Michael Otterson, head of the LDS Church’s Public Affairs department, recently wrote a short piece for the Washington Post‘s “On Faith” blog titled, “What Mormon Equality Looks Like.” In his post, he cites three anonymous LDS women who assert their equality with men in terms of access to pulpits to teach and pray, their chances to preside over Church organizations, their equality “in the eyes of God, as equal halves of a divine pair and equal partners in his work, which includes the raising of families,” as well as equality in their rights to “direct access to God through prayer for inspiration, personal guidance and forgiveness of sins.” Women, he asserts, are “incredible,” and the church “would not be nearly the organization it is today without the women who comprise more than half of its adult membership
Otterson’s depiction of equality led to a great deal of discussion on various LDS blogs, including a wonderfully executed piece of satire by Kristine Haglund in which she compared women’s equality with the type of equality her children enjoy as a member of her family. In this episode, Haglund is joined by two other panelists, Jana Riess (who wrote a great follow-up to Kristine’s post) and Joanna Brooks, along with host Dan Wotherspoon in an animated, far-ranging, and very insightful discussion of the roles of Mormon women today. How can we raise the level of discourse on women within the Church beyond the issues of priesthood ordination and claims by many LDS women to be completely fulfilled? Are there theological insights or practices that might lead the Church to utilize women’s gifts more fully? What strategies do the panelists find most helpful as they boldly speak out on difficult issues while still maintaining full activity in the church and good relationships with members and leaders? What renews their faith and encourages them to remain engaged?