Agitating Faithfully: A Website Agitating for Gender Equality in the Church

Below is the press release of the new website, Agitating Faithfully. Exponent Readers, what do you think of this strategy to promote gender equality in Mormonism? Personally, I believe the issue of women’s ordination is an important one, and I’m supportive of forums which facilitate the conversation. I’m also very interested to see how many people sign on. I think we’re living in an era of Mormonism in which stating support for women’s ordination won’t get us called in by our leaders. So what do you think? Will you sign?

Announcing a new Mormon feminist website: agitatingfaithfully.org
What is AF?
– It’s a site where church members can publicly state their support for gender equality in the church. It was inspired by Pres. Hinckley’s statement that women could possibly receive the priesthood, which he followed with, “but there there’s no agitation for that.” Perhaps if we take the prophet at his word, we could receive the blessings he suggests are available.
What can I do on AF?
– Add your name to the list of church members who support gender equality. You can do that by creating an account at http://agitatingfaithfully.org/new-account . Once you have an account, you can also respond to questions on the site at http://agitatingfaithfully.org/questions .
There are several LDS feminist sites already? What does AF offer that these sites don’t?
– The LDS feminist blogs like Feminist Mormon Housewives, The Exponent, and Zelophehad’s Daughters are great for engaging discussion and promoting ideas. The new WAVE site also provides a wonderful service by acting as an official face for the LDS feminist movement. AF isn’t intended to compete with what these sites are doing. Instead, it provides two specific services that I haven’t seen anywhere else:
  • A single, specific goal. Rather than dealing with feminist and gender issues generally, AF focuses specifically on the issue of extending the priesthood to women.
  • A means of organization. AF allows LDS feminists to publicly identify themselves. I think this is especially important since so many church members feel that there are no feminists in the church, and so many LDS feminists feel silenced in church. It’s a self-feeding cycle, and I believe that public self-identification is an important step toward breaking that cycle.
Do you really think AF will change the church’s policy regarding the priesthood?
– No.
Then what’s the point?
– Two points. First, solidarity. I hope that encouraging feminists in the church to “come out” publicly will help other members with similar perspectives who feel alone discover that they really are not alone — and perhaps even inspire them with the confidence to express their own beliefs. Second, I want my daughters to know how I feel. In a sense, this project is my testimony to them, that I feel they deserve the same blessings and opportunities that are available to the men in the church.
How can I contribute?
– Go to agitatingfaithfully.org and add your name to the list. Right now there’s only one name there. My initial goal is to have twenty names there by the end of January.
Who can I ask if I have any questions?
[email protected]

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women's Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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25 Responses

  1. Jessawhy says:

    Thanks for sharing this website, Caroline.

    I find it interesting that there is a man behind this website. Part of me wishes that it was a woman who started it, but I think that a man lends more legitimacy to the message (sadly). It also is a very direct and simple approach which I find more in my husband than in myself.

    I’m going to post this on Facebook and see what happens!

    • T.H. Shrum says:

      “wishes that it was a woman”

      So much for gender equality. Is that why we don’t have female ordination, because there have always been a “wish that it was a man”? Maybe those advocating that gender should not be a consideration as a necessary qualification , should practice what they preach?

  2. Howard says:

    I signed up and would support Julie Beck if she were President of the Church of course this would require a change to succession which is long overdue anyway. I would love to see women hold the Priesthood but many do not want to so I propose an all woman hierarchy extending from the General Relief Society President on down to the ward level by adding regional presidencies the Priesthood would be held for the duration of their leadership calling providing an option to hold it or not. I also would love to see the General Relief Society President called as an Apostle.

    • spunky says:

      Blech. Julie Beck as president? Can’t we do better?

      • Amy says:

        As I know Julie Beck personally, I find this offensive. If there is something particular that she did, maybe you could address that, but that comment is unneeded and doesn’t sound like the culture of respect that this website says it is trying to foster.

  3. Dane Laverty says:

    Thank you Caroline for your post here, and a special thanks to all of you who have taken the step to add your name to the list on the site. I’m amazed at the level of support the site has gotten. I expected it to take a month for twenty people to sign up, but we’re at twenty people right now, and it hasn’t been 12 hours yet.

    Jessawhy, the reason for the “direct and simple approach” is really just my lack of time. Since I’m building and maintaining the site myself, I don’t have the resources to do some of the more extensive things I might imagine for it. I look at the WAVE site, for example, and I’m jealous at the obvious level of forethought, planning, and execution that went into it. It is beautiful.

    As to your comment about it having been built by a man instead of a woman, it’s an irony not lost on me. One of the early comments I received on the site was that it seemed inappropriate that a feminist site would be dedicated to a man (my grandfather)…but somehow it seems oddly appropriate to me.

  4. Jenne says:

    What I love about the approach is that it is simply taking President Hinckley up on his offer. Its basically an invitation a la “We don’t see agitation for it but if we did, we’d listen. So if anyone is interested, agitate and we’ll listen.” Its being done from a faithful perspective and in some ways is acting in obedience to a well-beloved prophet. Its great to see the response already. Dane, are you ready to increase your goal for this month? Say, 100?

  5. Dane says:

    100 sounds great. Put the message out there! 🙂

  6. Corktree says:

    Am I wrong, or is this a monumental step? It seems so simple and safe, yet the very premise of this has so much potential to be dramatic. I’ve added my name, and I don’t feel an ounce of fear. Why is that? How do others feel?

    I’ve come so far in the past year on this issue. It used to feel absurd to consider actively asking for this, but now I can only see it as those who agitated for all men to have the priesthood must have. It seems so utterly ridiculous that there were restrictions of that kind, and I can only hope that we look back on this as similar. The quote from Pres. Hinckley tells me that they know it must come after we are ready to accept, and that we need to be the ones praying and asking for this if it’s right.

    I think we need to start exploring more in detail what the church organization would truly look like if women received official use of the priesthood (which I believe in many ways we already hold).

  7. Erin says:

    I would love to see the quote from Pres. Hinckley in full. Does anyone have that? I like the idea of giving LDS feminists a place to identify themselves as well. Thanks.

  8. Corktree says:

    Here’s the full conversation the quote was from. He’s saying that God could conceivably change things if that’s what is meant to happen and if there is agitation for it.

    http://www.lds-mormon.com/hinckley.shtml

  9. Hydrangea says:

    I’ll admit, I’ve gone to the site today 3 times today with the intent to sign up and then backed out. It seems like I’m making myself vulnerable, exposed with my name for all to see.

    Maybe I’m just trying to avoid an uncomfortable conversation and being told yet another time that I simply “don’t understand the priesthood” or a woman’s true divinity.

  10. nat kelly says:

    I signed it, and put it up on my facebook.

    I think this is super-de-duper fantastic. I’m ready to see big things happen.

  11. Candice says:

    Wow… You have got to be careful. I think you are out of line. There is a way and an order to all God has ordained on earth. I have struggled with these issues myself, but there is nothing in the priesthood that we, as women, can’t have through the gifts of the spirit and faith. I have taken my own grievances and feelings of unfairness to the Lord with prayer, fasting and temple attendance. I can honestly tell you I have received strong, concrete, and truly sacred answers. I know without a doubt that my Father in Heaven and His son Jesus Christ love me. Words truly can’t communicate the intensity of this love. Men who hold the priesthood are no better in any way than Women who live righteously. They are not favored more by God, they are not given better blessings, they are not loved more. The love God has for his daughters is truly incredible. I have had witness after witness of this love. If there is something we need, He will provide- of that I am certain. All this talk of “agitating” makes me very uncomfortable and feels very wrong. I have heard that in the last days, the biggest threat to the church will come from within. Please don’t let yourself be part of that. I am truly grateful for my Savior and my Father in Heaven who have testified of their love to me and of my worth. I enjoy every blessing, if not more than any priesthood holder. I feel moved to express a word of caution to “feminists”. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. 🙂

    • Naismith says:

      I’ve also received answers that I feel comfortable with, but those answer were for me, not for other women. I don’t have stewardship over them, so I wouldn’t presume to give them advice.

      I have a lot of respect for this particular effort, because it is indeed based on President Hinckley’s comments. I suspect he is intensely amused by this.

      However, I would be much more positive toward this effort if they simply focussed on agitating faithfully for the priesthood, and not made a claim that this particular action is required for equality. I think they are separate issues. If they want the priesthood fine. Just don’t tell me that I am not equal if I don’t agree.

  12. Ms. Jack says:

    Hi Caroline,

    I have struggled with these issues myself, but there is nothing in the priesthood that we, as women, can’t have through the gifts of the spirit and faith. [SNIP] I enjoy every blessing, if not more than any priesthood holder.

    So, how does an LDS woman go about obtaining the blessing of baptizing her children?

    • Caroline says:

      Ms. Jack,
      Just to be clear: Candice is the one who said that quote, not me. I agree with you – I’d like women to have the opportunity to baptize and bless their children. 🙂

      • Ms. Jack says:

        My apologies, Caroline, the question was directed at Candice. I’ve been losing a lot of sleep lately, and I guess between reading the post and getting to the bottom of the comments, I got your “Ca—” names mixed up.

        Sorry about that!

    • Candice says:

      You are right, as women, we can not baptize our children, but we have such a different and amazing connection with our children than their Dad’s. How does an LDS man go about obtaining the blessings that come from nursing their infant, and the closeness that comes from a suckling baby? I honestly believe there is nothing more powerful than the faith and love of a mother for her child. This faith and love has the power to accomplish miracles. My point is that we are in no way left behind or slighted. Our blessings are different, yes, but in no way less. I do not feel there is an inequality that needs redress.

  13. Ms. Jack says:

    So, Candice, how does a woman like me who gave birth to a cleft palate baby who could not nurse go about obtaining the blessing of feeling my baby nurse? My husband gets the priesthood, and he got almost the exact same feeding-the-baby closeness that I got: using a cleft palate nurser to feed her with formula. (Granted, I did a little extraction with a milk pump in the beginning, but I gotta say, spending several hours a day with a noisy machine pulling on my boob didn’t make me feel any closer to my baby.)

    My point is this: service in the priesthood is itself a blessing. Women do not get access to that service, so women don’t get all of the blessings of the priesthood in any meaningful sense. You can switch to arguing that women get other female-only blessings that men don’t get (pregnancy, childbirth, lactation), but not all women get these. Single women don’t get them. Infertile women don’t get them. Those of us who can’t nurse or have good reasons to not nurse don’t get them.

    In contrast, virtually any man can access the blessings of the priesthood. Single men get them. Infertile men get them. I’ve seen men with severe autism and Down Syndrome ordained to the priesthood and passing the Sacrament, yet women with severe autism or Down Syndrome rarely reproduce.

    Women don’t get the priesthood, and they don’t get anything to complement the priesthood to make up for it. Now if you personally don’t mind being deprived of blessings, fine by me, but please don’t tell other people that they’re “out of line” for not feeling the same way and trying to do something about it.

    • Candice says:

      I never told anyone they were “out of line”. You get revelation and inspiration for yourself. I am in no way trying to tell you what or how to believe. If you read my original post again, I was trying to express caution. I thought this was a place where we could freely discuss issues. I am not trying to attack in any way or push my beliefs onto anyone else. I simply disagree with you on this issue and felt I needed to write a comment. Believe me, I never would have commented a word, but as I said in my original post, I felt prompted to. I am very sorry for the difficulty and trials you have had with nursing. Please forgive me if my reply seemed insensitive or hurtful in anyway. That was not my intent. I am a Physical Therapist and I worked for 3 years in pediatrics, so I do have experience with special needs children. They are truly a gift and I am sure you are an incredible mother.

      Now, please do not take my comments as an attack or in any way disrespectful. I simply would like to address some of the points you brought up. I know you and I do not see eye to eye on this issue, but as I said before- I have struggled with feeling slighted by not having the priesthood for a long time. However answers to prayers have come and for me, peace and resolution. You stated “service in the priesthood is itself a blessing. Women do not get access to that service, so women don’t get all of the blessings of the priesthood in any meaningful sense.” I believe service in the church is a blessing period. The priesthood doesn’t mean your service is any more or less significant. Holding callings such as bishop or stake president is just as demanding on the bishop’s wife or stake president’s wife, and I believe these women share in the blessings their husbands receive through their service. As women we have unique God-given abilities to love, nurture and sense what others need. We don’t need the priesthood like the men do. I believe we are naturally in tune with the spirit and inherently know what others need. You seem to think all men can freely have the priesthood, but that is not true. The men must be worthy, righteous and diligent to utilize the priesthood. Not all men who “hold the priesthood” are truly worthy. There are definitely imperfections because people are not perfect. However, the gospel and the plan of salvation is perfect. We all have our trials and each life is full of tribulations and seemingly unfair obstacles. I feel for single women, those who can’t have children, and those who are unable to nurse. I think our Savior and our Father in Heaven are acutely aware of them. I pray for them and know they will receive these blessings, although it may not be while they are here on Earth. If our loving Father in Heaven sees fit to grant the priesthood to women in mortality than He will. However, I personally do not think it will be because of feminists agitating for equality. I continue to feel impressed to express caution. There is an order and a purpose in all things. This life is but a small moment in the whole spectrum of things. Contention, agitation, defensiveness, feeling bitter and slighted- these are not associated with the Spirit of God. Meekness, kindness, submissiveness, humility, not puffed up, seeketh not her own, charity, love, etc. these are the feelings and emotions associated with the Spirit of God. As I said before, I do not feel deprived of any blessings because I do not hold the priesthood. I just hope I can live in a way to possess the faith necessary to partake of all the spiritual gifts and blessings available to all righteous seekers.

      • Corktree says:

        Candice, I can see what you’re saying and the position you’re saying it from, and you are welcome to express your opinion here. Thank you for your concern and respectful tone.

        But just for a moment, try to think of it from a different angle. Try to imagine someone telling a black man 40 years ago that he could still have all the blessings of serving in the church, and that he didn’t need the blessings of serving as a priesthood holder, because they were equivalent. He didn’t need to aspire for more, because he should be happy with what he had. And can you even imagine one black brother saying it to another in the church?

        The problem, also, is that it is assumed that we want what we don’t have. That we are asking for more. But in reality (from our perspective) we are asking for acknowledgement of what we ALREADY have, and for the ability to put the power that we possess inherently as women (as you mention) to the use that it was intended for. Not as an increase or burden, but as a recognition and removal of obstacle to what we believe we are able and meant to accomplish in building zion and strengthening those around us.

  14. Ms. Jack says:

    Candice ~ I never told anyone they were “out of line”.

    What you said in your original comment on this thread was, “Wow… You have got to be careful. I think you are out of line.

    For the record, I wasn’t offended by your reply. I just found it frustrating. There are many, many Latter-day Saints like yourself who seem to feel that a woman’s access to pregnancy, childbirth and lactation makes up for her lack of access to administering ordinances and blessings to her children. They never seem to think much about those women who can’t access those things and how it must make them feel to know that they get neither the blessing of administering priesthood ordinances to their children nor these female “blessings” of biology that are supposed to make up for it. “Don’t worry, you’ll get it in the next life” is pretty cold comfort, and not a very good solution when this can be partially remedied in this life. The church can’t necessarily make infertile women fertile or instantly fix a cleft palate baby’s mouth so that she can nurse, but it can give women access to administering baptism and blessings to their children.

    I believe service in the church is a blessing period. The priesthood doesn’t mean your service is any more or less significant.

    I agree. But I find it pretty obvious that holding the priesthood grants benefits that women can’t possibly be said to access in any meaningful sense. My male LDS friends seem to think that getting to baptize their children is pretty darn neat. They speak of it as a “blessing,” and official church discourse has called it a “blessing.” I just don’t see any way of avoiding the conclusion that excluding women from the priesthood excludes them from this blessing.

    As women we have unique God-given abilities to love, nurture and sense what others need. We don’t need the priesthood like the men do. I believe we are naturally in tune with the spirit and inherently know what others need.

    I don’t believe this, and here’s why: if women are truly more nurturing/spiritual/loving/whatever so that men need the priesthood just to make up for it, then all non-LDS men are inferior to just about everyone else. They’re less nurturing and spiritual and loving than all of the world’s women, and they’re also less nurturing/spiritual/loving than priesthood-holding LDS men. I know plenty of non-LDS men who are deeply spiritual and nurturing and loving, so I just can’t accept this explanation.

    Yes, I think that all men can theoretically hold the priesthood. Any man can make the necessary changes in his life to become worthy and be ordained to the priesthood. It doesn’t work that way for pregnancy, childbirth and lactation. There isn’t anything that a woman who is infertile can do to make her body produce babies. The benefits of female biology make for an extremely poor complement to the priesthood because of this.

    Contention, agitation, defensiveness, feeling bitter and slighted- these are not associated with the Spirit of God.

    I can’t agree with you that contention is not of the Spirit of God. Contention is perfectly appropriate so long as one is contending for the truth. The example of Zelophehad’s daughters in the Old Testament is also a pretty good example of disenfranchised women agitating for a righteous cause and being heard, so I’d say appropriate agitation is completely consistent with the Spirit of God.

    If your last two examples are truly against the Spirit of God, then maybe the church should stop being defensive about barring women from the priesthood and stop making people feel bitter and slighted on the matter.

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