“What do you think about the Kate Kelly excommunication thing?” one of my friends asked me recently.
I didn’t exactly know how to answer her, because the truth is I haven’t followed it completely. I have the general gist of what happened: she started a website focused on women obtaining the priesthood, the church felt like this was campaigning, and she was excommunicated. But I don’t know enough of the details to have an opinion, really. (Except, I do think it is ridiculous that they scheduled the meeting when she had already moved.)
That’s not entirely true, to be honest. I mean, I don’t know all of the details, but I do have an opinion on women having the priesthood. It is still evolving and I don’t have the right words for it yet, but I do think this: there can be a difference between women having the priesthood in the LDS church and women having equality in the LDS church. We can and should be able to achieve a more equal representation. Whatever is said about the brethren caring for the sisters, the fact is that until we are allowed to be present and to make decisions, it doesn’t matter.
(This is the root of my current troubled heart regarding my faith.)
But what really, really makes me ashamed of my church and its members is how we are treating each other. Part of why I haven’t read all of the newspaper articles and the blog posts and the web pages about the topic is how virulently righteous so many of the comments are. There is mudslinging and name calling, all in the name of “I’m right and you are so fetchin’ stupid for being so wrong.” There is an abundant overflow of judgment.
And I cannot stand it.
We (They?) are so quick to judge. To assume that motivations are known, that hearts are understood, that knowledge of other people’s behavior is good or bad, right or wrong, is the dominion of someone else. There is the casual cruelty of condescension and then the outright mean statements.
I don’t think we (they?) are acting like disciples of Christ. “By this shall men know that ye are my disciples: if ye have love one to another.”
But I’m not either, if I’m honest. Because, you know? I love Kate Kelly, whether she's right or wrong, for taking a stand. For being courageous enough to make her voice heard. For being confident enough in God’s love for her that she dares give voice to her ideas, questions, concerns, and hopes.
But I hold a corresponding scoop of disgust in my heart for the judgmental. For the mean, rude, derisive. For the ones who think they know better than everyone else, have all the answers, and know why everybody else is wrong. I don’t love them.
One of the reasons given for excommunicating Kate Kelly is that her actions have contributed to other people questioning their faith.
But those people making their high-handed comments? They shake my testimony more than anything else. Because they make me question whether I want to be associated with that kind of people. The kind that think, narrow mindedly, that their answer is the only right answer. The kind that think a little awfulness in the name of defending the faith is ok. The kind that refuse to look at anything with an open mind. I know that the church is not built up with only these types of people. But right now, their voices and actions are louder than anything else for me.