Monthly Archives: October 2012

Can women with kids serve as temple workers? Not at my temple! Help?

Lots of mail this week about men, and women, and callings—but this writer stood out as someone who could benefit from a group perspective.

I am a faithful member of the church in the Washington, DC area. My husband and I have served as temple workers in the DC temple for the past two years. I recently learned that women temple workers are not permitted to continue working at the temple after they have children. This rule does not apply to men.  As you can imagine, I was horrified.  I could understand if couples were not allowed to continue working in the temple after they have children, but to single out women feels discriminatory and like it’s lessening the importance of fathers in the home.

My husband and I do not live a traditional marriage and, though we understand and acknowledge the Proclamation to the Family, we do not subscribe to the idea of “roles.” We both observe the work that needs to be done and we do it.

How women can reconcile their internal angst (for lack of a better word) against this unfair policy? I have been able to come to terms with many aspects of the unequal gender roles within our church, but I cannot seem to move on from this. We allow women to be Relief Society presidents, which takes 100% of any free time a woman may have, but she can’t spend twice a month serving in the Lord’s house for several hours.  

You know, dear DC friend, your note reminds me of a project undertaken by the mighty women (and men) of Feminist Mormon Housewives earlier this year.  It all began when one FMH blogger reported that a temple worker at her local temple had barred menstruating young women from participating in baptisms for the dead.

Good-thinking Mormon readers across the bloggernacle thought this was an unnecessary restriction that sent a wrong (and potentially shaming and deterring) message to young women.  It also seemed to suggest a negative view of menstruation that has no foundation in Mormon theology.  And so in a spirit of “cheerful Mormon helpfulness,” they developed a spreadsheet to gather information from across the country on whether the policy was in fact a POLICY (ominous clouds, thunderous music) straight from SLC or just a “policy” cooked up by rogue volunteers with authority issues.

What the crowdsourced research found was that of 68 LDS temples surveyed, 14 said “no baptisms during menstruation,” 15 said baptism with a tampon only, and 28 said no restrictions at all.

And with this data, it was then possible to elicit from Church HQ a statement that the policy was in fact not a POLICY but a “policy” cooked up by rogue volunteers. And poof!  The “policy” is gone.

I’m wondering if what you’re seeing at the DC temple is a POLICY or a “policy”?  Of course you are right that these kind of stances suggest that fatherhood is less serious a responsibility than motherhood—which is not at all how it is lived in LDS families like yours (or mine).  And of course stances like these make you all ragy and “angsty” in that they remind you of other gender imbalances in the Church.

But I wonder if there’s not room to address this and myriad other things that rub us the wrong way in the spirit of “cheerful Mormon helpfulness” that the brave crowdsourcing researchers at FMH modeled for us all.  After all, the real issue is that you love those peaceful hours working in the temple and you want to continue to help!

Readers, can you advise this week’s writer on steps she might take to address this issue?  Does anyone else’s temple have a policy like this?  And is it truly a POLICY or may it be yet another “policy” conceived and enforced by people who tend to get a particular charge out of strongly delineated gender roles and strict “policies” in general?

(And a note, dear readers.  Traffic has grown lately, but with it so has judginess and meanness from all points on the orthodoxy spectrum—ex-Mormons to TBMs.  And it makes me pine for the gentler, kinder days when it was just me and a self-selected crew of seekers speaking as gently, thoughtfully, and truthfully to perfect strangers as they would to someone they really, really loved.  So you know what?  I’m bringing the old days back, through a bigger dose of moderation.  Comment away—bring all your wisdom and love and humor.  Check the rest at the door.)

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Filed under working mothers

What do Mormons believe about African-Americans? Election year update.

Dear readers:

I was tooling around behind the scenes at the Ask Mormon Girl site this week, and I learned something that surprised me.  What are the top five Google queries that lead people to this site?

what do mormons believe about black people

mormons and blacks           

mormon beliefs about black people

mormon beliefs on blacks

mormons beliefs about black people

Yes, that surprised me too.

But is it really surprising that as the polls tighten, millions of African-American voters who know very little about the LDS Church except its history of discrimination want to know what Mitt Romney really believes, where his heart is, and how he will govern. So from the security and privacy of their own computers, they’re doing what we do these days:  they’re asking Google.

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Filed under race

I’m thrilled by the big change in Mormon women serving missions. But my heart hurts too. Help?

Today’s announcement about the change in missionary age for young women was, of course, wonderful news. I am delighted my daughter will grow up in a church and culture that will promote her spiritual development, allow her to serve, and allow marriage to happen at the proper time and place (and I sure hope that is well into her 20s.) I felt the spirit telling me how wonderful a change this is, but my heart was broken that for me it is a change too late in coming. 

 How do you let go of anger and hurt from growing up in a culture and institution that taught things about the role of women and about the timing and urgency of marriage that shaped pivotal decisions in your life? I’m grateful things will be better (at least in this respect) from now on, but I can’t help but grieve for what might have been.


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Filed under feminism

My Mormon-for-Obama bumper sticker is drawing serious fire. Help?

 I recognize that many people in our faith do not align with me politically. I do, however, have a great support system of “Mormon Liberals,” so that I have become more comfortable talking about my political values everyday. I have taken this new courage and began posting some of my views on the internet.  So in order to be a little funny, a little scandalous and mostly to express my support of Obama AND my religion, I posted a picture of my bumper sticker that says, ” I am voting for Obama AND I am a Mormon,” on Facebook. While I recognize that I was asking for a reaction from my mostly Mormon internet circle, I never imagined the amount of extremely hateful and dark responses I received. I got multiple messages telling me that I was so clueless because Obama was directly connected with Satan. Messages and posts about how Obama is Satan, and I personally ushered him into this righteous world. While I was entertained by these messages at first, the escalation of anger and personal attacks was completely unnerving and disappointing. It also makes me very, very cautious about being able to be myself online ever again. I wish these posts didn’t affect me but it hurts to see Mormons attack people this way and I can’t seem to shake it off. I mean it’s not every day a girl gets multiple “King Of Darkness” emails…

Any advice on wanting to be free and open to post and explore my political ideas on the social media sphere without being dragged into a dark place by the same people I share so much respect and love for?


Still flabbergasted.

Dear flabbergasted:

Oh, dear.  I’m sorry.

Look, our Mormon Republican brothers and sisters are really anxious right now.  They love Mitt Romney, and they believe in him fiercely.  They believe he can fix the Great Recession by cutting taxes and deregulating industries.  They truly worry that the US has lost its place as global superpower, with devastating consequences for democracy. And he reminds them of their most effective Stake President ever.  It truly sucks to see him not only losing, but getting piled on by the media as well.

And yes, sometimes a few of our brothers and sisters get so stressed out they turn to their religious vocabulary to express their frustration, and so out come the “Gadianton Robbers” and the “secret combinations” and “Satan’s plan” and “weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.”


They’re not the only yikes-worthy ones.  Political talk in this country has gotten extremely polarized and hurtful.  Right now, somewhere in the deep dark recesses of the internet, there are places where people are saying deeply cruel things about Mitt Romney and directing rhetorical flamethrowers at anyone who would even consider casting a vote for him.  There are Facebook pages aflame with anti-Romney fervor, where you’d be roasted alive just for saying that you were LDS.

How did we learn to talk to one another this way?

Lots of reasons.  A twenty-four hour media cycle that rewards bad behavior.  Feelings of powerlessness.  Global political and economic realities that defy easy understanding and easy answers.  Internet sites that allow people to make cruel comments behind the protection of anonymity.  And a bifurcated political culture that leaves us too often talking only to people who think like us.

But none of this makes it okay.

You owe it to yourself and to every Mormon who cares about the grassroots health of our community to kindly but firmly respond to the folks who sent you messages of doom and damnation just because you’re voting differently.  I’ve seen too many Mormons who faced with this kind of fire draw back into their shells or abandon ship altogether, which is unfortunate because it allows people to escape accountability for the fact that such talk is indecent and intolerable.

If you don’t stand up, who will?  You’ve got to tell them. Send a polite but firm message letting the most aggravated Obama-is-Satan-and-so-are-you messagers know that they crossed the line.  Tell them that you appreciate the depth of their concern, and that you support their right to vote for Romney.  Tell them that you understand things sometimes get heated on Facebook.  And then, tell them that however strongly they feel about the presidential elections it is not okay to bully you or other fellow Mormons on Facebook.  That is not how friends and fellow Saints should speak to one another.

You may not change them.  They may continue to rage.  But you, you will become stronger.

And next time, yes, avoid posting something just to be “scandalous” or anticipating a “reaction.”  Start looking for content that will bridge the gap between you and your more conservative Facebook friends as a starting place for dialogue.  Perhaps try something by every liberal’s favorite conservative commentator, New York Times columnist David Brooks. (But wait until after the election.  Even Brooks has been giving Brother Romney a heck of a time.)

Send your query to, or follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.


Filed under politics