As a supporter of Ordain Women, I was saddened by the letter sent from the PR department of the church in regards to the ticket request made by event organizers for the upcoming priesthood session of general conference. I was not saddened because the answer to the ticket request was No, as this answer was not surprising, but my heavy heart was onset by seeing how the Church has misunderstood Ordain Women supporters and poorly represented my intentions of attempting to attend the priesthood session. The most disheartening thing about the letter was that many individuals seemed to take it as an invitation to start their attack of Mormon feminists.
In the letter, Jessica Moody stated that “Activist events like this detract from the sacred environment of Temple Square and the spirit of harmony sought at general conference.” Unfortunately, this statement does not at all accurately reflect the experience that I had as I stood with Ordain Women last October.
Most of the individuals I encountered that day were not familiar with Ordain Women, and I had several people ask me what we were doing. Obviously a group of 150 women standing outside of the tabernacle is noticeable, but it was not distracting. Men who wished to enter the tabernacle were able to do so easily and without hassle, and many of those men failed to notice the line that they had passed by. After we were turned away we quietly left.
If the spirit of harmony was broken last October, it was not at the hands of Ordain Women organizers or participants. It was broken when hopeful daughters of Christ were denied entry one by one. That harmony was broken when a garbage truck was parked in front of the entrance. That harmony was broken when fellow members of the LDS church spewed vile hatred at participants– myself included. While these things may have happened in response to Ordain Women, honestly seeking female ordination is not the blame. The church chose to turn us away one by one, and members continue to choose to react with excessive negativity towards feminism within the church.
I doubt that I will ever forget when I member of my ward (thinking they were anonymous) sent me a message saying “Some people need to learn to sit down and shut up.” I know that I will never forget what it was like to be turned away from the priesthood session because of my gender, or how it stung to hear that I deserved to feel that way and was stupid for even attending. Despite this, I push on because there are things I believe that I cannot deny.
It is exhausting to constantly answer the same questions about my beliefs over and over again, and it is disheartening to be constantly invited to leave the church. I’m quite baffled by the response from many members of the church because I can’t help but feel as though the reaction is not at all what Christ would do. I welcome discussion and debate, but much of what I have seen and experienced has only caused me to question my faith even further. I cannot recall a single verse of any scripture where we have been instructed to treat our brothers and sisters the way that open supporters of Ordain Women are regularly treated.
If you oppose Ordain Women, that is fine. I do not expect you to agree with me, as I know many do not. However, I would ask that you refrain from telling me or anyone else that we are unworthy, uneducated, selfish, or telling us to leave the church. Please do not try to discredit the lived experiences of those who are different from you. Please stop and consider what you are saying.
If you are tempted to give up: Stay yet a little longer. There is room for you here. I plead with all who hear or read these words: Come, join with us. Come heed the call of the gentle Christ. Take up your cross and follow Him. Come, join with us! For here you will find what is precious beyond price. – President Uchtdorf, October 2013