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An Open Letter to the New York Times

An Open Letter to the New York Times
The following first appeared in Public Square Magazine and was written by Carol Rice. It is shared here with permission.

I write not to presume representation for all Latter-day Saint women. From the Intermountain West corridor to far-reaching global communities, we have different experiences and deep sentiments that shape our perceptions at a moment like this.

Recently, the Church of Jesus Christ released a Relief Society broadcast to the membership of the Church. The overall intent of the broadcast seemed to be focused on how women are essential to the work of the gospel. President Nelson said, “Women have been at the center of our Heavenly Father’s plan from the beginning… [and] if the world should ever lose the moral rectitude of its women, the world would never recover.”

Despite these touching words, there are some women who have felt the message from the broadcast did not place women on equal footing with men and, additionally, that the Church is keeping women out of positions of power. This has led other news sources to announce that the majority of LDS women feel this sense of disempowerment when it comes to the Church.

Our hearts go out to these women who have felt unheard, unlistened to, and underrepresented. We do not deny their personal experience; however, we feel this widely broadcasted message is not giving fair credence to women who have also felt empowered, loved, and valued within the Church.   

We are a mosaic of narratives, not a monolith.

Latter-Day Saint women challenge the narrative of oppression, countering the view that they lack power within the Church of Jesus Christ.

This is the exception taken with the recent article published by The New York Times, which demonstrates a lack of professionalism, sensitivity, and respect towards our community. Our experiences cannot be constrained within cultural constructs. We recognize it is difficult to fathom our feelings without a lens of faith. However, to answer your question, we feel elevated and empowered in our efforts.

While an extensive review of the claims made about women’s religious experience could be necessary, it goes beyond the scope of this letter. However, we choose not to view all human relationships through the lens of ‘power differentials.’ Quite simply, we believe it is inaccurate to paint all individuals as inherently self-interested. Power, as described in certain ideologies as a measure of control, is not an unimportant concept, but it does not have a place within the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see ourselves and our place in the church beyond the dichotomy of ‘privileged’ and ‘oppressed.’

While not every woman would articulate these thoughts in identical terms, in our collective voice, we ask that The New York Times editors and its readership please hear this:

We choose to follow Him.

Our religious conviction and membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reflect a resolute commitment that is not merely a convenient affiliation; it is rooted in profound reverence for Jesus Christ, His priesthood, His plan, His redemption, and His church. He is the source of our joy; the God of our fathers—and our mothers.

Our belief rests on the assurance of a very personal Savior who can and does heal our individual pains because we do not expect perfection from our leaders or claim it of ourselves. 

Protesting against His prophets and criticism against His church is not our way.

Nothing holy is born out of grievance. Nor is sustainable testimony fueled by anger.

It is our hope that discussions regarding our community be approached with greater consideration for the deeply held convictions that guide us. We seek conversations rooted in understanding and mutual respect. Sadly, it is you—while posing questions about our empowerment—that we feel unheard by.

Signed,

(If you would like to include your name on this letter and post that was originally published on Public Square Magazine, please email us at bholmes@publicsquaremag.org)

Carol Rice

Brianna Holmes

Shaleice Bartholomew

Taylor Jensen

Lauren Jensen 

Brenda Andrewsen

Ashlynn Fletcher

Kaitlynn Geddes

Jacquelynn Andrewsen

Lisa Bartholomew

Amanda Freebairn

Taylor Wilkes

Hannah Rice

Liz Busby

Rachel Teran

Cassandra Hedelius

Dominique Christoffersen

Linda Hill

Abrianna Rice

Jennifer Roach

Lela Hill

Becky Thomas

Kristin Williams

Danielle Olsen

Suzanne Floyd

Cambria Tubbs

Lynnette Sheppard

Gale Boyd

Emily Rosenbalm 

Brooke Hall

Courtney Davis

Margo Janus

Lora Schillemat

Kari Ward

Christy Jensen

Kim Cannon

Lauren Jensen

Becky Squire

Lara Roetto

Meagan Kohler

Sherstin Rice

Shalie Hancock

Krystal Sanders

Kyrsten Snyder

Erin Holmes

Lisa Pack 

Marne Pack

Kristin Williams

Tiesha Anderson

Natalie Clark

Cambria Tubbs

Alaina Olinger

Leslie Shannon Rabon

Dianna Tomlinson

Cindy Oswald

Emily James

Catherine Hoffman

Trina Burdge

Kylie Burdge

Pam Warren

Dilene Pulsipher

Linda Nelson

Janae Wahnschaffe

Emily James 

Lisa Dickson

Pam Peebles

Melanie Hansen

Krystie Jensen

Melissa Kendall

April Cline Jones

Thalia Mansfield

Charlotte Cline

Kristine Stringham

Sara Christensen

Josie Parsons

Stephanie Umland

Ellan Christiansen

Nancy Hamblin

Erica Low

Rindy Heslop

Leslie Headrick

Tianna Shaw

Camille Knecht

Madison Brakey

Jacque Brown

Megan Miller

Andrea Diaz-Giovani

Ann C. Biada

Lisa Erickson

Laruen Dranwy

Carolyn Gelder 

Nina Dayton 

Aimee Mallory

Amanda Griffin

Charli Fraughton

Abby Tanner 

Rachel Woodbury

Valerie Broyles

Adrian Cohen

Meg Marie johnson

Emily Perry 

Rebecca Richardson

Jeanine Crane

Rachel Noble 

Abigail Blanchard

Laura Hudson

Tammie Reber

Laura Davis

Brandi Draney

Adrian Groth

Drexel Guzy

April Cook 

Jennifer Stafford

Kari Whittier

Shelley Miner

Karissa Bagley

Tiffany Houston

Ann Keys

Angela Walker

Jan Oliver

Adriann Goodwine

Ramona Andrus

Raquel Thomas

Jessica Jorgensen

Michelle Glass 

Teresa Curtis

Mercedes Moretti

Teressa Howell Moulton

Carrie Horejs

Kathryn Kelly Madson

Erika LeSueur

Kaylee Jones

Kellie Buckner

Alora Smith

Susan Wilson

Erin Butler

Melissa Sanders

Sydney Otto

Melanie Pratt

Jessica Brown

Brandi Hogan

Narissara Tarazon

Jennie Moss

Sarah Ipson

Keli Capel

Caitlin Justiniano

Melanie Gallini Pratt

Hannah Rizzuto

Darla Gaylor

Sheena Wilson

Marilee Johnson

Lois Brown

Sandee Spencer

Rachel Thompson

Kimberly Smith

Tiffany Seavy

McKenzie Archibald

Lori Thoman

Alysha Collier

Laura Sims

Tamara Snow

Margie Stringam

Kelsee Boyer

Keri Stewart

Lezlie Fitts

Cammy Rasmussen

Gayle Lewis

Cindy Johnson

Rachel Snider

Kristin Frey

Charly Parkinson

Sharla Nethercott

Shayla Egan

Kelly Boyle

Kimber Jessop

Melissa Winegar

Catherine Brandt

Brecklyn Kershaw

Catherine Watkins

Mary Lynn Johnson

Loree Zito

Nina Wigginton

Wende Tate

Natalie Wilson

Mikelle Iva Latimer Cummock

Deana Steed

Shaustia Brown

Julee Swanson

Angela Turley

Marlee Brown

Gabby Fletcher

Layna Matthews

Christina Johnson

Amy Day

Erica Smith

Michelle Abbott

Cherie Tait

Amber Pearce

Mandy Davis

Hayley Clark

Emily Ann Adams

Tiana Barker

Jamie Barkdull 

Angela King

Shannon Jones

Dawn Anderson

Becky Ward

Hannah Carter

Alisha Pehrson

Robyn Jones

Kathryn Skaggs

Kim Abish Wise

Lyndee Wright

Tara James

Melissa Ostler

Kathleen Julian

Jen Mortensen

Beth Gawthrop

Rachael Burnham

Katherine Resse

Ashley Zimmerman

Keri Stewart

Adrian Groth

Julie Cawley Hanson

Erica Wilker

Marcy Leonard

Kim Evans

Barbara Wanlass

Suzanne Stokes

Janene Bijou

Merian Johnson

Debbie Gale

Marla Kim Morrill

Krista M. Isaacson

Alisa Johnson

Tricia Andersen

Hallie Roberts

Maree Wilson

Gabby Fletcher

Erica Coleman

Cerani Whitehurst

Shelly Norton

Britta Thunell Gross

Nicole Sampson

Susan Merkley

Monday 1st of April 2024

Please add my name!

Julie Harris

Monday 1st of April 2024

Please add my name! Agree whole heartedly with what was said. Julie Harris

Debbie Hamilton

Monday 1st of April 2024

@Julie Harris,

Shauna Foster

Wednesday 27th of March 2024

Please add my name

Claudia Arnett Long

Wednesday 27th of March 2024

Thank you for this defense of the true values that we hold and feel. I am proud to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My joy and any callings come from Jesus Christ. The world view is not my view. I will continue to Think Celestial, despite those who want to spread the contention to do otherwise by those who follow their own desires.

Lori West

Wednesday 27th of March 2024

So beautifully said!