Monday, December 30, 2013

Kate Kelly Won't Face Church Discipline For Her Ordain Women Activities; Too Bad Denver Snuffer Didn't Have The Same Stake President

I fully expected Ordain Women's founder Kate Kelly to face a disciplinary council over her effort to seek admission to the General Conference Priesthood Session on October 5th, 2013. Because she chose to seek admission even after she was told by Church authorities that she and her group would not be admitted, I interpreted that as an act of open rebellion against duly constituted Church authority.

However, Sister Kelly's local priesthood chain of command in Washington DC does not share that perspective. Kelly states that while she was called in by her bishop and stake president to explain her actions, she was told she was not facing any disciplinary action. Furthermore, she states that her priesthood chain of command told her they were not ordered to call her in by senior Church authorities, and that the senior leadership is not contemplating a crackdown on Ordain Women activists.

The money shot from Sister Kelly's post on Feminist Mormon Housewives:

The most important, immediate takeaways from my encounter with leadership were:

1) They explicitly and emphatically assured me that I was not facing any type of disciplinary action for my founding of, and participation in, Ordain Women.

2) They told me there was no directive from any area authority or higher-level Church leader instructing them to meet with me, interview me or punish me in any way. Hence, they assured me when I asked, there is no concerted effort on the part of the Church to “crack down” on members of Ordain Women or target us specifically for our unequivocal calls for female ordination.

Clearly the power dynamic was not balanced, but I came away from the meeting feeling proud and satisfied. While they do not agree with me, I felt I spoke clearly and the discussion was a productive one. My friend Suzette, and my dad also recently met with their leaders. They both discussed their Ordain Women participation with candor and had their temple recommends renewed.

Other commenters to the post indicate they also haven't faced any excommunication threats. So if Kate Kelly's activism passes muster with her local leadership, that would seem to settle the issue. The Church has set a newer and more flexible standard as to what constitutes acceptable public disagreement with Church policy by members.

Too bad Denver Snuffer didn't have the same stake president. Unlike Kate Kelly, Snuffer never led any public protests; his book, Passing The Heavenly Gift, was deemed by Church authorities to denigrate all LDS presidents since Joseph Smith. I can offer two reasons as to why Denver Snuffer was treated more harshly than Kate Kelly:

(1). Stake presidents enjoy considerable autonomy to run their fiefdoms with minimal interference. The Church chooses not to micromanage their stake presidents, reflecting Joseph Smith's old mantra "I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves". The First Presidency upheld the excommunication of Denver Snuffer on appeal.

(2). Unlike Kate Kelly, Denver Snuffer also held the priesthood. Because the priesthood confers additional authority and responsibility, a bearer of the priesthood incurs additional accountability. Thus Snuffer's stake president must have concluded that Snuffer, as a priesthood holder, should be judged by a higher and harsher standard than an ordinary member. This is implied by Doctrine & Covenants 121:36 which states, in part, "...the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness".

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