The goal of Ordain Women was to reinvigorate a conversation about female ordination that would ultimately lead to a prophet hearing from God – via revelation – if it was time to evolve the policy. They designed the civil disobedience of their public protests to be deferential to the institution’s hierarchy. At their center, Kate Kelly was a devout, temple-attending Mormon; she believed whole-heartedly that she was engaging in a dialogue with an institution that would dignify her question with a reasonable response.
Instead the Church's response was the harshest in their arsenal. Excommunication is more than a spiritual condemnation. Mormonism is an integrated way of life, instructing the devout on everything from food options to choice of underwear. Historically and by design, Mormons live in relatively isolated communities in which conformity and obedience are encouraged; outliers are isolated.
These communities are built around a hierarchy of church leadership, under the priesthood. Priests are all, without exception, men. Opportunities for leadership within the Mormon lifestyle are designated roles: male Mormons are raised to be leaders with careers; female Mormons are raised to be mothers. Consequently, few women in Mormonism achieve prominence.
In contrast to tradition, the “bloggernacle” is an emerging, vibrant online hub of democratic progressive thought, including feminist thought, where practicing and non-practicing Mormons can explore their faith and its relevance to the modern world. Kate trusted that this online community was a game-changer that would demonstrate widespread solidarity with Ordain Women’s mission. Her conviction that it would protect her from excommunication was arguably naïve, but the invincibility she portrayed leading up to the excommunication garnered the kind of momentum that gave people hope, and empowered women in a way that is difficult to reverse.
The Mormon Church holds political and financial influence in the United States and around the world. Its philanthropic endeavors, its lobbying efforts, and the secular leaders it supports are all influenced by Church policy. The institutionalized exclusion of women from leadership in the Church insures that women do not contribute to Church policy. Thus, the importance of Ordain Women, and including women in the priesthood, has deep ramifications that extend well beyond the religious community to the world at large.