“Conscience knows no gender”
Mormon Newsroom, March 8, 2017
Despite efforts to mischaracterize Mormon feminists like me as mere malcontents, it actually delights me when I’m able to affirm Church statements, policies and practices. Such is the case with the Mormon Newsroom’s post marking this year’s International Women’s Day. If you missed it, it deserves your attention, because it makes a pretty good case for the sort of moral activism in which Ordain Women engages.
Called “Women of Conscience,” the statement reads, in part, “Voicing your deepest convictions and living your highest truths may challenge the culture around you.” However, it continues, “Freedom of conscience is vital to the exercise of moral agency, especially in the face of opposition. We forge our identities by taking a stand on what is right and wrong.”
Not surprisingly, the statement punctuates the LDS Church’s current emphasis on the importance of religious freedom, which I also affirm as long as it isn’t used to cloak discrimination. It also explains that taking a moral stand not only includes challenging gender inequality in the secular world but also within our religious communities: “Limiting religious expression disempowers women from a broad range of faiths. … The best kind of religious freedom enables women to determine their own beliefs [and] to speak out when they see shortfalls in the practice of their faith traditions …”
Ordain Women offers a space where Mormon women collectively can speak out about one of the major “shortfalls in the practice of [our] faith tradition,” namely, that our church fundamentally disempowers women and limits their expression within its organizational structure by denying them an opportunity extended to all men and boys in our congregations, priesthood ordination. Until organizations like Ordain Women are fully embraced within the fold, however, the LDS Church’s statement remains aspirational.