Being a Mormon women blogger that, at times, takes on some of the more hot-button and controversial issues that affect members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which the media also find of great interest, has taken me on a very unanticipated journey, and in particular, over the past 12 months. And being a conservative one, at that, who speaks her mind, has added a dynamic that, in and of itself, has become somewhat controversial in online discussions about Mormonism, amongst Mormons' themselves.

In other words, faithful Mormons don't always agree on what it means to act faithfully.

From my perspective, and the way I write, is that to act faithfully is to hearken to the words of living prophets, and I emphasize, whom members sustain by covenant. Which does not mean blind adherence, but is rather an exercise of faith -- trusting that the Lord is directing this work, and will uphold those whom He has called. However, some strongly disagree with me, to the point of taking on my positions, even seeing them as oppositional to the progress of the modern Church.

The 2012 FAIR Conference was recently held in Utah. (The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) It was brought to my attention that I had been quoted by one of its LDS women speakers, Neylan McBaine, in her presentation: To Do the Business of the Church: A Cooperative Paradigm for Examining Gendered Participation Within Church Organizational Structure. (See footnote #8)

I later found out that it was not done favorably -- and worse, inaccurately.

I want to thank SilverRain, also a Mormon woman blogger, at The Millennial Star, a conservative LDS website, for her beautiful response to Sister McBaine's FAIR conference talk -- addressing how my comments were taken out of context, and "craftily" used. In doing so, SilverRain shares some very personal thoughts, in response to Sister McBaine's overall advocacy for women in the Church that, I believe, have been overlooked by many -- which makes this a very important read. I think.

In a recent FAIR conference, Neylan McBaine presented ways to include women in a Church which offers the priesthood and administration of the Church only to men. While I agree with some things she wrote, and with some I do not, there is one particular point I would like to examine. 
There is a false dichotomy, perpetuated when Sister McBaine misquoted a post by Kathryn Skaggs. 
In this dichotomy, there are two groups of women in the Church: those who see a problem with the way women are utilized and heard in the Church, have likely been adversely affected by it, and who therefore choose to “agitate for change;” and those who have never felt the pain a male-only Priesthood can bring to women, who don’t question the authority, and who therefore urge women to, essentially, “sit down and shut up” about it. 
But there is another group, of women who have likely been mistreated or misunderstood by a member of the male-only priesthood in the past, or of women who have never been hurt but have still pondered these issues deeply, who would like to see hearts change, but who believe that the male-only Priesthood structure is in place at the will of the Lord, and who support the Lord’s authority structure and the Lord’s established methods for any change that will come. 
In her presentation, Sister McBaine quoted Sister Skaggs, “It’s been my experience in speaking to and reading the thoughts of many progressive Mormon women, that they do not have a strong, LDS doctrinal understanding of priesthood and womanhood…. Faithful, active Mormon women do not oppose the counsel and inspired direction of living prophets….” But there is a whole lot in those craftily placed ellipses.
Please read her entire post: As A Woman in the Church

I had great hopes that perhaps FAIR would assist me in having a correction made. Or, that I would be given the opportunity to personally respond on their website, in a way that would enable me to clarify the reasons I feel that my words are distorted, by Sister McBaine. I felt that responding here on WBMW would not address the FAIR audience. Ultimately what was decided is that I could submit only a few sentences to clarify my position, to then be added as a new footnote to the published article, on FAIR -- which I did.  (Which makes me even more appreciative that SilverRain did such a fine job in her rebuttal. As of this posting, my response to FAIR has not been added, yet.*)

Here is the prompt I was given, by FAIR, and my brief response...

Kathryn Skaggs disagrees with the portrayal of her words. The following clarification comes from her:
Sister McBaine, in an attempt to present an example of how LDS women exacerbate the emotional pain suffered by some women, in the Church, who have experienced gender discrimination, unfairly used two comments that I made in my own article titled: Mormon Women, Priesthood and Equality – posted on my personal blog, A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman -- in a way that I feel is a gross misrepresentation of what was actually intended. My intentions for writing my own thoughts about equality issues in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was to not only validate LDS women's concerns and experiences, but more importantly to highlight how faithful Mormon women deal with such trials of faith -- in ways that strengthen their testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel.

Kathryn Skaggs

See also:

WBMW Woman: "The Crowning Creation and Glory of the Human Experience"

A few months ago I was approached by freelance writer, Frieda Klotz, working on an article for Forbes Woman. She requested an interview with me which, reluctantly, I gave. Her questions were focused on the role of Mormon women in the Church -- a controversial issue, for some, to say the least. After providing my direct answers, to her inquiries, a good month passed and I hadn't heard back from her. I decided to contact her to see if she was still planning on using the interview. She informed me that she was no longer working with Forbes.

My first reaction was one of relief. I struggled, somewhat, with a few of the answers I had given her, and wondered how they would be perceived, especially within the Church, and particularly with my readers here. I'm generally quite guarded about speaking of those things that others would take as criticism toward the Church. However, after careful consideration, and with Frieda's blessing, had decided to post the interview here, as I felt the content important. Needless to say I have not done so -- yet.

But, after listening to a recent Q&A with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, following a beautiful apostolic speech that he gave at Harvard, (Which I highly recommend.) coupled with Mother's Day, which centers on the divine role of women, the timing, now, seems perfect.

*Note - Only an hour after this post went live, I received this email from FAIR President, Scott Gordon:

"It seems we at FAIR can't reach an agreement for how to handle the disagreement you are having over Neylan's quotes. The solution that we talked about, which I thought would be a good solution, will not work. As you may be aware, FAIR is a collection of volunteers with a variety of opinions on various issues. While because of the love that we have for the gospel that usually isn't a problem, there are times where we find ourselves with contrasting opinions among our volunteers.

I think it is important that people have a chance to go check out for themselves what you said on this issue, that way they can see what you said in full context. To do that, we are going to make the link to your blog live.

While I know this may not be everything you want, I hope that this conciliatory step in your direction may help a bit and may bring some traffic to the article in question. I also note that there have been a few blogs popping up discussing this issue. That was going to be my other recommendation that you should blog about it. I think it is great to bring women's issues to the forefront and have a good discussion."

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