on a literal odyssey
On the heels of the pants “protest,” a group of Mormons are on a mission to have a woman pray at the April, 2013 General Conference. For those of you that don’t know, a “General Conference” is a broadcasted meeting that Mormons have twice a year to hear Church business and instruction. Here is what they wrote on their Facebook page:
“While women hold important positions within the church, a woman has never given the opening or closing prayer at General Conference. We ask that women be given the opportunity to pray in General Conference, as a symbol of equality within our church.”
Now, I’m not a woman (as some of you might know), so I don’t feel particularly qualified to comment on this topic. Nevertheless, I wanted to express my support for the movement provided it is not some backhanded way of criticizing the Church. I was silent about the “pants protest” because that was clearly a cultural—not a doctrinal—issue; even the organizers of the event acknowledged that.
But this one intrigues me. I would like to see women offer prayers at General Conference and I would like to hear more women speakers (but less about how great Relief Society is…I mean, I already know its great!). We live in such an interesting time. Whenever religion meets feminism, some people think of Joan of Arc. But I think that for many social/cultural issues, Church leadership waits for people to prepare themselves—and come forward with own ideas—before they make an official decision. Such was the case with programs like Sunday School, Primary, Family Home Evening, early-morning Seminary, and Institute; all of these programs were member-led initiatives that were eventually adopted into the Church.
But all this talk about protests and such makes it seem as if the Church is anti-women. In reality, the Church has been one of the greatest advocates of women since its earliest days. In fact (and this may surprise you), the Mormon Church is quite possibly the most progressive organization on earth (you’ll have to click on the link to learn why that is—go on, I’ll wait).
As I was saying, the Church has been one of the greatest advocates of women since its earliest days (again, to understand that statement, you really need to click on that link). I can think of dozens examples why that is (Women’s Suffrage in Utah being one of them). But perhaps my best example from Mormon history is explained in the video below:
When I started making this video in 2011, I knew that I wanted the narrator to be a woman that was as strong, brilliant, talented, and independent as the eminent women that were in the St. George Temple. I therefore asked one of my longtime friends (a woman by the name of Kim) if she would be willing to do the narration. She agreed. Six months later, as a direct result of this project, Kim and I were married in the Bountiful Temple.
So provided this “Let Women Pray in General Conference” movement doesn’t distract from the message of the gospel, and is not used as fodder for anti-Mormons and critics of the Church, I heartily support it.
Because I’ve learned, from Church history and from personal experience, what a blessing it was (and is) to “call upon” an eminent woman (and to be “called upon” by her).
Okay, I said my piece. Hopefully, I didn’t step on anyone’s toes.
Update 01/13/2013: Shortly after publishing this article, I emailed it to the organizers through their Facebook page. I got this reply, from Brittni Bunce, which I think is worth sharing: “Thank you very much Seth. I really enjoyed the piece! I want to assure you that none of the creators are out to paint the church in a negative light. We are all highly active members of the Church, we love this Church, and we want to make everyone feel involved and appreciated and feel the equality within the Church that we know our Heavenly Father feels for us. Thank you again!”