Mormon Women

Mormons oppress women?

The Relief Society's official seal

The seal of the LDS Relief Society, the largest women's organization in the world.

Women preach from Mormon pulpits and serve as organization presidents, teachers, committee chairs, etc, even at the global level of leadership. ()
(Accurate as of 2006.)

The LDS women’s organization, called the Relief Society, was started in 1842 and is the largest women’s organization in the world.
(Accurate as of 2006.)

The Church also has an organization for young women (image).

In 1870, Utah became the second state in the United States to extend to women the right to vote. Wyoming beat us by two months.
(Accurate as of 2006.)

Sheri L. Dew, a Mormon leader and the CEO of the church’s Deseret Book Company, speaking about Mormon women. Addressing a Mormon audience, sister Dew uses a lot of “mormonese” (sorry friends of other faiths!). Just the same, her message is powerful.
Some highly visible Mormon women have included…

  • Ivy Baker Priest (1905-1975), who served “as the U.S. Treasurer under President Eisenhower. Her signature appeared on U.S. currency from 1953 to 1961. She went on to serve as California Treasurer under Ronald Reagan.”
  • Paula Hawkins, the first female senator elected from the state of Florida.
  • Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon, the first female state senator in U.S. history.

Mormons practice polygamy?

While Mormon polygamy is interesting from a historical standpoint, it is not relevant to modern Mormonism. Members of the Church have not practiced polygamy for over a century, and any Church member with multiple wives is excommunicated. ()

  • When Mormons did practice polygamy, it was very different than that practiced by renegade Mormon off-shoot groups today, groups that are no longer affiliated with the LDS Church. Even before the LDS Church prohibited polygamy, no more than 25% of Mormon adults were members of polygamous families.
  • Polygamy was not used to oppress women, as evidenced by a number of historical facts.
    • Many Mormon women were prominent in their communities, such as Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon, whose story is mentioned above.
    • In response to anti-polygamy legislation proposed in the Senate, 3,000 Mormon women held a massive protest in Salt Lake City, showing a surprised America that they supported the practice. (See The Story of the Latter-day Saints, pg. 352.)
    • Utah was the second state in the union to give women the right to vote.
    • In fact, recognizing that support for polygamy ran high among Mormon women of the time, Congress took away their right to vote 17 years after the Utah government had acknowledged it, all part of a federal attempt to combat the practice. (See The Story of the Latter-day Saints, pg. 352-353.)
  • Currently, even in countries where polygamy is legal, any individuals practicing it cannot be members of the Church.
  • Enemies of the Church like to mention this practice to criticize us, but they rarely mention that some modern Muslims and Hindus, as well as ancient Israelites, also practice(d) polygamy. This criticism directed at Mormons is furthermore paradoxical because polygamy, while historically interesting, is irrelevant in modern Mormonism.
  • That having been said, I am very grateful Mormons don’t practice polygamy today and that it no longer plays a role in Mormon theology. I can barely handle my one wife!

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