A women’s movement is beginning to challenge the traditionally patriarchal Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Over the last weekend, some 400 Ordain Women supporters, marched together to Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City to request tickets to Saturday night’s twice-a-year, all-male priesthood meeting held at the 21,000-seat LDS Conference Center.
These women didn’t carry placards or chant slogans. Instead, wearing their Sunday best, they formed a line, and, one by one, asked for admittance. Each woman was rejected in turn.
Kate Kelly—the D.C.-based human-rights attorney and devout Mormon who in 2013 founded Ordain Women—led a similar action six months ago at the October priesthood meeting with a group less than half the size. Men in suits and ties were on rejection duty that first go-round. Media photographers shot the episode as women approached the doors, only to be rebuffed. PR-wise, it wasn’t a shining moment for the Church, and on Saturday, a woman was tasked with refusing admission. The Church had meanwhile already announced that media would not be welcome to capture the scene.
Realistically, priesthood for women might be generations away. The Church is led by great-grandfathers—prophet Thomas S. Monson turns 87 this summer, and the next in line is 89—and the religion has a natural aversion to change. Until 1978, black people weren’t allowed to be ordained as priests, serve as missionaries, or be sealed for eternity in the temple. And while the Church presently endorses monogamy, it still teaches that men will be able to have multiple wives in heaven and that plural marriage could be reinstated on earth if the prophet gets a revelation from God giving the go-ahead.