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Getting Involved in Ordain Women (Part 3 of 5)

After seeing gender inequities in the Church, Bryndis Roberts decided to join Ordain Women.  But even before that, she pointed out gender problems within the Church.

Roberts:  [I was] very proactive in raising questions and wondering why things were done this way. Whether it was questioning why we had to have a priesthood holder there when we had Relief Society events; whether it was raising the question as to why the little girls only met every other week; whether it was raising a question about why don’t we affiliate with the Girl Scouts? Whether it was advocating for a class called Strengthening Single Mothers. So, I continued to do things in my church role that were, at least in my mind, trying to address some of the disparities and the inequities, but I did not do them from the context of being part of Ordain Women. I did them for from the context of just being a woman in the ward who sees these things.

GT :  Were people receptive to your admonitions?

Roberts:  I think I made some of the men in my ward probably as uncomfortable as I made my missionaries when I was raising some of the questions. Because when I raised the question, for instance, about why?  I have never been one to accept that something is a rule. If it’s a rule, then it needs to be written down, and I want to see that rule because it often has been my experience that people will read words and think that words say things that words do not say. So, when I raised the question about why do we have to have a priesthood holder? Show me the rule. I felt that then people went off and had to come and look to find the rule. Of course, it was in handbook number one.

GT:  The secret one.

Roberts:  The handbook that I don’t get to see. But then they came back and said, and I think the language said something to the effect of, “Priesthood holders should instruct members of the church, particularly women and children, not to be alone in an unlocked building.” Well, I mean, I don’t know, you can read that sentence backwards, you can switch the words around, you can do whatever you want to with that sentence. That sentence simply does not say that a priesthood holder has to be present, when a bunch of grown women are holding a Relief Society event at the church, it simply does not say that. So I pointed that out that this rule does not say that.

Check out our conversation….

Bryndis Roberts explains how she got involved in Ordain Women.
Bryndis Roberts explains how she got involved in Ordain Women.

Check out our other conversations with Bryndis!

271: Addressing Gender Inequities

270: From Baptist to Mormon

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Addressing Gender Inequities (Part 2 of 5)

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.

Check out our conversation….

Bryndis Roberts describes what she tried to do about Gender inequities in the LDS Church.
Bryndis Roberts describes what she tried to do about Gender inequities in the LDS Church.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Bryndis!

270: From Baptist to Mormon

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The F-Word: Feminism (Part 3)

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.

Would the church split like the Community of Christ did over women’s ordination?  Check out our conversation, and don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2!

Feminism is about equality between men and women. But is is a road out of the LDS Church?
Feminism is about equality between men and women. But is is a road out of the LDS Church?