LDS Church to Broadcast Priesthood Session: Some Brief Thoughts

Buried deep in the news release from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announcing the upcoming October General Conference of the Church is the following:

As part of a continued effort to make general conference proceedings more accessible to members around the globe, the priesthood session will be shown live for the first time through expanded channels, including LDS.org, the Mormon Channel and BYUtv.

Of course, this is the only news in the news release.

Is this a response to the Ordain Women effort to attend Priesthood Session? Maybe. We may never know for sure. However, it was directly referred to in the Church response to the Ordain Women request to attend Priesthood Session in the Conference Center.

It does address the issue of the fact that Priesthood Session viewing has been by and large limited to men. Still, attendance in the Conference Center will still be limited to men.

My impression is that this is something the Church has considered changing for sometime, but that they decided to implement it now to undercut the Ordain Woman protest (I am not looking to pick a fight over whether it is a protest or not…yet). I am not sure if this type of response is being indirect or if it is being passive aggressive.

I do think this move removes a certain amount of the exclusivity surrounds the Priesthood Session and General Conference in general, even if that exclusivity still applies to the priesthood. Attendance at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City is something I have enjoyed. However, it is something which is more and more not part of the regular Mormon experience.

The annual Relief Society and Young Women’s meetings which take place the week before the main General Conference sessions have been broadcast live for some time. However, attendance at local stake center broadcasts of those session has still been encouraged. I am waiting to see if this will be the case during Priesthood Session.

I would love to see the Church move away from 2 hour broadcasts. 2 hours in a pew is not very enjoyable for me. This change does allow for a lot more flexibility.

One thing is for sure:

This will make live-blogging Priesthood Session while eating snacks much much easier.

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  • Julia Taylor

    I think that if the church really wants this to not fall in the passive aggressive response category, then they will need to lift the ban on women conducting choirs, (which they lead and prepare, but are not allowed in the building to conduct during priesthood session) as well as lift the ban on women camera operators, and other female church employees who are allowed to work in all other sessions of conference, and allow the wives, daughters and granddaughters of the speakers to be present.

    I am not part of Ordain Women, but I am a feminist, and in Mormon feminist circles, the story of Sister Monson being forced to listen to her husband’s first talk from outside the tabernacle (through a window) is an image that resonates in feminist circles and beyond. The reality that women who are skilled television camera and sound board operators, who not only have filmed many sessions of conference, but also worked on the new temple film, being excluded from a single session, based on being female, resonates with a lot of feminists, and those who are more interested in feminism as they learn about the differences in how men and women are treated when priesthood session is compared to the RS and YW session.

    I am not sure how many times I have read comments, from women who are not feminists, that basically say, “I was looking forward to the church proving there is no need for Ordain Women or feminism by simply seating women, and making them feel silly for not feeling equal.” I suspect that the many women who then start asking questions, and finding out about the differences that currently mark the priesthood session, and the RS and YW meetings, (including realizing that the church does not currently consider RS and YW sessions of conference) may be an unexpected consequence of this particular announcement, and this choice of tactics.


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