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I come from a long line of pioneer ancestors and religious educators. I feel both immense pride and embarrassment of that heritage. Pride, because my lineage is made up of men and women who were strong, innovative and resilient in the face of trials. Embarrassed, because the history of my people contains innumerable acts of prejudice, racism, sexism and xenophobia. As an anthropologist, I recognize that those thoughts and behaviors are “traditions of our fathers” that are culturally and historically codified over time. I want, hope, and expect more from my people.
Women, who make up over half of the world’s population, have never made up even half of the prophetic leadership or decision making bodies in all of the world religions throughout time and geography. As the world transitions away from the structural violence that patriarchal systems reign down on its female members, religions remain the last great arbiters of gender inequality. I for one refuse to be complicit in this discrimination. I will fight on the side of religious gender equality.
It is up to us to change those traditions of our fathers. We need to question the ban on female ordination. We need to raise consciousness about the plight of religious women all around the world. We need to include women in the LDS church in more autonomous leadership ecclesiastical and administrative positions and decision making bodies. We need to acknowledge our feminist theology. Ultimately, we need to be the next generation of modern-day pioneers who are strong, innovative, resilient and on the front lines in the fight to end religions gender discrimination and spread it throughout every nation, kindred, tongue and people. Now that’s a legacy I can be proud of!