A Few Things

polkadot windows

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you? We are feeling festive at the Blair house. School is out! Hooray! We’ve been celebrating with ice cream and a day of nothing on the schedule. Which is the best!

This should be a fun weekend. A laid back Saturday and Father’s Day on Sunday. I’m also headed to Salt Lake City on Sunday afternoon — because Alt Summit Summer is next week! It’s going to be a terrific conference — feel free to check out the speakers and schedule if you’re curious. The thing I’m most excited about? On Thursday, I’m interviewing Martha Stewart for her Keynote Address! Holy moly. I admit, I’m a little nervous. And I can not for the life of me figure out what to wear. Hah!

While I start getting packed for next week, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

How to Not Review Women’s Writing.

– I regret to inform you that my wedding to Captain Von Trapp has been cancelled.

Grilled Cheese for grownups (and don’t forget the tomato soup!). Thanks, Dani.

– Were you ever left in the car growing up while your mom ran into the grocery store to get milk? Or paid for gas? Fast forward to 2014: One mom did just that. The boy was completely fine, but she became a criminal. The Day I Left My Son in the Car.

– Have you seen this ad? It’s like a punch to the gut. Words matter!

– He turned his bedroom into an arcade.

– When negotiating, should women Lean Out?

– Ideas for a Welcome Summer party!

– Nothing like Father’s Day to make me miss my dad. Enjoyed this article about honoring dads who aren’t here anymore. Thanks, Amy. 

5 minutes in a mom’s head.

– I’m crazy sad about this news. Two people, whose work I view as hugely positive to the Mormon community, are being threatened with excommunication. I’m following the story closely (this interview was informative), and trying to wrap my head around what possible good could come from this action. I think this article did a good job of articulating some of the disheartening implications. It feels like the church is saying, “There’s room for everyone! Except you and you.” I’m grieving for my community.

Sorry to end the list on a bummer note. In contrast, I hope you have a truly wonderful weekend! I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


146 thoughts on “A Few Things”

  1. I have so many thoughts and feelings about the news regarding Kate Kelly and John Dehlin. I’m looking forward to reading your links as I have not stopped thinking about it since I heard the news. I’m even having a hard time writing a comment because I’m just not sure how I feel. Some of everything I guess. I’m not fully on anyone’s side but I would like to understand a lot more than I currently do about it all.

    1. “I would like to understand a lot more than I currently do about it all.”

      Well, you’re in luck as far as that goes! : ) There’s a ton that has been written and a ton still being written. I thought it most helpful hearing from Kate and John directly.

      1. Part of the problem is there is too much written about it all. This should be a private matter, between an individual and his/her church. Going to the press is disrespectful and intended to shame the church, in my opinion. Having doubts and questions would never bring about an excommunication. What a person does with those doubts is what causes problems.

        1. I read the letter Kate received, and her leader said that if she did not make her status public, he would. She was basically required to make it public.

          With John, his Stake President said he would be announcing it to all the members of the stake, so he was already planning on making it public.

  2. I read “The Day I Left My Son in the Car” a week or so ago, and it really hurt my heart. She expressed so many thoughts and feelings that I’ve had as a mom, and her story was really hard to read as I felt so much for her situation. I’ve been guilty of leaving my little ones in the car of the school parking lot when I run into pick up their older brother. My sister is a 911 Emergency Dispatch Operator, and she always warns me that someone could report me for doing so. I didn’t take her seriously until I saw this article.

    1. It hurt my heart too. It seems like we have a tendency as a society to take everything to the extreme, and lose much of our common sense in the process.

  3. I second Quinne’s comment about just feeling so MUCH and EVERYTHING about Kate Kelly and John Dehlin. On the surface, it looks so…unwarranted. I have to believe there must be more going on that their local church leaders know about that mainstream media may not. It’s so easy to act (and react) out of fear when it comes to these kinds of things. I just hope all of this is being sorted out with MUCH careful thought and MUCH earnest prayer. Such a tender issue.

    Also, that Verizon ad! Wow. Got my gut, too.

    1. “I have to believe there must be more going on that their local church leaders know about that mainstream media may not.”

      There are certainly two sides to every story, but I’m not okay with giving the church the benefit of the doubt on this. Especially after listening to this interview. It’s long, but both Kate and John thoroughly answer questions and it’s worth a listen.

        1. Hi Gabby, I love this discussion – thank you for this!

          I am hopeful there is a big God connection we haven’t grasped yet, that will mend these two sides. One of my favorite speeches is What Is Truth (Uchtdorf, 2013), have you read it? I encourage you to look it up! My favorite part is about the blind scholars and the elephant. For me, this parable perfectly articulates the key to faith. We are called to remember and share our truth/stories with others, while also leaving space for their stories to look unfathomably different than ours. It when we hope that both our truths can somehow fit together in something bigger and beautiful (even if to us, they seem contradictory or painfully impossible to co-exist!) we are “believ[ing] all things, and hop[ing] all things”. To me, faith is not founded in reaching agreement, or grasping for full understanding , but rather it is determined by us maintaining a hope (rather than a rivalry) that all of our truths have a true place in a bigger, beautiful plan. I love approaching this tender topic with the perspective that these friends are hurt, and even though much of the situation is public and available for us to share in on, we still can’t see it all.

          PS: I want you to know that I’m grateful for your blog and how graciously you discuss these soulful matters. You are wonderful!

      1. Thank you so much for recommending the interview. It was fascinating and enlightening to hear from them directly. I wish I could sit down and chat about this with you, personally! So much I’d love to bounce off someone who is not afraid to “go there” in terms of candid, open, and respectful discussion. Guess I’ll have to find my own “Gabby” close by ;) …Thanks again.

  4. Some of best childhood memories took place in the parked car with my sister while my mom did the grocery shopping. It makes me sad that my own children won’t most likely experience these totally mundane but fun experiences! We had nothing to entertain us but our own minds and antics, like making up dance moves with just our arms! On the very rare occasion I see kids waiting in a car it makes me smile! Of course, they are quite old enough and capable of taking care of themselves for a few minutes.

  5. I’m with you, the threat of these excommunications has me reeling. I’m not sure we’ll be hearing any more Uchtdorf talks about there being “room” for us and our doubts in the church–or at the very least without these words falling on much more cynical ears. It’s all so unfortunate. I love our Mormon community. I just want us to love and accept each other, differences and all, a lot more than we apparently do.

  6. Jessie Hansen

    Based on the interview we have to take when we want to go to the temple, I fully stand behind the church in the decision to at least discipline the members of both movements you have spoken of here. We may all need to read those questions again, in case we have forgotten.

    1. Agreed. I agree with Micah, above, too. I didn’t have strong feelings about this issue one way or another, but after watching the interview linked here, I think the church leaders’ decisions in these cases make are totally understandable.

    2. Jessie, I reviewed the temple recommend questions with my Stake Presidency last night, and I disagree with you. I fully support the work of both John and Kate — I think their work is really vital for the church today. Based on your comment it seems like you assume the church is correct without ever hearing John or Kate share their thoughts.

      I know there’s an instinct for some church members to automatically take the church’s stance or assume the church is correct in all instances. But that attitude is a slippery slope to authoritarianism, which ultimately makes for a weaker church.

      1. Gabby, I find it very inconsistent that one could say that they sustain the prophet, the mouthpiece of The Lord, but can’t give the church the benefit of the doubt on this issue. The prophet is conveying the will of The Lord on this issue. By definition, to sustain is to strengthen or support.

        When the prophet or apostles speak, I don’t blindly follow. I seek for the confirmation that it’s true, which is very strengthening. When I am spiritual prepared, I always receive this confirmation.

        1. Lindsay, the way you write about this makes it sound like it’s a black and white issue, but in real life, there’s a lot of gray area.

          What do you say to someone who is as equally spiritually prepared as you, and who seeks for confirmation, and doesn’t receive it? Because that is what is happening for many members of the church. They are sincerely praying about these issues, and getting answers that don’t align with these disciplinary actions.

          Your assumption seems to be that anyone who doesn’t receive a confirmation is in the wrong, but it’s just as possible that the church leaders are in the wrong. In Uchtdorf’s recent talk he was clear that church leaders can and do make mistakes.

          And I’ve said this before, but again, the attitude portrayed in your comment is a slippery slope to authoritarianism.

    3. Jessie Hansen

      “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” Wouldn’t creating such a group, Ordain Women, fall under this? It hurts my heart that someone I have looked up to for so many years spiritually, fashionably, maternally, and in many other ways, though you doubtless would have know about it, would be sympathetic to these people.

      1. No, Ordain Women is not contrary to the church. Your understanding of the group and my understanding of the group are clearly very different.

        I’m sorry your heart hurts that we have a difference of opinion on this. My heart hurts that my church is threatening to excommunicate two people who have worked hard to make the Mormon community a more accepting place.

        1. I have spent hours on pro OW websites and blogs the last few days trying to understand this issue. I have found that many of those who follow these blogs, not necessarily the contributors or moderators, are members of the church who have checked out long ago (not physically, but spiritually and mentally). They seem saddened but almost relieved to have what they percieve as the last straw to finally break free from the church. It justifies to them the apathy they have developed in their hearts. They are looking for ways to be at odds with the church, not ways to come together. Many would have never been satisfied in our church in the long run. The church is run by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the head. No was his answer.

          I am extrememly saddened by the recent events, but more so by the reaction to it by some. I would expect no less from the church I know and love than to put Kate Kelly on the road to mending her relationship with her Savior. He wants her talents and spirit helping to build His Kingdom, from the falling away that has happened it is obvious that her previous actions did just the opposit.

          1. Lindsay, I sincerely applaud you for reading from various points of view on this issue. It’s so important to try to understand. Thank you.

            I’ve spent hours as well, but seem to have come away with completely different impressions than you. Which is fine. We’re certainly all allowed to have differing opinions.

            But I do take issue with your last sentence, which puts responsibility for the falling away on Kate Kelly’s shoulders. That isn’t accurate. OW has only existed for a year, but the falling away has been happening since the transparency of the internet started shedding light on inconsistencies in church history and culture. As I see it, the responsibility for the falling away falls squarely on the shoulders of the church itself — from ill advised attitudes, practices, teachings that the church is working hard to rectify now.

        2. Doesn’t the group’s name suggest that this is a group of women who believe it’s wrong that only men are ordained to the priesthood? Can’t you infer that they believe the leaders of the Church should adapt their viewpoints and the Church’s doctrine to conform to society’s standards and the group’s interpretation of God’s intent? It may be a group where a lot of people have found answers to their concerns, but if the answer is, “Given time, the prophet will catch up to us,” then we lose each other on the basic agreement of what it means to actually believe in a prophet/seer.

          1. This is where Ordain Women loses me as well. I am so grateful for how the organization has forced us as a community to examine inappropriate and marginalizing “traditions” that aren’t necessarily supported by doctrine (ie. Women praying in General Conference? Why the heck not, right?)…but I can’t support this particular goal of theirs as I feel it’s a doctrinal issue. It’s also what keeps me still feeling a little conflicted, even though I see myself as standing firmly on the side of women’s rights… and praying she doesn’t get excommunicated over this.

        3. I respect you so much Gabby for entering this difficult discussion with honesty and bravery when there are so many bloggers these days that avoid controversial topics that might offend and / or censor their comments. I am an agnostic Indian from New Zealand so I am not qualified to enter into such an important conversation but laud you for doing so

      2. I think most any “group” we might affiliate with in some way is going to have teachings or practices that are not entirely in harmony with the gospel. Any political party, civil group.

        I understand the question was originally included to weed out polygamists, but it is written so broadly that it could be applied to any group a particular bishop or stake president wasn’t fond of.

        1. The question actually says “individual or group”. So it could also cover me associating with my relative who drinks coffee and smokes. Do I really think it’s intended to mean this? No. Can it be interpreted to mean this? Yes.

        2. Thank you, Design Mom, for your honest responses. I am just reeling after this week’s actions by the church as well. I love the church but need a ‘big tent’ church to house my unorthodox views, and I am grieving that this tent may be disappearing before my eyes. Thank you for mentioning this on your blog, stating your feelings, and not bending to the pressure to please all of your readers.

        1. That statement, “This is not at all what I was expecting to read here” is one of the biggest problems I have with the church members. We shouldn’t all think the same. We should have differing opinions. and just because someone is LDS doesn’t mean we should assume we know what their views are. It should be ok to have different views and opinions.

          1. I agree. I don’t think we can assume that every Mormon holds the same political views, the same views about church history and polygamy, the same views about homosexuality, and on an on.

  7. So many thoughts! As a convert to the church I learned a long time ago that I needed to accept the flaws of the church and those running it. I stopped defining myself as a Mormon years ago and rather a Christian. For me it stopped making me feel like I was losing my relationship with Heavenly Father. I just feel a sense of sadness that there is so much anger surrounding something that should be so wonderful.

  8. My dad once left me and my brother in a car while he went to a job interview. I remember being a little freaked out about it but he wasn’t a criminal – he was a man who needed a job and didn’t have a lot of options. Can you imagine if he had been charged with a crime? How would he ever get a much-needed job with a criminal record? Life (and parenthood) is full of complicated and nuanced decisions. It’s disheartening when the law (and judgey strangers) fail to recognize that.

      1. It seems there are a lot of parallels between the car story and the excommunication story. Whether you agree or not with the actions of either, it seems apparent the punishments being doled out are far more harmful than the initial acts they stemmed from.

  9. Setting aside the merits of the issues facing the church, shouldn’t our obligation as members be to share with others only truth? We may have varying opinions about the issues at hand, which is our right, but we are expected to only share truths.

    I know I do not want to ever be responsible for sowing seeds of doubt in the heart of anyone, only to sow seeds of faith and truth. My life is better because of the gospel. I love it and I live it.

    1. Yes. I work hard to share truth on my blog.

      Interestingly, church history is one of the biggest causes of doubt for many members. So I guess the church is responsible for sowing those seeds.

      I echo you, Elina (or we both echo Sister Dibb…). My life is better because of the gospel. I love it and I live it. I don’t want to ever be responsible for sowing seeds that may make others think the gospel is not as accepting as it is.

  10. I’m not a Mormon, but I really enjoy John Dehlin’s podcasts, and just started listening to another one today, so it’s strange that I’d hear this news today. John is such a bridge between Mormons and non-Mormons like myself, so it’s a shame to think that his work could be affected. Thankfully, I know that I haven’t supported all of my church’s decisions 100%, and I don’t expect Mormons to feel the same.

    1. I should clarify that ending: …I don’t expect Mormons to feel the same as their church leaders all the time (just as I myself have disagreed with my own).

  11. This is a very hard and sad time for these members and their loved ones. Even though I don’t personally support her group, I am especially struck by Kate’s sadness when referring to her parents. With John however, he says he loves being Mormon but he seemed to say it from a way of life rather than doctrine. One of his last statements was saying “if” there is a God. I would think that he would be willingly leaving the church if he has doubts that God exists.

    1. Having doubts about God is not a reason to face church discipline. If it was, there would be no members left. Doubting the existence of God is part of the spiritual journey.

  12. I was really shocked about the threaten of excommunication, but upon further research I saw the letter that was written to John, which honestly to me, does not sound as though that’s what the church is after so I am worried that perhaps in his case, this has been blown out of proportion. http://www.scribd.com/doc/229280355/Stake-president-letter-to-John-Dehlin

    The problem I see with this is the media attention. A hearing hasn’t even happened, a discussion hasn’t even happened, and people are crying that there will be an excommunication. I just fear that the media is hurting rather than helping their cause and so I almost wish that they hadn’t gone this route. I hope it all works out, and because I don’t know the details on both sides I can’t really judge it. Although I think excommunication would be a sad sad thing and a wrong way to go.

    1. I’ve read the letter, but it’s not the most current information. I encourage you to listen to this interview where John speaks at length and quite eloquently about his relationship to the church.

      As far as the media hurting this situation, again, I lay that responsibility at the feet of the church. In Kate’s letter, she was informed the church was going to take the action public. So she wasn’t left with much choice.

    2. The church consistently and unapologetically uses the mainstream media to get out its message. Why should Ordain Women not be able to do so? Is it because we feel like we need to do anything we can to protect the image of the church, even if that means that faithful members can’t shed light on things that might be improved?

      The church is strong; it can handle a little sunlight.

  13. I just want to say — as a non-Mormon but as someone whose experience makes me believe that critical discussion can strengthen religious affinity — that I really appreciate the way you write about issues around your own faith, Gabrielle. It’s one of the things that keeps me coming back here.

  14. I’m so happy to see you questioning the threat of excommunication for John and Kate. Compassion towards them is something I’ve seen very little of in online forums and responses to articles. I remember questioning my faith as far back in my childhood as I can remember. I was placed in too many situations where my questioning nature and lack of surety was criticized and I felt inferior and unworthy throughout most of my youth and young adulthood. I know MANY members of the church struggle with issues that John and Kate are talking about. If I had been able to find a safe place like John’s blog when I was still active then maybe I would’ve felt like there was still a place for me in the church. I chose to leave and it was still incredibly difficult and a painful time for me. I imagine being faced with excommunication when they want to stay members is even more difficult. I hope that members will continue to ask questions, to be kind to those that do, and remember that no one is infallible, not even the organization of the church.

  15. I have to say I am glad the subject of excommunication is getting national attention. I really love and respect you, Gabrielle, for taking the informed stand that you are. I’ve always very much loved and respected you, your family and your blog, but wondered what your position was on this, since I knew your church excommunicated members. I am a former Jehovah’s Witness..and my life as well as the lives of my husband, small children and many others have been destroyed by their policy of shunning ex members who simply choose to question doctrine or no longer believe. I mean no offense but I hope this brings to light the motives of the leaders of these organizations when shunning is a consequence of criticism. Believe me, I know the reasoning of ” keeping the congregation clean” . But since Mormons aren’t the only ones that practice this, the question is are only one of you right, or are you all wrong? Let’s just be tolerant, believe whatever you want, be who you are, but peacefully without hurting others. Excommunication/shunning/disfellowshipping is wrong.

    1. I admire your spiritual openness and journey Gabby! Like Sarah (hi Sarah..we have a similar story!) I have personal experience with excommunication as I was “disfellowshipped” two years ago for apostasy. I agree with Sarah, that it is an inappropriate response to take, and violates human rights. I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness and doubts plagued me throughout my twenties. There was no room for doubts and faith to c0-exist. I didn’t want to hurt others in my faith so I chose to leave and internalize my questions. I was shocked when two elders arrived at my door after seeing Christmas lights up. I had not attended any congregation for 10 years. When I was questioned, I was honest, and that led to my Disfellowshipping. My father and brother no longer feel they can speak to me. It has been with fascination and some envy that I have watched Mormonism evolve into something with greater tolerance for dissent and doubt than the religion I left. I applaud all that are able to keep their faith while pushing for a softer more open place.

      1. Shanna and Sarah, I really appreciate your perspectives. I’m embarrassed to say I have never really considered how other religions handle excommunication or similar practices. And now I’m very curious and want to learn more. Thank you.

        “It has been with fascination and some envy that I have watched Mormonism evolve into something with greater tolerance for dissent and doubt than the religion I left. I applaud all that are able to keep their faith while pushing for a softer more open place.”

        I find that so beautiful! Again, thank you.

  16. I too have been following the Kate Kelly and John Dehlin story closely. As a Mormon, I feel that our church is taking a major step backwards if they excommunicate these people. They will send the message that freedom of thought is not tolerated. Kate Kelly has given the feminists in this religion hope that maybe one day there will be female equality. And John Dehlin-I owe so much gratitude to him. He is a LGBT supporter who believes in gay marriage. Many of his podcasts highlight Gay Mormons and their experiences coming out. I recently learned that my thirteen year old son is Gay. With my new found knowledge, I can love my child fully for who he is completely. My child will feel no guilt or shame from me and my husband. Sadly to say, I don’t know if I would have been as accepting of his homosexuality before being educated through the Mormon Stories podcast. The Mormon church at this point is not a healthy place for Gays and Lesbians. John Dehlin is helping to change this.

    1. Hi Naomi. I’m not Mormon (Jewish, actually!) and had not heard of this controversy before, but I am finding these comments really interesting. I just want to send you a little virtual hug and high-five for being loving, accepting and supportive of your son. I work with teenagers and I know that not all LGBT youth are as lucky as your thirteen-year-old. I hope your family is finding the support and love you all deserve :)

      1. Thank you so much Lauren. That means a lot to me. It isn’t the easiest being gay in middle school, but we are hoping that next year will be better.

  17. As a non-Mormon who’s never heard of Kate Kelly or John Dehlin, I was fascinated by this interview and the related links you included. At best, the threat of excommunication for these two is a very heavy-handed approach. Given that revelation is considered ongoing in Mormonism, it makes no sense to me that the questions and conversations these individuals bring forth should be considered so threatening and dangerous to the church.

    I linked to that article about the mom who left her son in the car on my own blog recently because I, too, was shocked by what happened to that mother. That could easily have been so many moms I know. It’s yet one more example to me of the loss of common sense and balance in our society today. Scary.

    1. Zoe, a great reference to understand the church’s stance to a lot of theses issues is located on LDS.org. Unfortunately the OW movement has caused MANY people to pull away from the church leaving much sorrow and fragmented families in its wake. You can’t talk to too many people of the church and not find a sad story connected to it. This is why it may be appropriate that Kate Kelly no longer be associate with the church. She can maintain her ideas, nobody is telling her otherwise, but she can no longer use her membership in the church to justify the validity of them to fellow members.

      1. “Unfortunately the OW movement has caused MANY people to pull away from the church”

        Lindsay, if the concern is people pulling away from the church, OW’s influence doesn’t even register. Factor’s like discrepancies in church history, gender inequality, and concern about how tithing funds are spent, are much more significant factors. OW has only been around for a year, but people have been pulling away in large numbers for at a least a decade.

        “You can’t talk to too many people of the church and not find a sad story connected to it.”

        My experience has been the opposite. Lots of stories of being strengthened and made to feel welcome because of the work of Mormon feminists.

        And I agree, lds.org is a good source to find the church’s perspective on issues.

        1. There have been people who have fallen away from the church for many reasons for several years. I have personally seen a huge surge in the last year of women who say they will come back when the church ordains women. The blog comments I read were filled with women who only stay in the church because they know leaving will devastate their spouses and family (this because they have built their families with their spouse on principals of the gospel; they have made promises with God and their spouse) and with all this at stake, this movement among church members is tempting them to leave it all behind. Thank goodness the amount of women who feel this way is in the vast minority, but still very sad.

          1. Come now, Lindsay. Is it a huge surge, or a vast minority?

            Have you considered that it’s not the movement that is tempting people away, it’s the actual facts of sexism and inequality inherent in a patriarchal system?

          2. So interesting Lindsay because I no woman all over the states in the church and I do not know one single woman who wants the Priesthood or who would leave the church over this matter, and I know some pretty liberal Mormon woman. Many work outside the home and most are highly educated. If they leave the church it has to do more than just this issue. I think it is a small minority of woman who want the priesthood as it is in other religions too. I do not see a huge number of my Catholic or Protestant woman friends wanting to be ordained.

          3. Kelleyn, if you “do not know one single woman who wants the Priesthood or who would leave the church over this matter” all that says to me is that the women that you know who have questions aren’t comfortable talking to you about them.

          4. Seriously – do you really think the gender inequalities of the priesthood never occurred to those women prior to Kate starting her OW website? I can pretty much guarantee that her creating a website and attempting to get admission to the priesthood session did not facilitate some eureka moment for these women. They were already aware and already grappling to some degree.

  18. I am so mad about that NY times article. They wanted a scandal and that’s what they got. People are NOT “threatened” with excommunication in the Mormon church. If you’ve ever been around stake presidents, bishops, or people who have been excommunicated, you know that excommunication is on the table only for the most serious of sins as the first step on the road to repentance. If you are in apostasy, which those people are (meaning they questioned church doctrine, had their questions answered and still continued to protest instead of sustaining church leaders and having faith in the face of a trial), that is the first step to helping them repent. Faith means not having a perfect knowledge. What kind of faith do people have if, when faced with one thing they misunderstand or disagree with, they do this? People question and struggle all the time. That’s fine. That’s why we are here! But that article is misleading and unfair.

      1. Tori, two things: 1) I don’t know what lengthy paper you’re referring to, but I think words from the actual person being accused of apostasy should be regarded with the most weight.

        2) You and I are working from from different definitions of “protest”. I’ve seen protests. I’m guessing you have too. If Kate Kelly was organizing a protest, it might have included forcing the doors of the building, aggressive shouting and signage, planting men in the audience who would disrupt the meeting with banners and slogan chanting, or publicly ordaining women.

        Peacefully requesting tickets to an event, though you may perceive it as threatening, is not a protest.

    1. Emily, I agree, this seems so avoidable and unnecessary. But for different reasons than you. In both letters the church leaders mention that they will go public with the disciplinary action, so John and Kate were essentially forced to do it first.

      The church has a full time professional PR team, and knows what it means to go public. I can’t imagine the thinking behind this.

  19. Thank you so much for writing about this Gabrielle. Your voice, along with John and Kate’s, is an important one our culture needs very much, and I am so impressed with the kind, calm, steadiness in which you deliver it.

  20. Thank you for your calm and thoughtful responses regarding the upcoming church courts. I am a progressive Mormon who has found strength and courage to stand up for what I believe in and be my authentic self in church because of both of Kate and John. To find that they are not wanted by the church at large says loud and clear that I am not wanted. I love being LDS, but the church is far from perfect (on some issues, particularly women and LGBT issues, they are clearly on the wrong side). I’m really starting to wonder if this is the best place for me and my family to grow spiritually.

    1. This is one of the biggest issues I have with this. I feel the outcome of this will do more harm than good to many members and the church as a whole. I totally get where you are coming from – although I do feel that the church is not taking issue with John or Kate’s point of view, but rather the fact that they are so vocal and their influence is quite large. I do not think they wish to say that if you have similar views you are not welcome – but I can see how that could be the perceived message. Praying, hoping, crossing fingers and toes that this has an outcome that will lead to peace for us all.

  21. Thank you so much for the links you provided about the excommunication issue. I’ve been wanting to get more informed and these helped tremendously.

  22. Ironically, just yesterday I pulled a vintage picture book off my shelf to read to my daughter and had to laugh that the backdrop for the story was a kid waiting for his mom in the car while she grocery shopped. I laughed because I thought, “well that wouldn’t go over well nowadays.” And then I read your link to that article about the mom getting arrested for leaving her kid in the car for a couple minutes. It is terrifying to me that parents have to not only worry about decisions they are making, but also we now have to be concerned about how someone else views those decisions and base our actions on not getting the police called on us when someone disagrees. And unfortunately the courts get clogged with ridiculous cases like that and often misses the important ones where neglect and abuse is actually occurring.

    1. Totally. That someone saw the kids and was alarmed is not that odd to me — we’re a paranoid culture in general. But when the mom shows up, and everything is fine, it seems like the matter would be dropped. The arrest just seems unfathomable.

  23. I think this would be a good time to review what the church has said, and to remember that no one forces anyone to be a member and that there are plenty of churches that ordain women, etc. to go to if one is dissatisfied.

      1. Just to clarify, thank you for posting what the church said, JP. I think the option to just go join another church is a little easier said than done.

    1. I’ve read lots of responses like your, JP, along the lines of: If you don’t like the church, go somewhere else. But that type of response seems so odd to me.

      I was taught (and I assume you were taught) that the gospel was for everyone and that the church was for everyone. The recent I’m a Mormon campaign feels like it’s saying All Are Welcome.

      And saying, “Just pick another church” is too simplistic. For Mormons, it would be like saying, “You don’t like your family? Just pick another one.”

      1. This argument is not fair to children raised in these religions. They’ve had no choice and have never known any different. Of course, if they disagree as adults they can leave, but its not that simple. They will consequently lose their entire family and community that they love. Devastating.

        1. Amy that is not true! Julianna Hough does not practice this religion any more, but is still welcomed by her family and by her community. They adore her! If my children choose to not practice they will not loose our family. We do not shun! We are not Amish. We may not like their choices, but we still love our children. We believe in free agency.

          1. Kelleyn, come on. Have you ever talked to anyone who has chosen to leave the church? Mormons may not formally practice “shunning”, but shunning happens none the less.

          2. Hi Amy & Kelleyn,

            I just wanted to share my perspective on this issue. In my family I have five brothers. Three of whom chose to leave the church in their teenage years, this was difficult for my parents as they cherish their faith and wanted their children to share it; however, continuously since that time we have maintained a close relationship as a family. My two younger brothers and I continue as active members; however, it has never made us feel like we cannot love, assoicate, or spend time with our older siblings. It has been between 20 to 15 years (depending on the brother) since my brother chose to leave the church — they still attend extended family reunions, parties, etc. We recently threw a baby shower for my oldest brother’s longtime girlfriend where most of my cousins, aunts, etc. (all of whom are Mormon) attended. I am sure some people have experiences where they have felt shunned for choosing a different path (and this saddens me), but in my personal experience (and I feel confident speaking for my parents and extended family) familial love and closeness is not predicated on church membership.

      2. Wouldn’t you agree that when we choose to join the church that we know what we are joining. The Church clearly defines what they believe and don`t believe in. I agree that choosing to leave the church is not an easy decision, but why should the church have to conform? I don’t think that the church taking a stance toward John or Kate is saying that there isn’t room for them, but making them accountable to the covenants that they have made. I think that it is the same as a parent expecting their child to follow their rules; just because the parent implies consequence to actions doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for them in their family, but that the are expected to be resepctful. My understanding from the interviews that I have watched is that there leaders just want to meet with them. Perhaps if they hadn’t made their opinions public then their leaders wouldn’t have made their stance public; it is only fair that it can go both ways. Perhaps my views are different because I live in a small city were the church is small and people are constantly choosing to join or leave the church; struggling to keep memberships is an issue simply because it’s hard to live the gospel. Most people struggle simply because they are the only member in their family. The complex issues that John and Kate advocate for are so far from the concerns of the members that I know.

        1. This particular threaded comment is getting confusing, so I’m not sure if you were replying to me, but if you were, I would say: No, I wouldn’t agree with that. It seems to assume that everyone one who joins the church is an adult, approaching things from a logical standpoint. But a big number of church members didn’t join the church at all, they were born into it.

          I’m one of them. I grew up in the church. I loved growing up in the church. When I see some of the odd behaviors of the church over the last several years it is heart breaking and maddening to me. What is happening to my church?

          These disciplinary actions don’t feel like my church. Instead it’s like someone changed the definition of my church but didn’t tell me, so that I look around and can hardly recognize it sometimes.

          1. Thanks Gabby for your response! I love open discussions about the church and I think that they are important; so thanks for being so open! I joined the church when I was 16 and I fell in love with the gospel and loved developing a spiritual relationship with my Savior! I really appreciate when you said “When I see some of the odd behaviours of the church over the last several years it is heart breaking and maddening to me. What is happening to my church?” I can empathize completely! I have had these same feelings! I have often wondered for myself if I was seeing/feeling this differently as I was getting older and gaining more wisdom. When I find myself in a place that seems unsure I become extremely grateful that the Lord felt it necessary to give us our own agency! Regardless of what opposition exists within the Church culture I try to do my best to not let it deter from a good way of life and my spirituality! I am always perplexed when I hear people say that the church is the same everywhere; clearly that is not the case :) Have you always lived in areas where the church is highly populated? If not, have you noticed a difference in areas that you have lived where the church is not as large?

    2. it’s naïve and just plain wrong to not acknowledge that the church has changed and altered throughout its 180+ yrs. its doctrine has changed – reversed in a number of cases. were all these changes/alterations just surprise revelations to the prophet? it’s kinda ridiculously ironic to be ahistorical about this – the changes did not happen in a vacuum (e.g. the word of wisdom – one of the temple recommend questions – came about because emma was sick of cleaning up tobacco spit).

      moreover – the church is its membership – we are a lay church – we don’t have professional clergy who run our meetings, preach the gospel, or teach our sunday school – we do that – any melchizedek priesthood holding man can theoretically lead this church if called upon to do so – that’s one of the super awesome things about the church (though somewhat less so if you’re a woman). each one of us is a part of the body of Christ. if one part of the body is in pain – how does that news get to the top – what’s our equivalent nerve system? church leaders have said “our women are happy”. that’s not entirely true – so how do church leaders learn that and learn the extent of that. people don’t have the ear of the prophet like emma did. and it’s not fair to tell these women to join another church – do we just amputate that appendage without pursuing other cures? what’s more – that appendage is as much a part of the body as the other appendages. and i don’t think that’s the way we’re meant to get that one heart/one mind of zion.

      and finally – so it’s fine for people to have doubts – but these doubts can never leave their mind/heart? they can’t share these doubts with others – have conversations, search for solace within their community, benefit from others experiences? the definition of “public” is entirely different today – social media changes it absolutely.

  24. Thanks for this, dear Gabby! I, like several other of your respondents, am disappointed at the publicity and invitation to anger this situation has caused.

    As far as I have ever known, these type of things are very personal and private
    and not for public plastering! The plaintiff is given every advantage.

  25. Actually, I am not saying just pick another church. I am saying that most adults who join the church or who have been members understand the tenants of the church and the idea that the church should change to satisfy every individual is just unfair. What about those of us who do not particularly want women ordained? What if we are happy the way the church runs right now? The church is for everyone. Everyone that believes the church is true. The way it is. Which happens to be the way I believe. If someone doesn’t believe that, they might be happier somewhere else. Not that the church excludes them but that they have excluded themselves.

    1. but the church isn’t static – that was my point. if you had liked how the church was in 1978 before the revelation on the priesthood, would you have then left after the doctrine was changed? maybe these women have more faith in modern-day revelation (another key tenet that sets our religion apart).

    2. JP, you’re not acknowledging what you said. Your words: “no one forces anyone to be a member and that there are plenty of churches that ordain women, etc. to go to if one is dissatisfied.” I think it’s fair to say that is pretty much the same as saying they can just pick another church.

      And then you say: “The church is for everyone. Everyone that believes the church is true. The way it is.”

      But you have it wrong. That is not what we teach. When we teach that all are welcome, we do not mean: all are welcome as long as they have perfect faith and believe the church is flawless and can do no wrong. That would be ridiculous. There isn’t a single church member that agrees with every thing that happens in the church. You included.

      And from your studies of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young in Sunday School, I’m sure you remember how much they feared that church members would not question things, and instead, simply listen to the church leaders and let the church leaders make all the decisions. Both JS and BY were adamant that all members should seriously question everything they were asked to believe in.

      This whole church was founded on a young boy asking questions. You know this. If you’re a Mormon who is not asking questions, who is not trying to improve the flaws in the church, who is not trying to challenge the status quo, perhaps you’re not taking your religion seriously enough.

    3. One more thing, JP, because I’m troubled that you can’t see how offensive it is to tell someone they can simply go to another church.

      Have you tried to put yourself in their shoes? What if I said to you:

      I really love the church as it is now, I love that Ordain Women is helping people talk about the inequalities and sexism inherent in a patriarchal church, so that we can improve the problems. I love that women are wearing pants to church — something so innocuous, but so shocking to some members that that sent death threats, (I don’t love the death threats, but love that members are being forced to confront long standing prejudices). I love that Mormon feminists pointed out that there was no good reason that women weren’t praying in GC. But hey, if you don’t love these things, go ahead and pick another church. There are plenty of churches where women don’t wear pants and never raise questions. This is my church and I like it the way it is.

      How does that feel to you? I imagine your response is: But I don’t want to leave the church. I love the church!

      And that’s exactly how it feels to faithful Mormon feminists.

      1. Love your class and strength in addressing these comment. I’ve been wondering what your thoughts were on the issue. I taught relief society a week ago and in the wake of this news I felt heartbroken and angry – there are many active faithful women who feel this way, it is not all individuals who have already left. And I don’t believe for one second that if Jesus were here he’d say to me “If you don’t like it go find another church.” That’s ludicrous. But maybe that’s what our leaders are saying, it’s all so depressing.

    4. “The church is for everyone.”

      I have not found this to be true. I am a single childless middle aged women. Someone asked me the other day why I stopped going to church. My answer – there is no place in the Church for me. I go and listen to speakers talk about families, families, and then more stuff about families. I got really tired of being a second class citizen at Church. I was so pleased to hear Pres. Uchtdorf say in Conference that there was room for everyone but I see now that he was incorrect.

  26. Yes, and that is an excellent point, by the way. When there is revelation from the Prophet that does cause changes in the church tenets, it is up to each of us to pray about and accept those changes, or not (like many of us did in 1978), but that was revelation from the Prophet. I think I will be just fine until Thomas S. Monson lets us know things are changing. No, the church is not static, but I have a feeling that many of the basic doctrines will not be changing anytime soon and I am glad about that.

    1. If you only knew how similiar this was to the jehovahs witnesses. They call it ” the light gets brighter” when doctrine changes. They even had a similiar situation in 1975. Its all circular logic. Do your research, and think about it, Especially since you both practice shunning. It’s important, millions are affected.

  27. Thank you so much for your thoughts on John and Kate, Gabrielle. I’m crying to much to put my thoughts into words but I’m so grateful for your compassion! I’m sick about the whole thing.

  28. Just want to say Gabrielle that I admire you for posting your views on this despite the backlash you are getting from some publically and perhaps privately too.

  29. I keep hitting something and loosing what I am writing. Maybe it is not meant to be-who knows? In regards to the excommunication. I am sure that the leaders of the church are not taking this lightly. I am sure they have met with these individuals on multiple times to understand their point of view. It is one thing to have an opinion on the matter and another to demand that the church changes it stance on an issue. One can look at it from a human rights issue that all men and woman had the right to be equal and all men and woman should be able to practice their sexuality in a manner that they so desire. I will not argue on this manner. I cannot say I understand homosexuality, but do have many friends who do lead this lifestyle. I will simply say that it is not for me to understand. Who am I to say that they way I lead my life is better than yours. What I do know is that being a member of this church we do believe that the men appointed to guide and direct this church are appointed by God. We believe they have the right to make policies on his (God’s ) behalf. I am sure they have prayed in regards to these subject multiple times. I do not belief our leaders are of the “Old School -Old Boys Club mentality using their authority to exclude because the like to throw around their power. I believe these men love all men and woman and would love to change this policy if God gave them authority to do some! We do not practice shunning in the sense that the Amish practice shunning; however, you just cannot actively go against the leaders of this church over and over without being asked whether or not you really want to be a member of this church. No one says they have to be members of this church. If they do not believe in this churches policies would it not be better to release them from membership and allow them to choose a church that is a better match in their beliefs. No one makes you be a member of this church. It is a choice. I know God loves all men and woman equally and if he changes the policies in regards to these issues it will be on his own time scale not we they decide he should change them. It is his church not ours. Another thing is that we do have the priesthood when we are in the temple, but do I want to have it once I leave the temple-no! I have never felt less than in this church. I have always felt like I was special. I do not work because I have too, but i want too.

    1. Kelleyn, Have you taken the time to listen to some of John’s podcasts or taken time to read the OW website? John and Kate are not “demanding” anything. Really! Take a look there and you might be a little surprised. Yes, they are asking questions . . . really hard, difficult questions which make us devote Mormons very nervous.

      Something that keeps coming into my mind: If divine revelation comes when we as a people are ready to receive it, perhaps social movements of this kind prepare us to be better people. And as we become better (I hope) more loving and accepting, God will reveal greater truths. That is what these uncomfortable questions are giving us. It is making ALL of us take a good, long and scary look into the mirror to ask ourselves, “Are we being as Christ-like as we can possibly be?’

      Remember as my catholic friends have told me, “Catholic’s are taught that the Pope is infallible. But we don’t believe it. Mormon’s are taught that the Prophet is fallible. But we don’t believe it.” And yes, I still sustain President Monson as a prophet who does speak for God. But just maybe, not everything that comes from his mouth are God’s words. Words which are consistent to what we are ready to accept and hear.

  30. I might be in the minority of LDS women, but I do not feel “uncomfortable” with the role of women in the church. To the contrary, I quite enjoy the different role we have. Why is it considered inequality to just be different? I also disagree with the notion that Kate Kelly isn’t demanding anything. On more than one occasion she’s made the comment that women should be ordained to the priesthood and “nothing less will suffice.” How is that simply looking for dialogue?

    1. A couple of things, Becky.

      1) “nothing else will suffice” is taken out of context. The quote is: The ordination of women would put us on completely equal spiritual footing with our brethren, and nothing less will suffice. From what I understand the “nothing less will suffice” refers to “completely equal spiritual footing with our brethren”.

      I can’t imagine any church members who wouldn’t want completely equal spiritual footing for men and women.

      2) “Why is it considered inequality to just be different?”

      It’s not. And that’s not what we’re talking about. When inequality is mentioned, it refers to many actual and unnecessary inequalities in our church. To list a few: women make up over half of the members of the church, but we only hear from 1 or 2 during every GC. In disciplinary councils, in temple recommend interviews, in any meetings with priesthood leaders, women are judged by men, but men are never judged by women (should I mention the part about grown men asking 12 year old girls about their sexuality behind closed doors?). Women with children under 18 years old aren’t allowed to work in the temple, but men with children the same age are allowed. Because of the affiliation with Scouts, the YMs program requires twice the amount of manpower and over twice the amount of budget than the YWs program. Again, women make up over half the membership of the church but have virtually no decision making power — no matter what the position she holds, there is always a man above her who has the final say.

      I could go on and on and on. And nothing I’ve mentioned has anything to do with doctrine.

      If you don’t feel unequal, that’s fine. But equality isn’t a feeling. The fact is, the church has huge inequalities.

      These are all very fixable. Why wouldn’t we all want to improve these inequalities? “I’m happy with how the church is now” is not a good reason.

      1. There’s also a pretty significant doctrinal problem with only men holding the priesthood, because another important, distinguishing tenet of Mormonism is that don’t have intermediaries between us and God. We believe in personal revelation, that I can talk to God myself and he will talk to me. Me and God can take care of most of my sinning/repenting between just the 2of us. Then you take the priesthood ordinances, and the way they are administered in the church is communal – generally more than one person is involved and they’re generally people we know – it links us, strengthens the ward family. But if you are a woman, you don’t take part in that. You can only receive those necessary ordinances and thus, women in the church are made to have an intermediary between them and God.

        1. I just want to point out that a man and a woman BOTH have ordinances administered by another person. Nobody administers a priesthood ordinance to themselves. So the point about women being left out of the communal feeling of performing ordinances (preparing the sacrament for example) is one thing I can understand. But the idea that only women have an intermediary between them and God is wrong. If it is true of women, it is true of men. (I don’t believe it’s true, but I get what you are saying.)

          1. Except in the case of the endowment. When I went through the temple I was taught that I was supposed to be linked to God through my husband and not directly on my own. Nothing growing up in the church prepared me for that and it broke my heart and began a serious crisis of faith.

        1. Thanks Gabby for sharing those points; none of which I was aware of. My understanding of what you shared a lot of it could could be addressed without even adressing the doctrine. My concern is always that the Churches missionaries efforts are going to be tained by the conflicts like this; non-members are not going to take the church seriously. My husband and I are the only members in our families and I know we have both heard very negative comments from our families regarding these topics. So for years we have been doing our best to shed a positive light on the church and now that same community is taking that a way.

          1. I hear you. I know it’s hard for many church members to have any church flaws pointed out in public.

            But instead of thinking: geez, I wish people weren’t pointing out these flaws, this is shedding bad light on the church. What if we thought: geez, it’s time to fix these flaws so that no one can shine a light on them at all.

            Remember, the negative comments you’ve heard about this aren’t because of OW, the negative comments are because the harmful church policies in fact exist.

            It seems like it could only be good for the church to acknowledge the problems and then address them — especially while the public is watching. Think how attractive that would be to anyone investigating the church! Who wouldn’t want a church that improves as needed?

  31. I wonder if this ex-communication thing is growing pains af a very young religion. Issues like authoritarianism are ones that my religion, Judaism, for example, has been grappling with for centuries. And the role(s) of women has been a hot topic for many, many decades. As a result we have several denominations, including some that are extremely conservative regarding gender roles. Jews that are active in more progressive denominations are still universally considered Jews. Did the original creation of non-catholic Christianity happen similarly centuries ago?

    Religion is faith, community, family, and home. It speaks to who we are at our deepest and most vulnerable. I can imagine how incredibly painful the attitude of “if you don’t like it just leave” (suggested by some above) is to Mormans who consider the LDS church their spiritual home and an integral part of their identity.

  32. I will have to fully engage in this discussion later when I have a moment to read all the comments so perhaps this has already been said – but I just want to say that I am a mormon woman who feels differently than you do. I feel as though the opposing view isn’t getting a voice – we are perhaps less visible in the media. So, I feel like it needs to be said that there are many, many mormon women who are truly, incredibly happy with the church and with this recent decision.

    1. Well, I would say, if your views align with the church on this, then your views are getting plenty of visibility in the media. The media is definitely covering the church’s views and linking to the statement from the church. So I think you can feel confident that your views are definitely getting a voice.

      As for your last sentence, I certainly hope you misspoke. It would be awful if many Mormon women were “incredibly happy” about possible excommunications.

      1. I should have said that I am truly, incredibly happy with the church and support this recent decision that they have made.

  33. I have come back several times this weekend to see how this conversation is going and it has given me much thought. First–am I the only mormon who has never heard of these two people before?! I am still delving into all the info trying to understand the whole situation but as long as this is becoming a fairly specific religious conversation there is one thing I think has been missing. It has been mentioned before that ours is a church of ongoing church-wide and personal revelation. But no one has made mention of putting that personal revelation into practice. Yes, these are very deep questions. And yes, as a people we are encouraged to ask for continued revelation and reassurance that our leaders are acting in accordance with God’s will. So let’s do it. We should look at these questions, and these brothers and sisters in our faith, and we should pray. Pray to know our Heavenly Father’s will for our own actions. And we should attend our temples. And we should study. Study this issue, find out what we need to know. Often assumptions can be wrong. We should ask for guidance, we should study, and be ready to accept what God would have us do. I think sometimes it’s a scary thing to ask for guidance if you’re not ready to act on it. I think of the rich man who asked Christ what He would have him do–Jesus’ response to give up everything and follow him was too much. The man couldn’t do it. We might remember that Christ never turned anyone away, everyone (sinner, harlot, saint, etc.) was invited to come, put away their worldly actions and follow Him. He was always loving and kind and understanding. That does not mean He condoned all actions, but no one was ever turned away, they were invited to follow and be better. And it helps me to remember, that we are all loved by Him. And not just loved, but treasured, of utmost importance. ALL OF US. Often our personal wishes or understandings are hard to turn over, but I firmly believe, if we ask for guidance, we will be given it. Maybe not easily, maybe not quickly, and maybe it will take a good deal of work to get it, but our Heavenly Father will not leave us drifting in the wind. He will let us know what He would have us do. (hope that wasn’t too lengthy :)

  34. I’m not Mormon, I’m not even religious (although I was raised in the Episcopal church), but I’d like to recognize the conviction and honesty that you’ve brought to this issue, Gabby. The thoughtful, respectful tone and your willingness to engage those who disagree with you on that level is amazing. I wasn’t aware of any of this, but the comments here have been fascinating.

  35. I have been thinking so much about this and have such mixed feelings and thoughts about it.

    I don’t see where, at least in Kate’s case, the church threatened or said that they were taking the action public. Neither letter posted on the Ordain Women website seems to say that. I understand the reasoning behind making the meetings public from the Ordain Women perspective, but miss where the church letters say they will do so.

  36. After reading through these comments, I feel like it’s important to separate ‘gospel’ from ‘church’, ‘doctrine’ from ‘organization’ etc. There are certain issues organization wise that could and should be modified for more equality and effectiveness, the whole Scouts vs. YW’s for example. But when it comes to the doctrines of the gospel this is where we need to be careful because no man on earth, even the prophet, is capable of changing doctrine without receiving revelation on behalf of the entire church. Does OW represent the whole ‘church’? No, it doesn’t. As women, in regards to the Priesthood, I truly believe that we don’t realize the scope of what we already have within the gospel of Jesus Christ. My only frame of reference for this is my own — I was a divorced, single mom for awhile which forced me to reevaluate how my no longer ‘picture perfect’ little family fit into ‘church.’ I may have felt awkward at ‘church’ at times, but I never once felt “less than” when it came down to how I felt Heavenly Father viewed my family.

  37. Gabby, I really appreciate that you have brought up this touchy Mormon topic of the upcoming disciplinary councils to determine excomunication of Kate Kelly and John Dehlin. We had a few years where the church had laid off excommunications of public figures who spoke or published different viewpoints than the prophet and apostles. Many hoped that this was a sign that the leadership was more open to free speech in the church. The upcoming courts for these two brave people have put that notion to a screeching halt. Now when someone wants to share in church that they support women’s ordination, THEY will then be labeled an apostate by their fellow church community. A healthy church environment should be a place where we feel safe sharing our thoughts and beliefs without fearing alienation or even worse church discipline. Our country believes in the importance of free speech. The LDS church is saying clearly that they do not.

    The second point that I want to make is that excommunication is a violent act. The LDS church makes it clear that excommunication separates the indivividual from their families in the afterlife. That is some pretty heavy stuff. Calling a church court – a court of love is a bunch of bologna. Margaret Toscano’s story of her excommunication very clearly demonstrates the violence of it.

    The Mormon church is again retrenching and becoming more orthodox. That makes me very sad in the religion that I so loved for many, many years.

  38. I’m so very glad that we never told our daughter that she couldn’t do what she wanted to do. We told her she was pretty, but we always told her she was pretty smart, too. She just finished her first year of college as a Mechanical Engineer Major. You GO girl!!!!

  39. Mary-My Life in Scotland

    Whoa!!!! This is the best comment thread on the whole of the internets.
    Gabrielle, you are doing an amazing job of thoughtfully and responding to comments You know what you’re talking about and I couldn’t agree more. We should be asking questions. This is all so terribly sad.

  40. Gabby, I am so impressed and appreciative of your thoughtful, insightful and powerful responses to the comments you have gotten on this issue. You have certainly captured and expressed the thoughts that have been running through my mind, as I’ve spent the last few days feeling absolutely sick that the church would choose to do this. It just seems so terribly unnecessary. I particularly agreed with your comment ” The church has a full time professional PR team, and knows what it means to go public. I can’t imagine the thinking behind this.” Working in PR, that was my first thought as well, but that’s where the trickiness of running a “business” with a PR arm and running a church led by “the spirit” intersect. If their PR team is worth their salt they should have been STRONGLY advising against this, but I have a feeling someone in a church leadership position told them that “spiritual truth” trumps bad PR. I believe in the church leadership’s minds, they are singing that old tune about how it doesn’t matter if “the world” supports Kate and John, the church itself must not be “of the world” and must “stand for what is right”, PR be damned. It’s truly unfortunate though, because the church could really use some good PR right now, but instead it just keeps giving itself black eyes. It seems like I’ve been trying to explain away one embarrassment after another for several years now, and I really have no logical explanation to give for this one.

  41. P.S. isn’t free agency the basis of the entire church??? So why not stop treating members like children who need to be protected from “bad influences” and allow them to use their free agency to decide whether or not they want to leave/stay in the church?? The church’s position on any topic is widely available and readily accessible on the internet, so if someone hears something John or Kate says and is confused, they could certainly visit lds.org and come to their own conclusions. It shouldn’t be the church’s responsibility to excommunicate them in order to act as the gatekeeper of information for every member.

  42. One of the things that makes me the most sad about John and Kate and others being disciplined is the way that it has embolden members with more conservative views to look down on them and by extension other members who have concerns. In RS yesterday people the teacher brought it up with an attitude of “those poor women, they just don’t understand the gospel!” and made me so sad. There were several other comments that concerned me and I wanted to say something–my heart was racing the whole time–but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Because I DID NOT FEEL SAFE. I didn’t feel like I could share the concerns I had or the ways in which my heart was hurting. I knew that if I tried to share the concerns of my heart I would suffer very real consequences be they social or (as these events have shown us) even ecclesiastical. How is that “mourning with those who mourn” or “comforting those who stand in need of comfort?”

    Why are we so quick and ready to turn on our own?

  43. Gabrielle, in your opinion, why do you think the church isn’t more truthful about the history and so forth? I feel like they want to keep it so hidden and then when we search and want to know more we are made to feel like we are doing something wrong. Shouldn’t they be offering up this information? It seems like it would be taken so much better coming from them and less like they are trying to hide it.

    1. Oh man. No idea. In the years before the internet, I suppose it was easy for the church to ignore much of the history. And not just the church. I think any organization could whitewash their history if they wanted to.

      As for the actual history, I imagine only serious, professional historians really understood the whole of it, and they didn’t have an easy way to share the information with church members. And maybe they didn’t want to share it.

      Now that the internet has brought a huge amount of transparency to every organization (not just the church), I think church leaders are still trying to figure out how to deal with it. No doubt some of the history was as new to them as it has been to any member who has discovered it.

      So now what? Do they throw out all the CES manuals and start over? Give conference talks on the true history?

      I don’t have the answer. I don’t pretend to know what I would do if I was in their shoes.

      1. I teach early morning seminary and you will be interested to know that the Church has released a fantastic new manual that addresses many of the more controversial topics in church history head on. We have been asked to discuss these topics as part of the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History curriculum for the 2014-15 school year.

        I have also had to have the courage to tell the kids on some days that I honestly do not know the answer to some of the questions. I never, never leave those sweet impressionable youth without a statement of what I do know, however. Even if I can’t explain this or that, there are fundamental things that I do know with certainty. And, at the end of the day, those sure feelings, remembered, are what ultimately help us when we face new challenges and questions and even doubts.

        I look forward to the new CES curriculum and teaching church history and welcome the chance to discuss and challenge my students to think and pray hard about their questions.

  44. As someone who has lived through the upheaval of a crisis of faith and the ensuing excommunication and shunning by my family, my favorite quote is one by Rilke “Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.” All I ever wanted was a religion that allowed the questions. I think that the only spiritual and humane way to live.

  45. Thank you for being willing to talk about this and in such a respectful way, Gaby. I’ve engaged in a few conversations on FB, as I am fully in support of John and Kate. But I’ve approached it rather cautiously, because I don’t want to get into arguments about it or attack others who don’t feel the same way I do. It’s been disheartening to see how cruel and judgmental members of my church have responded. It truly hurts my heart and makes me feel like women (and men!) like me are not welcome in the church. I think questions are a healthy, and important part of faith, and certainly the basis of the Joseph Smith story. I think church rhetoric has put a strong emphasis on blind obedience in recent years, and that as Latter-day Saints, we want to show that our faith is unwavering, that our strict obedience proves our worthiness and love for the Lord. Unfortunately, that mindset leads to vilifying and casting out those who speak out and ask questions. John Dehlin has certainly played an important role in why I have chosen to stay in the church, despite some of our ugly history and my own personal faith crisis. And Kate Kelly has given me courage to speak up when I normally stay silent. I am praying that the church will make room for all of us, wherever we are on the journey.

  46. I do support asking hard questions and I have faith in the individual process of seeking and finding truth, even and especially when that process courses into the margins (John and Kate). Heaven knows I have my own troubles with doctrine.

    1. I’ve been pondering this for days, trying to put into words how I feel, starting a comment, then deleting it. This^^^is how I feel. Thank you for putting my scattered thoughts into coherent sentences:).

  47. Oh my. Several new additions while I was at Alt Summit. I’ll do my best to reply, but then I’m going to close comments, because I don’t have time to moderate the conversation.

    Thank you to all of you who have shared your thoughts!

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