SALT LAKE CITY — Twenty-four hours after being excommunicated from the LDS Church for "conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church," Kate Kelly said she has no plans to change.
"I think I've acted with integrity at every step of the way and I'm proud of our group for continuing to ask hard questions," she said Tuesday. "They took away my membership but they can't take away my testimony."
Kelly, who describes herself as a faithful, believing member of the faith, refused counsel from her local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to cease her effort to recruit support and followers for Ordain Women, the name given to her movement and website.
She received an email Monday from Bishop Mark Harrison, leader of the congregation in Virginia that she recently moved from, informing her of the decision and telling her she would need to "demonstrate ... that you have stopped teachings and actions that undermine the church, its leaders and the doctrine of the priesthood."
When asked if there is anything she could learn from the experience, she said she has learned a lot about the disciplinary process that she believes "is completely unfair" and which she says discriminates against women.
When asked if she sees a way back into the church, Kelly responded, "Yeah. Sure." She said she planned to appeal the decision to her stake president, "who is my initial accuser and the person who called that meeting in December, so that appeal is unlikely to be successful. So then I would appeal to the First Presidency."
She said she thought she "might have been the last person on the planet that thought I was not going to get excommunicated." She said she "was and am still stunned" when she read the letter informing her she had been excommunicated.
Kelly plans to move forward with the group she founded that advocates for the ordination of women to the LDS priesthood.
"We're going to continue, as we have done, to participate in faith-affirming action," she said.
She also told reporters Tuesday that her bishop and his counselors believe she will not go to heaven.
"Mormons believe that only Mormons, or people who accept the gospel and have their ordinances performed, will be allowed into the Celestial Kingdom," she said.
However, her bishop outlined another option in the letter.
"I invite you to strive to come back to full fellowship. This is an opportunity for you to begin anew, to take full advantage of the great gift of the Atonement, to again qualify for the blessings of the temple, and to enjoy again all of the blessings of the restored gospel," Bishop Harrison wrote.
Email: email@example.com, Twitter: whitevs7