(RNS) Women’s ordination advocate Kate Kelly said it’s unlikely she will seek rebaptism anytime soon into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which excommunicated her Monday (June 23).

Kate Kelly, one of the founders of Ordain Women, has been excommunicated by the Mormon Church because of her views on gender equality, according to the group.

Kate Kelly, one of the founders of Ordain Women, has been excommunicated by the Mormon church because of her views on gender equality, according to the group. Creative Commons image by Katrina Barker Anderson

“I’ve done nothing wrong and have nothing to repent,” Kelly said in an interview. “Once the church changes to be a more inclusive place and once women are ordained, that’s a place I’d feel welcome.”

The decision by a Mormon bishop’s council in Virginia to excommunicate her for “conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church” stunned Kelly, she said.

The word “apostasy” does not appear in the letter her Vienna Ward bishop, Mark Harrison, emailed to her, although it was the charge lodged against Kelly when he called for Sunday’s disciplinary council.

“I honestly thought until the very last minute that they would do the right thing,” the Ordain Women founder said Monday evening. “It feels very much like a forced amnesia, where everything you thought you knew was gone and everything you thought you were isn’t the case anymore.”

Nonetheless, she encouraged her supporters to stay in the LDS church.

“I love the gospel and the courage of its people,” she said in a statement. “Don’t leave. Stay, and make things better.”

Kelly vowed to remain active in Ordain Women and on its executive board.

In his letter Monday to Kelly, Harrison said it had been his greatest desire to persuade Kelly to “desist from the course on which you have embarked” to keep her in the faith and to protect the “integrity of the church and its doctrine.”

“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,” Harrison wrote. “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.”

The Utah-based LDS church, when asked for comment, referred to Harrison’s letter, which was made public by Ordain Women, the group Kelly formed in spring 2013.

Kelly said she likely will appeal her excommunication but will try to take her case directly to the church’s governing First Presidency. Church protocol calls for her to appeal to the president of the stake (region) where she was disciplined.
That stake president, Scott Wheatley, was the one who put Kelly on “informal probation” in May, urging her to take down the Ordain Women website and disassociate from the group.

She said her conscience would not allow that, prompting Harrison to call for the disciplinary council.

Kelly refused to attend the hearing — or to participate via Skype — because she believed it was unfair for lay leaders in Virginia to discipline her after she already had relocated to Provo and requested her church records be moved. She and her husband are living in Utah while they await visas to move to Kenya later this summer.

Instead, she submitted a letter with pictures describing her history as a Mormon and declaring her love for the religion. She included a legal brief arguing against the charge of apostasy and messages from more than 1,000 supporters.

On Monday, Ordain Women spokeswoman Debra Jenson said the organization is considering its next steps. “Nothing is off the table,” she said, and the group will “remain committed to faith-affirming action.”

However, she said, the organization soon will launch the final segment in its series of six discussions — online conversations that Kelly’s bishop clearly finds problematic.

Ordain Women’s six discussions, he said in the excommunication letter, “were intended to proselyte others and to persuade them to support your particular interpretation of church doctrine.”

Jenson said no organizers have quit Ordain Women. “We have the same board, the same leadership group.”

Kate Kelly, one of the founders of Ordain Women, has been excommunicated by the Mormon Church because of her views on gender equality, according to the group.

Kate Kelly, one of the founders of Ordain Women, has been excommunicated by the Mormon church because of her views on gender equality, according to the group. Creative Commons image by Katrina Barker Anderson

If anything, Kelly’s punishment has rallied more backers, she said, noting that the number of people posting profiles on OrdainWomen.org has been rising.

In his letter of excommunication, Harrison spelled out the consequences of excommunication and the conditions Kelly would have to meet should she want to be rebaptized.

“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,” the letter said.

“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 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 letter countered Kelly’s contention that her bishop and stake president had not responded to her repeated overtures to have a conversation about her Ordain Women activities. It mentions a meeting of the three of them in December, which Kelly had acknowledged and blogged about, concluding that she and her lay leaders had agreed to disagree.

Her bishop’s letter Monday, however, said he and the stake president “urged you to dissociate yourself from Ordain Women and to cease your campaign to promote the ordination of women.”

The letter also said Wheatley reminded Kelly of that same counsel again in March and April.

Kelly said such conversations never happened. “It’s just not true. Point out the emails. I have all my phone records. There aren’t any [communications].”

D. Michael Quinn, a historian who was excommunicated in 1993, said his case was similar in one way: He was accused of apostasy related to his writings and interviews, but was ousted for conduct unbecoming a member.

He suspected at the time that his disciplinary council settled on such language because it was easier to get a unanimous decision on “bad manners” than on apostasy.

MG END MOULTON

40 Comments

  1. Dear kate kelley:

    No one cares, and no you did nothing wrong. You just dont fit into the group you are trying to conform to your viewpoint. Quit being such a whiner and get a clue, start your own group.

    Sincerely,
    America.

      • There is no sexism in the LDS church. Speaking as an LDS woman, I know that Ms. Kelly does not speak for me, nor does she speak for the vast majority of LDS women. 90some% of us do NOT want the priesthood! This is the way God wants it, and if a man is a good priesthood holder, then the women in his life are BLESSED by HIS priesthood, and don’t need it for themselves.
        She knew what she was doing, and she knew that this would happen.
        The thing is, that you either believe as your church believes, or you get out. And I think that if more churches would do as we did, their numbers might start going up again.

        • “There is no sexism in the LDS church. Speaking as an LDS woman, I know that Ms. Kelly does not speak for me…”

          And yet you have no problem speaking for other LDS women?

          In my mind you are just as radical as Kate Kelly. She feels the Mormon culture is full of misogyny, while you feel there is none- perhaps both views extreme?

          Whether you feel it personally or not, does not discount the feelings of others. It is easy to put it all on the Ordain Women and Kate Kelly, however, this is not just one person or one organization crying out for more equality in the LDS church.

          The fact that it was a group of all men who were given the authority to excommunicate a woman based on her views of feminism…how is that not an unfair system to women?

  2. Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    Can the false and arrogant Mormon leaders, hiding in Salt Lake, even begin to understand what Jesus, whom they claim to worship, was suggesting here.
    And what did He say about religious leaders –
    Liars, hypocrites!
    Just about sums up this vicious bunch of religious bullies and cowards secreted on MormonTemple Square, Utah.

    • Ralph Tandetzky

      Concerning “Judge not, that ye be not judged”: As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I believe in this principle. That includes that we should not judge Mormon leaders harshly for doing what they believe to be right.

      Having said that, I also believe that every organization need ways to protect itself agains vandalism of any kind. Even in the primitive church members were disciplined for misconduct in order to
      1) save the person’s soul,
      2) protect others (physically or spiritually), and
      3) keep the integrity of the church and its doctrines.
      I believe that in some cases it would be offensive to God not to prohibit certain things.

      • “That includes that we should not judge Mormon leaders harshly for doing what they believe to be right.”

        I am not sure that I consider it “judgement” to question the leadership/authority of any organization that is doing something that I believe to be unfair/unjust and against the teachings of Jesus Christ and its very doctrine.

        Perhaps this is why it took so long for leadership of the church to finally admit that its racist practices were wrong- people were to afraid to “judge” their leaders?

    • Andrew, the Bible is loaded with religious leaders instated by and supported by Jesus Christ, (rather like the Prophet and leaders of the “Mormon” Church in my opinion), and these religious leaders whom he called liars and hypocrites were Pharisaic rabbis and leaders of the day, certainly not future Mormon leaders. Hahaha! Your comment is rather ridiculous, honestly. Before you speak for Jesus, please take the time to get to actually understand the Bible and Jesus, ye rebellious child!

    • Kimberly Spurgeon

      Andrew: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Excellent point, but then you negate it by unleashing an unfair and biased ranting on the leaders of the LDS Church. Hmm, sounds like hypocrisy by every letter of the definition. You’re not supporting Kate Kelly by making a comment like that because you insult the Priesthood she feels entitled to, and you also insult both Ms. Kelly and the LDS Church, whom we (including Ms. Kelly) hold as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators – that’s why she has asked them to answer her question. So what was the point of your post? Support Kate Kelly? Nope. Support the good people that call themselves Mormons? Nope. Give an excellent example of hypocrisy at its finest? Yep! Good job. I must admit when you set out to accomplish a goal, you are an overachiever! The Jesus Christ I worship had his own disciples and unto one of those, the Apostle Peter He gave the keys of His Priesthood. Through Peter’s death and the great apostasy, there needed to be a restoration of the Lord’s Gospel. God used a humble 14-year-old boy (through the faith of a child.) I love this Church. I know that the Lord is at the helm, and He died for our sins (each and every one of us), and I also know that He has chosen modern-day Apostles and Prophets to organize this Church and lead it under His (Christ’s) direction. I ask not your religion because I have no need – I would never disrespect your precious religious beliefs; if only you could have followed your own counsel (judge not) and had given us some respect. That’s what Jesus would have done.

  3. Perhaps Kate will start her own church. According to Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary: there were 43,000 christian denominations worldwide in 2012 and a new denomination is formed every 10.5 hours. Either you decide to stay in the church organized by Christ and follow the doctrines or go your own way to satisfy your our whims. Equality doesn’t equal sameness. Men and women are equal in God’s eyes and he loves each equally but has given men and women different roles in life and in the church.

    • Elliot J Stamler

      A very cogent comment. If you find the doctrines or practices of your religion or house of worship wholly opposed to your own religious views, leave and find another faith/house of worship in accord with your views. Heaven knows America has an enormous variety. Religion’s primary purpose is communication with God and you can do this in any religion or by yourself anywhere–God is always listening, 24/7.

      • No, she has every right to force every other person in her religion to stop having their own view of things. No, they must adopt her view. After all, she is whiny and wants to get media attention. Doesn’t that prove the wisdom of her actions? She is a feminist and feminists are always right, you know.

    • I could be wrong, but I think the point is that these women believe what they are doing does follow the church doctrine.

      It is actually surprising to many people how much “Mormon culture” is not a part of actual doctrine. Should those people also “go and find another church?”

      I agree that “equality doesn’t equal sameness.” However that doesn’t mean that the rights of one group can so far outweigh the rights of another that they then have all the power.

      It also doesn’t mean that women can’t ask]- after all what this is the point of a modern prophet and evolving doctrine?

  4. I laugh when people get caught up in religious issues, it’s all for not! There is no God, Jesus was just a man, and your wasting your time on earth, with your one and only life, chasing fantasies. Wake up and live before it’s too late.

    • Helios Creed, I know God to be true with all my soul, I have felt his presence; and many others know it to be true too. Those who have felt and know of God’s existence and that of Jesus Christ know that they are certainly not “wasting their one and only life,” but are living it in the way it was intended to be lived.

  5. Speaking as an LDS woman, who can think for herself, I think that those men did the right thing. If she says she didn’t see it coming, she’s lying. She doesn’t represent me, nor does she represent 99% of the LDS women I know.

    LDS women are not oppressed, we are not part of a sexist church, One of our scriptures, the Doctrine & Covenants, speaks quite plainly and explicitly about the responsibilities of a priesthood holder, and to treat women in any way other than as a child of God, (which is what we all are, man or woman) is to exercise what we call “unrighteous dominion”. If a priesthood holder uses unrighteous dominion, it doesn’t matter what men think, God will not recognize that man’s priesthood.

    • “If a priesthood holder uses unrighteous dominion, it doesn’t matter what men think…”

      I would think it does matter if that unrighteous dominion is used to hurt, belittle, wrongly judge/accuse, a woman, child or other man for that matter.

      Sure a murderer will be judged by God in the after life, but does that mean that he should get away with said murder in life?

      As far as how many women are represented by whom?
      I would guess that there is a small number of women who believe the same as you appear to; a more conservative p.o.v., that nothing needs changing.
      Another small percentage with the more extreme/progressive view of ordaining women.
      Still, I think the majority of L.D.S. women fall somewhere in the middle. That is, they feel that some change is needed (such as more say in authoritative matters, etc), however they still believe the priesthood is for men.
      I am afraid that the extreme views of both sides will cause people to act out of fear and anger, people will leave the church and all will miss out on the variety that makes us better.
      After all how many times have you seen in the comment sections that he/she “should just go somewhere else” or that he/she is “just a bigot?”

  6. I wish they would stop publishing articles about kate kelly — the content of the article is fine, but she’ just so ugly and every article has an upclose shot of her ugly face. I was shocked to learn she is only 33 — she looks nearly 50.

    • Kimberly Spurgeon

      Wonder Woman (NOT!) While I do not agree at all with Ms. Kelly’s views, and I feel she is desperately trying to feed negative press about the LDS Church to the media. I sure hope you’re not Mormon. No. I’ll restate that: I KNOW you’re not a Mormon because that was the most unkind, unChrist-like thing you could say to anyone. You hide behind your invisible image and your silly name and take no accountability for what you say to others. Would you walk up to someone and say that to their face? Actually, you probably would by the sounds of your morals and treatment of fellow humans. You might even be a beauty queen, but even if you are, you’re hideously ugly on the inside – where it counts. Shame on you!

  7. Woman are naturally capable of creating children and are blessed with their unique ability of raising and nurturing them. That is their basic role in the family. A man has been given a separate basic role and another gift to give to the family as well. Without having that role, the father/husband will feel unattached or withdrawn from the family. Fathers need the priesthood to not only provide priesthood blessings for his family, but also to have a special responsibility to give to them. A father and mother are not the same in their responsibilities, but are equal in importance. Taking a fathers unique role in a family will ultimately make the it fall apart. Kate Kelly does not see from a Fathers point of view.

    • Isn’t that role fatherhood?

      Fine if you don’t believe women should have the priesthood, but please don’t compare motherhood to the priesthood. If any thing I think this argument discredits fathers. It negates the importance and privilege that is fatherhood. A father’s “unique role” in the family is not dependent on whether or not they have the priesthood. A man can be a priesthood holder whether or not they have children. A mother can not be a mother w/out children.

  8. “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” -Isaiah 30:9-10

    • Anonymous ~ Your quote from Isaiah~Does Joseph Smith fit into that category ? After all he lied many times to his legal wife Emma about his polygamous and polyandrous activities, wasn’t he prophesying deceits when he told future plural wives that an angel with a flaming sword commanded him to take them as a wife ? Not to mention the underaged girls he coerced into marrying him and the wives of other men ….MmmmHmmm ~ I’ll keep my options open on whether he was a prophet or not , It seems that he was practising /prophesying deceits himself.

  9. I’m sure at some point Kate Kelly will leave her marriage and turn lesbian. She’s got the tendencies, drive, and nothing stopping her now. She reminds me of Sonia Johnson.

  10. Dear Em,
    Mothers and fathers are NOT the same. They each have something different to bring to the family. If you want men and women to both have that, why don’t you tell me what a Fathers unique role in is in a family is then if women can to everything a man can?

  11. Beamer14 That is a big assumption to make of Kate Kelly. Of course Sonja Johnson was a heroine, I didn’t see it at the time in my great desire to “follow the prophet” I see it now however. Kate Kelly, The September 6 and Sonja Johnson~ all of them heroes.

  12. Unknown ~ Many dad’s don’t *need* the priesthood, they are excellent enough dads without it . Likewise if your husband “needs ” the priesthood to be a good dad, I would question what is lacking in his life to make him feel that way.

  13. Terrie Lynn Bittner

    Here is a link to her blog post about the meeting with her bishop and stake president–the one she claimed never happened.
    http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2013/12/excommunicating-sexism/

    Unfortunately, this won’t help her credibility as a person we can trust.

  14. to have thoughts and exchange the expression of ideas regarding those thoughts is of this world. I believe it’s okay to explore and ask questions. There is only one who can provide answers to ones’ questions and that is between them and God. In this world we have order the same as out of this world. I do not know all the answers, but I increase my testimony through trust and faith and obedience. If God appeared to me and disclosed doctrine, I would go to my bishop and seek guidance and remain prayerful. Other than that it is unnecessary schism.

    rb

  15. It is not surprising that women are excluded from the priesthood in the Mormon religion. From the time the founder, Joseph Smith decided that women were to be treated more like chattel than people, this was an inauspicious beginning for women. Most women do not wish to be part of a harem. J. Smith made some of the women believe he was “doing them a favor,” or “honoring” them by sleeping with them. Women are just as suited as men to be spiritual leaders and there will come a time when the LDS church will renounce their sexism just as they have had to renounce polygamy and racism.

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