Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Free Kate Kelly! Free John Dehlin!

I just found out that the church has threatened Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women movement, and John Dehlin, founder of  Mormon Stories, with excommunication.

I think this is a big mistake one the part of the Church.

According to the New York Times, the church has stated that "Decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by church headquarters."  I have a hard time believing this.  I think it is highly likely that at least someone in higher church leadership had a hand at this.  Otherwise, it is simply too big of a coincidence.  However, I also think it is highly unlikely that there is consensus among the church leadership.  This is probably a highly contentious issue and some of the leadership are trying to act out on their own by interfering with the local leadership.

I think there is going to be a backlash.  I also want to openly promote a backlash.

But before I get to that, let me state that I don't actually think the church should ordain women.  I don't really care if they do, but I think it is okay for the church to reserve some symbolic positions for men.  Call me old fashioned, but I think that mysticism is a big part of religion.  By mysticism I mean the whole Yin/Yang thing associating masculine and feminine properties to everything in the universe.  Leadership is kind of masculine (Yin, I think) quality, and I have no real problem with the symbolism of having men lead the church.

The problem is that actual authority should not be limited to men.  Let men perform rituals etc., but women should have an equal say in the things that matter.  And they don't.  Anyway, I would make a distinction between symbolic authority and actual authority.  The ordain women movement is based on the idea of giving women symbolic authority.  And maybe that is a prerequisite for having actual authority, but I don't think so.

The more important point is that I don't think the church should go about excommunicating people who just want to be equal members of the community, or who want to explore some of the hard questions that come with being a member of the church.

So I have joined (submitted my profile to) the Ordain Women movement and I urge you to as well.

If you don't want to do that, then maybe you can "like" the Ordain Women facebook page, or send a tweet with the #freekatekelly hash tag (or #freejohndehlin).  Do what you can to show your support.  Even if you are not a member of the church!

Church leaders hate internal contention more than anything.  They want clear in-group/out-group lines, so when something threatens them from within they (or at least some of them) want to make the source of the dissonance into an enemy.  Don't let them.  By showing our support for Ordain Women we are saying that there are real questions within the church, not just threats from enemies of the church.

Update: I was suspended from the website Cougarboard for suggesting that the church would make a mistake by excommunicating Kate.


  1. actual equality > symbolic equality.

    amen. i'm submitting a profile too.

  2. Did you read Kate's first-hand story on Ordain Women? Her leadership said nothing to her when she lived there and she was more than open about all her actions. It wasn't until she MOVED AWAY that they called for a hearing, which she cannot attend. I used to belong to a group of "underground mormon feminist" most of whom were afraid to mention any of their questions for this very reason. This is not healthy. Questioning is what the church claims started the whole thing, so shouldn't it be promoted not quashed?

  3. Yeah, I read that. Maybe Virginia Church leaders are in some kind of competition with Virginia politicians.

    I think that different church leaders have very different views about what kind of questioning they are comfortable with. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them are very upset that this is happening.