Mormon women seeking middle ground to greater equality

Feminism » Ordination may be a long shot, but activists see a middle ground to greater visibility and involvement in their faith.

For some Mormon feminists, there can be only one goal on the road to gender equality: priesthood ordination.

After all, every worthy male in the lay-clergy-run Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — starting at age 12 — is ordained in this priesthood. It is seen as a holy power, described as the authority to act in God’s name, yet given exclusively to men.

At the same time, lots of LDS women are perfectly comfortable with the roles they believe God assigned to them, including motherhood and nurturing. They would not want, they say, to “hold the priesthood.”

Now comes a third and, some suggest, growing group of women somewhere between these two poles.

They are not pushing for ordination, but they crave a more engaged and visible role for women in the Utah-based LDS Church. It is a role, they believe, their Mormon foremothers played — and one that could fit easily into the institutional structure without distorting or dismantling doctrine.

These women — some of whom consider themselves feminists, while others avoid that label — point to little changes that would pay big dividends: treating a stake Relief Society president much as her male counterpart and assigning her to be a regular speaker at stake conferences and in ward worship services; quoting more women in sermons and Sunday School lessons; selecting more women to speak and pray at churchwide General Conferences; letting women either conduct (or at least be present at) worthiness interviews for teen girls; choosing strong General Relief Society presidents and allowing them to serve longer and become more visible in the church; and permitting women to serve as mission zone leaders, ward clerks and other traditionally male positions.

Head to the Salt Lake Tribune for the rest of the story.

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