Lisa Butterworth wrote a post titled the F-Word: Feminism. Is feminism dangerous? Many faithful Latter-day Saints may be concerned that Mormon feminism is a road to apostasy. Is that true?
GT: Do you have any ways to assuage that fear for people who are active LDS that are thinking, “I don’t know if I should listen to these two people. One is out of the church in one is barely hanging on.”
Sara: Yeah, right.
Nancy: So one thing I’ve done is I’ve surveyed Mormon feminists and when I surveyed Mormon feminists, when we were experiencing that great big bubble of hope during 2012-2014. Yeah. That great big level of hope. I surveyed Mormon feminists in 2013, about 1800 Mormon feminists, and I think it was 70 something percent of that group was active. And most Mormon feminists at that time were active and it was a very exciting time to be active, you know? And, they were active and, overwhelmingly, not only were they active, but they had some kind of calling. And many of them had temple recommends. At that time, most people were saying that their participation in Mormon feminism was helping them to stay in the church because it was helping them to negotiate and navigate those difficult points and to give them resources and community and support where maybe they would’ve just left if they hadn’t had community and resources and support to stay in the church. And then at other times, Mormon feminists, in the example of people leaving has helped people leave. Mormon feminism both helps people to stay in the church if that is what their goal is and it helps people to leave if that is what their goal is. And I think that the community…
GT: Let me stop you for a second. Was that your goal?
Sara: To leave? No, but…
GT: Because the reason I’m asking that is because there are going to be people who will say, “Well, if I support it, then I’ve got one foot out the door.”
Sara: Right. It’s tricky. I’m trying to gather my thoughts and figure out the right starting point here. The whole idea of Mormon feminism, helping people to stay or to leave, I relate to that and I resonate with that. I think it didn’t so much–well from personal experience I’ll say this. My faith crisis or my big turning point was when I went to the temple when I was 21. I was about to get married and I went and received my endowment the week before my wedding. I had no idea but walking into the temple I felt completely clear and completely hundred percent all in with the church. And leaving the temple I felt like everything had changed and I didn’t know who God was anymore. And that was very uncomfortable and what I needed at that point, what I wanted more than anything was to see examples of people who had a difficult time with the church for whatever reason, and still stayed because I wanted to stay more than anything. But I didn’t know, you know, looking at my family and my ward. It seemed like everybody was just really comfortable. And so, I thought, “Well, how do I stay if I’m not comfortable and if I have questions? Right? And so Mormon feminism, the people I met, the stories I read, really did help me to stay for 10 years. And because of all these external events: excommunication, exclusion policy, Mormon #MeToo, and sexual abuse, and stuff. I think I have also seen examples that convinced me that there was also a way to leave in a healthy way. Not that that was what I wanted to do, but when I felt that spiritual prompting, that that’s what my next step was, I felt okay. I have seen from these people’s examples that I can do that, and I can still be a spiritual person.
Early Mormon women blessed by laying on of hands. If the practice returned, would that be good enough for the Ordain Women movement, or do they require ordination? Must women be ordained? Nancy Ross and Sara Hanks answer that question.
GT: Are you still a member of Ordain Women?
Nancy: I mean, I still have a profile of a website, and I’m still supportive of the organization.
GT: And you’re being ordained this Sunday [July 29] anyway.
Nancy: That’s right.
Sara: Ordained woman.
Nancy: Yes, Ordain Women! We’re doing it.
GT: You’re going to be ordained. My question is actually two questions. Number one, what if in say October General Conference, President Nelson got up and said, “Okay, we’re going to go back to the idea that women can lay hands on the sick like they used to do even into the early 20th century. Would that be good enough for Ordain Women? Or, do you think that women still need to be ordained to priesthood office?
Nancy: Do you want to comment?
Sara: I would say nothing less than full inclusion and full opportunity for every member of the church would be quote unquote sufficient. Any step in the direction of progress on any subject, in any community is great. Any step. Great.
GT: So you would welcome the laying on of hands.
Sara: Oh, I would welcome that completely. I would be so excited about that. I mean I would be overjoyed. But in terms of Ordain Women as an organization, I think they chose their name very specifically. It’s Ordain Women, not like give women–I mean, it would be a very long name, but it’s not like Give Women More Opportunities. It’s Ordain Women.
LDS women out there–would you like to be ordained, or are you happy with the status quo?
As we finished our our conversation with Sara Hanks and Dr. Nancy Ross, I asked them what their feminist favorite essays were.
Here are some questions:
- What are your favorite essays from FMH?
- Is there such thing as a faithful feminist?
- Is Feminism an f-word? Would it be better to come up with a new term that is less toxic?
- Would the LDS Church split like the Community of Christ did over women’s ordination?
- Has there been a noticeable drop in activity among women since Kate Kelly’s excommunication?