228: Agitating Faithfully for Gender Equality Within the LDS Church

January 17, 2011
By

Today we interview Dane Laverty — founder of the “Agitating Faithfully” web site (Facebook page here).  Agitating Faithfully is a site supporting gender equality in the church. It was inspired by President Gordon B. Hinckley’s answer to the question,

“At present women are not allowed to be priests in your Church…Is it possible that the rules could change in the future..?” He responded, “Yes. But there’s no agitation for that. We don’t find it.”

Agitating Faithfully  isn’t a place for airing grievances. It isn’t a place to bash the church, its leaders, or its members. It’s not a protest or activist movement in the traditional sense. It’s just a place for people to stand up and be counted in the continuing conversation about gender equality in the church. According to Dane,

“”We have no scriptures or revelations prohibiting women from the priesthood. In fact, we believe in a God who “denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female…and all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). I hope my daughters have the opportunity to receive the same blessings, privileges, and responsibilities as my son. This site is my attempt to work toward that hope in a way that is consonant with both the gospel and the church.”

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52 Responses to 228: Agitating Faithfully for Gender Equality Within the LDS Church

  1. Jared
    January 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I am glad we are talking about this. I think a first beneficial step toward women enjoying the rights of the priesthood would be for us to fully claim the rights women have to administer by faith, or to participate with priesthood holders in blessings. I would love to see it become a normal thing for women to stand with hands laid on head for the blessings of healing or comfort or counsel. Once that is accepted, the next steps would be easier.

    A few excellent quotes from Carol Lynn Pearson’s Daughters of Light:

    “Does a wife hold the priesthood in connection with her husband? And may she lay hands on the sick with him, with authority?

    A wife does not hold the priesthood in connection with her husband, but she enjoys the benefits thereof with him; and if she is requested to lay hands on the sick with him, or with any other officer holding the Melchizedek priesthood, she may do so with perfect propriety. It is no uncommon thing for a man and wife unitedly to administer to their children, and the husband being mouth, he may properly say out of courtesy, ‘By authority of the holy priesthood in US vested.'” Joseph F. Smith, “Questions and Answers,” Improvement Era 10 (February 1907); Quoted in Selections from Answers to Gospel Questions, 1972-1973, 200; Daughters of Light, p. 66-67.

    Another from Joseph F. Smith

    “In relation to laying on of hands by sisters….it is the proper thing for mothers, who have received their blessings in the house of God, to pray for their sick and to rebuke diseases. It is just as much the right of the mother as the father, although he, holding the priesthood, can do it by virtue of this, as well as in the name of the Lord. The women are not especially called upon to visit from house to house to administer to the sick but they can do so properly, if called upon.” (Daughters of Light p. 66, at the Relief Society Jubilee in 1892)

    There is plenty of precedent for women to heal on their own as well. I think it would be beneficial to move beyond the idea “oh a single sister needs to ask her home teachers when her children need a blessing.” Sisters could own their right to bless their own children. I would like to see sisters of the Relief Society visiting the sick in hospitals just as Elders do.

    I personally would be very happy to see women fully enjoy the rights of the priesthood. I think we should talk more about the doctrinal and historical foundation for doing so. In the temple, the clothing relating to the priesthood is worn exactly the same way by men and women. As I said, I think women participating in blessings would be a healthy and imaginable first step. I know for myself my studies have made me comfortable with the idea of my wife participating in blessings in our home. That idea makes me happy. It would be healthy for daughters and sons to see their mothers and fathers both participate in using divine power in the home.

    • Jen
      January 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      In my opinion, gender equality in the church will be achieved when both men and women have full use of their agency. As a woman, I do not feel as though I have the same range of choices as my husband. I agree that there will always be areas where men and women simply cannot choose to participate because of biology (i.e. men cannot get pregnant or breastfeed, and women will never be as physically strong or able to not get pregnant as a result of sexual intercourse (not that that is my desire, I love having kids, and I think my husband is grateful that I’m the one getting pregnant and not him)). While our church continues to be patriarchal in its governing body, and seems to continue to associate priesthood with being male (Dallin H. Oaks stated in a conference address a few years ago that priesthood was not male) and therefore many feel that priesthood is male and makes all the final decisions (i.e. presidents, bishops all have the final say), women will never be on an equal footing. Holding the priesthood/not holding the priesthood is not the same as biology differences. The priesthood can be conferred on a worthy member, and the purpose of the priesthood is to bless and serve and use the power of God to help and govern in righteousness. In my opinion, women are not able to use their agency in fullness when they cannot be a part of the ultimate governing body of the church- the place where decisions and policies are made. Yes, our leaders can listen to women and hear their viewpoints, but they don’t have to do what they suggest. I wish that women and men were equally represented, and had to make decisions based on compromise and revelation just as the current leaders do now. Having the priesthood means that I have just as much ability to bless and help and also create, and in our current situation, even to make decisions in church government- I mean REALLY make decisions, not just hope that the men will listen. I often wonder if in the next life, the family unit will be the governing body (vs. quorums and presidencies) and husband and wife equally will share priesthood and decision making. Equally be able to create and bless at will. If men are basing their identity on holding the priesthood, what will they do with themselves if as Pres. Gordon B. HInkley suggest, women do become priests? Obviously, they must get creative and get used to not being always “in charge”, with the “final say”. I have read articles on women in the church having trouble with depression and also have read in these same articles that many times a cause of depression is that there is a lack of feeling of control over the depressed person’s life. In the church, where there are many capable women, many intelligent women, of course it would be very depressing to not have full control, the complete use of agency. It comes with being able to have equal ability to make decisions and govern. Just like we’re supposed to do in marraige. I often think I know how the black men felt when they were living a worthy life and couldn’t hold the priesthood. Priesthood is associated with the power to bless, and also with the power to govern. Both things I feel are not gender related. It’s not that women are acting like spoiled children demanding “I want it too! That’s not fair!”, it’s more like, “that isn’t right- women are just as capable and desirous to bless and govern in righteousness as men- we’d like to cooperate, not wait”.

  2. Dane Laverty
    January 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks for that sentiment, Jared. I’m split on the question of whether the move toward gender equality is best accomplished in baby steps or in one great leap. Right now I’m leaning toward “one great leap”, so while I certainly support encouraging women to be involved in exercising their faith through giving blessings, I don’t think that is the path that ultimately leads to gender equality. (Worst case, it prevents the move toward gender equality by giving opponents more opportunity to say, “See, women can do some of the same things men can do. Do they really need to be able to do *all* the things the men can do?”)

    • kj
      January 19, 2011 at 6:25 pm

      Good podcast and good work Dane…

      Though I don’t think I’ll be officially signing in to support I’m glad there is agitation for gender equality. But I’m not sure if women holding the priesthood = gender equality. I can understand how for many it would be a meaningful and welcome step and as a believing Mormon I’m open to that step if and when it comes.

      “Do they really need to be able to do *all* the things the men can do?”

      This question that you pose from the proverbial opponents is really at the heart of the gender equality debate. And it cuts both ways and could be rephrased as coming from an opponent of advocating for God/science to allow men to give birth or breast feed: “Do men really need to be able to do *all* the things that women can do?” (admittedly sensational analogy)

      Gender equality is pretty broad and can mean many different things. My own feminist leanings have tended to align more with the Latina and Black feminist strains that value traditional womanhood, motherhood, and domesticity as legitimate, meaningful and powerful contexts from which to exert lasting influence. The Anglo version of feminism in the 70s did much good to promote equality for women but also degraded traditional roles and women who choose them as “less than.”

      Something that we at times lose in the quest for equality between living organisms is acknowledging, accepting, embracing, and celebrating differences. On the flip side of that – acknowledging differences comes in the form of creating labels, dichotomies (often false), and ways to understand each other that can be helpful but also lead to over-generalizations and stereotyping (and often both e.g. men are from Mars – women are from Venus).

      I myself am a true believing Mormon, liberal, heterosexual (and probably slightly homophobic – but working on it), “feminist,” male who is glad for the differences in gender. At the same time I acknowledge that gender differences tend to be quite fluid from person to person (As far as communication goes, I’m from Venus and my wife from Mars).

      I imagine there will be a day when women will have a much more prominent role in church leadership and direction than they have today. My opinion is that the church evolves slowly for a reason – and that agitation (like yours) helps that evolution.

      Side note: not surprising to me that agitation for women having the priesthood comes later than agitation for Blacks to be allowed the priesthood. Historically this has been the pattern in civil rights throughout our country’s history. And the church’s pattern has been to lag behind movements of social change (with some exceptions – immigration, suffrage, education, utilization of mass-media technology). It’s a viable testimony hurdle for many to believe that God would allow his “one true church” to be behind the “world” in social movements. But in the same way that Mormon biologists can believe that God can and even must use natural processes in his plan you could include social processes of functional societal change to be a part of those processes. I’m sure the thought is laughable to my atheist friends – mental gymnastics at their finest – but it makes some sense to my competing relativist- absolutist sensibilities.

    • Elizabeth
      March 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      I am perfectly happy knowing that my wonderful husband is the priesthood holder in our home. As a mother, I know I am very capable of praying for my family if needed and knowing the Lord hears those words. It’s enough for me that my faith assists what my husband holds. Having “equality” doesn’t always mean having the “exact same”. Men and women will never be perfectly equal and that’s a good thing. Variety is good. If we were to be equal, men would need to start popping out babies and I don’t ever see that happening!

  3. Jared
    January 17, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Very valid point, Dane. Perhaps we can meet in the middle and say that on the way to the “great leap” we could enact the smaller steps, of which even your website is one. I see what you mean by people stopping after the small steps, but the only way to get to a “great leap” without those steps would be for the prophet to announce women have the priesthood. Since I don’t see that happening any time soon, I think the smaller steps are needed. I strongly support individuals and families reclaiming the rich and powerful traditions that are in our own scriptures and history, rather than just going along with the way things are now. So there are things we can do NOW, on our own, such as talking more about Heavenly Mother, or having our wives participate in priesthood ordinances in the home. I exult in the power of the internet to form communities of support and to rally discussion. I think the internet culture will have a profound influence on society in general and even the Church eventually.

  4. Jared
    January 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    While I was talking to my wife I thought of a way to clarify my point… I do not see the steps I listed as *change*, but as reclaiming what *already is*. Ordaining women to the priesthood would be a change, a big one. But the idea of women participating in priesthood ordinances, especially blessings of healing and comfort, already is in our doctrine and practice, just not our present practice in the Church. I therefore support reinstating these measures, especially in the home, as a way of normalizing the idea of women officiating.

    • RG
      October 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm

      I want to reiterate that women participating in priesthood ordinances is already in place, and support your idea that this movement entails not so much a “change” as a recognition of what is doctrinally there, and present (if inconsistently worded) in the temple.

  5. January 17, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks for doing this interview, John and Dane. It helps to understand more of the background and intentions of Agitating Faithfully. I applaud your willingness to take action this way, Dane!

  6. Dane Laverty
    January 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Listening through the podcast, I did make (at least) one important error. I said that Pres. Hinckley spoke of “agitation” rather than “revelation” in his interview with David Ransom. Looking back at the transcript of the interview, Pres. Hinckley spoke of both revelation and agitation. To provide context, I’ve added the full transcript of the relevant part of the interview at the AF website.

  7. Dane Laverty
    January 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Jared, I agree that the small steps are useful. Yes, let’s work toward equality by whatever means will be most effective :)

    Katrina, you’re most welcome! The sentiment I want to communicate is that AF isn’t a movement for change so much as a statement of belief. I don’t want anyone to feel threatened by it. It’s my testimony that men and women deserve equal rights and privileges (which isn’t the same thing as saying that there are no differences between men and women — of course there are).

  8. Jason
    January 17, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Dane, isn’t the “yes” that GBH gave a direct answer to the question “So you’d have to get a revelation?” I don’t mean to split hairs, and I get where you’re going with this and appreciate it. I’m just wondering if others will accuse you of taking it out of context.

  9. Jared
    January 17, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Jason, even if a revelation is required for women to get the priesthood (and it makes sense it would be) that does not invalidate all sorts of action encouraging equality. Revelations do not spring forth devoid of context. As Tresa Edmunds and others have commented, LDS history is chock full of revelations that were prompted by specific events or questions. I would hope that with enough popular support and perhaps even social pressure, the prophet would “take to the Lord” questions regarding women, homosexuality, and other important issues.

    • Jason
      January 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm

      Dane, I agree your usage is valid, and now even more accurate. :-) Jared, I agree with you comment about the prophet taking to the lord the questions regarding women, homosexuality, and other important issues. I also agree with, and support “social pressure” for him to do so, but here’s a question, are we to assume that because there has been no changes that he has indeed taken it to the lord and received a “NO”? How are we to know? He doesn’t exactly keep us informed of these things. I had an interesting discussion with my wife about polygamy/polyandry. After enlightening my wife on the issues, her response was quite interesting. First, she concluded that Joseph must have become a fallen prophet, after all, he’s the only prophet to be “taken from the earth”. An interesting conclusion she came up with, I must admit. So I asked her, why then would God let Brother Brigham perpetuate polygamy for another 50 years and create this big mess? Her answer was that “no one ever asked if polygamy was a correct principal until W.W.”. Another interesting response from someone trying to justify the unjustifiable. I think we can all agree that there was enough “social pressure” on W.W. to abandon the practice, or I should say to “take to the Lord” the question. So I like and support Danes approach and choice of medium of “social pressure”, after all, these things have to come from within. The rest of the world certainly doesn’t give a crap and the brethren are perfectly content with the way things are.

      • Fabien
        February 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm

        Jason, it is one thing for outsiders to think that Joseph was a fraud who made up claims about the revelation concerning polygamy, but to hear those in the Church to make similar claims is mind-blowing.

        Now I assume your wife read the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and when she says that Joseph was the only one to lose his life, she only has the “prophets” of the last dispensation in mind. However, I wonder if she has ever read about the “Nauvoo Expositor” and how those who precipitated the untimely death of the Prophet were not outsiders, but members of the Church who, like her, claimed he was “a fallen prophet”. And I wonder how she would feel if she read that Joseph said that if his life did not matter to his friends it was of no value to him either. As she believes Brigham did not know any better, maybe she does not believe he was ever inspired, and got it wrong when he said that Joseph (had to) shed his blood as a testimony to his ministry.

        My understanding was that most LDS believe in plural marriage, and that it will be restored during the Millennium. I have never heard any LDS in good standing claim that Joseph was a fallen prophet at that time.

        Maybe this is an isolated case. I sure hope so. It is still sad and frustrating. I hope she will reconsider. I would not want to be her when she comes face to face with the Prophet.

        • Ibjme
          April 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm

          As a woman in the LDS church I have also come to the exact same conclusions Jason’s wife has.  It may be mindblowing to you but it makes the most sense to me.

        • Debbie
          October 27, 2012 at 8:11 am

          You might not have realised this, but many of those ‘outsiders’ who think that Joseph was a fraud were actually active, believing members of the Church when they came to that conclusion (after looking at the evidence). Believing that Joseph was a fallen prophet is actually quite a good way to justify continuing to believe the Church is true, even though Joseph did so many immoral and fraudulent things. It keeps people in the Church. For me, I couldn’t believe that, so I left.

          “I hope she will reconsider. I would not want to be her when she comes face to face with the Prophet.”
          To reprimand or fear-monger against people who don’t accept the official version of things is the coward’s way. She has the right to believe whatever she wants to based on the evidence, and if she does meet ‘the prophet’ face to face one day, I hope he can humbly offer her good reason NOT to believe that he was fallen. It is not her job to believe that despite all evidence to the contrary.

      • Kels
        September 24, 2011 at 4:43 am

        Check out this explanation of polygamy, I think it is a more scripturally-founded alternative to your wife’s (very entertaining and awesome) interpretation.

  10. Dane Laverty
    January 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Jason, good call. The line I should quote is “He could change them yes”, which was in direct response to the relevant question. I think my usage is still valid, but I will need to update the quote to use the appropriate response.

    • Dane Laverty
      January 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm

      Okay, I’ve updated the site to use the correct phrase.

  11. Sign me chicken
    January 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Dane and John-
    Thanks for this thought provoking podcast. I think Dane did a nice job articulating his position. I live in Pres. Packer’s Stake
    and my experience has been one where, from the top down, the warning against “alternate voices” has been loud and clear.
    I would like to sign my name to the AF roster, but honestly fear the consequences of doing so. I wonder if there are many
    others in this same situation. So because I have some Temple blessings hanging in the balance, I will be “silently” signing
    and sending you good thoughts and vibes =)

  12. Steve
    January 18, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Not to split hairs, but Dane said, “The scriptures are silent on the question of gender and priesthood.” But the Official Declaration 2 says, “all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color.”

    That being said, I am all for women having the priesthood. I’ve always thought that chicks would do a better job of preparing and passing the sacrament, for example.

    • Frog
      January 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm

      @Steve
      “I’ve always thought that chicks would do a better job of preparing and passing the sacrament, for example.”

      Really? You now call Sisters in the church chicks and want to delegate anything that is food prep and serving to them “because they would do a better job?” Seriously dude?

      • Steve
        January 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm

        No, not seriously dude. I said that in the spirit of loud laughter and light-mindedness. Is your name seriously Frog?

        • Frog
          January 19, 2011 at 3:40 am

          You got me… hook line and sinker. Yep my name is really Frog

          • Steve
            January 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm

            Well, Frog, I should probably stay out of this conversation about women in the church. I do take gender equality seriously, but not the priesthood. My light-heartedness is most likely unwelcome by those who are more invested in the topic.

          • Frog
            January 20, 2011 at 3:52 am

            Well, Steve, I should probably stay out of this conversation as well. Unfortunately, I have heard serious-minded men and women make sexist comments easily as demeaning as your post, followed by “What did I say?”

          • Ibjme
            April 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm

            If men didn’t have the sole responsibility of the priesthood they would be virtually useless.

  13. Matthew
    January 18, 2011 at 4:46 am

    It is interesting to see interviews from people who are different parts of their journey. This one reminds me of the Tresa interview in that it is so aspirational that there will be change. Intending no disrespect at all to Dane or anyone else, having traveled on that road for many years it is my observation that in time most people become discouraged by the fact that things don’t change or if they do it happens over decades. As someone else said in a podcast here, the back pack eventually becomes too heavy and a lot of us just set it down. I will be interesting to see where Dane, Tresa and others are in 3-5 years. One thing the TBMs may have right, IMO, is that not a lot of people head back once they head down the path of what they would call apostasy (what I would call applying critical thinking to the church and gospel as one would anything else).

    Where ever this takes you Dane, you seem like a sincere and decent man and I wish you well.

  14. Steve Kimball
    January 18, 2011 at 8:55 am

    systemic and institutional prejudice towards females in the LDS church has always existed. For heavens sake until what the 90’s women couldn’t pray in Sacrament! How sick to raise young women thinking their role is to pop out babies and marry the first numbskull returned missionary and be content in doing crafts at homemaking. Nothing changes my friends until Section 132 is removed as it makes women a commodity of men. It demonstrates what a Priesthood holder can do to instill followership and fear in a women. When you step outside of it all into the fresh air of reality it just makes you sick you raised kids in it! It is totally irresponsible and considering this topic no different then sitting round the house talking down blacks because they have the curse of Cain and are inferior. Sick world Mormonism is. I lost my angst about all of it but come back here occasionally and realize how much it pisses me off. A shout out to The Danny Peterson apologist cronies who lie and deceive, I miss those idiots most. Women, grow some! Men man-up and realize men and women are equal and deserve the same respect and privileges including Priestcraft, whoops I mean Priesthood. Back to the real world, where decent people live in peace and tranquilty doing what they love not what is prescribed to them and overseen with fear. Amen.

    • cbrown
      January 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm

      @Steve, I find it laughable that in your rant about the prejudices toward women, you tell us to “grow some.” Some what? Testicles? So we can be more like men? No thanks, I’m perfectly happy with my genitalia and my womanhood.

    • Jay Bryner
      January 19, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      Is that true? Women couldn’t pray in sacrament meeting until the nineties? I totally don’t remember that. How come I haven’t heard that before? Is it just that I am so sexist that I never noticed?

      • Steve
        January 19, 2011 at 7:48 pm

        No. A Priesthood Bulliten in 1967 banned women from praying in Sacrament Meeting. A First Presidency message in 1978 said women can pray in Sacrament Meeting. I think I read somewhere that the 67 ban was rescinded shortly after it went out, but I’m not sure.

        • annammc
          July 6, 2011 at 12:09 am

          Do you have any idea why the church would have done this, even if it was “just” for 11 years?

    • Ibjme
      April 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      Amen Sista!

  15. Jeff
    January 19, 2011 at 6:41 am

    Dane I support gender equality in the church 100%. However, if you believe in The Restoration you believe that saving doctrines like the priesthood can only be established through revelation, or a top-down approach. You say that the Primary Program was established through a bottom-up approach, however, the Primary Program is not a saving doctrine, it is a program, so that analogy doesn’t work. I think it comes down to this for me, in order for you to say that a policy change and not a doctrinal change is needed, then you have to say that ALL the prophets since the beginning of time have gotten it wrong and that God wasn’t able to get through to them. If that is the case then how can you still believe the church is what it claims to be, which is led by inspired prophets who tell us the will of God?

    • Me
      January 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm

      “I think it comes down to this for me, in order for you to say that a policy change and not a doctrinal change is needed, then you have to say that ALL the prophets since the beginning of time have gotten it wrong and that God wasn’t able to get through to them. If that is the case then how can you still believe the church is what it claims to be, which is led by inspired prophets who tell us the will of God?”

      Things have changed so many times, on so many different subjects/doctrines/policies/etc. that it makes one wonder not IF God wasn’t able to get through “ALL” the prophets, but rather it would appear that God hasn’t been able to get through many of the prophets on several occasions. I guess I’m not exactly sure what your point is.

      I am an active member and I’ve come to realize that the leaders are doing the best they can with what they believe is right and that’s about all we can ask for and expect. It’s become painfully obvious, based on the facts of church history, that God isn’t sending them emails or fax machine quotes to get it perfectly right. They are just doing what they think he’d like them to do and I believe on occasion it takes them a little longer to figure things out. Unfortunately, instead of figuring some of these things out sooner it takes major social movements or major negative effects to the church before policy or doctrines get changed (i.e. polyg, blacks & the p, temple changes, birth control, the block change, W of W changes, B of M changes, D&C changes, and on and on and on……….

      I think one day the sisters will play a larger role in the priesthood – I sure hope so. There really is no reason they shouldn’t. At face value it’s simply silly. At a minimum they should have the same role they played during Joseph’s and Brigham’s time.

    • SimplyMe
      January 23, 2011 at 2:17 am

      Jeff,
      There are many examples of changing doctrine that occurred due to a bottom up approach. Re: Revelation of the priesthood being open to any and all men regardless of race, ethnicity, etc: President Kimball went to the lord with concerns and arguments of that time (you gotta wonder who came to him and the rest of the 12 with these concerns) and only then did he receive revelation. I remember John doing an interview with Kimball’s descendent who relayed to us that that period of time was a long two or more years for President Kimball. It was also discuessed and agreed upon by all the 12. That implies that this was something that President Kimball hoped for, longed for, and worked hard for. Sounds like bottom up to me being that it was a huge political issue of that time.

      Joseph Smith’s question in the grove of trees regarding which church to join was a question that also elicited a response in the form of revelation. Sounds like bottom up to me. “If any of ye lack understanding….(ask of me)” (or something to that end) from James 5. In an earlier post on this page it is mentioned that President Hinckley responded to a question about why women don’t have the priesthood by saying that it could be changed but right now there is no “agitation” for it. That sounds almost like an invitation from the bottom up, even though it shows Hinckley’s desire to not recall the events in the 90s where the women at BYU were fired for their “agitation”. You get my point, I’m sure. Things come to fruition (revelation happens) because there is an issue present that needs addressing. Perhaps if there was so much political progress regarding gender equality as Martin Luther King was making in the 60s regarding people of color, then there would be more progress in the church regarding gender equality as well. Progess is dependent upon the political and social environment outside of church as much as inside of the church. The church is very well aware of political and social change and pleads its’ case to the lord accordingly. That I am sure.

  16. Odell
    January 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Dane, you seem like a well-intentioned and good person. Yet, I think that you may be naive in interpreting Hinckley’s interview remarks about women and the priesthood as an opening for gender equality in the LDS church. In my opinion, Hinckley frequently responded in one way to media representatives in order for the Mormon church to appear non-bizarre and then would proceed oppositely than his public statements. I do not believe Hinckley really meant that he or the LDS church were open to the idea of women becoming priesthood holders.

    And as far as Hinckley’s remark that there is no agitation from church women, he must have slept through the ERA movement of the 1970’s and forgot about those LDS women excommunicated for endorsing an idea of having a Heavenly Mother who was divinely approachable through prayer.

    Hinckley’s remarks were nothing more than propaganda deflection intended to end a line of questioning Hinckley did not want to explore.

    I wish you the best on your journey through life.

  17. January 23, 2011 at 1:44 am

    One question, did the founder of the Church ordain women as Apostles? No, not Joseph Smith, but Jesus? The Church has been sexist from its most earliest days. Who was created first, anyway? Adam or Eve? ;-) Perhaps Mary was an Apostle?

  18. SimplyMe/Rhonda
    January 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    This is a fantastic interview! Dane was very interesting to listen to in that he was extremely relevant and articulate in all of his responses. Thank you for making listening a pleasure!

    At one point I raised my eyebrows in shock and looked at my laptop with an exclamated, “What?!”. It was mentioned that a woman stated that she wished that it was a woman who had come up with Agitating Faithfully. My interest in gender equality is NOT about polarizing the genders; who came up with ‘blank’ and who should be doing ‘blank’ based on gender is irrelevant for the most part. Having said that, the comment and my shock provoked some thought. I see a benefit in having a man create the website. Any person who is in a position of power, such as the priesthood, and who advocates for issues that negatively impact the oppressed, if that’s too strong a word let’s say the underdogs (women), is in a position to be heard and can provide substance to the issue. It is a political move used regarding domestic violence now known as relationship abuse. In Montreal, Canada a gunman entered a technical school killing several women because he felt that women were taking jobs away from men. Soon after a group of men came together to form the White Ribbon Campaign that has now become an annual national event largley organized by men. I partnered with a man who is passionate about eliminating violence against women, children AND men and we created a well attended event in our community that reflected the White Ribbon Campaign. It is powerful to have men involved in issues of power-over women. I see the same in the church. Men are an integral part of creating change for women. As women, we would do well to not criticize and alienate men from the cause. We need them as much as they need us. It is about gender equality not lifting one above the other no matter how justified a person feels simply because they are a man or a woman. If the issue is important to you then get on board and enjoy whomever is with you on the matter!

    I had to laugh at John’s response. You sounded shocked at even the notion that women might hold the priesthood to the point of prophet/president of the church. You recovered well by telling Dane, “I’m with ya bro!”. I enjoy you being so open to these ideas.

    In my view the priesthood for women is less about the act of giving blessings. It is more about being equally represented at General Conference (last conference I witnessed a whopping 4 women giving talks compared to the 12 or so given by men throughout the entire weekend). In my mind, I was still trying to reconcile myself to this church and find the silver lining so I thought to myself, “We do get a General RS Broadcast held separately from the big event.” But the world doesn’t know about it the way that it knows about General Conference. I feel like that RS event is simply pacifying women. To me this interest in the priesthood is also more about attending a correlation meeting with a bit of substance. Plus, priesthood leadership for women would be a wonderful mssionary tool to tell the world that what we preach about families, motherhood, and careers are truly OUR CHOICE. Choice or agency to choose is feminism in itself!

    This opens up wonderful discussion for me that I wish I could explore more with like-minded thinkers. But I’ve said enough at this point and should probably end by saying thank you again. This has been interesting and invigorating!

  19. Ozpoof
    January 30, 2011 at 7:10 am

    If you believe in Mormonism, you do not want to change it because you believe this is the Church of Jesus Christ – Christ’s church on the Earth. If you believe women should be equal in a church, you are in the wrong church. You absolutely cannot be a true member of the church while agitating for change because that is an admission that you do not believe the structure and dogma of the church is inspired.

    On the subject of Hinckley, EVERYTHING that man ever said only confirms to me that he was clueless, uninspired, and never a profit of God.

    • Ozpoof
      January 30, 2011 at 7:11 am

      Oops, Freudian slip. I meant ‘prophet’

  20. MacZeg
    February 3, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    I found this statement by Robert Millet “There is nothing in LDS doctrine to suggest that to be a man is preferred in the sight of God, or that the Almighty loves males more than females. Latter-day Saint theology condemns unrighteous dominion in any form, as well as any type of discrimination because of race, color, or gender. God is no respecter of persons. Women are the daughters of God, are entitled to every spiritual gift, every virtue, and every fruit of the Spirit. Priesthood is not maleness, nor should it be equated with male administration. A man who holds the priesthood does not have any advantage over a woman in qualifying for salvation in the highest heaven. Priesthood is divine authority given to worthy men, as a part of God’s great plan of happiness. Why it is bestowed upon men and not women is not known. The highest ordinance of the priesthood, received in the temple, is given only to a man and a woman together.” http://www.cumorah.org/libros/ingles/Mormon_Faith_Understanding_Restored_Christianity_-_Robert_L_Millet.html
    But women are ordained to be “priestesses” in the temple and according to James Talmage
    “It is a precept of the Church that women of the Church share the authority of the priesthood with their husbands, actual or prospective; and therefore women, whether taking the endowment for themselves or for the dead, are not ordained to specific rank in the priesthood. Nevertheless, there is no grade, rank, or phase of the temple endowment to which women are not eligible on an equality with man.”
    – James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1912), p. 94.

    I read more than one female patriarchal blessing given in the 19th century that referred to the “priesthood you received in the temple”. There was nothing said about it being bestowed in conjunction with a husband. I believe it referred to the anointing and individual endowment.

    Margaret Toscano has written on the subject of women and the priesthood. She also points out that female blacks weren’t allowed to go to the temple and receive their endowments until after the priesthood revelation allowed black males to receive the priesthood–which is an odd thing unless there is the belief that women do receive the priesthood. They certainly could partake of other priesthood ordinances before 1978, but not this “highest” priesthood ordinance. But here again, it is not merely an ordinance–there is also an ordination.

    The Church doesn’t need a revelation–it simply needs to acknowledge what it already had. I don’t care to be ordained to any of the offices that men are, but I believe that women are given “priesthood” when they go to the temple. And female temple workers perform priesthood ordinances.

    Joseph Smith said:
    “All priesthood is Melchizedek; but there are different portions or degrees of it. The priesthood bestowed in the temple is the same priesthood given by the laying on of hands, but it is a fullness of that authority and embraces all other authorities, appendages, and offices.”
    – Prophet Joseph Smith, The Words of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1980, page 59

  21. Eric
    February 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Hi Dane,

    I enjoyed the podcast, and I applaud your efforts. I have a few Devil’s-advocate questions for you. In the interview, you argued there is no scriptural or revelatory basis for a male-only priesthood, and this lack of canonical precedent leads to your feeling justified in agitating faithfully.

    Do you believe JS was a prophet? If so, do you believe he correctly retranslated portions of the Bible (JST)? If so, how do you reconcile these retranslated verses with your claim that there is no scriptural basis for a male-only priesthood?

    1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (JST Inspired Version, emphasis in caps)

    (34) “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to RULE; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

    (35) “And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to RULE in the church.”

    The original KJV language has, “…it is not permitted unto them to ‘SPEAK’ in church”. But JS goes one step further and forbids women to ‘RULE’ in church.

    Isn’t the main function of the priesthood to “rule and reign”? If so, couldn’t one argue that these crystal clear retranslated Bible verses are the scriptural basis you overlooked?

  22. justme
    March 24, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Well spoken, articulate, thoughtful conversation! Did you catch the last episode of Big Love?

  23. Paul
    April 27, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Why, oh, why do we have to have the same things to be equal? It is sad to me to read all these things (and please do not take it as an offense, just my point of view), because by advocating for such ideas you are simply saying “the current roles, responsabilities, rights and privileges inherent to woman are not enough… they have to be like men or do what men do in order to become someone or be really important.” Equality is not about doing or being the same, but about giving and recognizing the importance of the roles each gender has, and not thinking that because a man can “rule” or “preside” then he is greater than a woman, and that woman should have the same possibility. It is this kind of thoughts what doesn’t allow people to finally appreciate the greatness of womanhood.

  24. BMS
    May 11, 2011 at 6:47 am

    This article gives me some insight into a problem I’ve been wondering about for a number of years.

    I have been wondering why church leaders are so hostile to men. Is it because of the push for equality you’re discussing here? Church leaders, particularly apostles, have two ways of talking: scolding and rebuking (to men), and uplifting and encouraging (to women). Take a challenge: compare general priesthood talks to general women’s talks in the Ensign. The tone and language choice is not as pronounced as it was in the 90s, but is still the rule.
    I assumed it was because men don’t write letters to general authorities. I reasoned that even though a large percentage of men in the church suffer from depression, are victimized by domestic abuse in shocking numbers, and are giving up in waves, these problems are ignored because men don’t talk about their problems. They don’t go to the doctor and they don’t complain about their abusive relationships. But another explanation might be that church leaders are just trying to be sensitive to feminist criticism, throwing the rest of the males under the bus in order to appear balanced.

    • charity
      March 9, 2012 at 9:38 am

      BMS, I am enrolled in a Linguistic Anthropology course and would like to use two otherwise comparable articles to explore language ideology in mormon texts.  If you would be willing, I would really appreciate some direction to two articles — one targeted to Mormon men, and one targeted to Mormon women — on the same subject. I know you made this post a long time ago, but hopefully this message will still be able to find you.

  25. Buffalo
    May 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I suspect you’ll have problems getting people to sign up for this for fear of ecclesiastical retaliation. 

  26. Anna
    August 19, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I look at this topic and want to weep. Not that it is not relevant, but that almost 40 years ago, I was seeking the same thing and so little has changed.

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