Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Op-ed: Mormon PR statement doesn’t fit Ordain Women facts

By April Young Bennett

First Published Jun 20 2014 05:58 pm • Last Updated Jun 20 2014 06:38 pm

In stark contrast to allegations by LDS Church public relations employees that Ordain Women has made "non-negotiable demands," Ordain Women representatives have actively sought to initiate discussions with LDS leaders, including five written requests to LDS Church headquarters for meetings with any General Authority available and willing. These requests have been ignored. In this vacuum, we are left to interpret the will of our own ecclesiastical leaders through a hodgepodge of church PR statements.

In the most recent PR statement, an LDS Church spokesperson assured us that the church is having "meaningful, helpful conversations with a variety of voices." Indeed, Ordain Women has received word that conversations about our own group, Ordain Women, have taken place at male-only meetings, including a men’s leadership meeting presided over by LDS apostle M. Russell Ballard in Kate Kelly’s home stake in Virginia shortly before she was unexpectedly threatened with excommunication for apostasy by her local bishop.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Church PR officials tell us that "there is no effort to tell local leaders to keep members from blogging or discussing questions online" and yet, Oakton Virginia Stake President Scott Wheatley has demanded that Kate Kelly take down ordainwomen.org as a condition of church discipline, an act that would stop "civil online dialogue" that church PR claims "church leaders have encouraged."

In a recent interview about church disciplinary action on KUER, another church PR representative admitted that church doctrine doesn’t say that women may not be ordained, but stated that "tone is important." Certainly, if the church wished to correct Kate Kelly’s tone or methods, such corrections could be negotiated by meeting with her and other Ordain Women advocates, instead of by casting her out of the church.

The PR representative went on to emphasize that there are not any hard guidelines as to how members of the church may communicate without censure, leaving church members susceptible to excommunication according to their local leaders’ whims.

The fact that church members live in fear of arbitrary discipline is a structural problem that needs to be addressed by church leaders at the general level. Local leaders should not be used as scapegoats when church policy and structure create conditions wherein people live in fear of punishment for failure to abide by undefined rules. But the newest PR statement extends punishable offenses to "seeking changes in church doctrines or structure" (emphasis mine) as if church officials actually hope to prevent structural problems from being identified and addressed.

April Young Bennett is an active member of the LDS Church and an advocate with Ordain Women.

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.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • 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.