The founder of the group Ordain Women and the creator of a podcast on Mormon issues are facing formal discipline from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both face the prospect of excommunication from the church.
Kate Kelly led members of Ordain Women through the gates of Temple Square during the last two general conferences of the church, asking to be admitted to the session reserved for only those men and boys who hold the priesthood. Each time they were turned away, but the demonstrations drew a lot of media coverage.
The bishop of Kelly’s home ward in Vienna, Virginia informed her of a planned disciplinary council. She says the letter came as a surprise.
Kelly tells KUER, “I’ve informed my bishop from the very first day of Ordain Women. I told him what was happening. I asked if he had any questions. He, literally, never had one single face-to-face conversation with just me about Ordain Women.”
Kelly now lives in Utah and she says she won’t be able to attend the council on June 22nd. If she doesn’t go, she may be excommunicated anyway.
John Dehlin lives in Logan. His Mormon Stories podcast addresses a number of issues, including the ordination of women, but also other questions about Mormon history and doctrine. He says many people have told him they need the resource to deal with their questions.
Dehlin says, “All I’ve been trying to do is to create content, Internet material, that would help people in their crisis.”
Dehlin says he’s been more worried about his four children living in a conservative Mormon community than he is about his own future in the church.
The church has taken similar steps in the past when it’s been challenged on doctrinal issues. Margaret Toscano is a scholar who was excommunicated in 2000 for her research and writings on feminism and priesthood.
“What the church is doing is an attempt to silence and to make the issue go away," Toscano tells KUER. "They’ve given a very clear signal that this is not acceptable to talk about this or to ask for priesthood ordination. It will not go away.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded to media inquiries with a statement on its news website, saying local church leaders are responsible for discipline when members make public statements contrary to church teachings. It says those efforts are not directed or coordinated by church headquarters.