October 8, 2013

Big majority of Mormons (including women) oppose women in priesthood

FT_Mormons_WomanLeaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormon Church)  reaffirmed their position that women should not be eligible for the priesthood this past weekend at the semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City.

The Mormon priesthood is different than the priesthood in some other faiths. All worthy male members of the church are eligible to begin priesthood service when they reach age 12, and men may hold various offices in the priesthood – such as deacon, teacher, priest, elder or high priest – at different stages in their lives.

A group of women reportedly attempted to gain entry to last weekend’s all-male priesthood session, but they were not allowed in. “Most church members would see such efforts as divisive,” LDS Church spokeswoman Ruth Todd said in a statement, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

A 2011 Pew Research Center survey found that most U.S. Mormons oppose the idea of female membership in the priesthood. Asked whether women who are dedicated members of the LDS Church should be ordained to the priesthood, 87% of U.S. Mormons said no, while 11% said yes.

Mormon women are somewhat more likely than men to oppose the idea of women in the priesthood. Fully nine-in-ten Mormon women (90%) say women should not be ordained, compared with 84% of Mormon men.

The survey measured the religious commitment of respondents based on questions about the importance of religion, frequency of prayer and frequency of worship attendance. The belief that women should be ordained to the priesthood is held least among those who have the highest levels of religious commitment; just 4% of Mormons in that group say women should be ordained, while 95% say they should not. Even among Mormons with lower levels of religious commitment, however, nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say women should not be eligible for the priesthood.

Topics: Religious Beliefs and Practices, Mormons and Mormonism

  1. Photo of Michael Lipka

    is a senior editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. M3 years ago

    The only way I would consider being ordained is if our prophet came out and said that this was ok, which he hasn’t. I know he is a prophet of God and will only do God’s will and this isn’t God’s will. This being said I have no desire to be ordained to the priesthood. I have my responsibilities as a full time single mom who also who also works, I don’t need the priesthood. The priesthood blessings are always available to me and my children, I have always had and still have those blessing in my life whenever I need them. I don’t want to take those responsibilities away from those that have it, God gave men that responsibility and that’s where it should be. I don’t see any gender inequality here, I see responsibility as God has intended them to be. I oppose women having the priesthood because I believe that isn’t the way God meant it to be.

  2. Garry Closson3 years ago

    I am a practicing male member of the mormon church, that means that I attend meetings every Sunday and fulfill callings when asked and attend the temple regularly. My personal feelings with regard to women holding the priesthood are in line with the churches doctrine and official position as defined by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I also understand that there are diverse opinions and feelings about this subject within the rank and file of the church. It is the right of every member to ask questions about doctrine and policies of the church, and to use there God given right to decide for themselves what to believe and how that affects what they do in there personal lives. If some find that they are in opposition to church doctrine and policy they are free to leave the church and associate themselve with organizations that feel as they do. If a friend of mine decided to leave the church I don’t think that I would shun him for his decission. The principle of agency is the of absolute importance in God’s plan for us all. When a person joins the mormon church they accept the doctrine and position of the church in its entirety, it is their right to choose. If they find after joining the church that they disagree with what they have previously accepted, they can ask the church for a clarification, but do not have the right to come out in open rebellion, but it is their right to leave the church and disassociate themselves. This is Christ’s Church and he alone sets the doctrine and position.

  3. Jeff Drake3 years ago

    While this poll was indubitably well conducted, the explanation leaves a bit to be desired. There are some problems with this article:

    1) The title and fourth and fifth paragraphs speak of “women in priesthood” and “membership in the priesthood.” While I obviously understand what Mr. Lipka is trying to say, the specific wording is somewhat nonsensical. The Priesthood is divine power and authority given to mortals on earth. “Membership in the priesthood” would be like “membership in the electricity” or “membership in the natural gas.” Priesthood isn’t something one is a part of; it’s something one has. Again, I assume I understand what he was trying to say, but this distinction is very important, particularly among Latter-day Saints (the views of whom, after all, are the subject of this study).

    2) The first paragraph states that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “also known as the Mormon Church.” While this is true, “the Mormon Church” is a hateful slur, invented by people who couldn’t get together a big enough mob to rape, pillage, and murder the “Christians” or the “Saints”. It should never be used in decent conversation, much less academia; one might as well say “African-Americas (also known as Niggers)”. Sorry to be so blunt, but the point is that either statement is extremely inappropriate.

    3) The first paragraph also states that the Church “reaffirmed their position that women should not be eligible for the priesthood.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Again, the Priesthood is nothing more nor less than the divine authority God shares with His children. Every female Church member has access to this authority, unless she forfeits it through sin; the same cannot be said of male members. One need only look at Church membership records to see the difference: newly baptized females immediately receive the Priesthood authority of a Member; newly baptized males, on the other hand, receive no such authority and are considered Unordained. As a Member, the newly baptized woman has all the Priesthood necessary to serve in innumerable capacities in the Church, including as a temple worker performing some of the highest and holiest ordinances on earth. As an Unordained, the newly baptized man can’t even walk into the temple, let alone perform ordinances therein. (For more on this subject, see what was actually stated in General Conference: tinyurl.com/gc-oaks-201404.)

    Again, I want to emphasize that I have the greatest respect for Pew Research and all that it does, and I also respect their methods and the results they produce. But this particular article leaves a bit to be desired, not because it be incorrect, but because the implication be.

  4. Isaac3 years ago

    Pew Survey Question suggestion for LDS women:

    1. If offered the priesthood by the prophet, would you refuse it?
    2. If church leaders said women could be ordained would you support it?
    3. Would you welcome the ordination of women, if the general authorities approved it?
    etc. etc. and any similar type of questions like the above list of questions would have been more insightful and honest.

    I would guess that 90% or more of the LDS women would have answered a resounding YES. The Pew Survey question “Should women who are dedicated members of the LDS Church be ordained to the priesthood?” is not taking into account that most “faithful” LDS women and men would have no problem with women being ordained IF the prophet declared the change. Members of the LDS Church recognize that the prophet is the only one to reveal from God any change for something this significant.

    One very significant difference between the “dedicated” women in the LDS Church and women who belong to other religions is that leaders who serve in priesthood positions of the LDS Church do NOT receive pay or monetary gain for services rendered. Dedicated women in the LDS Church are already busy enough without becoming bishops, stake presidents, or any position of priesthood leadership without pay.

    1. Dennis2 years ago

      Pew Survey Question suggestion for LDS Church members:

      1. If offered to chance to walk on water with the Savior as Peter did, would you refuse it?
      2. If the Savior said that if was ok for members to walk on water with him, would you support it?
      3. Would you welcome the opportunity to walk on water with Christ, if he approved it?

      Ah, wonderful (and irrelevant) “what ifs”, huh Isaac? I would guess that 90% or more of LDS church members would answer with a resounding YES. The fact is that a very large majority of LDS women don’t have a problem with the church’s teachings or practices on the priesthood, and anti-Mormons just can’t believe, or live with, this fact! Imaginary oppression is preferred by them than this reality.

      1. Dennis2 years ago

        Sorry, ” Imaginary oppression is preferred by them TO this reality.”

  5. Hazel Morrison3 years ago

    I believe, in our pre-mortal life, we have the opportunity to decide which gender we are. I believe we are told/taught what is expected of us. At that time we have “free agency” to wait to be male or female. Our choice in the pre-mortal determines our gender therefore determines our role in life. I may be wrong, but I feel this way. I am very happy to be a female in this life. I look forward to being the female in the next.

  6. CTC3 years ago

    It is a crazy question.

    God chooses who is conferred the priesthood and the doctrine of the church. If President Monson and the presiding leaders of the church, received a revelation stating that women should be “ordained” to the priesthood, I would say “that’s great, when do we start.” But it is not my choice, and I don’t need to question that.

  7. debra3 years ago

    In answer to the “Black Race” who could not receive the priesthood, this question cannot be answered simply, without a study of the past and a forsaking of past practises. I suggest a deep study on the subject, I suggest that as one seeks, studies and ponders on such things, answers will come as there is a season for all things to be fulfilled. Do we need evidence of God’s unmatched power, do the scriptures not testify of his greatness, remember that when the day comes, the scripture testifies, that “Every Knee” shall bow.

  8. debra3 years ago

    As an Lds women, I sustain the leader’s of God’s church, I know this is God’s church and do not seek to council God but to take council from him. I know that I have access to the blessing and power of the priesthood and stand as an equal in God’s church, where the teachings have blessed my life and the lives of my children, as converts to this church we will continue to do so, come what may.

  9. Danny R. Wright3 years ago


  10. flowerheimer3 years ago

    Hello. I apologize if this post (or the gist of it) comes up twice. I just thought I had already posted, but don’t see it yet.
    Anyway, the gist of what I was saying is the following:
    I am an LDS woman, and I don’t want to be ordained to the priesthood. And this is in spite of the fact that I tend to call myself a “feminist” in at least some sense of the word. I have a few reasons for not wanting to be ordained to the Priesthood. One reason is the simple fact that I just don’t need more things to do. I don’t need to oversee what other people are doing in their callings at church, because I am pretty proud of myself when I just fulfill my own two callings, which are nursery teacher and special needs Relief Society teacher. Another reason is that I am a mother, and well, I want to actually see my daughter before she grows up. I feel it is very important for a mother to just, well, be around. I need to be there for my girl. I am busy with church, but I am grateful that I don’t have the job of going to priesthood meetings on top of all the other things I am trying to do. And just belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints has plenty of important things for women to do! It’s not like they just sit back and do nothing, of course.
    Just as a side note: My husband passed away. But if he were still here, I would appreciate him going and serving in his Priesthood callings, and simply letting me do all the things I need to do. Also, my husband was NEVER an “I am the male; you are the female; therefore I rule” kind of guy. He didn’t have an ounce of sexism in his whole body. In fact, when I married him, he actually considered taking my surname. And this was HIS suggestion, not mine.
    Anyway, I think men NEED to serve, just like women, and children need to. I think some men have the tendency to say “Oh, my wife will do it if I don’t get around to it.” But if they are the only ones who are ordained, they just can’t delegate to their wives or the Relief Society some of the things that they simply need to get up and go do and serve. Men NEED the chance to serve. Women, in general, tend to do this innately. But men have a unique chance with the priesthood, as it is something they just CAN’T delegate. Of course, they can choose not to, but, there are many things that they just basically need to go out and do. And it blesses themselves, and blesses so many other people. And it really is from God. Not to be abused. But something THEY need to do.

    1. Bird3 years ago

      Thank you! You said how I feel.

    2. Shari Dodson3 years ago

      AMEN and AMEN!!

    3. Rosa Bermudez3 years ago


    4. Anja Steffensen3 years ago

      Thank you! I couldn’t say it better. These women do not believe in the priesthood really. They simply have not understood what the priesthood is. Priesthood was restored through revelation. If it was intended that women should have it the way these women want, it would be revealed to the prophet through the Priesthood not through a member who doesn’t have the authority to do so.

  11. D-I-Y-mom3 years ago

    As a mormon woman I felt the need to write a post to adequately share my feelings on this subject:

  12. Paul M4 years ago

    “A group of women reportedly attempted to gain entry to last weekend’s all-male priesthood session”

    They should be excommunicated immediately. Why? Because they don’t actually believe their religion. They don’t actually believe that there’s any sort of God-given truth to it – they think it’s merely some sort of social club. A lifestyle choice.

    They don’t genuinely believe a word of it. They are not mormons.

    1. Sam3 years ago

      Wow! What an egregious use of the No True Scotsman fallacy!


      1. Bob3 years ago

        This has nothing to do with the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

        It would be more like No True Scotsman is born in the Hawaii to Greek parents. Which is of course true. You define a Scotsman as someone who is either born in Scotland or has Scottish heritage, not be some silly arbitrary behavior that is commonly attributed to Scotsmen.

        Well being a member of the church actually requires you to state your belief in a modern prophet on the earth today and that you believe that he receives revelation from god on behalf of his people. So saying that you think the prophet is wrong about Women belonging to the priesthood and that you are correct is actually contradicting oaths made when joining the church. It doesn’t merit excommunication, but you certainly do not believe in the core teachings of the church required at baptism to protest in that manner.

  13. gramval4 years ago


    1. Eric3 years ago

      I think Catherine Wessinger of Loyola University (New Orleans) said it well:

      The word “cult” represents just as much prejudice and antagonism as racial slurs or derogatory words for women and homosexuals. She has argued that it is important for people to become aware of the bigotry conveyed by the word, drawing attention to the way it dehumanises the group’s members and their children. Labeling a group as subhuman, she says, becomes a justification for violence against it.

    2. Exil3 years ago

      Yes, yes it is. As a former member that grew up indoctrination since birth I can affirm this.

  14. Bruce4 years ago

    The “if-then” conundrum for Ordain Women is this. “If” the priesthood (aka – the power of God) is worth having, “then” it must truly be from God. “If” it is truly from God, “then” the prophet who holds the keys of that same priesthood must be a true prophet. “If” he is a true prophet, “then” he communicates directly with and is obedient to God. “If” he communicates with and is obedient to God, “then” the priesthood is being administered according to God’s will.

    Ordain Women are left then to argue that the prophet is simply not asking the right questions, but that wrongly suggests that God does not reveal His will unless asked.

    The divisiveness of the question Ordain Women are really asking may be framed akin to the question about paying tribute to Caesar posed to Jesus 2000 years ago: “Tell us therefore, what thinkest thou? Is it lawful to ordain women to the priesthood, or not?”

    The question was designed to entrap the respondent, which is analogous to what Ordain Women are doing. They have presupposed God’s will and thus suggest that the prophet is only a true prophet if he confirms what they have presupposed.

    That’s not how it works.

    1. Chad3 years ago

      Funny. That’s exactly what happened with blacks and the priesthood. The prophets were denying the priesthood to otherwise worthy church members based only on the color of their skin, all the while asserting that it was god’s will. Turns out they were wrong. Why do you think they aren’t also wrong when they deny the priesthood to otherwise worthy church members based only on their gender? (When you answer, take into account that after the announcement they used 2 Nephi 26:33 as evidence that it was god’s will that blacks have the priesthood.)

      1. Lisa3 years ago

        I’m not sure “wrong” is the word to use. You forget that until this dispensation the priesthood was not automatically available to every worthy male member of any race. Anyway I understand this was written 8 months ago, but since I am reading it now I guess someone else might too …

        The idea of individuals progressing at different rates before the world and man was created is a long standing LDS (Mormon) teaching. Abraham for example was one of the ‘noble and great ones’. Likewise children who die before they are eight and very occasionally those who are severely mentally disabled require no baptism because they made ‘alive in Christ’ as they proved themselves before they ever came here. Even looking around today it is easy to observe that some people seem more naturally advanced when it comes to spirituality, just as some people have higher IQs, are more athletic, more socially adept etc. So some have more spiritual maturity which they acquired though their actions and efforts when they lived with God prior to birth.

        It follows then that if some have more than average, others will have less. Just as it would not be right to give a child (or an adult) a responsibility they did not have the maturity to live up to, it would not be right to give the priesthood to someone without the spiritual maturity to carry it. The priesthood is more responsibility and duty than it is privilege, to give it to those unprepared would be detrimental to their spiritual progression. Since God never does anything contrary to our happiness the doctrine of withholding the priesthood from a group who were spiritually unprepared, is one of kindness and love, however it may seem to our modern sensibilities. And of course when they are prepared, or spiritually mature enough, it will be given to them, which is why LDS church leaders taught they could receive it in the next life.

        So why did God “change his mind”? Well for a start God never changes his mind. He does however tailor His commandments to the needs of his people at the time. Some good examples are: The law of animal sacrifice and the law of Moses including the non-eating of certain foods and circumcision. These commandments were followed before Christ came, but during His ministry He gave new commandments and new laws. So while God never changes, people do and He can and does change His commandments depending on the needs of His people.

        Also it has long been an LDS teaching that many of the more valiant spirits were reserved to be born in the last days before the second coming of Christ. As we get closer to that event the increasingly more valiant the spirits/people born will be. This is because they are needed now due to the prophesied increasing wickedness of the world. So those being born now have more spiritual maturity than those being born in generations past, this applies to those born of Negro parents too. All people born now all have enough spiritual maturity to be able to hold the priesthood and magnify that calling. So to ensure the happiness of all His children, God gave a new commandment.

    2. Sam3 years ago

      “Ordain Women are left then to argue that the prophet is simply not asking the right questions, but that wrongly suggests that God does not reveal His will unless asked.”

      Except for all those times where that’s exactly how revelation was received? Like…the Word of Wisdom? The first vision? The 10 commandments? Practically everything Nephi did? Every single member that prays for a confirmation that the Book of Mormon is true? It’s very rare that the Lord will just tell you what to do. 9 times out of 10 he expects you to ask.

  15. Alison4 years ago

    Given this survey was taken two years ago, before the foundation of Ordain Women, or the development of a “Mofem movement”, it would be really interesting to get another survey taken and see if those events had changed the percentages at all.

  16. Sasha4 years ago

    Thank you Pew for sharing some substantiated evidence. Numbers are so much better than a random news article speculating and throwing around assumptions. This seems to be another example of the media taking a pot-stirring issue and blowing it way out of proportion to get more clicks. The state of the media is truly disappointing.

    It’s also important to point out that Mormons don’t depend on voting for their beliefs.

  17. Kate Kelly4 years ago

    For true, believing Mormons statistics are not relevant to this situation. We believe that God is at the head of the church and that it is guided by our leaders through revelation. The revelatory process is not dependent on achieving a majority vote. Thank goodness!

    1. PmH4 years ago

      And yet, you don’t seem to want to listen to what those same leaders have told you.

    2. Brian4 years ago

      Try telling that to OW.

  18. Debra4 years ago

    The wording of this question would explain why Mormons appear opposed. If Pew had asked, “If the Mormon prophet announced that women would be ordained to the priesthood in the LDS Church, would you be opposed?” I bet the numbers would skyrocket.

    And that is what the Ordain Women movement is working for.

    @SCW, Joseph Smith also announced that Emma Smith didn’t need to be ordained in that meeting because she had been previously ordained.

    Also, women were allowed to do more than heal. They participated in blessings and conducted disciplinary courts for other women (a current priesthood duty).

    1. Brooks Wilson4 years ago

      @Debra. I suspect that you are right about the importance of the wording of the survey questions and I would be interested to see survey results for your question. A neutral question would be difficult to write. The inverse relationship between religious commitment and support for women’s ordination can also probably be interpreted as support for the status quo as well. Less committed women are more likely to question the inspiration of leaders and support equality in the Church as they do politically. That is not to imply that committed women cannot or do not support the ordination of women.

      Could you provide the reference that you referred about Emma having been previously ordained?

      1. Chad3 years ago

        From “Women and Authority,” Chapter 17: “Mormon Women Have Had the Priesthood Since 1843,” and essay by D. Michael Quinn:

        As newly sustained president of the Anointed Quorum, Joseph administered the initiatory ordinances and priesthood endowment to his wife in an upper room of the Nauvoo Mansion. The record of “Meetings of the Anointed Quorum” shows that at this same meeting, Joseph and Emma also became the first couple to receive the “second anointing” or “fullness of the priesthood.” By this ceremony they were each “anointed & ordained to the highest & holiest order of the priesthood.” Later church historians in Utah deleted Emma’s name from the 1843 description of the prophet’s “second Anointing of the Highest & Holiest order.”

  19. Linda Le4 years ago

    The LDS faith believes that God our Father gave the gift of the Priesthood to worthy men. Most LDS women don’t contest if women should be “eligible” for the priesthood because we understand our role in Heavenly Father’s plan for us eternally. The term eligible is misleading. It sounds as if some earthly person somewhere could flip a switch and suddenly make women “eligible” for the priesthood. Someone declaring LDS women “eligible” for the priesthood would act against God’s eternal plan for all of us that was laid out from before the foundation of the world. Worthy men are able to bear the priesthood as God’s power to act on this earth and a far larger number of women bear the divine ability to form, like God creates and forms, new life inside their bodies. Both roles are unique and need each other. Neither role is complete without the other. Neither role is diminished by the other role’s greatness. LDS women generally choose the majesty and the burden in their role just as they understand the majesty and the burden that priesthood holders bear.

  20. Samuel Lamanite4 years ago

    Women in Utah want the Priesthood why Joseph Smith gave it originally and later denied by Brigham Young. Most important Ida Smith talks about the Sealed Portion of the Book of Mormon something the LDS Church does not want you to find out or READ or you will be excommunicated.

    1. SCW4 years ago

      @Samuel Lamanite

      There is no evidence (as in absolutely no evidence) that Joseph Smith or anybody ever ordained a woman to the Priesthood. Some women try to make it sound like he did with his comment that women would be a “kingdom of priests”. But to suggest that Mormon women were ever ordained goes beyond the evidence.

      I’m not saying women will never receive the Priesthood. I’m just saying let’s stick to the facts. Women did heal through the laying on hands. But this was always understood to be done through faith.

      1. Edward Bailey4 years ago

        What are the rights, authority, and keys exercised by women who have been endowed as queens and priestesses after they walk outside the temple?

        1. Rita4 years ago

          Like the brethren, we are only anointed “to become such”. Actually gaining that status depends upon our faithfulness, on both sides of the aisle.
          That said, I am a “mother in Zion”. I exercise the stewardship given my by the Father in acting as an equal partner with my husband, blessing my children by raising them in truth and righteousness, acting as the “hands of God” in my community through the service that I render, and preaching the gospel through teaching and leading, standing as a witness of Christ, inviting others to find the joy I have found, and using my gifts and talents to heal and comfort. What man could do more than I am called to do, even with his authority through ordination? When I lay my hands upon my children to heal them, I use the judgment and skill given me by the Spirit, and my own study and learning, to provide medicines, healing foods and the loving touch of a daughter of God. I have just as much authority to call on the power of God in my stewardship as any man in his, but I am called to a different work, one that I agreed to before I came here to earth. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

          1. Amanda Hosler4 years ago

            As an endowed dedicated member I agree with you fully. We (as Women)are endowed (or given the gift of the priesthood) to make decisions in a righteous manor as equal partners with our husbands over our house holds for the blessing of our children and those around us . Women don’t need the keys of the priesthood to pray for some one ,give encouragement or help heal others though massage for example . Women are given some gifts the brethren don’t have -doesn’t mean they’re inferior or superior just different in the gifts God gave them to build His kingdom, and all good gifts come from God . Women don’t need the Key’s of the priesthood to act as a disciple of Christ .I find that the women of the church asking to be ordained like men are either not fully committed to following The teachings of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ and or they are leaning towards apostatizing in some manner. If they looked at the women who are using the priesthood they were given like Rita does they would realize they were already ordained to the work of God in His holy temples . Besides , Men need responsibility of the priesthood to act in God’s name to help them become more willing to serve their fellow men women and children to help them become more like Christ .I personally think that Women don’t need the extra responsibility . they would have to leave all the things they have going on to go bless, teach and preside .It would be too much responsibility to ask upon the women of the church. I am personally content trying full fill my current responsibilities. I don’t feel cheated of the priesthood or equal rights .

          2. Edward Bailey4 years ago

            RIta, Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts. Could I share just a few points? In the initiatory washing and anointing there are distinct differences and our Heavenly parents clearly treasure daughters in a special way. Emma was a “mother in zion” in mortality – although tragic with the death of her son Alvin, 15 years before receiving an anointing as a “queen and priestess”. Why the additional gifts and blessings? From 1 Nephi 21:23, becoming a “nursing father or mother” does not require giving birth to biological children as not all are blessed in this manner. Concerning keys – there were keys conferred upon the relief society sisters. See the Nauvoo relief society minutes book – page 34, 35, 37 and 49. Thank you for sharing how you have taken it upon yourself, “to lay . . hands upon [your] children to heal them.”

      2. Edward Bailey4 years ago

        28 Sept. 1843, Emma was anointed a “queen and priestess” and became the first female member of the holy order of God, or quorum of the anointed.