Can Mormon women count money? Of course we can! But here is another question: Do LDS Church policy makers know that Mormon women can count money? Based on church financial policies, it does not appear that they do. Only men may collect, count, distribute or audit LDS Church funds.
Consider these policies:
- The Deacons Quorum is assigned to collect fast offerings (and consequently, tithes and other donations as well, since they are included on the same tithing slip). Deacons are required to be male and are usually 12 and 13 years old.
- At church services, members must physically place their tithing slips in the hand of a bishopric member. Bishopric members are required to be male.
- Church funds are counted and tracked by Stake and Ward Clerks. Clerks are required to be male.
- The computer equipment and software that stores church financial records is managed by the Technology Specialist. Technology Specialists are required to be male.
- Church funds are audited by Stake Auditors. Stake Auditors are required to be male.
- While female Relief Society presidents may visit families to assess their welfare needs, their authority stops short of approving the dollar value of welfare assistance. Only Bishops may allot fast offerings to needy members. Bishops are required to be male.
- While their council members (a small minority of whom are female) make budget recommendations, decision-making authority over local congregational budgets lies with Bishops and Stake Presidents. Bishops and Stake Presidents are required to be male.
- The Council on the Disposition of the Tithes governs church fiscal policy. It is composed of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric, all of whom are required to be male.
If it is true that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” the heart of our church is clearly with its male members. Women aren’t allowed to touch the church treasury.
Institutional inertia is not solely to blame for the LDS Church’s policies of male-only money management. While many of these policies are artifacts from an earlier time when finances were considered men’s work, the ban on women as stake auditors was invoked in 2010. Prior to that time, women who were certified public accountants were called as stake auditors, only to be released in 2010 in accordance with the new ban on female stake auditors. Reference A
Some people point to the early years of the Church as a golden age of money management for Mormon women. Indeed, before the church correlation program, women had more opportunities to demonstrate their proficiency at managing money in the course of their church duties than women today. Our foremothers demonstrated admirable financial prowess. However, while men and women are both required to give one tenth of their incomes to the church as tithing, prior to correlation, none of these tithing dollars went toward the Relief Society or other female programs. It was more expensive to be a Mormon woman than a Mormon man because women had to pay for their auxiliary programs with additional funds above and beyond what they were already paying for tithing and fast offerings. The funds that women were allowed to collect, use and manage for the Relief Society were raised by women through dues, donations and fundraisers. A system in which women are required to donate a tenth of their income to the church but not allowed to use any of those funds in women’s programs cannot be praised as progressive toward women.
Even these separate, non-tithing funds that women raised themselves were only precariously under the control of women. All church funds were subject to confiscation by male priesthood leaders who were under no obligation to use these funds for their originally intended purposes. Consider these instances:
- From 1896 to 1909, the female Relief Society raised funds to build a headquarters building. After the Relief Society had collected 70% of the funds necessary to build, male priesthood leaders decided to use the Relief Society’s building fund to build the Bishops Building instead. Reference B
- From 1876-1918, the female Relief Society managed a grain storage program, including fundraising for supplies and real estate. During World War I, male priesthood leaders sold the Relief Society’s entire supply of grain—the work of four decades—to the United States government without permission of Relief Society officers. The funds from the sale were placed into an account controlled by the male Presiding Bishop, not the Relief Society. Reference C
- Upon instigating the correlation program in 1978, male priesthood leaders required the female Relief Society to turn over all of their assets to male priesthood leaders. Reference D
When Mormon women like myself express concern about church policies that ban women from money management, a typical response sounds like this, “Why do you care that you can’t be ward clerk? Who wants to do all that tedious work anyway? Focus on real problems, like poverty or violence.”
Addressing world problems takes resources. Mormon women are already required to give at least a tenth of our incomes to the LDS Church for the implementation of God’s work, but once our money is in the hands of male church members, it becomes invisible to us. Not only do women lack authority to allocate church funds to address “real problems,” we do not even know how much money is available.
Within the church setting, money management is not just a temporal matter. Christ has said, “Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual.” (D&C 29:34) Church fiscal policy has spiritual consequences. How should resources dedicated to God’s work be allocated? Do we contribute to food banks? Political campaigns? Educational funds? Recruitment ads? Are girls worthy of the same fiscal commitment as boys? By barring women from managing money, church policymakers are not simply saving women from a temporal chore, they are excluding women from participating in God’s work.
Great article! And it shines light on an issue that is incredibly unfair. Nothing about the church surprises me anymore.
This is so good April. I had no idea about a lot of this stuff, but like Mike said, nothing surprises me about the church anymore. I especially appreciate your point about pre-correlation Relief Society. Being a Mormon woman is often still more expensive than being a Mormon man. Young Women’s program budgets, in my experience, have been lower than the Young Men’s so women who hold leadership callings in that organization end up paying a lot of money out of pocket for supplies and activities.
That budget reverses in adulthood which lasts a lot longer, so women benefit from the budget discrepancy a lot more than men do.
Another brilliant assessment, April. Thank you for your keen eyes and clear voice.
Thank you for this. If I remember correctly, that grain thing during WWI was a big deal. Women were really, really upset about that. I guess they just didn’t have enough faith 😉
Many Mormons would probably say it doesn’t matter as God is the one actually making all these decisions. But then there are these stories that sound suspiciously like abuse of power that strongly illustrate that the one-sided, overwhelmingly male balance of power in the church really does make a big difference.
My grandmother was an accountant. My grandfather was a welder. At her funeral the bishop said that in the 50s my grandfather was called as ward clerk so that she could do the books. We can do the work we just can’t have the title.
haha When I was in college, the husband of my good friend was called as stake executive secretary. His wife did near 100% of the duties. He was in school, she was home with the kids. Everyone knew she did all the work and knew to call her, but he was the one who was recognized as the “leader.”
I kept asking, “If she can do the work, why can’t she have the calling.” I was mostly shushed up with eye rolls on that issue.
Along these lines, I have seen many people suggest expanding women’s opportunities in the church by giving women the same duties as men, but without the fancy titles. For example, since women aren’t permitted to serve as Stake Technology Specialist, you could call a woman to be a Computer and Software Coordinator. I can see how such a solution could help pave the way for full equality, as people witness a woman performing these duties every bit as well as a man would. Even so, I find it distasteful to ask a woman to do the work while still finding ways to call her something that shows she is still less-than.
When DH was called as ward clerk, he had only been a member for about 5 years, all of them as an adult. Since the training program for clerks sucks for everyone, especially someone who is not familiar with YM/YW/Primary, I had to explain a lot of it based on what I knew with my father as backup.
Well researched. Thanks for putting this work together! Hopefully someone is going to give this the attention it deserves.
Actually, we had a couple in our ward who served a senior mission as area-level auditors. They were called based on her career as a financial officer as well as his church leadership experience. According to the current Senior Missionary Opportunities Bulletin:
“Full-time missionary senior couples are needed to serve as area auditors
and assistant area auditors in many countries outside the US and Canada.
Individuals who are familiar with and have served in Church leadership
callings are well suited to serve as area auditors and assistant area auditors.
Each area of the Church has an area audit committee, chaired by a member
of the Area Presidency. An area auditor is called as one of the committee
members. An assistant area auditor, who reports to the area auditor, is
called to serve in each coordinating council within every area of the Church.”
It is noteworthy that only couples can serve in that position. Single older brethren cannot serve in that calling.
I’d be wiling to be on who is the “area auditor” and who is the “assistant area auditor,” but would love to be surprised about the answer!
That said, I’m not sure this is unlike “couples” who are called to be mission president. :/
My impression was that the couples together served as area auditors OR assistant area auditors, depending on the scope of their particular assignment.
And it is NOT always true that the female is always in the “assistant” position when a couple serves together. We’ve known couples serve missions where she is the healthcare provider, and he becomes the appointment-maker and record keeper. I’ve also seen regional public affairs councils where a woman is in charge, with a male serving as secretary.
Naismith, it is good to know that women are included in auditing at the area level. I am glad to hear that.
Well-researched and written, April! I hope we can get this issue the attention that it needs.
I’m surprised that I didn’t know the details of these policies. I was most shocked that in 2010 they banned women as auditors! 2010! I despair that things are getting worse, not better.
The one example I can think of that is a calling that involves women managing money is Family History Center Director, and I say that only because my mom has had that calling for ages. They don’t take in a lot of cash but they do get money for copies, as well as some donations. So she counts the money along with another person and they take it to the bank.
Thank you for highlighting this, especially the part about history.
Only members of the Bishopric can collect money and do bank deposits. Ward Clerks are part of the Bishopric and everyone in the Bishopric must hold the Priesthood. The Church has changed some of the way cash donations are collected and distributed to comply with tax laws. Wards used to collect their own budget funds along with quorums and the Relief Society. Now all funds are donated through the Ward. Parents used to send their missionaries money, but now donate to the Ward. The main reason that the IRS would not allow tax deductions unless the money was donated directly to the Church. Wards no linger collect budget money, neither does the Relief Society or priesthood quorums. This has nothing to do with taking the right of women to control their own funds. When money is spent and reimbursed there is an audit trail. Each ward must account for all the money donated and spent. By doing ti this way the Church complies with IRS regulations and various other government regulations. I have sat through audits and it’s no fun.
And there’s so much transparency on how the collected money is used! They publish annual reports and everything!
So it is the IRS’s fault that women in the church can’t have control of the relief society budget and can’t collect funds and can’t count the money?
That doesn’t male any sense – in or out of the US.
I have been a president of either RS or YW for over 20 years since 1978, and a short recent stint in the stake. Without exception I was consulted on the amount I wanted in my budget and made my own decisions on how I used it.
That being said, there are some valid points in this article. I don’t think we should be bitter, but I do think there are some improvements that can be made. And thanks to the reasonable voices.
Bruce said, “Ward Clerks are part of the Bishopric and everyone in the Bishopric must hold the Priesthood.”
But why does every member of the bishopric have to hold the priesthood? I’ve served as ward clerk, executive secretary, and even stake auditor and never used my priesthood authority in those callings. It was no different than when I served as Sunday school teacher or primary worker or any other calling open to women.
We could solve a lot of our problems as a church, like the one mentioned in the OP, if we stopped prohibiting women from serving in “priesthood callings” that don’t actually require one to hold the priesthood.
Especially because as DHO asserts, ALL callings are fulfilled with the authority of the priesthood.
Bruce makes it sound like it’s set in stone. But all it would take is a policy change that says, “clerks don’t have to be PH holders,” and, voila! female clerks are counting money. Or a policy clarification that says, “You know, counting money is not a priesthood ordinance, so, no PH required to count things.”
Heaven forbid we should ever have any kinds of policy changes to better meet the needs of the members.
All you dads, stay at church on the day you don’t have to work. Your wives and children don’t need to see you anyway. And you single relief society sisters go back to your homes and your cats and enjoy the peace and quiet. Count bonbons or balloons or something. Or maybe go review your investment portfolio again – it’s so well-managed maybe you can afford another European vacation.
Or, maybe, you women who are employed at the IRS, you can just spend your time preparing questions to ask the next time you need to audit a religious organization. Wouldn’t that be ironic? Women can’t be auditors within the Church, but female IRS auditors can ask tough questions of the boys and their books.
Oh the logic of thwarting potential adulterous affairs by not having a man and woman work closely together at church. This thinking should be revamped to the “risk-benefit” problem that our doctors explain to us when they prescribe a treatment. Does the benefit outweigh the possible risk? In avoiding putting a male bishop in the same room with a female financial clerk, what are the losses to the church? These policies relegate 50% of church members (women) to a lower status, makes tens or hundreds of thousands of LDS women feel dehumanized, voiceless, and worthless at church, deprives the church of untold blessings in terms of women’s talents and contributions, drives women out of the church, and gives the church bad PR. All this loss and harm – just to avoid placing a man and woman alone in a room? If LDS women were called to positions like financial clerk, it would bring profuse blessings in the move toward equality. The argument of sexual temptation is just another excuse for men keeping the power.
And wait a minute – aren’t bishops already spending a lot of time alone in their offices with women? That somehow OK, but heaven forbid the bishop be alone with a female financial clerk!
The sad reality of the money handling issue has little to do with priesthood and more to do with the church’s fear of placing a man and a woman alone in the same room. The policy is that the bishop or assigned counselor must be present for all tithing counts and deposits. (Who at this point must be priesthood holder). If a woman were called as clerk (which is not really a priesthood calling) then they would be working alone with a man. The church still thinks that putting a man and woman alone will lead to sex. And that is the sad truth.
There is wisdom in this policy, David, and it was my first thought as well. Calling a female clerk means having her one-on-one counting money with a man who is not her husband, possibly with nobody else in the building.
That being said, I can think of many ways around this problem. Change the policy so that two ward clerks (e.g. a clerk and an assistant clerk) may count money on their own, without a bishopric member present, as long as both hold current temple recommends (or whatever). And then add a policy that says the two people counting money must be of the same gender unless they are married or family. A small, incremental change like that would at least open the door to female involvement.
Isn’t it amazing how men and women work together in the workplace all of the time without having sex? They carpool, go to meetings, sit in rooms together, eat lunch at the same table. It’s incredible! Sometimes, they even work late together and there is no sex. All of the time. I think that men and women could accomplish the same thing at church together. I think they could be professional in their relationships, build respect and friendship, and refrain from having sex in the church building. *Sarcasm aside, I just find the idea that men and women can’t serve together because they might be alone together at some point insulting.
Or stop assuming that two adults who aren’t married to each other are automatically going to have sex as soon as they are alone together.
I work (including travel) alone with my male coworkers all the time. If one of them said “I don’t want to travel with her because she’s not my wife” without having more to it than that, he would find himself out of that job.
Yes, the only time a man should be alone in a closed room with a woman who is not his wife is if he’s going to ask her about her sexual purity and what kind of underwear she has on.
But counting money is RIGHT OUT.
How do we know the two men left alone with each other won’t have sex? 😉
I agree with this.
The church is trying to be pristine for its own purpose and for the purpose of its reputation in the world. The church doesn’t need a multiplication of scandals. How would that help the work of salvation? So let’s think of, as Steve Covey’s book, third alternatives to solve these seemingly two-sided issues.
Except they do allow it if you are employed by the church. So this prohibition is not valid.
It isn’t about sex – it’s about liability.
Whether you can behave yourself around another man isn’t the issue – it’s the accusations that can occur. And as current trends dictate in society – any accusation, whether true of false, will destroy a man. Just the act a alone will do. Read KSL news about teenage girls accusing a soccer coach about touching her (even though she later admitted it was all false). Just like the other with the 2 “kidnapped” teenagers from David county who “escaped” near Santaquin. Again, all made up to protect their image and ego and “innocence.” Again, this isn’t about “just” sex with not our husband/wife.
WOW! Compelling newspiece! One of the best! Thank you so much for raising awareness and highlighting the sexism and powerlessness and loss so many of us have experienced!
Well Done, keep em coming!
Thank you, CC
Thanks for such a well-documented and well-researched article.
I’m all out of face palms.
I know the feeling.
Once again April knocks it out of the ball park.
I always think of the church as a family. We talk about our “ward family”. If the big church/ward is a family, it is a family that still functioning according to a 19th century model, with women having little to no power, with the wife/woman being forbidden access to or knowledge of the finances. Yet today we are often told over the pulpit that marriage is an equal partnership. I believe I have heard LDS leaders use the term “co-presidency” to describe equality in marriage. If co-presidency is a righteous, success model in marriage, why would it not also apply to the entire church? To the ward budget, etc.?
I am sure I could find quotes from our general authorities saying that wives should have full knowledge of and access to the family finances. I am recalling Ensign articles which advocate family finances be a full partnership between husband and wife in terms of knowledge, access, and decision-making power in money matters.
It is only logical to extend that kind of thinking to the entirety of the church and its finances. I just shake my head in disbelief when I read articles like April’s that reveal the illogic, incongruities, and “traditions of men” that are embedded in so many sexist LDS church policies and practices.
Can anyone refer me to a conference address in which an apostle or general authority described marriage as a “co-presidency”?
For all we tout husbands and wives as being ‘equal partners’ despite one presiding over the other, I have yet to find a single GC talk, Ensign article, or 5th Sunday lesson that articulates what ‘equal partnership’ means in practical terms. Which leads me to believe that we don’t really believe it.
I don’t know about the term “co-presidency” but there has definitely been a shift toward a more egalitarian view of marriage. I wrote about it here: http://www.the-exponent.com/the-evolving-mormon-definition-of-preside/
Before 2010 we had a woman stake accounting (in Denmark this is)…she went to all the wards and went through their financial accounting. Then in 2010 they changed the calling so it now had to be male…. Her husband was called and as he said…she did a much better job than I did.
Can’t se the argument for males having the ability to deal with money better than women. It doesn’t take a penis (sorry) to count money!!!
Have any of you every sat in on a ward council? Where men and women go over the ward budget together and decide where the money will be spent? Everyone in the meeting knows what is being allocated to each group. There is not some big secret about what happens to the money.
I have sat in those meetings. It was often clear that the budget was pre-determined and I could make suggestions, but they were just suggestions. I could make up a budget and request funds, but I had no actual say on the final budget or how funds were distributed to other groups in the ward.
There also wasn’t room to ask questions such as:
1. Why so much money allocated to Scouts?
2. Why don’t boys and girls have equal budgets?
3. Why don’t we allocate the same amount of money per individual for each budget? So, every individual in a youth program gets $10, for example. No different for boys or girls. No different for men or women.
4. Why do we pay tithing and have so much wealth as a church, but do fundraisers to send kids to camp and clean our own buildings?
Yes I have, but similar to the other respondent, the decisions were made in bishopric meeting and ward council was for “suggestions” only and again, questions about inequality are not tolerated.
Maybe others have had more success with leadership roulette.
I have been both a ward financial clerk and stake auditor. David and Adano above have identified the reason for the only males policy for clerks and now stake auditors. For clerks, it makes a lot of sense. The clerk and a member of the bishopric will be alone every week for a long time. Long enough for a good working relationship to develop. Over thousands of wards and branches, this will inevitably lead to sexual relationships in some cases.
For the stake auditors the likelihood is very low due to the infrequent (twice a year) visits. It looks like the recent policy change is a follow on to the no solo male teachers in primary policy. The church is using extra caution in avoiding any impropriety.
The 1918 grain sale was a raw deal for the RS. On a church wide basis (which includes all members) this was probably a financially and PR bonanza. (Wheat prices were near an all-time high not reached again for many years)
Then change the policy and procedure. Excluding women from positions of authority or influence because “some” people “might” be inappropriate is inexcusable. Switch the genders here and see what you think of this policy.
Amen. The entire origin story for Mormon theology is a story of choosing the higher path–the one where we trust individuals to learn and make wise decisions and, when necessary because some individuals made poor choices, we find ways to compensate for the harm they caused (Jesus’ plan). According to Mormon theology, we chose that higher path rather than the lower one where individuals are controlled form the top down in order to ensure none of them did harm or chose poorly (Satan’s plan). We chose it because it was more equitable, because it allowed for greater growth, because it honored our divine natures.
Policies designed because some few people somewhere in the world may make bad choices are in keeping with the lesser good–the goal of controlling people in order to ensure they don’t screw up–rather than the higher good–the goal of allowing people the freedom and autonomy necessary to learn and grow and do the right thing for the right reasons (rather than because institutional policy forced them to).
Plus, people who are going to cheat will cheat in spite of policies.
Ugh. I hate this rationale. It treats us all like we’re randy 16-year-olds who can’t keep our pants on. It’s insulting. And it flies in the face of every originary principle of the gospel that the LDS church allegedly embraces.
” this will inevitably lead to sexual relationships in some cases.”
Are you serious????????? That made me burst out laughing! Thanks for the chuckle!
Are you laughing at my vague and insider language?? If so, fair enough.
If you are laughing at the prospect of illicit sex, then you need to wake up. This happens all the time in business. Not to everyone or even the majority of people, but very frequently. The number of such relationships that I encountered 10-15 years ago at work was very high. Many started when working on a small group project or in a boss-subordinate or indirect manager-worker relationship. This is the exact scenario being set up.
I don’t know where you live, but at least in Australia, that is illegal. I don’t believe many people really risk their livelihood just for sex; and keep in mind, this is the church, not employment, so there is even more at risk for loss. I think there is the one in a million chance, but I don’t think it would happen over counting money, and not commonly, especially if women had priesthood.
I live in the US and have worked in several different states and public and privately held companies. A direct boss-subordinate relationship usually gets one or both parties terminated, if known to upper management, but any other types of affairs are allowed (generally). There are plenty of serious business professionals who risk a tremendous amount in business and family life by engaging in work affairs.
I had a hard time believing the widespread extent of this myself, but was once in a position to potentially get promoted if I turned in my suspicions about my boss. A change in companies was a better option for me.
Amelia, I loved your comment. Very insightful.
And April, this post is excellent. Thank you.
El Oso, with regards to your second point, I actually do think that selling the grain at that time was a good choice. In fact, so did General Relief Society President Emmeline B. Wells. Her objection (and mine) is that women were denied authority to make that choice themselves. According to the referenced article:
“President Wells accepted
the new policy and conceded that, given the circumstances, she was not op-
posed to the sale of the wheat. She added, however, that she was hurt that
Bishop Nibley had not consulted her before mailing the letter. Furthermore, she
emphasized that although the Relief Society had asked the Presiding Bishopric
to aid in making decisions about the program, the wheat was the sisters’ responsibility
and they should judge how the wheat was distributed.”
I agree, as stated in my comment: it was a raw deal for the RS. You rightly point out that the sale of the grain would probably still have gone through if President Wells had been consulted or even if she had the ultimate authority over it. This was a good economic and PR decision for the church and President Wells would certainly have seen those benefits.
I am trying to imagine a more current real life or hypothetical scenario that would be similar to see if things have changed. A major change to the welfare program would be similar. Although it may be announced and carried out by the presiding bishopric, I cannot imagine the general relief society presidency not being repeatedly consulted in the formulation.
Having genitals will inevitably lead to sexual relationships in some cases.
My grandmother was the ward clerk in the early 1900’s. It’s not a priesthood calling.
Our stake now pays donations online. There is little to count any more so some of you will need to
find something else that offends you. This one has been ridden long enough.
William, what ward? I would LOVE to research that!
Thinking critically about this issue, without hyperbole, with clear examples, means that women are looking for something to offend, huh? It must be easy for you to ignore such a legitimate issue when you don’t have to deal with it’s fallout.
Sounds like the only tired old trope ridden long enough around here is the one you just used to dismiss this sexist policy.
Outstanding post, April. Thanks for shining a light on this.
You all need to remember something. This is the Lord’s church and when He decides to change some of the ways it is run then He will decide and make the right choices He see’s fit. The brethren don’t make decisions because they want to exclude all women from having an impact on the way the church is run. They make church decisions based on what God wants. Just because the world thinks women should have equal rights doesn’t mean that God wants His church run that way. I’m sure if the time ever becomes right God will make changes, until then, women of the church, STOP complaining. I have been a member of the church my whole life and frankly I don’t want the jobs/callings the men have.
Why would we ever believe that god was the author of inequality? Why on earth?
Having gender roles is not the same as inequality. God gave certain roles to the men, others to the women. I don’t know why, but I accept it. The fact that some people pervert the gender roles into a way to create inequality does not invalidate the true nature of the pattern God established for all of His children. So I say, fight against inequality that is a product of the world. But be careful in what you label as “inequality”; if it is a divinely established pattern, then stay true to it, lest ye find yourselves on the left hand of God at the judgment.
Doctrine and Covenants 9:7-8:
“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.”
This is the way to get answers from God. NOT challenging His decisions that are already in place.
So it’s not that we have sexist men (some of whom can’t keep it in their pants, so all of whom are not allowed to work with women) it’s that an omnipotent, omniscient, completely loving and perfect male God doesn’t want the women He created to use the gifts He gave to them.
Oh, yeah. That makes SO much sense. (God: Hey, here’s a whole bag full of awesome gifts, Mary: you can administer, you can heal, you can lead, and you have a good head for numbers. Now go be a Mormon and try to use them. [God turns to the angels and says, “Hey, guys, watch this. It’s gonna be epic: Gave a Mormon girl all these gifts that Mormon boys think only they can use. Bet you $5 she can’t convince them to let her use the gifts.”])
Yeah, now that’s a God I can worship every day……
Don’t mock God, your missing the whole point.
Thank you so much, Ziff, for that response. (I was about to burst an aneurysm)
I’ve got to hand it to you, Julie. At least you own your love of sexism.
“Just because the world thinks women should have equal rights doesn’t mean that God wants His church run that way.”
No roundabout claims about how women really are equal if you go through enough mental gymnastics. You’re just straight up convinced that God sees women as lesser, and you’re okay with that. Yikes!
I’m not a sexist. If women are equal to the task then let them have the jobs that men have. I could care less. I have told my bishop on several occasions that I would make a better executive secretary than the one he has now. Your missing the point too. IT’S GODS CHURCH. WHEN HE WANTS CHANGE HE WILL TELL PRES MONSON.
You are SUPER DUPER naive if you think God “tells” President Monson anything. Firstly, the poor old guy is senile. Secondly, I haven’t heard ANY of the 12 apostles or Prophet in my life time give a revelation. When and where have they exhibited the gifts of prophecy, seership, or revelation. There have been NADA “thus saith the Lord” pronouncements in my 50 years on this earth. The stuff the GAs give as talks in conference are opinions, perhaps prayerful ones. And no, I never heard any of them say, “Yeah, the other day when we were meeting in the temple JC stopped by and gave us some advice.” It just ain’t that way. If Dallin Oaks told me to jump off a bridge because JC wants me to, I’m not gonna do it.
I have tried to not comment on this post but I can’t stop myself. It is interesting to take a set of facts and then twist them to support an agenda. Almost all of the bullet points in the original article speak to the issue that the Priesthood is only male. You are right it is and it is the Lord’s choice not man’s. Look at other churches that have adopted female priesthood and see how they are doing. But the elephant in the room that was only lightly touched is the issue of having a male and a female alone together who are not married to each other. This applies not just in counting tithing but other male only activities. A male and a female do not need to have sex with each other to weaken their own marriages. Additionally, it is not a sound intellectual exercise to cite an event many years ago and immediately attribute attribute malice on the part of the actors without having a clear understanding of the context. Do you really know what was behind the moving of funds from the Relief Society to the general church funds? What was the research done to understand this transfer of assets? What records were reviewed? If you go back and re-read this original post, it seems written to push an agenda, not educate and enlighten. I hope this isn’t too harsh, it is not intended that way.
“But the elephant in the room that was only lightly touched is the issue of having a male and a female alone together who are not married to each other. ”
I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the appropriateness of having Bishops and other priesthood leaders conducting one on one interviews with female members, behind closed doors, about their worthiness- topics which include sexual activities and underwear.
Bless you, Moss. This. This exactly.
Keep in mind that some of those women being queried by a lone man while in a closed room with him are 12-18 years old. And the queries do include questions about their sexual behavior.
Ugh. This nonsense about how women can’t serve in callings where they would have to work alone with a man is ridiculous. We put young girls, single women, married women alone in rooms with male church leaders all. of. the. time. And then we tell the male church leaders to make sure they ask about those women and girls intimate habits and behaviors.
Stinks of a little hypocrisy to me.
I think the problem isn’t having men and women meeting together behind closed doors.
I think the problem is having men and women meeting behind closed doors where there is not a huge imbalance of power, specifically in favor of the male. Because once women start thinking above their station, believing themselves capable of handling money and making decisions, they just become randy as all get out!
…Similar accusations were made against those uppity women who wanted the vote.
Moss: About worthiness interviews, the bishop is the one who holds the keys of repentance and to be a judge of worthiness; that is by revelation. And it is simply, “Do you live the law of chastity?”, and for those who have been through the temple, “do you wear the authorized temple garment?” They are not to go into extreme details; in his book, The Holy Temple, Pres. Packer made this very clear that details about sexual actions are not appropriate for a bishop to ask.
Maybe part of the reason some of you are assuming that men and women working together will destroy marriages is because there are no opportunities for non-sexually-tense interactions between men and women within the Church?
Perhaps if women had purposes other than making babies men would see them as something other than conduits for sex.
And if there are so many Mormon marriages threatened by close-quarters service, perhaps Mormon marriages need strengthening of a different sort.
It’s interesting how this line of reason is nearly always used to exclude women, not men, from certain spheres. And by “interesting” I mean “fishy.” It smells a little like a herring. Like a red herring.
Except they do allow it if you are employed by the church. So this prohibition is not valid.
Larry, I have been researching LDS women’s history for about four years. I recognize that in this post, historical facts were presented only as referenced bullets, but I have covered these events in more detail in previous posts, such as this one:
The sources I have used to research the historical context, besides those referenced in this post, include the official women’s history text of the church, “Daughters in My Kingdom,” scholarly books and journal articles, talks and other articles at LDS.org, and the Deseret News archives, which contains detailed coverage of the LDS Church at the turn of the century.
You rock April. I love your posts. They make me happy & sad all at once.
[…] own funds, found itself a benefactor (at best) and exploited (at worst) by the men of the church for its monies. In the end, the 1971 edict of forced Relief Society membership for all women coupled with […]
Time to get the chip off your shoulder. Deacons, Teachers, Priests, and Elders are also not allowed to count the money. The High Priests who do are audited carefully (and intensely) every six months. Even so, a small number are excommunicated every year for mishandling finances.
Deacons collect the envelopes for Fast Offerings only — never look inside — and deliver them immediately to the Bishopric (who are involved in every “handling” aspect). The High Priests who are clerks cannot count the money without the bishopric present.
So, yes, in a very discriminatory act, all but three members of the ward are prohibited from initiating a count. In fact, all but the bishop himself are prohibited disbursing funds, budgeting, disbursing fast offerings, etc.
So don’t feel too bad — you’re just one of the 599 members of your ward with restrictions when it comes to the money.
“So don’t feel too bad — you’re just one of the 599 members of your ward with restrictions when it comes to the money.”
…and just by utter total complete happenstance, all those who do get to handle and count the money are male. And just completely randomly, it’s the same in every unit in the Church.
Also, you seriously have a 600-member ward? If you’re counting people who don’t come, that’s a little misleading, since of course they’re not going to be tasked with handling money for the ward.
THAT is exactly what is being called into question here — why do just men handle & count the money and make the decisions about disbursing the money? Theoretically, let’s say half the ward are women and half men — why are just men tasked with counting and handling the money? Why do girls programs get consistently less from the ward budget than scouting? Are the girls less worthy, less valuable? One suggestion here is if women were allowed into the decision making process about the filthy lucer it might be more equitably distributed.
Lisa, women are involved in the budget allocation. The Relief Society, Primary, and Young Women’s presidents all are in the ward council, and the budget allocations are made in this meeting. Scouts do usually get more because of campouts and Scout camp; they also are expected to do fund raising or pay out of pocket for lots of these extras.
I am an elder and was the financial clerk. There is no need to be a high priest to count money.
[…] Young Bennett, writing at The Exponent, asked this week if Mormon women can count money. She listed church callings that handle LDS finances and noted that all of them are required to be […]
I’m a member of the LDS Church. I’ve had my challenges of faith through the years and have questioned Church ‘doctrine’ with regards to leadership decisions as well as many other things in the Church…things like no black males in the priesthood, women in leadership roles etc.
The basic tenet of the LDS Church is the restoration of the Gospel in this dispensation by Joseph Smith…that the LDS Church is the one true church and directly led by Heavenly Father. This tenet is what brings people to the Church and what keeps them members in my humble opinion.
If the LDS Church is indeed the true church of God, then its Doctrine and leadership guidelines come directly from Heavenly Father. If that’s the case, why would a man or woman want to overrule the direct commandment of God? That would be like saying…’I don’t think the 1st Commandment provides equality, I think we should omit it henceforth!’
If the LDS Church is not the true church of God…as an alternate opinion…then why would anyone want to stay in the Church? Being a member of the LDS Church is hard work. Members stay active because they believe that the Church is the true Church as described in the above paragraph. Even if it were forced to change to suit the current ‘politically correct’ stance, why would you want to stay in a church that had to be forced to change to meet your ethical standards? Or stay in a church that you didn’t believe was led by Heavenly Father directly? Why not just admit the LDS Church isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and find a church that does fit your needs?
I’m not arguing that you’re wrong, as I’ve admitted I’ve often had hard questions that really haven’t been adequately answered for me, but I am questioning why you’d want to force change on a belief system that would undermine the basic tenet of the LDS faith…that the Church is directly led by Heavenly Father. If He wants change in His Church, I’d imagine He would communicate that to the leaders He has Called. If you want change apart from that, then you don’t believe the LDS Church is directly led by Heavenly Father and should consider finding a church that you do believe is led by Him.
I’m not trying to start an argument, just a discussion to understand.
“the Church is directly led by Heavenly Father. If He wants change in His Church, I’d imagine He would communicate that to the leaders He has Called.”
This is where I disagree with you. A church led by God doesn’t mean that every detail of its operation is necessarily God’s will. If a primary teacher says something crazy, is that because God willed it? How about if a bishop does? A stake president? An area authority seventy? A seventy? A Q12 member? A First Presidency member? The Church President? At what point does infallibility kick in? I think it’s pretty clear that it never does, so for me, being a member of the LDS Church doesn’t mean I have to accept that every piece of the Church is run exactly how God wants it run.
Very valid point Ziff. But I think comparing basic LDS doctrine (patriarchal system) to a ‘primary teacher says something crazy’ (or anyone else) is comparing apples to oranges. I’d agree that there are definitely parts of the LDS Church that are subject to fallibility.
One of my greatest issues that has caused ongoing concerns is when the priesthood was first denied and then allowed for the ‘negro.’ I have family members that were affected. That was a big change for the Presidency to make. Based on ‘fallibility.’
But my argument stands…I’ll reword it. If you have to petition and angrily confront a church (not just the LDS Church) to change their basic stance on something you find ethically and morally important…isn’t it time to find a new church?
I wasn’t a member (late life convert) when the Priesthood decisions were made concerning race. Had I been a member or considering becoming a member during those time (with my affected family members to consider)…I probably wouldn’t be a member now. That particular area regularly makes me consider my membership. I wouldn’t have fought with the LDS leadership…I would have found a new church. Which was my question here. Why fight? Church and attending church is about love, peace, and charity. Not conflict, anger, and dissent.
“If you have to petition and angrily confront a church (not just the LDS Church) to change their basic stance on something you find ethically and morally important…isn’t it time to find a new church?”
Thanks for your rewording, Brett, but I’m still not on board with your answer of people leaving if they don’t like 100% of the Church. I also don’t read the same tone that you do. I realize that in the LDS Church, women mostly stay quiet and never bring up anything that’s the least bit out of line with anything that any male leader says, so it might seem especially jarring to hear a woman bring something like this up. But for what it’s worth, I don’t see this as an angry confrontation.
One thing to consider is that the Church provides zero avenues for ordinary members to provide suggestions that can reach the level of the GAs. In fact, contacting GAs is actively discouraged. So it’s not surprising that someone like April would go to a blog to talk about such an issue, since there’s no official way for her to be heard.
The opposite sex counting money is not going to lead to sex just because they are alone.There is a deeper problem with there standards or lack of them. That is the problem these day we have to many rules that no one follows. Where is there integrity or moral compass, we shouldn’t have to put basics rules like that in place.
If it were as simple as you say, Brett, then we would all believe in the Adam God theory, in blood atonement, and would still be practicing the law of consecration and of plural marriage. The fact is that God’s prophets get it wrong. The fact is this is not the one and only true church either (I’m not sure that JS taught that either). The fact is this is a church run by humans and susceptible to fallibility as a result. The fact is that maybe some of us identify with our mormon heritage, but don’t necessarily believe all the truth claims. The fact is that there are some who can’t just leave like it’s some club because their families and loved ones are still very orthodox believers, and they don’t want to risk losing their connections. The fact is the church can be bigger than a club of orthodox sheeple, and has the capacity to be inclusive of all of its children in their varying degrees of belief or disbelief.
The reason people might ask for a change? Do you really think that withholding the priesthood from blacks was because God wanted this? Ha! It was a cultural bias that the early leaders of the church subscribed to (save JS), and it only changed after faithful members repeatedly appealed to the leaders, to do so.
Counting money, distributing money is NOT a basic tenet of the LDS church. Why can’t that be changed? I don’t think anyone (except me) would argue that God leads the church, but I do think they are questioning whether the brethren are being led by God in this instance or rather by the traditions of men.
Your reference A notes that the audit instructions as of 2010 say that an auditor must be a MP holder. But in the comments someone adds this:
“While this may be new to the actual audit form, it has always been in the Handbook.”
So maybe it’s not new as of 2010. Presumably it’s in Handbook 1, so how would we know?
In the comments of that thread, a commenter who was also an admin of the LDS Tech forum clarified that the change was in the handbook. He also cited examples of women who were certified public accountants who served as auditors prior to 2010. (I have noticed that this forum is a little glitchy, and sometimes the admin comments are visible and sometimes not, so that may be why you did not see that.)
The 2006 edition of the Handbook says the following: “The Stake Auditors should be trustworthy Church members who are experienced, if possible, in accounting or auditing.”
The 2010 edition of the Handbook says this: “These auditors should be trustworthy brethren who hold temple recommends. If possible, they should be experienced in accounting or auditing.”
I think it is interesting that according to the tech paperwork, auditors must be Melchizedek priesthood holders. Maleness, not priesthood, appears to be the criterion according to the Handbook.
Thank you for checking that out, April. It is amazing that (as seems likely from the evidence) it was in 2010 that the policy was changed to bar women as auditors.
In order to have a temple recommend, a man must be ordained as an elder, so it is priesthood, not maleness that is the criteria mentioned in the handbook.
Men must be ordained elders to be endowed, but men and boys may have temple recommends to do baptisms and confirmations without the Melchizedek priesthood.
First, the collection of tithes and fast offerings is a Priesthood responsibility. There are Priesthood responsibilities that do not require the laying on of hands to give a blessing, and his is one instance. Many of these priesthood responsibilities are laid out in the Doctrine and Covenants, others came via revelation to modern-day prophets and apostles.
Secondly, the Church leaders have been very clear about safety in numbers, as stated in the handbook. When a bishop is conducting interviews there must be at least one other priesthood leader present in the next room. Bishopric members are often occupied in other parts of the building on week nights, attending youth activities, conducting temple recommend interviews and they like. So it is likely that a bishop will use one of his clerks or executive secretary as the second priesthood leader.
Third, if you want to harp on the church for gender discrimination, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Take a look at the Sunday School Presidency (ward, stake, and general). Why are they all men? By choosing only men, are they saying women aren’t educated enough in the scriptures to fulfill those callings and to select and train outstanding teachers? And what about Primary? Do they think men can’t present a sharing time? Why are only women called to oversee the Primary?
You cannot be presided over by someone with lesser Priesthood than you. So women are totally good to go with presiding over primary children- in fact, according to the Proclamation, it is one of their Essential duties! (I don’t think they actually have stewardship over the priesthood holding teachers, however.) This is why, once a boy turns 12 and receives the Aaronic Priesthood, he is never again presided over by a woman. This is why the High Priests split off from the Elder’s Quorum- the Elders have a lesser priesthood office than the High Priests. Women simply cannot serve in Sunday School Presidencies- women cannot preside over men.
The ban on women as clerks and auditors doesn’t fit this pattern and looks to be pure tradition.
So the church university will give me a degree in computer engineering, but won’t let me be a technology specialist?? Oh well, I guess I’ll just use those talents on something that pays.
I had a prof at byu, who upon seeing that I was the only woman in his class, declared to the class that if anyone made me feel like I wasn’t welcome based on my sex, he would personally see that they were kicked out of the program. I found it odd, and after talking to some people found out that BYU had, in the not so recent past, been having serious sexism issues in the engineering school. I’m guessing the issue still exists, based on this absurd church policy. It was kind of a shock to go to grad school and be surrounded by other women, compared to the three others at byu.
I think this article is absurd! It’s ok if there is a division of responsibilities in the church. Men and women serve in various ways. I can’t even begin to say all of the reasons that this issue is not a valid one! The church is running very well, thank you very much! If people feel women are treated unfairly, they just have a serious lack of understanding! I am tired of this kind of stuff!
Your comment “…we do not even know how much money is available.” is incorrect. When stake and ward budgets are allocated, the stake or ward council (including the Relief Society, Young Women’s, and Primary presidents) are involved in the decision making process. What I have observed both at the stake and ward levels is essentially each leader is asked how much they need for the things they plan to do, and they get it. Also, decisions of the council are to be made unanimously (this is the pattern we are taught the 12 Apostles and First Presidency follow), so your assertion that “men have the final say on everything” has also not been my experience. If you have never served in these councils, you might not know that. Thanks for sharing the historical info though, it was very interesting.
I am glad that your experience has been one of inclusion and participation. However, that has not been my experience, nor, it would seem, does that reflect the experience of many on this thread. I have served multiple times in multiple presidencies and have never, not one time, been asked for input into my budget. In multiple wards I have not even been given access to budget details. Instead, I was told to have EVERY expenditure pre-approved in order to ensure it fell within the established budget (which I was never shown) In other wards, I have simply been told my budget for the year and instructed to “make it work”. So, while I am sure others have had different, more positive experiences with budgets and funding within a ward, my own background simply does not support the assertion that “all is well in Zion”. Further, even if I had been asked to provide input, that is NOT the same as being given authority over decisions. That is the fundamental problem: women as barred from any decision making authority and from any meaningful exposure to ward/stake finances. There is no logical, doctrinal or scriptural suplort for these policies. This is a prime example of tradition and fear driving our policies.
Were you a councilor or a president? The president is part of the ward council, but the councilors are not. Maybe your president was involved more than you realize. However, as April illustrates, things change, and the current focus on ward councils will include budgeting processes in the future even if in the past they have not.
Isn’t this just like Sherem in Jacob 7:7 saying “…ye have led away much of this people that they pervert the right way of God, and keep not the law of Moses which is the right way…”? Accusing the leaders of the Church for not doing things correctly is often a sign of apostasy. Judas often had “better ideas” (sell the spikenard and give the money to the poor) on his personal path to perdition. Not long ago several sisters in a ward in my stake had gripes about their bishop which they were circulating, trying to get people on their side. Things like the way the deacons pass the sacrament, or the way he conducts the meeting. A member of the stake presidency meet with them and discussed the concerns they had. Only one of those sisters has been back to church in the past several months. It all comes back to sustaining our leaders. The Brethren have made decisions about how to handle church finances. It is our job to sustain those action, not to debate and complain about them.
You article was very informative. Based on my experience as the financial clerk, I thought I’d share with you how we counted the money. There were always three of us in the room: two bishopric members and myself or the ward clerk, a bishopric member, and myself. It was much easier with three than two based on how they wanted the money entered into the MLS program. That also puts to rest the notion that a man and a women will always be alone in the same room.
[…] her July 16, 2015 Exponent II article, “Can Mormon Women Count Money,” April Young Bennett summarize the policies that exclude LDS women from any responsibility over […]
BYU is a great institution, I have never been there and probably will never go there, but I believe it is a great institution. It is my understanding that at BYU, students do all the work, they clean, they scrub, they shine ….
This does not make any financial sense, other universities employ professionals to do the work, they do it more economically and perhaps even better. I have never been to the other universities nor to BYU, so the comment is based on reports I have read.
I believe it is a good thing that BYU does, that is let the students do the work even if they are not the best persons to do the job.
My wife is a far better painter, drawer, artist than I will ever be, yet I also paint and draw hoping over the years to improve. I live in harmony with my wife’s wonderful skills and she lives in harmony with my lack of skills. It is not about who can do the job better.
My wife encourages me in art and drawing and lets me do my ‘thing’ in those areas. She submits her work at exhibitions, and so will I one day. Its not about who is going get the prize, it is about the enjoyment of life.
While I can mostly do anything around the home there are some things I do no usually do, the same applies to my wife with the caveat that there certainly is things she will not or does not do, e.g. replacing the hot water geyser in the roof.
When we go anywhere, shops, entertainment, church, visiting, I open the car door for my wife to enter and open it for her to get out, this applies to entering and leaving the home or any other building. My wife does not open doors for me, sometimes my wife has to wait for me to open a door. We are both happy with the arrangement, it gives me an opportunity to always do something for her. I believe this is good for our marriage.
I have never been to a church where a woman is the leader, but as women are as capable as men are, I am sure that they will do as good a job as men do, this applies to all other areas of life. Where I live, women are permitted to do or to be anything they want to be, they can also be legally classified as men.
I just believe in the separation of ‘labour’, I think that it is good for society and so I also believe that there are things that men should do and things that women should do, in our home men open the doors for women and if you come into our home, I will open the door for you if you are a woman.
I am sorry if this would offend you, what is important though is that it does not offend my wife, in fact the opposite is true, if I fail to open doors then……..
When I was driving recently, and my wife does not necessarily like my driving (too slow for her) but when we are together, I drive, I read the following sign. ‘When you change the way you look at things, then what you are looking at changes’.
So men are men and women are women, in all simplicity men need women and women need men, in simplicity to have children both are required. I am happy about that, and so is my wife. In simplicity there are certain things in the church that men do and certain things that women do, I am happy about that and so is my wife, even though my wife has to put up with some things that I do that she can do better than what I can.
Where I come from, society is structured in such a way, that women do all the work, while men stay at home or visit, and also make all the rules of society. Women in this society are ‘3rd’ class citizens. In some countries a man at any time he wished divorce his wife, and also when he dies there is no inheritance for the women, she is a 5th class citizen.
Without defining why the church is organized in the way it is or stating that this is church policy or…….
Is there not a possibility that in the world scheme of things the church is trying by example to teach in the equality of man and women, one not better or superior to the other, each with their assigned duties and responsibilities and each supporting and helping the other to be the best they can be.
If as I understand it that a man and his wife or if you would prefer it a woman and her husband together is a requirement for eternal happiness, then to have a marriage on this earth that promotes this, would seem to be correct.
I believe there is a God in heaven, and that He knows things that I dont even know I dont know, I further believe that if I follow His plan, my life will be better than if I follow my plan
[…]  The business acumen that gave birth to A Beginner’s Boston was no longer demanded of (or valued in?) women. This no doubt came as a mercy to some, but others experienced it as a genuine loss and […]
[…] out the Exponent’s discussion of the ban at the 2015 Exponent article, “Can Mormon Women Count Money?” Now, let’s keep working on gender parity for the rest of the male-only financial callings […]