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Kate Kelly appeals excommunication from Mormon church

Published October 20, 2014 3:29 pm

Ordain Women • Leader seeking priesthood for women says action was unfair; her husband cites sexism.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Kate Kelly, who has led the effort to obtain Mormon priesthood for women, has appealed her excommunication from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The appeal includes a letter of support from Kelly's husband, Neil Ransom. He contends the way leaders have excommunicated his wife but not disciplined him is proof of sexism in the church.

Kelly sent her appeal to Scott Wheatley, the president of her former stake in Virginia. The appeal is dated Wednesday and was posted on the Ordain Women website.

"I have done nothing wrong," Kelly writes. "I ask you, President Wheatley, to do the right thing and reinstate me to full membership in the Church."

In her argument, Kelly again contends her lay leaders never asked her about women holding the priesthood — a point the leaders disputed in the letter excommunicating her.

According to the appeal, Wheatley conducted only a "pro forma" counseling session during two meetings with Kelly. Wheatley failed to ask her important questions, it says, including whether she has a testimony of Jesus Christ and if she feels excluded from leadership opportunities.

Kelly says a May 5 "ultimatum" Wheatley gave her to take down the Ordain Women website or face excommunication violated Doctrine and Covenants 121: 37, which says, according to Kelly's appeal, "when a priesthood holder attempts to 'exercise control or ... compulsion' we are instructed that, 'the Spirit of the Lord is grieved.'"

She also contends the disciplinary hearing held in absentia in Virginia was unfair, and that attending by video was not an option. Kelly says she did not trust the link would be secure and that church leaders would not edit a recording.

Kelly moved to Utah from Virginia in May. On June 23, LDS lay leaders in Virginia excommunicated her for "conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church."

Kelly can still attend church, but excommunication means she cannot hold church leadership positions, give tithes or offerings or wear temple garments.

In his letter supporting his wife, Ransom says he has been an integral part of Ordain Women — maintaining the website and speaking to reporters about the group. No action has been taken against him.

"Gender inequality is one of many topics within Mormonism I have questions about," Ransom writes, "and your and the Bishop's efforts to silence my wife and the Ordain Women movement demonstrates to me that the Church is not a place for those with sincere questions and who are honestly seeking the truth."

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle