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June 24th, 2014
10:45 AM ET

Mormon feminist excommunicated for apostasy

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - Kate Kelly, a lifelong Mormon who’s spearheaded a fight for equal opportunities for women in her church, was convicted of apostasy Monday and excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The verdict, decided by a panel of male judges who convened Sunday, came to her by way of an e-mail sent by her former LDS Church bishop in Virginia, Mark Harrison. Kelly described the verdict as “exceptionally painful.”

“Today is a tragic day for my family and me as we process the many ways this will impact us, both in this life and in the eternities,” she said on Ordain Women’s site Monday.

“I love the gospel and the courage of its people. Don’t leave. Stay, and make things better.”

No harsher punishment exists for a Latter-day Saint.

Kelly was excommunicated “for conduct contrary to the laws and order of the Church,” Harrison wrote.

“In order to be considered for readmission to the Church, you will need to demonstrate over a period of time that you have stopped teachings and actions that undermine the Church, its leaders, and the doctrine of the priesthood," he said.

"The difficulty, Sister Kelly, is not that you say you have questions or even that you believe that women should receive the priesthood," Harrison continued. "The problem is that you have persisted in an aggressive effort to persuade other Church members to your point of view and that your course of action has threatened to erode the faith of others."

What got Kelly, a human-rights attorney who now lives in Utah, in trouble was the 2013 launching of Ordain Women, a movement pushing for the ordination of women to the priesthood.

Through social media, a website and public protests, the group has gathered steam – and put Kelly in hot water.

In May, Kelly was put on probation for her activities. She was also asked to take her website down. She refused, and letters of support, many of which can still be found on the site today, poured in.

By early June, Kelly knew she would face a disciplinary council. At the time, she wrote about the threat of excommunication in her church, calling it “akin to spiritual death.”

“The life-saving ordinances you have participated in like baptism, confirmation, and temple sealing are moot,” she wrote. “In effect, you are being forcibly evicted from your forever family.”

Mormons believe family members, in good church standing, are bound for eternity.

By being excommunicated, Kelly can no longer wear her temple garments or enter LDS Church temples. She cannot tithe or give offerings.

She cannot take the sacrament (known in many Christian churches as Communion), receive a calling to serve the church or give talks in the church. She is banned from offering prayers in church meetings and cannot vote for church officers.

Kelly, however, vowed, to keep fighting.

“I will not stop speaking out publicly on the issue of gender inequality in the church,” she wrote Sunday in a letter to the disciplinary council. “I cannot repent of telling the truth, speaking what is in my heart and asking questions that burn in my soul.”

The LDS Church, which doesn’t employ professional clergy and instead calls members to serve in volunteer leadership positions, is patriarchal in nature.

From the combined post of president and prophet to other ecclesiastical leaders, it’s a male-dominated world. Only men can enter the priesthood, which grants a person the authority to, for example, perform baptisms and offer sacramental blessings.

"The pattern of ordaining men to the priesthood was established by Christ in His Church, and is followed in His restored Church today," LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins wrote in a statement to CNN late Monday night. 

"The worth of a human soul is not defined by a set of duties or responsibilities," Hawkins said. "In God’s plan for His children, both women and men have the same access to the guidance of His spirit, to revelation, faith and repentance, to grace and the atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, and are received equally as they approach Him in prayer."

But the all-male priesthood practice doesn’t match what the LDS Church teaches, Kelly and her organization argue.

“The fundamental tenets of Mormonism support gender equality: God is male and female, father and mother, and all of us can progress to be like them someday. Priesthood, we are taught, is essential to this process,” the group's website reads.

“Ordain Women believes women must be ordained in order for our faith to reflect the equity and expansiveness of these teachings.”

The mission statement then seizes on language about equality that was crafted by the LDS Church itself in 2012.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. The Book of Mormon states, "black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God" (2Nepi 26:33). This is the Church’s official teaching.

The intention, going back to the LDS Church founder, was to treat women equally, activist and author Joanna Brooks explained in a late-night Monday e-mail to CNN.

"Joseph Smith told Mormon women he'd make them a 'kingdom of priests.'  There is plenty of theological and historical evidence that Smith viewed participation in LDS temple rites as conveying a form of priesthood on men and women alike," wrote Brooks, author of  "The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith."

"But after his death, and especially in the 20th century, this view started receding, along with other exercises of spiritual authority and leadership by Mormon women," she said. "In the 1930s, one LDS leader introduced the idea that priesthood and motherhood should be viewed as parallel."

When the church issued the 1995 "Proclamation of the Family," which highlights family and gender responsibilities, the idea was "nearly canonized," Brooks said.

Kelly, who counts men among her supporters, certainly isn’t the first to fight this fight. Plenty of other Latter-day Saints members have led this charge before her.

Feminists were among six prominent Mormon scholars punished, some with excommunication, in an LDS Church crackdown in September 1993. Other women have simply walked away.

But Kelly, who submitted a letter of defense to the disciplinary panel, appears to have been a faithful church member – even as she’s asked questions.

Instead of flying cross-country to her disciplinary council, Kelly attended an Ordain Women organized vigil in Salt Lake City. It was one of dozens held across the country and the globe.

She described in the letter her commitment to the gospel from a young age, her excitement about her baptism at age 8 and her pride about being different while growing up in Oregon.  She served as a missionary in Barcelona, Spain, and in 2006 was married in the LDS Church’s Salt Lake Temple.

To punish her, Kelly added in the letter, would also be a punishment of “anyone with a question in their heart who wants to ask that question vocally, openly and publicly.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • gender issues • Mormonism • Women

soundoff (274 Responses)
  1. robertholt

    It is ironic that she is being accused of apostasy and leading others astray by the Mormon church because the Mormon church itself is apostate and leads others astray. A careful view of their doctrines should reveal that Mormonism is not Christian. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8.

    June 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
    • johnbiggscr

      Mormonism is a great 'modern day' example of how the early religions formed. Wild claims, gullible people, etc.

      June 24, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
    • G to the T

      The irony being that you selected a quote most scholars don't believe was written by Paul to begin with...

      June 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
  2. Woody

    “Today is a tragic day for my family and me as we process the many ways this will impact us, both in this life and in the eternities"

    Don't worry too much about the "eternities", Kate. You're going to end up being eternally non-existent just like the rest of us.

    June 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
  3. spiderjosh

    When you get kicked out of crazy, you are either lucky, or even more crazy, like crazy enough to maybe start your own religion crazy.

    June 24, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
  4. rightnow333

    The dishonesty on her part is what disappoints me the most.
    *She says they wouldn't speak to her, yet she posted several letters of communication on her website referring to personal sit-down meetings with her local leaders. The church has addressed her issues directly in at least two separate conferences.
    *She says women are excluded from authority. Not true, the Relief Society has a very strong presence locally and in the general global church. The only time things are overridden is if someone says someone else has the building that night or if the idea is over budget, etc.
    *She says women lack the authority to oversee in their callings. Not true.
    *She claims that the Proclamation on the Family indicates that the man rules the wife. Not true. You can google the Family Proclamation and see that it has always said the husband and wife are to be equal partners. The Priesthood is a separate responsibility. It has never been about promoting a gender. Just different roles. The fact that women can have children and men can have the Priesthood does not make the woman greater or less than the man. Women and men will never be exactly the same. A good parent doesn't love their children at different levels, but their children are still not the same.
    *Her website shows quotes that seem favorable to her cause. Until you look them up on LDS.org and find out she modified the quote. She does the same with scriptures. If you are talking about corn on the cob and refer to a quote that says "it's the best thing you can put on your plate!' It sounds like you have a lot of support until you look it up and find out the quote comes from a dish soap commercial talking about how to make the plate clean and isn't about corn.
    *She claims she was excommunicated for asking questions although she posted the letters from the church to her website saying that she was actually being excommunicated for building up a group to teach false doctrine and to pressure the church to change its doctrine. Further – she would not have been excommunicated if she would agree to follow the counsel. If you do not live according to the guidelines of membership – doesn't it make sense to have this happen?
    *She was dishonest about what excommunication means. She said the church is "taking the congregation away and kicking her out." Not true. The letter she posted says she is encouraged to continue to attend, but her covenants would be void. She is asked not to speak and pray so she won't have an outburst of false doctrine and disrupt the meeting. If she feels she is missing her blessings after a year, decides to follow the counsel and drops her fight against the church, she will be readmitted.

    June 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
    • joels2000

      You sir, are what we call in laymen terms "A plant." It's obvious you are a servant and loyalist to the religious hierarchy.

      June 24, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
      • rightnow333

        I don't mind if you disagree. You may have your reasons for disliking the church. But I am bothered that people are supporting someone who continuously used false statements to gain media attention. There are companies and groups I am not fond of as well. But it is important to me that those who stand up to them do so honestly. News channels often have to apologize for smearing political candidates by cutting off audio and video feeds before the end of their sentence. Or taking a quote about dish soap and applying it as if it were talking about corn. It is fun and all to argue online, but boring when people are commenting, but don't actually care about the issue.

        June 24, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
    • fascinatedspectator

      Your illogical and self-contradicting post shows that you are nothing more than a shill for your corrupt and self-righteous Mormon Patriarchy of male chauvinistic pigs!

      Instead of debunking Kate Kelly's claims, you have aptly demonstrated exactly what Kate's protest was all about and why it was necessary!

      Are ALL of the Mormon Leaders as arrogant and self-righteous as yourself? I cannot imagine why a woman as intelligent as Kate would WANT to be a member of such a superficial and dishonest group of male chauvinists!

      Kate, You have far more integrity and deserve better than this!

      June 24, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
      • rightnow333

        Clearly you do not like that I pointed out her dishonesty. But you didn't provide any examples of how I contradicted myself. While I know what I said was very direct. But I do not intend to hurt anyone's feelings. I would actually point that the OW website uses very angry wording which is common among apostates. For some reason whenever someone defends religion, everyone name calls. I actually respect Kate Kelly. But I admit I am frustrated by her dishonesty. Let me know your reason for supporting her or how this was not dishonest rather than just attacking me.

        June 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
        • fascinatedspectator

          You want an example of how you contradicted yourself? Let's start with this, you stated: "*She says women are excluded from authority. Not true" and then you further state your same point with "She says women lack the authority to oversee in their callings. Not true."
          But then you confirm that what she said is actually quite TRUE when you stated:
          " The fact that women can have children and men can have the Priesthood does not make the woman greater or less than the man"
          You just admitted that women are NOT ALLOWED to LEAD the church, in spite of your denial that this isn't true!
          This is clearly a CONTRADICTION of what you have tried to denounce about her statements!

          You also state that Kate was not ex-communicated for asking why women cannot lead the church when you stated:
          "She claims she was excommunicated for asking questions although she posted the letters from the church to her website saying that she was actually being excommunicated for building up a group to teach false doctrine"
          Not only did you fail to identify ANY sort of so-called "false doctrine", but you then went on to say:
          "she would not have been excommunicated if she would agree to follow the counsel."
          According what YOU have said, what the church has said and what Kate has said, it appears that the only thing Kate did that did not "follow the counsel" was the fact that she asked her question about authority and leadership!
          Another blatant CONTRADICTION of what you claimed!

          June 24, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
        • rightnow333

          Dear fascinated spectator:
          I still standby the statement I made. Relief Society President is a very high calling that only women can hold. They have all the authority they need to perform that calling. A man cannot be a Relief Society President. The having children comment I made is irrelevant to the subject, so I am not sure why you included it.
          Here are some of the false doctrinal claims that the discussions make online. You can look them up. They claim Emma Smith held the Priesthood. This is based on a quote by someone who has been excommunicated years ago. Also she claims that the Proclamation to the Family says that men rule over their wives. But if you read the Proclamation it says they are equal partners in helping each other fulfill their duties.
          Further, she raised up an army to sway church doctrine. When the army was too small, she went to the media.
          Anyone can verify this by going to her website. If you claim this is contradiction, you are causing a circular argument.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
      • rightnow333

        Also I would like to point out that disagreeing was not what made her an apostate. It was teaching and recruiting groups with the intent to sway church doctrine. When she couldn't get a large group, she went to the media to add pressure.

        In the same way, disagreeing with you does not make me a chauvinist, a racist, a thief, a liar, murderer or anything else. I just disagree and listed my reasons. You can go to her website and fact check her quotes on LDS.org or Mormon.org yourself and see what I mean. Search out the quotes and the people who said them. Look in the conference talks she quotes. Look up the scriptures she cites. You can judge if I am self-contradicting after you have done the research. And if you go to an apostate site, you may find they say they scriptures say countless things they actually do not when you check them against LDS.org.

        June 24, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
        • fascinatedspectator

          You have once again accused Kate of supposedly teaching "false doctrine", but have not identified a single example of this so-called "false doctrine" other than a simple question that the church refused to answer or even acknowledge!
          The fact that neither you nor the church has yet identified ANY SORT of "false doctrine" that Kate was supposedly teaching, leads one to believe that her question must be the REAL reason she was ex-communicated as no other viable reason has been presented or even hinted at!

          June 24, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
        • rightnow333

          Dear fascinated spectator: In case you missed my response above. This answer is the same.
          I still standby the statement I made. Relief Society President is a very high calling that only women can hold. They have all the authority they need to perform that calling. A man cannot be a Relief Society President. The having children comment I made is irrelevant to the subject, so I am not sure why you included it.
          Here are some of the false doctrinal claims that the discussions make online. You can look them up. They claim Emma Smith held the Priesthood. This is based on a quote by someone who has been excommunicated years ago. Also she claims that the Proclamation to the Family says that men rule over their wives. But if you read the Proclamation it says they are equal partners in helping each other fulfill their duties.
          Further, she raised up an army to sway church doctrine. When the army was too small, she went to the media.
          Anyone can verify this by going to her website. If you claim this is contradiction, you are causing a circular argument.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
        • rightnow333

          Dear fascinated spectator:
          I am sorry you choose to see me as an enemy. I would like to point out that if you are a Christian, we still have more in common than we have different. Check out my discussion with someone else that puts Atheism in check. At the least, it is a fun read. Let me know if you agree with that one.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
        • emergingclarity

          You keep referring to the Relief Society Presidency and how the position can only be held by a woman. When looking it up so that I was informed before making any erroneous comments, here is the first thing I found...
          "The general presidency of the Relief Society serves under the direction of the Church's First Presidency"
          So, in other words, it's a figurehead position. The Relief Society President does what she's told.
          Seems about status quo for the Old Boy's Club called the LDS church.

          June 30, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
    • headlessthompsongunner

      Thanks for your comments. Always nice to hear from the Bishop.

      June 24, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
      • rightnow333

        I actually feel very sorry for the bishop. All disciplinary action is meant to be very private for the sake of the member they meet with. In every way the bishop wants to show love and respect the person's privacy. There is nothing he can do when members post the private letters online. Did you read those letters, however? I have rarely seen letters as respectful and welcoming as that one. And yet, because he still needs to protect her privacy, he cannot come out and publicly defend anything that has happened. So people who read these news stories only get one side and then send him hate mail.

        June 24, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
    • rocketguy1234

      rightnow333,

      I appreciate your thoughtful post. There are quite a few people on here that are vindictive and hateful. I always find it amusing that the people that love to tear down religion usually do it with hateful, emotional and condescending language, then in turn accuse those that believe of being emotionally tied to their beliefs. Oh, the hypocrisy...

      While others might disagree with you, you took a dispassionate and analytical approach to the article and are at least open to dialogue. I can't say that for most of the other people here.

      Then again, what more can you expect from the internet...

      Cue additional ad hominem attacks.

      June 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
  5. MadeFromDirt

    On this one issue, in the broadest sense only, I have to agree with the Mormons. God created women with many gifts and for many roles and service within and for the church of His people, but leadership and teaching of faithful men is not one of them.

    Now having said that, this ex-communication is an opportunity for Kelly to break free of the chains of pride, deception, and false doctrine that bound her in the Mormon church, and to be open to hearing the true nature of Christ and her inability to please God by any works of her own. But judging from her comments, she is not yet.

    June 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
    • johnbiggscr

      'God created women with many gifts and for many roles and service within and for the church of His people, but leadership and teaching of faithful men is not one of them.'

      Oh for crying out loud. That this sort of nonsense still gets touted today is just ridiculous. Its bad enough to make a claim about a god but to then try to claim this god has gender specific rules is just mind boggling.

      June 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
  6. skegeeace

    No one can keep you out of Heaven except Jesus. Forget what your lame church heads say. Find the real Christ and follow Him. He'll never turn you away if you ask for repentance and forgiveness.

    June 24, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
    • awanderingscot

      it's not a matter of salvation. it's a matter of the Lord's decrees on the roles and responsibilities man and woman are to assume; this is assuming they are reading from the bible and not from one of their other books.

      June 24, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
    • joels2000

      the only knowledge of God, the only teachings of God, the only thing known about God.... is all man made. Not for any other reasons that as a human, mortal in a 3D world, you neither have the capacity, the senses, the mental functionings to comprehend the unknowable. The only thing you can comprehend, as intended, is man made.

      June 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
      • awanderingscot

        blah blah blah .. unregenerate mutt run along

        June 24, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • G to the T

          Sooooo... you don't have an argument so you default to name calling? Way to witness for Christ.

          June 24, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          don't flatter yourself, my witness is not for you and i don't cast my pearl before swine.

          June 24, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
        • Doris

          Snotty: "..my witness is not for you and i don't cast my pearl before swine."

          I had a funny feeling you only had one tooth.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
      • new-man

        sorry to burst your bubble, but this world/universe is not 3-dimensional. There are actually 12 dimensions. 4 known, 7 in the unseen realm – you know, the one that 'logical people' say does not exist.

        June 24, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
        • new-man

          correction: 5 and 7

          June 24, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
  7. 4cornersfan

    Kate, why do you care? It's cult. Go out and find a new religion (probably not Muslim).

    June 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
    • readerpan

      Mormon and Muslim have more in common than just a couple of Ms in their names.

      June 24, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
  8. grumpy0ldman

    The GOP runs a Bishop of this church for President and they still want us to believe they don't think women are second class citizens?

    June 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
    • floridamom1

      He was a Stake President. And while he may have been a Bishop at one time he was not a Bishop when he ran. Obviously you don't care about the Mormon church so you should have no comments when yours are based not on fact but on opinion that is misguided and absolutely wrong.

      June 24, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
  9. primewonk

    I'm a huge critic of religious idiocy. But any group of believers has the right to say who gets into the super secret club house. If she's smart, she'll take this as a sign fro Amma or Bumba to run away from these nutters as fast as possible.

    Of course she could also go all rogue on them and form a Bangles/Go – Go's version of all girl mormons. Call it something like "Massively Militant Mammary Mormons".

    June 24, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
  10. mdhpiper

    They excommunicated her for leading people astray, yet if it's all real the LDS has been leading their members astray from their Prophet's original words since 1890.

    June 24, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
    • floridamom1

      If it's true then the LDS church has not led anyone astray. The church is true or it isn't. It's up to each individual to make that decision themselves. Ms. Kelly presumes to speak for God to the church, not only is that not doctrinal, but it is not her place. She is not the prophet. She is simply Ms. Kelly who wants to be a Bishop, but it will never happen in her lifetime. It is and always has been patriarchal and since God changes not from day to day, I doubt seriously He will change this. GO ahead and be outraged, but you don't belong to the church and Ms. Kelly obviously doesn't want to be either. So, it doesn't matter to you at all. You don't have to care.

      June 24, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
      • johnbiggscr

        How do you know she is not a prophet? Are you expecting some kind of holy light around her?
        And you dismiss her as 'She is simply Ms. Kelly? bit judgmental arent you?

        June 24, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          you know nothing or care nothing for the things of God. run along now heathen mutt.

          June 24, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
        • rightnow333

          If this is an honest question – it is because the church already has a prophet. If any random member can rise up and change doctrine, there would be no church organization. Therefore, if someone believes she is a prophet, they follow her and not the church. We believe as the Epistle to the Ephesians says that the church is organized of apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists and so forth for just such occasions.

          June 24, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
  11. cfanlonc

    Cultists need guidance as they have none for themselves. They can join a myraid of cult organizations to satisfy their need to belong. I nailed this one !

    June 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
  12. cfanlonc

    People that join these cults must be looking for discipline/guidance, as they have none of their own. It is such a waste of life to spend one's time looking for the invisible man in the sky.

    June 24, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
  13. wycliffewy

    Women decide to remain in LDS. Gay couples decide to live in Oklahoma and Mississippi. Journalists decide to go to places like Egypt. The world is full of people who make poor life choices.

    June 24, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
    • drowlord

      Seems bizarre to me, personally. I'm an atheist because I decided that I didn't agree with religious doctrines, and that by extension those doctrines couldn't have divine authority, and a divine being with authority would surely correct religion if it existed. It seemed like a real simple sequence of reason to me.

      How on earth would a feminist believe that her religion had the authority of a god, yet insist that it needed to change to suite her tastes? It smells like she was, indeed, attempting to undermine her religion and is reasonably subject to excommunication.

      Hopefully, she'll come to her senses and realize that if she can't agree with her religion, it fundamentally means she doesn't believe in it. Life is better away from it, honestly.

      June 24, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
      • paul465

        Actually, a divine being with authority, the one true God, did come to earth a little over two thousand years ago to "correct religion" as you put it. Unfortunately, very few of us listened then and not many of us are listening today either. Including many of us who call ourselves Christians and regularly attend church.

        June 24, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
        • G to the T

          Are you referring to Paul? Beacause most the christians I've met seem to quote him more than Jesus by a long shot...

          June 24, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
      • awanderingscot

        if it's not right for you, then fine; but you don't speak for everyone.

        June 24, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
        • joey3467

          I am going to see Book of Mormon tonight, does that count?

          June 24, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
  14. Doc Vestibule

    Brigham Young also upped the racist rhetoric quite a bit.
    Some of the stuff he wrote in the Journal of Discourses is appallingly bigoted.

    June 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
    • floridamom1

      And so are some of the comments here. Bigotry knows no bounds or religion or political party. Like intolerance. And the intolerance is flowing today by those who think they know but they don't know. Too bad.

      June 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
      • johnbiggscr

        Then what do you believe people have gotten wrong and why?

        June 24, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        @Floridamom
        Are you familiar with the LDS history of racism as theology?
        1. "The Juvenile Instructor" is an LDS tome used to indoctrinate children.
        Here is an excerpt from an early edition:
        "We will first inquire into the results of the approbation or displeasure of God upon a people, starting with the belief that a black skin is a mark of the curse of Heaven placed upon some portions of mankind. Some, however, will argue that a black skin is not a curse, nor a white skin a blessing. In fact, some have been so foolish as to believe and say that a black skin is a blessing, and that the ne.gro is the finest type of a perfect man that exists on the earth; but to us such teachings are foolishness.
        We understand that when God made man in his own image and pronounced him very good, that he made him white. We have no record of any of God's favored servants being of a black race...every angel who ever brought a message of God's mercy to man was beautiful to look upon, clad in the purest white and with a countenance bright as the noonday sun. (Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 3, page 157)
        100 years later, LDS followers became more "tolerant" and published statements like this:
        "I would not want you to believe that we bear any animosity toward the Neg.ro. Dar.kies are wonderful people, and they have their place in our church."
        – Joseph Fielding Smith, Look magazine, October 22, 1963, page 79
        In 1947, Dr. Lowry Nelson – a Mormon himself – sent a letter to the Mormon First Presidency questioning the official racist doctrines.
        The reply he received said, in part:
        "From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it is has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Neg.roes are not ent.itled to the full blessings of the Gospel.
        "Furthermore your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Neg.ro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient partiarchs till now. God's rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous."
        – George Albert Smith J. Reuben Clark, Jr. David O. McKay
        Finally, in 1978 the Mormons had a revelation allowing blacks into the priesthood – conveniently at the exact time that they were expanding beyond the U.S. into countries full of "cursed" people, like Brazil.
        Today, while there is no official policy of segregation, the old prejudices still exist.
        Black LDS church member Darron Smith wrote in 2003:
        "Even though the priesthood ban was repealed in 1978, the discourse that constructs what blackness means is still very much intact today. Under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, the First Presidency and the Twelve removed the policy that denied black people the priesthood but did very little to disrupt the multiple discourses that had fostered the policy in the first place. Hence there are Church members today who continue to summon and teach at every level of Church education the racial discourse that black people are descendants of Cain, that they merited lesser earthly privilege because they were "fence-sitters" in the War in Heaven, and that, science and climatic factors aside, there is a link between skin color and righteousness"

        June 24, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
  15. Doc Vestibule

    In the Mormon world, all men are priests.
    At age 12, they become members of the lesser, Aaronic priesthood. At 19, they can join the higher, Melchezedek priesthood.
    No women allowed.
    A Mormon male can get into the Celestial Kingdom on his own, but a woman must be "celestially married" to a member of the priesthood in order to get in. The woman is given a special, magic name known only to her husband so that he can pull her on through to the Celestial Kingdom.
    In the afterlife, the man goes about creating and ruling over planets while to woman's job is to take care of all the "spirit babies".
    In LDS theology, the prevailing opinion is that the patriarchal order is of divine origin and will continue throughout time and eternity.

    Back in 1993, an excommunicated Mormon woman named Deborah Laake wrote a book called Secret Ceremonies, a Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary or Marriage and Beyond that gives an insider perspective on women's roles in the LDS.
    And it ain't about equality.

    June 24, 2014 at 11:59 am |
    • jhg45

      for some real history and a good laugh read "The Mormon Murders" by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. learn all you need to know about the Mormon church's highest officials.

      June 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
    • mountainlady5281

      In 1989 a Mormon woman, Sonja Johnson, wrote a book called "From Housewife to Heretic" about her own spiritual journey in the Mormon Church. She was excommunicated just for asking questions of the elders about a woman's role in the church. Very eye opening. I used to think the Mormons were nice....just a little odd. One year when the two polite and well dressed young men showed up at my door with the Book of Mormon, I got my copy of Sonja Johnson's book and asked them about it. They suddenly remembered an appointment and left. I agree with others that Ms. Kelly is far better off away from the Mormon Church.

      June 24, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
      • rightnow333

        Mountain Lady. I challenge Kate's claim that she was excommunicated for asking questions. Here are some logical points regarding that:
        *She says they wouldn't speak to her, yet she posted several letters of communication on her website referring to personal sit-down meetings with her local leaders. The church has addressed her issues directly in at least two separate conferences.
        *Her website shows quotes that seem favorable to her cause. Until you look them up on LDS.org and find out she modified the quote. She does the same with scriptures. If you are talking about corn on the cob and refer to a quote that says "it's the best thing you can put on your plate!' It sounds like you have a lot of support until you look it up and find out the quote comes from a dish soap commercial talking about how to make the plate clean and isn't about corn.
        *She claims she was excommunicated for asking questions although she posted the letters from the church to her website saying that she was actually being excommunicated for building up a group to teach false doctrine and to pressure the church to change its doctrine. Further – she would not have been excommunicated if she would agree to follow the counsel. If you do not live according to the guidelines of membership – doesn't it make sense to have this happen?
        *She was dishonest about what excommunication means. She said the church is "taking the congregation away and kicking her out." Not true. The letter she posted says she is encouraged to continue to attend, but her covenants would be void. She is asked not to speak and pray so she won't have an outburst of false doctrine and disrupt the meeting. If she feels she is missing her blessings after a year, decides to follow the counsel and drops her fight against the church, she will be readmitted.
        It is not right to support her claim that she was excommunicated for asking questions when she has all the above going on. What's most detrimental is on her website she posted the letters that contradict her claims. I would recommend people check her quotes and scriptures on LDS.org, but by the time you see the letters she posted you may already know enough that she was dishonest about this. You can ask questions in church every week in Sunday school with no problem.
        Also notice that of her 2,000 followers, she was the only one excommunicated. The others didn't build up an army.

        June 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
  16. crittermom2

    It's sad when contemporary arguments are made over interpretations of what some guy said 150 years ago vs. what some other guys may have said a couple thousand years ago. It's all about power.

    June 24, 2014 at 11:58 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Don't foget the money!
      Mormonism is the only religion of which I'm aware that literally requires member to go before a bishop in order to give an annual accounting of their ti/thes – like getting audited by God's tax-man. If you can't prove that you gave your full 10%, you lose your Temple privileges which means no Celestial Kingdom for you!
      It is tantamount to spiritual blackmail.

      June 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Mormonism is the only religion of which I'm aware that literally requires member to go before a bishop in order to give an annual accounting of their ti/thes
        -------------------–
        Scientology is worse. Scientology requires "tuition" fees be paid up front before "scripture" can be revealed. This is done progressively. Not all scripture is available to all adherents. They have to pay as they go.

        June 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
  17. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Mormons – I can't take seriously a group that found the bible not stupid enough for them, so they made one even more appallingly stupid.

    June 24, 2014 at 11:53 am |
    • cfanlonc

      WOW! If that ain't the Truth !

      June 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
    • grumpy0ldman

      Exactly what I think about them and half of my family is Mormon. The book of Mormon reads like it was written on LSD.

      June 24, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
      • johnbiggscr

        LDS on LSD?

        June 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        It has to be something like that, although I'm thinking it was more than likely heroine given how it was used back then. Rather ludicrous writings.

        June 24, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
    • rightnow333

      On a serious note, the difference between Christians and Atheists is really who you accept doctrine from. Scientists are like prophets. They report things that nobody else sees. Then they write them down and what they say is scattered all over the world. Many take what they say as fact. Christian prophets are the same.
      I believe a lot of what science says except for Darwinian Evolution. Animals adapt, but a butterfly that changes color is still a butterfly. A bird with a different beak is still a bird. A bacteria that behaves differently is still bacteria. There is a video about this where people interview Harvard professors and scientists who cannot come up with a single observable example where something changed its kind. Everything has only ever adapted.
      Darwinian Evolution is a Relatively NEW theory, whereas Christianity has stood for thousands of years. That means more people have believed in Christianity than Darwinian Evolution. More books have been written. Scientists can't claim that it is a fact. And the first rule of science is to avoid saying it is 100%. Otherwise after gravity, the theory of relativity never would have been developed.
      Christianity on the other hand has had thousands of years of people and writings claiming it is a fact.
      And another thing Christians can receive validation from responses to prayers. You can't get that from Darwin.
      In conclusion, Atheism is blind faith in imperfect people. How do you know they aren't lying to you? They are admittedly wrong all the time and have to fix things.
      Anyway, this was said less to cause an argument, and more to give an interesting point of view that people do not consider.

      June 24, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        That was a load of crazy. Atheism only speaks to disbelief, nothing more.
        As for evolution, there is vast amounts of substantiated evidence for it...your denial of that evidence is simply you being intellectually dishonest. We know they're not lying when they have followed the Scientific Method and everything comes to the same conclusion.
        As for Christianity sticking around for so long, many other beliefs have...does that make them reality also?

        Your point has been made before and it fails.

        June 24, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
        • rightnow333

          I actually mean this as a fun perspective. Are you performing the scientific method? Or are you trusting what they say they saw? Prophets that claim to have seen angels all back each other up too.
          As for defending Darwinism. Can you come up with even a written example of a change of kind on the internet? Harvard professors could not. If the point has been made before, what is the defense? I believe many people don't think you debunked this conclusion.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
        • rightnow333

          I was kind of hoping an Atheist would give a good response to that. Come on, don't get mad. You are trolling on this story anyway. 🙂

          June 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
  18. Reality

    She should consider herself now free of one of the all-time cons ever to come down the road of gold tablets.

    An added note made previously:

    Bottom line: Mormonism is a business/employment/investment cult using a taxing i.e. t-ithing "religion" as a front and charitable donations and volunteer work to advertise said business. And the accounting books are closed to all but the prophet/"profit" and his all-male hierarchy.

    Tis a great business model i.e. charge your Mormon employees/stock holders a fee/t-ithe and invest it in ranches, insurance companies, canneries, gaudy temples, a great choir and mission-matured BYU football and basketball teams.

    And all going back to one of the great cons of all times i.e. the Moroni revelations to Joseph Smith an-alogous to mythical Gabriel's revelations to the hallucinating Mohammed !!!

    June 24, 2014 at 11:09 am |
  19. colin31714

    The belief that an infinitely old, all-knowing sky-god, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, chose a small nomadic group of Jews from the 200 million people then alive to be his "favored people" provided they followed some rural laws laid down in Bronze Age Palestine equals Judaism.

    Judaism PLUS a belief that the same god impregnated a virgin with himself to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to negate a rule he himself made about a couple who never exists equals Christianity.

    Christianity PLUS a belief that the secrets of the Universe were revealed to a failed conman in upstate New York, that aliens from other planets mated with humans who will one day be gods, that post mortem baptisms send people to a heaven, that the Israelis colonized America and that magic underwear will protect you from evil equals Mormonism.

    I guess Mormons take the gold for utterly stupid beliefs. One can imagine Brigham Young standing on a pedestal, accepting his medal and humbly proclaiming, “If my beliefs are even more ridiculous than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants”.

    June 24, 2014 at 10:58 am |
    • Athy

      Good, Colin. Me like!

      June 24, 2014 at 11:14 am |
    • awanderingscot

      so do you know any Mormons personally or have you known any Mormons personally?

      June 24, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
  20. bostontola

    Kelly described the verdict as “exceptionally painful.”

    Consider yourself lucky.

    June 24, 2014 at 10:51 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      They just gave her a ~10% pay raise since they won't accept her ti.thes.

      June 24, 2014 at 11:25 am |
      • bostontola

        Not to mention avoiding a lifetime of subjugation.

        June 24, 2014 at 11:44 am |
        • floridamom1

          By the way, I know many LDS women and not a one of them subjugated. Perhaps you ought to talk to some of them. You might be surprised. In fact, behind many a good man in the church is an even better woman prodding him along.

          June 24, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • G to the T

          "behind many a good man in the church is an even better woman prodding him along."

          That you don't see the irony of this statement speaks volumes...

          June 24, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        And that whole eternal pregnancy thing to look forward to in the afterlife. That can't be fun.

        June 24, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
        • floridamom1

          Where do you people get these absolutely nonsensical ideas? No one believes that in the LDS Church. This is just plain stupidity. Ms. Kelly throws a temper tantrum and the whole world rushes to her side because she can't change the belief system of her specific religion. I say right now, that if she had a testimony, it got lost in the nonsense. Most of the push back against the Ordain Women has been from women in the church who feel sorry for her misguided actions. She can always be rebaptized if it means so much to her.

          June 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          So no exultation in the celestial kingdom with celestial marriage and spirit children to populate worlds then?

          June 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          Akira
          are you a Christian and do not know the answer to this?

          June 24, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          Akira
          you deftly dodged my question. Are you a Christian?

          June 24, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          Akira
          am i to assume you are not a Christian according to your non-reply? on another occasion i asked you if you believed Jesus Christ came to earth as a man and you told me yes you believed this. please clarify.

          June 24, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          Akira
          it was your question as to whether or not women should be ordained in the church that prompted me to ask you these questions and no you did not and still have not professed to be Christian. It is not that i am ignoring your "Christian bona fides" but i am skeptical when you say things like "So, women shouldn't be ordained....why?". I am skeptical that you've ever read the pastoral epistles or anything related to God's arrangement of headship.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
        • Doris

          Snotty: "I am skeptical that you've ever read the pastoral epistles..."

          More self-righteous BS, but true to form for Snotty.

          June 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
        • awanderingscot

          they loved the loaves and the fishes but did not have the stomach to follow Christ. they were not truly His children

          June 25, 2014 at 10:38 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.