Mormon church excommunicates women's group founder

Kate Kelly accused of apostasy, or repeated and public advocacy of positions that oppose church teachings
Associated Press
Jun 24, 2014

The Mormon church excommunicated the prominent founder of a Mormon women's group, Ordain Women announced Monday afternoon.

Kate Kelly's former church leaders in Virginia notified her of the decision after weighing the high-profile decision overnight.

She did not attend the disciplinary hearing Sunday by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, instead holding a vigil in Salt Lake City with about 200 supporters.

As the leader of Ordain Women, Kelly is accused of apostasy, which is repeated and public advocacy of positions that oppose church teachings.

Mormon officials aren't discussing Kelly's case, but say disciplinary hearings are held when members' actions contradict church doctrine and lead others astray.

Kelly is one of two well-known Mormons facing excommunication. John Dehlin, an outspoken advocate for gays and the creator of a website that provides a forum for church members questioning their faith, has a meeting with his stake president in Logan on June 29 to discuss his case.

Scholars who study the Mormon religion say Kelly and Dehlin are the most high-profile examples of excommunication proceedings since 1993. That year, the church disciplined six Mormon writers who questioned church doctrine, ousting five and kicking out a sixth temporarily.

Jan Shipps, a retired religion professor from Indiana who is a non-Mormon expert on the church, said church leaders are practicing "boundary maintenance," using Kelly and Dehlin as examples to show people how far they can go in questioning church practices.

Kelly said before the decision that she will always be Mormon.

"I don't feel like Mormonism is something that washes off," she said. "That identity is not something that they can take from me."

She was shocked to find out earlier this month from her bishop that she is facing excommunication from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which she is a lifelong member. The leader of Ordain Women is accused of apostasy, defined as repeated and public advocacy of positions that oppose church teachings.

Similar vigils were held in 17 countries, according to Ordain Women.

"I'm overwhelmed by the positive support, and I think it really demonstrates that this isn't just happening to one person," Kelly said before the vigil started. "This isn't just happening to me, but it feels like the entire Mormon feminist community is being put on trial."

Kelly, an international human rights lawyer, said she stands behind everything she has done since forming Ordain Women in 2013. The group advocates for gender equality in the faith, with the ultimate goal of allowing women in the lay clergy. Kelly insists that she has not spoken out against church leaders or church doctrine.

Women can hold many leadership positions in church, but aren't allowed to be bishops of congregations or presidents of stakes. Stakes are made up of up to a dozen congregations, known as wards. The church's highest leaders, called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, are also all men.

The church says only men serve in the lay clergy as prescribed in "the pattern set by the Savior when it comes to priesthood ordination."

Mormon officials aren't discussing Kelly's case specifically. They say they are open to questions and sincere conversations about the faith, but that some members' actions "contradict church doctrine and lead others astray."

"In the Church, we want everyone to feel welcome, safe and valued, and of course, there is room to ask questions," church spokeswoman Ally Isom said. "But how we ask is just as important as what we ask. We should not try to dictate to God what is right for his Church."

Kelly's group drew rebukes from church leaders in April when they marched on church property in downtown Salt Lake City's Temple Square. The women asked to be allowed in a meeting reserved for members of the priesthood, which includes most males in the church who are 12 and older. Church leaders had previously told the group they wouldn't be let in and warned them not to disturb the faith's biannual general conference that weekend.

Melissa Mayhew, 31, traveled about 40 miles from Orem to attend Sunday's vigil and to support Kelly's right to advocate.

"We are all of us people who see things that we would love to improve about the church that we love deeply and dearly," Mayhew said. "And we want to be able to actually have these conversations, even with people with whom we disagree."


yea right

this is order to be true have to be pure..NO additives in your body like caffeine..thats why the CHURCH owns the Coke a cola bottling co in Salt Lake city..NO gambling..thats why half of SLC empties into Wendover NV. everyweekend..hmmm whats the problem...


When will people wake up and unleash the ties of greed, ignorance, and power --- in other words, break free from religion?


There is no freedom outside of Christ. You will be a slave to someone or something.

yea right

they tell how much they want of your paycheck..they tell you who to be friends with..they tell you how to dress..they tell what you can watch on tv or at the movies.. hmm who's the slave??


... also , you can be a slave to your own lust and desires.


Not true. I am not a slave to anyone or anything. Many people have free will.


You are a slave you just do not know it. Neglect your taxes see what happens, you may not get the whip for not towing the rope but you will be punished by the state for not paying up.
How free are you when you must give up half of the fruits of your labor to the state while following laws that almost no one agrees with?
Now pay up slave and quit acting foolish.


That's the U.S. I have to abide by the rules or I leave my kids with no home.


Re: "Many people have free will."

Were you taught that?


Well said!

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.


Sure, my job, my family. Yes, I am agnostic.


O'Heritage: On the contrary, since becoming an atheist in 2008, I am free and a slave to no one. Nowadays, I lead a moral life, and do the right thing for my fellow man, because it's the right thing to do. I don't need extrinsic motivation (fear of punishment, promise of eternal life). Tell me again about your freedom?


Why do you lead a "moral" life if there is no God ?

Velveeta's picture

The same could be said of Government.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

It isn't just religion. Religion is a medium for action. The outcomes can be seen in many ways and certainly not all of them "bad". But what is the origin if we see both the terminus and channel through which things are compelled?

If we are to believe one opinion: altruism.

Many of the younger generation may be aware of this concept here:

However if you wish to hear the words of the actual source of the above:

Truth or Dare

Did she renounce her belief in God, in Christ? No!!!! I find it interesting she is an international human rights lawyer! God bless her for that!

Pretty sure she's aware that their is no one, no earthly man, no principality be it any church government or political government that can separate us spiritually from God! The only one that can? One's self.


Actually, there are a few other things that can separate man from God: simple logic, science. Chapman Cohen said, "Gods are fragile things. They may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense".

I contend that we are ALL atheists. I just believe in one less god than Christians do. As soon as you understand why you don't believe in the Norse/Roman/Greek gods of antiquity, you'll understand why I don't believe in the god of the Bible.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I will have to kindly disagree, freethinker.

By our very nature we are a deific people. We are all creatures who hold onto singular beliefs and a faith in the aggregate. You can call it whatever you want: Zeus, Ra, Odin, Flying Spaghetti Monster, Jehova, yaoyorozu no kami, science, common sense, etc. That part isn't as important as the fact that these are the characters in a grand tale of life, creation, nature, and human instincts.

So long as we are the only storytellers, our species will be the only ones with gods/God. Storytelling is the one thing that makes us different from all the other living creatures on the earth. That is our gift, our interesting evolutionary uniqueness. With the ability to tell a story, so were pantheons (such as the Hindus') and monotheistic (such as the Zoroastrians') scriptures written. As well, we practice storytelling Darwinism by ensuring those with inferior stories have their come to an end through death or conversion. Almost counter-intuitive to nature, the story itself - not strength, eyesight, or other physical traits - is what compels the culling of the weak and rise of the strong.

We exist as no other species does and yet we are without a higher presumption of calling/learning/importance?

You may choose to call your title character "S/he Who Does Not Exist" yet despite the name, there is this character that you conjured with the same whiff you may puff across someone else's. Unless you forsake your storytelling ability via some kind of brain trauma or death, you are by sheer virtue of your ability to think, a theologian. As are we all.

As soon as you understand why you believe you'll drive through that next intersection and not be a lethal car wreck, you'll understand why others believe in whatever scriptures or icons they do.

In my humble opinion.

In another's...

“Unlike the God whose name begins with a capital letter, our gods are not all-powerful, [Addressee]. Can you imagine that? Any one of them can be vanquished by a flamethrower or a bulldozer or a bomb — silenced, driven away, enfeebled. Sit in the middle of a shopping mall at midnight, surrounded by half a mile of concrete in all directions, and there the god that was once as strong as a buffalo or a rhinoceros is as feeble as a moth sprayed with pyrethrin. Feeble — but not dead, not wholly extinguished. Tear down the mall and rip up the concrete, and within days that place will be pulsing with life again. Nothing needs to be done, beyond carting away the poisons. The god knows how to take care of that place. It will never be what it was before — but nothing is ever what it was before. It doesn’t need to be what it was before. You’ll hear people talk about turning the plains of North America back into what they were before the [storytellers] arrived. This is nonsense. What the plains were five hundred years ago was not their final form, was not the final, sacrosanct form ordained for them from the beginning of time. There is no such form and never will be any such form. Everything here is on the way. Everything here is in process.”


Enjoyed the syllogism of:

God is omnipotent.
If God is omnipotent, then He has the power to not exist.
If He exists, then He is not God.
Therefore, God doesn't exist.


You enjoyed pure nonsense.


Re: "nonsense."

It's often been called the "omnipotence paradox."

And great minds unlike yours have pondered it for centuries.


You have no great mind and they just wasted their time.


"Now it is such a bizarrely improbably coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful [the Babel fish] could have evolved by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

The argument goes something like this: 'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'

'But,' says Man, 'the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED'

'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic."

- Douglas Adams, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"


More fantasy nonsense ^^

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

As you don't seem to appreciate "fantasy nonsense", I will try to appeal to your logic, jazzbo. How about this:

“The God of revealed religions—and by this I mean religions like yours, Taker religions — is a profoundly inarticulate God. No matter how many times he tries, he can’t make himself clearly or completely understood. He speaks for centuries to the Jews but fails to make himself understood. At last he sends his only-begotten son, and his son can’t seem to do any better. Jesus might have sat himself down with a scribe and dictated the answers to every conceivable theological question in absolutely unequivocal terms, but he chose not to, leaving subsequent generations to settle what Jesus had in mind with pogroms, purges, persecutions, wars, the burning stake, and the rack. Having failed through Jesus, God next tried to make himself understood through Muhammad, with limited success, as always. After a thousand years of silence he tried again with Joseph Smith, with no better results. Averaging it out, all God has been able to tell us for sure is that we should do unto others as we’d have them do unto us. What’s that — a dozen words? Not much to show for five thousand years of work, and we probably could have figured out that much for ourselves anyway. To be honest, I’d be embarrassed to be associated with a god as incompetent as that.” ― Daniel Quinn, The Story of B: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

I believe that is the same spirit of the message that Contango was pointing out above by citing a widely-popular writer. This quote, however, doesn't use Babel fish. It uses observable trends and historical record.

If you'd like to have a theological discussion I am all for it, jazzbo. Especially because there is more to the story of the quote above and not about the direction in which you may think. However, another quote I provided in this thread is a stepping stone in that direction.


Give me your definition of :“The God of revealed religions".
Explain that.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Revealed religions require a medium such as a prophet or soothsayer in order to dictate God's will to other people. Natural religions rely on the observation of nature around the followers and the interaction of all things to provide evidence of God's manifestation.

To tie this to the article, Mormonism is a revealed religion as it requires a middleman (Smith) to outline how you can interact with God and tell you what God expects of you. Animistic beliefs such as druidism are natural religions. God is at your fingertips and requires nothing between you and whatever you are enjoying/observing.

The above said, I am not bashing a particular belief system.


Probably the generic definition of 'religion' would be a good place to start.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.


God isn't inarticulate. One must know how to listen.