Welcome to the Latter-day Saints Trivia Game! Here is today’s question:
When did the Mormon Church ordain women?
Tick … Tick … Tick … Tick … Ding!
Sorry, time’s up. But it’s a trick question anyway. The Mormon Church has never ordained women.
Dumb question, you say? Then you may know Mormon history better than some reporters and editors. More than one injected a “reform” angle into the story of a Mormon woman who was just excommunicated.
It’s Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women, a group whose motives are evident from its name. The church said no ordination, she pushed the issue, and the church pushed her out this week.
Pretty standard internal dispute, right? Not from where many journalists sit. They’ve been making it into a matter of “equality,” “rights,” and yes, “reform.”
UPI — yep, they’re still around — may have said it best, or worst. Its article uses “reform” and “reformer” three times in its spare, 344 words.
The story also uses “prominent women’s rights activist” and specifies that she was drummed out of the church by “an all-male panel.” And it mentions the church’s ire with John Dehlin — “a prominent reformer who faces similar charges for his advocacy for gay rights.”
Longtime GetReligion readers will recognize this tactic as an attempt to win by semantics. As our guru tmatt said years ago, to “reform” something means to improve it by correcting errors, defects or abuses. But see, you can correct something only if it has strayed from its original condition. When have Mormons ordained women? You already know that one.
It’s a matter of viewpoint, you know. The journalists could have said the church is trying to reform Kate Kelly, to get her back to the historical position. Why didn’t they? One guess: They’re reporting not just on what happened, but on what they want to happen.
Some media use other terms than “reform,” though no less tainted. For the Los Angeles Times, the catchword is “gender equality,” for which the newspaper says Kelly’s organization pushes.