Only men are allowed to hold the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Advocating for a change in that policy is the reason Kate Kelly is facing possible excommunication. But because she’s a woman, the rules for church discipline are different than they would be for a man.
Margaret Toscano knows what the experience is like – she was excommunicated 14 years ago for her public statements on ordaining women to the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“It felt like a death" she told KUER. "It felt like your family cutting you off forever, saying we don’t want you to be any part of us, that you’re not, that this horrible judgment that you are somehow polluted and unworthy.”
Kate Kelly, the founder of Ordain Women, has been asked to appear before a disciplinary council on June 22nd at the ward where she used to live in Virginia. She doesn’t plan to attend, but she’ll submit documents to defend herself against the charge of apostasy. The bishop – the head of a single congregation – has the authority to excommunicate her.
Kelly says the bishop of the ward where she now lives in Provo has also taken action against her parents, suspending the recommends required for them to enter a Mormon temple. They’ve refused to remove their profiles from the Ordain Women website. Kelly says her parents are converts to Mormonism who raised her to be a strong woman.
Kelly says, “I think what’s happening now is the fruits of that wonderful, nurturing experience. But they are also extremely active, faithful members of the church, so they’re just devastated."
For John Dehlin, who’s also accused of apostasy for his statements on the Mormon Stories podcast, church procedures call for the case to be heard by a stake high council – the next highest level of authority. That’s because he’s a man and a priesthood holder. That council also has the authority to excommunicate him from church membership.
Church spokesperson Jessica Moody tells KUER disciplinary councils are the responsibility of local leaders and not the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the top governing bodies of the church.