Mormon women, seeking wider role, denied entrance to all-male priesthood meeting

Sun Apr 6, 2014 12:42am EDT
 
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By Jennifer Dobner

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Hundreds of Mormon women who want ecclesiastical equality were denied admittance to a male-only session of their faith's spring conference on Saturday, in their bid to promote the ordination of women into the lay priesthood.

Adorned in purple, members of Ordain Women marched through a hailstorm from a park to the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, the heart of a four-block campus that is the global home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were seeking unfilled seats at the evening priesthood meeting at the faith's semi-annual conference.

This follows the group's attempt last fall to gain admittance to the meeting. The actions have led to tensions between church officials and the women, who say they are steadfast in their faith but want to play a more significant role in the life of a religion that claims over 15 million adherents worldwide.

One by one, the women and some male supporters were politely turned away by a church spokeswoman. High school student Emma Tueller, 16, fought back tears after the rejection, which came with a hug from the church representative, who encouraged her to watch the proceedings of the meeting online.

Tueller, a Provo, Utah, resident, joined Ordain Women in the previous action last fall.

"This time it was more painful," she said. "I love this church and I think my personal gifts and my personal talents could be much better utilized if I had the priesthood."

In advance of Saturday's event, church officials had asked Ordain Women to refrain from bringing their cause to Temple Square, saying it would detract from the "spirit of harmony" at the two-day conference, which includes four events open to both genders and the male-only priesthood meeting.

In a statement late on Saturday, church officials expressed displeasure with what they called the women's "refusal to accept ushers' directions and refusing to leave when asked."   Continued...

 
A group of Mormon women walk to Temple Square in an attempt to get tickets to the priesthood meeting at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints semi-annual gathering known as general conference in Salt Lake City, Utah April 5, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart