Comments about ‘LDS spokesman sends open letter about Mormon women’

Return to article »

Published: Thursday, May 29 2014 7:05 p.m. MDT

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended

The letter is tasteful and fair, given the hostility Public Affairs has been shown recently in the blogs referred to in the letter.

Maybe the most important clarification in the letter is that Public Affairs works under the direct supervision of the apostles, and that it would never issue a statement that cannot be taken as a statement of the church itself.

I may not understand everything about church policy, but I'm willing to whole-heartedly support it. This letter gives me added confidence in the wisdom and inspiration of the leaders of the church.

Beach girl
Huntington Beach, CA

Well said!

Salt Lake City, UT

I am very impressed with the kind, yet direct way that Mr. Otterson responds to critical matters affecting the LDS Church. His letter was excellent.

OC Fan
Orange County, CA

I'm a man, so take these comments with a grain of salt. While my experience is limited, it includes service from stake presidency to Primary.

As I read blogs discussing gender issues, the picture painted of women's dissatisfaction with the Church is a distinct minority view. Almost all men and women I know, while disagreeing on many issues, work together across the range of Church callings with mutual respect, unity, and selflessness. Our work together generally brings great satisfaction. Our heads are not in the sand; these gender issues are discussed openly in places like stake and ward councils, classes, and in the hallway between meetings.

I can't change the doctrines relating to gay marriage or the priesthood or any other issue, but I can strive to live so that each person in my life feels complete acceptance and love of the Lord from me. Whether serving under the direction of the stake or the Primary president, I try to pattern my service on the Savior.

And I'm inspired by others without regard to gender or other categories; my only limitations are my own failings.

Ft Thomas, KY

I'm disappointed that we don't hear directly from the Prophet and Apostles on these matters. When it is done by a PR person it makes me wonder why the Prophet won't speak about it himself. I have nothing but respect for our senior church leaders but I wish in these troubled times they had the courage of a Samuel the Lamanite. He didn't send a PR spokesman up on the wall...he got up there himself so the people had no doubt that the message was from God through his Prophet.

American Fork, UT

As long as you stay within the limits of 'non negotiable demands', which you don't get to define, everything will be fine.

Castle Rock, CO

I agree that the letter was well-written, thoughtful, and sensitive to women's concerns. However, at a certain point I feel like the Church has listened enough and it is time for action. There is no reason why a woman can't be Sunday School president, or why a man can't be Primary president. Must all the clerks always be men? And why are women so few in number in ward councils? At our recent ward conference, not a single speaker was a woman. Between the Bishop, the Stake President, the High Council Speaker, and the youth speaker, everyone who spoke and sat on the stand was a man (except for the pianist and the chorister, of course). What kind of message is that sending to women? That we should be followers and not leaders. That we need to listen and learn rather than teach.

I'm not a radical feminist. I don't feel the need to have the priesthood. But it would be nice for women to have more important roles in church and feel that their opinions are more valued.

Springville, UT

So is this doctrine? Is this to be read over the pulpit? Help me understand why anything a "PR spokesperson" says matters. He's the marketing and advertising guy. I don't recall being asked to sustain him. Who was the marketing guy back in the days of Christ...or after?

Shouldn't the Church be concerned only with following Christ, regardless of how it is perceived or accepted by the public? And why can't one of the Church's leaders come out and say something in regards to this issue, rather than have their marketing guy handle it?

This is one of those moments that doesn't quite sit well with me.

Arlington, va

Fantastic, bold and clarifying. Perfect. And it ended with kindness. This letter represents the views of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as it was obviously approved before it went out. Any attempts to discredit Michael Otterson would be blatant and purposeful attacks on the Prophet and Apostles.

"First it is important to understand that the Public Affairs Department of the
Church does not freelance. For Public Affairs to initiate or take a position
inconsistent with the views of those who preside over the Church is simply
unthinkable, as anyone who has ever worked for the Church will attest.

As managing director of the Public Affairs Department, I work under the direct
supervision of two members of the Twelve apostles, two members of the
Presidency of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishop, and alongside a remarkable
and devoted staff of men and women.

This group of senior General Authorities often refers matters of particular
importance to other councils of men and women leaders, to the full Quorum of
the Twelve Apostles and to the First Presidency for further discussion or decision.”

Again, this letter represents the views of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Farmington, UT

I find your post quite interesting, especially in light of the fact that several of the speakers in April General Conference addressed "these matters" in their talks. If you're looking for a "Samuel the Lamanite on the wall" declaration, look up and watch the detailed discussion by Elder Dallin H. Oaks on "The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood".

I note your comment that you "have nothing but respect for our senior church leaders", but you are "disappointed" in them and find them lacking in courage.

As for any doubt that it represents the united view and feelings of our leaders, read the entire text of Brother Otterson's letter. He makes it quite clear that he and his department work under the direct supervision of two of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve, and that "it’s important to understand that the Public Affairs Department of the Church does not freelance. For Public Affairs to initiate or take a position inconsistent with the views of those who preside over the Church is simply unthinkable". 'Nuff said.

Eldersburg, MD


The Prophet and the Apostles do speak on this subject. Check out Elder Oaks in the last Priesthood General Conference. There are many others.

The heart of the matter is this, will members of the Lord's Church follow patterns of popular culture or trust in leaders and doctrine they profess to believe? That is the real test in these troubled times. Will worldliness supplant the witness of truth the Saints receive in their hearts and minds?

When the pertinent issues of the day that have risen from cumulative sins and corruption where people lose the ability of discerning good and evil, where should our trust reside? Should it be in the world or God? And if in God, do we trust His appointed leaders on the earth in these days?

It is not always easy in these days to know what is truth or manmade fabrication. But, we can through prayer and a commitment to follow the Savior gain this knowledge over time even if we are unsure in the present. Of this I am certain...

Iowa City, IA

Hi Mack2828,

Check Elder Oaks most recent conference talk for an example of an apostle addressing some of the issues raised by these groups.

On the other hand
Riverdale, MD

@Mack2828, for that matter, why did God send Samuel the Lamanite to deliver that message? Nephi, not Samuel, was the person faithful Nephites would have recognized as their prophet. Not saying Samuel wasn't a prophet, he just wasn't the Nephite equivalent of Thomas S. Monson.

Mr. Otterson's letter doesn't provide any new doctrine or revelation; it just attempts to set the record straight regarding some points that have been raised recently in public forums, some of which involve him and his department specifically.

We frequently hear from the prophet and other general authorities about the value and importance of women. I don't think it hurts to hear similar things from the Public Affairs Department.

Niskayuna, NY

This issue is one that cannot be won in the court of public opinion. It's a waste of time and resources to engage these issues with extremists and it's almost not worth the time to address them at all publicly.

Attleboro, MA

This letter did a nice job of dancing around the elephant in the living room. The fact remains that women are virtually invisible in church leadership positions numerically. They are, however, workhorses in the church. Women are a tremendous resource everywhere in the web of the gospel except relating to church policy allowing women to influence church policy. IF women, by virtue of their ability to be mothers, are indeed the counterpoint, counterpart to the priesthood, then women don't need the priesthood to hold leadership positions in the church. They should be able to serve, speak, and lead quite ably. Deborah was a prophet. Yet, she did not hold the priesthood. Every time the missionaries give the discussion on prophets, I correct them on that point. It is simply not true that only men have been prophets. Women have too. Women have led Israel. You don't need to "have" the priesthood to be a prophet.

Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

As far was women and the priesthood goes. Had they listened to the last conference, they were given as clear of an answer as can be given from an apostle. Their trouble is, they are so intent on getting the answer they want, they won't listen to the answer that is given. They would have also learned what the priesthood is. Which it is not the men in the church. The priesthood is used by all in the church, in different capacities.

For some reason, this small number of women believe "revelation" comes from grass roots efforts to force God to change his doctrine. An example given is blacks and the priesthood. They believe that the church after immense pressure was forced to change doctrine. The fact is the doctrine has always been to allow all worthy males to hold the priesthood, a policy in the church prevented it from going to everyone. That policy was changed.

There have been many changes in the church, and there will be many more changes in the church to come. However, the approach of ordain women isn't how the changes will come.

IA Cougar
West Des Moines, IA

"I'm disappointed that we don't hear directly from the Prophet and Apostles on these matters."

I believe we have. When you read their words over the past several general conferences and reflect on their actions (which speak louder than words) I believe you can see it. I think specifically of the address Elder Oaks gave in the last Priesthood Session. I think about how the General RS Presidency, YW Presidency and Primary Presidency were seated prominently front and center on the stand in the Conference Center (where prior they were on the side), the age of missionary age changed, women praying in conference, etc. etc. All of this shows that the leadership of the Church at the highest levels are responding to the needs of women who are so incredibly valuable to the Church.

My guess is that they are not telling the world about it through press releases and direct words, rather, they are doing it behind the scenes in meaningful ways that those who are observing can see and give them credit for. I see progress and I think it is very positive.

Paul in MD
Montgomery Village, MD

@Mack2828, we do hear from them on issues like this. Read or view the conference talks from the April 2014 conference. There were several references to these issues. No, there wasn't one talk devoted to this specific issue, but there is direction there.

We may yet see or hear something like this directly from the brethren, but as someone else mentioned, letters like this don't go public without the approval of the brethren assigned to provide guidance to the public relations group, so these can be taken as at least conforming to the thoughts of the brethren, even if they are not written by them.

Remember that church governance is not guided by politics, nor does it bow to the prevailing news cycle. The brethren speak directly to us when prompted by the Lord, and it is on His timetable, not ours.

Sandy, UT


It sure seems like to me the Apostles have discussed this issues on numerous occasions. I do not think they need to respond very time some group with an agenda gets holds a press conference. I think they have better things to do then constantly respond to the grievance crowd.

Logan, UT

It's been my experience that when women aren't heard, it's because the women in question have not effectively communicated their concerns. Some of this may be due to past misunderstandings of doctrine that church leaders have tried very hard to clear up.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments