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Monday, Sept. 22, 2014

Excommunicated Mormon activist says she has no plans to change

By Whitney Evans, Deseret News

Published: Tue, June 24 6:19 p.m. MDT

 Kate Kelly, right, hugs her mother Donna during an Ordain Women rally in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 22, 2014. Kelly was excommunicated from the LDS Church but said Tuesday she has no plans to change her actions.

Kate Kelly, right, hugs her mother Donna during an Ordain Women rally in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 22, 2014. Kelly was excommunicated from the LDS Church but said Tuesday she has no plans to change her actions.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

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: wevans@deseretnews.com, Twitter: whitevs7

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1. David Mohr
Victoria/BC/Canada, 00,
June 24, 2014

She strikes me as someone who has decided to play hockey but refuses to use the established rules. That then raises the question of why she wants to play the game in the first place. Women has not only access to priesthood power but have used the priesthood power throughout the history of the church. Watch the movie "17 Miracles", written by a man, produced by a man and showing women using the power of the priesthood. The power is there to be used. Ordination does not change the fact that women and men share the priesthood. Ordination simply gives me a specific set of duties to perform as laid out by the Saviour. It is unfortunate that she persists in telling the church how things need to be and that she continues to do this through the media - especially when the media has never been the ruling body of the church but of society - assuming they are a ruling body.

2. theOtter
Lafayette, IN,
June 24, 2014

…and that would be why she was excommunicated. :-(

3. slcdenizen
Murray, UT,
June 24, 2014

@David Mohr

Objectively, she has a point. The case rests on whether Emma Smith was granted the priesthood by her husband. If that happened, then subsequent refusal to grant women the priesthood is a sign that divine channels may not be so clear. If she was not given the priesthood, then a sincere effort should be made by the church to set the record straight and confront the historicity to the contrary.

4. Sambonethegreat
Salt Lake City, UT,
June 24, 2014

I wish she would give it a rest. She's been disingenuous at best and duplicitous at worst about how she has been treated by the church. They've been extremely patient with her.

If she truly had a testimony like she claims she does, she wouldn't have gone out of her way to repeatedly and consistently drag the image of the church through the mud. Challenging the first presidency on a core doctrinal issue is obviously grounds for excommunication.

Besides, I would be legitimately stunned if she couldn't see the irony in trying to undermine the very authority she wants so badly.

5. Duh
west jordan, ut,
June 24, 2014

I find it interesting that she states "She also told reporters Tuesday that her bishop and his counselors believe she will not go to heaven". She has no evidence that this was indeed what they stated and that the letter only states what is necessary to once again recieve the blessings of full membership. The LDS church does not preach such doctrine nor will they condone it. Sure, no once can say for sure whether or not it was stated so, let's just keep it to the facts. She will be the only one to make comments on this matter (her opinion along with the letter), the church and it's leadership will not over turn any appeal she makes. It is sad when believers waver from the fundamental values that have never changed for thousands of years. Today's society wants the change but the LDS church does not cave into society.