In a nutshell, here's my background:
- I am a woman
- I am a member of record on the rolls of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormons)
- I grew up in Utah and was active in the church
- I served a mission for the church in Europe in the late 80s/early 90s
- I served as a volunteer at the Mormon Temple in Kensington, Maryland, for two years after my mission
- As a graduate student, I studied Religion and Society and wrote my master's thesis on the effect of temple participation in the lives of young adult Mormons
- I remained an active participant in the church until about ten years ago when I finally said "Enough" and stopped attending
- I left because of three things: 1) I was tired of being a third-class citizen, 2) I no longer wished to participate in an organization that fears honest scholarship, and 3) despite having Jesus Christ in its name, the focus is more on checklists and family and image.
Twice a year, Mormons gather in Salt Lake City, or in church buildings around the world with satellite feed, or in their homes with broadcast access, to listen to their church leaders deliver ecclesiastical speeches expounding doctrine, theology, scripture, righteous living, and historical retrospectives they believe are relevant to the lives of the church's 13 million members. These semi-annual conferences are held the first weekend of April and October.
Several weeks ago, at the semi-annual October gathering, the church's newest Relief Society* president, Julie Beck, delivered her speech at General Conference titled "Mothers Who Know." (To understand the context of this post, you may want to read it.) Beck's talk was meant to extol the virtues that would constitute the ideal for Mormon mothers and women, but the controversy resulting from her words has been the most noted outcome of her talk. In other words, there are many Mormon women of all types and descriptions out there who couldn't agree less with Beck's rundown.
In an effort to bring balance to Beck's lopsided assessment and sweeping generalizations, a group of Mormon women--some very active, others disaffected, some married, others single, some with children, others without, some stay-at-home moms, others working mothers--have banded together and drafted a proclamation called "What Women Know" that is, in my opinion, one of the finest declarative pieces I have read in recent memory.
While most faithful Mormons proudly hang a copy of the Proclamation on the Family in their homes, I will proudly be displaying What Women Know in mine. And to my fellow sisters who brought this together and made this happen, I'm proud to sign my name to it.
* The women's organization in the church. It was suggested by Emma Smith, wife of the church's founder, Joseph Smith, as a charitable organization to serve the temporal needs of the community. Joseph Smith authorized the formation of the organization in 1842 and, with only a brief break in its activities in the late 1840s/early 1850s, has continued to this day.