In Kate’s Defense: Her Mother Speaks

by: wheatmeister

June 12, 2014

Kate at a happier time.

An Open letter for all who have ears to hear: My Amazing Daughter Kate Kelly

Jesus said “ASK and ye shall receive. Significantly, he did not say “ASK and ye shall be punished.”

An open letter to all who have ears to hear:
From a very young age, Kate has been a bright spirit with a passion for life and for the gospel. At age three, Kate thought deeply about gospel principles. One day she asked me “Mom, if God created everything, who created God?” At that moment I knew that I had a great spirit entrusted to my care.

Kate has a deep love for the gospel and respect for church leaders. She served an honorable full time mission for the church and has been a great missionary for the church since that time. Just a short time ago, she gave a Book of Mormon to one of her law professors! She has been a dedicated church member all of her life, striving to obey the commandments every day, and never refusing any church calling or any request to serve the Lord in any way.

According to Marlin Jenson’s research, which was published in early 2012, church members and particularly young adults are leaving the church “in droves.” Not since the period of time in the church in 1837 with the failure of the Kirtland Banking Society has there been such a mass exodus in the church. About 70 per cent of those leaving cite gender inequality in the church as one of the reasons they have left.

Kate, troubled by this mass exodus from the church, wanted to reach out to those and others who feel that women are not given equal opportunities and equal leadership in the church. She and I have talked about President Hinckley’s statement in 1997 that God could change things and extend the priesthood to women, but he added that there was no “agitation” for that yet (President Hinckley’s word, not mine). Unless President Hinckley was lying, there is hope for the ordination of women. I believe he was telling the truth.

Kate started Ordain Women as a way to do just what President Hinckley said could change things. Many of the members of Ordain Women are members who would have otherwise left the church as part of that mass exodus Elder Jensen described. Others have been reactivated by their association with Kate and Ordain Women. One person had not been to church for years because of gender inequality and now is active and has a church calling.

When Kate approached me and told me what she was planning in early 2013, I asked if this would be an attack on the church, or if the group would belittle the church leaders in any way. “Mom, “ she said indignantly, “I’m doing this because I love the church!” I agreed to support her as long as the efforts of the group were respectful of the leaders and not just provide a platform to attack the church.

I have attended some of the activities of Ordain Women, and have heard Kate speak in many forums about women and the priesthood. I have also spent many hours speaking privately with Kate about this and other gospel topics. I have never once heard her speak one “apostate” word – she continually affirms the truth of the gospel, her respect for church leaders and her hope and faith that President Hinckley’s words will come true – and that God will indeed extend the priesthood to all worthy members.

Jesus commanded us to “ASK and ye shall receive.” Significantly, He did not say “ASK and ye shall be punished.”

It is my most sincere hope and prayer that you will see the good heart that Kate has and stand with her as she tries to strengthen the church.

Yours in the Gospel,

Donna Kelly Soutas

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13 Responses to In Kate’s Defense: Her Mother Speaks

  1. wreddyornot on June 12, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    You describe what I from a distance have observed about Kate. You are a loving, kind mother to support your daughter in her spiritual quest to help others. I wish you and Kate nothing but the best. I also wish the same for all women and girls, which is what this endeavor from my perspective has been and is about.

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  2. tomirvine999 on June 13, 2014 at 6:16 AM

    Matthew 15

    21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

    22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

    23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

    24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

    25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

    26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

    27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

    28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

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  3. NewlyHousewife on June 13, 2014 at 7:19 AM

    Tomirvine999, that didn’t make a lick of sense.

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  4. NewlyHousewife on June 13, 2014 at 7:22 AM

    I too find it hard to see Kate as anything other than supportive of the church. She never blamed church authorities on this, and instead like myself assumed it was simply not a matter they had paid attention to. I am sadden to see how raising awareness is now akin to being qualified for a council.

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  5. New Iconoclast on June 13, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    I have “lots of feelings” about this whole thing, as my daughter would say. I think it’s all very tragic. At the same time, I was cringing because it was pretty obviously coming. The irresistable force was cruising full-speed toward the immovable object. Here’s my reasoning:

    Words matter. Language has meaning. Kate Kelly knows this; as an attorney, it’s how she makes her living.

    The OW mission statement is very clear. It doesn’t really leave room for revelation, it doesn’t seek further guidance from prophetic leadership. It states that the OW movement “believes women must be ordained”, is “committed to work for equality and the ordination of Mormon women”, and they state that they “intend to put [them]selves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women” [emphases added]. That is not a humble, compromise-seeking position, and it places itself in direct opposition to the current position of Church leadership. Further, the statement “[w]e sincerely ask our leaders to take this matter to the Lord in prayer,” in context of the absolute positions noted (“must,” “committed,” “need”), is not an offer to accept guidance. It’s an invitation to the Church leadership to get their thinking in line with OW. It’s an open challenge.

    In effect, they’re saying, “We are in the right, and Church leaders are wrong. Take this matter to the Lord in prayer and get yourself straight.” It is difficult to believe that the language used was accidental or casual. It was intentional. It appears that this has not gone unnoticed in SLC.

    Both sides now seem to be saying this, and this is unfortunate. If we’re willing to excuse the one side for that approach, we shouldn’t be too harsh on the other for taking the same approach, simply because we disagree with their conclusions, tactics, or attitude. We simply mourn.

    I think this denouement was manufactured intentionally, or at least not unwelcome. I am not implying any ill intent by so saying – I think motives are all good, which only adds to the tragedy. It may be that the intent is to force awareness, an awakening, a mini-martyrdom, a Birmingham Jail watershed moment. It may even accomplish that end; it remains to be seen. The Lord works in mysterious ways through imperfect, and often stubborn and wilful, humans. He wins in the end, and we either go with him or attempt to break ourselves against him.

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  6. Last Lemming on June 13, 2014 at 8:29 AM

    I agree with pretty much all of what New Iconoclast says. Taking it one step further, perhaps the Church is ready to, if not actually ordain women, at least get rid of some of the petty sexist practices that remain. But they can’t let a confrontational organization like OW claim the credit, so a price has to be paid.

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  7. tomirvine999 on June 13, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    Perhaps, the women seeking the priesthood are like the Canaanite woman who was pleading for a blessing for her daughter. The Canaanite woman was rebuffed by Jesus three times. He effectively called her a dog. But the woman persisted and was finally rewarded with her desired blessing. Jesus even praised her for her faith.

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  8. Andrew on June 13, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    Church court (as it is often called) does not mean that anything bad is going to happen. This isn’t like regular court. They are seeking more information, allowing her to come in and discuss her opinions and views. If, and that is a huge ‘if’, she is found to be teaching views contrary to LDS church teachings they will work with her to bring things more in line with church doctrine. If she doesn’t want to, as is her choice, it is possible that she will be disfellowshipped or excommunicated. But just because she is being asked to come in doesn’t mean those things will happen, usually it is far from it. Those are viewed as a last resort, not a first option. A lot of people are assuming the worst without really knowing what will happen.

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  9. Frank Pellett on June 13, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    First, I commend you for standing by your daughter. Having said that, I want to respond to some of the items you mention.

    Kate may believe her efforts to embarrass the Church have been out of love, but her reasoning in this is misguided. Take two teenagers. The first teenager believes the second dresses inappropriately. The first tells the second repeatedly of why it is inappropriate, but the second does not appear to be listening. The second really has no reason to listen to the first, having had nothing to build trust upon in the past. The first teen, for whatever reason, really cares about the second, and feels s/he must do something, so s/he decides to contact the press that s/he’ll be gathering other people who also care about the second teen to come to the next school assembly to each ask the second teen to dress more appropriately. Of course it’s embarrassing for the second teen, but it’s their own fault for the way they dress. After all, this was done out of love. The first teen is genuinely surprised when served with a restraining order.

    We could go on with the analogy. Someone could say it doesn’t apply, as someone appearing to dress “inappropriately” doesn’t really hurt anyone. Imagine the “inappropriate” clothing is a head scarf, when the first had family killed by people claiming to follow Islam. It could be the “inappropriate” clothing is hurting the person wearing it by making it more difficult to be accepted by the community at large.

    Moving on to the point of “agitation”. We’ve many instances in Church history and in the scriptures of someone going to the leader of the Church to ask for change. It’s arrogant to think that those mentioned as succeeding were the only ones working on affecting change. Zelophead’s daughters could not have been the only ones to have an inheritance problem. Anyone who has done family history work on the more difficult lines to trace will know of plenty of families who had either all daughters or had only daughters surviving. These daughters succeeded (with some awful caveats) because they happened to be closer to the Prophet than others. The same goes for the Word of Wisdom. Does anyone think Emma was the only one to be tired of cleaning up tobacco from the floors? Tired of trying to kiss someone who’d been chewing tobacco? Weary of how it was effecting the younger generation?

    Many comparisons have been made to the Priesthood and Temple ban on those of African descent. The history cited is both short-sighted and looking to the wrong places. There had been many who had been working and pleading with Church leaders from the very start of the ban. Do we think Jane Manning had no effect? Decades before the Civil Rights movement began, people were working with, teaching, pleading with Church leaders in trying to alleviate the problem. Even people from a distance, in Africa, were being heard well before the change was made.

    Do we really think that changing the hearts and minds of not only the leadership, but of the people of the Church, will happen in just two years of public demonstrating? Are we so arrogant to believe that there haven’t been people in, near, around, and well outside the leadership working to affect these changes for decades and who will continue to do so in the future?

    I find it very sad, to the point of tears, that Kate has finally come to censure. I also found it unfortunate when she chose to surround herself, make her closest associates in the OW movement, those who were disaffected or who has been excommunicated with the Church. I found it sad that she chose to continue with her second protest after being asked specifically not to, claiming it’s “not a protest” or that it’s “for their own good”. I find it downright depressing that after getting the start of an explanation, even if it was one that did not satisfy, we have a series of “discussions” on how to convince people that the Church is wrong. How could these actions not come to censure?

    I believe very much that Kate loves the Church, and wants only for it to be better. The problem has come, however, not from her views, but from her trying to publicly shame the Church into changing and trying to convince others that the Church is out of step with God. We need Kate, and will rejoice in her return, just as we’ve rejoiced in the many who have chosen a path out who have come back.

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  10. alice on June 13, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    I understand this is a terrible time for your family. It is a terrible time for the body of Saints.

    I have read elsewhere that you, Kate’s family, were asked to resign your callings and your temple recommends.

    I do not understand how any question of impropriety or disloyalty carries over from one person to other people. Has this truly happened? Is there some justification for it that I don’t understand?

    Please, please forgive me for asking at such an awful time but this is more disturbing to me than anything, ANYTHING I’ve previously read, heard or experienced in 68 years. If it’s out there on the wind in the internet I really believe it needs clarification. If you can find it in your heart and have the strength and resolve to elaborate it could help us to set aside emotional reactions for more appropriate ones.

    Again, many, many of us hurt with you and are trying to figure out how to respond and act. But more than anything we share your pain.

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  11. Mormon Heretic on June 13, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Andrew, you are right that it is not a regular court. There is no due process, there are no women on the jury, there is no right to counsel, etc. She is not going to disavow Ordain Women, but if she did, then yes, I guess nothing would happen.

    If Kate doesn’t shut down here website and disavow her group, what do you think is going to happen? Nothing?

    She’ll be lucky to be disfellowshipped. Otherwise she will be exed. It’s a foregone conclusion. I would be 100% shocked if nothing happened to her.

    Donna, I share your grief in this trying time.

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  12. hawkgrrrl on June 13, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Kate could leave OW, but that won’t shut it down. There are any number of bright women there who would immediately take up the mantle. The biggest issue with that is that Kate is exceptional in her combination of faithfulness and clarity of vision.

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  13. Kullervo on June 13, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    Oh Andrew, that was very cute.

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