Sunday, February 17, 2013

Let Women Pray

Discovering Mormon feminists has been such a huge joy for me. It has been so amazing to find men and women who feel the same way as me - both in sharing some not-so-mainstream beliefs, and in the same emotions of being an outsider, being confused, etc. Some of the discussions we have are amazing.

It seems to me like Mormon feminists are trying very hard to make some small splashes in the Church. In the past, various Church leaders have spoken out against feminists as people who destroy families, essentially. I feel like these older gentlemen can be (kind of) forgiven because they probably witnessed a very radical kind of feminism that did appear to be full of home-wreckers for the sake of home-wrecking. However, many much younger LDS members follow suit, and there is constantly a lot of backlash against Mormon feminists. For this reason, they have to be very careful to not incite a lot of negative responses - such as excommunication - and try to limit their movements to changes that are not very radical, but still improvements.

One of these changes is being attempted by the "Let Women Pray" movement, found on Facebook here. (This is being done by the same women who put together the "Pants" event, where women would wear pants to church. They are called All-Enlisted.) Like this beautiful infographic says, a woman has never prayed in General Conference before, despite a proclamation made by President Kimball in the '70s that a woman can pray at any activity that they attend. I hadn't ever even noticed that this was a thing. I don't think most Mormons have.

Like I said, this is a pretty small step, especially when you consider that "worldly" feminists are trying to end rape culture and elect a female president. But I do feel like it is a very important step. If you don't think so, look at some of the crap that is being slung at this Facebook group! So many people who consider themselves to be righteous members of the Church are saying such rude things that reveal a lot of subtle sexism - or at least an unwillingness to question the Church. Which is sad.

So anyway, I actually wrote a letter. I'm going to admit that it is not very good. I think it's more sentimental than some other exerts I'm seeing from other peoples' letters, but I was trying to use a lot of techniques and wording that General Authorities usually use in General Conference talks. Also, I was full of feelings and emotions and tears (and, I admit, feeling the Spirit)! So it didn't come out very logically.

Here it is:

To whom it may concern:
I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints my entire life. I have never written a letter to a General Authority before, but I am writing now because this is a matter very dear to my heart. Even now, as I write this, I'm feeling very nervous, but also very sure that this is right.
I love being LDS. I love the sense of family and community, and the constant learning that is encouraged in the Church. I loved it in Primary when I had friends to play with and I loved being in Young Women's where I could learn about my divine potential and find role models in my adult leaders. But I became inactive a few years ago. I started to feel like I didn't fit in, no matter what ward I went to. I started to feel too different from everyone else. It is only in the past few months that I have regained a sense of solidarity by finding other women, and men, who have frequently felt the same way I have. This is a church for the misfit toys, the ostracized, the Nephis and Sams as we try to resist the Lamans and Lemuels of the world who dislike us for being too different. This is a church for everyone.
As women in this world, there are many ways that we are disrespected as a gender. Many times General Authorities have outlined this themselves when they talk about pornography or the over-sexualization of women in the media. There are many forces, including the adversary, who gain from taking equality and divinity away from women. We resist the forces of evil who wish to fill us with darkness by praying. I was taught from a young age to “search, ponder, and pray.” I watch my young niece, who is only a year and a half old, babble incoherently as she tries to imitate her mother praying. As a young newly-wed, I felt so much love and acceptance when my father-in-law, with tears in his eyes, thanked his Heavenly Father for his new daughters in a family prayer. It is with these small steps that we fight those who would try to take away our light. Even now as I write this, I can feel the Spirit overwhelmingly confirm to me just how important prayer is. I truly believe that it is through prayer that we learn to love our Heavenly Parents, ourselves, and everyone else around us.
And as a Woman and Relief Society member, I need to know that our leaders, including the General Authorities, love me and my sisters, and that they are listening to us. I need to know, and I would like to raise my future children to know, that we are all equals in the eyes of the Lord. I would like the General Authorities to show how important the power of prayer is to everyone by having a woman pray in General Conference where all members of the church – children, youth, and adults – can hear it. I would like to see the divinity of women recognized through being given that privilege.
I believe that the gospels and doctrines of the LDS church are true. And that is why I humbly ask you to consider this small request from one small daughter of God.
Questions? Thoughts? Please comment below!


  1. Awesome letter, ally! I'm one of the women behind the LWP movement, and I just love your letter.
    You are anything but small. This request may be, but you are not. :)

  2. Thanks Amber! I'm so grateful for this movement and all of the volunteer work from the people behind it. I call myself "small" because I am literally petite. But you are right, we are all large in spirit, and our feelings and requests are all worthwhile.