First things first, I would like to have seen Kate Kelly not excommunicated. As the 'trial' or, more accurately described, disciplinary counsel drew closer, the inevitability of the excommunication became more and more apparent. What follows is strictly opinion based on Kate Kelly's own statements in regard to the order of the LDS church and the reasons the LDS church uses for excommunication as well as additional material submitted and presented by Ordain Women or freely available online.
I recognize that for many, the opinion presented in the supporting brief in support of Kate Kelly will nullify any reasoning or judgment I possess. However, an argument or position on equality, by its very nature, either has to include all parties and take into all opinions or it is inherently false and must be rejected. In the opinion of Ordain Woman authored by Nadine Hanson, it is necessary to establish that Ordain Women believes:
[Men] are required to judge a woman’s actions advocating for gender equality having never lived a woman’s experience in the Church. No matter how they may try to understand, to put themselves in a woman’s place, not one of them has ever walked in a Mormon woman’s shoes (
However, I reject as valid this claim and will submit as impartial an analysis and reasoning behind the decision and what will result when appealed.
It is important to note that all materials, both on the side of the LDS church and on the side of Kate Kelly are intended to be private and confidential. It is Kate Kelly and Ordain Women who've brought the arguments and mandates to the surface. As such, the LDS church is now referring all press inquiries to Kate Kelly's letter (email) from Bishop Mark M. Harrison.
Kate Kelly and a group of three other women planned and launched a website, ordainwomen.com, designed to build a community around the promotion of the Ordination of Women to the priesthood.
Kate Kelly is a lawyer. She has been excommunicated from the LDS church. She intends to appeal her excommunication.
However, at the end of the day, Kate Kelly will still be excommunicated from the LDS church not because of her beliefs or for asking questions. Her excommunication was based on what she has said, how she's carried out very specific actions, and the disregard for the established order and organization of the LDS church. The proceedings will never be made public and questions brought up by the decision of her former bishop and the disciplinary counsel in regard to the requirements for re-baptism.
The LDS church excommunicates for three reasons. However, for most of these, excommunication is not handed out simply through questioning leadership, doctrine, or practices. Outside of what, in other religions, would be considered Mortal Sins, one of the primary reasons to excommunicate is the level of public awareness of the sins or misconduct. Argue what you will, Kate Kelly was excommunicated because she chased after the press and shared too much and not because she questioned the practice (not doctrine) of only ordaining men to the priesthood.
According to the letter (email) sent to Kate Kelly, she was excommunicated "
The difficulty, Sister Kelly, is not that you say you have questions or even that you believe that women should receive the priesthood. The problem is that you have persisted in an aggressive effort to persuade other Church members to your point of view and that your course of action has threatened to erode the faith of others
In this case, as in others, Kate Kelly's response, "The language [of church discipline] is classic abuse...Abusive, manipulative and patriarchal," (
source). Additionally, she has stated that any member of the LDS church who asks questions is in the same position as her: The possibility of excommunication. Or, in other words, if you do not side with Kate Kelly and Ordain Women then you are silent and have no need to question the the LDS church and its doctrine.
It is in Kate Kelly's very actions and words in interviews and statements online that she condemns herself.
- I was in your ward for over three years and faithfully served in callings for that entire period. While we interacted frequently in passing, none of you know me well. I am saddened by the fact that you never took the time to ask me questions or get to know my heart while I was living in your ward. Despite the fact that I emailed you in March 2013, August 2013, October 2013 & again in April 2014 regarding my Ordain Women activities, you never bothered to respond or follow-up on my repeated invitation to engage in an open dialogue in person.
- Please keep in mind that if you choose to punish me today, you are not only punishing me. You are punishing hundreds of women and men who have questions about female ordination, and have publicly stated them. You are punishing thousands of Mormons who have questions and concerns with gender inequality in the church and want a place to voice those concerns in safety. You are punishing anyone with a question in their heart who wants to ask that question vocally, openly and publicly.
- I want to communicate with perfect candor, as I have always done.
- I will continue to lead Ordain Women, the group I founded.
- I will not take down the website ordainwomen.org.
- I will not stop speaking out publicly on the issue of gender inequality in the church.
It should be made perfectly clear and without prejudice that this is not an issue of questions. Kate Kelly's excommunication is not an issue of disenfranchisement. Nor is it a question of what Kate Kelly feels or what she believes is her ultimate intent. Instead, her excommunication is that [Kate Kelly's] "have persisted in an aggressive effort to persuade other Church members to your point of view," (
What this actually equates to is Kate Kelly and Ordain Women claiming to have received revelation for all members of the LDS church. According to LDS.org
Revelation is communication from God to His children. This guidance comes through various channels according to the needs and circumstances of individuals, families, and the Church as a whole. When the Lord reveals His will to the Church, He speaks through His prophet (
LDS theology states that when the Lord reveals his will to the Church it is to His prophet. As a missionary for the LDS church, Kate Kelly would be familiar with a fundamental missionary scripture, Amos 3:7, stating,
"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets," (
source). While I, like every other member of the LDS faith, has to accept that Kate Kelly received a personal witness of the LDS Doctrine of the Priesthood, it is also necessary to point out that we receive revelation as a personal witness and testimony and not as a tool of change or proselyting others to agree.
However, Kate Kelly and Ordain Women maintain that this is a difference of opinion and not an act of apostasy. According to the excommunication letter, the counsel saw fit to view Ordain Women as "
your direct involvement, Ordain
were intended to proselyte others
join your movement," (source). Which is, inherently, an open act of opposition to both teachings and doctrine (
see). It does not matter that Kate Kelly and Ordain Women have an opinion or point of view or have received a witness of either of those things from the spirit, it only matters how that information is presented (
Nor, for that matter is the excommunication "punitive" in form. According to the letter Bishop Harrison writes:
I wish you had taken advantage of my offer to ,urange a secure video link where we could have talked face to face or my offer to reschedule the council to a date when you could have attended in person. Nevertheless, we respect your decision to make a written submission without a personal appearance, and we carefully and prayerfully considered at length the statement and other materials you provided to us (
In this context, while it is true "All Disciplinary Council's, whether in the form of a “bishop’s” Disciplinary Council or a High Council Disciplinary Council, are necessarily staffed entirely by men. No woman is permitted to be on a council," (
source), it is not true that Kate Kelly couldn't be there and that it wasn't possible for her to attend. According to the Ordain Women website, Kate Kelly was aware of the "trial" and had decided not to attend. Let me repeat, she chose not to attend (
source). Nor is it true that a lack of experience living as a woman nullifies the counsel to assess and 'judge.'
What is being ignored, and in my opinion universally, is that this isn't about Kate Kelly. It is about Ordain Women and the attempt of that organization, which Kate Kelly is both founder and leader, to convert men and women to the idea that ordination to the priesthood is necessary and should also be immediate. In this context, the 'trial' was not about sincerity or punitive measures, nor is it about being male or female, but about whether or not the organization and its leaders are intentionally trying to cause problems — regardless of the individual and collective opinions of the members of Ordain Women.
Because this is about the Doctrine and Practice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and not about gender or equality, the process was handled, reluctantly by all appearances, in an appropriate manner and with the intent of helping Kate Kelly and other members of Ordain Women understand where they came into conflict with the LDS church. It is not in questions or opinions on the ordination of women and it is not in terms of Kate Kelly's feelings of feminine superiority (mine), but in the existing doctrine and practices as they now stand.
Further, it doesn't matter if in two years or twenty or two hundred the LDS church changes its stance or receives additional revelation allowing for full ordination to the priesthood for all worthy members (my thoughts here), what matters is the existence and practice the gospel as it now stands. Kate Kelly has stated that any answer that is not, Yes, women can be ordained to the priesthood, is wrong and she will continue to "agitate," (
Unfortunately, this is not a women who shows love or respect or a willingness to listen to the prophet today (
see) and, instead, has a predetermined course of action that is either correct or its wrong.
I'm sorry Kate Kelly and Ordain Woman, you failed by ignoring the scriptures. Ignoring the order of authority and revelation. And by building an organization with the intent of undermining and antagonizing every other member of the LDS church until you get what you want. I am sad for the outcome and sad it came down to this.