Beliefs Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Mormon apostle to women: “Now, don’t talk too much in those meetings” …


Remember that European sisters’ meeting whose ad poster I criticized a couple of weeks ago?

Well, that meeting is in the news again, and not because of an unequal balance of male and female speakers. (It turned out to be five to three, by my count, so a much better ratio in the end than the all-male lineup initially advertised.)

No, it’s being discussed because of something Elder Ballard said in his talk.

As I write this I’m mindful of a truth that comes up in one of the other talks at the meeting, when Elder Bednar opens his remarks by asking people to be forgiving of speakers, and not constantly looking out for something to offend.

So with that in mind I hope people will listen to Elder Ballard’s entire talk, which you can access at the 1:19 mark here, rather than just watching the 30-second clip above.

Most of the talk is uplifting, except for a rambling criticism of adherents of other religions, followed by a comment to the same LDS women he has just praised as indispensable to the Church, telling them to be sure not to “talk too much.” (See an excellent play-by-play cartoon about it here.)

I can think of many excuses for Elder Ballard’s statement. He was speaking without notes in a rare “uncorrelated” moment. Maybe he was trying to inject some humor to put the audience at ease.

Or maybe, some people will say, he only sounded sexist toward women, but if anything was actually being sexist to men. The old “chicken patriarchy” approach.

But let’s remember that this statement came just after Elder Ballard’s recent Ensign article about women, men, and priesthood. “Now, sisters, while your input is significant and welcome in effective councils, you need to be careful not to assume a role that is not yours,” he wrote last month.

So the “don’t talk too much” injunction is not so much a random aside as a visible pattern.

[tweetable]Elder Ballard has twice in one month told Mormon women to rein in their voices.[/tweetable]

Online, Patheos blogger Natasha Helfer Parker has been accused of taking Elder Ballard’s remark out of context. She responded that the context is precisely what should be troubling:

I can’t ever recall men in our day and age being told to keep their comments short in a ward council or to make sure they straighten out the sisters. The context is in the many talks that have been occurring in the past year about the “place” and “role” of female leadership within our church. The context has very much been about not only sharing your voice but making sure it’s shared in the “right way.”

I recognize there were many great messages given at this conference. But addressing underlying gender issues and educating ourselves on how these issues come up over and over again, is very much “in context” with our current state of affairs.

Like Natasha, I hope that this odd dance of “women are wonderful, we love to hear from them, but we don’t want to hear from them too much” comes to an end.

It’s hurtful. It devalues women and risks silencing their potential contributions, as they are left to wonder whether and how often their voices will be welcome.

 

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

150 Comments

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  • Jana, early in your column you write: “As I write this I’m mindful of a truth that comes up in one of the other talks at the meeting, when Elder Bednar opens his remarks by asking people to be forgiving of speakers, and not constantly looking out for something to offend.”

    And yet isn’t the ultimate takeaway from your column that some women are rightfully offended by a couple of short sentences in Elder Ballard’s remarks which one would have to be straining at gnats to be offended by?

    As a public service, I’ve painstakingly transcribed the related segment near the end of his talk:

    “Just think what we know. And yet sometimes I think we become comfortable in our own little associations within the wards and the branches in this part of the world. And my plea with you tonight, the blessing that I would ask our Heavenly Father to grant unto you individually and collectively, would be that you would never ever take lightly what you know to be true, that you will become pioneers as the first pioneers, women of great faith and great strength and great power and courage, that you will let your voices be heard. We cannot meet our destiny of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in preparing this world for the Second Coming of the Savior of the world without the support and the faith and the strength of the women of this church. We need you. We need your voices. They need to be heard. They need to be heard in your community and your neighborhoods. They need to be heard within the ward council, or the branch council. Now don’t talk too much in those council meetings. Just straighten the brethren out quickly, and move the work on. We’re building the kingdom of God. We’re preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Savior and the Redeemer of the world.”

    If we truly take to heart Elder Bednar’s remarks about being “forgiving of speakers, and not constantly looking out for something to offend,” wouldn’t this be a great place to start?

    Anyone who is familiar with the entirety of Elder Ballard’s ministry knows that he has been virtually an unrivaled champion of women’s voices being heard and heeded in the councils of the church. One would be hard pressed to name another prophet or apostle who has ever chastised priesthood leaders more thoroughly for ever failing to seek the counsel of women and giving their words the prayerful consideration that they deserve.

    Would it be too much to occasionally speak of things virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy from conferences such as this rather than strain to find SOMETHING to be offended by? Would it have been so hard, after previously complaining about pastels and posters, to follow-up with praise for the messages of the Lord’s servants at this special occasion?

    After introducing his wife, Elder Ballard commented near the very end: “What matters? What matters is our witness and testimony of the truth, our children, and our grandchildren – our family.”

    Every once in awhile it would be nice to read more witnesses and testimonies of the truth, than criticisms of the Lord’s anointed. After all, what really matters?

  • By the way, after all the concern over imbalances in male versus female speakers, shouldn’t have there been more attention to balancing the review of the conference itself? To read this column, one would never know what the women had to say! :o)

  • Generally we only speak up when we’ve got criticism. Jana’s post, your comments on her post, my comments on your comments! It’s kind of the way this works, for better or worse.

    In my opinion EVERYONE talks too much in ward council meetings.

  • Yes E.Ballard has spoken forcefully on women’s involvement in ward councils. Even wrote a book on councils. That’s great and was needed But unfortunately the 2 comments quoted–from August 2013 and last Tuesday–clearly show that he believes women’s voices are not equivalent to men’s, and the reason our voices need to be curtailed is because we lack priesthood ordination. Why the sentence “straighten the men out and move on?” Does he think that is the function of women leaders in councils?

    In E.Ballard’s eyes–and those of most male leaders–women are “other,” I’m other by virtue of my sex. I did watch the entire meeting. Messages, repeated by several speakers–that “we need you good women in the church,” makes feel I’m “other” and that doesn’t feel good.

    I think E.Ballard means well, I really do. I think he believes he’s treating women well. He’s just wrong.

  • The minority of women who insist upon adopting such an over-the-top interpretation of Elder Ballard’s remarks and writings will probably never find contentment in th

  • “Over the top interpretation”? Really? Try this one on for size.
    LDS men only get married because they are so addicted to porn that they’d all be arrested for rape if they didn’t just get hitched.
    Just kidding.
    But seriously. We know you guys have a hard time keeping it in your pants.

    How’s that feel? Sexist? But it’s just a joke, so it’s ok, right?? Um– no. This isn’t ok.
    What is the big deal? He screwed up. He did something wrong. He made a completely sexist joke. Please quit trying to excuse him for it.

    It. Was. Wrong.

    There’s no shame in just admitting that one has made a mistake and been an idiot. That’s what E. Ballard needs to do. Quit trying to excuse it or brush it under the rug as a joke and man up…. apologize.

    You are preaching forgiveness and tolerance, Tom – forgiveness and apologies are not mutually exclusive. BOTH need to happen.

  • A prophet, seer, and revelator made a blatantly sexist joke over the pulpit. How idolatrous is it to defend that because of who said it? He’s imperfect and needs to apologize for his comment. The sky will not fall if we admit that.

  • Who isn’t chilling. How many comments have you made on here Tom? Sounds like someone is in denial about who is actually up in arms over this.

    I love how you are just gaslighting for E Ballard. Telling all the women that they need to “Chill out” and that they are freakish. Um – no. Here is what is really going on:
    You are super confrontational.
    You are defending a guy who did something wrong.
    You are denying that it was even wrong.
    You are now trying to put the onus on women to “just forgive”, like we’ve done something wrong by recognizing that what he said was offensive and sexist.

    Please stop looking at porn. It makes you into an angry obsessive person.
    See what I did there? I took a play out of your book and gaslighted you.
    But seriously, even that SI you are eyeing is porn.

    How hard is it to just man up and admit that it was wrong? Isn’t that what the gospel teaches us? To repent? To right the wrongs? Why shouldn’t we expect our leaders to lead by example?

  • TomW, if this was just some offhand remark by a guy at the water cooler, then your response to tell a commenter to “chill” might be appropriate. But its not, and your response is offensive.

    Elder Ballard purports to be a “prophet, seer and revelator” and representative of God himself. He is one of the leaders of a church of 15 million and was speaking to a conference to all of the WOMEN in Europe. Perhaps under the circumstances he might have been more careful to choose his words, knowing that his audience would hang on his every word.

    I absolutely believe men who purport to speak for God can and should be held to a MUCH higher standard, particularly when speaking to a large audience. What he said was offensive, sexist and inappropriate. And thankfully we have women in the church like Jana Reiss who are willing to stand up and call him on it.

  • The hysterical reactions observed on this thread suggest that “chill” is a highly appropriate recommendation to those overreacting to Elder Ballard’s remarks, both in print and across the pulpit.

    He doesn’t merely “purport” to be a “prophet, seer, and revelator,” he IS a prophet, seer, and revelator. I don’t have high expectations of non-LDS to regard him as such, but those professing a continuing membership in the church and a belief in its truthfulness might be a little better behaved when it comes to harping on what they perceive to be motes in the eyes of the Lord’s anointed. We’ve all got bigger beams to worry about.

    What he said can only be deemed “offensive, sexist and inappropriate” if one completely lacks a spine.

  • Strangely enough, Rhyl, the comment sections of blogs generally are intended for people to make comments. And the more some people make comments on one side of an issue, the greater the likelihood that people will respond, and an interaction takes place.

    That you would accuse me of “gaslighting” speaks much to your overwrought response to this issue. For those not familiar with the term (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting), gaslighting “is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.”

    Mental abuse? About those chill pills, you may want to make it a double.

    And please note, the chill pills aren’t recommended to any particular gender, but rather only to those of either gender who have permitted Elder Ballard’s comments to offend them.

    By the way, what’s with referring to Elder Ballard as “E Ballard”? Is that a mere abbreviation, or is it intentional to take something away from his ecclesiastical title?

    Am I “super confrontational”? I don’t think I go looking for trouble any more than those who strain at gnats to take offense at the Lord’s anointed. But I don’t mind standing up for them in the public square.

    I’m not defending a guy who did something wrong, because in my book he did nothing wrong (so I guess you’re right that I deny such because I tend to deny that which is not real).

    I’m not asking women to “just forgive,” because Elder Ballard would first have had to have done something warranting forgiveness. Again, we all might want to take a step back and consider our own considerable beams before hurling stones at the Lord’s anointed over alleged motes.

    As for your other commentary, I’m not going to stoop into playing tit for tat by making up offensive allegations about your life just to see how you feel about it. I left Middle School over 30 years ago.

  • Wait, you are saying that Elder Ballard is a champion for women’s voices because of his work instituting the council system? Are you thinking of the same council system I am thinking of? Church policy, instituted by Elder Ballard and the other male general authorities, mandates that a man choose all council members, a man sets the agenda for all councils, a man makes all final decisions, and men are mandated to outnumber women by a ratio of 10 to 3 on the ward council–which is the council where women have the highest representation! On other governing councils of the church, such as bishoprics, high councils and disciplinary councils, women may not participate at all! It is not surprising that local leaders aren’t managing to make inclusiveness of women happen under these parameters. Scapegoating and chastising local leaders for failing to be inclusive of women, in a system you personally helped set up to exclude them, is not my idea of advocacy for women.

  • I love the wisdom of the often quoted and re-quoted quip:
    Two Women* looked out from he self same bars
    One saw the mud, the other, the Stars
    *modified from men in the original for obvious reasons

    The real tragedy in all of this is that the mud gazing fault finders again missed the spiritual feast enjoyed by so many star seekers.The equating of role balance and not speaking is disingenuous and the inference is simply wrong. Numerous brethren have been counseled in numberless meetings to stay in their lane, and to not assume roles that are not theirs. Even the servant representing the Savior in Zenos’ allegory was told by the Father (God) “Counsel me not”…. but hey since Jesus was not a woman, no sexism there. It is sad when one desires so strongly to see sexism where it does not exist, they will attribute any and all differences to sexism, and they become incapacitated by their own sexist views, to the degree that they cannot see any legitimate reason for distinguishing.

    Finally, it seems a bit hypocritical to complain about what one characterizes as a “rambling criticism” in a post that is doing exactly that.In fact from the spiritual perspective the only difference between this post and its description of Elder Ballard’s talk, is that spiritually speaking this post lacks any uplifting element at all.

  • April, the council system surely predates Elder Ballard, but most members of the church would agree he literally wrote the book on effective councils in the church, which includes the importance of women’s voices and bishops/stake presidents prayerfully considering their counsel.

    I’m sorry that you have issues with the way the Lord has chosen until now to administer His affairs among mankind. If this is truly the Lord’s church, then we accept His guidance through His anointed prophets and apostles. If this is not truly the Lord’s church, then all of this is fluff anyway.

    You are correct that the present council system provides for a majority of male voices. You would be incorrect that the number of female voices maxes out at 3. There are other callings which may participate on councils, including music chairpeople and employment specialists off the top of my head. In our ward we also have sister missionaries who join in council meetings. There may be others according to local needs. (Activities chairpeople also used to sit in on councils until the position was eliminated.)

    April, you write: “Scapegoating and chastising local leaders for failing to be inclusive of women, in a system you personally helped set up to exclude them, is not my idea of advocacy for women.”

    April, do you personally believe that God has called living prophets and apostles to guide us in these latter days? If so, do you believe that they seek to administer the affairs of the church according to His inspiration? If so, what are the obligations of Latter-day Saints with regard to sustaining their leadership?

    (For the benefit of Rhyl, this is how such threads work. Someone directs a comment to another, and then that person responds.)

  • TomW-

    As a male member of the church I find Mr. Ballard’s comments offensive, outdated and sad. I find your defense of his comments unfortunate and full of guilt trips/spiritual manipulation. SMH.

    To the women on this page: I sincerely hope for the day that you are treated equally to men. I have served in many leadership callings, it is painfully obvious that women are poorly represented and are in no way equal men in authority to influence the church both locally and world wide. All you have to do is look at a current picture of church leadership to see the glaring inequality.

  • All the more reason, Porter, to stand with the Lord’s prophets and apostles, consuming the spinach as well as the dessert.

  • Fastactin, thanks for reminding everyone that my comments about unnecessary taking of offense are directed to all who are offended, and that I am completely equal opportunity directing my remarks to all genders.

  • You’ll go broke, jane, if everyone takes you up on that bet. I have yet to see where Jana has crossed any red lines.

  • For me, it just confirms that leaving the LDS Church a few months ago was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve found so much inspiration from the female minister at the Unitarian Universalist congregation I now attend. As a non-Mormon woman, I’ll be able to have a much happier life and become a better human being than I could have as a Mormon. It’s wonderful to no longer believe in people like Elder Ballard who were constantly trying to define me as less than I am.

  • This is mostly about context at this point. When the church has just done its first high profile excommunication of a woman for some form of “talking too much” or “taking on a role that isn’t hers” all these types of statements have added weight. The fact Ballard is willing to joke about it means to me that he doesn’t understand the underlying hurt so many women feel about how their voice is not heard in the church. I don’t think he would make a joke if he knew a sizable minority of his audience would be hurt by the remark. This means to me he just doesn’t know or at least not at the level where he intuitively catches himself before making the remark. I think that is a sad sign for how much the underlying gender issues that are bubbling up at ever greater rates among members is penetrating the conscious of the leadership.

    Certainly we can look for good things in the talk but the point here is that ending this portion of the talk this way completely changes how one is to interpret the rest of that portion of the talk. It emphasizes to women that they should only go so far, that they should be super aware of “talking to much”. I think the FMH graphic demonstrates that dynamic wonderfully. It was a positive, empowering talk until…

    I understand for men especially (and some women) it is easy emotionally, psychologically and intellectually “brush off” the last remark. However, this is where gendered and personal experience matters so much. TomW you have never been shut down in a meeting because you were a women. You have never had your opinion discounted *because* you are women. You have no idea how this feels and you have no real appreciation for how often it happens because you aren’t looking for it and well you aren’t there. So you have made your point. Maybe it is time you listen to women and their experiences a bit more. Maybe it is time to really listen and accept that your sisters in the church honestly experience this and feel this way instead of telling them how they should or should not feel or what has or has not happened to them or how often or rarely. You are in essence telling them “you are talking too much because I don’t want to hear what you have to say”. Different method, same result.

  • I used to be as smug and arrogant as Tom. It wasn’t until I was firmly out of the
    Church that I saw the folly of my ways. I understand much better now why my wife had such struggles with the church. We are definitely healthier, happier, and less judgmental. We support the TBM church members in our family and recognize positive things about the church, but could never go back. So many unquestioning people like Tom (especially here in Utah) reinforce that decision almost daily.

  • There is no scripture that says only men are allowed in men only callings. Using the excuse of Jesus Christ picked only men if false can cant be backed up.

  • Fastactin, were I to encounter the likes of you and your attitude prior to my disassociation with the LDS church… there likely would have been no disassociation. Bravo,noble man.

  • I think the word “offended” and “offensive” have now become swear words because they are used so pervasivly that they have lost all their meaning and have now become evidence of a lack of education on the part of the user because of an insufficient vocabulary.

    The new name for “offended” or any of its derivatives is now officially called the “O-word.” The O-word is no longer allowed to be used if you want to be taken seriously.

  • There’s something sadly anti-academic about Jana’s posts and conclusions. She cherry-picks a point or two and then extrapolates those points until they contradict many other things that Elder Ballard (or many others she loves to mock and criticize) has said or done.

  • General council to men and women is the same, don’t get on a soapbox and move it along, see the training videos on the subject…. He is in those as well. If you are offended by his comments, you probably talk too much.

  • Sorry to be the post police but per comment 30 it is now the “O-word”. Thankyou for your correct use going forward.

    The “O-word” is thrown around so much by those taking or feeling it that it now no longer has any meaning and is now therefore a swear word for those whom lack education sufficient to describe themselves.

  • So, if a prophet/seer/revelator makes a sexist joke over the pulpit, we’re supposed to accept that as okay and “chill” because….. God approves that message? Really? God’s word is that it’s okay to make sexist jokes?

    Or, God is not sexist and the joke is on us because we’re all upset and shouldn’t be? And if only we were in tune with the speaker (i.e., God) we wouldn’t find it offensive?

    That’s an, um, “interesting” bit of advice.

  • If you enjoyed a 10 course meal, expertly prepared, delicious and healthful, would it be okay if the dessert were laced with arsenic?

    If you attended a brilliant symphonic performance that moved you to tears and strummed your heart strings like the’d never been strummed before, would it be okay if, at the end of the final selection, the conductor mooned the audience?

    If your son had worked hard through several years of grad school and you were attending his doctoral commencement, would it be okay if the person who shook his hand and handed him his certificate then slugged him in the face and broke his nose?

  • I, for one, grow weary of the attempt some make to institute some sort of Cafeteria Plan when it comes to living the Gospel. Whether you like it or not, folks, indeed whether “I” like it or not, there are a couple of non-negotiable truths here, to wit:

    1. Jesus Christ is the Head of this Church.
    2. This same Jesus Christ has revealed to His Prophets the manner in which the Church administrates its affairs.

    These statements are either true, or they are not. Period. End of discussion. HIS Church cannot be half true, or even 99% true, or it is NOT HIS Church.

    Therefore, 2 options exist:

    1. We recognize that this is the Church through which Jesus offers us His infinite atonement, without which we have exactly ZERO chance of living the kind of eternity we wish for. This means that we follow the Prophet – and yes, the STRUCTURE – through which He administrates His Church, even when we, in our fallible human nature would rather use our individual perspectives to arrive at a different solution to that which emotionally plagues us.

    2. We conclude that this Church is simply another Old Boys Club, like any other Old Boys Club, and before we waste another dollar of tithing money, another Sunday morning sitting in pews rather than watching wife beaters play professional football (or Netflix reruns of Westside Story if that’s more your taste), another opportunity to flaunt that bikini rather than the modest one-piece bathing suit those Old Boys wish you would wear; before we waste another weekday morning with a cup of hot chocolate watching The View while wishing we could have a cup of REAL coffee like Whoopi Goldberg, we decide to make our exit. After all, why play where you don’t like the rules?

    And guess what? You’re not going to change the rules! Think about it: When’s the last time you watched an umpire reverse his call? When’s the last time you saw a driving instructor fail a candidate and then give him a license anyway? It’s not reality.

    Reality is that, if the time ever comes that the Lord decides to have a gender neutral Priesthood, He will reveal that. And if the Prophet stands in His way, He will remove that Prophet. It won’t be up to the Prophet. It will be up to the Lord. In the mean time…if you know that this is HIS Church, you let He who created the rules enforce the rules as He intended.

    Meanwhile…just for kicks…let me assure you: You do not have to have female plumbing to be shut down at a meeting. You don’t have to be a woman to have your opinion discounted. You don’t have to be a woman to have this or that person not want to hear what you have to say. I have plenty of experience in all of the above, and am as male as they come.

  • Interesting, but you know how the Lord works on removing the “Leaders”… mostly through the people.
    Besides that the scriptures teach us and shows that there is a cycle going on in the church, depending how righteous the people are or not. And there is also the part where a minority was who cried out for the lord had to endure the hard times for an better outcome.
    there is a cycle Brother, if you like it or not.

  • Great, except for…

    [IMG]http://i60.tinypic.com/63xfti.jpg[/IMG]

    common it’s 2014, for gods sake… can’t the sexist jokes stop? it wasn’t really funny anyway… and I already have a sexist Bishop.

  • This just makes me glad I finally made a quick exit from the church.

    I was completely faithful for 44 years from the cradle on up despite the patronizing, disgusting behavior of some of the male members of the church.

    The treatment of Kate Kelly of Ordain Women, (Who I know personally (and have met) as an honest, BRAVE woman )

    The lies that have been hidden that can’t be hidden anymore because of the internet (Thank God… REALLY!)

    I was spied on through Facebook and told on by a member (People, watch out, if you are friends with your ward on Facebook, they can spy on you…)

    Also my Bishops name popped up in my Google circles for my blogs and the Stake members, when they popped up I kicked them out. They are SPYING on members. What is this, the Gestapo?

    I was told by my Bishop in the first visit of a freaking MONTH of inquisition that a church member had told me of my Ordain Woman profile and my posts on my Facebook. I was told that my temple recommend would be taken if I did not take my profile down.

    I was not rude to him, I was not belligerent, but I could not lie and say I didn’t believe that women should have the Priesthood. I believe with all my heart that one day they will. So, he took my recommend.

    I find it hypocritical that a church that preaches free agency, a church that preaches that in “The war in heaven” Lucifer was cast out by God for trying to FORCE all of Gods children into Gods will, that the Mormon church is doing the same thing.

    Finally after being treated horribly for way too many months amidst gossip and snottiness in the ward DESPITE not saying anything in church classes and sitting in silence (Elder Ballard isn’t the only one who wants to keep women quiet) and having a lesson on the Priesthood in a woman’s class where the Stake President, who had NEVER shown up there in the years I have lived there, EVER…was THERE. There was one more comment where the woman was glaring at me as she said what was expected of her as a Mormon woman. The women were falling all over themselves to make the right comments (making sure he KNEW that they were not like me(some of the comments were VERY rude) and as they said it, they were looking right at ME. I had enough. I got up, and LEFT.

    This attitude of entitlement from some of these men is what produces these kinds of talks. I will NEVER sit through a talk like this EVER again, or be belittled in a little room sitting in front of a man pretending to be God.

    People are obviously watching the Mormon church…when I left I wrote a blog about it that got 1500 hits in a day. http://songsofaletheia.blogspot.com/2014/06/why-i-am-leaving-mormon-church.html If The Mormon church has been trying to get attention, this is the WRONG kind of attention, and the whole WORLD is watching.

  • I don’t mean to get off topic, but if Kate Kelly is an “honest” woman, why did she call her bishop an “unchristian coward” based on events she would later admit she made up. The trail of lies from the OW founder are well documented.

  • I was told by a young Elder that he didn’t bother listening to female speakers in church settings because he felt they had nothing to offer. Why? Because they weren’t ordained to the priesthood, and therefore, had nothing of value to say.

  • rah, you write: “This is mostly about context at this point. When the church has just done its first high profile excommunication of a woman for some form of ‘talking too much’ or ‘taking on a role that isn’t hers’ all these types of statements have added weight.”

    That’s quite the mischaracterization of Kate Kelly’s excommunication, rah. It wasn’t about “asking a question” (the infamous crock of bull being touted by her allies) or “talking too much.” Her role in leading a temple square protest during General Conference and other comments pertaining thereto (see her Facebook status update of March 14 where she invites people to her priesthood session protest with the words, “Come stare down the patriarchy! #literallyandfiguratively”) might have had a bit more to do with it.

    Ballard’s joke regarding the women AND men was nothing more than that. A joke. Self-depricating humor isn’t exactly unusual in or out of the church. Perhaps it’s not some people’s style, but that doesn’t justify a witch hunt over it. To reduce his entire talk (not to mention the entire conference, including ALL of the remarks made by the female speakers) to a screed over how those two sentences cause unimaginable pain and suffering is really quite pathetic.

    You claim that “ending this portion of the talk this way completely changes how one is to interpret the rest of that portion of the talk.” No, it doesn’t. One has to make a conscious decision to permit personal obsessions with gender issues to overshadow EVERYTHING else.

    What I find intriguing, however, is your supposition that you know things about my life based on the erroneous sexist perception that certain things can only be grasped if one possesses certain female plumbing.

    You write: “TomW you have never been shut down in a meeting because you were a women.”

    So you believe that anyone possessing a priesthood line of authority card never gets shut down in a meeting? Are you serious? In any given council or presidency, one person tends to have the final say-so. In the ward council it is the bishop. In the Relief Society it is the Relief Society President. In the EQ it is the Elders Quorum President. In the Primary it is the Primary President. Most men will never be bishop or EQ president. And considering the earlier comment made by April that men outnumber women 10-3 in ward councils (albeit that’s the low number; the actual number of women can be higher depending upon certain callings), that means the statistical odds of being a man who gets shut down in a meeting are actually much higher.

    You write, “You have never had your opinion discounted *because* you are women.”

    No more or less than having one’s opinion discounted when he is a man. (Note that I don’t say “because” he is a man, because that’s not the real reason anyone’s opinion is embraced or rejected.) I’ve served in the Primary and had to go with the flow of the Primary President’s stewardship, whether I agreed or not. I’ve served at YW Camp where I take direction from women leaders and my personal opinions are fairly irrelevant (as they should be). Big whoop.

    You write, “You have no idea how this feels and you have no real appreciation for how often it happens because you aren’t looking for it and well you aren’t there.”

    Isn’t it rather sexist of you to presume that a man can’t possibly know how these things feel? I’ll grant you that I don’t go looking for it. I can’t think of a more counterproductive thing for a disciple of Christ to do than waste one’s time looking for reasons to be offended by those the Lord has called to serve in positions of stewardship in our lives.

    You write, “Maybe it is time you listen to women and their experiences a bit more.”

    You’d be surprised just how much I discuss these things with women. I find the discussions quite fascinating and enlightening.

    You write, “Maybe it is time to really listen and accept that your sisters in the church honestly experience this and feel this way instead of telling them how they should or should not feel or what has or has not happened to them or how often or rarely.”

    The vast majority of sisters in the church DON’T honestly experience this and feel that way. The majority really aren’t all that into modern Mormon feminism and its anti-authority rantings and tactics. And you probably know this as well.

  • RSon, if a firm testimony that the Lord’s kingdom is administered through living prophest and apostles who He has anointed to carry out His will on the earth is interpreted as smug and arrogant, then I wear the badge proudly.

    I do find it humorous that in the same post you proclaim me to be smug and arrogant, you pat yourself on the back by saying, “We are definitely healthier, happier, and LESS JUDGMENTAL.” (caps added)

    Right on!!!

  • LRC, I would respond that if a prophet/seer/revelator makes a joke over the pulpit which isn’t to your liking, focus on his actual teachings pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ and don’t lose sleep over the non-teachings which aren’t to your fancy. The Lord won’t hold you accountable for not sharing his sense of humor, but you’ll probably be held accountable for acting on the teachings themselves.

  • TomW wrote: “If we truly take to heart Elder Bednar’s remarks about being “forgiving of speakers, and not constantly looking out for something to offend,” wouldn’t this be a great place to start?”

    Tom, I’m puzzled by this comment about “forgiving.” Mormonism teaches that forgiveness follows repentance, and that without repentance there is no forgiveness.

    Wouldn’t it be refreshing if, upon being reminded of subtle sexism and insulting innuendo in their public remarks, Mormon leaders responded by saying “I’m sorry, that is not what I meant. Please forgive me.”

    If women are to be constantly forgiving of the all-male leadership in the church, shouldn’t the all-male leadership occasionally ask for forgiveness too?

  • OldJen, you write: “If you enjoyed a 10 course meal, expertly prepared, delicious and healthful, would it be okay if the dessert were laced with arsenic?”

    If you believe Elder Ballard to be an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, you might wish to reconsider comparing his different sense of humor with deadly poison. At worst, it’s as if a drop of bleu cheese salad dressing ended up on your chocolate mousse. You can either take a fork and remove that portion, or down the hatch, but it needn’t spoil the entire meal. That’s an intentional choice on the person seeking … the “O” word.

    You ask, “If you attended a brilliant symphonic performance that moved you to tears and strummed your heart strings like the’d never been strummed before, would it be okay if, at the end of the final selection, the conductor mooned the audience?”

    Can you please tell me a little more about this conductor? What if she’s featured in Rhyl’s SI swimsuit issue? ;o)

    Lastly, you wrote: “If your son had worked hard through several years of grad school and you were attending his doctoral commencement, would it be okay if the person who shook his hand and handed him his certificate then slugged him in the face and broke his nose?”

    Needless to say, Elder Ballard did no such thing. The capacity of the Mormon Feminist Left to elevate the term “Drama Queen” to new heights has no glass ceiling.

  • If there were red lines that would be great, but the church is noticeably vague on what will get a person excommunicated.

    The contrast between Kate Kelly and Cliven Bundy is a good example. Kate was simply asking for change, and doing it in a very exemplary, polite, and deferential manner. Kate was excommunicated. Meanwhile, Cliven Bundy is flaunting the law and taking up arms against his country, in direct contradiction of church teachings, yet Cliven is in full fellowship.

    Pardon me, but it really, really looks like “good old boys” in the church are held to a distinctly different (and lower) standard than women.

  • “Mr. Ballard?” From someone claiming to be a member of the Church, and one who has held leadership callings, I am surprised that you refer to Elder Ballard as Mr. Ballard. I mean, even Brother Ballard would have been more accurate.

    But that’s just me.

  • Pianomike, you write: “Reality is that, if the time ever comes that the Lord decides to have a gender neutral Priesthood, He will reveal that. And if the Prophet stands in His way, He will remove that Prophet. It won’t be up to the Prophet. It will be up to the Lord. In the mean time…if you know that this is HIS Church, you let He who created the rules enforce the rules as He intended.”

    Exactly. And furthermore, IF “the time ever comes that the Lord decides to have a gender neutral Priesthood,” it will be revealed through the Lord’s prophet, and the rank and file membership of the church will raise their hands to the square and accept it as His will.

    You continue: “Meanwhile…just for kicks…let me assure you: You do not have to have female plumbing to be shut down at a meeting. You don’t have to be a woman to have your opinion discounted. You don’t have to be a woman to have this or that person not want to hear what you have to say. I have plenty of experience in all of the above, and am as male as they come.”

    And that pretty much summarizes the situation for the vast majority of men in the LDS church as well. And you know what? I don’t WANT to be the bishop! I’ve SEEN his job! No freaking thanks!

  • H, you write: “Interesting, but you know how the Lord works on removing the “Leaders”… mostly through the people.”

    Really? Other than Joseph Smith, who was removed “mostly through the people,” well, at least by a lynch mob, I’m not sure how often the people otherwise remove leaders ahead of the Lord’s timetable for them.

    I agree with your comment “that there is a cycle going on in the church, depending how righteous the people are or not.” I’m just not so sure it means what you think it means.

  • Sorry to burst your bubble, Tom, but you don’t actually have authority from God, you are not anointed by God, and you are not carrying out God’s will on earth. Humility is a prerequisite for all functions in God’s kingdom, and a humble person wouldn’t boast and carry on the way you have.

    “That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.” [Doctrine and Covenants section 121:37]

  • Forgiving in the context of Elder Bednar’s remarks surely means that we are not so critical of what is being said, that we exercise understanding, and except that we are all fallible and prone to error, that we may not say things just right, or that we make mistakes. For me to forgive you of stupid things you may say from the pulpit during Sacrament meeting does not require you to repent of those things. I requires compassion and a Christ-like love on my part to recognize that you are no more perfect than I am, and that if I make a mistake and say something stupid, you would not take offense, but have a prayer in your heart that the Lord would direct my comments to be His will, and that you would be able to take them fully in context of what the overall message might be.

  • Pianomike wrote: “And if the Prophet stands in His way, He will remove that Prophet.”

    Every dead prophet has been “removed.”

    Mr. Monson will be “removed” within another 10 years or so.

  • I would like doctrinal and scriptural evidence of point 2, please.

    People keep saying this, and the truth is that Jesus has never presented anybody with a policy and procedure manual. Part of our growth process is that we’re just basically on our own for running things.

    So…I’m going to say 1. T 2. F until further substantiated.

    Idolatry is idolatry. Even Jesus was a human being and merely “without sin.” To say that Ballard, someone who is merely in line for the position of prophet, seer, and revelator CANNOT HAVE ERRED, when erring isn’t even a sin unless it’s used in a manner contrary to the teachings of Christ, is to set up a golden calf. Which, frankly…go ahead. Just don’t throw it at me or any of my sisters or brothers. At that point, you’re clearly not just wrong, but also dangerous to yourself (my brother) and others.

  • I just find it so interesting that there’s so much resistance to the idea of Mormon leaders repenting. You either think that they are incapable of doing anything wrong (thus have no need of repenting) or that they have a different standard applied to them than the rest of the church.

    Either way, it looks like you worship the leadership more than you should.

  • Rah,

    Great insights, i appreciate your comments. As a middle aged white-Mormon-male-bishop I try to constantly remind myself that my experience at church is quite different than others, particularly women, gays and those who are in some way disaffected. Some days i listen to the talks and comments and try to think how i might feel if i were a woman or gay or did not serve a mission or was struggling. I ask my wife and 4 grown daughters all the time what positive and negative things they experience so that i can try to be a better support those that i associate with at church. I also recognize that there are a great many in the church who are completely blind to these issues because they have never has a personal enough need or experience to see things in a different way. I try to still love those folks and hope that they will change someday.

  • Heidi, you write that you were “completely faithful for 44 years from the cradle on up despite the patronizing, disgusting behavior of some of the male members of the church.”

    Tell me something. If the church is true, would it be true regardless if some people engaged in patronizing or disgusting behavior? Was it true until someone broke your last straw, or was it never true? If the Lord were to reveal female priesthood ordination tomorrow, would it become true?

    You write, “I could not lie and say I didn’t believe that women should have the Priesthood. I believe with all my heart that one day they will. So, he took my recommend.”

    Are you sure that there was nothing else whatsoever? Because a mere belief that women should have the priesthood, absent any other factors, probably wouldn’t result in losing one’s recommend under ordinary circumstances.

    You write, “I find it hypocritical that a church that preaches free agency, a church that preaches that in ‘The war in heaven’ Lucifer was cast out by God for trying to FORCE all of Gods children into Gods will, that the Mormon church is doing the same thing.”

    I disagree. The church believes in obedience. The church believes in agency. What the church doesn’t believe is that one can remain a member in good standing regardless of how one exercizes one’s agency. The church won’t force someone to remain a member of the church. In some cases, as you noted, it won’t permit them to remain even if they want to.

    You mentioned “having a lesson on the Priesthood in a woman’s class where the Stake President, who had NEVER shown up there in the years I have lived there, EVER…was THERE.”

    It isn’t unprecedented for stake presidents or bishops or other priesthood leaders to visit Relief Society or Young Women’s meetings on occasion. If the topic is the priesthood, he might even have been specifically invited to attend. One of my most memorable EQ meetings was a Sunday several years ago where our stake president showed up and offered some instruction.

    You write that the women in your ward glared at you during the discussion, and that they “were falling all over themselves to make the right comments (making sure he KNEW that they were not like me.”

    It sounds like perhaps you had made more of a reputation for yourself than you had thought?

    You write, “This attitude of entitlement from some of these men is what produces these kinds of talks. I will NEVER sit through a talk like this EVER again, or be belittled in a little room sitting in front of a man pretending to be God.”

    I’m sorry that this is your perception. I personally have not known church leaders in my 47 years, whether male or female, to display an “attitude of entitlement.” And I certainly have never witnessed a church leader, whether male or female, “pretending to be God.”

    Consider that this is not the perception of the vast majority of female members of the church. Are they all deaf, dumb, and blind, or is it possible that you are perceiving things through a different lens?

  • Hopeful, you write that you were “told by a young Elder that he didn’t bother listening to female speakers in church settings because he felt they had nothing to offer. Why? Because they weren’t ordained to the priesthood, and therefore, had nothing of value to say.”

    I hope you understand that there probably isn’t a bishop or EQ president in the church who wouldn’t correct this young Elder if his remarks reached their ears.

    I must confess that many years ago I struggled to sit through the talks of the female leaders of the church during General Conference. I felt like they were always using their Primary voices and speaking to a pre-school audience. And then Sheri Dew came along and totally rocked my world, and I’ve looked forward to the talks of the women leaders of the church ever since.

  • Debbie, you write: “Mormonism teaches that forgiveness follows repentance, and that without repentance there is no forgiveness.”

    Mormonism teaches, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.” (D&C 64:10-11)

    It also bears mentioning that Elder Ballard is not guilty of committing sin, thus nothing to repent of here. At worst he is guilty of a sort of “trespass” against those who choose to take umbrage at his humor. One may wish to keep in mind when it comes to judging others that we probably ALL desire that the Lord would exercise maximum grace on our behalf when all is said and done.

    “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1-2; 3 Nephi 14:1-2)

    I can’t speak for others, but I prefer to give others a VERY wide berth. I don’t want to give the Lord any reasons to withhold one iota of His grace.

    The Savior said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, my servants, that inasmuch as you have forgiven one another your trespasses, even so I, the Lord, forgive you.” (D&C 82:1) Nowhere does Christ give us an out clause that all who “trespass” against us in any degree whatsoever must first seek our forgiveness.

    If one feels that the trespass is serious, that doesn’t mean that others see it for what you do. When that happens, consider the words of our Lord when He said, ” Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) So perhaps Elder Ballard doesn’t understand how his words may hurt certain people. Forgive him anyway. He’s still the Lord’s prophet. We still need his teachings to help us draw nearer to Christ.

    Wouldn’t it be refreshing if, upon being reminded that the Lord’s servants do not itend to convey subtle sexism and insulting innuendo in their public remarks, Mormon feminists responded by saying “I’m sorry, I did not mean to suggest that you are anything less than the Lord’s anointed oracles for our day. Please forgive me.”

    You write, “If women are to be constantly forgiving of the all-male leadership in the church, shouldn’t the all-male leadership occasionally ask for forgiveness too?”

    In reality, the leadership of the church does not require your constant forgiving, as if they are serial abusers or something. It also bears noting that I’ve heard on several occasions leaders of the church asking forgiveness for their shortcomings. Most members have probably heard such.

  • Debbie, you write: “If there were red lines that would be great, but the church is noticeably vague on what will get a person excommunicated.”

    Have you ever been taught in church how it is best not to straddle the fence, but rather remain safely on the Lord’s side of it? There are apparently a fair number of people who want to live their life with just a fragment of a pinky toe keeping them from falling over, and want others to define that final milimeter for them. I wouldn’t recommend that strategy. The fact of the matter is that each individual circumstance is complex, and each is determined by local leaders whose stewardship it is to be guided by the Lord in each instance.

    You write that “The contrast between Kate Kelly and Cliven Bundy is a good example.”

    I disagree. Only if Bundy were to engage in public demonstrations against the church during General Conference (which is what you call it when the church asks you not to demonstrate during conference and you do it anyway), or if Kelly were to take up arms against federal agents over a land dispute in Nevada, would you be able to determine if gender played any role whatsoever. It’s really not a very good example at all.

    You write, “Kate was simply asking for change, and doing it in a very exemplary, polite, and deferential manner.”

    This is demonstrably untrue. Kate did not simply ask for change. She orchestrated a movement to agitate against the leadership of the church, and insisted publicly that female priesthood ordination was non-negotiable. That’s not merely asking for change. It isn’t just asking a question. And considering she went forward with her conference protest despite a letter from the church asking her not to do so, one cannot describe her actions as “exemplary, polite, and deferential.” Exemplary and deferential Latter-day Saints would honor the request of the church to stand down. Polite defiance is still defiance.

  • Brother Knight (lest people confuse you with Kate if I call you Kelly), the manner in which many who respond to blogs address the leaders of the church is generally telling as to whether they are a member, or what kind of member they are. And thus they are taken with the appropriate measure of salt.

  • Debbie, sorry to burst your bubble, but having been ordained by the proper priesthood authority, I do have a measure of delegated authority from God, and I strive as best as an imperfect soul can to carry out His will on earth. I agree that humility is an important Christlike attribute, and readily concede that I am far from His example, as are we all.

    I would be interested to know where I have boasted of anything. I may not pull punches in defending the Lord’s anointed, but that is not a definition of boasting.

    Please try harder.

  • Brother Knight, you make a powerful point which deserves reflection from us all:

    “For me to forgive you of stupid things you may say from the pulpit during Sacrament meeting does not require you to repent of those things. [It] requires compassion and a Christ-like love on my part to recognize that you are no more perfect than I am, and that if I make a mistake and say something stupid, you would not take offense, but have a prayer in your heart that the Lord would direct my comments to be His will, and that you would be able to take them fully in context of what the overall message might be.”

    If every member of the church approached their meetings, whether General Conference or Sunday School, with the same attitude, we’d be a lot closer to the city of Enoch.

  • Debbie, you write: “Every dead prophet has been ‘removed.’ Mr. Monson will be ‘removed’ within another 10 years or so.”

    And in the meantime, we thank God for the prophet that He has sent to guide us in these latter days, and we strive to hearken to his direction and teachings. Whether it be one more hour, or twenty more years.

  • “TomW thank-you ever so much for your humble and gentle response in attempting to correct every single comment on this feed. Where ever would we be without your righteous condescending reproach? I have seen the light. Thank-you so much.” Said no woman ever. Good thing you are a man and under no obligation to keep your comments short.

  • Could it be, SacredGirl, that for some people their golden calf is the insatiable desire to find fault with the Lord’s anointed representatives on the earth?

  • I just find it so interesting, Debbie, that there’s so much resistance to the idea of Mormon leaders truly being called of God, and that we might wish to avoid living in a perpetual state of criticizing them for every minor slight.

    The prophet Joseph Smith taught, “I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.”

    https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/chapter-27?lang=eng

  • Sorry to burst your bubble TomW, but to announce that you have a measure of delegated authority from God is beyond prideful, particularly since you claim to have earned this authority merely by being male. No one should trust another human being who says they are delegated with authority from God.

  • Oh Tammy, I was merely responding to Debbie’s remarks while employing her own choice in phraseology. Sorry if this is unseemly to you.

    As for the priesthood, nobody earns it, and I never claimed otherwise. Please do not attribute comments to me that I have never made. That is unseemly to me.

    As for not trusting human beings who say “they are delegated with authority from God,” you must not be a Latter-day Saint yourself. As such, I understand your skepticism.

  • Tammy, I’m sorry you lost your faith in the Lord’s church. I am heartened by those who struggle with various aspects of the gospel, yet cling to it because the Holy Ghost has witnessed its truthfulness to them, even when it’s difficult. Even when its leaders are as mortal as you and I.

  • It’s ironic that this post is a good example of the kind of unproductive conversations that can divert us from the real work Elder Ballard wants us to be involved in.

  • @TomW
    Based on your comments here, please pardon if I am in error, but I do not accept your apology for my loss of faith as sincere. Words are cheap. Act in accordance with the humility in your statement that we’re all mortals, neither gender having any divine authority over others, and then I’ll be impressed. Otherwise, words are as cheap as the humans who invented them, oh well-intentioned one.

  • Tammy, your comment illustrates the downside of impersonal forums such as this. We really do not know each other whatsoever, and it is easy to make assumptions about a stranger.

    In truth, I am saddened by anyone’s loss of faith. I am saddened when anyone takes a path which places them apart from the kingdom of God on earth. I would rejoice at the return to the fold of any of our Father’s lost sheep, whether it be you, Kate Kelly, or anyone else.

  • The name of “the church” is The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints. Not the church of Jesus Christ and the prophets. The prophets and apostles are good and wise men who the Lord has chosen not only to lead us, but to also be attuned to their fellow saints needs and pleas. There is ample historical evidence from day one that revelation comes even more from the bottom up as saints approach God directly as well as petition their prophets. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither my ways your ways saith the Lord” is just as much, if not more, about us being more open to change, equality, fairness, charity, and inclusiveness as it is using this holy idea to double down on traditions that may or may not be the will of the Lord. To wit, explore the blacks and the priesthood. I hope not sleep through the restoration.

    As baptized saints in Christ’s church we have covenanted to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light…mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort…” Many of our sisters need our understanding, empathy, and to help them bear the burden of inequality rather than stand in judgement of them. If we are to “stand as witnesses of God”—a God who loves all his children alike—“at all times and in all things”—including this thing—then supporting the divine nature of woman as men’s equals, is for me, part of my duty. And part of my sustaining my leaders is to voice when my heart and mind and the spirit tells me they are a little amiss. This is the straight and narrow path I have been baptized into. This gate is not as wide and inviting as the one which beckons me to abdicate my responsibility to be a thinking ethical, spirit led saint to my good leaders. Having served in various leadership positions I would never want those I serve to be “yes men or women.”

    Finally, this quote from Brigham Young bears some pondering:

    “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self security. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.”

  • Jay, I don’t believe in blind obedience, but I do believe in informed obedience.

    Elder Boyd K. Packer put it well in an April 1983 General Conference address entitled “Agency and Control.” He said:

    Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God.

    We are the sons and daughters of God, willing followers, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and “under this head are [we] made free.” (Mosiah 5:8.)

    Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel. There is an obedience that comes from a knowledge of the truth that transcends any external form of control. We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.

    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1983/04/agency-and-control?lang=eng

  • TomW wrote: “I just find it so interesting, Debbie, that there’s so much resistance to the idea of Mormon leaders truly being called of God…”

    You can’t be serious. Are these the words of a man “called of God?”

    “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, un‑comely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.” [Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:290]

    TomW wrote: “…criticizing them for every minor slight….”

    You expose much in yourself when you characterize things like 100+ years of institutionalized racism and hatred as a “minor slight.”

  • TomW wrote: “It also bears mentioning that Elder Ballard is not guilty of committing sin, thus nothing to repent of here.”

    Indeed, that is the Mormon point of view — leaders are infallible and never need to repent.

    And ironically, that is their most serious sin — the sin of vanity and pride. It’s the reason the Doctrine and Covenants gives for concluding that these men have lost the priesthood.

  • I’m not surprised that you disagree about Bundy. The fact that you’d excommunicate Kate, but not Bundy, proves the point I made.

  • TomW wrote: “I would be interested to know where I have boasted of anything.”

    Tom, dear. You boasted about your priesthood. And in doing so, you lost it.

  • TomW wrote: “…I do believe in informed obedience.”

    When you sustained racist Mormon leaders who taught that Blacks were inferior and less “valiant” in the pre-exisistence, what information motivated your obedience to that false doctrine?

  • As someone whose formative years came before the internet, I’m fascinated that anyone would think that reading something you posted online constitutes “spying.” Could a young person please elucidate?

  • “Indeed, that is the Mormon point of view — leaders are infallible and never need to repent.”

    No, Debbie, this is not the Mormon point of view. Nobody’s going to make you be a member of the church, but please do not misrepresent it either.

  • Debbie, please do not put words in my mouth. There’s a difference between pointing out the profound differences between the Kelly and Bundy situations, and making declarations about whether either or both should be excommunicated. In each case I defer to the local leaders whose stewardship it is to be judges in Israel.

  • Debbie, I boasted of nothing. I informed you of the fact of the ordination. There’s a difference.

    If you disagree, please quote me exactly where I “boasted about [my] priesthood.”

    Otherwise, I would appreciate if you recant the accusation.

  • “I don’t imagine God approves of you worshiping the prophets he removes.”

    Debbie, why do you engage in such rampant fiction? Is making stuff up all you’ve got?

    I respect and sustain the Lord’s prophets. Not one of them would desire my worship, nor do I offer it to them. Such is reserved for God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

  • Debbie, you write: “When you sustained racist Mormon leaders who taught that Blacks were inferior and less ‘valiant’ in the pre-exisistence, what information motivated your obedience to that false doctrine?”

    You confuse doctrine with false speculation on the reasons for the ban. There’s a difference.

    The fact of the matter is that we do not know the details surrounding the ban. It remains a viable possibility that there were reasons known only to the Lord and Brigham Young for formally instituting it, and that any record is simply lost to us. It had long been taught that the day would come that the restriction would be lifted, and it had been the subject of fervent prayer for decades. The leaders of the church did not err in seeking the Lord’s direction with regard to continuing or discontinuing the ban. Several did err in offering speculation on the matter which may have made perfect sense to them within the culture of the times and other statements made by Christian leaders both in and out of the church for centuries. As Dallin Oaks put it, referring to the speculation (including that of some LDS leaders), some people got things “spectacularly wrong.” Yet God is at the helm of His church, and I’ve got my own beams to worry about without running amok picking up stones and agitating over possible motes in the eyes of others, including church leaders.

  • He is a relative of mine, and I told him that women’s voices were important and valuable, just as important as any priesthood leader’s and shouldn’t be dismissed and ignored. I told him that this Church wouldn’t be nearly what it is today without the influence and contributions of women; and though we rarely hear about those contributions, they are there. I told him that even though women don’t hold the priesthood, and their contributions are certainly less visible, they are just as meaningful. I wanted him to understand the Chinese adage that “Women hold up half the sky.” However, my comments will never convince him that women should be listened to and valued without seeing this belief displayed by the priesthood leaders in their conduct of church meetings, programs and activities.

    With regard to the “primary voices,” I agree that they are irritating, however, one of the worst offenders in my opinion is President Monson.

  • TomW, I’m new to this blog, to which I’m now drawn because I like the subjects undertaken by the writer, and the manner in which she expresses herself on said subjects. Obviously it comes as no surprise that this may be because I’m an apostate, eager to get relatives to see things my way. I’m here to learn from the writer, to decide what to take and what to leave from what she offers.

    I see you as a pure apologist for the church, and you work hard at it. You’re good it! But why here? Are you speaking to loved ones, hoping to keep them off the road to apostasy?

    Were I to tell you that ‘…anyone who says they feel the spirit is delusional’ I wouldn’t criticize you for being upset with my opinion. So I find it grating that you feel free to preach a point of view here that isn’t complimentary to the blog. You take everyone to task here whose view is not in concert with your own. And I would be quite shocked if your point of view was new to anyone visiting this blog. I know it sounds kind of snarky, but the question arises, are you trying out for FAIR? If I wanted the FAIR point of view, I know where to find it.

    After only two of your comments, i knew what to expect every time I saw your name…

  • Jana, thank you for working so hard to be a advocate for women in the church. I have read other articles of yours and I am impressed with your passion and faith. I consider women in the church just as import to men and I am glad you are trying to improve the church and make it more inclusive to women.

    I am not making a final judgment, as it is not my place to do so; but, I agree that the remark even in context was not the right thing to say and it is good to bring it to the attention of Elder Ballard. That being said I feel maybe that Brother Ballard has been painted in an unfair light.

    I have held callings myself in the church both specific to priesthood and also within the auxiliary areas of the church and realized that somehow God still trusts me to teach classes, instruct members, and even guide the precious youth in the church, all while fully knowing that I have and will probably in the future say things that are biased, not true, and/or even offensive.

    My late father who was 12 years old when WW2 ended would often say things that were discriminatory about Germans and Japanese people yet for the most part he tried to be an unbiased person. We often had people from many races and creeds in our home eating dinner and enjoying his friendship. I am sure if I took a sound bite of some of the things he said about Germans he would not sound like the person I know he was in reality. God still let him be my father and teach me far more good things than bad. I have learned a lot about being inclusive from him despite his imperfections.

    I do not excuse the remark Elder Ballard made, but I do relate to it and would be shocked if any person that ever lived has never said something offensive that should have never been said. Yes he should take it back, but often dwelling on the faults of others can overshadow the many good things they do say and do. If we cannot see the good in others, not just people we like or agree with, then we cannot see the good in ourselves. If we cannot forgive even those who do not ask for forgiveness, then we cannot understand God’s forgiveness.

    Despite his imperfections, I find Elder Ballard’s service to God admirable and his treatment of women the same. He is not perfect, this should not be a shock to us. He is not pretending to be, but I do believe God called him to be an Apostle which is not an easy job. Yes he said things that were not right but as you said “Most of the talk is uplifting” I would also be interested in your feelings about those things too.

    You once said in an article about President Obama… “Obama has been far from perfect, but his commitment to universal health care, civil rights, and putting our economy back on track after inheriting one of the worst recessions in history have given him high marks in my book.” President Obama has said some not so well thought out things too and maybe even has some unfair biases of his own, but I agree that he has mostly tried to do the right thing, the best he knows how. Can we give Brother Ballard the same benefit of the doubt? Or at least write an article about the entire talk and not just the parts that bother us…

  • The events surrounding her excommunication- claiming that her bishop [maliciously] organized it so she wouldn’t be able to attend or participate, and had never warned her about an impending disciplinary council. Her actual excommunication letter contradicted all of these points, and when pressed, she admitted she had been given multiple warnings and multiple opportunities to participate in the council.

  • Hi Tom,
    I don’t remember saying anything about blind obedience or implying such. “Blind security” was the phrase of Brigham Young, and like you suggest, he too suggested informed obedience. I concur.

    If you read deeply the history of blacks and the priesthood written by faithful scholars you will find that the speculation was very much taught and believed as doctrine. Which is why it took so long to get all the apostles on the same page to have it changed. The ban was lifted nearly a decade prior to Pres. Kimball’s revelation. And even then too many members left the church because it was lifted. That is an indication to me that not enough of “the saints” in Christ’s church were where they maybe should have been let alone the leadership. God does the best he can with what he’s got. I’m advocating we be the best we can so God can do better with us. We are the ones who put limits on his love, not him. We are the ones who divide by color, gender, and sexual orientation. He is the one who sees us all with equally loving eyes. His is the purest most inclusive love. The most grace-filled. The most perfect. It is described in the scriptures as charity and it’s not easy. But it’s the only thing that matters according to Christ, Paul, and Mormon. I know I have a long way to go on this point but I’m trying. Erring on the side of mercy and support of women’s equality as well as equality for the LGBT community is where the spirit has led my heart and mind.

    Would that all my people were prophets pined Moses. If we were, the prophets would have a lot easier job than they do now.

    Bless you brother

  • Good points all, and thanks for your kind and civil tone. I appreciate it. One thing I wish I had added to the post is that despite these two unfortunate statements within a month about women not talking too much — which is hurtful and potentially stunting — we should also look at what Elder Ballard has *done* throughout his career to expand the number of women who participate in ward councils.

  • Hopeful, I’m sorry your relative hasn’t seen the light on this matter. For what it’s worth, I’d be willing to bet that his priesthood leaders HAVE done their part to convey the point that the teachings and contributions of women in the church, both at the general and local level, are to be taken with as much gravity as anything else. I’ve seen this displayed in numerous areas where I have lived, and cannot imaging the church being much different in other places. He needs an attitude adjustment.

  • OldDog, I too am drawn to Jana’s blog because I take interest in her perspective. I’m not surprised, though I would imagine that it is a matter of at least partial concern to Jana, that there are those like yourself who are drawn to the blog because they are apostates (whether honestly open about it like yourself, or a little more secretive about it) happy to find likeminded souls who agitate against the church and its leaders, and use comments here as fodder to draw others away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    (Jana, I hope OldDog’s frank confession gives you at least some pause when it comes to such things as narrowing down a two hour women’s conference to a discussion such as this, rather than focusing more frequently on things which build up the collective body of the church and inspire harmony.)

    OldDog, I’m far from a professional apologist, but I’m not new to online discussions either. I have my strong views like many folks here. And I like to express them in the context of discussions such as this, much like many folks here. And by all means, if a strong defense against a weak attack against the leaders of the church helps keep someone off the road to apostasy, I welcome it.

    I’m sorry you find it grating that I “feel free to preach a point of view here that isn’t complimentary to the blog.” That’s pretty much the nature of comments sections for news articles and blog columns, isn’t it? People with varying views weighing in on a subject introduced by an author? I don’t think Jana has ever requested that the comments section be a mutual admiration society for those who agree with her on everything. I’m sure she wants to reach a broad audience, particularly perhaps those who currently disagree but who might be influenced even a little bit toward her way of thinking through civil discourse.

    I suppose I should be delighted that you wrote that “After only two of your comments, i knew what to expect every time I saw your name…” I guess that makes me consistent, which I consider to be a good thing. One of the great things about my own father is that I know where he’s going to fall on virtually any topic, because he has made it his life’s mission to align his will to God’s, and to know my father is to know a living embodiment of the teachings of the church. There is no guesswork involved. He’s as consistent as can be, and an incredible role model to pattern my own life after. I’ve got a long way to go!

  • Jay, I’m fairly well read on the issue of blacks and the priesthood. It was always a matter of interest to me, and having a mixed race extended family only furthered that interest.

    I understand and agree that much speculation which the church now disavows was taught in a manner in which people largely accepted it as doctrine even without doctrinal basis. And for those who claim that the brethren never own up to mistakes, this issue put it in neon lights that they actually DO own up to them when necessary. Elder Bruce R. McConkie couldn’t have been plainer than when he disavowed his own speculative commentaries. Elder Oaks was about as blunt as it gets when he referred to past speculation from former church leaders as having been “spectacularly wrong.”

    For many decades prior to President Kimball’s revelation, the prophets and apostles petitioned the Lord on the matter, knowing that the time would come according to His timetable that the ban would cease. Yet even in the years just prior to the revelation, Kimball’s predecessors were not granted the divine sanction they sought. But the process had begun long before any popular groundswell of advocacy, and those who attempt to portray the revelation as resulting from mortal agitation rather than the divine process aren’t as familiar with the issue as they think they are.

    I disagree with the statement that “too many members left the church because it was lifted.”

    I don’t really believe there is any documentation to support the idea that very many people left the church over it at all. Furthermore, to the extent that anyone ever DID leave the church over it, I’m pretty sure I speak for most of us when I say “Good riddance!” At the very least they would have something to repent of.

    You write: “We are the ones who put limits on his love, not him. We are the ones who divide by color, gender, and sexual orientation. He is the one who sees us all with equally loving eyes.”

    I think you are placing a false relationship between God’s infinite love for His children, and whether He gives us commandments that He wants us to obey because of His love for us. The church does not teach that God loves people differently based upon color, gender, and sexual orientation. The invitation to repent of our sins and come unto Him is universal.

  • Thanks for mentioning that, Jana. When Elder Ballard’s book “Counseling With Our Councils” first came out, it became required reading for those of us then serving in such a capacity. And it was probably the first time I had ever heard such direct admonishment with regard to the importance of prayerfully seeking out and taking into account the experiences of the sisters on the council. It was powerful. I might even say life changing. I’ve never viewed councils the same ever again. And I’m pleased to share that every council I have ever sat on since that time has been led by a bishop who clearly sought to practice what was preached. I hope that the pattern has been duplicated churchwide.

  • Ah, I didn’t take her “admissions” as being untruthful, but I think both sides were trying to characterize the events in the most favorable light. I found the whole situation to be very sad, and I think both sides, Kate Kelly and the bishop/stake president, ended up becoming more defensive then they originally intended. I can understand Kate Kelly’s reasoning for not being more compliant, e.g. she had already moved away, was attending to a sick family member, was preparing for an extended assignment abroad, concerns over ownership/control of the video feed, etc., but I nevertheless wished that Kate Kelly would have done more to try and assist them in the process.

    From the podcasts shortly after the earlier meetings with the Bishop and Stake President, I believe Kate Kelly that the message she took away was that they were “agreeing to disagree”, and it seemed very dubious that the Bishop and Stake President decided to prevent Kate Kelly’s records from being transferred after she moved across the country, and insisted on holding a disciplinary council after she had already left.

  • TomW: To Hopeful you said: “I’d be willing to bet that his priesthood leaders HAVE done their part to convey the point that the teachings and contributions of women in the church, both at the general and local level, are to be taken with as much gravity as anything else.” All good and well. Then you said to Debbie: “sorry to burst your bubble, but having been ordained by the proper priesthood authority, I do have a measure of delegated authority from God.” Gee, I wonder where some of our young men get this idea that their input should carry more weight than women’s.

  • hawkgrrrl, your criticism makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The two items you mention do not remotely follow one from another.

    Based on personal experience in several wards and stakes, I am able to say without hesitation that priesthood leaders do teach the men that the teachings and contributions of women in the church are to be taken with as much gravity as anything else.

    My comment about possessing a measure of delegated authority from God, having been ordained by the proper priesthood authority, is neither a boast nor a claim to special gender-based privilege when it comes to the weight of my opinions versus anyone else’s. It was merely a factual response to Debbie, who either does not know what the LDS church teaches with regard to the priesthood, or chooses to disregard or misrepresent it. She wrote, “Sorry to burst your bubble, Tom, but you don’t actually have authority from God, you are not anointed by God, and you are not carrying out God’s will on earth.” She is welcome to believe that the LDS priesthood is not truly God’s authority. She is welcome to believe that the prophets and apostles of the LDS church are not anointed by God (I did not lay claim to this on behalf of myself, it was her fabrications). She is welcome to believe that those ordained to the priesthood in the LDS church are not carrying out God’s will on earth. But it doesn’t mean that believing Latter-day Saints cannot disagree with her assessment.

  • TomW
    It’s amusing reading the comments trying to attack or criticize you. You present level-headed and factually-based representations of LDS beliefs and practice. Then people have to resort to distorting what you say in order to refute your comments. Thanks for being a rational and consistent voice on these threads.

  • You’re ignoring a lot of well-documented facts, bud. Kate was no idiot, she knew exactly what her probation meant (it was written down in a private letter, after all), and denied it in multiple interviews.

  • TomW.
    Isn’t there only One person who is the Lord’s anointed. That is the Messiah? Where in LDS scripture do we read that leaders are anointed? They are called perhaps. Some are chosen. But anointed? Such a view places lds GAs as equals with Christ.
    I’m not willing to do that.
    Just a thought.

  • TomW, the title of Sis. Riess’s blog, “Flunking Sainthood”, suggested to me a recognition that she wasn’t measuring up to the standard the Big-15 promote for the saints, and she was exploring why this was; she was questioning, perhaps not doctrine, but for sure The Style of the church… That’s just me guessing, though.

    I’m not here to argue with an Apologist; no doubt you’re an RM, and we all had our fill in our missions of yammering on and on with TBMethodists and evangelicals and JWs, explaining to them why they were wrong, listening only enough to them to pull out a thread on which we could base a counter-thrust. And on the way home, if you were honest, you and your comp recognized the likelihood that you’d wasted precious time.

    People dealing with doubts about the church, or at least with a lack of complete certainty, don’t use the internet to suss out blogs like this so that they can be “harangued” by a wanna-be GA. The Spirit tells me that you are more likely to alienate those you joust with, rather than sway them to your POV. If they held your POV, why would they be here? Unless, of course, it was with the same purpose you have, to nip at the heels of the straying sheep and getting them back in the pen.

    So yeah, I’m saying that it is my guess (or maybe just a hope) that for the majority of people who visit here, with a genuine interest in following their musings or doubts, you are less a help to the Church than you imagine.

    I have no interest in comparing notes with you about why you’re right and I’m wrong, and I’m adult enough to be able to keep a smile on my face and a song in my heart as I ignore your comments, so please follow your muse and don’t give me another thought.

    Thanks.

  • BroDave – From a Latter-day Saint perspective, the prophets are counted among the Lord’s anointed. (See: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/search?lang=eng&query=lord%27s+anointed&x=0&y=0 for references in the Old Testament and Doctrine & Covenants)

    There are also numerous references at lds.org to the prophets as the Lord’s anointed: https://www.lds.org/search?lang=eng&query=lord%27s+anointed

    For non-LDS Christians, the Old Testament references should be sufficient to defend the use of the term “Lord’s anointed” with regard to a prophet.

    For LDS Christians, modern use of the term is readily found throughout all ages of the Restoration.

    Elder Dallin H. Oaks employed the term in a General Conference address which I find particularly applicable to the context of this discussion and the recent cricitisms of Elder Ballard. He said:

    I have given the following counsel to Church members—those who have committed themselves by upraised hands to sustain their church leaders:

    “Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who ‘speak evil of dignities.’ (Jude 1:8.) Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said in a conference address in April 1947,

    “‘When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.’ (In Conference Report, Apr. 1947, p. 24.)” (Address to Church Educational System teachers, Aug. 16, 1985.)

    There is nothing new about this counsel. Even though King Saul sought to kill him, David would not allow his companion to strike the king, saying, “for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” (1 Sam. 26:9.) The prophet Isaiah denounced those who “make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate” (Isa. 29:21; see also 2 Ne. 27:32.) (Those who reproved in the gate in Isaiah’s time were the religious leaders.) This modern revelation from the Doctrine and Covenants is to the same effect:

    “Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.” (D&C 121:16.)

    The counsel against speaking evil of Church leaders is not so much for the benefit of the leaders as it is for the spiritual well-being of members who are prone to murmur and find fault. The Church leaders I know are durable people. They made their way successfully in a world of unrestrained criticism before they received their current callings. They have no personal need for protection; they seek no personal immunities from criticism—constructive or destructive. They only seek to declare what they understand to be the word of the Lord to his people.

    https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/02/criticism?lang=eng

  • OldDog, if you’re new to Jana’s blog, I might recommend one of her earliest posts from April 30, 2013, entitled “I’m Not an Apostate Mormon, Just a Garden-Variety Heretic” (see: http://religionnews.com/2013/04/30/im-not-an-apostate-mormon-just-a-garden-variety-heretic/).

    In short, even when people are critical of what she has to say, she’s “not going to take it personally. It means that people are reading and thinking.” That doesn’t exactly sound like a clarion call for those who disagree with her to find another playground.

    I did indeed serve a mission. Not once have I ever considered it wasted time. It was one of the most defining experiences of my life, and it continues to be a major part of who I am. I was blessed with two amazing mission presidents and mission moms who were the dearest of personal friends to the end of their lives. I continue to regularly interact with fellow mission alumni, and our love for each other just keeps getting better like a fine wine, not that we have the slightest clue what that means… ;o)

    In fact, just a couple of months ago I had the privilege of visiting a woman in Austria whom I tracted out on Valentine’s Day in 1987, and it was as if we never skipped a beat in 27 years. It was like returning to family.

    I laughed when I read your comment suggesting I’m a wanna-be GA. Hell, I’m not even a wanna-be bishop! I’ve seen that job, and no sane person aspires to it.

    To the extent you believe I am “less a help to the Church than [I] imagine,” I would like to think I’m at least a little more helpful than a self-proclaimed apostate whose purpose in participating in such discussions is to find fodder to throw at his faithful family members.

  • I know I’m “late to the dance” with this comment, but here it is. I am an active male member of the Church.

    Many times in leadership and other meetings I have been asked to “cut it short,” or told “sorry, we don’t have enough time for you.” It was no big deal then or now. If I had a reason to be offended, I might suppose that reason might have something to do with the request when that wasn’t the case.

    As a bishop, the sisters always went first in our meetings. I might say it was out of respect, which would be true, but the reality is that they had already solved most of the problems that concern to the group. It was often a matter of practicality as well as respect. They often dominated ward council and justifiably so.

    As far as Elder Ballard was concerned, I try to give all Church leaders a lot of room to be human. The same is true for Jana and all who comment here. I hope I might be accorded the same room.

  • Clearing Out The Notebook:

    Debbie – You write:

    “Mr. Monson will be “removed” within another 10 years or so.”

    He will pass through the veil at a time of the Lord’s choosing. Not my choosing. Not OWN’s choosing. No one’s choosing but the Lord’s. In the mean time, since I know that he is the Lord’s prophet, the Lord’s mouthpiece on earth, I will sustain him in his calling, and urge other LDS to do likewise. A position other than that runs contrary to the will of the Lord.

    “I don’t imagine God approves of you worshiping the prophets he removes.”

    Seriously? Do you honestly expect that people believe that the LDS worship prophets??? Beyond that generality, I will tell you this much: I know the man personally, and if I ever came anywhere close to that, I would immediately be shut down. Shut down in that kindly, gentle, folksy manner of his, but shut down nonetheless. (And just for those who have not been paying attention: I do not possess the female plumbing. I would be shut down despite my maleness. Jus’ sayin’.)

    SacGirl – You write:

    “To say that Ballard, someone who is merely in line for the position of prophet, seer, and revelator CANNOT HAVE ERRED, when erring isn’t even a sin unless it’s used in a manner contrary to the teachings of Christ, is to set up a golden calf.”

    I don’t think that anyone here has said that Elder Ballard “cannot have” erred. Unless shown otherwise, I think that the case has been stated that he did not err in the particular case referenced at the top of the original essay. Please note that difference. Further, just because a person gets all butt hurt – or even when more than one person gets all butt hurt – does not mean that a person has erred. It simply means that a person (or persons) has chosen to take offense. Each of us can make that choice daily a multitude of times. A very close friend of mine, since deceased, was the kind of a person who, it seemed, got up in the morning, drew his personal line in the sand, pulled up his lawn chair, and seemed to spend all day watching that line, waiting for toes to cross it so that he could vent his offense. At times, I see similar traits among those who have a perpetual bone to pick with the brethren who administrate the affairs of the Church.

    Moll – You write:

    “I already have a sexist Bishop.”

    Actually, chances are you don’t. See above about lines and lawn chairs.

    Heidi – You write:

    “I was spied on through Facebook.”

    That’s like saying “There’s a Tuesday next week.” News flash: Everyone who does Facebook spies from time to time. Even you. Go ahead. Admit it. You’ll feel better. I promise.:)

    “and told on by a member”

    I know this one might be difficult to process for some…but…you can’t “get told on” if you don’t “DO” something. If indeed what you describe actually transpired as you say it did…then it begs the question: What did you do? C’mon now…inquiring minds wanna know! 

    “my Bishops name popped up in my Google circles for my blogs and the Stake members, when they popped up I kicked them out. They are SPYING on members.”

    Or…maybe they just like to read. Sounds to me like you kept your blogs pretty open. Newsflash redux: Open blogs get read by pretty much anybody.

    “What is this, the Gestapo?”

    Heidi, as the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, I take exception to this ignorant remark. Using the name of murderous Nazi thugs to describe members of a church you used to belong to is not only, frankly, offensive in a way beyond anything that may have been done to you (i.e. someone reading your words), but it cheapens the memory of the MILLIONS of people slaughtered during the Nazi era. I challenge you to take a moment, remember that you are better than this, and retract this portion of your commentary.

    “the first visit of a freaking MONTH of inquisition”

    Once again, the histrionics. In religious parlance, the term “inquisition” refers to practices used to extract confessions from the recalcitrant. Methods used included starvation, force feeding of excessive amounts of water without the possibility of relieving the bladder, placing burning coals on body parts, “strappado”, which is tying one’s hands behind ones back and raising the rope until a person is basically hanging by their arms (which, again, are behind their back), and of course, “the rack”, which needs no further explanation. I could go on and on, but this suffices for now. My guess is you were never in danger of anything even remotely close to that. So…how about sticking to things as they indeed are? Or does that not get the reaction you’re in search of?

    “I will NEVER sit through a talk like this EVER again, or be belittled in a little room sitting in front of a man pretending to be God.”

    I do believe that I’m on pretty solid ground in my assertion that no one in that room pretended to be God.

    “People are obviously watching the Mormon church”

    …and joining it…by the hundreds of thousands…every year. If this is a game of attrition, you might consider a different strategy.:)

    Nobody – You write:

    “I don’t mean to get off topic, but if Kate Kelly is an “honest” woman, why did she call her bishop an “unchristian coward” based on events she would later admit she made up.”

    Swish. Nothing but net.

    Tom – You write:

    “If the church is true, would it be true regardless if some people engaged in patronizing or disgusting behavior?”

    As a youth, I was bullied…once to the point of landing in the ER…by some of the other youth in my ward…sometimes during activities within the walls of the church building. The leadership did what they could, but it was not enough to prevent it 100%. I don’t know what they were trying to accomplish, other than maybe making me stay home, but, over 3 decades later, they’re gone, I’m not, my testimony remains strong, and that’s because my testimony is of the doctrine itself. That’s where all of this needs to start and stop.

    “I don’t believe in blind obedience, but I do believe in informed obedience.”

    Concur.

    Jay – You write:

    “Having served in various leadership positions I would never want those I serve to be “yes men or women”.”

    Concur.

    SoCal – You write:

    “As someone whose formative years came before the internet, I’m fascinated that anyone would think that reading something you posted online constitutes “spying.”

    Concur.

    Jana – You and I may disagree about some of the “finer points”, but I find your writing style to be informative, entertaining, and well thought out. I also appreciate your willingness to walk into the Lion’s Den that is this particular topic. You don’t need me to tell you this, but your heart is in the right place, and the Lord knows that.

  • What source are you referencing? Who recorded the “well-documented facts”? I have read Kate Kelly’s appeal brief, and I’ve read the excommunication letter, but I’m not sure what or where you are referencing. Did Kate Kelly deny that she was on probation? Did she deny knowing about the conditions of her probation? From reading those two documents it appeared to me there was a breakdown in communication or at least a difference in interpretation such that, I didn’t feel either side was clearly in the wrong. Do you have a list of the “well-documented facts” so that I can consider them for myself?

  • Pianomike, what do you mean by “butt hurt”? It seems to be a derogatory term referring to homosexual sensitivity or something similar, and if true, I find it extremely offensive.

  • Jeremy – I invite you to read for comprehension. If you need me to repost the relevant material I will, but I do not wish to impose on others. Suffice it to say that “don’t get all butt hurt” is as idiomatic as “chill out”, “don’t have a cow”, “don’t roast your dome”, or the most Briticentric “Don’t get your knickers in a twist.”

    The whole point I was making, and which you inadvertently reinforced, is that there are folks – people who, I am sure, are otherwise wonderful folks at that – who will read something and immediately find a reason to either be offended, or wish to be offended if only they can follow enough dots to do so.

    I would suggest to those who look at something for the first time and immediately jump to “I wonder if that’s something I could be/should be/can be offended by”, that they chill out so as not to get their knickers in such a twist that they have a cow and get all butt hurt.:)

  • What many may not consider is that the majority of Mormon women do not wish the pantsuited minority as overlords in the same manner as the “professional” women who have made it then diss the “secretary’ and “clerical’ peons in the work force.

    The strident feminists who at a conference will not be caught dead talking to the lower status women. They are much worse to work with than the men. Genetically women are more apt to promote themselves than to work as a team member.

    The last thing, if we feminize the church then we sleep with feminized men like the liberal feminists do better with in a marriage. And as Mormon women can relate to–if women have the priesthood then will most men be content to let the women do it all. (Then what mischief in seeking other pursuits? IOW what the majority do not think is broken needs no fixing)

    In a church based on authority and many want change? Make your own schism church, the RLDS

  • What many may not consider is that the majority of Mormon women do not wish the pantsuited minority as overlords in the same manner as the “professional” women who have made it then diss the “secretary’ and “clerical’ peons in the work force.

    The strident feminists who at a conference will not be caught dead talking to the lower status women. They are much worse to work with than the men. Genetically women are more apt to promote themselves than to work as a team member.

    The last thing, if we feminize the church then we sleep with feminized men like the liberal feminists do better with in a marriage. And as Mormon women can relate to–if women have the priesthood then will most men be content to let the women do it all. (Then what mischief in seeking other pursuits? IOW what the majority do not think is broken needs no fixing)

    In a church based on authority and many want change? Make your own schism church, the RLDS being the obvious alternative.

  • Lilith – You write:

    “What many may not consider is that the majority of Mormon women do not wish the pantsuited minority as overlords in the same manner as the “professional” women who have made it then diss the “secretary’ and “clerical’ peons in the work force.”

    Swish! Nothing but net!

    “Genetically women are more apt to promote themselves than to work as a team member.”

    I work in the entertainment industry. As a general rule, I find that to not be true. Of course, it could just be that we get a “different kind” of woman. That said, we do also get the “self-promoters”…and they are the biggest pains in the butt (there’s that word again, Jeremy) to work with. Performing arts are, by their nature, collaborative, and when people stridently put the “I” before the “We”, and then act condescendingly toward those who do not buy in, it can be a disaster.

    “what the majority do not think is broken needs no fixing”

    The interesting thing about that is that it will no doubt not be long before someone comes in and crows “Hey what about slavery? Huh? HUHH???” And the fact that they’re factually incorrect won’t stop them.

    And that, methinks, is the crux of a lot of this. Once emotion supplants reason, it no longer matters what is factually true. And that is the Achilles heel of the OWN movement.

    “Make your own schism church, the RLDS being the obvious alternative.”

    They were indeed the longest surviving schism church…but even the RLDS is no longer the RLDS.:)

  • Last I heard about them, they were calling themselves Ordain Women Now…which is why I went with that acronym. Have they softened their stance? Are they now Ordain Women Next Month (OWNM)? Ordain Women Next Year (OWNY)? or maybe OWNLY? (500 points if you can guess that one.)

  • When I am the one who chooses which hymns to sing on Sundays (and as ward organist, that sometimes falls on me to do), I sometimes like to choose certain hymns on certain Sundays, and on the Sunday that the High Council rep comes to talk, I like to make the interim or closing hymn #266, The Time is Far Spent. Makes for interesting talks!

    Anyone who says that women have no say, well, I sometimes wonder what these leaders’ wives have to say to them after they make comments like this.

  • Purely technically, it is the Bishop’s prerogative to choose the hymns for Sacrament Meeting. This was very clearly stated by the visiting General Authority at our last Stake Conference.

    That said…

    A Bishop may also delegate many things, and a good Bishop knows when to delegate this one.

    There are many reasons for this, the two main ones being:

    1. Many a Bishop does not count music as his strong suit. Having someone who does be the person who chooses the hymns can be a great help to a Bishop.

    2. In all too many wards, just because a Bishop likes a certain hymn, does not mean that his Ward Organist can play that particular hymn.

    Soooooo much rides on that Ward Organist, and almost as much on the person who leads the singing.

    Before moving into another ward 2 weeks ago, I was the Ward Organist for 16 out of the past 18 years. In the 6 years I lived in the ward prior to this, I saw the ward go from one where the organist and chorister (and yes, that term is correct, opinions to the contrary notwithstanding) were professional caliber, to one where both positions were held by Relief Society mainstays who could bear testimony about being children going to church in their dad’s Model A (and no, I am NOT kidding). What this meant was that the congregation sang only those hymns which:

    a) the organist could play at some semblance of the correct tempo.
    b) were considered introspective and reverent by the chorister, who never tired of “Jesus, The Very Thought Of Thee”, “I Need Thee Every Hour”, etc.

    Now, while I love those hymns with all my heart, there were times I was aching for a good round of Let Us All Press On, or The Lord Is My Light. Not gonna happen.

    The dear sister who was the organist became ill with cancer, and I was asked to substitute for a Sunday, and then 3, and then eventually 6 months, because the Bishop (in a correct call, in my humble opinion) was not going to release this sister as long as she was still alive. One of these weeks, the chorister was out of town, and one of the brethren was asked to lead the singing. On that Sunday, I chose the hymns, and we sang the great (and LOUD) anthems of the Church. The congregation had a great time.

    Bless the chorister’s heart, she asked me to keep on selecting hymns, which I then did….for many many years.

    While I’m not saying this works for everyone, here’s what worked for me:

    Sometime during the long Thanksgiving weekend, I would prayerfully seclude myself in my home studio with the hymnal (a more correct term than the ubiquitous “hymn book”), a calendar which included Stake Conferences, General Conferences, and holidays from Christmas to Pioneer Day. Over the next several hours, I would try my best to receive the inspiration to place the proper hymns in the proper places until the entire following year was set. I would then e-mail that to the Bishopric member over the music, and that was that.

    Over the years, I was floored by how often hymns selected months before fit perfectly with the speakers on any given day. Even more often, I was humbled by how often random ward members – not knowing any of the above machinations – would tell me that they really needed that particular hymn on that particular day.

    Heading semi-sorta back to the general topic: I am absolutely POSITIVE that my “ability”, as it were, to come up with such a track record over so many years, has NOTHING to do with my being male. Any woman would have the same right to inspiration, and would receive it just as easily, and any Bishop would be blessed to have such a woman at the organ.

  • Pianomike, I agree with you that we could all stand to engage in conversations without focusing on things we can/want to be offended by. But I strongly object to your use of the term “butt hurt”. By referring to one of the few body parts with an orifice, you are inviting speculation that the body part in question is being hurt by something entering that orifice, which by-and-large ends up deriding persons who have engaged in sexual intercourse using that orifice, i.e. homosexual men or victims of anal rape. Either way, it is objectively offensive to use a term that so easily can be attributed to historically slandered individuals. You may intend it for one thing, but a person not familiar with your intended/colloquial connotation, e.g. a person like me, could easily draw the assumptions I did. If you intend to convey the idea that people shouldn’t overreact I respectfully suggest you simply say “don’t overreact”

  • It never occurred to me to interpret pianomike’s comment as being anything other than an alternative way of saying “pain in the ass.”

  • TomW, that makes a little more sense, and your term clarifies that someone/something is upsetting to ME, while using your interpretation of the term used by pianomike changes the perspective and implies the other person is offended by someone/something else. I simply respectfully suggest that in view of the fact that some people, including me, find it open to several offensive interpretations, it might be better to simply use another phrase.

  • Hmmm….

    Nothing like a rousing discussion of Sacrament Meeting hymns to clear out a room…

    Or was it maybe that those who wanted to attack the leadership of the church had nothing but softballs to throw?

    Or was it maybe that those who have left the church and wanted others to join their party don’t want to be in the same room where the restored gospel is being defended?

    Nope, I’m going with boring Sacrament Meeting hymns. That’s it. I’m sure of it.:)

  • TomW & Pianomike, I think you both have made some valid points, but I don’t think this quote was addressed by either of you, and I’m interested to know how you interpret Brigham Young’s quote:

    “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, un‑comely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.” [Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:29]

    I think it is relevant, because in my opinion church leaders, including the Prophet, are divinely guided but they are subject to viewing the world through a lens that may be incapable of seeing beyond historical/cultural biases that are socially acceptable in their time period, but may be viewed as unacceptable to a later generation. It seems that Joseph Smith didn’t have any issues granting blacks the Priesthood, but Brigham Young did have a problem – for instance see this section from the Church’s “Race and the Priesthood” webpage:

    “During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood. One of these men, Elijah Abel, also participated in temple ceremonies in Kirtland, Ohio, and was later baptized as proxy for deceased relatives in Nauvoo, Illinois. There is no evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

    In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though thereafter blacks continued to join the Church through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.” (Race and the Priesthood – https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng).

    Was Joseph Smith wrong to grant the Priesthood to blacks during his lifetime, did Brigham Young receive subsequent revelation that instructed him to disallow blacks the priesthood, or is there some other reason for the racial prejudice? I think this is extremely pertinent to women’s issues because it is simply another form of discrimination. In the same vein of Joseph Smith granting the priesthood to blacks before it was later discontinued, Joseph Smith also gave women the “keys” to healing and blessing by the laying on of hands, something that was continued and supported by Church leadership up until 1946, when women were asked to discontinue the practice. For instance see Linda King Newell’s “Mormon Women and Priesthood” and “A Gift Given: A Gift Taken” for a very detailed timeline of the Church’s handling of healings and blessings performed by women.

  • Jeremy, you may want to consider re-reading the LDS church’s statement on race and the priesthood: https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng

    While there can be no question that Brigham Young, the mortal, is a product of a period of history when perceptions of various races were much different than the current era, there’s a big difference between attributing ignorance and racism (defined by me as harboring ill will or hostility) to the man.

    While I think it would be perfectly fair to suggest that some of the non-doctrinal speculation surrounding the reasons for the ban may have their roots in commonly held racial beliefs of the era in question, I would hesitate to attribute racial prejudice to the roots of the ban. As the newsroom release points out, in the same 1852 time frame that the policy was announced, Young is also on record as saying that “at some future day, black Church members would ‘have [all] the privilege and more’ enjoyed by other members.” If Young were a racist in the contemporary connotation of the term, implying a sense of hatred and/or hostility toward a given race, it would be odd to say anything whatsoever about such a future day when blacks would enjoy all of the privileges of church membership. That he would speak of the future in that manner suggests that we are lacking significant information perhaps known only to Young and maybe a handful of his peers which is completely lost to history.

    It is a matter of record that there were a number of occasions in the following century where various LDS leaders petitioned the Lord regarding the policy, and despite what by all accounts was seemingly a sincere desire to end the ban, none were granted the divine sanction they eagerly sought until Spencer W. Kimball in 1978. (Granted, at this point one must choose to view the story from the perspective of an LDS church member who has every expectation that God will reveal His will on the matter to His servants the prophets.) While there were some who felt that the absence of evidence of a revelation leading to the ban granted leeway in rescinding it without a revelation, the prevailing attitude remained that a revelation of some sort should be received to do away with it.

    In all my research on this topic through the years I have never read anything to suggest that any of Young’s successors harbored sentiments which would suggest that the policy was perpetuated by racial prejudice rather than a sincere belief that the ban was the will of the Lord. The attempts to figure out the Lord’s reasons often led to non-doctrinal speculation which in some cases might be viewed as racist in effect, yet they were not accompanied by racial animosity. I was raised in the LDS Church prior to 1978 and always held the expectation that the priesthood would eventually be granted to all worthy men regardless of race. (Which, on a separate note, is where I part ways with the Ordain Women folks, who sometimes point to Kimball’s revelation as evidence that they will someday obtain what they desire as well, even though there is no corresponding underlying history of teaching that this will someday happen.) Racist sentiments would never have been welcome in my home nor in the ward or stake where I was raised. And doctrinally speaking, it wouldn’t have been sanctioned anywhere.

    So perhaps a better distinction is to say that the policy was discriminatory (which doesn’t necessarily suggest racial animus) rather than that it was a manifestation of racial prejudice. At the end of the day, we still lack evidence of what it was. For believing Latter-day Saints, the least we can do is give Brigham a little benefit of the doubt, even if his words from the era are difficult to hear through our 21st century ears.

  • TomW, (sorry my reply is down here, for some reason the webpage wasn’t allowing me to reply to your comment directly) I agree with you that a better word for me to have used would have been “discrimination” instead of “racial prejudice”. Also, I appreciate you answer, and I agree with you, in that I don’t think the Church leaders who struggled with the issue of Blacks and the Priesthood held any overt malice or direct racial prejudice that contributed to the ban against blacks. In that case, how do you grapple with the change from Joseph Smith to Brigham Young. Why was granting the Priesthood to blacks allowed under Joseph Smith, but discontinued under Brigham Young?

    You write: “That he would speak of the future in that manner suggests that we are lacking significant information perhaps known only to Young and maybe a handful of his peers which is completely lost to history.”

    Do you personally think that Brigham Young may have received revelation to institute the ban?

  • Jeremy – I’m taking the liberty to reply, even though your comments were addressed to my good Brotha Tom…

    I come at this from a somewhat unique perspective: I am a Caucasian who is the adoptive father of 2 African-American daughters (courtesy of LDS Family Services, btw). I have made it a point to know as much as possible about my children’s racial heritage, and to make sure they are not deprived of that. My family and I have also participated, since Erin’s birth some 13 years ago, in our local Genesis Group, which is a support group for people of color in the Church. It is wonderful to see such a diverse crowd at our firesides and other activities.

    One of the great friends I made in life came out of this association. He and I once spoke about the “what we know vs. what we do not know” angle of Blacks and the Priesthood. It was an issue he had to face before his baptism, and one he faces constantly with extended family, etc. In the middle of all of this, he said something that has stuck with me all of these years as being truly inspired…

    He said, as close as I can quote: “Yes, we know that Joseph Smith ordained black men to the Priesthood. Yes, we know that under Brigham Young, a prohibition began. Yes, we know that under Spencer W. Kimball, the prohibition was lifted, and that it was according to revelation. ANYTHING more than that is speculation…and here’s the trouble with that: If we try to teach something, no matter how well we may have reasoned it out in our own mind, if it is not “actual revealed truth” as that term is understood in the Church, the Spirit CANNOT TESTIFY to the listener that what you say is true! So…sometimes, no matter how much we don’t want to, it is better to simply say ‘I don’t know’, rather than say something and have the other person feel the void of not having the Spirit bear witness that you have spoken the truth.”

    In this particular case, the truth is that we do not yet know the whole truth. Simple as that. Someday we will. In the mean time, I have long taken comfort in words first given me by Brotha Tom’s mission president, who once said something I can no longer directly quote, but which boils down to this:

    “I tend to agree with the words of John Cardinal Newman as we sing them in Lead Kindly Light: ‘I do not ask to see the distant scene; one step enough for me.’ It’s probably not a great idea to concentrate too hard on what color the wallpaper will be in our Heavenly Mansion when we’re not concentrating hard enough on getting our home teaching done.”

    For a guy like me, who wants to know EVERYTHING, that can sometimes be a somewhat bitter pill to swallow…but…since I have a vested interest in the eternal salvation of my beautiful adopted African-American children, I will wait patiently until I can teach them something which the Spirit can confirm.

    I hope that helps in some small way.

  • One more thing:

    A great resource for you might be to visit http://www.blacksinthescriptures.com. There is much good information there. Marvin Perkins is the friend I alluded to earlier. I have met Darius Gray on a couple of occasions. They are wonderful, inspired men with as much knowledge on this topic as anyone I’ve ever met.

  • TomW & Pianomike (my original question above was addressed to both of you, so I appreciate your interjection), thank you for your replies, I was interested to know how you deal with this delicate subject, and respect your answers.

  • What I find interesting is that my girls have no concept of this at all in terms of Church. It simply has never come up.

    Rikki is 9, and for her, life has not yet reared its ugly side.

    Erin is 13, and has come to find that her ethnicity (which is 3/8 black, 3/8 Guamanian, 1/8 white and 1/8 Japanese, and she “identifies” as black) is MUCH more an issue with non-whites. She has been called “Halfrican”, “Oreo”, “Milk Chocolate”, “Zebra”, and probably others I can’t think of at the moment, and was recently told by a couple of black girls she was hanging out with that she was no longer welcome to hang with them because she’s “not ghetto enough.”

    By the day, I am more and more thankful for her LDS friends.

  • You’re correct, pianomike, your ability has nothing to do with your maleness. As a female chorister for the past 5 years I do the same thing–but on a monthly basis–with the same results: members coming to me nearly every Sunday thanking me for a particular hymn, or remarks about how well a hymn fit the talk directly before or after it. Or bishopric member marveling how the noise level suddenly dropped when we started singing such and such an hymn.

    I have been told many times that choosing the hymns is a gift I have.

    I do spend a lot of time on my selection process. When I explained the process in a Sacrament Meeting talk once, a member told me he doesn’t spend that much time on his SS lesson.

    The catch with me is that no prayer is involved as I no longer believe. But I’m a senior citizen with many years in the church who loves the hymns and knows them well and understands what is required to bring what members call “the spirit” into Sacrament Meeting. My job is to serve my fellow ward members and ensure they have a great music experience every Sunday.

    I’m fortunate to attend in an older ward building in Salt Lake with a pipe organ and several great organists.

    And I’m not a musican.

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