Below is a letter a friend of mine sent to his bishop and stake president. It was written after the announcement of Kate Kelly’s church disciplinary council, but before the council had convened. He shared it with some friends and I asked if I could republish it, as I feel it is a respectful reflection of the thoughts of many active members of the church.
It is republished here — with identifying information removed — with the permission of the author, his bishop, and his stake president.
Dear Bishop Jones and President Brown,
I write to express my concern about the recently publicized church disciplinary councils for Kate Kelly and John Dehlin. John’s has been postponed, but Kate’s has not. I personally think it would be wise to postpone Kate’s as well, but it appears the Church, through its local leaders, is intent on proceeding and, based on the language of her summons and in the Church press releases, that the decision may be a foregone conclusion.
Of course, I am not in a position to know all the facts nor am I called upon to make such momentous decisions. However, I can express my opinion about how those actions, and the almost certain excommunication of Kate Kelly, affect me and many of those whom I know and love.
Kate’s pending excommunication will be used by many as proof that in the Church men rule, and women only have authority at the sufferance of men. That is, Kate’s disciplinary council will be held by a panel that is exclusively male (because the Church permits women no role in decision making about discipline), and that council will be held without Kate’s being present, because she had moved before she was even contacted about such a panel.
But more importantly, to many lay members of the Church, her excommunication will signal that people concerned about the imbalance in authority between males and females in the Church may also be considered apostate—at least if they express their views in public.
A great many people whom I know, men and women, believe women should have a greater voice and authority in the Church. A number of people, including loved ones, have dropped out of activity because they believe that the Church significantly subordinates women to men—after all, a woman may be Chief Justice of the United States, yet is not permitted any role in the quasi-judicial decision making about Church discipline. The likely excommunication of Kate may well send a message to such disaffected members, and to potential members with any feminist inclinations, that they are not welcome, and should find spiritual sustenance elsewhere. And worse, it may signal the same thing to many people who are active members.
I am sure the First Presidency and the 12 are well aware of what I have written. They are inspired, capable, intelligent and wise men, who also carry the mantle of God’s priesthood. They may well have already decided, with God’s inspiration, that allowing Kate’s excommunication is necessary, and that the collateral damage to a number of active members, disaffected members, and potential members, is a regrettable but necessary result. They may even have decided that there need to be fewer feminists in the church, and fewer people fervently committed to the equality of the sexes. That may be God’s will. I defer to them.
But just as Abraham asked Jehovah if God would destroy the wicked if it would result in the destruction of a few righteous (Genesis 18), my heart cries out to ask if God really wants to destroy Ordain Women in this way if it will result in the loss to the Church of hundreds of righteous active and contributing women or men who sympathize with Kate and with Kate’s concerns. Yes, I know that the number and percentage of members who look very favorably on feminism are very small. But their souls are precious. And they include people whom I deeply love and who are close to me.
Thank you for listening. As I understand it, the general authorities prefer that all concerns about these action be expressed to local leaders, rather than directly to the general authorities. I hope you will consider passing my concerns up the chain of authority. I am forwarding a hard copy to the First Presidency and to two of the Seventy whom I personally know.
Sincerely your brother,