Today there are a lot of negative assumptions made about the supporters of the Ordain Women movement. I decided to try and get a picture of who they are as a group by surveying participants in the October 5th action
While about two hundred supporters of Ordain Women were waiting in line for the Priesthood Session of General Conference on October 5th, I was sitting in front of my computer watching photos of the event appear on Facebook and updates on Twitter. At 4:09 PM, I saw the following tweet.
LDS Church spokesperson Ruth Todd had just told the group that they would be denied entry into the Conference Center and the Tabernacle. As women and men lined up to ask for entrance individually, I put up my survey to ask about their experiences. Over the following week, I received just over 200 responses. I’m not going to comment on the data or responses, as I think they speak for themselves.
Who participated in the Ordain Women October 5th Action?
- Members of the church, who make up 95% of respondents
- People who attend church regularly, with 72% of respondents attending church 2-3 times per month or more – just 14% report that they do not attend church
- Mostly young people, with 80% of participants being age 40 or younger
- Lots of women, but 22% of participants were men
- Many individuals from Utah and Idaho, but 34% live elsewhere, including distant places like the UK, Ireland, Germany, Thailand, Denmark, Brazil, Africa, Canada, China, and Mexico
How did these people participate in this event?
- 45% stood in line for tickets to the Priesthood Session
- 4% attended the Priesthood Session at their local ward or stake buildings
- 51% participated in some other way, including watching the session on TV or Internet, supporting Ordain Women through social media, and submitting their name to be carried on a card by others who were at the Conference Center
What made these people want to participate in this event?
“I’m looking for an answer to a question; I’m looking for clear doctrine about women and the priesthood.”
“I wanted to support my sisters in the gospel, as I see absolutely no reason they should not be fully equal with men in the church”
“I want Church leaders to seek direction from the Lord on whether or not women should be ordained, return, and report.”
“I believe that women should be ordained. I also believe that women should be permitted to attend all general meetings of the church, ordination or no.”
“I have wanted equality in the church ever since being baptized. I have felt like and been treated like a second-class citizen in my faith community. When I first read the words ‘ordain women’ I knew my time had finally come and others like me were out there.”
“My wife and I have worked hard to be equal partners. When she cannot bless or serve as I do, it undermines our family.”
“I stood in support of great gender equality in the LDS Church and in the hopes that our leaders would see us and recognize that they need to address women’s issues in a more substantive way.”
“I’m still unsure how personally important Priesthood ordination is to me, but governance equality and social equality within the Church are supremely important to me. I support women and men on the whole spectrum of LDS Feminism, and I wanted to demonstrate that support. It was easy for me to travel from Orem, and I carried the names of a sister in CA, a cousin in NY, and a friend in WI who would have liked to attend.”
“The Spirit, and the comments from opponents online. I needed to stand up to the bullies.”
“If women held the Priesthood, I would feel more equal within the Church and within my family.”
“I feel that women cannot really be equal in the LDS Church without having equal access to the administrative and spiritual authority currently associated with the priesthood. I feel like I don’t have a voice in the church the way my male counterparts do, and that makes me sad. I’ve contributed a lot to the church, and I really hate feeling like I’m unable to contribute as much as I can.”
“The gender inequality that currently exists in the church is one of the reasons I haven’t attended church in several years. I wish I were as strong as the many women who feel the hurt of inequality but have the strength to stay. For me, attending church as it is right now is too painful for me. So for my own well-being I am keeping my distance, however if the church leaders would recognize and correct the gender inequality within the church, this would be a huge step toward me possibly being able to return to the church.”
“I wanted to stand up for myself and others in my truth that I am not equal, and have experienced pain over this. I feel like our leaders have turned a blind eye to the circumstances under which many women have left, and many others who stay but are not happy. I wanted to be seen and heard. And I wanted to put my body where my heart has been for years. I almost didn’t go because of a class assignment, but I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t. I believe that female ordination is inevitable, but the time-frame of that revelation is unknown. I believe there is cultural work to be done within the church before its members will readily accept and/or welcome a revelation like this. I wanted to stand in line to start/further the conversation about women’s issues in the church, and to move that cultural work along.”
How did the participants feel about their participation?
Note: 76% of respondents rated their overall experience as “Positive” or “Very Positive”
“It was powerful for me. I saw a man whom I know from home, and spoke with him about why I was there in line. I was grateful that Doug Anderson spoke with each person in line (although I know now that that was not the case for those at the end of the line). Several lines in “I am a Child of God” resonated deeply with me as we sang it. After we returned to the park, I sat with a few others and listened to the Priesthood session. Elder Gausse’s talk was playing when we sat down. The irony was so very sad and painful.”
“The stake president was pretty sympathetic and let us in, but another member was not very happy with us and tried to undermine the stake president. We were hasseled by the other member even after the stake president gave us permission in his presence to go in.”
“I feel that it was what I wanted and needed to do to be heard and to open the dialog of women’s position in the Church. I am grateful I had so many faithful women and men to stand with.”
“I’m teary and a bit crushed to see the pictures of so many of my friends standing in line and being passed by men. I’m so proud of them!”
“Both inspired and disheartened. I loved meeting other Mormon feminists and for the first time in years I felt that there could be a place for me within Mormonism. But after reading some of the exclusionary talks in conference and the negative comments online about OW, I feel very sad and even more pushed out of the Church.”
“Standing in line with all the women who showed up was wonderful. I made many friends today. Almost everyone was very respectful, there was only a little noticeable disdain from a few sister missionaries and one guard. I was completely caught off guard by how much it hurt to be rejected. In the end I ended up receiving a virtual rejection since the door was closed before I was able to ask for entrance. I cried as we sang I Am a Child of God. The words struck my heart, the lack of acknowledgment and valuation from the Church hurt.”
“I felt honored to be there. I felt the Spirit. I will be proud to tell my children and grandchildren I was there.”
“I wasn’t able to attend in person, but I feel invested in the request for gender equality and have been following the experiences and pictures shared by those who did attend. My heart breaks for these women in particular who were brave enough to request entrance, even though they had already been told they wouldn’t be admitted. The way these women have been treated (in words and actions) by other members is hurtful and discouraging, and is a reminder that the church (leaders and members alike) have a long way to go in emulating the Christlike love that we preach about every Sunday.”
“I didn’t stand in line because I feared social repercussions from family and ward members.”
“I expected that we would not be let in. I did not expect it to hurt so much to be turned away. That’s not what my Savior would do. I wasn’t as emotional at the time, but I find myself tearing up a lot in the days afterward when I think of the joys of being with my sisters in the gospel and the pain of being refused a place at the priesthood meeting.”
“It has caused problems in my immediate family, but I really feel the church needs me- needs strong women of faith who stand up for what they believe.”
“Feel fantastic! I feel like I was standing there, literally, for at least 20 women I know personally, who could not attend.”
“I felt like it was the right thing to do and that God loves me and is proud of me. Asking for more work and responsibility is the right thing to do to keep my temple covenants.”
“The Lord knows my heart and hopefully those with authority in our Church may understand some of the hearts of their sisters too.”
“It was more painful than I can describe to watch scores of men and boys marched past us. It was disappointing to have Ruth Todd claim that we are a small minority and dismiss our heartfelt desires. I cried when I was told, “No” at the door.”
“It was very sad to be turned away but very empowering to see so many women who feel the same way as I do.”