Category Archives: social connectedness

Welcome to the world of Ask Mormon Girl

The Ask Mormon Girl column ran from  January 2010 through 2014 as a question-and-answer column about Mormonism and the ins-and-outs, ups-and-downs of living the “it’s complicated” version of faith.  It was a joy and a privilege to write for progressive Mormons and our fellow-travellers, curious onlookers, and worried friends and relatives during an exceptional moment in Mormon history.  Please enjoy the archives at this site.  I promise you will find good company here, especially in the comments section, which to me are a showcase of the capacity of LDS people for generosity and wisdom.

I’ve concluded my work as a columnist, but I continue to study, think, and write about religion.  I am proud of my most recent book Mormon Feminism: Essential Writingswhich I co-edited with Hannah Wheelwright and Rachel Hunt Steenblik, and which features forty years of the best and most important Mormon feminist thought, theology, politics, poetry, history, and humor, gathered for the first time in one landmark volume. 41ZXs1bgV+L

Order your copy here.  We have been thrilled by the warm and hungry reception the book has received, with packed houses and sold out stock in bookstores across Utah, and two printings sold out before its November 2015 publication date.  This is a credit to the wonderful work of our contributors.

Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings was named a top 10 religion and spirituality book for Fall 2015 by Publishers Weekly, which also reviewed the book and called it “impressive,” “superb,” and “excellent.” See my interview with PW here.  Thanks as well to the always generous Paul Rauschenbusch, Global Religion and Spirituality Editor at the Huffington Post, for this podcast interview and a linked article here. Thank you as well to Jana Riess at Religion News Service for a wonderful review. And to Gina Colvin of A Thoughtful Faith podcast for this opportunity to talk Mormon feminism. And just for fun, don’t miss this quiz on Mormon Feminism.

Thank you to the women who have generously endorsed the book:

“Spanning the Second Wave to the present wave of the women’s movement, these essays constitute a significant body of work on the religious implications of feminism. Their usual omission from feminist and Mormon history makes collection of them here all the more welcome and necessary. They are, indeed, ‘essential.’ The study of contemporary Mormonism should not be attempted without them.”

—Kathleen Flake, Richard Lyman Bushman Professor of Mormon Studies, University of Virginia

“The depth and breadth of Mormon feminist thought assembled in this volume will bring awareness to some and enlightenment to many. So much that has been thought and felt among Mormon women is here for reflection, reference and discussion. This book will enrich the legacy we treasure and point us to a proud future.”–Aileen Hales Clyde, Chair, Utah’s Task Force on Gender and Justice (1989); Regent, Utah System of Higher Education (1989-2003); Counselor, Relief Society General Presidency, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (1990-1997)

“Can one be a Mormon and a feminist? Through the careful combing of historical and modern Mormon feminist’s writings, the complexity of what it means to be an equal-minded, intelligent woman in a patriarchal church is here presented in its hopeful, heartbreaking, faithful entirety. Though the answer is complicated, this book honors those who have bravely and eloquently added their voices to the movement. As a church we owe these women–their words and work–much recognition for their progress and perspective.”–C. Jane Kendrick, writer at



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A poem for my brothers and sisters

Last night I dreamed I stood

at the edge of the parade route,

my friend Claire at my side,

a shade over our heads,

a ridge of red sandstone mountains against the far horizon.


Then they came in the noonday sun

Our people, so fierce, so tender, so terrible

The men carrying books translated out of air, out of hats, out of hunger,

Eyes straight ahead, unafraid of looking foolish to the world

if it meant they could beat down death.


The women too

Pioneer skirts across the backs of horses

Long guns at their sides

Priestesses they were

Tall, soft spoken, square shouldered

Priestesses of a kind this world has never seen


I tried to tell Claire how proud I was to see them

From the time I was a kid

The way my heart would throw itself against my bones saying

True, true, true

Or was it feeling, feeling, feeling?


I watched it all pass in front of me, trying to find the words,

and just before I woke the words came:

It is worthy of being loved;

It is worthy of being grieved.


The only reason I write is because the words come

The only reason they come is for you

The words came in my dream last night to tell you


That all that we have given to it:

Our dead relatives and our living;

Our black mornings bent over scriptures

mapping a world that never existed;

The homely white clothing we stepped into

to make promises, with words, with hands, with bodies;

How hard we worked to keep them;

How we punished ourselves when we could not.

The hours, the hours, the hours—

How do you begin to count them?


All of it, the grandeur and the failure,

Yours and mine, and that of our people:

It is worthy of being loved

It is worthy of being grieved

You are worthy of being loved

You are worthy of being grieved

You are worthy.


February 7, 2015


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for all of the sad angry anxious righteously indignant fearful brave ones. on all sides of the story.

Invocation / Benediction

Father, Mother, help me piece together the contradictions of my life:
White cotton, red satin, brown polka dot; torn Sunday dress, Navajo rug, frayed baby blanket.
Make me insistent on every lonely shred, willing to sacrifice no one.
Where there is no pattern, God, give me courage to organize a fearsome beauty.
Where there is unraveling, let me draw broad blanket stitches of sturdy blue yarn.

Mother, Father, give me vision.
Give me strength to work hours past my daughters’ bedtime.
Give me an incandescent all-night garage with a quorum of thimble-thumbed
grandmothers sitting on borrowed folding chairs.
We will gather all the lost scraps and stitch them together;
A quilt big enough to warm all our generations: all the lost, found, rich, poor, good, bad, in, out, old, new, country, city, dusty, shiny ones;
A quilt big enough to cover all the alfalfa fields in the Great Basin.
Bigger. We are piecing together a quilt with no edges.
God, make me brave enough to love my people.
How wonderful it is to have a people to love.

This poem I wrote was originally published in Exponent 2. For forty years, Exponent 2 has been the print chronicle of Mormon feminism. After the excommunications of 1993, women stopped subscribing out of fear. Let it be different this time. Please subscribe:

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The real Mormon moment is now.

The real Mormon moment is now.

The facts are now established: at least a dozen Mormons in the U.S. have faced or are facing discipline for expressing criticisms of the Church or support for same-sex marriage or women’s ordination on-line, on Facebook, on Twitter, even in anonymous chat rooms.

The implications of the facts are even more troubling. They suggest that the LDS Church supports what must be a substantial enterprise monitoring the on-line activity of its members in the United States, if not worldwide.

Of course, this is not a surprise to progressive Mormons who have populated those Facbook groups and web forums.

We have in fact been waiting for this moment—waiting to see whether our religion could survive the insularity, militancy, and suspiciousness engendered by its nineteenth-century persecutions, and outgrow as well the highly centralized and controlling corporate-bureaucratic style of the twentieth-century LDS Church, to adapt to the new realities of the internet era, including greater openness among Mormons with doubts or concerns about controversial aspects of our history and doctrine.

We hoped this day would not come. Because we know that excommunication courts are a nineteenth-century Mormon solution to twenty-first century Mormon problems. Exiling and shaming a dozen, two dozen, one hundred, one thousand heterdox Mormons won’t close the book on women’s issues, or LGBT issues, or historical controversies in Mormonism. You could rid the church of an entire generation of querulous bloggers and grassroots organizers and another will rise and take its place. Because these controversies are not private and individual. They are not personal problems. They are the product of Mormon history, Mormon doctrine, and Mormon culture. We didn’t invent them. We inherited them, as will the generations to follow, each taking its turn in the search for truth. Because that is what Mormonism means.

We had hoped it wouldn’t turn out this way. Maybe it still won’t. Maybe the highest profile excommunication court—that scheduled this Sunday in Virginia for Kate Kelly, a believing Mormon woman and one of the founders of the web-based Ordain Women campaign—will end without Sister Kelly having her baptism and marriage nullified, her membership in a Church she served as a full-time missionary expunged.

Over the last decade of on-line blogging and organizing, Mormon progressives have found many reasons to hope for more openness in our Church. We noted every year we put between us and the high-profile excommunications of Mormon feminists and historians in the 1990s. We noted that the hunger for excommunication on doctrinal controversy seemed to have ceased. We used the internet to regroup and grow in numbers. The Church even developed its own web-based resources to acknowledge and address its own controversies—historic and contemporary.

This, we thought, was a good sign. A sign that we might not need to fear losing our membership, our place, in a cherished tradition, just for having and voicing questions, doubts, and differences, even sharing them with others, even organizing on-line forums where other Mormons who could not speak their questions at church could find support, answers, resolution, a reason to keep trying, and a way to express their continuing fidelity to a religion that asks so much of them.

We told ourselves to not to be afraid. Even when we were. We just kept on writing. Even when we knew we were being monitored.

But already knowing that we were being monitored makes it no less shameful to see the facts in print.

Nor does it diminish the pain of seeing a religion characterized by beautiful audacity in its doctrines and daring in its difference manifest such a want of courage, a smallness of spirit, and fearful rigidity when it comes to its own heterodox members.

Nor does it diminish the fear and despair this new wave of disciplinary actions is inciting among progressive Mormons who have anxiously wondered over this past week whether a letter or a meeting request might be on the way for them too.

Over the past few days, I have been getting Facebook messages and phone calls from rank-and-file Mormons not interviewed by the New York Times relaying that they too have been accosted or called in by their bishops for voicing support for greater equality for women in the church, or same-sex civil marriage rights.

“I’m really a nobody,” wrote one woman. “Just a stay at home mom who doesn’t particularly go out of her way to take up too much space on the internet.”

Church officials deny high-level coordination of the pushback against progressive and heterodox Mormons. But it is also being reported that at least one high-ranking leader has instructed local LDS clergy that support for women’s ordination should be viewed as apostasy—a serious charge in Mormonism. Without question, that instruction and the national news of Kate Kelly’s court has created a climate wherein local Church leaders now feel obliged or empowered to call in and even take disciplinary action against less orthodox members of their own congregations.

It is Friday. Kate Kelly’s court is scheduled for Sunday, as are many more informal disciplinary conversations between local leaders and heterodox Mormons. There is still time for a different kind of signal to go out, from Salt Lake City—a signal that could empower a different kind of action, a standing down on all sides, a putting away of defensiveness and fearfulness, a putting to rest of Mormonism’s nineteenth-century ghosts and twentieth-century control issues.

It is Friday and we hear nothing from our religious leaders in Salt Lake City. We hear only from the Public Relations department, which seems to be doing the best it can to get grips on a situation that has outgrown its control, a situation that makes Mormons appear once again in the public eye as the insular, suspicious, dogmatic, simple-minded, intolerant, and spiritually violent Mormon caricatures that once populated nineteenth-century magazines.

It is Friday. We talk amongst ourselves: the men tasked with the heavy burden of convening an excommunication court this Sunday in Virginia, and the Mormon men and women who will convene simultaneously at candlelight vigils scheduled nationwide.

I dream that a voice from Salt Lake City (if not somewhere even more exalted) will say, in the words of a cherished Mormon hymn, “All is well. All is well”—not because it is right now, but because faith means holding to the hope that it will be. A signal of peace for every one of us who agonizes—while the outside world watches mutely or wonders aloud why we even bother—over how our beloved faith will respond to the pressures of the twenty-first century.

Forget Mitt Romney. Forget the Book of Mormon musical. Forget—yes, forget—the LDS Church’s multi-million dollar “I’m a Mormon” campaign designed to rebrand contemporary Mormonism as diverse and welcoming.

This painful, pivotal time is the real Mormon moment.


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Room for All in this Church

(Friends, please take a moment to read and share this statement, released today by a number of Mormon bloggers and podcasters, about the threatened excommunications of Kate Kelly and John Dehlin.)

Room for All in this Church

We face a difficult and pivotal moment in Mormonism as LDS leaders and church members wrestle more openly with complicated aspects of our faith, its doctrine, and its history—often in spaces afforded by the Internet. In light of possible disciplinary action against prominent voices among us, we the undersigned Mormon bloggers and podcasters affirm the value of the conversations that take place in the LDS “Bloggernacle” and express our hopes for greater understanding and compassion from all of us involved in current tensions.

May we all remember, as scripture teaches, the intricate intertwining of mercy and justice. May we all follow the admonition to seek understanding before judgment, even as we address matters that can be difficult to talk about.

Scripture and tradition teach us that excommunication is one way of maintaining the boundaries of a religious community. But we believe that excommunication is not the best way to address conflict over doctrine, policy, or tradition. We ask our leaders to consider other ways of maintaining boundaries, strengthening Church members, and encouraging them to grow spiritually within Mormonism’s large and embracing community without the fear and despair the threat of excommunication sows not only in those threatened but in their families, friends, and those who share similar concerns about LDS Church doctrine or history—even those who do so silently. We are deeply encouraged by the recent news about the prospect of de-escalation in at least one of the current cases and pray for positive steps towards reconciliation.

The issues in Mormon doctrine, history, and practice highlighted by those facing church discipline are much larger than any one individual. It is not only unavoidable that these issues will continue to be discussed; such discussion is good for the health of our religious community and faithful to the truth-seeking spirit of the Latter-day Saint Restoration. As bloggers, podcasters, and passionate contributors to good, healthy online discussion, we affirm our commitment to continue speaking openly and publicly, and encouraging others to do so as well. We will continue to use online spaces to grow in knowledge and faith, to attempt to present and see many sides of each issue, and to reach out to those expressing pain, heartache, and loneliness. It is our experience that these conversations can bear good fruit as Latter-day Saints mourn with those who mourn and reflect on, deepen, and renew their faith.

We are grateful for our membership in this Church and for the unique opportunities the Internet has provided us to share our Mormon experiences, questions, and hopes. We pray that a spirit of clemency will guide the words and actions of everyone—especially those who bear the heavy responsibility of ecclesiastical discipline of Church members—and that the words of President Uchtdorf will hold sway: “Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church.”


Dan Wotherspoon, Mormon Matters podcast
Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood blog (Religion News Service)
Natasha Helfer Parker, The Mormon Therapist blog
Paul Barker, Rational Faiths blog and podcast
Michael Barker, Rational Faiths blog and podcast
Mark Crego, A Thoughtful Faith Support Group (Facebook)
Lisa Butterworth, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Joanna Brooks, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Gina Colvin, KiwiMormon blog
Lindsay Park, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Jared Anderson, Mormon Sunday School podcast
Daniel Parkinson, No More Strangers blog
Bill McGee, Sunstone
Mary Ellen Robertson, Sunstone
Stephen Carter, Sunstone
Michael Stevens, Sunstone
Chelsea Shields Strayer, LDS WAVE
Tresa Edmunds, LDS WAVE
Chelsea Robarge Fife, Mormon Feminist Cooperative
Kalani Tonga Tukaufu, Feminist Mormon Housewives
David Landrith, Mormon Mentality
Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, Mormon Matters podcast
Jerilyn Hassell Pool, Rational Faiths blog
Spencer Lake, Clean Cut blog
Brittany Morin-Mezzadri, TheLadyMo blog
Katie Langston, Feminist Mormon Housewives blog
Hannah Wheelwright, Young Mormon Feminists blog
Erin Moore, Young Mormon Feminists blog
Kimberly Lewis, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Nikki Hunter, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Nancy Ross, Nickel on the ‘Nacle blog
Mark Brown, The Mormon Hub (Facebook)
Alicia Jones, LDS Left (Facebook)
Elise Villescaz, LDS Left (Facebook)
Emily Summerhays, Feminist Mormon Housewives
Mindy Farmer, The Inquisitive Mom blog
Jeff Krey, A Thoughtful Faith Support Group (Facebook)
Lori Burkman, Rational Faiths blog
Laura Compton, Mormons for Marriage
Alison Moore Smith, Mormon Momma blog
Heather Olsen Beal, Doves and Serpents blog
Brent Beal, Doves and Serpents blog
Ed Snow, Doves and Serpents blog
Erin Hill, Doves and Serpents blog
Meghan Raynes, Exponent blog
Aimee Hickman, Exponent blog
Rachel Hunt, Exponent blog
Liz Johnson, Exponent blog
Libby Potter Boss, Exponent blog
Heather Moore-Farley, Exponent blog
April Young Bennett, Exponent blog
Deborah Farmer Kris, Exponent blog
Jessica Oberan Steed, Exponent blog
Carolyn Kline, Exponent blog
April Carlson, Exponent blog
Sariah Anne Kell, Exponent blog
Chelsea Sue, Exponent blog
Emily Clyde Curtis, Exponent blog
Emily Updegraff, Exponent blog
Dayna Patterson, Doves and Serpents blog
Cheryl Bruno, Worlds Without End blog
Katie Evans, Zelophehad’s Daughters blog
Kristy Benton, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Lori LeVar Pierce, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Rebecca Reid Linford, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Paula Goodfellow, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Cheryl McGuire, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Kay Gaisford, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Lorlalie Pallotta, All Are Alike Unto God blog
Wendy Reynolds, All Are Alike Unto God blog

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Your guide to the Ask Mormon Girl archive

Howdy, beloved friends and visitors!

Welcome to the world of Ask Mormon Girl, a four-year archive of columns on the ins-and-outs, ups-and-downs of living the “it’s complicated” version of faith. Since January 2010, perfect strangers sent queries to And I did my best to answer, before turning it over to the AMG community of readers, who always brought wisdom, love, humor, and exceptional insight. Thank you all so much.

For the time being, I’m not taking new queries. But I do encourage you to peruse the vast Ask Mormon Girl archives. You can use the site’s search function in the right column toolbar, click on relevant categories in the wordcloud also at right, or (if you’re really determined!) read the entire archive month by month. There is much here to keep you company whether you’re in faith transition, or you wonder about sticky spots in Mormon history and doctrine, or are a feminist, or a budding LGBT ally, or are one of the many, many Mormons (or Catholics, or Jews) who always feel like the odd duck at the potluck.

I hope you’ll find something in the archives to soothe you. You’ll find me popping in from time to time over at the legendary Feminist Mormon Housewives blog, where I love to cook up trouble–like scholarships and feminist summer camps–with my rowdy Mo fem friends.

As my childhood heroes Donny & Marie Osmond used to sing, “May tomorrow be a perfect day / May you find love and laughter along the way / May God keep you in His tender care / Til He brings us together again. Goodnight, everybody!

Or as my yoga teacher Dave says, namaste.

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Is Mormon Faith Crisis for Men Only? Or did the NY Times Miss Half the Story?

Beloved readers and visitors:  Since concluding my series on the theology of LDS gender and priesthood, I’ve taken a summer breather.  But this week, I’m back with something to say about Sunday’s front-page New York Times article on disaffection, historical controversy, and faith crisis among contemporary Mormons.

Please check it out by visiting Feminist Mormon Housewives.  Click here.



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Ask Mormon Girl: How do I live my faith and my conscience? A Passover / Easter week special.

Forgive me if I step away this week from our regularly scheduled format.

Today—just today–I spoke with three young Mormons facing the exceptional challenge of living their faith and by the leadings of their conscience:

–A young woman who feels led to speak out on the issue of women’s ordination, but who worries that if she does she will get kicked out of BYU and lose her job.

–A young mother in a conservative Utah town whose neighbors are boycotting her home-based business because she is open about her Mormon feminism.

–And a worthy, believing young man (who I will soon profile at my other gig at who has been told he cannot serve a mission because he believes his gay brother is equal in the sight of God and deserves all the same blessings and opportunities he enjoys.

We talked for an hour tonight, this young man and me, and he asked me, finally, “Look, I read your bio—and it left me wondering.  Why do you stay?”

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Ask Mormon Girl: I’m a high school senior. Should I go to BYU?

[This post has been updated.]

I am a high school senior seriously stressed out about college. I have serious issues with conformity and the lack of diversity at BYU, but I secretly feel like I wont be happy unless I go there, even if that means possibly turning down Harvard, Columbia, and full scholarships to USC and UVa. Can you tell me about your experience at BYU?

JL in Arkansas

My experience at BYU?

Just this week, JL, I was digging through an archive bin in my garage when I laid my hands on a prized letter from Rex Lee, who was the president of Brigham Young University during my years as a Cougar.  It was a letter I received after sending my diploma back after graduation.

That’s right.  I sent back my diploma.  Had to do with the firing of one of my favorite professors, Cecilia Konchar Farr, on some pretty shady grounds:  BYU said it was her scholarship, but we all knew it was her feminism that got Ceil in hot water.  And Ceil wasn’t the only BYU faculty member or student feeling the heat of retrenchment during the 1990s.

Those were some times. 

Here’s President Lee’s letter:

redact rex lee

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Mormon Girl Asks: Post-election, how are we doing?

Dear readers:

There’s an image that keeps coming to mind–like a memory from the playground–of a kid running hard, then tripping and hitting the dirt, then picking themselves up and dusting off and checking for broken bones.

Now that the election is all over, is everyone doing okay out there?

Because that was a lot of stress on the world of Mormonism.  As much as we’d like to think we’re public people totally comfortable being in public about our faith, truth is, I think we prefer a bit of privacy:  lots of us prefer hanging out with other Mormons, people to whom we don’t have to explain all the tender and complicated bits.  And for the last 18 months, there has been a good deal of searching attention directed our way from the friendly and curious to hard-hitting and even some downright mean.

And then there are the stresses a campaign can unleash inside a community–win or lose–people are people, and people take sides, sides they often feel very strongly about.  Many Mormons invested a lot of heart and soul (not to mention time and cash) in one or the other side.  And while some of us are pleased with the outcomes–it’s no secret I am an Obama supporter–others are quite disappointed.  Including people I care about very much.

So let’s take a moment, beloved ones, and catch some breath and take stock.

How are we doing, in the post-Romney moment?

How did we come through as Mormons?

And how are we handling the aftermath?

I’m not looking for gnashing of teeth–though I know plenty of it is happening out there.  Or judginess.  Or meanness.  Or mean victory dances.  I’m looking for smart and compassionate descriptions and assessments of this moment in Mormon history.

What’s the good that has come of it?  And where (and why) are we hurting?

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


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