Saturday, October 12, 2013

Women and Repression

Women and the mormon church are in the headlines recently. Many mormon women are seeking equality with men within its ranks as they desire the same privileges, power and access to money as men within the mormon church have had access to since its founding.

What has been interesting to watch, is the women within the confines of the mormon religion shame and otherwise degrade other women who are seeking equality. One of these women is Sheri Dew. She has been a high ranking woman leader within the Relief Society organization for some time. She is seen in this video put out by the mormon church: Sheri Dew and repression

She says that the women in the church receive privileges that women in other churches or organizations do not have and therefore do not need the ordination of the priesthood to not feel repressed.  I wish she would have been specific about which churches she is comparing the mormon church to, since I have had a difficult time finding any Christian churches that repress their women more than the mormon church does. Perhaps she was referring to the Muslim religion?  Churches that ordain women

For comparison sake, I'm going to stick to Christian denominations. Do other Christian churches allow their women to pray in church? Yes, and by the way, the mormon church has only allowed mormon women to pray in their general conference meeting since April, 2013. Yes, this year is the first year that women have received that privilege.  women pray for first time in GC

What about other prayers? Well, in the general Sunday meetings, called sacrament meeting, women weren't allowed to pray at all until 1978, Then many wards followed an unwritten rule that women could only say the closing prayer and not the opening prayer: Women couldn't pray in Sacrament Meeting at all (either opening or closing prayers) until the late 1970's. The First Presidency of the LDS Church sent out a letter to bishops and stake presidents in November 1978 making the change allowing women to pray in Sacrament Meeting. Following that, most wards followed an unwritten rule to continue to have the opening prayer said by a Priesthood holder, and allowed women only to say the closing. Some wards eventually allowed women to say either, but the change allowed for both. Women refused right to pray

As late as 1999 (most likely later) women were still not being allowed (in many wards, not all) to open sacrament meetings with prayers. Why? Apparently it is an unspoken policy that only a priesthood holder can bring in the spirit; not a woman. women not worthy The women have not been equal privilege wise.

Sheri Dew goes on to say that women lead organizations for the women, the children and the youth. What she fails to say is that all decisions must be approved by the men. Are the women presidents and teachers? Yes, but they are NOT autonomous.  The women cannot choose their own counselors, or their own teachers who teach. All those *volunteer positions* must be approved of by men who hold authority over the women. The Relief Society is the organization for the women, the Young Women's, is the organization for the teenage girls, and the Primary is the organization set up to teach church principle and practices to the children. All of these organizations do have women who serve in leadership roles, they have teachers, they do expound doctrine. This is all true. What Sheri Dew fails to disclose is that none of the money for these organizations is autonomous. All the budgetary expenses must be approved of by men who serve over these organizations. The women are not equal financially.

The women must also have a male present at all their meetings. They must have a male present at the Young Women's camp outs, at the Relief Society Homemaking meetings, at have a male in the building for all the activities the women hold. Also, none of these organizations are independent; they all serve under the guidance and authority of the males in charge: RS not autonomous Since they have no real power, but must submit to males in all decision-making, they are not equal in power.

Sheri Dew mentions the temple, that women are allowed to participate in all the temple ceremonies. Yes, yes, I have already written about all the inequities within the temple here:  equality-vs-priestesses

Then Sheri Dew says that she cannot think of any organization that teaches leadership and educational responsibilities to the women as the church does.  I remember this very question posed when I was still a true believing mormon, 'What other women's organization gives it's women the same opportunities the mormon church gives its women?' Even back then, I knew at least one answer to that question; the Girl Scouts of America. There are more, but let's look at both, the Relief Society Organization and the Girl Scouts Organization.

*The RS organization claims 6 million members in over 170 countries
*Through its membership in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), the Girls Scouts claims 10 million  members in over 145 countries. More than 59 million women have been a part of the Girls Scout association

*Each local unit consists of a president and her two counselors. The president has teachers and other volunteer personnel who serve under her. The president is not autonomous, however, as she serves at the will of the local bishop, who is always male, who can retain her or release her at his beck and call
There are three women who serve as the General Relief Society Presidency, which are over the entire Relief Society, but they are not equal in authority to a general authority. They are called general officers and not authorities.
*The Girls Scouts have an executive board, which includes a CEO, a chair board, a board of directors, and a senior leadership team.  girls scouts leadership The local counsels are run by independent units who have volunteers and hired personnel. The girls scouts look for leaders and careers in  marketing, program development, technology, research, advocacy, publishing, fund development, sales  girls scouts careers/

*What is the annual budget of the Relief Society? Can't tell ya'. The mormon church keeps all its finances secret.
*What is the annual budget of the Girl's Scouts? You can find it here: girls scouts annual report

*The purpose of the Relief Society is: The Relief Society (RS) is a philanthropic and educational women's organization and an official auxiliary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church)  he motto of the Relief Society, taken from 1 Corinthians 13:8, is "Charity never faileth".[9] The official purpose of Relief Society is to "prepare women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need. Relief Society accomplishes these purposes through Sunday gospel instruction, other Relief Society meetings, visiting teaching, and welfare and compassionate service.Relief_Society

*The purpose of the Girls Scouts is:  GSUSA aims to empower girls and to help teach values such as honesty, fairness, courage, compassion, character, sisterhood, confidence, and citizenship through activities including campingcommunity service, learning first aid, and earning badges by acquiring practical skills. A 1994 Chronicle of Philanthropy poll showed that the Girl Scouts was ranked by the public as the eighth "most popular charity/non-profit in America" of over 100 charities.[4][5][needs update] It describes itself as "the world's preeminent organization dedicated solely to girls"   Girl_Scouts

Additionally, the Girls Scouts Organization are an entity to themselves. They do not need approval from an all-male-run organization to gain approval for their finances, their leadership roles, or to pass new rules or changes.

Famous women who were Girls Scouts: Laura Bush, Sally Ride, Lisa Ling, Taylor Swift, Hilary Clinton, Sheryl Crow, Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, Mary Tyler Moore, Martha Stewart, Sandra Day O'Connor. famous girl scouts

Famous women who served in the Relief Society: ?

There you have it, Sheri Dew. You asked the question whether the women within the mormon church are repressed, and if there are other organizations comparable. Yes, Sheri Dew, to both questions.

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