Unfortunately, the feminist activists of Ordain Women want to upstage the Conference with their selfish agenda once again. They propose to line up before the all-male Priesthood Session on Saturday April 5th and demand tickets to enter the session. They will begin with opening exercises at City Creek Park at 4:00 P.M., then form up in the standby line outside the Conference Center at 4:30 P.M. to ask for admission tickets. Then, regardless of the outcome, they will reconstitute at City Creek Park. Over 100 of them did this in October 2013 even though LDS authorities told them in advance that they would not be admitted to the Priesthood Session. To their credit, the Ordain Women organizers intend to rigorously police the conduct of activists; they will not permit their people to display signs, vent any anti-Mormon tirades, and they ask activists to dress in Sunday best. The official Ordain Women spokespersons are identified as Kate Kelly, April Young Bennett, Debra Jenson, Suzette Smith, Chelsea Shields Strayer, Hannah Wheelwright, and Lorie Winder.
The LDS Church has fired back. According to the Deseret News, LDS spokeswoman Jessica Moody sent a letter to Ordain Women accusing them of intractability and saying that their activities detract from the helpful discussions that Church leaders have held as they seek to listen to the thoughts, concerns, and hopes of women inside and outside of Church leadership. Moody reminded the group that ordination of women to the priesthood is a matter of doctrine that is currently contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for His church, and suggested that if they really felt like they needed to make a public statement, they should reconsider their current plans to demonstrate and instead assemble at one of the free-speech zones outside Temple Square. The full letter is published at the end of this post, after the jump.
Kate Kelly quickly responded. She tried to put a positive spin on the Church's letter by characterizing it as a sign that the Church is willing to continue the dialogue. But she rejected the notion of diverting her group to the free speech zones, saying "We feel as faithful, active Mormon women we have nothing in common with people who oppose the church and want to protest against it. The church is its members. We aren't against the church, we are the church." Kelly takes umbrage at the thought of being linked with the customary anti-Mormon protestors in the free speech zones, saying that they're out to destroy the Church, and Ordain Women does not share that goal.
Prognosis: By their response, the LDS Church clearly indicates they would rather not subject these women to disciplinary councils. By suggesting the free speech zones as an alternative, the Church clearly respects Ordain Women's First Amendment rights to advocate for their cause. However, if Ordain Women chooses to line up for tickets, they are doing so against specific counsel; their actions can be interpreted as being in open rebellion against the Church, and they will jeopardize their membership. There is no way the Church could let it go, particularly after excommunicating Denver Snuffer and Brent D. Larsen under more sketchier pretexts. It is interesting that the Ordain Women activists want to stubbornly impose their minority opinion upon a 15-million member church rather than consider transferring to another church which confers priesthood upon women, such as the Community of Christ.
Unofficial LDS Reaction: Lining up in support of Ordain Women is Feminist Mormon Housewives and Approaching Justice. April Young Bennett posted additional support on The Exponent.
In support of the Church's position is Millennial Star, where Geoff B. notes that while the Ordain Women movement has garnered a total of 2,076 “likes” on its Facebook page, a counter-movement started last week called “Mormon Women Stand” already has 2840 “likes” with hundreds being added every day. A brief but eloquent statement of support for the Church's position is also posted on Rains Came Down. Public comments to media outlets such as KSL Channel 5 are mostly supportive of the Church.
TO: April Young Bennett, Debra Jenson, Kate Kelly, Hannah Wheelwright
FROM: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
SUBJECT: Ticket and Meeting Request
DATE: March 17, 2014
Thank you for your letter and email.
Some wonderful conversations have been held over recent years, and are continuing to be held, relative to women in the Church and the invaluable contributions we make. The recent changes you have seen, most notably the lowering of the missionary age for sisters, serve as examples and were facilitated by the input of many extraordinary LDS women around the world.
Women in the Church, by a very large majority, do not share your advocacy for priesthood ordination for women and consider that position to be extreme. Declaring such an objective to be non-negotiable, as you have done, actually detracts from the helpful discussions that Church leaders have held as they seek to listen to the thoughts, concerns, and hopes of women inside and outside of Church leadership. Ordination of women to the priesthood is a matter of doctrine that is contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for His Church.
The priesthood session of General Conference is designed to strengthen men and boys as they receive specific instruction about their roles and responsibilities; therefore we are unable to fulfill your request for tickets. You are certainly welcome to view the live broadcast of the priesthood session on lds.org, the Mormon Channel or BYUtv. We invite you, as our sisters, to participate with women everywhere in the parallel meeting for women and girls on March 29, and hope you will join us in a spirit of love and harmony. The women’s meeting is a remarkable gathering of worldwide sisterhood, and was proposed and planned by the presidencies and boards of the Primary, Young Women and Relief Society as a time to focus on ennobling and eternal doctrines relating to women.
Your organization has again publicized its intention to demonstrate on Temple Square during the April 5 priesthood session. Activist events like this detract from the sacred environment of Temple Square and the spirit of harmony sought at General Conference. Please reconsider.
If you feel you must come and demonstrate, we ask that you do so in free speech zones adjacent to Temple Square, which have long been established for those wishing to voice differing viewpoints. They can be found on the attached map.
As fellow Latter-day Saints and friends of the Church, we invite you to help us maintain the peaceful environment of Temple Square and ask that you please follow these details in your continued planning. In addition, consistent with long-standing policy, news media cameras will not be allowed on Temple Square during General Conference.
Again, we hope you will join us for the General Women’s Meeting on March 29 and contribute to the strength of sisterhood in our communities.
On behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints