I have tried three times to have my name removed from the membership rolls of theChurch of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, more commonly called the Mormon Church, only to have my requests go ignored. Technically, I am still counted as a member, in spite of my strong agnosticism and sinful habits, such as my undying love for all things coffee.
Last week the Mormon Church excommunicated Kate Kelly, who does believe in the Mormon faith. Her “sin” was to found an organization called Ordain Women, which called on the authorities to prayerfully consider the matter of granting women the priesthood. A mild request and one that would have made Mormonism a much friendlier religion. But Kelly was excommunicated, kicked out of the church that she loved so much.
Kate Kelly wants nothing more than to remain a member of the Mormon Church. I want nothing more than to leave. Neither of us have had our wishes fulfilled. I have had authorities talk down to me, questioning my maturity and the wisdom of my decision. Kelly’s worthiness was discussed in a private meeting, which Kelly was not privy to, with an all-male board deciding that excommunication was necessary.
One woman wants to stay in. Another woman wishes to leave. Neither of us have been granted what we desire. And in the middle is a church that seems desperate for control. Control over a pesky woman who dared asked for equal rights. Control over a pesky apostate who wants to leave.
Perhaps it seems small. Kelly can continue to advocate for equal rights outside of Mormonism. I haven’t been to church in years. But the reality is that these actions create a long chain of undesirable reactions. Already Kelly has been branded a sinner, a troublemaker, by the simple act of excommunication. Everything she has worked for has been tainted by the label of apostasy. I, on the other hand, run the risk of being hunted down by the missionaries and local authorities. Within Mormonism, being hunted down is the norm, rather than the exception. When I have children, their names will be put on the membership rolls. When these children turn eight, there is a strong probability that the missionaries will turn up on my doorstep to convince my children that their eternal salvation rests on baptism. No parent wants a nineteen-year old kid telling their child that Mommy and Daddy are wrong and bound for hell. I could hope that the missionaries and church members would respect my rights as a parent – but I have seen members and missionaries overstep the boundaries a thousand times before, all in the name of religious zeal.
I sincerely hope that Kate Kelly finds peace in moving forward. I have found my own peace, although it fluctuates at times.
But maybe the secret is in not letting the Mormon Church control us. I’ll find a way to get past my failed resignation attempts and see the manipulations of the Mormon Church for what it really is – the futile attempts of a church that is desperate to avoid facing its own impotence and irrelevance.