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: Mormons and Mormonism, Religious Beliefs and Practices

  1. is Assistant Editor at the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.

Leave a Comment

Or

All comments must follow the Pew Research comment policy and will be moderated before posting.

24 Comments

  1. D-I-Y-mom3 weeks ago

    As a mormon woman I felt the need to write a post to adequately share my feelings on this subject:
    do-it-yourself-mom.blogspot.com/…

    Reply
  2. Paul M4 months 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.

    Reply
    1. Sam3 weeks ago

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

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Sc…

      Reply
  3. gramval6 months ago

    THIS GROUP OF GOOD AND BAD PEOPLE ARE NOT A RELIGION THEY ARE A CULT

    Reply
    1. Eric3 weeks 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.

      Reply
  4. Bruce6 months 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.

    Reply
    1. Chad1 month 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.)

      Reply
    2. Sam3 weeks 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.

      Reply
  5. Alison6 months 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.

    Reply
  6. Sasha6 months 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.

    Reply
  7. Kate Kelly7 months 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!

    Reply
    1. PmH7 months ago

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

      Reply
    2. Brian6 months ago

      Try telling that to OW.

      Reply
  8. Debra7 months 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).

    Reply
    1. Brooks Wilson6 months 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?

      Reply
      1. Chad1 month 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.”

        Reply
  9. Linda Le7 months 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.

    Reply
  10. Samuel Lamanite7 months ago

    youtu.be/7lK2X37k5tk
    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.

    Reply
    1. SCW7 months 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.

      Reply
      1. Edward Bailey7 months 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?

        Reply
        1. Rita6 months 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.

          Reply
          1. Amanda Hosler6 months 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 Bailey5 months 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 Bailey5 months 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.

        Reply