It did not take long for the Church of Latter-day Saints to respond when an international human rights lawyer challenged the church's prohibition against ordaining women priests. Kate Kelly was finally excommunicated from the church she grew up in when her efforts to garner support for women's ordination rights grew too much for church leaders to tolerate. The incident illustrates just how much resistance remains to the full sacerdotal equality of women and men.

The Punishment for Challenging Church Doctrine

Mormon temple Kelly's case is one of the most high-profile examples of excommunication since 1993, when the church punished six Mormon writers for questioning church teaching. In that case, the church kicked out five permanently and one temporarily. The church arrived at its decision regarding Kelly after her advocacy organization, Ordain Women, drew unprecedented media attention to the church's ban on the ordination of women. While women can hold leadership positions within the church, they aren't allowed to become ordained bishops, presidents of stakes (a group of a dozen congregations known as wards), or lay clergy. Women are also banned from joining the church's highest-ranking leaders, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The Church has remained mum on the details of Kelly's case, but it has cited church policy to explain its decision. That policy states that only men are allowed to become lay clergy in accordance with "the pattern set by the Savior when it comes to priesthood ordination". While church members are allowed to express disagreement over church doctrine, full-fledged, organized resistance to it receives swift reprisal from church leaders. "We should not try to dictate to God what is right for his Church", said spokeswoman Ally Isom, implying that church leaders know God's thoughts better than Kelly.

The Long Struggle to Become Ordained

Kelly and the other members of Ordain Women have hardly been shy or ladylike in their call for change within the Mormon hierarchy. They had already drawn criticism in April when they marched on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, hitting the church at its beating heart. In a barefaced demonstration of disobedience, the women asked to be invited in to a meeting reserved for members of the priesthood, which includes boys as young as twelve but not a single woman. "We are all of us people who see things that we would love to improve about the church that we love deeply and dearly", said Melissa Mayhew, who drove 40 miles to attend a recent vigil in support of Kelly and Ordain Women.

Most of our ministers already know the Universal Life Church Monastery supports the full and complete ordination rights of women equal to those of men. But so many religious organizations still struggle with the fact that women and men are equally capable as priests, citing tradition and pseudo-scientific notions of sex difference as an excuse for discrimination. Hopefully we as ULC ministers can lead by example to change hearts and minds.


The Huffington Post


  1. Sandra's Avatar Sandra

    I applaud Ordain Women's strength and loyalty to their cause and belief's. I was baptized a Mormon when I was 12 years old. I loved the uniformity of the church, the gathering of friends and the togetherness it made families feel. When I was 14 I asked if I could go see what priesthood taught my brothers, because when asked my brothers and father told me it was none of my business. After asking that question I was quickly hushed by my female young womans teacher. I didn't like that, nor the feeling that the separation gave me. Men and women are of the same blood. Women are not inferior to men because we possess a uterus. Men are not inferior, nor are they greater than a woman because they possess a penis. The world needs both men and woman on equal ground in order to help it grow and thrive. I think the Mormon church is hurting itself by not allowing women to enter their meetings.

    1. Shannon Robb's Avatar Shannon Robb

      I’ve been a member of the lds church since for the last 6 1/2 years and recently became an ordained minister online thru ulc! It doesn’t change my viewpoint or my stance I’m still a member of the lds church however what puts the bad taste in my mouth is feeling forced into going to the temple! I have my own reasons (besides paying a full tithe) to not schedule a reccomend interview! I was scheduled a meeting to meet with the bishop and he asked me if I was a member of another church! I said no because the lds church is my only church ⛪️ I am a 100% member of! Me being part of Ulc is to be certified to perform weddings! And he asked me if I could undo it because he wanted to sign off on me getting a limited use recommend for baptismals! Anyways I feel not ok with this because I feel 100% that if I have that need the desire that my life isn’t complete without it then i should be able to come to my Bishop on my own instead of him be like hey let’s meet oh by the way let’s get you to the temple! I’m not wrong on this! I refuse to give up my ordination for the temple

  1. Patricia's Avatar Patricia

    When I first heard about the "Ordain Women" movement and Ms. Kelly's attempt to join the men in their priesthood meetings and to become "priesthood holders", I knew it was going to end badly for her and her followers. When you have an organization which is based on long standing traditional values of men as the "priesthood holders" and women as the "helpers" and as mothers, who are in charge of the home and the children, it is not going to be easy to break that chain of command. You have an organization run by, for the most part, "old men" who are not about the give up the "top down" organizational set up which allows them to dictate the direction of the church. Of course, if you believe that the Prophet of the church has a direct line to God and that all the revelations for the church come from "him" then that will be the only way that this type of change will happen. This movement could be called a "bottom up" directive and because it came from a woman it could never get any meaningful traction with the church. However, it did plant the seed in the consciousness of many and I think at some point in the far distant future it will come around again and the next time it will most likely come from the "top". We will have to wait and see on that one.

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