Episode 104: Questioning Kate Kelly and Ordain Women

Lindsay and Jerilyn are joined by Ordain Women founder, Kate Kelly to ask her questions submitted by listeners and critics of the movement.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Mini-documentary on the October 2013 action


29 thoughts on “Episode 104: Questioning Kate Kelly and Ordain Women

  1. I was hoping this would have been asked in the survey but maybe no one did but my question is:

    What other approaches did you consider besides the priesthood action? What about going to church leaders and asking your request to be forwarded from the local level to the GAs?

    1. I think that gets addressed pretty thoroughly at the Ordain Women FAQ. I know there have been a number of posts about that in posts on the main FMH posts. I know it was discussed in the post that was reposted today, with all the Perma talking about their feelings about the Ordain Women action last year.

      1. I don’t actually see anything on the FAQ that addresses that question, and it is one that I hear quite commonly. To what extent has OW sought to go up the usual chain?

        1. I admit, I haven’t been to the FAQ fir awhile, but I do know that the repost from yesterday does have several FMH per mas who address how many times they have tried official channels.

          I can answer for myself. (I am not a member of Ordain Women, but I absolutely support them in their request for our leaders for heavenly inquiry about female ordination or expanded female roles.) I have spoken to bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents and members of temple presidencies in the areas I have lived in, and asked how to talk to an area authority or member of the 70 or Quorum of the 12. At one time I had a calling that put my in close contact, working with our area authority, and both times I attempted to discuss this with him, he told me that he had been instructed to not have conversations with members on those subjects, and that if female ordination was ever to happen it would be a happy surprise for him, but not one that was currently under discussion. (I wasn’t the one who brought up female ordination, I was simply wanting to discuss feminist Issues in general.) He then told me that he thought that until it became an issue that men and women in the church were worried about, it was likely to not become something that “The Brethren would discuss.”

          I suggest you read the reposted post on the regular blog, for other experiences and perspectives. The post is pretty thorough.

      1. So? You can bring a law suit against anyone. She seems like a smart lawyer, who could craft some kind of legal argument. It’s likely to be dismissed, but it would generate a lot of debate (most likely negative). If she wants to get tough with the brethren, show up in court, and not outside of a priesthood meeting trying to barge in. Put your money where you mouth is.

        1. This is not an issue of law, this is a petition to ask the Lord, and to allow all women the gift given to Mary and Martha, to learn at the feet of Christ’s servants, alongside the men who are doing so. Christmas has invited us to come unto Him. If I were ever to be in Utah, I would want a chance to listen to of all the words spoken, rather than being shut out of 20% of the sessions.

          Those desires are something we can petition the Lord and His servants to be allowed, and we are encouraged to ask God and are promised to be unbraideth not. I feel no condemnation when I pray, only from other members who seem to feel that they have the right to sit in judgment and who tell me to leave the church, because I am following the admonition to ask of God, with faith that there are answers available through our leaders.

          I can’t imagine what kind of lawsuit would be a petition to our Heavenly Parents.

    1. Because the church doesn’t work that way. We believe in continuing revelation. Suing the church would accomplish nothing positive. I don’t think that the founders of OW are looking at things in that light at all.

  2. I do see that the Emporer has no clothes. Clearly. And I have to call out the lie here before I perish. It is a lie that there is gender inequality. We know from the scriptures that the Lords way is not the worlds way. When you place the way the Lord works against the way the world works, there will be discrepencies. There will be room for feelings of unfairness and pride. The Lords pattern has never reflected that of the world. What looks like inequlaity to others is exactly perfect in the Lords way. We dont know enough in this life, with this earthly veil, to begin to draw such black and white lines. Things done the Lords way are never done after the manner of men, so why continue to make it fit that pattern? The truth is here, it is right in front of you, you can’t see it. I am not the blind one, I see the lie that is being told! I dont have to have my role as a Woman look like other organizations in the world to know its right and enough. I feel honored and loved, not marginilized. I will not be distracted by feelings of what the world tells me is fair. I will let the Lord teach me his way, even if it looks weak to organizations like this one. I trust Him, not the world. He literally runs the Church, it is His.

    1. Hi, Shantel. This seems like a well-meaning comment, and I personally empathize with your position, but I’m not sure how productive this kind of rhetoric is to productive conversation.

      1. Shantel just expressed a strong testimony of The Lord, His ways and His church ….. and you called it rhetoric? Don’t you see the problem here?

        1. I actually agree with her position. It’s the way she expressed it that I was concerned about. Not because she’s wrong. I think she’s absolutely right. I just think that if you’re trying to engage in a discussion, it’s helpful to choose words that will communicate your position well to your audience. Heavy-handed calls to repentance might make Shantel feel better, but they will largely be ignored by anyone on the receiving end. Perhaps it was out of line of me to point this out. I just hate to see faithful positions like hers not taken seriously because she’s used words that come across as I’m-right-you’re-wrong-there’s-no-room-for-discussion-on-this. I apologize if that was offensive.

    2. I’m glad that you feel honoured and loved. Equality though isn’t about a feeling. It’s about what is. The last time I went to the Temple I listened with the ordination question in mind. I’m still not sure what way I’m going here, but I can tell you this, we will be able to access the priesthood in the hereafter. How? I don’t know, but the Endowment session is really quite clear.

  3. Great podcast! Thanks for answering these questions. I’m much more sympathetic to the cause after having listened to this. Thank you for your sincerity and honesty!

    I have quite a few questions. One is this: is there a scenario under which Kate Kelly (I realize she can’t speak for anyone else) would accept the possibility that her view of priesthood is not part of God’s design (Note: I’m not saying that it isn’t; I obviously can’t know that)–that priesthood or parts of priesthood may be gendered? Kate Kelly speaks a lot about continuing revelation and the heavens being open. Ordain Women could be seen as calling for specific revelation more so than continuing revelation. If continuing revelation meant that priesthood was gendered, how would Kate Kelly respond to this? And again, under what scenario would she be willing to accept this? I ask this because figuring out how to align my will with God’s vs. asserting my spiritual independent as a personal ongoing tension. How does Kate Kelly manage this tension? I think some of the negative reaction to Ordain Women is that many mainstream Mormons perceive that she has resolved this tension by assuming a “non-negotiable” position/viewpoint (hence the Church’s use of that word in their letter); i.e. not even allowing for the possibility that her paradigm may not be God’s paradigm. Thoughts?

  4. I grew up in an area of the United States where there was much hostility toward Mormons, both implicit and explicit. This contributed greatly to my clinical depression in high school. A young friend of mine who grew up in the same area had to switch high schools (and confront a bout of depression/anxiety) because of the bullying she experienced as a Mormon during the Prop 8 aftermath. Most Mormon women I know have at some time or another experienced this hostility from the larger culture. I feel for those in OW who feel like they’ve experienced the same kind of disapproval or hostility from their more intimate circles. That must be painfully disheartening. At the same time, I think what a lot of mainstream/moderate Mormon women are concerned about regarding OW–and perhaps the reason they become defensive–is the perception that OW has embraced the same media that have often written stories that either willfully misunderstand or actively shame Mormon female identity. Many of these women feel OW is aligning themselves with these shaming practices. Generations of Mormon women have found it difficult to carve out a safe space in American or other national cultures. While I understand the intent of OW is not necessarily to shame mainstream/moderate Mormon women, can Kate Kelly speak to these concerns that many Mormon women have?

    [P.S. Maybe next time a slightly less amount of time contrasting Kate Kelly’s glamorous gala/globe-trotting career with tending to gooey-fingered toddlers would be skillful. That was maybe not the most helpful bit of imaging for those in OW who would like to solicit sympathy from mainstream Mormons to their cause.]

    1. Note: I’m thinking specifically of accusations of “benign sexism” and implying that Mormon women who don’t necessarily believe in female ordination haven’t looked in the mirror (or are deceiving themselves if they have).

  5. It would be fantastic to put a transcript of this interview out there… because it deserves a wider audience. As it is now, it takes quite a long time to get through, and it’s essentially hidden from search engines.

  6. Great episode. Thanks so much for all the effort and thought that all three of you put into it. It’s like y’all prayed and listened to the Spirit or something. 😉 <3

  7. One question: If the answer regarding the ordination of women is a firm No …. you say you will continue to serve the Lord. But will you heed His prophet?

    1. I can only speak for me personally, but I think a lot of my response will depend on the way a “firm No” is talked about and discussed with members. There are so many previous revelations that say it will happen sometime, that the church leaders would need to be transparent in addressing the issue, and a member of the First Presidency would need to explain the process that led up to the answer. Ordination is not a make it, or break it, issue for me. More transparency and accountability at all levels of church governance is something that I have struggled with since I was in YW.

      For me, it is the asking process, about whether women are heard and interacted with, as important daughters of God, who have a righteous question, and they wiah for the prophet to inquire of the Lord. What I hope, is that as there are concerns from members of the church, especially women, that the General Authorities take the chance to be more responsive to member concerns and requests.

      I’m not sure what answer you are looking for, but that’s the only one I’ve got at this point.

  8. Last comment: Once again, OW has some imaging problems if Kate Kelly hopes to appeal to mainstream Mormons but then sympathetically relates anecdotes wherein investigators say “I can’t be part of a church that teaches my daughters to be what Mormon women are.” Might be helpful if that quote were re-phrased if this anecdote is to be used in future interviews. Just a thought.

      1. That’s exactly the problem. I’m not overly concerned that there are people who view Mormon women that way. I’m personally quite aware of that. What I’m saying is that if Kate Kelly hopes to gain ground among mainstream Mormons, using quotes like that isn’t going to gain sympathy for her cause. One of the problems with OW’s messaging is that they are perceived to continually align themselves with viewpoints and groups outside of Mormonism–groups that are at best patronizing toward Mormon women–causing mainstream Mormons to distrust their intentions. If she’s not interested in gaining sympathy within Mormonism, then yeah, it’s fine if she uses quotes like that. I mean, aside from the fact that most OW sisters would likely be very hurt if in order to make a point, I anecdotally quoted someone saying, “I can’t be part of a group that teaches my daughters to be what OW women are.”

        1. Kate Kelly uses a lot more alienating language than that. I know a number of women who were increasingly active or sympathetic to OW and were blindsided when they discovered her anti-natalist views, for one thing.
          I’m the first to appreciate the progress Kate and OW have made in creating space for women to increase their voice in the church. But even so I’m afraid that she, in particular, is going to be bad for Mormon Feminism in the long run. She’s too far from center to be a long-term figurehead, and will end up being an obstacle to getting more mainstream women involved in MoFem. She simply validates too many of the reasons that so many mainstream women are hesitant to admit that they are feminist.

  9. This is very helpful for responding to others so thank you. And I can’t wait for the discussion helps that you talked of to become available. With this podcast on my mind today I picked up the book Mormon Women Have Their Say. I found part of this quote from Chieki Okazaki to fit with Kate’s description of the women of the OW movement being defined by themselves throughout this process and not by others. She says: ” . . . They [Mormon Mothers] need to know where they stand in their own eyes and where they stand with the Lord. That precious knowledge is not a something they should let someone decide for them.”

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