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Mormon Kate Kelly ‘happier’ and ‘invigorated’ after excommunication

In a letter dated July 23, 2014, excommunicated Mormon Kate Kelly appealed her sentence to Scott Wheatley, the president of her former stake in Virginia. Creative Commons image by Maralise Petersen.
In a letter dated July 23, 2014, excommunicated Mormon Kate Kelly appealed her sentence to Scott Wheatley, the president of her former stake in Virginia. Creative Commons image by Maralise Petersen.

Creative Commons image by Maralise Petersen

In a letter dated July 23, 2014, excommunicated Mormon Kate Kelly appealed her sentence to Scott Wheatley, the president of her former stake in Virginia. Creative Commons image by Maralise Petersen.

NEW YORK — Nearly a year removed from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly says she has found happiness living a more authentic life while continuing to push for equality in the Mormon faith.

Kelly, who was excommunicated in June 2014, now lives in Nairobi, Kenya, where she works on human-rights efforts. She was back here briefly on April 23 as part of an offshoot project of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City to explain how she was punished for speaking out for women’s rights in the LDS faith.

“The men who (excommunicated me) literally think they kicked me out of heaven,” Kelly said. “Luckily, I do not think that. … Out of this experience, I’ve realized that men don’t get to control my happiness. I’ve come out on the other end, (where) I think I’m much happier, much more authentic, a much more invigorated person.”

Still, on stage at the Gotham Comedy Club, a space usually filled by raucous laughter, Kelly broke down in tears talking about her ouster from the LDS faith and the repercussions for herself and her family.

“It’s like an execution, a spiritual death,” Kelly said of Mormon excommunication. “It’s very, very extreme.”

For their part, Kelly’s Mormon leaders have said the door always is open to her return.

“Excommunicants may later qualify for rebaptism after lengthy and full repentance,” according to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “and still later may apply for formal restoration of their original priesthood and temple blessings.”

Kelly led the effort to allow LDS women to enter the all-male priesthood, but she faced a church disciplinary council and was removed from the faith’s rolls in June. Top Mormon leaders declined to overturn that decision earlier this year, and Kelly’s husband, Neil Ransom, resigned from the Utah-based faith.

Kelly shared the stage here with MSNBC’s Abby Huntsman, who has also spoken out about her concerns with the LDS Church.

Huntsman, daughter of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, said that if all Mormon women were in the room for the discussion, she imagines plenty of them would feel the same but feared speaking out.

“It’s a balance and it’s tough, and that’s why I commend Kate for what she’s saying,” Huntsman said. “It’s not easy. … Kate has been an inspiration for me.”

Kelly said she still practices the LDS faith — “I don’t think Mormonism washes off,” she added — but added she no longer feels bound by some “arbitrary” church rules.

She pulled aside her yellow cardigan to show her sleeveless dress. Excommunicated Mormons are told to stop wearing LDS temple garments, which devout members wear.

One of her bigger worries, she told the small Manhattan crowd, was that her exit from the church would strike fear into the Ordain Women movement, hurting its chances at making any progress.

“I was afraid they would back down, afraid it would dissipate,” she said. “Much to my surprise and delight, the opposite has happened. It’s galvanized the movement.”

She said she knows of people who have lost their jobs and been disowned by their families for backing the equality effort for Mormon women. But, like any such push, she said, it’s worth it.

Kelly said her parents, who live in Provo, no longer can attend LDS temple services, have had their mailbox smashed and been shunned by fellow Mormons for supporting her.

“Whenever you get that kind of pushback,” she said, “you know you’re doing the right thing.”

(Thomas Burr writes for The Salt Lake Tribune.)

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Thomas Burr / The Salt Lake Tribune

34 Comments

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  • I have heard and seen this among others that walk away from their churches, (regardless of their beliefs). They become much more in touch with their spiritual nature than those who attend churches and are able to live the life that they thought they would get in the church. They are no longer confined to religious rules (different for all sects); and can develop a belief that works for them and those around her.

    Good for her.. She can now be happy and be a benefit to all humankind.

  • There are over 100+ different Christian Sects.. All interpret the bible (over 60 versions) differently. The odds of interpreting any sect as True are almost impossible.

    So basically you are correct Mormonism is false but so is Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Anglicanism, Catholic and all the others.

  • Mormanism isn’t christian because they don’t follow Christ. They don’t believe that he is who he said he is and they have a system of beliefs that contradicts the Bible… in its original text.. in the Greek… of which there are thousands upon thousands of copies to verify accuracy.

    Part of the problems are that some versions (eg. NIV, Message) the attempt is to translate the thaught that is being conveyed and on the other end you have versions (eg. NASB) that is an attempt at being the most accurate word for word translation.

    The reason you have different sects is for a couple of reasons. One of them is that people will take a section of Holy Scripture out of context by not using the whole of the bible to help understand the passage and make it the most important defining thing in the ‘sect’. Unfortunately it is applying a Human, worldly system to something that is not intended to be broker apart that way. Alot of those people are not actually followers of Christ.

  • Kate Kelly should write a book: “How to Turn 15 Minutes of Fame into 17 Minutes of Fame”

  • She comes across someone who is desperately looking for attention. Obviously she has gotten them. She is even famous now and able to raise money, go to different events, etc,
    A lot of people make a living out of “dissatisfaction”, meaning, feeding off the discontent of a few on a subject that is embraced by other liberal groups; thus making herself the victim works great for her. She knew that ultimately, because she criticized the church so openly and heavily that she was going to be excommunicated. And now she is the darling of the “open-minded” movement, which is only open to their views. Either way, nothing is stopping her and other people like her from opening a mormon church of their own with their own priesthood etc etc. In America that is pretty easy….Or does she need some king of acceptance or assurance from her former church?

  • Let’s all join the Church of Joseph Rios. He is the only one that does not have a human understanding of the scriptures.

  • Paul, I tend to agree with you. Rather than searching for the Truth, she seems to have a pride filled motive, focusing on self, rather than God. And I would agree with the others, though, that Mormonism is out there, but we must honor their consciences, and assume “God knows the heart” Luke 16:15, and will find good there, and not something detestable.

  • She’s working for a humanitarian cause in Kenya. She can’t practice law there. Her request seems reasonable to me. As for being a “loser,” what have you done lately to make the world a better place? Also, according to the article, she still practices the LDS faith.

  • Don’t you mean “MormOnism isn’t christian because they don’t follow Christ..the way I think they should”? That’s what I’m hearing.

    Again, I am hearing “it is applying a Human, worldly system to something that is not my Human, worldly system”.

  • Hearing Joseph, Linda and so many others of you talk about something you know nothing about just confirms the fact to me that not only don’t you know Mormonism, but don’t care if what you’re spouting out is right or not. I honestly wish people would do research into things that they know little about, instead of regurgitating what others tell them, because quite frankly, it just makes you look stupid. Just saying.

  • +1 to LindaSDF.

    Also, Tan is saying things that aren’t true. He should educate himself at LDS.ORG.

  • Actually I have done humanitarian services abroad, and without making a big deal about it or public announcing it, and I did it without having extra support for whatever cause I was working on.
    The issue here is that she is milking her status as possible victim. Some of the things she said have been out of context. I checked with various people, mormon and non-mormon here at work, and it conflicts with their general view of how things are done in that church.
    So again, it appears that she is trying to get public support for her cause among people that already hate and despise mormons, or those that left but can’t leave it alone.
    I was a Catholic and I respect and understand those that stayed within the faith which is most of my family. Do I still live some of its principles? Yes I do. So in my view she is very egotistical and selfish, even though she wants to appear something else – The spokesperson of mormon women’s rights….yeah right.

  • Mormons are clearly Christian. The name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We worship Christ as the son of God. He is a God. He is our Savior and only through Him can we be saved. We believe in the Bible and read it. We believe that God still works today like he did during Bible times, with prophets. In some ways we believe in the Bible more than others because we continue to follow the teachings and organization that Christ Himself set up. All faiths try to do what they think/feel is best and I believe many people are Christian, so are we.

  • @Paul
    “So in my view she is very egotistical and selfish, even though she wants to appear something else”

    Personally, I don’t see it as a big deal. Raising $1500 bucks for a laptop to help in her charity work is nothing. It’s chump change, and people donated it willingly. As to her motives, I can’t get too bothered about that either. First place, I am not a mind reader, so I don’t know for sure. Second, she’s still an LDS woman volunteering in Kenya, so as long as she gets the job done, I don’t care much about her personal motives. Certainly not worth making nasty remarks about her in a public forum.

  • @Joe Bot
    How do you know the posters in question aren’t former Mormons?
    How do you know they know less about Mormonism than you?
    How do you know what kind of research they did or that they did no research at all?
    Do think it’s OK to say somebody “looks stupid” under any circumstances, or just because that person’s viewpoint differs from yours?
    Which does more harm: somebody else posting something you don’t like or your own behavior as a representative of Mormonism?

  • “It’s like an execution, a spiritual death,” Kelly said of Mormon excommunication. “It’s very, very extreme.”

    The early Mormon fathers (and I use that term loosely) did everything they could to get their followers as far away from Biblical Christianity as they could. And they have succeeded.

    Through false prophecies, fraudulent claims and books, Mormonism has deceived many into believing they hold the keys to heaven and that they have a say in whether or not someone will go there.

    But it’s all a lie. Salvation from judgment is something only Jesus does. It’s simple. And anyone who comes to Him, He will in no way cast out.

    http://downtownministries.blogspot.com/2015/03/progressive-revelation-or-making-god-of.html

  • Old Guy, Kate Kelly is an attorney, she IS practicing law there. She’s working for Legal Action Wordwide http://legalactionworldwide.org/team/ a well funded non-profit. If you’ve been following the Kelly saga you can see how she is an opportunist and professional ‘victim’ out for her own aggrandizement. Don’t believe me, wait for her inevitable upcoming book announcement. $$$ As for what I’ve done to make the world a better place: I make my contributions to charity, not a lawyer who wants a new laptop for free!! Too bad she didn’t use that laptop money to buy hungry kids some food.

  • @c rider
    I am not a mind reader, and I can’t really know what other people are thinking and feeling. That being said, I expect some of the criticism and even hatred directed toward Ms. Kelly is an expression of anger that she defied LDS authority by those loyal to the LDS church. Personally, if I’m angry about something, I just come out and say it. I see posts here and there saying: “You’re profiting from your fame. Leave and form your own church. It’s not up to you to change doctrine. Your tone is disrespectful. You make me sad. etc.”
    I wish people would say: “I am mad because you defied LDS church authorities and embarrassed the LDS church.” It seems to me the direct route would take a lot less energy and cause a lot less churn.

  • Mormon belief, worship, and teaching centers around Jesus Christ. The actual name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes abbreviated LDS). The central emphasis of the Book of Mormon is to testify of the Jesus of the Bible. The Book of Mormon is a second witness of Jesus Christ.

    Mormons first Article of Faith states: We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    Joseph Smith taught “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it”. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 121).

  • The central belief of Mormons is that Christ came into the world as the Son of God. He healed the sick, caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and restored life to the dead. He commissioned twelve Apostles to whom he gave authority. He suffered in Gethsemane, died on the cross, and was resurrected and will come again. He, and only He, provides the means for us to be washed clean in his blood from our sins, which sins we can never correct on our own or through our own works. That is Christian. That is LDS

  • The LDS faith does not always match up with Mainstream Christianity of today. However, Christianity of today does not always match up well with original Christianity either. LDS Christianity does match up well with original early Christianity. Much of Christianity believes in extra-Biblical creeds and councils formulated centuries after the time of Christ and the Apostles. Christians during the time of the New Testament would not recognize this later form of Christianity.

    Much of what God revealed to Joseph Smith was not known by scholars of his time and yet are confirmed or supported by early documents not available in Joseph Smith’s day. The current status of research supports the LDS version of Christianity as being closer to Original Christian belief and practice than most forms of Current Christianity.

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints allows members of the church to have questions, doubts, or even disagreements with church doctrine or policy and still remain members of the church in good standing. But when members engage in a public campaign to teach doctrines opposed to the Church they are members of, or lead others out of the church, or otherwise harm the church or its members, it is a different matter. The Church has the right to protect itself from such people. Church disciplinary hearings are held after attempts to correct behavior are not heeded. The Church has said “”Some members in effect choose to take themselves out of the church by actively teaching and publicly attempting to change doctrine to comply with their personal beliefs,” the statement reads. “This saddens leaders and fellow members.”

  • This regulatory process within the church is similar to that which occurs in other organizations such as businesses and clubs. Very few people, if any, would argue that those organizations don’t have the right to protect themselves from harm caused by disloyal members or employees. Businesses have the right to fire employees who break company policies and especially to fire employees who are wilfully undermining the welfare of the company. . This is what Kate Kelly and others like her do to the Church. Of course the church has the right to excommunicate such people when, after repeated efforts to resolve the issue, the individuals still don’t heed those efforts.

  • Dwight, you make a valid argument, but the one thing you are ignoring is that faithful Mormons don’t see or experience excommunication this way. To a Mormon raised in LDS faith, excommunication is a rejection by God himself. A Mormon can’t make the argument on one hand that excommunication has eternal spiritual consequences, and on the other hand that the LDS church is just doing what any other corporation or club is doing when it kicks out a member. Clubs and corporations may kick people out, but most of them don’t also tell the offender that God himself is condemning them. That would make for a really weird exit interview in most job situations. This is what makes excommunication different from club membership or employee management, and so emotionally and psychically traumatic for the people involved. I agree with you that in the big picture this is just another organization maintaining its boundaries, but not all methods organizations use to this end are the same, or above…

  • Joseph Smith taught the importance of sustaining our Church leaders: “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, . . . that man is in the high road to apostasy.” You apostates don’t speak for me. I have no need to be “equil” to a priesthood holder. I have my own blessings and callings in my life. I feel no need to greedily grasp at the blessings and callings of others.

  • The name of the Mormon Church is: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, therefore they do believe in Jesus Christ. They do believe in the bible and the Book of Mormon simply tells the story of the experience of people in the Americas with Jesus Christ. 😉

  • Weii-stated–especially that many Christian beliefs are themselves non-biblical or at variance with bearly Christianity.

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