SALT LAKE CITY — The organization “Ordain Women” is launching a new campaign aimed at changing policies that prevent women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from serving as official witnesses in religious ceremonies.
The group was organized to push for ordination of women to the LDS Church’s priesthood, but the “Ready to Witness” campaign launched Wednesday focuses on roles women are excluded from that, in their view, are not gender specific due to doctrine but rather because of policy.
The changes include allowing women to hold their babies during blessings performed by men and serving as witnesses in ceremonies like baptisms or sealing ceremonies in LDS temples. They also want women to be able to sit with young women during worthiness interviews conducted by male leaders to, “witness and protect them.”
Debra Jenson, Board Chair for Ordain Women, said they chose those four specific examples because they believe most LDS women can relate to at least one instance personally as a time they were kept from participating. She said the four examples are questions of policy rather than doctrine, so they hope that their campaign leads to a change in those policies.
Jenson also shared a personal experience with the issue, saying she wanted to have a woman serve as a witness to her wedding but had to choose a male witness instead.
“There were women in my life who had been with me through this journey and taught me so much about who I was, and had recited the Young Women’s theme, which is ‘We will stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places,’ and these women were not allowed to be the official witnesses at my wedding,'” she said.
The Ready to Witness Campaign urges participants to: “Ask of why, when women were chosen to serve as the first witnesses of the resurrected Christ, these policies are in place to keep women from serving as witnesses to these moments in our church.”
Participants are encouraged to send postcards to LDS Church leaders and share similar experiences of times they have felt like they have been barred from standing as a witness due to their gender.
“Women tell stories of sobbing to their bishops asking if they can participate in the blessing of their child, and wanting to be there,” Jenson said. “Missionaries, women who have been missionaries, who aren’t even allowed to be the witnesses at baptisms for people they helped teach… these are important moments that we are barring women from.”
For more information about the campaign, click here.
FOX 13 News has reached out to the LDS Church for a comment in response to the campaign, but has not yet received an official response. FOX 13 News will update this story should a statement be released.