The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does not ordain women into the Priesthood, and a new organization–Ordain Women— is asking them to “prayerfully consider” opening up the role to its female members. The Priesthood is the power to act in God’s name; holders of the priesthood can perform baptisms, bless the sick, and become Bishops who lead their congregation (a role similar to a minister). Boys in the church can hold a form of the Priesthood at age twelve, but the “eternal power and authority of God” is denied to women of all ages. Ordain Women’s site describes power imbalance between men and women in their FAQ section:
While women perform significant service in the Church’s auxiliaries, such as the Primary, Relief Society, Sunday School, and Young Women’s organizations, their contributions are always mediated and under the direction of male priesthood leaders. According to the Church’s Gospel Principles manual, “Men use priesthood authority to preside in the Church. . . . Women who hold positions in the Church . . . work under the direction of the priesthood.” As such, Mormon women have many delegated responsibilities but lack the authority to define and oversee those responsibilities.
These women are devout members of their church, but they are no longer satisfied with the platitude that motherhood is the equal role to priesthood. They counter this assertion with the simple fact “that fatherhood is the appropriate parallel to motherhood.” Their website is thoughtfully crafted, and they are asking for support from male and female church members alike. The group believes, “equality is necessary for healthy, well-functioning relationships and communities.” (We couldn’t agree more!)
The group’s founder, Kate Kelly, is calling their push for inclusion an effort in retention, citing a 2011 survey of over 3000 former Mormons in which 63% of all women and 70% of single mothers cited gender issues as the catalyst for losing their faith. Join the group for their first event Saturday April 6th at 6 p.m. on the University of Utah Campus.