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Views Differ on Mormon Women's Role

June 06, 1993

Iread with great interest "Protesting Patriarchy" (May 16). As an ex-Mormon, I have many of my own opinions about the Latter-day Saints church. I abandoned it as a teen-ager, disillusioned with what I felt was the organization's lack of tolerance for "nonconforming" people and ideas. I have to say, I'm happy to see there are people trying to broaden the narrow perspective of LDS leaders; I also have to say that I think theirs will ultimately be a fruitless task.

There were a few statements in the article about which I feel particularly compelled to comment, mainly because they made me laugh out loud. I was first struck by Don LeFevre's remark that "none of the church's top male authorities . . . were available for comment because they believe women's issues should be addressed by women."

Are we to infer that, since there are no women of real authority in the church leadership, the organization will never comment on women's issues? That would be convenient.

Secondly, I have a problem with William Monahan's comment that women in the church "are encouraged to express themselves."

This statement could only be true if it had about 50 qualifiers attached to it: ". . . as long as they don't say . . . ," ". . . assuming, of course, they avoid topics such as . . . ." Monahan knows full well that the only welcome expressions by any church member, male or female, are those that are not contradictory or questioning of LDS doctrine.

KATE FLANAGAN

Northridge

I find it notable (that) the Mormon Church recently conducted a general conference for its 8.4 million members, yet The Times finds a meeting of 350 disgruntled women the only newsworthy item.

One can generally find insensitivity, arrogance and chauvinism in any institution that draws its membership from a cross-section of society.

However, these women demonstrate such attributes are not exclusive to males by statements like the church is "run by a bunch of old men who have no idea what's going on."

In the future, when these protesters have also become just "a bunch of old women," perhaps The Times will report on the reality of a thriving church and the millions of women who support and cherish it despite its human flaws.

JULIANN REYNOLDS

Alta Loma

I am a 24-year-old Mormon woman, married, mother of one child and full-time student preparing to graduate with my bachelor of arts degree this year. The course my life is taking is one that is fulfilling, progressive and dignified to me, as well as commendable from the point of view of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As Phoenix Stake President William Monahan has been noted to have said, Mormons do believe that women have profound "special roles," distinctive from those of men.

Nothing is lacking in respectability, potentiality and ultimate personal responsibility about these roles, and there is nothing about these roles that is repressive to a woman's God-given nature. Certainly, Mormon women who feel that their needs for self-actualization and personal fulfillment conflict with Church teachings misunderstand its doctrine, and undoubtedly their confusion arises from a muddled ideology of rightness represented by some unnecessarily defensive feminists in modern society.

LAURIE CISNEROS

Glendora

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