‘Mormon Land’: Why can’t Latter-day Saint girls pass the sacrament?

Sam Brunson explores LDS scripture and tradition behind why only boys can carry the bread and water to the congregation.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023.

Every year, a new crop of young Latter-day Saints turning 12 by December will graduate from Primary, the faith’s program for children. The boys will get a new title — “deacon” — and start passing the bread and water of the sacrament (known as Communion in other Christian faiths and mostly distributed by priests and pastors), while the girls will start attending the Young Women’s program and get no new identity.

Why is there such a gender difference around the sacrament in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Tradition, says Sam Brunson, a Latter-day Saint tax attorney in Chicago who often writes about church issues on the blog By Common Consent. Or, in other words, “policy choices that church leaders made decades ago.”

Yes, the church has an all-male priesthood, but is passing the sacrament really a priesthood function? And if the Utah-based faith allows young women to carry those trays, does that mean they have to open up the priesthood to women?

On this week’s show, Brunson talks about how such differences came to be in the church and why he thinks some of them could be revised — without formally giving women the priesthood.

Listen here: