Early this morning Kate Kelly, the founder of Ordain Women, received an email from her former stake president, Scott Wheatley, informing her that the First Presidency had denied the appeal of her excommunication from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though she requested a copy, as of yet Kate has not been permitted to see the letter or its contents. Further inquiries regarding specifics of the letter should be addressed to President Wheatley of the Oakton Virginia Stake.
According to Ordain Women Executive Board Chair Debra Jenson, “We are deeply saddened by the choice of the First Presidency to uphold the excommunication of our sister, Kate Kelly. We are profoundly troubled by a definition of apostasy that seems to include members asking sincere questions of our leaders. We reaffirm our commitment to faithful action and our hope for gender equality in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Throughout this ordeal, we have been disappointed repeatedly in the disciplinary process and its fairness. We once again point out that Kate was initially tried and judged in absentia by a panel of three men–one of whom had never met her. Though assured that the process was “consistent with Church policy,” Kate, like nearly every woman in the Church, did not have access to the Handbook of Instructions in which the disciplinary process is outlined. Only nine women in the Church have access to the handbook that details church policy, while more than 100,000 men, including those who tried and convicted Kate, have access to the handbook. Our questions extend to the appeal process, as well, since it was handled through the very same stake officer who initially accused her of apostasy.
Kate Kelly responded to the appeal saying, “I am disappointed in the outcome, but not surprised since the disciplinary process has been entirely opaque and inequitable from the get-go. Fortunately, men do not control my happiness, nor do they control my connection to God. I am proud of what I have done. I am proud of the women and men who have taken a stand with me in this struggle for gender justice. We will continue to act with integrity and courage. Mormon women and their legitimate concerns cannot be swept under the rug or summarily dismissed by one ‘Court of Love.’”
Debra Jenson added, “Though we had hoped that the First Presidency would welcome our sister back into the body of the Church, the decision remains a tragic and unfair anomaly among the thousands of those who publicly support ordination for women and have not been punished for speaking out.”