Dear Mormon Feminists,
Don't leave. Please don't leave.
In hearing the news of Kate Kelly my heart hurt. I had this overwhelming sinking feeling for all the Mormon Feminists I know who are barely hanging on or are already standing on the precipice. I just wanted to grab them, one by one, and ask them to stay. I am not a feminist but I love so many of them and I could almost feel their hearts breaking. Sure enough popping up all over FB were the dreaded words I hoped I wouldn't see, "I am out", "I am done", "I am leaving".
Please don't leave.
Don't leave because your questions matter. Don't leave because the way you see the gospel is needed. Don't leave because you change the dialogue. Don't leave because I am better with you.
"Reasons to stay: The value of your diversity: If you experience the pain of exclusion at church from someone who is frightened at your difference, please don't leave [or ] become inactive. You may think you are voting with you feet, that you are making a statement by leaving. [Some may] see your diversity as a problem to be fixed, as a flaw to be corrected or erased. If you are gone, they don't have to deal with you anymore. I want you to know that your diversity is a ore valuable statement." (Chieko Okazaki, "Cat's Cradle", 1993)
Last week in church my sister, Chelsea Shields Strayer, a prominent Mormon Feminist, taught a beautiful lesson about women in the Old Testament. It was powerful, and at the end she bore a very strong testimony of the need to talk about women in the scriptures—I wanted to stand up a applaud.
Don't leave because the way you tell the stories matter. Don't leave because you are helping things change for the better. Don't leave because while we may not agree on everything we DO agree on a LOT of things. Don't leave because in my diversity I feel safer knowing you are fighting the good fight next to me.
I need you to know that while you may be an outlier in the Mormon Church so are those who speak negatively about your cause. They are also outliers. I imagine the silent majority is neither here nor there. Which means there is so much potential for positive alliances.
So you being in the Sunday School classes, Young Women Lessons, Scouts, Girls Camp, Relief Society, Sacrament Meetings—it matters. You have a story to tell. You have a history to teach. Your questioning heart and mine belong side by side.
Please don't leave.
But if you do, I am sorry for your pain and loss. I am sorry you didn't feel a sense of belonging. I am sorry your heart is broken. I wish you love, joy, and peace.
Some Bishops will hear you. Some church leaders will work with you. Some women and men will learn from you. Some children will have different choices/experiences then you had as child b/c of you. Some policies will change. Some will understand.