Guest Post: Thoughts on Equality in the Church

by Tom P

My wife follows the Exponent and from time to time shares articles with me that raise many fascinating and legitimate points, particularly when it comes to gender inequality in the church. Without downplaying in any measure the concerns expressed in this blog, I have lamented the gender inequality in the church for many years but from a different perspective.

Having served primarily with the youth for about 30 years I have often wished that the men called to work with the youth were as faithful in their callings as the women in equivalent callings in the Young Women or Primary organizations. I cannot count the number of times I have been let down by male leaders on Sundays, activity nights, camping trips, or other events. On the other hand my wife, who has served in the Primary for as long as I have with the youth, probably could count the number of times she has been let down by a sister in the ward and not exceed her fingers and toes.

Based solely on my experience, there is a huge gender gap in the church when it comes to faithfully fulfilling our calling; and the men come out on the bottom by a considerable margin.

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At the Gender Rolls Bakery

rollsThe customer reached for a roll, but the baker slapped her hand, “No!” he said. “That’s the Decide and Preside Roll.  It’s for men. Be careful not to take a roll that isn’t yours.”

The customer stepped back, “Can I have one of these?” she asked, pointing toward the Pastoral Care Rolls.

The baker shook his head.  “Let me show you to our Women’s Department.”

The customer followed the baker to the Women’s Department, which was well-stocked with Motherhood Rolls.

“There’s only one kind of roll here!” complained the customer.

“These rolls are divine,” replied the baker.

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“Coming Out” as a Mormon Feminist in Support of Ordination—On TV

“Coming Out” as a Mormon Feminist in Support of Ordination—On TV
Photo by D'arcy Benincosa

Photo by D’arcy Benincosa (That’s me in red on the far right.)

If you would like to demonstrate your desire for women to hold the priesthood but didn’t make it out to Salt Lake City to join Ordain Women at the Priesthood Session last October,  you have another chance. Ordain Women has decided to attend the April 2014 priesthood session.

I participated in October, in spite of  my fears  about declaring my desires to participate in the priesthood so openly. Before Ordain Women, I had enjoyed semi-anonymity, using only my first name here at the Exponent.  My involvement in Ordain Women resulted in a pretty dramatic “coming out” as a Mormon feminist to  my Mormon family, church leaders and predominantly LDS local community.

The day that the Ordain Women October Priesthood Session Action event Facebook site launched, someone directed my parents to my positive RSVP.  This had the potential to go very badly, considering that we had a big ol’ fight after someone pointed out my support for  Pants to Church Day in 2012.  However, my dad sent me a short, tactful email requesting my “thoughts on this.” I emailed back telling him that I support ordination of women and included a copy of my Ordain Women profile.  My father responded with a long letter that essentially said that my parents did not know whether they agreed with the concept of women’s ordination, and that they dislike public demonstrations, but they trusted me and would not try to stop me from doing something I felt called to do.

I was one of four women who signed a letter to officials at church headquarters requesting tickets to Priesthood Session for 150 women.  The day Church Headquarters responded was busy for me. I was painting a new guest room in preparation for hosting a friend from out of state who would stay at my house during the priesthood session event.  The LDS Newsroom responded to our letter requesting tickets,  gave copies of our correspondence with Church Headquarters to the press, and announced a new policy that Priesthood Session would be broadcast live.  So the press called us.  I was on TV that day on all local Salt Lake City TV stations. My neighbor across the street called me to ask if my house had flooded, as that was the only explanation she could think of for all the TV crews at my house.

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Conference Talk Makeover (Thanks a lot, Ensign)

Uh oh! Someone deleted the prophetic words!What is the most important information to glean from a conference talk by an apostle? Is it what he actually said or is it information that he excluded from the talk? Which part of the talk should we focus on–the talk’s thesis statement or the talk’s endnotes? And what can you do if you don’t like a talk by an apostle? Maybe you think that he should have said something else? Can you just go ahead and rewrite the talk? And if you want to critique an apostle’s talk, is it necessary to sign your name? Is it okay to hide your critique in an official church publication and pretend that you’re just summarizing the talk, not critiquing it?

An anonymous staff person at the Ensign answers all of these questions with a new series titled, October 2013 Conference Notebook,  in which he/she takes talks from General Conference that he/she apparently did not approve of, deletes out the objectionable parts, and replaces them with items from the endnotes that the anonymous staff person likes better. The first installment of this new series includes this creative rewrite of Power in the Priesthood by Elder Neil L. Andersen. 

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