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Kelly on excommunication from Mormon church: ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’

Religion » Ordain Women founder urges other Latter-day Saints to stick with the faith.

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In his letter of excommunication, Harrison spelled out the consequences of excommunication and the conditions Kelly would have to meet should she want to be rebaptized.

"You may not wear temple garments or contribute tithes and offerings. You may not take the sacrament, hold a church calling, give a talk in church, offer a public prayer in behalf of the class or congregation in a church meeting, or vote in the sustaining of church officers. These conditions almost always last at least one year. If you show true repentance and satisfy the conditions imposed below while you are no longer a member, you may be readmitted by baptism and confirmation," the letter said. "In order to be considered for readmission to the church, you will need to demonstrate over a period of time that you have stopped teachings and actions that undermine the church, its leaders, and the doctrine of the priesthood. You must be truthful in your communications with others regarding matters that involve your priesthood leaders, including the administration of church discipline, and you must stop trying to gain a following for yourself or your cause and taking actions that could lead others away from the church."

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The letter countered Kelly’s contention that her bishop and stake president had not responded to her repeated overtures to have a conversation about her Ordain Women activities. It mentions a meeting of the three of them in December, which Kelly had acknowledged and blogged about, concluding that she and her lay leaders had agreed to disagree.

Her bishop’s letter Monday, however, said he and the stake president "urged you to dissociate yourself from Ordain Women and to cease your campaign to promote the ordination of women."

The letter also said Wheatley reminded Kelly of that same counsel again in March and April.

Kelly said such conversations never happened. "It’s just not true. Point out the emails. I have all my phone records. There aren’t any [communications]."

D. Michael Quinn, a historian who was excommunicated in 1993, said his case was similar in one way: He was accused of apostasy related to his writings and interviews, but was ousted for conduct unbecoming a member.

He suspected at the time that his disciplinary council settled on such language because it was easier to get a unanimous decision on "bad manners" than on apostasy.

Neylan McBaine, founder of the Mormon Women Project, found a "glimmer of hope" in the language Kelly’s bishop used in excommunicating Kelly. Though an LDS feminist, McBaine has not endorsed the Ordain Women movement.

"By not using the word apostasy, it focuses the discipline on her tactics and leaves the door open for the subject matter conversation [women’s role in Mormonism] to continue."

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She fears the conversation is so polarized, some will take Kelly’s excommunication as a signal that Mormons shouldn’t discuss women’s concerns and those feeling disenfranchised then will embrace the Ordain Women movement.

"It’s going to take a very sophisticated and nuanced member to understand the distinction" between excommunication for apostasy and for conduct, she said. "But I hope our membership is compassionate and interested enough that it will be fully engaged going forward."

Kristine Haglund, editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, said on Monday’s Trib Talk that Ordain Women’s activism has created more polarization.

And yet the group’s push for women’s ordination to the all-male LDS priesthood is a logical outgrowth of feminism in the faith, she said. Women have been talking for decades about the right to discuss the denomination’s belief in a Heavenly Mother and gender roles.

"Kate sort of pitched the hardest nut to crack," she said.

The fact is, Haglund added, there has never been an approved venue or tone for Mormon women to speak about their issues with leaders. "And, as Mormon feminists have discovered over the decades, ... the church responds to bad PR. No matter how politely we’d like to speak, there is no way to do so."

Natasha Helfer Parker, who writes The Mormon Therapist blog and also appeared on Trib Talk, said she didn’t see Ordain Women as recruiting Mormons to a viewpoint as much as inviting them to think.

"I came across it [the group’s website]," she said, "and it resonated."

It’s not true, Parker added, that all Mormons feel comfortable or are having discussions about women’s roles in their chapels, in women’s Relief Society classes and other meetings.

"People are hurting in ways I don’t think we necessarily are hearing or validating."


Twitter: @KristenMoulton

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

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