Mormon feminist Kate Kelly’s excommunication lights up The Bloggernacle


File: Kate Kelly (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

In excommunicating Kate Kelly, her Mormon bishop wrote: It’s not your belief that women should be clergy that is the problem, it’s your “aggressive effort to persuade…to promote, to proselyte.”

Yet there are few, if any, faith communities more active (per capita) online than Mormons, whose many and well-read blogs are woven into a massive matrix called The Bloggernacle. The Bloggernacle is so sprawling that there are multiple sites attempting to aggregate and organize it into sections. One uses categories like “isles,” ” big islands’ and “further islands.” Another is more pointed, referring “Liberteria” and “The Wasteland.”

The Deseret News in Salt Lake City even has a Bloggernacle reporter.

Unsurprisingly, Kelly’s excommunication and the topic of free dissent is erupting this week in the Bloggernacle, particularly among its many female bloggers. Here are some excerpts where writers — many who remain anonymous — tie Kelly into discussions on the place of women in Mormon theology, the idea of separate but equal and how women in particular can follow an oft-quoted part of Mormon doctrine urging adherents to persuade by “gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned.” 

— Here is an unnamed regular contributor to the popular blog Feminist Mormon Housewives, pushing back on church spokespeople who called Kelly’s supporters small and out of the Mormon mainstream:

“Most of Christianity and the world at large views Mormon doctine as extreme (e.g., views about the nature of God, views about divine potential, the temple ceremony, etc.) So the next time you’re tempted to discount—well, anyone—because they’re not in the majority, I encourage you to remember that as a Mormon, you’re a pretty significant minority yourself.”

— Joanna Brooks of the blog AskMormonGirl, tweeted this:

“my daughters won’t put up with this for a minute. i don’t know how to protect the church from losing them.”

— And wrote this to the Post:

“The LDS church excommunicated Kate Kelly organizing Mormon men and women to ask and act for change in church they love.  Her fault was exercising bold leadership in a religious organization that even today does not allow women a place in its chain of command.  It is remarkable at a time when most religions are scrambling to keep their members that women like Kate Kelly are seemingly expendable within the LDS church.”

— Here is Holly Richardson of the blog HollyOnTheHill, in a post entitled “To My LDS Sisters With Questions”:

I have watched as recent events surrounding ‘Ordain Women’ have rocked you. I have watched as you have questioned where to stand, feeling drawn toward an outspoken woman who has voiced some of the same concerns you and I share and yet somehow also feeling like it is shaky ground.

…Over the years I’ve known several people who thought they ‘knew better’ than the Prophet and the Quorum of the Twelve. They wanted to ‘steady the Ark’ out of love, they said, love and a desire to “do what it is right,” without acknowledging that their agenda — not their question —  had led them off track.  They would not heed counsel.  They always knew better than those who cautioned them.  All of them eventually left the church.

..I know you know that there is a proper order for receiving revelation and that no one individual receives revelation for the entire church unless that person has been called as prophet, seer and revelator.

..Sometimes (all the time?!) life is hard and full of experiences we would rather not pass through, but would rather pass up. Even Christ himself asked for the cup to be removed from him while he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was HARD…Just like for Him, sometimes for us, the answer is also ‘no.’ Sometimes it’s ‘not now.’  Are we willing to hear that answer? Are we willing to submit?”

More debate fodder is coming. Kelly told the Religion News Service she won’t be seeking rebaptism “anytime soon” and has nothing for which to repent. The group she founded, Ordain Women, is preparing for the sixth in its series of online conversations about women’s ordination – a series her bishop cited in her excommunication letter as seeking to persuade others “to support your particular interpretation of Church doctrine.”

“Be The Change” - the sixth talk – is scheduled for June 26.

Michelle Boorstein is the Post’s religion reporter, where she reports on the busy marketplace of American religion.
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