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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended October 27, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 02Nov00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Mormon Women's Boston Globe Declaration Yields Debate

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- A declaration signed by more than 50 Mormon women and first published in the Boston Globe has led to a debate over what it means to be "feminist" in a Mormon context, as well as questions over what the declaration meant to accomplish. After the declaration was also published in the Salt Lake Tribune, Cambridge, Massachusetts LDS Church member Elizabeth Dionne wrote an editorial for the Tribune disputing the declaration's claims.

Dionne calls herself a Mormon feminist and a committed LDS Church member. She is also a mother and a practicing lawyer at a prominent Boston firm. She calls the LDS Church a "feminist" organization because of its Relief Society and Young Women's programs and its historical support for encouraging men to treat women with love and respect.

But she says that the declaration doesn't represent Mormon women like her, or the vast majority of Mormon women. She also says that the declaration seeks to have the priesthood given to women.

Responding to Dionne's comments in a letter to Mormon News, Maxine Hanks, one of the authors of the declaration, says Dionne has misunderstood the message and aims of the women that signed the declaration. "She projects a number of assumptions onto our piece that were not in our piece nor our motives. She says we were 'demanding female priesthood and publicly attacking church leadership.' Neither is true. We were saying that we have a different view. . . . We were claiming our right to decision-making in Mormonism -- not priesthood. There is a difference between priesthood and participation in decision-making."

Hanks adds that Dionne has also misunderstood the point of the declaration, that in spite of comments by President Hinckley in the Boston Globe recently, there are some Mormon women who have complained.

While response to the declaration has been strong, according to Hanks, how well the signers represent all LDS women isn't relevant. "Do the views of the majority negate the views of the minority? How many women does it take to have a valid female perspective?"

Hanks adds that Dionne also misunderstood the declaration's comments about Mormon culture. In her commentary, Dionne wrote, "Contrary to the claims of Hanks and Black, Mormonism is not merely identity, ethnicity, or heritage." But Hanks says that the declaration doesn't say that it is. "This was not our premise. We were not saying that Mormonism is "merely" those things. We were saying that Mormonism is more than the gospel, more than a church -- it's bigger than a Sunday religion and includes other things. Mormonism is both a religion and an ethnicity."


Latter-Day Saints' Feminism Is Much Stronger Than Many Want to Acknowledge or Believe
Salt Lake Tribune 22Oct00: ON1
By Elizabeth Dionne

All Voices Important
Salt Lake Tribune 22Oct00: ON1
By Hildi Mitchell


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