#hearLDSwomen: In My Stake, Women Can’t Use the Church Building Without a Priesthood Holder Present

At the time of Kate Kelly’s fight for women to have the priesthood, I served on our ward’s Ward Council. I am pretty vocal and at one particular meeting shortly after Kate’s excommunication, a Bishopric member asked if I wanted his priesthood keys too. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out his car keys and mockingly offered them to me again. I was so furious and embarrassed I couldn’t think of a response.
– Anonymous


When I was serving in a Relief Society presidency, the presidency decided to serve ice cream to the men on Father’s Day. That Sunday the fridge broke and so we wanted to serve it at the beginning of the meeting before it melted instead of the end like we’d originally planned with the bishopric. We told the bishopric member conducting and he said that we couldn’t make that decision and that the priesthood had a lot of important announcements that day and that we needed priesthood approval to change it. Really, I can’t even decide something as simple as when we serve ice cream without the holding the priesthood? Even when the options are now or never?
– Julia


My husband and I lived in a married student ward for several years. One time during a ward conference, a counselor in the stake presidency taught the elders a real gem of a lesson. It was a general lesson on marriage relationships and one section of the lesson was on finances. The man was saying things like “don’t use credit cards because they’re bad.” Then he said, “Definitely don’t let your wife have a credit card. Women should not have control of the finances in your marriage. Women like to spend money and can’t keep track of what they spend so you [men] need to keep charge of the family budget.” My husband chimed in to say “ My wife handles our finances and we talk about our money. We use credit cards regularly and we’re smart about paying it off. I trust her and we’re doing fine.” The stake presidency counselor pretty much didn’t respond to him and moved on with his lesson.

My husband told me about this later, and I was so proud of him for speaking up. I was also appalled at the message he was responding to!

Women are viewed as children who can’t be trusted with adult responsibilities. Benevolent patriarchy belittling women under the guise of “caring for them”. Ugh.
– Marjorie


One time I was leaving a single adult activity at someone’s house and this much older, frail, man insisted on making sure I got to my car safely. It was a nice neighborhood and I don’t think it was even dark. I had to walk slow because he was so frail. But sure, you’re going to defend me. At that time I lived in Phoenix and worked and shopped in really not great areas all by myself just fine.
– Sarah


In my stake, women aren’t allowed to have their own meetings in the building without a priesthood holder present. Including for volleyball games: the wards trade off who is in charge of bringing a “priesthood holder” to babysit the women.
– ElleK


Pro Tip: Women are generally responsible adult humans who can make administrative decisions and take care of themselves.

Click here to read all of the stories in our #hearLDSwomen series. Has anything like this happened to you? Please share in the comments or submit your experience(s) to participate in the series.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mark 4:23)


  1. Two sisters were in our Stake Building this past week to make early preparations for a funeral service. They unlocked the building and entered only to be confronted by an agitated/confused man who was looking for a meeting on the second floor. There is NO second floor in the building. Tje sisters have no idea how the man even entered the building. The sisters told me they do not know what they would have done if he had gotten aggressive with them as no men were present. Many times it is possible that the restrictions are more about safety than dominion,

    • “The sisters told me they do not know what they would have done if he had gotten aggressive with them as no men were present. Many times it is possible that the restrictions are more about safety than dominion.”

      These statements contain several assumptions, the most obvious being that women are unable to protect themselves (or run or call 911) and that any man assigned to be present when women use a church building WOULD know what to do and is physically capable of protecting said women. But the thing is, the only requirement to be a “chaperone” at women’s activities is to be a “priesthood holder.” He could be a scrawny 18 year old boy or a frail 82 year old man (the latter is usually the case). If it truly were an issue of safety, they could specify a person trained in self defense or security (or even a large/intimidating man under the age of 65!) needs to attend activities. They don’t do this, obviously. Saying it’s about safety is just lip service.

      And to be perfectly frank, in most cases I feel MORE safe NOT having a random man sitting around while we’re having an activity. It makes me uncomfortable, and I’m honestly more concerned about being cornered by the assigned “priesthood holder” than I am about some person coming in off the street.

      • I have daughter who is a federal police officer, specalising as a bomb appraisal specialist. In her spare time she is a rural fire officer, and is training as the same as a smoke jumper. To qualify she had to pass the same physical as the males, carry 22k (45 pounds) 5k (3miles) in 45 minutes.
        Our chapel has an emergency plan that specifies that in case of emergency report to a priesthood holder.
        She is more qualified to deal with an emergency than any priesthood holder for miles. She has pointed out to the building representative that the fire extinguisher needs servicing, and had to threaten to report it to fire authorities (which would have closed the building) to get it fixed.

    • Restrictions being more about safety than dominion — this may be true, but it also speaks to a fallacy that many men (and women) believe about assault. It seems the main concern is stranger danger — that a strange man will come in and hurt the people within. But actually, most sexual assaults and acts of violence happen between acquaintances. I’d be far safer alone in a building doing my work than alone in a building but for a man I don’t know well who is aware that nobody else is going to arrive. I’m not afraid of being alone or with a group of women, but I am instantly on edge if I’m aware that a man is in the building with me unless he is someone that I know very, very well and trust implicitly. Since we all have different circles of “I trust this man” inevitably if a group of women is assigned a man to be there many of the women will feel “I don’t know that guy so well.” In my opinion, the strength and safety would come from the group of women, not from the man present.

  2. There was a family moving in the ward, so of course they sent an email to the men to help them move. I have frequently complained that they don’t just send it to the ward, but they told me women shouldn’t have to lift heavy things. My response was that if a woman didn’t want to lift heavy things she could just not show up, kind of like the men who didn’t want to lift heavy things. I frequently share the invitation with my wife. Usually once we show up no one cares.

    This time there were actually some women there. Apparently there was a lot of cleaning to do and they asked the Relief Society to help with that. I helped with the moving, but things were getting a bit backed up at the stairs, so I decided to start helping with the cleaning. I was told by a member of the bishopric to stop cleaning and save that for the women.

    If we need to protect women from lifting heavy boxes, shouldn’t we also want to protect them from harsh cleaning supplies? So many times, these excuses of protecting women are more about perpetuating stereotypes than protecting women.

    • Amen. Also not all moving is heavy. I’ve helped with moves before and I just go for things I know I can physically handle — lamps, bags of clothes etc. Also, why are we assuming that all men are in better physical shape and are stronger than all women? Honestly I regularly carry a child who weighs 30 pounds in my arms. My day to day life as a mother involves a lot more lifting, hauling, pushing etc. than many of the desk job men. While I’m no match for the fittest men in our ward, I’m sure I could out-lift, out-walk, out-work many men who have health or weight issues. And as another note — as a woman I’d like to know when the moves are because my husband may not remember to tell me and then suddenly he’s off to help. There’s no harm in letting everyone be aware of a need so that we can help in the ways we’re best able to.

    • My wife is a competitive powerlifter. She’s been more helpful during moves than most of the elders quorum.

  3. Joshua and Em, When I served as EQ Pres, I usually took my wife with me on moves. My wife is a trim and fit farm girl and can outwork and out lift most of the men in my area; and she is a nurse and has an uncanny sense when people are going to do something that gets people hurt. Our casualty rate dropped significantly! She also was able to help me see what the needs of the women were. If I had my way, no man would think of ministering without his wife. My wife helps me so much.

  4. Our building has a requirement that a priesthood leader be in the building for early morning as the teachers are all female. A boy with aspergers is an acceptable chaperone….

  5. Funny observation on the comments here. The men keep insisting that having any penis/priesthood holder at all in the building keeps women safe. The women keep saying that an 85 year old man or 13 year old kid is just one more person the women will have to protect if an intruder does come into the building. I am getting the feeling that having a male in the building makes the men feel that the women are protected, while the women feel they just might need to be protected FROM or to be responsible to protect that one male in the building.

    Personally, I feel safer in the building with just women, or all by myself, or an armed security officer. An 80+ guy can offer me less protection than one 30 year old female. But the church will not hire janitors, let alone armed security. So, they make a rule that a man has to be in the building and then the rule is followed with no thought of if that man can actually protect himself, let alone a group of women from an intruder.

    So, I am suspecting that this whole set up makes the male leaders feel they have done their duty to protect us “wimmin folk” and are absolved of any guilt should an intruder enter with the intent of a mass shooting or the intent of catching a lone female to rape. After all, they ordered a male to be present when anyone was in the building. The fact the the 85 year old is zero protection is irrelevant. They followed the rule, so God will keep the women safe. Common sense isn’t needed, just obedience to rules.

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