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Dear Kate Kelly: “Sparking Joy” is Not a Litmus Test for the Gospel of Christ

Dear Kate Kelly: “Sparking Joy” is Not a Litmus Test for the Gospel of Christ

(Photo courtesy of Scott Sommerdorf of The Salt Lake Tribune)

Originally posted by Connor Boyack, president of Libertas Institute and author, on his blog

Kate Kelly was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints one year ago. In the months prior to this culminating severance, as her Ordain Women group increasingly agitated for a doctrinal shift in the Church, I observed and opined that she had reduced the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to a male-dominated social club in need of her feminizing reforms.

In one interview after another, I looked for—and failed to find—an expression of testimony. I awaited an affirmation of her faith. Instead, she would say things like “I love this church,” “I love the gospel and the courage of its people,” and that her mission through Ordain Women was to “stand up for [her]self and for people that [she] loved.” Indeed, in her written defense hoping to deter her bishop from choosing excommunication, there was not one whit of testimony—no attempt to make clear that her spiritual house was still built upon Christ’s rock. Instead, she blandly informed the bishop that she had loved her “association with the Church” and “the feeling” she got attending meetings, as if she was casually expressing affection for her local Rotary Club.

One year later, Kelly is encouraging her formerly fellow congregants to abandon our affiliation with the Church if our “participation in Mormonism [does not] spark joy.” Even now, the phrases she chooses are indicative of her indifference to the principles of the gospel—rather than referring to membership in the Church, or God’s kingdom, or belief in and commitment to the gospel, she presents a sterilized picture of “participation in Mormonism,” as if it’s a mere parade or fad or social campaign.

For Kelly, her affiliation in the Church which booted her out had apparently degraded into nothing more than an additional identity—an extra few characters on one’s résumé, surrounded by similarly unnoteworthy endeavors such as membership in a jazz band or speech and debate club. Of course, from this perspective, it’s reasonable for her to suggest that if one’s “participation” in a group brings more perceived judgment than joy, one should simply walk away, shrugging off this previous identity like one would a sweat-stained jersey from a perpetually losing soccer team.

Read the rest of the letter at Connor’s Conundrums. 

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