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Do Mormon Women Oppose Priesthood Ordination? Redux

In October of 2013, a Pew survey made the claim that “big majority of Mormons (including women) oppose women in priesthood.” In March or 2014, I wrote Do Mormon Women Oppose Priesthood Ordination? Clarity About the Pew Survey to refute the erroneous conclusion.

Do Women Oppose Priesthood Ordination? Redux

In the aftermath there were numerous groups—claiming faithful adherence to doctrine—that used the survey fallaciously to “prove” that women opposed ordination in some sweeping way. It was purported to show that the status quo is not only inspired, but preferable, to members at large and women in particular.

Another large poll released yesterday shows—surprise! surprise!—an almost diametrically opposed result. And that I was right. 

The Pew poll failed to understand and accommodate the high priority faithful, active members put on deference to authority. In the context of the way the questions were asked, the “faithful” response was obvious. But once the questions changed to incorporate that cultural imperative, the answers turns on their head.

It is interesting (and eye-rolling) how this poll was reported in local newspapers:

Kathryn Skaggs (as noted in the Deseret News article) wants to have her cake and eat it, too. She wants to use imperfect questions that support her position and disregard imperfect ones that don’t.

Sorry, it it what it is. Mormons prioritize deference to authority, so they neither decline nor support female ordination over that authority. They will, however, go along with either one if the leadership so dictates.

So, no, Mormons (and Mormon women in particular) may hope for the priesthood or hope to keep things the same, but they will generally submit to the current leadership position, whatever it is.

In closing, may I remind you all of a few thing:

  1. Women do not have “access” to all the blessings of the priesthood.
  2. The church spokeswoman admitted that there is no doctrine that specifically excludes women from ordination.
  3. Recent statements have made a rather irreconcilable muddle of priesthood authority, keys, ordination, access, blessings, etc.
  4. In a 1997 interview with David Ransom, President Hinckley noted the policy could change with revelation, but didn’t think women generally cared about it. In other words, he used his interpretation of women’s feelings as support of the status quo.

Here’s a vote for better understanding!

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • IdRatherNotSay December 16, 2015, 4:44 pm

    I remember learning in graduate school about how to write survey questions (so as to not lead participants and therefore obtain the most objective answers as possible). I will have to take a look at the questions, but based on what I’m reading here, these surveys are pretty much useless. It kind of reminds me of the book, ‘How to Lie With Statistics.’

    For what it’s worth, count me in as another member of the status quo. I’d love to be ordained, but I am not going to agitate for it and compromise my standing in the church. I have prayed about it and feel that it is the Lord’s will that women do not have the priesthood at this time.

  • CamBendy December 16, 2015, 5:01 pm

    I’m glad someone finally came up with a response to the first poll. Both are subject to interpretation, but the first one was written without understanding Mormonism. Thanks for the update!

    IdRatherNotSay, I’ve prayed too but have a different answer. I’m not agitating either, but I’m asking respectfully.

  • Naismith December 17, 2015, 11:07 am

    To be fair, I am not sure that we can accuse the Pew study of being ” written without understanding Mormonism.”

    Those data are from fieldwork conducted in 2011, and the report for that project notes: “As a first step, we researched the sociological
    literature on Mormons and recruited a panel of expert advisers, including Matthew Bowman of Hampden-Sydney College, David Campbell of the University of Notre Dame, Marie Cornwall of Brigham Young University, Terryl Givens of the University of Richmond and Allison Pond of the Deseret News.”

    And lest you wonder if someone from DesNews is qualified to comment on survey questions, Ms. Pond had been a researcher at Pew for some years before accepting the position at DesNews. Of course David Campbell is a co-author of both AMERICAN GRACE and MORMONS IN THE PROMISED LAND.

  • IdRatherNotSay December 18, 2015, 11:59 am

    To be even more fair, I’m not sure any of us can claim that we fully understand Mormonism. I’ve lived my entire life in the LDS faith and I have found with time that things are far less black and white than I once believed. If a few non-LDS people were able to figure us out after a year of field work and after consulting with a few members of our faith, I’d like to chat with them because I have SO many questions!! (Yep, I’m being sarcastic).

    Just to be clear, I am responding to the above comment. I am not referencing the survey… I haven’t even read it yet.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 29, 2015, 12:07 pm

    Naismith, perhaps I misspoke. They may well have understood Mormonism. But whomever was conducting the survey (or on the recruited panel or…) neither noted nor corrected for the glaringly obvious Mormon-ism the questions would necessarily lead to.

    As I said in the first post:

    Any member who answers the actual Pew survey question in the affirmative has, in fact, decided that they are willing to openly declare general church doctrine (or a highly controversial policy point that many (including most general authorities) believe to be doctrine) and to openly declare that the prophet and general authorities are wrong in their current stance.

    Few “highly committed” members are willing to do this, no matter how much they wish, hope, and pray that things will change. And almost no members are willing to do this if they are neutral on the outcome.

    To use the verbiage they did and then come to the conclusion they did, that “Big majority of Mormons (including women) oppose women in priesthood,” gave an incredibly false impression.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Tolerance Is Not a VirtueMy Profile

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