. There is also a perpetual education fund going to help returned missionaries from less affluent countries to help them get education so they can raise their families up from the difficulties they face. I could do on but this is already getting long.

        Women are “expected” to wear dresses, men are supposed to wear white (not pastel) shirts and a tie to church. (Cults have uniforms.). We are all expected to wear our best, sometimes that means our cleanest jeans, to church in respect for our Heavenly Father. That used to be the norm for all churches. But things have changed. As for Men wearing white shirts. For the priesthood to administer ordinances they must wear white shirts and tie. But when we are baptised we must wear white too. When a man wears other than white he can be there in church but he cannot administer the sacrament, ie. bread and water. I see women wear pants often. They are not told to wear dresses. There is an expectation of reverence and these are ways we show it. It’s not a uniform but a way of showing love. I’m sorry you don’t see it that way.

        Their leader is NEVER criticized. (Cult). We are allowed to ask questions but we are also expected to pray to know that the leader says to know that he is called of God. And we are expected that when we disagree with something that we can take it to God. I’m sure that when the Prophet said young ladies were to wear only one set of earrings there were many that were shocked. I’m sure that some were angry. Some just continued to do as they were. Many however took all but one pair out and allowed piercings to close. The choice was theirs. No one was at the door preventing them from leaving until they made a change.

        While we were visiting we heard discussions about someone having resigned from the Mormon church. It was in hushed tones, and everyone was sure they were now going to a “dark place.” (Cult) I’m sure that the situation was difficult for the person that left the church. Perhaps it was not much different from this woman. But if anyone was judging anyone to be lost they are wrong. But just because one person makes a bad choice you can’t assume that all do. Gossip is wrong. And the person that leaves is always welcome back. It’s not over til they meet with Heavenly Father and he pleads with them to come back. And yes I do believe He will plead for them to accept Him. He loves us all more than any of us will ever know.

  • dave

    people don’t say things like that when they really know about a subject. the purpose of the church disciplinary council has two goals in mind

    (1) protect the member. no one accidentally becomes a member of the church, in order to become a member of the church you must say how you really feel about important church doctrine and that you understand and believe it, when baptized you promise to keep the all of the commandments and principals of the gospel, by being in open rebellion to the person you recognize as the prophet just like Moses or Noah. then you are in rebellion agents the doctrine, principals and or commandments of the lord. that means you are breaking the promise/covenant you made at baptism, if that person is allowed to stay a member of the church and remains in open rebellion then the result is that person is much much more countable to the lord for there actions. if that person is excommunicated then they are no longer expected to hold to the high slandered and they become less accountable.

    (2) protect the name of the church. seen as how we do our best to bring our selves into alignment with the will of god. its not ok to have people view the churches long outstretched hand of hope that people will do what is right as supporting or enabling there actions. just like the article says asking questions is great but if she really believes the church is true the way she did when she was baptized then she will believe when the is tolled the answer to her question and then she will pray and seek for understanding.

    • Lisa

      Dave, as you say no-one accidentally becomes a member of the church, But most members are baptized at the age of 8. Who really knows what you want at the age of 8. If you have grown up in a family that attends the church it is just assumed at 8 you will be baptized. I think that is why you have many who questions the church as they get older. I will agree they have some good teachings. But the church is a business along with many others. The Mormon church has people who go out and spend 18-24 months paying for it themselves to try to get more converts. They lowered the age limit so they can get kids right out of high school so that they don’t end up going to college and then not wanting to go.They really don’t get that many converts from missionaries. But if they go on a mission they tend to stay in the church long term which protects that 10% they get in tithing.I would not want to be baptized while I was alive. Why not wait until you die, then you could have someone do the work for you. Because once you die you would know that it is the real church. I don’t think that you have to go to church to be a good person. Either you are or you aren’t. Look at how many church leaders do unspeakable things, yes its not only in the church. The church is male dominant like most other churches. The disciplinary action is not standard either in the church. I have known people who have the done the same thing and 1 excommunicated and the other was disfellowshipped. When you go to speak to bishop about what you did, they want details, its like they get off on it. There are no women in the room. The process of getting excommunicated is long, I believe that they think people won’t go through hassell. That way the numbers of the church who fall away. So the number of the members is very flawed and not accurate. It is very much a cult since most are brought up being taught that it is true and get then at such a young age.

      • Corey

        Lisa, I hope not to offend. I just wanted to let you know that no one in the church gets paid for their services. Yes, the church does own many businesses itself and employs many people in order for them to make a living. However, what you’re referring to as the 10% they’re saving by letting younger members go on missions to keep them in the church is not true. The 10% tithing is strictly used for the maintaining and building of temples and churches in order for the members to have the places we need to worship. I’ve been a member all my life, and I agree that you don’t know what you want exactly at the age of 8. However, as I went through my life, I learned by asking questions and seeking answers. I have gone through many difficulties by choosing to live against the teachings of the church at times. I have learned for myself that this is the best place for me to be. Others may feel differently, though. I promise, if you were to learn about the teachings of our church through the church itself, you will know that it is not a cult. Every individual has their own right to question what they’re being taught and take a different path as they feel necessary. The church will not change it’s teachings and doctrines because we choose not to understand or believe. Some of the teachings have taken me years to finally begin to understand. In that time I made choices that would easily have removed me from the church as well. But I have learned and now I know! I appreciate your comment and welcome any more thoughts and opinions you have. But please, don’t judge without having studied and received an understanding of what we really are.

      • Finny Wiggen

        Your assumption that “many” members of the Church question their faith at some point is misguided. The truth is that ALL members of the Church question their faith. It is a part of growing up.

        Fortunately, the Lord has provided a method of determining whether or not the Church is true. A method that all of us inevitably implement. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and it shall be given to him liberally…” While you are no doubt aware of this scripture, and of the meaning behind the scripture, where you error is in your dismissive of the power of this promise.

        It really is a remarkable and powerful promise. If the Church is true, if God lives, etc, then the promise logically MUST be fulfilled. If someone asks, and receives no answer, then it can safely be concluded that the Church is not true. It is a mathematically perfect promise.

        I realize that some ask, and think they are not answered. I will not comment on something so personal as whether or not someone else received an answer. All I can do is comment on my own experience. I have asked, and I have received a very real and concrete answer.

        Yes, I know you are tempted to suggest that the feelings were created in my own mind and heart, and not from God. However, you would not suggest such a thing if you had felt them yourself. They are not internal but external. Describing the difference is like describing what chocolate tastes like to someone who has never eaten it.

        You will find that people who have the truth are not afraid of you seeking truth. It is only those who do not, that encourage you not to look. All members of the Church have at some time sought for truth, intelligently examined their reality, and found concrete answers.

        But I can not convince you. Whether or not you find truth is entirely up to you.
        Are you afraid to ask?

  • Toni Glosenger

    People need to understand what we believe instead of attacking us. When we look at the bible who was always head of the church? Men were. Who did Jesus himself pick as apostles? Men. Look in the bible on how a church should be ran it is in the new testament. This is how the church is set up. To me I believe in the whole bible, as well as prophets. Before calling the Mormons a cult you need to look into what they believe.

    • Kristin

      Toni, the bible in the Old Testiment clearly mentions priestesses. And other scriptures clearly state that Jesus appointed at least one woman apostle.

  • Anna

    Guess what you sexist jerks! its the 21st century!! Times have changed and without women your shit would be a mess!!

    • mlfurm

      Name calling… Nice. And your last sentence is one with which the Church would agree (although with slightly better vocabulary) Which is why the LDS Church is home to the largest women’s organization on the planet…

      • john zimmerman

        Unfortunately you are trying to communicate to an embittered, hysterical woman, whose emotions prevent that.

  • mlfurm

    Again, arguing that women can’t be equal to men in the church because they don’t have the priesthood is like arguing that men aren’t as good of parents as women because they don’t have a womb.

  • Doubts Kates Sincerity

    Really looking forward to hearing the news on Sunday, June 22, 2014, that Kate Kelly has been excommunicated!

  • Ken Dahl

    The irony in all of this rests with a panel of judges and jury–all males. One would think a council of peers regarding one’s lifelong membership in an organization might include a few women at the very least and a majority of women at the very best. It’s really rather remarkable that Mormons can’t see the absurdity of this convention in the 21st century.

    • Cartman

      Mormons believe that C h r i s t is personally the head of the church, and sets policy. So Mormons don’t argue with it. This woman is not a Mormon.

      EVERY religion will boot you out if you actively preach against their most basic doctrines. Some will saw your head off and put the video on the internet.

  • Cartman

    Question: “Do you believe that J e s u s C h r i s t is personally leading the Church, and makes the rules?”
    Answer: “No.”
    Verdict: “Goodby.”

    This isn’t a difficult “case.” If you don’t believe in a religion’s most basic premise, and preach against that premise in public, then you get the boot. Go start your own religion. Name yourself Pope.

    The only conceivable reason for her to be doing this is to get attention. Which is fine. But nobody owes it to her to keep her on their roles. She knows what the answer will be. She’d be disappointed by any different answer. She’s not a Mormon.

    Why can’t people mind their own business?

  • Stuart McDonald

    Top Mormon Church leaders, it’s so-called “General Authorities”, were all chosen specifically because they had already vowed revenge against and destruction of the US for the murder of Church founder Joseph Smith and other abuses that ended up forcing the early Mormons out of their “Promised Land” in Missouri and to Utah. They may have taken that sacred vow of revenge against the US out of their Temple rituals for public propaganda purposes, but they still believe in and pursue it. Aligning themselves with the German Nazi sympathizing John Birch Society was just the next step in this long-term plan to undermine and sabotage the US government and society to make it susceptible to a Nazi-style takeover of the US — a takeover the Mormon Church leaders are already a central part of in order to shape the new regime for it’s/their benefit. The Tea Party, which now controls the Republican Party, is just the next generation of Nazi sympathizing John Birchers, with the same ideology, agenda, and all the same still-living Birchers (i.e. the Mormon Church’s General Authorities).

    Mormon liberals, like Kate Kelly, John Dehlin and Mormons Building Bridges, will never have any power in the Mormon Church because all their General Authorities — who even Mormon liberals ludicrously idol-worship as God’s representatives and spokesmen on Earth — are hardcore Nazis who have only briefly loosened the leash on them for public propaganda purposes. But when these Nazi Mormon Church leaders soon pull in the leash, as they are now with Kelly and Dehlin, the vast majority of these so-called liberal Mormons will sheepishly and quietly get back in line. Their brainwashing into this false & immoral Mormon dogma, which requires them to blindly submit to these evil men, has almost always and will again trump their own consciences. I truly admire Kate Kelly for not cowering back into the shadows and her willingness to confront these evil, misogynist men.

  • Valrick Welch

    I guess the military is a cult. If I openly opposed the US constitution I would have been discharged, but personal questions and discussions were not punished.

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,412 other followers