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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An Open Letter To Mormon Feminists


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.

Stay.

71 comments:

  1. Thank you. This is balm to me. I have no where else to go God wants me here. None can keep me away, but to be wanted and welcomed and warmly embraced makes all the difference.

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  2. Thank you for this. This is a really hard time to be a mormon feminist. Many members act like you can't be both. I'm glad some people still want me at the table.

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    1. Hi Teresa! Just saw you on this blog! I hope life is great for you right now!

      Jared Hulme

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  3. Kylee! I was so surprised to see this pop up on my husband's fb page and to find out it was you! This is Megan Adams (Tyler's sister). I don't know if you remember us, but I know we worked together at KFC for a little while.
    Thank you for posting this, I know many women who will feel comforted by your words. :)

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  4. I am bawling! I feel so sad about what has happened, especially as i have seen so many who feel this is the last straw. Your message and plea is so nice to hear, and strongly resonates with me.

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  5. Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  6. Thank you. You are so kind. We need more kindness.

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    1. We all need more kindness. It is a word often glossed over, but in our hearts it run deeps - at least it does in mine. I don't know anybody that doesn't have a struggle of some kind. Chieko 's excellent quote referred to in Kaylee's letter is wonderful. That quote is sincerely from Chieko's heart. She was the principle at the grade school my son was to attend. I was a homeschooler. We tried kindergarten for two weeks. She had a teacher that she thought would work well with our son. He was 7. She told me this when our paths 'just happened' to cross one day. It was a 1/2 class. He attended in between trips to his grandparents (already planned). Chieko and I became good friends. She and Ed sat in our humble home and visited with us. They had brought fortune cookies for our children. Her grandsons spent an evening playing with our children sliding down our stairs on a huge stuffed whale. I could go on. The point is we were a very UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP for many reasons. I let my son continue in the school into 3rd grade. No, - make that, my second grader didn't fit well in a 3/4 classroom. After we watched her on our television be sustained as a member of the General RS presidency, I wrote her a note. The phone rang one evening. It was Chieko. This call was a surprise and quite unexpected. The first thing she wanted to know was what had we done with Sam (regarding his schooling). I replied that we had pulled him out and were now homeschooling. I wish you could all hear her voice "I just knew you! were going to do that!". We both laughed. It was a most unlikely friendship; there were so many differences. Yet years later, she was in touch with us via e-mail when our daughter went to s TX State college and chose another path. She prayed for Hannah and she comforted me. This is a long reply to most likely , people who don't know me. Like Kaylee, I plead with you to Stay.

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  7. Thank you Kylee. You radiate acceptance and love!

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  8. THIS is how one should respond. Thank you.

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  9. A whole community of broken hearted feminists needed this today. Thank you.

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  10. Just. Perfect. To me, this is what Christlike love looks like.

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  11. There are some parts of the movement I don't agree with, and some that I do. BUT. I do know that I do love everyone and appreciate different perspectives. We NEED all kinds.

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  12. Kylee, reading this post is honestly the most I've felt the spirit in a few days. Thank you so much!

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  13. Not enough of people like you in my ward...if it were so then my activity level would greatly improve.

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  14. My husband wrote something similar a few weeks ago: http://myuncommondissent.blogspot.com/2014/05/how-to-break-unbreakable-nalgene-or-why.html

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  15. Thank you so much. I really needed to read this. Tears streaming down my face. I really don't want to leave and need these reasons to stay.

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  16. While I'm not seriously contemplating leaving ("to whom shall we go?" is the thought that always comes back), it is healing to feel needed but also wanted. A memory of a few first grade friends whom I thought were best friends unexpectedly telling me they hated me and wished I wouldn't follow them around pops in my mind... alot of those comment boards and knee-jerk but also underlying responses and judgments feel like that to any of us who struggle with anything in the church but are fighting for a place just as Kate or John but less conspicuously. An ounce of charity is worth a pound of "rightness", so thank you for your balm to my and hopefully many souls.

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  17. Great post. It's nice to hear appreciative words for diverse viewpoints within the Church. While it would appear that many feminists within the Church are women, there are many men like myself that hold the same feminist views. While I don't suffer some of the same things that most all women do in the Church, I am unable to express myself openly without being chided by my leaders and fellow members. I have been struggling with staying or leaving over these issues, but my point is it's important to remember that many men empathize and see the need for feminist views within the Church too...

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  18. Thank you. I left many, many years ago, so leaving for me is not an issue. But I've made a great many friends in this movement, and I ache to read of their pain,disappointment, fear and confusion at the events of the last day. You have just said what I, as a longstanding inactive member, could not say. Again, thank you.

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  19. It is too bad that there are not more like you Kylee. :( If this really happens to Kate and John, I'm leaving. I have already decided to skip Sundays whereas I have NEVER done that.

    I have always, ALWAYS gone to church, even most times when I'm sick. If John and Kate are treated this way and the church gets away with it, there will be many, MANY more who get the same treatment behind closed doors.

    With the P.R statements, it has given members the excuse to treat others very, VERY badly. I know as I have had the brunt of it. They were treating me pretty well UNTIL that P.R statement. Since then, I have heard statements like "Well why don't you just leave", someone even saying to my husband " Shes beautiful but shes trouble" WITH ME STANDING THERE! What the HELL does that have to do with ANYTHING??? People walking past me in the halls with their noses in the air not saying hi...The treatment stopped for a small time as I was asked to give a solo in church (I am a singer by trade) I sang "I Stand All Amazed" (Sally De ford version with the "Who Is This Man" part attached) and the treatment stopped for a FEW weeks. Fickle, FICKLE Mormons. But it started up again...mind you I wasn't stating how I felt about things in class, even sitting through a HORRIBLE lesson on Oaks talk where the Stake President SAT IN for the first time EVER in our Relief Society class (I think to MAKE sure I didn't say anything) I finally got up 5 minutes before class ended and left after a particularly rude comment with the person staring right at me as they said it.

    For an excruciating month last year, I was told that if I did not take my Ordain Women account down, that I would have my temple recommend taken away, PERIOD by a very controlling Bishop. I did not get angry at him, I kept my cool which was not easy under the circumstances but I had women all over the world fasting for me at the ordain women website and I attribute the peace i felt that day to those women. My recommend is now gone and there have been all kinds of rumors swirling around me in my ward that are untrue. I need to keep my peace of mind. God would not want this. Christ would NEVER excommunicate anyone. Christ would not strike a person from the temple, he would WELCOME them with open arms.

    They think they can just take someone off Gods checklist? I don't think so. I have a very close personal relationship with God that they cannot touch, no matter what they do to me. And I don't have to be in a church that "PREACHES" free Agency but forces their members to comply to "Gods" will when it is only a man in sheep's clothing.

    I LOVED your post Kylee and I thank you for it from he bottom of my heart as it was a balm to my soul. But we as women deserve to have peace of mind and not some closed door conversation with men about who and what we are supposed to be while going to church and have some sterile, controlling environment. We need WOMEN telling us who we are. not men. Its about time we are authentic by being true to who we are. How about starting with OURSELVES.

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    3. John 2:13-16
      13 ¶And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
      14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
      15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;
      16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

      God MUST be a just God. The prophet, God's mouthpiece on this earth, has said that at this time women will not receive the priesthood. As such, when actively participating in groups that are on a crusade to change doctrine as laid out by the church leaders, on behalf of God, the temple recommend question "do you support, affiliate with, or agree with, any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to, or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?" comes to mind. If you do, then you do not qualify for a temple recommend. Simple.
      Also I understand it would be so incredibly hard to be discriminated against at church where we are commanded to love all people, but it turns out that people are not perfect and the point of church is not the people in the church. However, who has not at one point or another felt the unfriendly eyes of judgment at church? Everyone has! Joseph Smith and Christ himself had much, much more to deal with than unfriendly gossip and upturned noses, but they stayed faithful to God and all of His commandments until the end.
      The point of church is following all of God's commandments and teachings. Going to church is a commandment. I personally would not sacrifice my eternal salvation because of the opinions of others. That is, frankly, what I do not understand about all the people insisting on leaving the church because two individuals are facing disciplinary actions. Which, I might add, definitely does not guarantee an excommunication sentence. We do not need women to tell us who we are. We need God to tell us who we are and He is trying to, if only we are willing to listen to the leaders of His church.
      Also, there is a whole, WHOLE lot more to the church than this one issue. And that is why it is always worth staying, regardless of how people at church act. Your membership in the church is about you and God, not you and the members.

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    4. "Christ would never excommunicate someone". What is excommunication? It is not something that lasts forever. I have known people that were excommunicated that are back in the Church and so happy. Excommunication is a means of humbling people who need it desperately. So yes, Christ would and HAS " excommunicated " plenty of people. There are countless examples of Him making people admit their sins and humble themselves before Him. Christ would never HATE someone, but that is also not what excommunication is. It's your angry words that confuse people as to what the Church is really about. I mourn for you and the experiences that you have gone through to be so bitter. I pray that you find peace.

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    5. Heidi, Why worry about other people(members)? Our challenge is to seek our own salvation. I always enjoy teaching gospels essentials because it emphasizes only the basics. Think about the fourth article of faith and read the talk from president Benson about pride. I don't want to sound preachy because i'm imperfect. You will recall if all our sins smelled as bad a tobacco no one could go to church(a place for the wicked)'

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    6. Dear Heidi, I am so sorry that people at church (and on this thread) are giving you sermons and judgment and completely unsolicited and insensitive advice during this difficult and emotional time. It is unhelpful and unkind, especially from strangers or acquaintances. I just wanted to say that your pain and experiences are valid, that you have every right to feel the way you do, and that your opinions and insights and ideas are no less valuable or valid than anyone else's. I mourn with you for the insensitivity you have to bear at church, for the lack of understanding and compassion from your priesthood leaders, for the way you feel judged and ostracized by those who should be brothers and sisters.

      The church--the body of Christ--needs you. Needs your passion, your insight, your drive to change the world. I need you. I need to know that there are Heidis in the church who chafe under the status quo, who help propel the church forward and upward, who ask difficult and uncomfortable questions that force people to look at things in a different way.

      I need to know that I'm not alone in choosing to stay despite my pain.

      Kylee, thank you for penning something so beautiful and so kind. I am so warmed by your compassion, and I once again have hope that there may yet be room here for me, room here for us all.

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    7. Your story breaks my heart, Heidi. I agree with you that this isn't God's way. Trust your inner voice so that it can connect with our Savior whose unconditional love is profoundly deep and personal. It looks like we as a body of Christ still need to learn all of the lessons that Christ came here to teach us: LOVE is the law.

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  20. And just to add...I am skipping Sundays because of backlash from what has just happened to Kate and John as people were gloating before because of the P.R statements, it will be even worse now :(

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    1. It makes me sick that anyone would gloat over something so personal and sensitive. There may lie the greater sin, to take joy in another's anguish.

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  21. "The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement, and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals." - Boyd K Packer (Talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council, May 18, 1993).

    Don't think for a moment that there is a place for feminists or people who think for themselves within the LDS church. Such people are not welcome there unless they are willing to change to fit the group mindset. Yes, all people are welcome in the LDS church so long as they see the world in only the way defined by the church leaders. Of course the other option is to shut up about your views. That can work as well. Personally I didn't see a point in staying with an organization that required me to remain silent or shut off my brain.

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    1. Amen! For every person who expresses support, there are ten plus more who support the leaders in decisions to get rid of those with differing opinions (because in their mind these are NOT mere opinions, but falsities derived from the deception of satan). I've seen many more derogatory comments than positive ones. This is just one direct quote, "what is it going to take to shut you guys up?... It's poison in the church and the Lord will not have it." This was directed towards OW, feminists, and people like John Dehlin who openly don't believe the factuality of certain things that is classically identified as Mormon doctrine.
      Personally, I am in John Dehlin's position and have already decided I would rather be in an environment of love and acceptance than in one where my questions and trust in science and facts is shamed and grounds for verbal abuse and grounds for being labeled as an apostate or "less valiant". Unfortunately, the church and church policy also requires people to agree to refuse to discuss issues that conflict with current church teachings with anyone other than your bishop or stake president, spouse and children included ( which means they promote lying over being honest about your beliefs - I've been told by several bishops to just pretend I believe. It's not that easy. It is painful to be rejected and to feel dishonest every single time you go to a church meeting or can't speak your true beliefs among family and friends. Which is why most of us stop going. We'd rather be honest with ourselves than lie to keep friends and standing in the church.), choose to leave on your own, or be kicked out by excommunication.
      If you try to create an open dialogue about church issues or your personal differing beliefs and questions, you risk your membership and a loss of many relationships with people who emphatically believe you are trying to lead them down the "wrong path" or are going into "dangerous waters" by simply TALKING about it, and it is better to distance themselves from you than risk losing their testimony. There is not room for an open dialogue about church issues or doubt at this point, and so long as doubting in private and only behind closed doors with a priesthood leader is okay but doubting in public is "apostasy", then an open dialogue (that is not threatened by the thought of excommunication) will never be a reality. Also why so many non-believers feel the need to post anonymously. Out of fear of being discovered and publicly reprimanded.

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    2. The church has very specific and clear doctrine, be on board or don't, this isn't a social club.

      Open dialogue about personal beliefs is fine to have when posed in the right manner. But if it doesn't match up with church doctrine then it is not of God. It is your job to prayerfully evaluate your differences in belief not the church's to accept your personal beliefs.

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    3. That is my point. The church IS very specific about what views will be tolerated. There have been several general conference talks "warning" about cherry picking or believing in a God who isn't so harsh (Holland's most recent one essentially bashing those who believe that God cares more about love than sin - see this post http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2014/06/uncomfortable-god.html and look up Holland's talk entitled "The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship"). So, people need to quit saying "we're all welcome here! Come worship with us! We want you to stay! Atheists, gays, lesbians, doubters, LGBTQ activists, feminists, members of OW etc. are welcome!" When that is only half true. While people with differing views are welcome, and while they certainly have freedom to share their views, it is most definitely NOT welcome to actually share their views. It is frowned upon. That is why people come on blogs and facebook posts and say "Just leave if you don't like it! Leave us alone!". That IS the reason this is causing a stir. It DOES send the message that they do not want the voices of people who believe slightly unorthodox things, which also sends the message that as a person they are of no value to the Mormon church as well and "unwanted" in the ward. They are welcome to come and change their views to fit within "Orthodox Mormonism" as you mentioned, but that is the extent of their being "welcomed". They may be befriended outside of the chapel doors, love bombed by home and visiting teachers and cookies to try to get you to come back, but dare to speak about something unorthodox inside a church building and you will be shut down either directly (by a bishop or someone else "correcting" you publicly) or indirectly (by a summons to a court of "love" in which your devoutness is in question).

      Hence, why so many are choosing to leave. There simply is no clear cut answer as to what a "good member" needs to believe either and that does not help. Most people end up lumping questions about beliefs into "it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things". So when you get to the heart and say "well, I believe in Christ and God." That simply is not enough in Mormonism, as evidenced by the fact that John Dehlin is being summoned to the court of love for the fact that those two things are essentially all he DOES believe. You can't JUST be a Christian in the Mormon church, you must also believe in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, etc. etc. etc. Not saying that is a bad thing if that is what you believe, but I am tired of hearing people say "everyone IS welcome" when that is not entirely true overall. "Everyone is welcome to come and fit into our jello-mold of a recipe for hapiness" is more what the church itself preaches.

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    4. And to be clear - the church is more specific about what will not be tolerated than what you "should" believe. They (church leaders) leave many beliefs very vague and leave out a lot of the details on bigger things.

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    5. It was foretold in biblical times as well as modern... "in the final days all but the most righteous will be deceived. " ALL of this is a discussion that centers on individuals will, not God's, which is the very definition of pride. It is only going to become more difficult to be a mormon in this country in the decades ahead.

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  22. Thank you for your thoughts. I am often grieved to hear about the actions of misguided members that make other members in their wards and stakes feel that they don't 'measure up'. I am too often frustrated myself by the close-mindedness of some members, but then I remember that I am a member of this church to try to more like the Savior and learn to be more forgiving of the imperfections of others as well as my own. Despite our differences, it would be helpful to remember that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us all with a perfect love. They love us all! I, too, hope that any members contemplating leaving the church stay because they add value to the members and wards they serve.

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  23. Here's another perspective:
    --OR--
    DO LEAVE.
    Dig deeper and discover the real reasons why your church suppresses women, favors men, and is stuck in the 19th century. Will it ever catch up with evolving gender roles in the western world? Doubt, question, you deserve answers.

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  24. For years and years I have been the voice of dissent and critical reflection in my ward, later branch and stake. Many members and especially sisters have told me how much they appreciate my contributions, reflections, thoughts, lessons. And that is nice but frankly - I am tired. Kate Kelly and other women at OW have made me feel not so much alone. To me what the church is doing to good sincere people like Kate and John is the last straw indeed. I do not find Christ in the actions of the churchleaders. And without Christ the entire church is meaningless. I appreciate your message but I am out.

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  25. To Kylee, but mostly to the people in my own life and my own ward who feel as you do:

    As it turns out, I'm staying, because I have a testimony of the restoration, and the pain this adds isn't yet enough to push me away from the blessings I believe are only available in this church. But someday it might. I want to stay, but I honestly don't know where my breaking point might be. You feel sorry for my pain, and I suppose you mean to express genuine sorrow, not the insincere "I'm sorry you feel that way" that is so prevalent. Still, since you are not a feminist, I doubt whether you understand that pain or really feel it with us.

    Despite the value, to the church, of making people deal with me instead of letting them push me away, at some point I may find it personally more valuable not to have to deal with them. If you need me to stay, I need you to show it by your actions. If you want me to stay because you're better with me, because my stories matter, because you feel safer knowing I'm fighting the good fight next to you, then I need to feel safe knowing you're fighting the good fight next to me. The anti-feminists may be outliers, but the silent majority lets them get away with it. Don't let me feel so alone in my ward; the next time someone makes a sexist remark in Sunday School, how about you be the one to contradict it? Or just look over at me in the next pew and roll your eyes the next time the speaker talks about how wonderful "our women" are, and how "we men" are nothing without them. Or poke some holes in the argument that motherhood and priesthood are equal, complementary roles, the next time it comes up. Be feminist with me, share my struggles and my pain, and I'll consider staying to bear it with you. But don't ask me to stay if your silence makes you complicit with the people who are actively pushing me away.

    Maybe you do these things already. Maybe you are a bit more feminist than you admit, or a better ally than I have supposed. But I sure could use better allies in my own ward.

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    1. Mike there is not a battle going on within the church between feminists and anti-feminists. There is simply a handful of feminists who continue to push their agenda that doesn't match up with church doctrine, and the rest of the church who are just trying to live the gospel. And your comments towards the author make you just as close-minded as anyone else. The author can be completely sincere and supportive without giving you the attention you're desiring.

      I'm not going to say that Motherhood and the Priesthood are equal and complementary roles. Quite simply there's not some quantitative value added to either. They're not even different. They just ARE. They are just two roles that God has established in his infinite wisdom; and if we don't understand that, the issue is on our end not His.

      And the author doesn't need you to stay. God doesn't need you to stay. You need to stay for your own eternal well-being. Feminists are not some fantastic asset to the church, they're just members like everyone else and their value to the organization depends on what they do to bring others closer to God just like anyone else.

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  26. I think this is a nice letter and it is important to be kind and loving towards all even when you disagree with their actions; but showing love is different than being accepting.

    One thing everyone has to keep in mind is that while the church structure is similar to many earthly organizations, leadership in the church does not equate to power like we see it in the secular world. And we have to acknowledge that there are going to be things about the church we don't understand because God's wisdom is greater than our own.

    Publicly asking the church leaders about things of this nature is fine but once you get a response, move on with your life.

    Kelly is not some hero. She acted in open opposition to clear instruction from church leaders(who are sustained by God) and created a club with marketing materials and propaganda. That's not how you petition the Lord. If you earnestly want something from God you pray for it and even bring it up to church leaders and then you leave it in God's hands. Kelly went about this in a way to build attention and protested her own church. And I know that the OW doesn't refer to it as a protest, but it does't matter what you call it, a 'sit-in' is a protest. Regardless of whether her intentions were pure in the beginning the end result was not virtuous and this became a major pride issue.

    The church is either all true or it's all false. There is no middle ground. And that means if you're going to be a member of it you have to accept the things you disagree with and acknowledge that God's wisdom is greater than your own. Otherwise you should join a church that changes their doctrine in accordance with the social movement of the time in order to increase membership. In my opinion if this is what pushes you over the edge to leave the church than you were going to end up leaving anyway.

    All that said it is important for people to feel welcome and to voice their concerns but they should go about it in the right way. At the end of the day it doesn't matter what someone "feels in their hearts" or if they "know their truth"; if it's not in line with the Lord's doctrine then it is not of God.

    I hope the women affected by this will try to prayerfully understand God's direction on this matter and His organizational structure for the church. And I hope we all can be mindful of the way the rest of the world views things and not get caught up in these social movements thinking that they always apply to the Lord's church. While the rest of the world is accepting of everything and frowns up on firm stances I hope that we can all realize that God's wisdom is far greater than the world's.

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    1. I think a lot of people don't believe the notion that it is all true or all false. Uchtdorf said in Oct conference, “To be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles or doctrine.” I think some people believe that women not holding the priesthood is a mistake. If they believe that, then I can definitely see how they are hurt and why they push for change. It is not always as simple as deferring everything to God's will, since we know that there have been times when mistakes have been made--which makes sense considering we are all human. But, that being said, it makes people question things like this--it's not just a pride thing--it is people trying to change something they really think is wrong to something right.

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  27. Kylee I believe your comments represent a much larger group within the church than most realize. I believe that your statements represent the leaders of the church. The leadership is doing the Lords will. Many people don't understand and have never experienced a council that resulted in excommunication before. In some circumstances it is the only way to begin the healing process. Your words are the next step. It is so very important that those who feel aligned with these groups understand that they are needed, wanted and that we do not want them to go. Thank you for your words!

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  28. Absolute perfection. Thank you for writing this.

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  29. Thank you so much for this beautiful letter. It is not my place to judge anyone, noe would I want that responsibility. We are taught to love others and not to judge and I do my best to follow those simply teachings. There have been several times in my life when others have not and I have been judged and gossiped about and hurt. My mother once told me The Church is true, the people are not. The people of the Church are human and therefore subject to human failings. There has only been one perfect person born on this earth, Jesus Christ. The rest of us are just supposed to do the very best we can to be the very people we can be. We all have our own perceptions of doctrines based on our own experiences. Two people can read the same scripture and understand it two different ways. That is the beauty of being human. One way is not necessarily right and one wrong, they are just different. There is only one person who can tell us who is wrong and again that is Jesus Christ. Until He comes again we have the Prophet to lead and guide us and He is doing what He believes to be right. I believe in the restoration of the gospel and all that entails. If you say you believe in the the Church and restoration of the Gospel you can't pick and chose like a buffet. The closed mindedness of some members of the Church and the sense of entitlement and their view that they are some how better than everyone else saddens me beyond belief. I try really hard not to judge and I know that last statement sounds judgey but well I just had to say it. If everyone would just love one another and not judge each other the rest would work itself out. I pray everyone will find peace, happiness and maybe some maturity. Thank you again for your beautiful letter. I second your plea ..please stay...we do love you.

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  30. I appreciate the sentiment behind this post. I feel sorrow for anyone who leaves the church, but especially those who do so because of feeling excluded. My biggest concern is not that of Mormon feminists who want a more women-oriented focus at church. It is for those who DEMAND impossible changes from the apostles and make a public spectical. I enjoyed the love from this letter. I agree that Mormon feminists should stay. I don't agree that ridiculous, outspoken and demanding people who make the church look bad should stay. That is what Kate Kelly did. She was warned.

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  31. I couldn't agree more. Beautifully said. I echo this completely and urge those struggling to please, please stay. We need you and we love you.

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  32. this is what I said on facebook:

    There is some controversy within the church I attend right now. It makes me sad. I'm sure that they would say that *I* don't understand, I am sure that I don't. There are reports that the church might hold court to excommunicate members who have been speaking publicly on issues that the church isn't ready to change.

    My take on it is this:
    I don't know you. But I wish you'd stay. Stay in the church and be yourself and be patient. Levi Savage comes to mind. He was right and the leaders were wrong, but he followed and served with them anyway. And eventually he was vindicated.

    I don't think asking the questions was the problem, I think the problem is to keep on asking in a big vocal way, when the leadership of the church has basically said "no" or "not yet". Maybe they could have said it differently, but by not giving tckts to women to attend the priesthood session, by not changing policy, they have said "no, for now."
    So, stay and wait. Maybe in _____ years things will be different. Will it mean that THEY were wrong? Maybe it just means that this is a test and a trial for you and others like you. To trust in the Lord's timing, even when things aren't fair.
    Maybe those policies will never change and it turns our that your definition of fair isn't what was right for the church.
    It may never be fair. Not until Christ returns. But, can't you just stay?

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  33. Good job, unknown. It is interesting to me that most of the comments on here are so intolerant of the people in their ward, yet they want to be tolerated. No organization keeps around dissidents who undermine their goals and philosophies. You can't support the church's teachings (but please be clear on what they are before you make a big decision. They are not feelings), and you prefer your own. Why do you want to stay? That's the big one. Nobody is talking about obedience, the first law of heaven. You can make a group for those of you who reject some of the church's teachings, but you aren't going to find another church that has the approval and power of the Lord. When I first joined the church, Margaret Porter said in a class, "This is not a cafeteria church." To me it is very clear and pretty simple what is required to be a good member. If I have problems with parts, I put them on the shelf to wait until my understanding makes them go away, or revelation comes that will take care of them. Changes in the way the church teaches or operates comes from on high, not below.
    And they come in the TIMING OF THE LORD, not my preferred timing. The last paragraph of the above Unknown's blog says it all. Things in the church are not going to change to suit you when you want them to just like they are not going to change to suit anyone who would prefer differences. I am so grateful for the influence of the church in giving me vision for what can be, tools, opportunities for service and growth, and a loving community I can partake of as much as I want. We have more in common than in disagreement. My mother would say, "Don't cut off your nose to spite your face." Choose your priorities and check them with what the Lord's priorities for you are. You may not be able to have everything you want--who does?--but you can have the things that matter most. Don't give up. The Lord doesn't want you to give up. Who would be happier if you left the church, the Lord of the adversary? The wrestle is with yourself and God, not with people. You control how this ends.

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    1. I meant "Lord OR the adversary."

      This is the paragraph I was referring to from "Unknown."
      And the author doesn't need you to stay. God doesn't need you to stay. You need to stay for your own eternal well-being. Feminists are not some fantastic asset to the church, they're just members like everyone else and their value to the organization depends on what they do to bring others closer to God just like anyone else.

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  34. I guess I don't understand this movement. A core principle of the Church is modern day prophets who lead the Church as the hand of God here on earth. If our church leaders in Salt Lake are opposed to these movements, there is a reason for it. It's very simple, you either have a testimony of modern day prophets and believe in the way they are leading the Church, or you don't believe it anymore. Opposing their leadership is a sin and definitely grounds for revoking temple recommends...as I'm sure you remember one of the questions is "Do you sustain the leaders of the Church?". I'm not trying to be insensitive, but this is just how it is; our leaders are not trying to be insensitive or unloving either, they have core principles to uphold that have been in place since the earth was created. Why try to change it now?

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    1. Opposing leaders isn't a sin. I've had plenty of temple recommend interviews with many bishops and stake presidents and all have confirmed that to sustain doesn't mean that we need to always agree with them. That's the whole point of personal revelation.

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    2. Well when your "personal revelation" is not congruent with the teachings of the prophet and apostles of the church, you probably aren't receiving correct "personal revelation" and making justifications in your head to make yourself feel better. It's pretty easy to let that happen because you want something so bad.

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    3. And yes I agree that you don't have to agree with them to sustain them, you just have to obey the teachings to sustain them. Not obeying is a sin.

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  35. As an insensitive male, the feminist movement worries me. My understanding of the gospel is that we are here to become Christ like. The best and most important job in the world that can help someone build a Christ like character is motherhood. I believe the pinnacle of the church is motherhood and the women of the church. It seems the priesthood is a crutch to help the men have some chance at the growth and development that the women get. Why covet lesser things? We are not here to impress each other. The priesthood is more visible but definitely not more important. The world's tearing down womanhood in general and motherhood in particular is just Satan's way of trying to get you to feel less for doing more and having greater opportunity for growth. Motherhood does tend to be thankless but that is part of the perfecting process. Loving even when it is not always returned. The feminist movement bothers me because it comes from a belief that women are second class and it just is not so. Heaven will be filled with righteous mothers and a smattering of priesthood holders.

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    1. Motherhood is the equivalent of fatherhood, not the priesthood. Women aren't second class in the eyes of the Lord, but they're certainly treated that way at times in church and in society at large. I take issue with you're statement that the feminist movement comes from a belief that women are second class. As stated above, that's certainly not the case in the Lord's eyes, but it's easy to spot at church and in the world. I do agree that we're all here to become more Christlike and part of that includes having charity, love and grace for all, even those that we disagree with. Dismissing someone's feelings of hurt or frustration isn't helpful. Trying to understand their point of view, even if you don't personally understand, is. As an aside, Christ embodies characteristics that are both masculine and feminine as we understand those terms. Shouldn't we all try to embody as many Christlike characteristics as possible?

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    2. Kylee - Thank you for this. It's lovely.

      Reed - in general I think I get where you're going with this, but I do have some comments in response to what you say. Doctrinally, there isn't anything that suggests that the most important job that brings someone to Christ is motherhood. Consider that the way most people define motherhood can limit those who are allowed entrance to the club, so to speak, because it is one of two commandments I know of that require agency beyond your own to fulfill. Every commandment other than "get married" and "multiply and replenish" can be fulfilled by yourself, but those require the agency of others, and, where parenting is concerned, physical capability. These are things often out of anyone's real control. The equivalent to motherhood in the church (and out of it) is fatherhood, and the equivalent to priesthood (if the temple is accurate) is priestesshood. Although I don't agree with the OW movement - I do have questions about how and what priestesshood will look like for me in the eternities, because I doubt that the Lord intends for His daughters to be in an eternal maternity ward in the afterlife.

      Furthermore, I find the cultural description of the Priesthood as a "crutch" for those poor men who can't keep the gospel without it to be rather awful. It strikes me that you comment that the feminist movement comes from the belief that women are second class citizens, when much of what you say (including your last statement, which also seems rather off) suggests that you believe men to be second class eternal citizens. May I suggest that it's time we start treating men and women like the capable sons and daughters of God that they are? Men do not have the priesthood because they are lesser beings. They have the priesthood because that is part of their inheritance and responsibility eternally. We don't honor women by shaming men. We honor women by honoring women.

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  36. I'll be honest, I have some difficulty with the extremeness of the Mormon feminist movement. I believe our church was founded on asking questions, I believe asking questions is good and important. However I feel that once a question is answered, you need to have the faith and humility to accept that. I believe the question of women and the priesthood has been answered clearly, so the protests are bugging at me because it feels like the 116 pages of the BOM all over again. Don't keep asking and asking when you have an answer. That is my personal opinion. That being said, I am saddened by the sisters who choose to leave because their eternal salvation is at stake. Do I strongly disagree? Sure do. Do I love them and care that they stay? Yes.

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    1. Can you please explain how this question has been answered? In none of the PR releases or Oaks' talk has it ever been stated that the leaders have even considered this question. There's been no direct statement saying, "we've prayed about it and the answer is no" or "we're currently discussing this and haven't received an answer." I get tired of people claiming this question has been answered because we've never been told that our leaders have taken this question to the Lord. Until that happens, I'm not comfortable relying on a PR statement as evidence that our leaders have prayed about this questions and reached a unanimous decision.

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  37. beautiful, kylee. thank you for this.

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