Equality is not a Feeling, 23.0

Today’s Equality is not a Feeling post illustrates the gender of the people involved in church discipline processes.  For the uninitiated, there are two levels of church discipline processes:  one that occurs at the ward level and another that occurs at the stake level. 

According to the Church Handbook of Instructions (which I should not be able to see because I am not one of these 9 women), “The stake president has authority over Church discipline in the stake. However, bishops normally administer Church discipline unless evidence indicates that a man who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood is likely to be excommunicated. In that case, the stake president convenes a stake disciplinary council” (CHI, 6.2.1).

If someone is determined to be in need of church discipline at the ward level, the following people are required to be there to administer the discipline:  all three members of the bishopric and one clerk (all of whom are male):

2014 03 13 male female ward discipline representation

If the stake president (a male) determines that a disciplinary council needs to be convened at the stake level, the handbook requires the participation of the following people:  all three members of the stake presidency, all 12 members of the high council, and one clerk (all of whom, again, are male) (CHI, 6.10.1):

2014 03 13 male female stake discipline representation

I’m trying to imagine a more hostile environment to have to go into–as a woman–than to have to sit in a room with 16 men who  hold the power to excommunicate you from your church.  Especially when you consider the intensely private reasons for which a disciplinary council may be necessary, which the church defines as the following: serious transgression (i.e., attempted murder, forcible rape, sexual abuse, spouse abuse, intentional serious physical injury of others, adultery, fornication, homosexual relations, deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities, robbery, burglary, theft, embezzlement, sale of illegal drugs, fraud, perjury, and false swearing), abortion, and transsexual operation (CHI, 6.7.2).

And when a disciplinary council must be held:  murder, incest, child abuse, apostasy, transgressor who is a predator, pattern of serious transgressions, serious transgression that is widely known, or “serious transgression while holding a prominent church position” (which the handbook defines thus:  “Area Seventy; temple, mission, or stake president; patriarch; or bishop (but not branch president).”  So there you have it, folks–even the church handbook admits that women do not hold “prominent church positions.”

And so, we see, once again, that equality is not a feeling.  It can be measured and codified and quantified.

For more in-depth information about the gender inequity in church discipline procedures, see the following:

  • http://www.the-exponent.com/church-discipline-women-disciplined-by-men/
  • http://www.the-exponent.com/five-more-lds-church-discipline-policies-that-affect-women-unequally/
  • http://feministmormonhousewivespodcast.org/episode-100-church-discipline-and-women/

[For the Equality is not a Feeling archive, click here.]