Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Following Faith
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

» Peggy Fletcher Stack E-mail

» Subscribe (RSS)

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Nadine Hansen, left, and Kate Kelly, center, lead the group Ordain Women as they walk to LDS Conference Center to stand in the standby line to try to gain admittance to the Priesthood session of the 183rd Semi-annual General Conference in October 2013.
Mormon P.R. point man answers critics in debate about women

The LDS Church’s chief spokesman argues that the push by some Mormon feminists for ordination to the all-male priesthood is "hindering" discussions about the "voice, value and visibility of women" in the Utah-based faith.

"LDS women who describe themselves as feminists don’t necessarily seek ordination," writes Michael Otterson, head of the LDS Church’s Public Affairs Department, "but rather to be genuinely valued and given a voice that is respected and welcomed."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

In a five-page open letter, posted Thursday on the popular Mormon blog By Common Consent, Otterson answers criticisms that have emerged in the so-called Bloggernacle about women’s roles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For starters, Otterson denies that the LDS Church is interested in hearing only from "blindly obedient" women and not from those who have endured "painful experiences" within the faith.

"I can say with certainty," he writes, "that not one of the senior leaders of the church would ever want any Latter-day Saint to feel demeaned or marginalized."

Otterson concedes, however, that such put-downs do occur, especially since the religion relies largely on a lay clergy.

"We are all human, and occasionally we say things clumsily or we lack sufficient sensitivity or language skills or experience," says Otterson, noting the need for better training of leaders and members. "The church is a place where we make mistakes and then hopefully learn to do better. It is also a place where we allow others to make mistakes and improve."

Otterson also tackled the criticism that top Mormon officials — and public-relations personnel — have refused to meet with "the more extreme groups" about their concerns.

The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported that church P.R. representatives conducted a 90-minute video conference with leaders of Mormon Women Stand, an online group supporting the church’s priesthood stance, while LDS higher-ups have repeatedly rejected similar talks with Ordain Women, the grass-roots organization pushing for female ordination.

"Readiness to meet with many different groups is … basic to public affairs work for the church, and we do it all the time," Otterson states. "Yet there are a few people with whom Public Affairs and general authorities do not engage, such as individuals or groups who make nonnegotiable demands for doctrinal changes that the church can’t possibly accept. No matter what the intent, such demands come across as divisive and suggestive of apostasy rather than encouraging conversation through love and inclusion."

His letter referred to no group by name.

Otterson defended his P.R. staffers, crediting their devotion and professionalism while emphasizing that he works under direct supervision of two apostles and other high-level LDS leaders.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.