I am excited to introduce Bryndis Roberts.  We will talk about her conversion from the Baptist Church to the LDS Church.  She definitely gave her missionaries a run for their money, as she asked more questions about the Church’s past polygamy practices and priesthood/temple ban.

Roberts: Well, I asked them about both polygamy and the priesthood, ban. I started out with polygamy, because, once I got my quad, I very quickly read through the Book of Mormon, I got to the book of Jacob, particularly the second chapter of the book of Jacob, and I think it’s like, verses 31 through 35, which, I mean, it’s really almost like a rant against polygamy about you know how it is–the Lord is saying, it grieves him that the man have wounded his daughters, by doing this, etc, etc, etc., and basically says, a man shall have only one wife. So I said to the missionaries, I’m a little bit confused, because this seems to me to be pretty straightforward, saying no to polygamy. So how in the world did y’all ever do that? Their  response was to refer to, I think it’s the 30th verse of the second chapter of Jacob, which says something like, “If I will allow, raise up a seed unto to me,” as the reason for why the church later started practicing polygamy, and I was just like, “I don’t think that says that, but, you know, I’m going to give you that when you go on, if that’s, that’s your response. Then about that time, I started asking them a lot of questions about the priesthood ban, which, because, although I was taking the lessons, I was also reading other things about the church.

GT: Okay, so it wasn’t tunnel vision.

Roberts: No, it was not tunnel vision. Then that’s when they proceeded to bring a number of the black members. I almost felt like–I mean, because I didn’t know a whole lot about the ward, but seemed like they were bringing every black member of the ward and it was always male members, because you know, well, since I lived alone, for the missionaries to be able to come to visit me they had to bring another male member with them and so they were always bringing black male members to try to talk to me about the priesthood ban and they made various statements as to why.

There are many people in the LDS Church who notice gender inequities within the church.  What are some of these disparities?  Bryndis Roberts tells what she noticed, and what she tried to do about it.

Roberts: One thing that just struck me and I still don’t understand, and particularly in a ward like ours, why the little boys and girls, the little boys had meetings every week, but the little girls only met every other week. In an inner-city ward, all of the children were just subject to so many temptations and so many things that made me think that the little girls needed a weekly bolstering or recharging or protection, whatever you said that the little boys got from meeting on a weekly basis, the little girls needed that just as much. So I didn’t understand that difference.

I found it interesting that while the church had fully embraced the Boy Scout program, the church had refused or did not embrace the Girl Scout program, which I had had involvement with prior to joining the church had actually been a troop leader. I felt because of my prior involvement, that that program would bring as much to the lives of the little girls as the Boy Scouting program was bringing to the lives of the little boys. I could see particularly in other converts, the joy in the men when, right after joining the church, or shortly after joining the church, they were ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood and it was like a progression, whereas the women converts had no real sign of progression for them. Then I started looking around at things in our Ward that we had to wait for things to get done, because there were not enough Melchizedek priesthood holders to do these things.  In fact, my own temple class, I joined the church in January of 2008, didn’t receive my endowment until October 2009. Part of that was because we were looking for a priesthood holder to teach the temple prep class.

Is there patriarchy in the Baptist Church (where she was a member previously?)

Roberts:   I felt that the priesthood lifted Mormon men above the patriarchal institution and made them administer it in a in a way that was full of benevolence and righteousness. So, I recognized it was a patriarchal institution. I guess, I dared to believe that it was somehow a benevolent patriarchal institution. {Chuckling.}

GT:   Okay, so different than the Baptist Church?

Roberts:   Yes, different in the sense that, I guess I put a lot of stock or a lot of hope, or a lot of faith in the concept of the priesthood, the whole idea of the Melchizedek Priesthood in the whole idea of reaching back to when Abraham was visited by the high priest or visited with the high priest. That whole concept made me think that somehow it was going to be different in Mormonism.

GT:   Is it different?

Roberts:   Sadly, I found that there were many examples, far too many examples of Mormon men engaging in what could only be called unrighteous dominion.

What are your thoughts on Girl Scouts? Are you on board with the removal of Boy Scouts? Do you think women should have more opportunities in the church, like serving as Sunday School President, Membership/Financial Clerk, or Temple Prep teachers?