So Who Gets a Press Conference in Front of the Tabernacle?

March 28, 2014 | 77 comments
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One of the aspects of the Church’s recent statement to OW regarding the priesthood session that strikes me as eminently sensible is the insistence that OW not invite media on to Temple Square and confine their demonstrations to public property. It’s worth noting that the letter didn’t say that OW members could not come on to Temple Square as worshipers. It said that they couldn’t conduct a press conference in front of the Tabernacle during a General Conference session. There are three reasons that this makes good sense to me.

First, inviting television crews onto Temple Square and holding a press conference during a session of General Conference actually is inconsistent with the spirit of the event. This really isn’t a difficult call. We are not talking about wearing pants to church. (Something that I didn’t even realize was a thing until it was a thing.) We are talking about a media event. On Temple Square. In front of the Tabernacle. During a General Conference Session. The claim that this is not going to be inconsistent with an atmosphere of worship isn’t the sort of thing one can say with a straight face. I understand that one might think the cause is more important than the atmosphere of worship, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable for the Church to prioritize the latter over the former.

Second, allowing OW to hold a second press conference on the threshold of the Tabernacle puts the Church in the position of having to come up with criteria for which groups critical of Church doctrine and practice get to have press conference on Temple Square. In front of the Tabernacle. During a General Conference Session. One suspects that the list of groups that would love to do this gets rather lengthy. The fact that OW has members and supporters who are active members doesn’t really dispose of the issue. If anything, it makes it more acute. It puts the Church in the position of picking and choosing which critical members get the special media treat and which don’t.

Third, there is actually a legal issue involved here, albeit a somewhat attenuated one. When a property owner throws their property open to the public and fails to make attempts to control what is said on the property, it can become a public forum. If this happens, then the property owner loses the ability to exclude speakers from the property. There are two reasons this concern is attenuated in my opinion. First, as a matter of federal law these private-property-to-public-forum cases are pretty rare and the Supreme Court has backed away from some of the nutty stuff they said in the 1960s. Such cases have been more common under state law in jurisdictions like California and New Jersey where state supreme courts at times get a wild gleam in their eyes. One has a hard time imagining the Utah Supreme Court doing this. Nevertheless, the Church recently got tripped up by the public forum doctrines when it created the Main Street plaza. After the expense of that litigation and the final settlement, I get why the Church would be concerned even if they could prevail on the merits.

I understand the hurt that some OW supporters feel about being sent to the free speech zones with the anti-Mormon zealots. At the end of the day, however, the Church’s response on this issue strikes me as pretty sensible. The idea that groups critical of Church doctrine and practice don’t get to hold press conferences on Temple Square during General Conference is neither cruel nor senseless. If anything, the expectation that the Church do something else strikes me as pretty unreasonable.

77 Responses to So Who Gets a Press Conference in Front of the Tabernacle?

  1. hkobeal on March 28, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    In that case, then, it’s good to remember that OW did not hold a press conference on Temple Square in front of the Tabernacle during a General Conference session. That took place on public property, at the park nearby. Once that ended, we all walked toward Temple Square where we quietly stood in line to request admission to conference.

    Anyone who says we “invited” media to Temple Square to conduct a press conference is just being intentionally misleading.

  2. hkobeal on March 28, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Oops. Forgot to add that we quietly and reverently sang “I am a Child of God” and then walked BACK to the public park, where more interviews took place.

    Let’s at least start with some semblance of honesty here.

  3. Nate Oman on March 28, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    hkobeal: I can’t claim any knowledge of the details of the logistics of what happened last year. I do know that there were television crews on the threshold of the Tabernacle during a General Conference Session capturing the moment. I am fine if we decline to call that a press conference because there was a more formal event elsewhere. Nothing in my assessment of the merits of the most recent request turns on such labels. Singing “I am a Child of God” is certainly better in this context than Bob Dylan songs, but in my opinion it’s the cloud of television crews that’s decisive.

  4. Frank Pellett on March 28, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Were there plans to hold a press conference on Temple Square? From what I understand, it would have been much like last time; tearful requests by a lot of supporters. The press conference came afterward, and a few blocks away. How it went last time is why there won’t be photographers allowed this time, as it was a golden opportunity for a story and media coverage. Tearful women outside a men’s-only meeting makes good copy.

    Do the same rules apply, where there are no signs, no chanting, no dragging press in for the money shot?

    I know that they’re not calling it a protest, but that’s what it is. Blacks sitting at a whites-only lunch counter was a protest. This is much the same, but with a much, much lower likelihood of violence.

  5. hkobeal on March 28, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    #3, except, your post explicitly claimed knowledge of the details of the logistics of what happened last year . . .

  6. hkobeal on March 28, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    #3, Of course there were no plans to hold a press conference on Temple Square. Good heavens, no.

    And yes, the same rules apply–no signs, no chanting, no dragging press in for the money shot.

    (I mean, really, are we claiming that Ordain Women can now tell the press what to do? Wow, that’s amazing for such a small and insignificant group . . .)

  7. Nate Oman on March 28, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    hkobeal: Happy to apologize for misrepresenting my knowledge. I am responding to the images of OW folks surrounded by camera crews in front of the Tabernacle. My point is that its entirely reasonable for the Church to take steps to avoid this. I don’t know how the cameras ended up at the Tabernacle. I am assuming they showed up because OW announced their plans as part of their efforts to put themselves before the public eye. I am fine if we don’t call this a press conference. I realize that the press will act as it sees fit and I assume that media organizations were one of the audiences for their most recent statement. It does strike me as rather strange to suggest that OW had nothing to do with one of their central media events.

  8. Frank Pellett on March 28, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    hkobeal – of course you can’t “tell the press what to do”. But what newsperson would pass up the chance?

    It’s a protest. Trying to call it something else is just dishonest, to yourself if no one else.

  9. hkobeal on March 28, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    I’m just responding to what you said in your post, which is factually incorrect.

    You said this: “inviting television crews onto Temple Square and holding a press conference during a session of General Conference” . . . which we did not do.

    Nor this: “allowing OW to hold a second press conference on the threshold of the Tabernacle”

    Nor this: “The idea that groups critical of Church doctrine and practice don’t get to hold press conferences on Temple Square during General Conference”

  10. Kaimi on March 28, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Um, doesn’t the Utah press generally send someone to cover General Conference anyway?

    I mean, heck, don’t we explicitly say thanks to the press that’s covering the event, and give them special seats for it, and mention them directly?

  11. Nate on March 28, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Kaimi: The press regularly covers the White House. That doesn’t mean anyone who wants gets to have a media event in the Rose Garden.

  12. Brent on March 28, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    This is about control. The church wants to control its image (and in this case, it wants to control who gets to film what, when and where). What should also be clear (to anyone with enough intellectual honestly to see things objectively) is that there are many many women that feel the partriarchal structure (and accompanying mail privilage) of the church is a problem (and before someone repeats the church’s PR line about how the “vast majority of women. . . blah blah blah,” let me point out that 2/3rds of all women claimed by the church in its 15+ million total do not attend church regularly and/or no longer identify as Mormon). What everyone seems to be missing is how effectively this action by OW has called attention to this issue and how poorly the church has handled it. These women are members of the church, they are insiders, and they are speaking opening and honestly about what they feel needs to change. . . if church leaders had any sense at all, they would immediately sit down and dialogue with these women. The fact that they won’t tells me that we’re dealing with an institutional that cares more about its image and self-preservation than it does about its members (and that’s sad). It’s also sad to see folks like Nate unreflectingly parrot back the party line. It takes courage to speak truth to power (and it’s clear to me who is being courageous here).

  13. Nate on March 29, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Hkobeal: With all due respect I think you are playing a semantic game. Call it “a media event” rather than a “press conference.”. Nothing in my argument turns on the label. If you did not invite the camera crews on to Temple Square last time, I apologize for my misunderstanding and appreciate the correction. It was still most definitely a critical media event held on the threshold of the Tabernacle during a General Conference Session. I think its reasonable for the Church to insist those happen elsewhere.

  14. Kaimi on March 29, 2014 at 12:15 am

    True, Nate, people don’t generally hold press events in the Rose Garden. However, it is quite common to hold press events on the sidewalk in front of the White House. One might argue that this is a reasonably closer analogue to, say, the sidewalk in front of conference.

  15. Nate on March 29, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Yes it is. The threshold of the Tabernacle is not the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue.

  16. hkobeal on March 29, 2014 at 12:20 am

    I’m honestly not playing a semantic game. I’m frustrated because some of the things you claim in your post aren’t true–based on their content, not on your or my word choice. People are being super quick to cast aspersions on our character by claiming that we did things we didn’t do.

    We did not invite media outlets to film us on Temple Square.
    We did not schedule press conferences on Temple Square.

    We DID invite media outlets to a public park near Temple Square. And that is where all public conversations, dialogue, and interviews took place.

    As members of the church, we respect the sacred nature of Temple Square. And I think we demonstrated that by our actions while on Temple Square.

    I’m just trying to make sure people who read this blog post will also know the truth about what Ordain Women did and did not do.

  17. Hunter on March 29, 2014 at 12:21 am

    I am sympathetic to Ordain Women’s concerns, but that’s not the point here. The lawyer in me agrees with Nate’ s assessment: the Church’s desire to control demonstrations on its property, and especially during General Conference, seems eminently sensible. (To be fair to OW, though, maybe Nate should have put “press conference” in quotes.)

  18. hkobeal on March 29, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Of course. The church can allow anyone on (or prohibit anyone from coming on) to its property. Even its own members, who they have unkindly equated with anti-Mormon protesters. :/

    For the record, that is a sting that I anticipate feeling for quite some time, after having spent 40 years devoted to the church.

    But I get it–we’re small and insignificant.

  19. hkobeal on March 29, 2014 at 12:30 am

    (The thing is–that “you’re small and insignificant” message? That’s just not the one I grew up learning at church. It’s just so fundamentally *not* Mormon to me.)

  20. Hunter on March 29, 2014 at 12:37 am

    I agree, hkobeal, the disparaging lines in Public Affairs’ letter about your minority status were over-the-top and unnecessary.

  21. Kristine A on March 29, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Words are powerful. Misrepresenting or misreporting facts is punditry. It’s pretty easy to find out “was a press conference held on temple square?” no. Oh, okay, why don’t I talk to one of them and find out exactly what happened. This is what they are up against, no research just personal interpretations assumed as fact.

    Although, point taken, it’s private property (paid for by faithful members) and they can kick faithful members off for an act that shows disagreement. Ergo they should?

    How about, “sisters, unfortunately tickets aren’t happening. We do have members of the RS general board who have agreed to host you and visit and get to know you and your concerns better. Would you like to come with me now or go back to the park?” and make sure it’s all caught on camera.

    Genius PR move. Hey public affairs, Call me!

  22. Kaimi on March 29, 2014 at 1:27 am

    Heather, correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t there a brief discussion on Temple Square when the church spokeswoman Ruth Todd addressed the group.

    Of course, that also kind of undercut’s Nate’s claim. OW did not hold a press conference on Temple Square, and the closest analogue to a press conference was an official planned statement from a church spokesperson.

  23. Martin James on March 29, 2014 at 2:05 am

    hkobeal,

    I think OW is small and significant. It is significant because it has “created a space” where people who think of themselves as faithful church members speak in public and as a group for change to long-standing and significant practices of the church.

    The physical location of this public statement of advocating change in church practices is not that significant to me. What is significant to me is that it is organized, public and aimed at the church leaders above the local level.

    I am trying but still having a lot of trouble understanding how OW fits in with church directives to take the counsel of local leaders and not press for answers from other leaders.
    Do any bishops or stake presidents participate in OW’s activities or otherwise state in public support for OW or the ordination of women?

  24. Lorie on March 29, 2014 at 2:54 am

    Actually, Kaimi, to be fair, Church spokeswoman Ruth Todd greeted all of us–the press and Ordain Women supporters–informed us that we wouldn’t receive tickets and then invited the press to follow her off of Temple Square for an official Church statement. Some did. Some didn’t. As hkobeal said, Ordain Women’s interviews with the press were held at the park on public property before and after we were turned away at the Tabernacle.

    As to how we would characterize our efforts last October and on April 5, I think Ordain Women supporter Kristi puts it well in her profile on our website: “Ordain Women’s action is not a protest, but a plea. Standing before Church leaders in search of answers is not a criticism, but an act of faith . . . ” (See http://ordainwomen.org/project/hi-im-kristi/)

  25. Lorie on March 29, 2014 at 3:21 am

    Martin James, one of the earliest profiles submitted to the Ordain Women website was from a bishop. Many of our present profiles feature women and men who hold or have held positions in bishoprics, Relief Society presidencies, Elders Quorum presidencies, etc. Some of us have the support of our local church leaders. Others don’t. Given that women are left out of the decision-making lines of authority in the Church, how are we to be heard?

  26. christiankimball on March 29, 2014 at 4:02 am

    There is quite of bit of heat over what is and isn’t a “demonstration” and what has and hasn’t happened in the past. Enough heat that a single word (“again” or “second” or “long-standing”) can fan a flame. Perhaps we’d do better to focus on the strongest request in the Church’s letter, which is (in my opinion): “help us maintain the peaceful environment of Temple Square”.

    It seems to me a reasonable request from the Church, for much the same reasons as the OP. Also, the “help us maintain” line finesses questions of what the action is called, who summons the press, and who or how or why there is attention.

    It seems a reasonable request when applied to holding a press conference, that is. Not so much when applied to requesting a seat in the Priesthood Session. For that purpose, I for one would say no (to the Church’s request). For three reasons:
    First, I’m a curmudgeonly contrarian.
    Second, I think the OW request for seats in the Priesthood Session is perfectly reasonable, there is a simple reply (“please take a seat quietly as the session has already begun”), and the Church bears the larger share of blame for any disruption that occurs. (Not sole, but larger.)
    Third, I think the Church is analogous to a public figure with attenuated privacy rights. The Church chooses publicity and cannot draw its boundaries too tightly or unilaterally. If the substance of the request/action/demonstration is a sincere request for entrance to a meeting, the place to do that is at the door, not 100 meters away, and I don’t think the Church gets to say otherwise. On the other hand, if the substance is ordination for women, the place to do that might well be 100 meters away, or at a separately arranged press conference, or in writing and other media. Or at least it’s not clear to me where that line falls.

  27. kenngo1969 on March 29, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Kristine A. #21: “Words are powerful. Misrepresenting or misreporting facts is punditry.”

    With due respect, I disagree. Having looked at the definition of “pundit” at dictionary.com, I see nothing about “misrepresenting or misreporting facts.”

    Lorie #25: “Martin James, one of the earliest profiles submitted to the Ordain Women website was from a bishop. Many of our present profiles feature women and men who hold or have held positions in bishoprics, Relief Society presidencies, Elders Quorum presidencies, etc. Some of us have the support of our local church leaders. Others don’t. Given that women are left out of the decision-making lines of authority in the Church, how are we to be heard?”

    It may be true that many of the profiles are from active, believing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What I would like to find out is how many of them are from disaffected or former members, but it does not appear that one can simply search profiles. I have heard from what I consider to be reliable sources that at least some of the profiles fall into that category. Your mileage may vary, but when I separate myself (or am separated) from organizations in which I formerly actively participated, I no longer concern myself with how they are run. If a sizeable minority of profiles are from disaffected or former members, that creates a question in my mind whether the members or leaders of Ordain Women are misrepresenting themselves as “the loyal opposition” (my phrase).

  28. ji on March 29, 2014 at 6:12 am

    I also think the Church’s position is reasonable and even necessary. The Church doesn’t happily seek out difficult situations, but must respond to them when they arise. Like a sincere and tender-hearted parent dealing with a child, a parent has to set the expectations and establish the boundaries. We all understand toddlers. But when a child is old enough to know that he or she is purposefully causing distress and embarrassment for his or her parents, and does whatever he or she does expressly to try to shame them in public, well, that’s very sad. In such a case when I’m an observer, my tendency is more-likely-but-maybe-not-always to be sympathetic to the parent. It’s hard being a parent. It’s even harder bring a sincere and tender-hearted parent. Stand firm? Re-consider? Accommodate? May God bless the leaders of the Church in this matter. And may they be upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the Church.

  29. Nate on March 29, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Kaimi: I think having Ruth Todd address the media in front of the Tabernacle raises problems one and two and I suspect to avoid having Church reps conduct press conferences in front of the Tabernacle is one reason for asking that television crews not come onto Temple Square. When the church plans a press conference for example they usually hold it in the COB, the church administration building or the Joseph Smith building.

  30. Monica Pignotti, PhD on March 29, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Nate, since you are obviously lacking knowledge of what occurred last year on Temple Square (i.e. there was in fact no “press conference” called, the media showed up because the event was newsworthy neither OW nor obviously the church can control the media) perhaps it would be a good idea for you to gather actual facts before you opine with obvious (to those of us who were actually there last year) misinformation. In fact, what has happened is that the Church’s ill-conceived PR response has turned this year’s event into much more of a press event than it otherwise would have been.

  31. SilverRain on March 29, 2014 at 7:34 am

    More accurately, the news showed up because they had been deliberately alerted to the newsworthy event by those who organized it. Pretending otherwise is disingenuous at best. There are several ways the event could have been organized that would have made the claims to innocent and faithful supplication more believable.

    The only people who believe the Church’s actions are “ill-conceived” are those who believed they had successfully trapped the Church in a double-bind and erroneously assumed the Church would put its image above its principles. Disappointment at finding out otherwise and that the Church is deft at balancing priorities, is bitter indeed.

  32. Dave on March 29, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Perhaps Nate is simply accepting at face value this statement from the recent LDS letter, part of which he quoted earlier:

    Your organization has again publicized its intention to demonstrate on Temple Square during the April 5 priesthood session. Activist events like this detract from the sacred environment of Temple Square and the spirit of harmony sought at General Conference. Please reconsider.

    I suspect OW would object that it has never publicized any intention of “demonstrating” on Temple Square. That’s a loaded and arguably misleading term.

    Is showing up at the door and asking for tickets to the priesthood session a “demonstration”? No, hundreds of men do that every year. Is inviting media onto (even into) the Conference Center a “demonstration”? No, the Church does this every year. An accurate statement would have been: “Your organization has again publicized its intention to ask for stand-by tickets at the door to the April 5 priesthood session. We again plan to decline such requests. We wish the media would ignore your request and our denial, and just focus on the message presented during the session.”

  33. Jim Cobabe on March 29, 2014 at 7:39 am

    I was thinking of holding a press conference at Temple Square, just to let the world know how dissatisfied I am as a consumer. The world simply refuses to meet up with my reasonable expectations.

    I want my money back.

    And I’m forwarding a copy of my receipts to Gephardt.

  34. SilverRain on March 29, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Pfft. If it were about attendance and not demonstration, there are dozens of half-empty stake centers in the valley, thousands across the United States, that could be attended.

    Asking for admittance at the Tabernacle has a purpose beyond merely attending or demonstrating readiness to be ordained. That purpose could easily be fulfilled by local attendance without the media involved. The chosen method of demonstration is for a specific reason, and the Church is responding to that real reason. Masking the true purposes behind a skin of innocent ones may fool outsiders or those who resonate with the pain of feeling excluded, but it doesn’t fool other members or the Church leadership.

    It’s not a terribly innovative attempt, however effective it may be in secular circumstances.

    I only regret that the earnest and faithful of the Church have allowed themselves to be used as tools by those less sympathetic to the Church.

  35. Wm on March 29, 2014 at 9:02 am

    “Ordain Women’s action is not a protest, but a plea.”

    If it’s not a protest, but a plea, then why is OW using protest movement tactics and language?

    And to claim that OW doesn’t control the media is either naive or disingenuous. The media is only interested when protest theater is taking place. OW surely knows that anything that they do to create protest theater is going to draw media attention.

    “In fact, what has happened is that the Church’s ill-conceived PR response has turned this year’s event into much more of a press event than it otherwise would have been.”

    Who exactly is turning it into a press event?

  36. ludlow on March 29, 2014 at 9:54 am

    #35, Wm OW are supplicants. Our action is a plea. I have participated in many protests. We have signs, We picket. We shout slogans like ‘No blood for oil’ or Shame on you’ or Sutter, Sutter you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side.’ We occupy a building or a street corner. What you saw last October was no protest. It was members of the Mormon community asking for fuller participation in the Church.

  37. Wm on March 29, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Then why the initial (off site) press conference? Then why speak to the media at all?

  38. RMM on March 29, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Yeah, this [innocent face] “we’re not protesting” line from OW is disingenuous at best.

  39. wreddyornot on March 29, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Let me just say when that I read this original post I thought how unfortunate the piece didn’t reflect the realities as I had witnessed them from my perspective. How does one charitably characterize these men and women? I think I’d describe them as quite humble, if very courage, petitioners of a patriarchy, which as members of the Church they have sustained. Are there outliers in their group? Of course. Are there outliers in the Church? Of course.

  40. thor on March 29, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Lorie #25 – you argue that many of the first profiles created on the OW website are from Elders Quorum Presidents and Bishops, and yet OW cannot follow the normal channels of Church hierarchy, because they aren’t represented. You can’t have it both ways – either you are supported by local leaders (even if only in some areas) who may petition their Area Authorities or you are not. If its simply a plea to be heard, then the OW movement can be dissolved, because the Church’s PR Letter is an acknowledgement that your pleas have been heard and duly dismissed.

    Ultimately, I think this post highlights why the OW movement is drawing so much ire: they are not following proper grievance procedure in an organization run by strict procedure. This is unfortunate, because I think many of their basic substantive arguments have merit (e.g. females as SS Presidents, Financial Clerks), and those arguments might be dismissed due to a lack of proper procedure.

  41. CRW on March 29, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I’m confused. I thought the point of the request for tickets was that there is no hierarchical “grievance procedure,” that we’re told our questions and concerns should be addressed to our own immediate ward or stake leaders, that any private letters (for example) will be sent back down the line unread. And as sweet as my stake president and bishop are, they can’t do anything about this issue.

    What are these “proper channels”? It looks like to me that the media is the only way to begin this dialogue.

    And why the contempt? What is so very wrong with asking? What I hear over and over is basically sit down and shut up.

    Not that it’s a new message. I am an old Mormon feminist who remembers with a lot of pain the 2nd wave events (ERA, Sonja Johnson etc.), and I have little hope for anything better during this iteration. Too many decades of hanging photos in the conference center instead of substantive change. And people are people – even Latter-day Saints operate under standard group dynamics. A perceived threat to the group from within the group, even as soft and gentle as the OW statements and behavior have been, results in attacks on the perceived challengers. Which then becomes a pile-on by people rushing to defend the status quo, reinforcing the groupthink.

    I admire Kate Kelly and all the enthusiastic young Mofems. I do not know how many other women are like me – totally active, temple-going, calling-holding wives, mothers and grandmothers, who remain silent. I am simply exhausted. Maybe I’ve given up hope and yielded to despair. But no one should interpret my silence as happiness with the status quo.

  42. hkobeal on March 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Wow. It’s simply amazing to see so many people piling on, doubting Mormon women’s motives, questioning our character, etc.

    It’s sorta Salem Witch-Hunt ish, 2014 Mormon style.

    I’ve said it many times, but I’ll say it again: Mormons, this is not our good stuff.

  43. Nate Oman on March 29, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I understand that for the folks that participated in the OW event it was a important emotional and spiritual event. I understand that it took courage and conviction for them to act in a way that was likely to raise the ire of many, and it’s appalling the level of vitriol to which they have been subject by Latter-day Saints that should know better. I also understand that the event on Temple Square was incredibly restrained by the standards of an Occupy Wall Street protest or a group of union members trying to keep a state legislature from passing a right to work law. For avoiding doing that, OW actually has my respect and gratitude.

    That said, I find it bizarre to suggest that there is something false or uncharitable about suggesting that what happened on the threshold of the Tabernacle last fall was not a media event. I have no problem if folks want to dispute characterizing it has a press conference. On the other hand, I live thousands of miles from Salt Lake City, and I saw the images of the women lined up in front of the Tabernacle surrounded by reporters. I saw those images because there were television crews at the event. The idea that this has nothing to do with OW or wasn’t an entirely predictable result of what they were doing strikes me as a really weird claim to defend.

  44. Nathan Whilk on March 29, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    “questioning our character, etc.

    It’s sorta Salem Witch-Hunt ish”

    Speaking of questioning others’ character.

  45. vickiebird on March 29, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Many of the images you saw, Nate 43, were taken by those attending the event. Anyone with a cellphone was taking photos. I took a bunch myself. The PR department of the church made a foolish error in allowing the group to stand outside the Tabernacle for close to an hour with lots of private cameras going, both from attenders and passers-by. What passersby saw was a long line of women standing quietly waiting for tickets while men (including non-members) and boys were passing through them to gain admittance. If non-member men are allowed, why are temple-endowed women barred?

    These days, it doesn’t take the press to cover an event. OW did not request news coverage on Temple Square and should not be criticized because it occurred.

    Since the session was being broadcast to the public, why wasn’t OW simply invited into the Tabernacle to watch the broadcast? Problem solved, at least for the church. Most of us went back to the public park and took in the session over the internet, anyway.

  46. Blake on March 29, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    The laws of Salt Lake have set up a protest area just outside the conference center for protests and protesters. That is where OW belongs. OW is a protest. OW ought to follow the law regarding free-speech zones. It is impossible for me to believe that OW just wants to attend the proceedings — as has been pointed out, there are dozens of half-empty stake centers within short walking distance where they can witness the proceedings like the hundreds of men I attend with.

    Some if OW are still “in” the church, active and perhaps faithful. Many are not. I know many of them personally and they have not darkened the door of a church in more than a decade and do not believe that there is any priesthood even if it were given to women … and now they suddenly feel the deep desire to attend a priesthood meeting? Such bad faith detracts from what the Church is about.

    OW women was not invited into the priesthood session for two reasons: (1) they are not holders of the priesthood; and (2) their attendance was a political statement and protest and not to worship and be instructed along with those who attended. To feign that OW did not seek publicity is the utmost bad faith. That is what it was all about after all.

  47. Angela C on March 29, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Blake: “1) they are not holders of the priesthood” So “priestesses” don’t hold the priesthood after any fashion nor will in the future. That’s not what I heard in the temple. Got it. Thanks for clarifying that. I guess we can all quit going to the temple.

    “2) their attendance was a political statement and protest and not to worship and be instructed along with those who attended” The derogatory meaning of political is: “relating to, affecting, or acting according to the interests of status or authority within an organization rather than matters of principle.” Is it purely about authority or also about a matter of principle when women have no voice and no authority in that organization? Are civil rights or human rights efforts political or principled? Women are asking for more to do (one reason many Mormon women haven’t lined up). Why are we beating the crap out of them for their desire to do more? Many of these women served missions, before the age change. Let’s make sure we only have women who are content to do the bare minimum. That’s a strategy that will grow the church. /sarcasm

    I will agree with you, though, that some of the OW participants who have left the church are acting in bad faith, but with the cautionary caveat that we need to bear in mind why they left in the first place. Did they receive poor treatment as a result of their being a woman and resulting inability to be heard or taken seriously? Was their experience conducive to staying active in the church they loved?

  48. CRW on March 29, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Last year, civility and kindness were evident on the face of the church person who refused the OW women entrance to the Tabernacle overflow. As was the rejected women’s sadness. I had some hopes for their admittance – since the session was broadcast to all – and was disappointed that they were not, but I was happy with the way the rejection was handled.

    This year’s church response since March 17 – PR pronouncements and members’ “defense” online – has been incredibly disheartening.

    I remember thinking as a teen ago that maybe the church really doesn’t want somebody like me. Maybe there’s simply no room for a strong woman who thinks, who is passionate about social justice, equal opportunities for all God’s children, who isn’t by nature demure, deferring, or submissive. Yet God made me the way I am. What does that mean?

    I chose, and choose to stay, because dang it this is my church too. I want to be all in. I hate it that I’m still facing decision point of is it worth it? I hate that I can see myself finally – this year, next year – giving up and walking away.

  49. Kristine A on March 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    I would like to point out I don’t agree with press releases and press conferences and even the action at temple square. But I also don’t like to see it mischaracterized. If I were in OW place I would make different choices, sure – but I’m not.

    LIke I’ve said before, if OW is acting upon the promptings of the Spirit for each individual, they are justified – if not, who cares? God still brings about His will through our mistakes. There were a variety of tactics and responses available to de-escalate the situation, PR chose to take none of them.

  50. Blake on March 29, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Angela: First, you are deeply mistaken if you think that women have a civil right under any earthly government or authority to be ordained to the priesthood. Therefore, your argument is based on a seriously faulty assumption or analogy. Priesthood is not a civil right.

    You are right that women are designated as priestesses in the temple. Therefore, we need to make a distinction between ordained and set-apart and non-ordained priesthood — or between priesthood power and priesthood authority.Let’s call this a distinction between active and latent priesthood powers. Let’s go with this idea because it is very instructive. I am a high priest. According to the scriptures I hold all of the priesthood power that there is — the same as the prophet or my stake president. But it would be nonsense for me to suggest that therefore I can march into the stake president’s office and demand to attend stake presidency meetings. This is a position to which I have not been called or set apart. I have latent priesthood but not active priesthood power to be a stake president.

    Now it seems to me that it is the same for women. They have the priesthood power granted in the temple endowment. Let’s assume that it is all the priesthood power that there is. It does not follow that women have a right to demand to be ordained to a particular priesthood or called to a particular calling within the priesthood. Their latent priesthood power does not remotely suggest that they have the right to demand to be called to an active priesthood position — and in fact it seems to entail that they seeking power and position for its own sake (just the same as if I demanded to be stake president).

    With respect to those who left and are acting in bad faith — perhaps you are right about some of them and they left because they wrongly assumed that the Church is a democracy and God had some obligation to guaranty equal access and opportunity to all. (BTW he clearly has no such obligations to us). Those that I know left because they do not believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and the Book of Mormon is true. Yet they are now demanding to attend a priesthood meeting. Go figure.

  51. Blake on March 29, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Kristine: PR did something really smart. I gave notice to those who attend the next time that they will not be admitted so that they cannot show up and feign innocence in not knowing that they would not be admitted.

  52. forwardjoe on March 29, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    CRW,

    God makes us all different but we all have to make changes to come to him. Our default personality and attitudes are not to be wholly embraced. That being said I don’t think the church wants women to be “by nature demure, deferring, or submissive” to begin with.

  53. rameumptom on March 29, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    All I know is the media would not have showed up, nor needed to be taken to the Tabernacle, nor required a Church spokesperson, if there weren’t a line of OW protesters walking in line for admittance after they were already told they would not be allowed in. This was a protest, pure and simple. It was clearly done for a media presence. As SilverRain noted, they could have watched it online or gone to a stake center to see it without the media around, but chose the place that would give them the greatest attention. Regardless of whether they have good points or not, their actions are disruptive and contrary to the focus of Conference.

  54. Owen on March 29, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Wow, CRW, I feel really sorry for all the weak women of the church who don’t think. I know that’s how all the women I know are. Especially my pioneer ancestors who were so stupid they went along with polygamy, long-sleeved garments and walking two thousand miles for no good reason. What a bunch of retards.

  55. CRW on March 29, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Yes Owen, my ancestors as well. I have all the pioneer cred that I need, and the examples of my foremothers. Why do you think I’m still here, despite snarky put-downs like yours?

  56. Mtnmarty on March 29, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Blake,

    People raised in the church but who don’t believe in it have a legitimacy interest, in my opinion, in changing it.

  57. Steve on March 29, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Blake, what an interesting use of the term ‘priesthood power’. It appears you wanted to make a distinction between power and authority, and then went on to use power in the sense of authority (as it is most popularly differentiated in the Church today). I’ve read power used in the sense of authority in the D&C occasionally, but I’m curious why chose to use it that way when you were trying to differentiate the terms?

    Did you mean to carry that definition over, suggesting that female initiates gain latent authority in the temple?

  58. Blake on March 29, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Steve: Yes, I believe that women receive latent priesthood power in the endowment — the power to be exalted and to reign and rule worlds without end. I do not believe that the power of the priesthood is active now. Further, I do not believe that anyone has a right to any particular calling or office in the priesthood.

  59. Blake on March 29, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Mtnmarty — you are right, non-believers can have a political interest in changing the church to further their own point of view and personal pecuniary and political interests. But let’s not call it an interest in being ordained to the priesthood. That is just bad faith pure and simple.

  60. Mtnmarty on March 29, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Blake,

    Some would call it bad faith. Others would call it payback. Others still would say “payback’s an ordained woman”.

  61. Kristine A on March 29, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Blake, your explanation sound like Sheri Dew’s description of the priesthood in her book: keys, authority, and power to act in God’s name – and they are all different definitions (one who holds keys can authorize others to exercise their power in certain ways).

    But get this, for 31 years I never listened to or thought about or even considered the relationship and promises in the temple about women and the priesthood – because, duh, men’s role is priesthood and women’s role is motherhood . . . ! Because of Ordain Women and the conversation they started – I started studying inside and outside of the temple and feeling like I have access to more power in my life. I feel like this is a subject and question that Heavenly Father wants me to ponder and wrestle with . . . and the whole thing was prompted by OW.

    So regardless if they are ever ordained, they have blessed my life. And while I’m not one of them I will be a moderate who attempts to bridge the gap between those who do not understand them.

  62. Stevie Aiono on March 29, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    I can’t believe this is even a discussion.. You women want the priesthood? Take it up with the Lord in prayer, go seek council from Bishop.. Our loving and faithful prophet gets direction from our Savior, it is NEVER going to change unless he is given revelation to do so. Blake, I couldn’t agree more! You have said it so perfectly. The Lord is our shepherd and we are his sheep, that is it, plain and simple.

  63. Nathaniel Givens on March 29, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Semantics can be debated forever. There are also many diverse views held by OW members and supporters. But when it comes to the official position of the group itself, here are some basic facts:

    1. The non-negotiable final objective of OW is female ordination and nothing less.

    We are committed to work for equality and the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood. – OW Mission Statement

    There is no amount of incremental change, and no amount of additional concessions that the church can make to extend an olive branch to women without changing that fundamental inequality [female ordination]. – Kate Kelly

    2. The tactics of OW include a publicity campaign.

    As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood. – OW Mission Statement

    3. The request for tickets to the priesthood session (“the April 5th action” – OW FAQ)is a part of that publicity campaign.

    Ordain Women cover

    No matter how polite and decorous OW has been in its actions (for which, like Nate, I am grateful and respectful), they left the Church fairly little room to maneuver. Even if we grant for the sake of argument that female ordination is the right policy and will win out in the end, that will take time. Time during which General Conference would become a media spectacle on an ongoing basis. Time during which, if OW was admitted to the priesthood session, it would merely be the stepping stone to some other (probably even more sensitive) target for organized, public “action”.

    OW may be right on the theology of female ordination (although I do not believe that), but their high-pressure publicity campaign backed the Church into a corner. Female ordination will, we can all hope, be settle one day. But right now the Church has an obligation to defend the sanctity of General Conference and keep it from becoming a media circus, which is (at a minimum) the foreseeable and intended consequence of OW’s course of action.

    I’m truly, truly sorry for the hurt, confusion, and sadness I know many feel at the turn of events. The Church could perhaps have done more to mitigate those feelings. But the basic contours of the reaction just weren’t that hard to see coming, given the uncompromising tactics adopted by OW.

  64. Martin James on March 29, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    Nathaniel,

    A little thought experiment. Its only a PR problem if you think the church does not want publicity about conflict. This could all be an inside job. The church shows its not a bunch of morgbots and at the same time it shows the priesthood to be something that people value.

    Tom Sawyer couldn’t have done it better himself.

  65. Cameron N. on March 30, 2014 at 12:37 am

    I’m curious what OW’s participation in tonight’s session was. Any events or gatherings? They could recruit.

    I think your analysis is correct Nathaniel.

  66. Alison Moore Smith on March 30, 2014 at 12:37 am

    I am glad hkobeal corrected the misstatements. Whether or not the story “turns on the label,” the events being discussed should have been reported accurately.

  67. Cameron N. on March 30, 2014 at 12:43 am

    No General Women’s Mtg thread? Is this the first time a woman has been the ‘announcer’? Sounded like Sister Beck. =)

  68. jimbob on March 30, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Just FYI, the argument ended 20 posts ago when Ms. Pignotti chimed in. She explicitly noted that she’s a PhD in her handle, so that settles that. Unless of course she’s only an “everything but the dissertation” PhD, in which case we may still have an active debate.

  69. rah on March 30, 2014 at 4:11 am

    Blake,

    And so what is wrong with women with “latent priesthood” wanting to attend a meeting related to the “latent priesthood” they hold or may one day hold? Especially if there are empty seats after those with “active priesthood” have all taken their place. Also, if this is what you believe then I find it hard to see why one might be upset for those with “latent priesthood” who have been promised active priesthood at some point, that are surrounded by people extolling the power of the active priesthood, to want to petition the Lord to turn their “latent priesthood” into “active priesthood” something I think we both agree God could do.

  70. Cameron N. on March 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    rah (60) “And so what is wrong with women with ‘latent priesthood’ wanting to attend a meeting related to the “latent priesthood” they hold or may one day hold?”

    The problem is that OW’s name presumes to know what is best and/or the Lords will, and as such hinders any in-between progress they seek. The other problem is that their protests detract and distract from conference and draw negative attention to the church.

  71. wreddyornot on March 30, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Maybe OW participants believe scripture that says all are alike to God while those who say OW participants are know-it-alls don’t believe that. I, for one, am tired of assertions that OW detracts from conference. So do children and teenagers and hunger and random thoughts and old men. At least the OW distraction is engaging in a gospel sense so we who belong to a patriarchy ought to take notice with compassion.

  72. Cameron N. on March 30, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Children, teenagers, hunger, distraction and old age are part of the human condition. A choice to add more detraction is in a different category.

  73. Dq on March 30, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    for ordination why do we not all share the same spiritual Gifts? (aside from the fact that all can not be alike in the sense you mean if one grows babies, but let’s put that aside as I said…)

    Why do not all receive the same revelation. We are all alike. I’ve had experiences of the Spirit few have had and others have had revelations I’ll probably not ever have. All alike though? Equal treatment you say!

    All are alike so all should be endowed after baptism, and all baptized regardless of circumstances. All alike is our mantra!

    No, clearly your not really grasping at this scriptures meaning. Of course, it’s good that some put so much weight on this verse especially considering how every other verse at doesn’t square with modernity is washed away in the cleaning waters of cultural bias – Nevermind that it’s more likely to be you (plural, impersonal) who is biased rather than generations of scriptures and prophets which agree.

    Excuse the tone, I’m just mimicking the same

  74. wreddyornot on March 31, 2014 at 12:37 am

    I just now checked back to see what people might have said — assuming you are people. Sometimes I wonder. I had to teach primary and go to sacrament meeting, come home and fix supper, visit family, etc.

    Tone? How’s this for tone?

    Twist and turn your ideas and comments in the wind, for all I care. Try to debunk and to make fun of others without seriously addressing their observations. My first comment posited a possibility, not a certainty. What seems a different category though is the notion that priesthood is not a part of the LDS human condition. But have it your way. Tell me what broader category you’d put priesthood in and I’m sure that we can find similar distractions to it in that broader category that apply.

    When I read some people’s comments, it makes me wonder if there is any such thing as humanity.

    I never argued that we are all alike or that OW ever made that argument. And I don’t speak for OW; but I try to respect and honor all people. I asked a question, I posited a possibility. So your not-alike analogy doesn’t work. Of course we’re all different — some are apparently more different than others. But God still said that we are alike to him. I’m “…not really grasping at this scriptures meaning”? No, you’re right. I’m not grasping at it. I’ve grasped it. It’s like a parent saying to his or her children. You are all alike in the way I treat you; that is, I’m fair and loving and kind.

    And complaints about modernity? Seriously? When did you think we lived. In the past? Well, I live in the present; I’m a modern old man. Would you prefer living in antiquity? If so maybe you should choose to go and live then but not bring complaints of modernity before you clear up valid grievances of the past. If you’d like to go back to ancient texts that led to Bible narratives — and since the BofM is quite derivative of such types of narratives too, to it — and do some serious studies. Because if you do, you’ll find through honest and serious searching and study that patriarchy plucked pretty much any significant roles of women out of ancient narratives and histories. That’s why we who belong to a patriarchy ought to take notice of OW — and not just OW, but of everyone — with compassion and understanding.

    Where is my Mother in Heaven? I ask you and I ask my Heavenly Father, but I’ve found that He has little to do with my not knowing that much. On the other hand, patriarchy and patriarchs, like you…well?

  75. Stephen R. Marsh on March 31, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    It has been fun to read this thread, and the OP.

    “press conference, symbolic act, press conference” ~ to protest or not? Well, not in some ways, but probably enough that you are crossing over to turning the space into a public space if you don’t resist.

    That the people involved are mannerly and their hearts are pure (or not) isn’t the question that a court would look at.

    But it also reveals the poverty of legal analysis because there is so much that it cannot address.

  76. Martin James on March 31, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    wreddyornot,

    I am interested in the connection between your mother in heaven and patriarchy. Do you think patriarchy is interfering with your connection to and knowledge of your mother in heaven? How does a mortal hide a God exactly?

  77. Janie on April 6, 2014 at 12:51 am

    Why do you want to be part of a religion that would change their stand on this doctrine? Truth doesn’t change…truth is truth,,,, If the LDS Church allows women to hold the priesthood, what would that say about them? Who would they be trying to please….man or God? hmmm…..

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