Aug 20, 2005


Secret Agent exMo

Not long ago I read a posting on the internet, by an ex-mormon man, where he described his dissatisfaction with women claiming the Mormon Church's sexism as a reason for leaving Mormonism. He believed that this caused people who were questioning their faith to overlook the more "important" issues, mainly the lies, changed doctrines, made up doctrines, etc. This bothered me for some time, because as a young teen, the sexism that was being shoveled at me from every direction is exactly how my journey out of the Mormon Church began.

And so I have spent a considerable amount of time reflecting over that period in my life. My thoughts. My revulsions. My confusion. My anger. I took that further in order to define what exactly it is about the Mormon Church's stifling patriarchal system that caused me to question everything.

A true believing Mormon does not generally believe, or at least acknowledge, that sexism exists in the Mormon Church. And even if they did, for some, it would not matter in the least. Which, is an unfortunate read on society as a whole.

My view is that sexism itself is a lie. It is false doctrine. The hierarchy of the Mormon Church lies to keep women subordinate to men. By using passages from the Doctrine and Covenants and other "scriptures" that are meant to describe, repeatedly, the subordinate roll of women, and the ruling role of men. Sexism is deeply entrenched in Mormonism, as patriarchal rule is taught, throughout the institution, as a "divine order". Sexism within the Mormon institution is overt and institutionalized. This is evidenced by the following:

First, to define sexism: A belief and/or behavior that privileges men over women. Sexism is a mechanism that ensures women occupy subordinate roles compared with men and that women-identified values are disparaged. Sexism is used within male-centered patriarchal social systems to position women in inferior roles and protects male interests. Within such systems there is an unequal distribution of wealth, income, power, respect, and other social resources.

***Ensuring women occupy subordinate roles:***

sub·or·di·nate : Subject to the authority or control of another.

The Mormon Church ensures that women occupy subordinate rolls to men by allowing only male priesthood holders to occupy positions of authority. All rolls, callings and positions in the Mormon Church are subject to the authority of a priesthood holder. This authority is only given to men. All women are subservient to this authority.

sub·ser·vi·ent: Useful as a means or an instrument; serving to promote an end.

A woman’s roll is clearly defined as an instrument for giving birth to as many children as possible, and raising them to adhere to the institution’s prescribed rules and tenets. The end result is a perpetual supply of ready and faithful adherents (and associated tithes).

A woman is also instrumental in enabling her husband to achieve celestial glory and eventually godhood, where she is eternally and forever subordinate to him. The end result of this being the eternal promotion of male authority. Often this “logic” is turned circular upon itself. Where, a woman’s place as subordinate to a man is described as an eternal principal, divinely created, with associate promised blessings to come. Without her servitude to husband (via his powerful priesthood), HER eternal promise is not fulfilled!

Often the “power” of the priesthood is described as equal when compared to the “natural power” of women (giving birth). This is usually done by stating that even the highest of priesthood holders are unable to receive the highest blessing possible without a wife (or two, or three, or more). In this role as Celestial Kingdom and God enabler, the woman is subordinate to the authority of the man, through time eternal. The eternal subservient roll of women invalidates any claims of equality, and is nothing more than a means to pacify women if they happen to cry out for equality, rather than accept unquestionable servitude.

“The holy priesthood is the authority and power of God delegated to man to govern and bless His people.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 16: Priesthood, the Divine Government, From the Life of Joseph F. Smith, 137, © 2005 Intellectual Reserve, Inc)
"The Lord has assigned to men the chief responsibility for governing over the affairs of the Church and the family."
"By fulfilling her role as counselor to her husband, a woman can reinforce her husband’s position as head of the home and encourage greater family unity."
"We can honor the counsel of priesthood leaders—our husbands, home teachers, bishops or branch presidents, stake or district leaders, and General Authorities. We should refrain from criticizing priesthood leaders and teach our children to do the same. Sustaining and supporting the priesthood is more than just raising our hands or saying that we support the priesthood. It is learning, praying, obeying, and serving in a good cause."
All the above quotes from: "The Latter-day Saint Woman - Basic Manual for Women, Part A" © 2005 Intellectual Reserve

***Unequal distribution of power:***

pow·er: The ability or official capacity to exercise control; authority.

The unequal distribution of power in the Mormon Church is directly related to the subject of subordination. Only male priesthood holders are given the power to act in an official and authoritative capacity. All women are subject to the control and authority of men, and are provided no way, means, or provision to act in an official or authoritative capacity. With no means to exercise an equal control or authority, women have no equality. The inequalities in the realm of distribution of power are deeply institutionalized within the Mormon Church.

Once again, the prescribed answer to this claim is to describe the natural power of women as bringing equality. Giving birth, and acting as a supportive wife in no way provides a means for a woman to officiate or act as an authority within the institution. For example, did you ever see a woman speaker stand in General Conference and proclaim authority over the hundreds of thousands who are listening based on her abilities as a wife and the number of children she has birthed? Did you ever hear a woman say “obey the sisters in all things?” Did you ever witness a woman conducting Sacrament Meeting?

"The priesthood is conferred upon worthy male members of the Church." ("The Latter-day Saint Woman - Basic Manual for Women, Part B" © 2005 Intellectual Reserve)
"Brethren who hold this priesthood [Melchizedek] have the power and authority to hold positions of leadership in the Church and to direct the preaching of the gospel” ("Priesthood and Auxillary Leaders' Guidebook" © 2005 Intellectual Reserve)

Auxiliary Organizations: "The auxiliaries are Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, Primary, and Sunday School." (Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders’ Guidebook © 2005 Intellectual Reserve)

"As the governing ones, make no mistake about it, this decree was made to the priesthood. We love and need the auxiliaries. They are staffed by great, faithful servants. But the very name by which they are called, auxiliary, which means “helper,” should make it clear to us that the full weight of governing the Church rests squarely upon the priesthood." (William R. Bradford, “The Governing Ones,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 37 © 2005 Intellectual Reserve)
"I want to say … to the Relief Society … and all the rest of the organizations in the Church, that not one of them is independent of the Priesthood of the Son of God, not any of them can exist a moment in the acceptance of the Lord when they withdraw from the voice and from the counsel of those who hold the Priesthood and preside over them. They are subject to the powers and authority of the Church, and they are not independent of them; nor can they exercise any rights in their organizations independently of the Priesthood and of the Church. " ("Teachings of Presidents of the Church Joseph F. Smith" © 2005 Intellectual Reserve)

***Unequal distribution of wealth:***

Wealth: All goods and resources having value in terms of exchange or use.

Because women have no power or authority within the institution, they have no voice in the determination of how Church wealth is distributed. It makes no matter that Mormon Church finances are kept confidential. The fact is, whether all finances are published or not, the decision making process as to how to distribute institutional wealth is left solely and completely to men. A woman has no authority in this process, thus, there is no equality in this process.

“Then, concerning the disbursement of the money which comes from the tithing, the Lord has said: “Verily, thus saith the Lord, … it shall be disposed of by a council, composed of the First Presidency of my Church, and of the bishop and his council, and by my high council; and by mine own voice unto them, saith the Lord.” (D&C 120.)

“These eighteen men—the Presidency, the Twelve, and the Presiding Bishopric—constitute the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes. What might be regarded as executive committees of this larger council include the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee. The expenditure of all Church funds comes under the purview of these bodies." (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The State of the Church,” Ensign, May 1991, 51 © 2005 Intellectual Reserve)

***Unequal distribution of income:***

in·come: The amount of money or its equivalent received during a period of time in exchange for labor or services, from the sale of goods or property, or as profit from financial investments.

The Mormon Church distributes income, via allowances, to people based on their callings, or positions. When a man is called as a General Authority, he is given an allowance for living expenses. The reason for this is stated as he was “obliged to leave regular employment for full-time Church service”.

When a man is called as a Mission President, he is given an allowance for living expenses.

Male church authorities repeatedly "call" women as mothers and wives; they are often and repeatedly admonished to leave regular employment. As the Mormon Church states that this calling is a service to God, they are in fact stating that women are obliged to leave regular employment for full-time Church service. No woman has ever been given an allowance for living expenses in order to compensate for giving up her employment.

"Because the Church has no professional clergy, it is administered at every level through LAY PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP, and officials other than the General Authorities contribute their time and talents without remuneration. ...Because the General Authorities are obliged to leave their regular employment for full-time Church service, they receive a modest living allowance provided from income on Church investments." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p.510)

"Missionary support is primarily a family responsibility... However, members are also encouraged to contribute to assist those missionaries who have insufficient finances." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. 508)
"The calling [to be a Mission President] is not a regular remunerative position,...The family involved gives of its time and energies without salary, though there is a modest allowance for living expenses. ("Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. 914)

“This evening I pay tribute to the mothers in Zion and pray with all my heart that what I have to say to you will be understood by the Spirit and will lift and bless your lives in your sacred callings as mothers.”…” President Kimball counsels: "I beg of you, you who could and should be bearing and rearing a family: wives, come home from the typewriter, the laundry, the nursing, come home from the factory, the cafe. No career approaches in importance that of wife, homemaker, mother—cooking meals, washing dishes, making beds for one's precious husband and children. Come home, wives, to your husbands. Make home a heaven for them. Come home, wives, to your children, born and unborn. Wrap the motherly cloak about you and, unembarrassed, help in a major role to create the bodies for the immortal souls who anxiously await. "” (“To Mothers in Zion” by Ezra Taft Benson, February 22, 1987, © 1987, Corporation of The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

***"The women of the church are not complaining about it."***

On September 8, 1998 Gordon B. Hinckley was interviewed on the CNN television show, Larry King Live. The following is a piece of transcript taken from

CALLER: Yes. Since we're getting into the 21st century, President Hinckley, what is the chance that women may hold a priesthood in the Mormon church?

Gordon B. Hinckley: Well, they don't hold the priesthood at the present time. It would take another revelation to bring that about. I don't anticipate it. The women of the church are not complaining about it. They have their own organization, a very strong organization, 4 million plus members. I don't know of another women's organization in the world which does so much for women as does that, as this church has. They're happy. They sit on boards and governance in the church. I don't hear any complaints about it.

Larry King: Do you know why they can't be priests?
Gordon B. Hinckley: Well, only that the Lord has not designated that they will be.

Larry King: And the same -- that's the same position as the pope?

Gordon B. Hinckley: Same principle, yes, I think so.

Larry King: So a revelation could come to you or it could come to the pope or the next president or the next pope?
Gordon B. Hinckley: That's what it would take -- that's exactly what it would take.


THIS is denying everything the Mormon church has ever done to ensure that women remain subordinate to men. “They sit on boards and governance in the church.” With no authority! Always a woman’s voice is subordinate to the authority of the Church, which is a male authority. This began with Joseph Smith and his "revelations" threatening his own wife Emma. And continued into the 20th century with heavily funded political opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment. And continues into the 21st century, evidenced by the Church imposing its view of women and their roles into politics, disguised as “family values”.

Mormon women do not complain about their circumstances for the same reason a citizen of the Soviet Union would not have complained over theirs. Citizens of the Soviet Union were threatened with political imprisonment. Mormon women are threatened with their very salvation! This bind is described very well in this document:

"Mormon women are in a bind. If we disagree, we reap trouble; if we relent, we lose our voice. These are our choices: to conform, to risk church discipline, or to leave. When our leaders say they ''hear no complaint,'' it is because they have intimidated women into compliance. Few women will risk excommunication."

Mormon women have in fact raised their voices and have received disciplinary action from the Mormon Church for doing so. These women include:

Maxine Hanks, excommuniated, editor of "Women and Authority: Reemerging Mormon Feminism"

Deborah Laake, excommunicated, author of "Secret Ceremonies"

Margaret Merrill Toscano, excommunicated, questioning the status quo and challenging the patriarchal hierarchy.

Lavina Fielding Anderson, excommunicated, collected stories of people (mainly women) who have been abused by the Mormon ecclesiastical system. Edited the book "Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective "

Lynne Kanavel Whitesides, disfellowshipped for talking about God the Mother and disagreeing with Mormon Church leaders in public.

Sonia Johnson, excommunicated, for publicly supporting the Equal Rights Amendment and denouncing the LDS Church's political activities against the amendment.


My conclusion: Sexism is a lie. It is a lie to say that one has more power and authority over another based on gender. It is a lie that should not be overlooked. It is a valid reason for leaving an organization.

It is valid for Mormon women to feel debased and yoked under unequal servitude. It is valid for true believing Mormon women to feel lost, angry, and empowered, all at one time, when they find that their years of trying to be a worthy woman in the site of God, is in fact they, themselves, supporting the debasement and servitude of all girls and women. Including ones self. It is devastating and repulsive to look at the husband you have loved for months, years, or decades and realize he is the embodiment of months, years or decades of the Mormon Church’s debasement of yourself. And for some women, the truth of this whole situation is more painful than all the lies of the Mormon Church put together.

It is valid for any parent to not want to enforce sexist values on their children. It is valid for a parent to not want to raise up their daughters to be subservient to an institution’s sexist ideals of Woman. It is valid for a parent to not want to raise up their sons to believe in false powers.

It is valid for all humans, men and women, to rally their voices against sexism, wherever it is found.



Wow!! Great post!


Aug 20 13:46


anon still

Thank you for verbalizing my feelings on this subject. It is such a tricky thing in the church to grapple with the issue of sexism. I used to go through this whole mental game when I read the D+C sections on polygamy, bouncing back and forth between revulsion and rationalizing.

Here's another point. Eve was *cursed* with the responsibility to bear children. It was a punishment. But men are *blessed* to receive the priesthood. How are those two things equal?





Aug 20 13:55


Secret Agent exMo

And a good point. Using the Bible to justify a gender based power system. Don't get me going!



Excellent post!


Aug 20 14:07



I like your style of writing, Secret Agent exMo! I agree with you, that we should rally against sexism, wherever it is found.





Re: Sexism


Aug 20 16:12



Thank you so much for writing this. I have taught my daughter to be strong and empower herself. She has choices. Unfortunately, I also taught her "the mormon gospel" which is contrary to empowerment. I will print this and maybe send it to her. Maybe it will help her to realize I goofed big time joining this church.

Hey, I owe you a beer now.



Re: Sexism


Aug 20 16:45


Secret Agent exMo

Thanks allegro. I was deeply influenced when I was a teen by the ERA, how my own mother reacted to it (tow the church line), and how the church itself reacted to it. When the ERA first showed up on the television, it made perfect sense to me. Women should be able to work in chosen profession based on their abilities and desires. And get equal pay. Sounded reasonable. Sounded like the world I wanted to live in. The backlash against this was truly disorienting for me, and pulled my testimonial compass further from North.

I know how it is with daughters. It is a constant endeavor, to build their self esteem so that they can face the world as confident, strong, women. Sounds like you did it, in spite of the cult. Way to go!

As for those beers. I'll buy the first round, you can buy the next. Aren't we going for five? Better make it six so we're even. :)



Nicely put.


Aug 20 19:46



My awareness of the far reaching effects of this doctrine has been like an onion. I understand one layer of the deleterious effects this has on women only to find another layer underneath. The church should have resolved these issues 40 years ago when the rest of the US addressed women's liberation. As always the church is living in the Dark Ages.


Related Topic:  427 Benson:  Patriarchal Abuse


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