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LDS Conference rally sparks debate about women’s role in church

October 14th, 2013 Posted in Opinion

By Christopher Farnes

LOGAN — At its fall General Conference in Salt Lake City earlier this month, about 200 female members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attempted to attend the all-male Priesthood Session. They were not allowed admittance. Their rally was a public demonstration by the Ordain Women group, which is actively seeking to bring more equality for women in the church.

The demonstration took place in Salt Lake City but the Ordain Women group has members throughout the world, and the demonstration has opened much dialogue as to the role of women in the LDS Church. Debra Jenson, a public relations professor at Utah State University, is a member of Ordain Women and participated in the demonstration.

“The goal for going to the priesthood session was to demonstrate our readiness for the blessings and the responsibilities of holding the priesthood,” Jenson said. “We see ourselves as prospective elders and want to attend the session with other priesthood holders to hear directly from our leaders.”

Ordain Women’s website states: “Ordain Women aspires to create a space for Mormon women to articulate issues of gender inequality they may be hesitant to raise alone. As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.”

The debate whether to allow women to receive the priesthood has intensified greatly since General Conference. Many LDS women argue that they should not receive the priesthood, but agree that there needs to be more gender equality within the church.

“I am very proud of what they did last week because it must have taken a lot of courage,” said Ann Austin, a USU child development professor and director of the Center for Women and Gender. “Although I personally would not consider joining because I don’t believe women should hold the male form of the priesthood.”

An argument that Austin makes is that women do not need to be ordained to the priesthood because they already hold a form of the priesthood which differs from the men. “I believe that women already have a form of the priesthood but it is expressed in a different way,” she said. “I would like to see those powers of the priesthood for women to be recognized more in the church.”

Other LDS women believe that these protests shouldn’t be happening and that they should instead trust in their church leaders.

“I believe much of this debate centers around a belief in Thomas S. Monson as a true prophet of God,” said Corinn Kendall, a former USU student. “Generally speaking I’ve found if you believe he is a prophet, you tend to have some different beliefs than those with the Mormon feminist protest.”

Ordain Women states that they still believe in the truthfulness of the LDS Church and that their goal is for the leaders of the church to simply prayerfully consider allowing women to be ordained to the priesthood.

“It is important to get to a place where people feel comfortable having conversations about women’s ordination and this was a way to help with that,” Jenson said. “The rally was a chance for women and male allies to stand together, some literally and others figuratively, to ask our leaders to prayerfully consider the question of women’s ordination and simultaneously encourage members to even imagine the possibility.”

Although the members of Ordain Women did not get to attend the Priesthood Session of General Conference, they still believe that the rally was a success.

“We had two goals with the rally last week: to demonstrate readiness for ordination and begin a dialogue. I would say we were successful,” Jenson said. “We did not get to attend, but we did have a chance to discuss our organization with an official representative and we know that many members of the church are having this conversation now.”


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  1. One Response to “LDS Conference rally sparks debate about women’s role in church”

  2. By Lydia on Oct 15, 2013

    “priests and priestesses,” genius.

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