Why has the Church responded to Ordain Women?
Yesterday, the Church sent a letter to Ordain Women, telling them that the movement “detracts from the helpful discussions that Church leaders have held as they seek to listen to the thoughts, concerns and hopes of women inside and outside of Church leadership,” because Ordain Women has made their position “non-negotiable.” This is a silly way to phrase it, I think, because ordaining women in the Church is non-negotiable (according to the Church), so the non-negotiability stems from the Church’s position, not Ordain Women’s.
Since the two groups are in absolute disagreement, when the big powerful group responds to the small group and tells them that they are “not helpful,” it means that the small group has struck a chord of some sort. In the case of Ordain Women, what is that chord?
I think it’s the fact that Ordain Women intends to protest on Temple Square on April 5. The issue is not what they will protest, but where they will protest — IOW, if they protested off-site, would the Church have sent them a letter? Probably not. The whole letter is framed around the issues of doctrine and gender segregation, yes, but those are more for show, since Ordain Women knows about all that stuff already. The real issue is that of private property that the Church wants to maintain as “sacred.”
The Church says the group is welcome to demonstrate in “free-speech zones” adjacent to Temple Square. The language here makes it sound like the Church does not consider free speech sacred, but rather something that needs to be designated to a specific space and channel. The content of the debate aside, I commend Ordain Women for breaking down this troubling public/private divide, which is actually a highly gendered set-up to begin with.
Feminism 101: “The private is public.”