Why are you engaging in the October Ordain Women Art Action?
We are demonstrating our desire for both the blessings and the authority of the priesthood and asking LDS Church leaders to prayerfully consider the ordination of women. In joining together, we are punctuating our commitment to Mormonism and fervent hope for the extension of priesthood ordination to all worthy adult members of the LDS Church. We applaud recent church initiatives, including an emphasis on collaborative, gender-inclusive councils, greater encouragement for women to serve missions, and the opportunity for women to both pray and speak in general conference. Clearly church leaders are responding to the expressed desire of the women they serve for a more inclusive church.
What exactly is going to happen? What will you do?
At 4:00 PM on Saturday, October 3, 2015, Ordain Women supporters will create a number of living picture representations near Temple Square of scenes from LDS history. The scenes will highlight the diverse ways Mormon women have historically exercised their faith and participated in the Church, at times with access to institutionally-recognized authority presently associated with priesthood. Following the presentation of these depictions, action participants–including those featured in the depictions as well as all others who support women’s ordination—will proceed past Temple Square and the LDS Conference Center to City Creek Park. There, one by one, we will add keys symbolic of our desire for women to have full access to the blessings and authority of the priesthood to an on-going public art installation. The installation will be featured as part of the women in religion initiative at the Parliament of the World’s Religions conference in Salt Lake City, 15-19 October 2015, and will remain a permanent monument to the movement for women’s equality in religion.
Ordain Women engages in faith-affirming, religious action. How is this different from political action?
Our understanding of the gospel is that the heavens are yet open. As we obtain more light and knowledge, we expect Church policies to reflect that increased wisdom. The 9th Article of Faith states: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” We believe that the expansion of priesthood keys must come through the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. That church members play a role in this process is demonstrated throughout the Doctrine and Covenants, which includes many examples of revelations received after members approached the Prophet with questions and concerns. This pattern was established by Jesus, who said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). It is our faith in this process that compels us to action.
Is this a protest?
No. We are not protesters. We see our actions as faith affirming and will comport ourselves with the dignity that ought to accompany the desire for priesthood office.
Why are you advocating in public?
Mormon women are not ordained to the priesthood, which means they lack positional authority and the institutional power to influence church-wide policy. Public advocacy is one of the few options open to those of us who actively seek the ordination of women. In response to a question during a 1997 interview about whether the policy of denying women the priesthood could change, then President Gordon B. Hinckley said it could, but it would require revelation. The reporter probed, “So you’d have to get a revelation?” Hinckley responded, “Yes. But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it. Our women are happy. They’re satisfied.”
More recently, General Relief Society President Linda K. Burton repeated this assumption: “I don’t think women are after the authority. I think they’re after the blessings and are happy that they can access the blessings and power of the priesthood.” It is apparent that we need to express ourselves in a more public way—agitating faithfully—in order for our leaders to understand that we want both the blessings and the authority of the priesthood, and we are not content with being excluded. Increasingly, women are finding the courage to express their desire to participate fully with men in all aspects of church governance, service and sacred ordinances.
If I can’t attend, but want to be supportive, what can I do?
If you are unable to attend in person, you can participate by proxy. A key will be added on your behalf to the “Keys” public art installation during the inaugural ceremony. Let us know if you’d like your initials or your name written on the key. We hope to add hundreds of keys, so please submit your proxy key request using this form. You can also continue the conversation by discussing your thoughts about women’s ordination with friends, family and members of your local congregations; support us on your personal Facebook pages, blogs and Twitter accounts; and add your profile to ours at Ordainwomen.org.
Aren’t you asking for too much too soon?
Although Ordain Women was organized as a group in the spring of 2013, Mormon women have written and spoken about this issue for decades. From our perspective, our actions are not precipitous. Rather, they are a continuation of our years of collective service to the LDS Church. How long must women wait for our faith to reflect the equity we believe is fundamental to Mormon theology?
I’m afraid to participate with you. Do you anticipate disciplinary action?
We cannot predict the response of individual church leaders. Many of our local leaders have been loving and supportive. Others have not. We believe our actions are consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the LDS Church. We have worked with the government of Salt Lake City to obtain the appropriate permits. Though our action is not a protest, we have applied for a “free speech” permit. The City of Salt Lake requires it of any large group gathering in public spaces, such as City Creek Park and the sidewalks near Temple Square. We recognize that there might be social or personal costs to participants. Only you can weigh your circumstances and concerns and decide if this is the right thing for you to do.