Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women movement, is facing possible excommunication for her views on gender inequality in the Mormon Church.

Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women movement, has been excommunicated for her views on gender inequality in the Mormon Church. Creative Commons image by Katrina Barker Anderson

SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) A panel of Mormon judges has moved to excommunicate on charges of apostasy the founder of a group advocating for women clergy, according to a statement from the group, Ordain Women.

Kate Kelly, an international human rights lawyer, helped organize Ordain Women, which champions an end to the all-male lay priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The group announced the results of the disciplinary hearing on Monday (June 23).

“The decision to force me outside my congregation and community is exceptionally painful,” Kelly said in response to the decision. “Today is a tragic day for my family and me as we process the many ways this will impact us, both in this life and in the eternities.”

Kelly’s former leader in Virginia, Bishop Mark Harrison, sent Kelly an email to inform her that the panel of judges who tried her on Sunday (June 22) excommunicated her “for conduct contrary to the laws and order of the LDS Church.”

“In order to be considered for readmission to the Church, you will need to demonstrate over a period of time that you have stopped teachings and actions that undermine the Church, its leaders, and the doctrine of the priesthood,” Harrison said in the email. “You must be truthful in your communications with others regarding matters that involve your priesthood leaders, including the administration of Church discipline, and you must stop trying to gain a following for yourself or your cause and taking actions that could lead others away from the Church.”

The group sent a portion of the email in a statement to reporters.

“The Church’s response to this situation is in the letter that was sent to Sister Kelly, which explained the decision and the reason for it,” according to a statement from the LDS church. “Since Ordain Women has chosen to publish only selected excerpts with their interpretation, we suggest that Sister Kelly make the full letter available in the interests of transparency.”

On Sunday (June 22) in Salt Lake City, Kelly attended a vigil of about 200 supporters, instead of attending the disciplinary hearing in Virginia.

Women hold many leadership positions in the LDS church, but the offices of bishop and stake president are reserved for men. Stakes oversee congregations known as wards. The church’s highest leaders, called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are men.

Kelly’s group was criticized by church leaders in April when they marched on church property in Salt Lake City’s Temple Square, asking to be permitted in a meeting reserved for members of the priesthood. Church leaders had warned the group in advance that they would not be allowed into the meeting and asked them not to disturb the conference.

Kelly has been one of two high-profile Mormons considered for excommunication. John Dehlin, creator of a website that provides a forum for Mormons questioning their faith, is scheduled to meet with his stake president on June 29.

YS/AMB END BAILEY

41 Comments

  1. Again. Don’t cry for these people. They are DC lobbyists who want they day job of spin creation to “guide” societies values to extend into church doctrine. If they just don’t fit in anyone, leave! Quit whining and trying to change the majority to fit the minority. These people won’t stick around to contribute to the church organization anyway if the win.

      • Do you think Kelly’s outcome would have been different if she had been judged by 3 women of the Church? I don’t think so. You need to talk to more women of the Church to find out how they feel about what she is doing not just the few that are following her.

    • Agreed. But they won’t. Just like the gays in thr boy scouts thing. All libbie activism is more about changing the people around them by taking away their freedom, than it is about living with the freedom the libbie already has.

      There is no way this lib “mormon” woman will go start her own group. She is not about that. Her only objective is to change everyone around her.

  2. 5 comments:

    1. I regret that it came to the excommunication of Kate Kelly. I am grateful that the disciplinary council carefully considered and took the time they need to reach their decision. She still has the opportunity to appeal this decision to the Stake (regional) and to the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    2. I agree with Jan Shipps, a prominent non-Mormon scholar of the LDS faith, that this is about “boundary maintenance.” Members of the LDS faith can always question, but there are limits to some public statements and actions contrary to LDS doctrine.

    3. I find Kate Kelly’s shock “to find out earlier this month from her bishop that she is facing excommunication” surprising and/or disingenuous given that as she has published she was officially placed on probation and told in early May and reminded on May 22nd that she was in danger of further church discipline if she did Not cease her actions with Ordain Women (See http://www.scribd.com/doc/229282164/Letter-confirming-Kate-Kelly-placed-on-probation ). Further, while I feel Sister Kelly’s local leaders should have at least informally discussed her goals and actions at Ordain Women organization from its inception, she certainly had the opportunity to talk face to face-to-face with her stake president in early May about Ordain Women when she was placed on informal probation. She could have discussed her views further with her Bishop by attending her disciplinary council.

    4. Kate Kelly said: “entire Mormon feminist community is being put on trial.” However, only Kate Kelly’s statements and actions have been considered by a disciplinary council. The entire Mormon feminist community is a rather broad collection of individuals with varieties of viewpoints even on ordaining women to the priesthood. However, those who are making statements and taking actions very similar to Kate Kelly should seriously consider those statements and actions. Members of the LDS faith typically partake of the sacrament (symbolic reminders of Christ body and blood) weekly and use that time to review their words, actions, and relationship with the Savior. This is a process and sacred time most of us take, and should continue to take, seriously. Excommunicated members continue to be welcome at weekly LDS worship services. (See http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58075419-78/church-mormon-lds-women.html.csp ).

    5. For Mormons, excommunication is a very serious thing, but it need Not be permanent. Excommunication is sometimes a needed step in repentance and forgiveness. From what I’ve read of Kate Kelly’s statements she currently does Not feel a desire or need to repent in the areas that have led to her excommunication. Nevertheless, she is encouraged to prepare for rebaptism, and I and other church members look forward to greeting her with open hearts and arms. Many excommunicated member are rebaptized, and should continue to be treated with respect, warmth and love and without condescension until rebaptized and afterwards.

  3. Ahh, and here is the full letter from Kate Kelly’s bishop: http://www.deseretnews.com/media/pdf/1365030.pdf

    It states:

    THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
    VIENNA WARD
    OAKTON VIRGINIA STAKE

    Kathleen Marie Kelly
    Via e-mail and Certified Mail

    June 23, 2014

    Dear Sister Kelly:

    As you know, a disciplinary council was held on your behalf on Sunday, June 22, 2014. I write to inform you of the outcome of that council.

    This matter has occupied much of my time, thoughts and prayers in recent weeks. My greatest desire has been to persuade you to desist from the course on which you have embarked, so that you might remain in full fellowship in the Church while also protecting the integrity of the Church and its doctrine. The other members of the council and I have tried to weigh your interests with those of the rest of the membership of the Church. We have approached this solemn and difficult task seeking only to know the Lord’s mind and will.

    I wish you had taken advantage of my offer to arrange a secure video link where we could have talked face to face or my offer to reschedule the council to a date when you could have attended in person. Nevertheless, we respect your decision to make a written submission without a personal appearance, and we carefully and prayerfully considered at length the statement and other materials you provided to us.

    Having done so, our determination is that you be excommunicated for conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church. This means that you may not wear temple garments or contribute tithes and offerings. You may not take the sacrament, hold a Church calling, give a talk in Church, offer a public prayer in behalf of the class or congregation in a Church meeting, or vote in the sustaining of Church officers. These conditions almost always last at least one year. If you show true repentance and satisfy the conditions imposed below while you are no longer a member, you may be readmitted by baptism and confirmation.

    In order to be considered for readmission to the Church, you will need to demonstrate over a period of time that you have stopped teachings and actions that undermine the Church, its leaders, and the doctrine of the priesthood. You must be truthful in your communications with others regarding matters that involve yolr priesthood leaders, including the administration of Church discipline, and you must stop trying to gain a following for yourself or your cause and taking actions that could lead others away from the Church.

    The decision to hold this disciplinary council was reached only after a period of months and a series of meetings and communications between you and President Wheatley together with me or President Lee:

    – On December 12,2013, President Wheatley and I met with you. We talked with you about the doctrine of the priesthood. We urged you to dissociate yourself from Ordain Women and to cease your campaign to promote the ordination of women.

    – In March and April of this year, President Wheatley again reminded you of the counsel given in December. Nonetheless, you proceeded with your protest on Temple Square during General Conference despite the request of Church leaders that you not do so.

    – Subsequently, under your leadership and with your direct involvement, Ordain Women announced “Six Discussions” which were intended to proselyte others and to persuade them to support your particular interpretation of Church doctrine. You reached out to others to persuade them to join your movement.

    – On May 5th, after conferring with me and with my full agreement, President Wheatley again met with you together with President Lee, offered the same counsel previously given and placed you on informal probation in the hope that you still might change your course. Yet, you have persisted undeterred.

    The difficulty, Sister Kelly, is not that you say you have questions or even that you believe that women should receive the priesthood. The problem is that you have persisted in an aggressive effort to persuade other Church members to your point of view and that your course of action has threatened to erode the faith of others. You are entitled to your views, but you are not entitled to promote them and proselyte others to them while remaining in full fellowship in the Church. This is the basic point that President Wheatley has sought repeatedly to explain to you, but to no avail. You have also heard from President Lee and me on this. Your disregard of our advice and counsel left us no altemative but to convene last evening’s council.

    If you have any questions or would like to visit with me, please contact me. You have a right to appeal this decision to the stake president. If you want to appeal this decision, you must specify in writing the alleged erors or unfairness in the procedure or decision and then present the appeal within 30 days to me as the presiding officer of the bishop’s disciplinary council. I will then forward the materials to President Wheatley who may decide whether to let the decision stand, modify it or direct that the council reconvene.

    Above all else, please know of my love and respect for you and my eamest desire that you retum to good standing in the Church. I urge you to continue to attend church, read the scriptures and pray daily. I invite you to strive to come back to full fellowship. This is an opportunity for you to begin anew, to take full advantage of the great gift of the Atonement, to again qualify for the blessings of the temple, and to enjoy again all of the blessings of the restored gospel. It is my sincere prayer and desire that you will do so.

    Sincerely,

    Mark M. Harison
    Bishop
    Vienna Ward
    Oakton Virginia Stake

    • Of course the so called Mormon Church will NEVER discipline Cliven Bundy, who advocates the violent overthrow of the US government and makes horrible racist statements about black people, nor will it discipline the corrupt AG’s of Utah, no matter what their crimes. Why? Because they are white, Republican MEN.

      • It is entirely possible that Brother Bundy has been disciplined. Disciplinary matters are confidential. Only in the rarest of circumstances does the Church publicize disciplinary councils (at least these days- long ago it was the practice to announced it in church meetings). Also, the Church instructions to bishops about conducting discipline is that they wait until after criminal charges have run the course of the legal system. So it may be that once the law is done with Brother Bundy, the Church will start with him.

  4. Congratulations to Kate Kelly for having the courage to stand up to the misogynistic LDS church.

    I suspect had the Internet existed in the 1970s, there would have been similar actions protesting the then racist policies of the “Whites only” leadership of the LDS church.

    • Thanks Gayle for amply demonstrating the kind of hateful attitude that so defines Mormonism and which explains well why Mormonism should never be confused with Christ or His teachings.

  5. Fr. FrankVitus

    I thought her comment was interesting,
    “Today is a tragic day for my family and me as we process the many ways this will impact us, both in this life and in the eternities”

    Catholics who are excommunicated should say the same thing but they as a group I think can care less.

  6. This sister evidently has an agenda to change the Church, however she must realize this is the Lord’s Church, not hers. I really wonder what her motivations are. Is it to get power and gain? Apparently she is now the darling of the left in this world getting adoration for now, however she is giving up so much more. Her decision if their is no repentance, will impact her and her children for the eternities. Too bad.

  7. I predict that at some point the powers that be in the Mormon church will sense the winds of change blowing their way. Then some Mormon prophet will have a convenient revelation and their doctrine will change. That’s what happened with Mormon polygamy and banning black men from the priesthood. It’s a really convenient system they have: Bow to social or political expediency but claim that “God told us to do it.”

  8. Dear “Bishop” Mark M. Harrison,
    Boy, did you blow it! Not only did you oust one of the greatest Women leaders of this century- you sent a clear warning to any self respecting female to NOT join your ,”Church.”
    The untruths in your letter to Ms. Kelly with regard to times that you met or discussed the matter with her are very transparent. Do you realize what a colossal Public Relations mistake you have made. And, all because you want to preserve the dynamic that any twelve year old boy has more rights to attend council meetings than a thirty three year old female HUMAN RIGHTS ATTORNEY? You are not fit to breathe the same air as this courage example of female power.
    I think this move on the part of the LDS , “Church,” also secures the idea that the nomination of any Mormon candidate for presidency in this country would be not only improbable ,but, highly inappropriate.
    Repent

    • Catholicwoman. In the Scriptures there is a mention about bearing false witness. You accuse Kelly’s bishop of untruths about when they met. How do you know?

      Also, yes a 12 yr. Old boy has more right to attend a meeting for men than Kelly, just as a 12 year old girl has more right to attend meetings for women than I do. The general women’s meetings are the week before the general priesthood meeting. However, at the live session there is limit seating and there is always a standby line. Many women make it a ritual to go with their daughters. The next week the fathers take their sons.

      Ms. Kelly could have attended the broadcast at her local church. Instead, she insisted on displacing men and their sons at a meeting designed for men. Members of the church would have had a similar reaction to men who insisted on displacing women at the general women’s meeting.

  9. Good for the LDS church! If this woman wants to make her own rules, let her start her own church. Enough is enough of this habit of “disgruntled” people feeling they have to force their views on an established institution. Kelly needs to take her ball and go to another playground. If she feels so strongly about her position, she should have no problem investing the time and resources necessary to launch a new religion.

  10. Correction – There is no panel of judges. A Bishop court consists of the Bishop (acting as a Common Judge in Israel), two counselors (typically one to speak for and one against the accused) and a recorder to take minutes. After discussion with the individual, weighing of all evidence for and against the accused the person is dismissed why the Bishop and Counselors consider a final decision through discussion and much prayer. The Bishop invites the accused to re-join (if they are present) and informs them of the decision. After that a discussion on the terms of the decision is had and the person is dismissed. A letter detailing the decision and the terms is then sent to the person as a formal document.

    These councils are not contentious in anyway. I have never been in a room more full of love for an individual. The purpose of these councils is not to punish but to save a soul. Sometimes excommunication is the best way to accomplish that.

  11. I applaud the LDS church for always having dignity. Not once did they print or disclose any information about Ms. Kelly and yet, Ms. Kelly immediately and always went to the press. The church gave her ample time to consider that she was going against church doctrine, yet Ms. Kelly chose to ignore it. Ms. Kelly has caused her own problems. I feel sorry for her. If she loves the church and indeed believes as all LDS people do that Jesus Christ is at the head of the church then she should know that The Lord would just sit back and let the church go astray, especially in this area. He would appoint a prophet who would see to it. But, Ms. Kelly obviously believes that the Lord does not run the church which should indicate to anyone looking at this that she indeed does not have a testimony of this church. That’s fine. She can feel that way, but to present herself as a lover of the gospel and the church and to actively fight against it and make “nonnegotiable demands” on it, is akin to apostasy and any church has the right to excommunicate you for this reason. She has a chance to appear and to even have a video call to participate, but she chose not to instead looking for the praise of the world, she sat at a vigil in her honor. It seems to me that if her membership meant so much to her that she would fight tooth and nail for it. But, she obviously wasn’t interested in doing that. She’d rather be at a party in her honor.

  12. It should also be stated that while women have responsibilities in the church, they report to men, and men have all final decisions/say.
    not to mention any transgressions/sins of a serious nature couch cough sexual nature must be confessed to men which is followed by questioning the details of the “sin”.

  13. As a woman and member of the LDS faith, I only have experienced the best from those that hold the priesthood. I have full access to its benefits. It only benefits others, men, women and children. Women tend to be naturally spiritual and the priesthood (which is lay) helps men to serve and love others and grow. I have the greatest respect for the men that hold it and use it well.

    I personally feel that Kate Kelly is after power. She is sadly deceitful. She has all the markings of an apostate. She went against fundamental teachings of the church and what is principle in the temple worship. She does not believe in the doctrines of the LDS church anymore. It is obvious. The LDS Church is not going to tell about their private dealings with her and won’t defend its conduct at her expense. So she can paint herself and the church anyway she wishes. If you don’t believe in the tenants of a religion, just leave. But she wants to hold herself up as a matyr and a crusader.

  14. It was hardly a panel of judges. It was her ecclesiastical leader and his two counselors or assistants. Kate Kelly had to be the only member of my LDS/Mormon church who was surprised. She did way more than ask a question. She has to know she is being dishonest by keeping that claim going. Our church believes our prophet receives revelations from God, either she believes that also or she doesn’t, if she believes it then how does she think a protest can help? If she doesn’t believe that then why would she want the priesthood which we believe is a power from God? By not believing revelations come from God she can’t really believe in the power (priesthood) to act in His name so why does she want it? I absolutely do not feel second class in this religion. Nor do any women I know.

  15. Wow, she doesn’t think that only men should have power. What a heretic. What a loving organization. “You will bow down and obey.”
    I’m glad there’s no god, because, if there was, he would be really really angry at the chuckleheads in charge of this “church”.

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