What Happens When You Feed The Feminists?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is about to find out.

For the last few months, a relatively small group of vocal, activist feminists (hereafter just ‘feminists’) have petitioned church leaders to allow women to pray in General Conference.  Many members of the church were not aware that this was going on, and would be surprised that women had not prayed in conference before.  Women pray in other meetings of the church, and have spoken in conference quite frequently.

Church leaders did what the feminists requested, and at the conclusion of the opening session of General Conference, a woman said a prayer for the first time.  There was no special announcement for this, and for many  members this was about as close to a non-event as it gets.  I do think this was a big deal, but perhaps not for the reasons you might expect.  I think this is a big deal because the church has now fed the feminists.  Now what?

I do not expect for a moment that this act will permanently satisfy these feminists.  Not by a long shot.  I doubt that many of them will be satisfied until there is a female prophet.  And now that the feminists have been fed, the protests will be louder, and more public.  The pressure will only build.  The most likely next step for the feminists is to seek ordination to the priesthood, which is an organized effort already underway.

That step would be so large, that it is difficult to imagine it being successfully taken.  The Mormon Church is not the only church that does not ordain women, and many of the same biblical scriptures that the Catholics use to explain this, would be used by Mormons as well.  Additionally, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has D&C 107 which is hard to ignore.  To me it would take a significant amount of feminist eisegesis to avoid the clear intention of a male priesthood in this canonized revelation.  We also have this quote from the most recent prophet on the matter.

An emboldened group of feminists, and a church that is committed to a male only priesthood could make for an interesting few years.

27 Responses to “What Happens When You Feed The Feminists?”

  1. 1 symphonyofdissent April 7, 2013 at 9:15 am

    That’s exactly right… Prayer and pants are not doctrinal problems, but now that the feminists feel they have a voice they will keep agitating for priesthood ordination. I was glad that elder Ballard and others took a strong stance on the priesthood and the prevailing theme of conference for me was: we will not change our doctrine because of the pressure and demands of the world.

  2. 2 Howard April 7, 2013 at 9:15 am

    The church responded and let women pray in GC because it was the right thing to do! The church is not infalliable, feminists were right here and church practice was wrong so it was changed. But there is more to it than feeding feminists or simply allowing women to pray, in doing so the church has legitimized what Pres. Hinckley called “agitation” or activism so faithful agitation/activism appears to be a way to be heard, a church suggestion box if you will or an modern method for Zelophehad’s daughters to approach Moses since Pres. Monson is otherwise unavailable to common members.

    • 3 symphonyofdissent April 7, 2013 at 10:18 am

      The problem in my opinion comes when “feminist” Mormons use the media to post critical stories about the church in an effort to shame the church into changing. Such efforts from allegedly faithful members causes outsiders to view the church negatively and is a violation of our temple covenant to sustain and defend the kingdom of god on the earth. Ultimately you can’t serve two masters… Your allegiance is either with god and his church, or with the world and it’s ruler.

      • 4 hawkgrrrl April 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

        It’s definitely not just insider critics. In this day of blogging, the church is going to be under media scrutiny like never before. Print is dead. Any fool with a domain can set up a site and publish damning posts from stuff that is easily read through FB or elsewhere. Most of the negative press the church has had in the last year has originated from outside the church (some ex-Mos, but also just some interested cultural observers) and has in fact been stuff well worth criticizing: hurtful things said to gays, a bishop banning cross-dressing toddlers from trunk or treat, a girl prevented from taking a test for wearing skinny jeans that weren’t. In nearly every case, the church’s response has been to correct the stupidity. Only an idiot defends the indefensible.

        There was no rationale for the church to not have women pray. The CHI even specifically says women pray in all meetings with no prohibitions. It was just that it was pointed out to them. I’m thrilled our leaders aren’t so arrogant that they can’t follow their own policies out of fear that feminists (or any other group) will get “greedy” and want more equality.

        I think the best thing possible that could come out of the Ordain Women movement is better co-leading between men & women and a clearer understanding of what is priesthood and what is not. Today it is very conflated – is it positions of decision making and authority (that could arguably include female input) or is it healing / power to act in the name of God (that arguably has been given to endowed women)? It will be exciting to see the dialogue if the church remains open to exploring it.

      • 5 symphonyofdissent April 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm

        I am also really glad that Sister Stevens prayed but equally glad that the Apostles spoke repeatedly about how changing standards in the world will not change the standards of the Church


  3. 6 Eric Nielson April 7, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Thanks symphony, I think we are on the same page here.

    Also, Howard, I do not think we have any major disagreements either. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. 7 Ardis E. Parshall April 7, 2013 at 11:30 am

    There is nothing improper, undoctrinal, or wrong about women praying in General Conference. Exhibit A: the Brethren called on a woman to pray in Conference.

    Would you have women denied this privilege, or deny us the privilege of seeing and hearing a woman play in Conference, merely to send a message to feminists that you weren’t going to indulge them? (sorry, the beastly image of “feeding” human beings is too dehumanizing for me to repeat — and you as a skilled wordsmith surely knew what you were doing, for shame)

    This post is about practicalities, so I’m asking you what would have been the practical effect of denying this privilege to women, including to those of us who don’t and won’t fit into your vision of rampaging feminists.

  5. 8 Eric Nielson April 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Ideally this would have happened many times over the years (like many members would have assumed). Because of this, the timing looks bad. The church did the right thing, they were just late in doing it. Mostly I am guessing at what the extreme feminists in Mormonism will do now that they are feeling confident. Time will tell if my guesses are right or not.

    Sorry to disappoint Ardis.

  6. 9 Jamie Turner April 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. ~ John 16:24

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for righteous blessings, just so you don’t ask amis, and end each prayer with a sincere “never-the-less, not my will, but thine be done”. I would hate to cross over the veil, and find that I had been living “far below my privileges” for the lack of asking. I recognize that some of the members within the feminist community have not perhaps asked with a humble heart, and it saddens me that Sr. Jean Stevens’ prayer might be incorrectly attributed to being sponsored by the wrong people. The church was very clear that all speaking and prayer assignments were made prior to the letters and protests by feminist groups, and this needs to be reiterated – Jean was not asked to pray because the church felt pressured by some special interest group – she was given her assignment well before any special interest group acted on this matter – and was given the assignment through heavenly guidance.

    It was a special, groundbreaking day – my daughters and I rejoiced over it last night. It is sad that some are coloring this issue to try and take away the intent and beauty of it.

    • 10 Abu_Casey April 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      “The church was very clear that all speaking and prayer assignments were made prior to the letters and protests by feminist groups.” This is the second time I’ve heard this claim but I haven’t seen it sourced. If someone said this, can you post a source? Thanks.

  7. 11 Howard April 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    The church was very clear that all speaking and prayer assignments were made prior to the letters and protests by feminist groups, and this needs to be reiterated – Jean was not asked to pray because the church felt pressured…. You second thought here does not necessarily follow the first. The letters followed a lengthy bloddernacle discussion/debate that began long ago. The church had more than 180 years to act on their own but did not, arguing that they beat the letter writers is very hollow and misleading spin.

  8. 12 annegb5298 April 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I’m not a feminist, but I’m glad she prayed. But I don’t feel “fed” and I won’t until more than one woman prays regularly at all conferences. And not just the closing prayer. Gag a maggot.

  9. 13 Eric Nielson April 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm


    I don’t want to imply that the church did the wrong thing here, just that the timing makes it look like protesting works. My choice of title did not have de-humanizing as the goal.

    The purpose of the title was to draw a parallel:

    If you feed a … bear? it will not be satisfied and will come back confidently demanding more.

    And my prediction is that by giving feminists what they want (or even appearing to), they will not be satisfied and will confidently come back demanding more.

    And all I am predicting is a confident group of feminists demanding the priesthood using the prayer campaign as a guide. I doubt my prediction will be off, but we shall see.

  10. 14 Jettboy April 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Section 107 isn’t the only place with a strong statement about gender Priesthood:


    I love how the author in one of his posts tries to shy away from his own conclusion, but its a rather strong one. He basically asks if the Book of Abraham isn’t about blacks not allowed to hold the Priesthood, then what is it about? Well, its about what the book of Abraham started with and the Bible reinforces; the Priesthood is based on male lineage.

  11. 15 Howard April 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    President Hinckley allowed that God could allow women to have the priesthood so the notion of an eternal gender requirement is apparently wrong!

  12. 16 Jack April 7, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Though the incessant screeching of LDS feminists grate on me worse than fingernails on an infinite number of chalkboards I’m glad to see more inclusion of women in priesthood functions — and would like to see more.

    As to women being ordained: If it’s right it will happen — and I say that because I believe in the prophetic leadership of the church. And though I don’t believe it’s likely to happen, if it does, well, who knows what kinds of mysteries have yet to be revealed? But regardless of what happens I’m sure there will be more inclusion of women in the leadership of the church — and I think that’s a good thing..

  13. 17 jks April 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I don’t want to agitate. I love that the church had a woman pray because it makes sense and it was right. I don’t want the church to refuse to do something just because they are worried that it will embolden someone. I think church leaders should do what they think is right, no matter who disagrees or agrees with them.
    And yes, I think most people won’t even know that women haven’t prayed until now. It is a nonevent for most people.

  14. 18 Eric Nielson April 7, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Overall, the tone of the comments has been pretty good. Thank you all.

  15. 19 Matt W. April 7, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    maybe God wants the feminists fed? He’s a pretty smart guy. He probably knows what he is doing.

  16. 20 Eric Nielson April 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Could be Matt. I am not necessarily making any claims that way. Whatever the source, I would predict the same result.

  17. 21 meekmildmagnificent April 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Exhibit “A” – http://www.the-exponent.com/priestesshood-session/

    I love it when at least 3 of those participating have told me that they don’t believe at all that Joseph Smith received the priesthood as he claime, but they are clamoring to have women ordained to the priesthood. For at least these participants in the ordain women movement, it is a political agenda pure and simple. I am not against women participating to the full extent consistent with the present outline of priesthood callings nor am I against a revelation that would disclose God’s will to open the priesthood to women. I am against the idolatry of a political movement that doesn’t believe there is anything of real value to be given or received except their ambition to greater political clout.

    • 22 wreddyornot April 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm

      Your conclusion does not follow your premise. There are members, many of them, who don’t believe various and sundry histories, doctrine, etc. Does their participation in the LDS Church despite doubting mean they have a political agenda? No. It might, but then again it might not. There can be and are many other motives, both for the members with doubts and for the participants in the ordain women movement. Furthermore, even if the three people you judge were engaged merely for political reasons, that doesn’t necessarily mean for them that there is nothing of additional value to be gained, except for the greater political clout. Many other possibilities besides political reasons exist.

  18. 24 meekmildmagnificent April 9, 2013 at 1:21 am

    You see Wreddyornot, that is just the thing. At least two of the presenters are neither members nor do they participate in church. They don’t “participate despite doubting” contrary to your claims. However, I am glad that you are willing to be Pollyanna in this.

  19. 25 Jim Cobabe April 9, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Ardis wrote: “There is nothing improper, undoctrinal, or wrong about women praying in General Conference.”

    I agree wholeheartedly, and would add, nothing particularly remarkable either. Indeed, I fully expect the Lord to direct the Church to bring to pass many such things, in his own time, and in his own way – with or without the benefit of prompting by lesser mortals.

  20. 26 kramer April 10, 2013 at 5:22 am

    “What Happens When You Feed The Feminists?”
    They get fat and hate men even more.

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