Sunday, January 16, 2011

Highlight: Agitating Faithfully

This time around, the site to which I'd like to draw attention was first brought to my notice by Jack, first on Facebook and more recently in a blog post about it. Jack, like myself, is a strong egalitarian, so we both have considerable interest in the issue of women and ministry, as well as in the issue of women and priesthood within LDS circles. In a 1997 interview, President Gordon B. Hinckley was asked about whether it's possible that the priesthood ban against women could eventually be lifted; his answer was that it could if revelation made that clear, but at present the women of the church seemed largely content with their status. (Historically, many revelations have been given when occasioned by the rise of an issue in the church, so a Latter-day Saint could seek to justify this gender inequality by saying that the reason no revelation has yet been given on that issue is that it just hasn't become enough of an issue in the church.) As President Hinckley expressed it, "Yes. But there's no agitation for that [i.e., equality]. We don't find it. Our women are happy. They're satisfied."

And so that brings us to the mission of the site: Agitating Faithfully. As site owner Dave Laverty says, commenting on President Hinckley's remarks:

In other words, if we're not seeing progress toward gender equality, the prophet is telling us it's because we don't care enough to do anything about it. This site is my attempt to take the prophet at his word and do something about it.

The site also includes answers to some popular questions that are likely to be raised. (Provision of answers is ongoing and as of yet some of the questions have not been answered.) I'd like to encourage any readers to pay close attention to this. What I think is great is that, because of the statements made by President Hinckley (assuming, as I would hope, that they were sincere and not disingenuous), those associated with this project are legitimately able to frame this petition as a stance truly available to faithful members. One cannot dismiss supporters of Agitating Faithfully's mission as being heterodox dissidents from the LDS Church; their proposal is completely compatible with even the strongest positive views on the LDS Church as a divinely led institution - and because of that, they deserve a fair hearing that might not be given to those who give the appearance of wanting to tear down the Church or to remake it in their own image. Of course, that unfortunately doesn't mean that LDS cultural norms against such 'agitation' might not produce a negative reaction to those who sign this petition.

[EDIT (4 March 2011): Please also be sure to check out John Dehlin's interview with Dane Laverty on the Mormon Stories podcast.]

What do you think? To LDS readers in particular: Would you support a move to give priesthood to women? Do you think it will someday happen?

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