Sunday in Outer Blogness: Smackdown Edition!!

Do you know how big 2% of Florida is? Check out this helpful post for some perspective. And this past week the corporation that owns it took some time out of its busy schedule to swat a couple of (comparatively) puny groups: Those who were suing them for fraud and Ordain Women!

You’ve probably heard that the LDS Newsroom delivered a royal smackdown to Ordain Women — which inspired the Internet to rally around the underdog. Thus we see an advantage of using paid spokespeople (instead of people with recognizable church callings) for any potentially controversial communication:

The press release’s female authorship and informal format has another important implication as well: it gives the Church’s leadership plausible deniability with respect to the letter’s central assertion that the all-male priesthood is a ‘matter of doctrine’ and that female ordination is ‘contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for his Church.’ Ironically, this statement was penned by a woman who doesn’t have the priesthood and therefore doesn’t have the institutional authority to make novel assertions about revelation and doctrine. Should the Church decide, in twenty years, that the denial of priesthood to women was merely a mistaken ‘policy’ rather than a revealed doctrine, this PR statement will present no real obstacle. It’s difficult to say whether or not that was intentional in this specific case, but it certainly fits the Church’s recent pattern of introducing doctrinal novelties in documents that can’t be directly tied to the Church leadership.

People made so many spot-on observations that I will just give you highlights instead of adding my own commentary. For example, regarding the bit about how “Women in the Church, by a very large majority, do not share your advocacy for priesthood ordination and consider that position to be extreme”:

After all, shouldn’t this be a question of right and wrong rather than how many people support the idea? We have all kinds of discussion in the Church of how we should do right even if it’s unpopular, so why should it matter how many women do or don’t want the priesthood? Either it’s right or it’s not; that’s what matters.

(And, while we’re at it, how accurate are those numbers anyway?)

The fact that the LDS Newsroom treated the women as outsiders (claiming they were protesting the event the event when in reality they wanted to constructively participate) made people really see red:

We, as faithful and active members of the Church, are being lumped together with the same anti-Mormon protestors who routinely crash General Conference and shout that the Mormon religion is of the devil. These protestors have started fistfights with conference-goers and even stomped on or burned temple garments.

Particularly considering that they’re not even breaking any rules:

But the women of PANTS were not actually breaking any rules. It was not Rob-a-Bank Day, or even Drink a Latte Day. It was Wear Pants Day, and pants are allowed! How crazy is it that these women endured a massive outpouring of public abuse for doing something that doesn’t break any rules?? Similarly, the women who requested admission to the Priesthood session did not violate any commandment or rule. They weren’t bringing margaritas to Temple Square, they were asking to attend a church meeting.

Then there was the Newsroom’s claim that activism was somehow interfering with some alleged “conversations”. I think Expert Textperts kinda nailed that one:

The Newsroom took a page from the anti-suffrage movement. It’s starting to look like an abusive relationship. The usual dismissals of “Ordain Women” are really not helpful. Let’s count the ways:

Our four-year-old is our wildcard, and I say that with a lot of love. The go-to tricks to pacify her when I have zero intention of taking anything she’s saying seriously are to (a) acknowledge (‘I know you never want to exit the vehicle again, and those concerns have been noted’ or ‘I realize purple makes you angry. I will take that into consideration.’ ) and (b) redirect with a bit of distraction (‘Look! There’s a ball outside the car! Hop out and let’s go see!’ or my favorite, ‘Want some gum?’) The old acknowledge-redirect one-two is fine for a preschooler but downright maddening when used with grown-ups who want to have a meaningful conversation. When Moody says, essentially, ‘We are unable to fulfill your request for tickets. You’re welcome to join the Women’s Meeting!’ it sounds/looks/feels like ‘Hmmm, sorry, don’t care. Want some gum?’ The women involved here may be many things, but they aren’t four.

The special meeting for women (and girls down to age 8 ) is not exactly parallel. Galdralag gave an example of experiencing a female sacred space. (Those attending the women’s meeting who support Ordain Women will be wearing purple.)

The CoJCoL-dS claims “the world” denigrates motherhood to explain away people’s dissatisfaction at being pigeonholed into nothing but motherhood. This clever analogy makes it all clear. (Also the toaster analogy is hilarious!)

And the marginalization of women has real consequences:

‘In my meetings with the young women or with the Relief Society women, I’m often really surprised that they do not feel that they can function as women in the Church — not all of them, of course, but many of those who come to me and talk to me. I just keep wondering, ‘How did they get to that point of feeling like they were not worth anything in the Church?’

…leading to some profound philosophical questions.

Regarding the fraud case, it looks like nobody is surprised, though some disagree with the ruling. I’m not surprised to see the PR department of the CoJCoL-dS say “This case was a misuse of the legal system and should never have been brought” — but following so closely on the heels of the “Ordain Women” letter, it looks like they’ve adopted a philosophy of “If you can’t say something nasty…”

(Oh, and since that thing with Frozen, I’ve been reading “A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman” — is this satire?)

In scripture study, Alex found a new anachronism. Mithryn provided some fascinating analysis of the idea of the “Great Apostasy”. If I’m reading Alan Rock Waterman’s post correctly, it looks like he’s joined the ranks of the “it’s true whether it’s fiction or non-fiction” crowd, w.r.t. the Book of Mormon. And this week’s Godless Doctrine lesson has a bit of a surprise ending!

In general church discussion, we have another parody of that awful story from the “Friend”, but at least Mormon doctrine can explain that missing airplane!

In personal stories, Runtu reminisced about the experience he gained from his mission, and seeing a prospective missionary reminded JohnnyM of his own past. Mark laughed at himself, seeing his former self while reading about having to sneak out to get a sandwich. Ms. Jack has a new bundle of joy and a tale of mishies crossing some boundaries. Mormon X spent some time analyzing the contradictions of his life as a Mormon and a mutant. And this one is set in Mormondom, but I think it’s more a cautionary tale of why not to have too many kids.

Also note: leaving Mormonism doesn’t mean you have to give up the parts of Mormonism you liked! Case in point, Heather is still the “Food Storage Mom”!

In random stuff, Knotty has been posting a series of book reviews, Holly posted one scathing one, and Steve Wells’s book got a plug from Bill Maher. Fred Phelps’s death might have been news if the LDS Newsroom hadn’t made this a banner week, not to mention the situation in Ukraine.

Wow, what a wild week! And I predict that next week will be even wilder!!! Stay tuned!


C. L. Hanson is the friendly Swiss-French-American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! Follow me on mastadon at or see "letters from a broad" for further adventures!!

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4 Responses

  1. visitor says:

    I genuinely admire the LDS women I have been following for years on FMH. They are courageous, intelligent, caring and funny. I have been amazed to see how hard they try to reconcile their completely reasonable beliefs that they are independent adults who deserve the same respect as anyone else with church doctrine or practice (can anyone tell the difference?) that says they always need to be supervised. Even in their own homes which have to be “presided over” by husbands. It’s a painful thing to watch them torture and try to twist themselves into some happy ground that can coexist with self and church.

    Now it’s getting increasingly hard to maintain that respect. When someone abuses you you have to react and react in a way that shows some self-respect. If they think their god will withhold blessings and guidance if they stop giving up their autonomy to an abusive church then they’re left worshiping an abusive god.

    I’ve spent years trying to make sense of it. There IS none.

    — o —

    As for that unfortunate toddler and the stranger who saw that she got medical care, I can relate.

    I once accepted an invitation for a play date for my 4yo preschooler with a Mormon family. They said they’d take the kids to a local swim club. I told them mom that my 4yo couldn’t swim.

    When I arrived at the pool to pick up my daughter at the prearranged time I couldn’t find the mom. …because she had left for some church activity. She left my daughter and 3 younger sibs in the charge of a 4th grader in the pool that had no lifeguard!

    I assumed that amount of negligent disregard was isolated to a single brain-dead mom of 6 (hoping for 8). Maybe not so much.

  2. chanson says:

    When I arrived at the pool to pick up my daughter at the prearranged time I couldn’t find the mom. …because she had left for some church activity. She left my daughter and 3 younger sibs in the charge of a 4th grader in the pool that had no lifeguard!

    Wow!! I am glad to hear that nothing went wrong!

    I personally know two different large Mormon families (one close relatives, the other close friends) who each lost a child to drowning in similar circumstances. Even if the chance of something bad happening is relatively low (say 1 in 100), that’s still unacceptable.

    That’s why that story jumped out at me. It’s not that the family is evil, it’s just that that’s the reality when you have 5, 6, 8 + kids…

  3. jr says:

    to visitor above: i am glad nothing happened to your child. what the mother did was not intelligent. truth be told i have had similiar experiences with non mormons, so to say only mormons do this is a fallacy, and saying they are brain dead is mean. i also know of many child drownings where i live (because just about everyone has a pool except me) and they are not mormon families. it is wrong to say only mormons do such and such and only mormons do that etc.

    people are people regardless of religous affiliation. there are all types in every religion, race, culture, educational background, and economic status group.

  4. chanson says:

    @3 So true, it’s not just Mormons. And your post reminded of one of my all time favorite Daily Show segments when John Oliver discussed the 2nd Amendment with an American gun enthusiast. (The whole thing is hilarious, but my favorite part starts at 4:21):

    Phillip: Well, let me put it to you this way: There are more drownings in backyards where they have pools. If they don’t have a pool, there are no drownings in backyards. OK, so, the US has a very high number of guns, therefore there’s going to be more chances for somebody to be killed with a gun.
    John: Right.
    Phillip: Right.
    John: Right. That’s my point.

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