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‘Ordain Women’ members discuss impact of Kate Kelly’s excommunication

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SALT LAKE CITY -- On June 23, Kate Kelly, the founder of Ordain Women, was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And in the days since, her organization has been closely watching the fallout.

"In some way it's really galvanized people. And then on the other hand, I think we've got a lot of women and men who are very tired,” said Amy Cartwright, a member of the leadership committee for Ordain Women.

Cartwright joined other members of the group for a panel discussion at the Sunstone Foundation’s annual symposium, held at the University of Utah.

The focus was on the movement’s accomplishments, but also the toll the work has taken on its members and their relationship with the church.

“They've just absorbed so much negative energy and so much frustration that that's been a breaking point for them,” Cartwright said.

An informal survey the group posted on various Mormon feminist websites from Sunday to Wednesday compared their church attendance in May to their church attendance in July.

According to Cartwright, the results showed a 16 percent decrease for women and a 12 percent decrease for men who attended church weekly.

“I think it hasn't been something that would push me out of the church, but I think it does have an effect,” said Erica Shirts, who attended the panel discussion.

While some church attendance numbers may be down, according to the group, they’re only increasing within Ordain Women, giving those who may follow in Kelly’s footsteps a support system to do it with.

“It's part of our job as good members of the church to speak openly about the things that we believe are not right,” said Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, who sat in on the event.

Finlayson-Fife said while she doesn’t hold a profile on the Ordain Women site, their efforts resonate with her.

“Many people feel like if you are a feminist you can't be a believing member,” Finlayson-Fife said. “I disagree with that entirely because I sort of strive for the higher principles of our faith, which is that God is no respecter of persons and that we are all alike under God.”

11 comments

  • Joshua

    What I don’t understand is how people can believe in the teachings of the LDS Church and that the leaders are called of God and then assume that the church doctrines are wrong instead of wondering if their own beliefs are wrong. None of us are perfect and think things that do not match up with God’s truth. That means we have to change our thinking, not that God and the Church need to changes it’s beliefs to match our own. I think the members of ordain women are looking at this situation incorrectly. I have often thought and believed things that did not go along with church doctrine and I had to ponder why they differed and what I should do about it. In all cases so far that has led me to a better understanding of the situation where I realized that I had to adjust my own perspective and alter my beliefs accordingly. This is a personal process that I go through largely on my own. People grouping together and enabling each other to believe things that are not in harmony with the teachings of God’s servants is not a good thing. The blind leading the blind comes to mind when I think of this. I will pray for the confusion of these brothers and sisters that God may bring peace to them.

    • Kaye Watts

      Hi Joshua, I totally agree with you argument here. Part of our mortal probation is to be obedient to all of God’s instructions to man, not just the one’s that suit us. Women’s role is clearly defined and it should be a accepted. that we , as women, can serve under the priesthood umbrella, as do the sister in the Temple. Satan will try to de-stabilise the Church thru many means and deceives these brethren and sisters very cleverly.

  • Laila Garza

    It shouldn’t be any surprise that there’s a decrease of attendance in July compared to April since many families are on vacation in July. It happens every summer. I think those who did the survey are aware of this and are just trying to make it appear that the cause is the excommunication of the Ordain Women leader.

    • April

      I saw the survey. It asked the respondents why their attendance levels had changed and also asked about their plans for attending in the winter.

    • Don Collier

      The article mentioned that the survey was taken from feminist sites, not the general population of the LDS community. These feminists make up a very small percentage of LDS members. They like to claim otherwise, but the hard truth tells another story.

  • Marsha Nelson

    God’s laws do not change simply because some people don’t like them. That would make God changeable and he is not.

  • Ivy

    15 million members on paper. 15 million active participants? No way. The church will NEVER tell you how many people actually attend every month, much less pay tithing.

    • Lilian

      less than 25% pay tithing . That’s a church statistic reported in the Ensign some years ago ….so maybe less or more now, my point is it is not a secret that the majority do not pay tithing . That’s pretty slapdash for a brain washing cult I always thought. Also way fewer active members than 15 million . Individual units demonstrate that with their local member lists v membership records for the area. Once again I don’t think the church has it’s mind control up to scratch yet, maybe a refresher course is needed. We are a terrible example to real cults with these lapses in control over membership behaviour .

  • ctagge

    This is just another pathetic story that shows how the media makes the Ordain Women movement and it’s supporters look much bigger than it really is. To make the claim that church memberships is down 12 to 16 percent makes the movement seem like it has had a pretty damaging effect. Then the report at the end adds the disclaimer that the numbers are reflective only of the very small minority of church members who support the ordain women group. If you are not paying attention, you might have missed it. It would be great if Fox news could lead with that important little bit of info when first presenting the survey results. Why they did not do this makes me suspicious of their motives in reporting the story. This type of media spin and sophistry are one the the reasons so many people are cynical and distrusting of the news media.

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