I recently attended the Sunstone conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. This conference is focused on Mormon philosophy and culture. Sunstone has become the sole alternative voice in LDS Mormonism. Amazingly, in a Church that boasts 12 million members, the largest alternate-voice-publication has a subscription base of less than 5000. The Church, obviously, has done a masterful job at squelching dissent, going so far as to state that there is no such thing as a “loyal opposition.”
As a result, those who have real and sincere questions about their faith, about the Church, must do a delicate dance to both remain loyal to the church, and yet answer their own natural and justified questions of doubt, all without appearing to oppose the church.
As an example of this, I attended a symposium panel discussion at Sunstone of so-called “male feminists” in the LDS Church, wherein they discussed their efforts to support the cause of feminism from within the Church. This is a church that openly discriminates against women, that is blatantly sexist, and that not only does not apologize for this position, but rather, lays the charge of their sexist attitudes and behavior on the shoulders of God. That’s right; the Church is not sexist, many members will respond, they are just following God’s will. Or, in my parlance, the Church is not sexist, God is.
Imagine for a moment that you were a mormon male. You are granted power and status that is denied to your wife. Imagine that your wife perceived real harm being done to her, was sincerely troubled by the actions of the Church, and confided with you regarding her discomfort.
The men on this panel, I have no doubt, are trying very hard to do the right thing, the ethical thing, the just thing. But, in the end, the overriding principle, for them, was to support the church, to remain within the fold, no matter the harm being caused to their wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, and others.
In an oligarchical organization, where all policy comes from above, where there is no formal recognition of the desires of the membership, where nobody has recourse to petition for change, the only option left, if one desires to oppose the policies of the Church, is to leave.
And yet, despite the injustice being done to the women in their lives, these men value membership in this exclusive club to a greater degree than they value justice for women. Feminists? I think these men, though of good intention and in many ways equal victims of an oppressive organization, need to reanalyze their value system, and for now, drop any pretense of calling themselves feminists.
To them I ask: what is it that you value more than justice? Fairness? Equality? What god do you worship that would have you place these ideals behind others? What are the ideals that trump these things? What message do you send to your wife, daughters, and other women when you tell them, by your actions, that you value your membership in this male-centric social club more than you value their status and the injustice that this club is perpetuating upon them?
Where is your heart? There is your treasure.