"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: June 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Race and Gender

Will Mormon women change the church from within? Mormonism is vastly larger than Laestadianism, but there are many parallels, and when I heard this story on the radio, I felt a surge of hope for people of all religions who are working within to push for humanitarian reform. 
Earlier this week Kate Kelly, the founder of a group advocating for women to be ordained into the Mormon priesthood, was excommunicated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for apostasy.
“For Mormons it’s really the equivalent of spiritual death,” said Natalie Kelly, a Seattle-based member of that group, Ordain Women. She is not related to Kate Kelly.
She explained to KUOW’s David Hyde onThe Record that to be excommunicated from the church means that a person is stripped of the blessings of the church and the sealing covenant that Mormons believe allow a person to live with his or her family after death – a central tenet of the religion.
Apostasy, Natalie Kelly said, is believing in false teachings or falling away from the church. In the case of Kate Kelly’s excommunication, she said the decision about whether a woman seeking equality was apostasy was made entirely by a group of men. Women are never allowed into the disciplinary process of the church because they do not have priesthood.
Priesthood is essential for taking part in the administration of the church, including budget decisions, rituals such as baptisms and blessings, and speaking at church.
“So when women are excluded from the priesthood that means they are excluded from the entire decision-making of the church from the very top, down to the bottom. Every woman’s decision is always subject to a man’s approval,” Natalie Kelly said.
Ordained men of the church also influence the curriculum taught.
"You might have lessons for teenage girls about chastity teaching that a girl that has been sexually assaulted is ‘like a licked cupcake,’" Natalie Kelly explained.
“There’s an incredible emphasis on women’s modesty, covering women’s bodies, that women’s bodies are a source of temptation for men – and it’s all driven around a male-centric view of the world because men are the people in charge making all of these decisions.”
Natalie Kelly said that the role of women in the Mormon religion has decreased since the church’s founding in the early 19th century, when women had more ritual authority. She said even in Seattle, where Mormons are often more progressive about issues such as female ordination and gay marriage, the church leadership still receives instructions from Salt Lake City.
But she thinks that the church, which until 1978 would not allow the ordination of blacks, will evolve to include women more.
“I absolutely believe that women will be ordained into the priesthood someday,” she said. “There’s no way my children’s generation is going to pass without that happening. And I think that when that day comes, the excommunication of Kate Kelly and other feminists in previous generations that have been excommunicated is going to haunt the church in the same way that previous priesthood restrictions currently haunt the church.”
What do you think? What changes do you think you'll see in your lifetime?

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Greta's Story

I want to thank "Greta" for sharing her story. Please consider telling yours.


My father was not originally from the church, but joined later on. He was controlling, he was arrogant, he was opinionated, and all of it fit within the ideal that the OALC sets. I went to high school desperate to fit in with the OALC youth, but just couldn't. Among other things, they were racist, they were rude, they were so concerned with materialistic items and who was dating whom that it made me nauseous—nobody cared about doing anything besides sitting in the Fred Meyer parking lot and smoking a cigarette (or five). It was so frustrating that at the age of sixteen, even though I was terrified to my core, I refused to go to church.
 . . . even though I was abused at home and terrified to my core, I refused to go to church.
Of course, there was fallout. There were a lot of talks with my parents, who were disappointed. Then there were the meetings with the preachers, several of whom told me that my desire to play sports and to go to college was foolish, and that I should focus on being a good helpmate for my future husband who would, as one put it, "just be paying off your college debts while you raised the children anyway. Why would you want to put a good man through unnecessary debt?"

But the most important thing about my story—and what I desperately want people to know—is that after I left, I went to college. I graduated, and am now a professional making good money at a job I love. 

The struggle is unimaginable when you are going through it and there is a depth of pain that is almost unbearable. You feel like a failure because you couldn't fit in, you feel embarrassed of yourself and your desires, but the truth is, you were just strong enough to stand up for yourself when what you knew what happening was wrong. 

You saw a group that was fervently bent on a religious ideology that was fundamentally wrong in the way that it was executed and you chose not to stand for it. Instead of standing for constant judgement and rigid rules that somehow dictate whether or not you will be saved, you realized that there was a way to live life with love in your heart for everybody. It is terrifying to leave something that was completely your way of life, but now the choice is up to you. 
. . . you realized that there was a way to live life with love in your heart for everybody. 
I chose to go to college and get a degree. I chose to get engaged to a wonderful man. I chose to be a nondenominational Christian and have never been stronger spiritually. I realized the joy that going to a really good movie can bring. The overwhelming amount of choices you can make is amazing, and though daunting at first, soon you realize that your life is your own. 

You can be free of abuse, you can create the life that feels good for you, and you can still be a Christian. The poisonous lie that exists in the OALC that that church is the one way to get to Heaven is just that, a lie. It can be difficult to realize that those you thought were your family and friends will not recognize you and will still be believing that lie but understand this: they cling to it because they were too weak to see that there is good in all people, not just the OALC, and the word of God is good, no matter what Christian denomination you might be.

Learn to live free, and remember: "If it's not okay, it's not the end."