Chelsea Shields: How I’m working for change inside my church-4

Because religion doesn’t just create the roots of morality, it creates the seeds of normality. Religions can liberate or subjugate, they can empower or exploit, they can comfort or destroy, and the people that tip the scales over to the ethical and the moral are often not those in charge. Religions can’t be dismissed or ignored. We need to take them seriously. But it’s not easy to influence a religion, like we just talked about.

But I’ll tell you what my people have done. My groups are small, there’s hundreds of us, but we’ve had huge impact. Right now, women’s pictures are hanging in the halls next to men for the first time. Women are now allowed to pray in our church-wide meetings, and they never were before in the general conferences. As of last week, in a historic move, three women were invited down to three leadership boards that oversee the entire church. We’ve seen perceptual shifts in the Mormon community that allow for talk of gender inequality. We’ve opened up space, regardless of being despised, for more conservative women to step in and make real changes, and the words “women” and “the priesthood” can now be uttered in the same sentence. I never had that. My daughter and my nieces are inheriting a religion that I never had, that’s more equal — we’ve had an effect.

It wasn’t easy standing in those lines trying to get into those male meetings. There were hundreds of us, and one by one, when we got to the door, we were told, “I’m sorry, this meeting is just for men,” and we had to step back and watch men get into the meeting as young as 12 years old, escorted and walked past us as we all stood in line. But not one woman in that line will forget that day, and not one little boy that walked past us will forget that day.

If we were a multinational corporation or a government, and that had happened, there would be outrage, but we’re just a religion. We’re all just part of religions. We can’t keep looking at religion that way, because it doesn’t only affect me, it affects my daughter and all of your daughters and what opportunities they have, what they can wear, who they can love and marry, if they have access to reproductive healthcare. We need to reclaim morality in a secular context that creates ethical scrutiny and accountability for religions all around the world, but we need to do it in a respectful way that breeds cooperation and not extremism. And we can do it through unignorable acts of bravery, standing up for gender equality.

It’s time that half of the world’s population had voice and equality within our world’s religions, churches, synagogues, mosques and shrines around the world. I’m working on my people. What are you doing for yours?


Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!


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