To Sonia Johnson, the effort to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and ‘80s was more than merely a single political cause. It was a turning point in her life.
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Virginia excommunicated Johnson from the Utah-based faith in 1979 for allegedly spreading false doctrine and working against them but she always maintained it was for exposing details of the church’s national campaign against the proposed constitutional amendment.
The discipline prompted her to evaluate all aspects of Mormonism. It also ended her marriage. At the same time, it propelled her onto the national stage, where the iconic feminist ran for the White House and used her newfound fame on behalf of women’s equality.
Some 35 years later, Kate Kelly, a Washington, D.C., activist also was excommunicated — at the same Virginia meetinghouse as Johnson — for her advocacy in pushing to ordain women to the faith’s all-male priesthood. She, too, is fighting for ratification of the ERA and has written a new book, “Ordinary Equality,” about the continuing quest to enshrine women’s rights in the Constitution.
On this week’s show, Johnson and Kelly discuss their ousters from their former faith, their current feelings toward the church, their advocacy for the ERA and its prospects, along with other women who have battled for the cause of equality.
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