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Priesthood Session Broadcast Live

As we all know, the annual General Relief Society Meeting and General Young Women Meeting have long been broadcast by satellite and also available live through TV and streaming on the internet.

For a myriad of  reasons (claimed by mostly non-authoritative sources), the General Priesthood Session did not follow this pattern. Until now.

According to a press release this morning, the session will now be broadcast live on BYUtv and two online resources, LDS.org and the Mormon Channel.

Buried in an official press release the church announced that they have decided to make this change “as part of a continued effort to make general conference proceedings more accessible to members around the globe.”

In response to some women who have asked for tickets to this session, today the church formally stated that women who attempt to attend the session in the Conference Center will be denied. At almost the exact same time, they made the announcement above. It’s not coincidental.

{ 27 comments… add one }

  • jennycherie September 24, 2013, 1:46 pm

    I am glad for the change, though it does seem a little bit like the church is just trying to placate the “Ordain Women” group. It seems to be a bit contradictory to say all the blessings of the priesthood are available to both men and women, but then to completely disallow women from attending. I am perfectly happy to watch it online or read it in the Ensign because I don’t live in UT and attending a live session of conference is just not possible for me. But, if I did live in UT, what would be the harm in me attending with my husband and son?

    A couple of years ago, our ward Primary President suggested that the ward hold a family campout to celebrate the commemoration of the Aaronic Priesthood instead of having a father/son campout. I thought it was a lovely idea, and a great way to emphasize the importance of the priesthood to all of us, but the idea was immediately rejected. The two things seem similar to me.

  • Dave K September 24, 2013, 2:22 pm

    Ok. So women cannot enter the conference center for the PH session. But they can sit on the conference center grounds and listen to it on their phone. So basically women can now attend the PH session and be ensured a quick exit and the first place in line at the ice cream parlor afterwards?

  • Alison Moore Smith September 24, 2013, 2:26 pm

    It seems to be a bit contradictory to say all the blessings of the priesthood are available to both men and women, but then to completely disallow women from attending.

    Amen. And until we refuse admittance to all men at the general meetings for females, it doesn’t really make sense.

    Dave K, that would be a valid point, except that the men can do the same.

    Never mind. They’ll be home on the couch with a carton. No lines at all. ;)
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  • Dave K September 24, 2013, 2:37 pm

    Touche!

    On a serious note, though, I wonder what will happen if lots of men stop attending in the conference center. Already it does not fill up.

  • Howard September 24, 2013, 5:32 pm

    This is sooo LDS!

  • jennycherie September 24, 2013, 10:01 pm

    “Already it does not fill up.”

    seriously? Then the argument that all the seats are needed for the men isn’t even true?
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  • Alison Moore Smith September 25, 2013, 12:41 am

    Howard, did you expect otherwise on a site called Mormon Momma?

    jennycherie, that’s what I’m reading elsewhere (although, obviously, I’ve never been and never seen it broadcast).

    But, OK, let’s be serious. Did anyone really believe that was the reason? And, if so, why haven’t men been banned from the General Relief Society Meeting?
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  • jennycherie September 25, 2013, 4:56 am

    “Did anyone really believe that was the reason?”

    You know, if a church spokesperson says it is the reason, it should be 100% true and not just a . . . I don’t know what you’d call it. I keep thinking “placebo” but that is not quite right.
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  • Dave K September 25, 2013, 7:49 am

    jennycherie, I personally attended the Oct. 2012 priesthood session. I sat in the “upper decks.” There were hundreds if not thousands of empty seats.

    Can you point me to the church statement that says the reason for excluding women is so there are enough seats for men? I haven’t seen that said specifically. What I have seen is just a general statement that seats in the PH session are reserved for men and boys. But that leaves open the question whether all the seats are filled. Again, they are not.

    Another interesting tidbit. There are many women who are present in the conference center during the PH session. I saw dozens helping with the security lines and serving as ushers. Even up through the intermediate hymn I saw female ushers quietly help seat men and boys in the conference center and then leave.

  • jennycherie September 25, 2013, 10:19 am

    “It is the hope of the church that the priesthood session will strengthen the men and young men including fathers and sons, and give them the opportunity to gather and receive instruction related to priesthood duties and responsibilities,” church spokeswoman Ruth Todd said Tuesday in a letter to the group, “much the same way parallel meetings are held for sisters, such as the general Relief Society meeting.

    “It’s for these reasons that tickets for the priesthood session are reserved for men and young men and we are unable to honor your request for tickets or admission.”

    No, it doesn’t state explicitly that they are packed to the gills, but it sure gives that impression. If the reason women are not allowed is so there is space for the men & young men, a reasonable person DOES understand that space is at a premium, which it clearly is not. So, again WHY can those seats not be taken by women who are interested when the men the seats are reserved for are clearly NOT interested in having them?

    I feel like this situation is being dealt with much the same as polygamy: placate, soothe, and shove the real story under the mat. If the brethren have asked Father, and the answer is “no, the women should not be in this meeting,” then why not just say it? If it is some other reason, why not just be out with it?
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  • Dave K September 25, 2013, 10:32 am

    Thanks. I see where you are coming from. The best I can describe it is like this. The church distributes 100% of tickets to the PH session to the stakes. The church hopes that the tickets will all be used by men/boys. In reality, for whatever reason, many go unused. That is why there is a stand-by line. Unlike with general sessions of conference, everyone in the PH stand-by line still gets a seat. They may be seated after the meeting begins. And they may be seated way up high, but they are all seated.

    If the OW crowd chooses to show up to the stand-by line for the PH session on Oct. 5, the picture you will see is of them being kept outside the hall while all the men in the stand-by are allowed entry.

    IMO, it does seem a little petty to exclude women who want to see the PH session live when (i) they are allowed to view it online and (ii) there are sufficient empty seats for them in the session. The best spin I could give would be that, if the church allowed these 150-200 women to enter now, next time there may be 10,000 women – and there is not enough space for all of them. But if that were the case, the utilitarian side of me says we should still fill the hall to capacity with as many women who want to attend.

  • jennycherie September 25, 2013, 10:46 am

    Yes – that is exactly what I meant!

  • Alison Moore Smith September 25, 2013, 6:50 pm

    For the love of Pete.

    Peggy Fletcher Stack (religion writer for the Salt Lake Tribune) said that she has never been allowed to attend the priesthood session to cover it so the newspaper sent male non-members instead.

    So you don’t have to hold the priesthood, you just have to be a guy.
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  • jennycherie September 26, 2013, 4:27 am

    “Peggy Fletcher Stack (religion writer for the Salt Lake Tribune) said that she has never been allowed to attend the priesthood session to cover it so the newspaper sent male non-members instead.”

    WOW. So, less about the priesthood than about manhood.:(
    jennycherie recently posted…Update on the HateMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith September 26, 2013, 12:05 pm

    Yea, that’s kind of what I was thinking. Boo.
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  • Tracy Keeney September 27, 2013, 7:33 pm

    Other than priesthood leaders, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen husbands attend the RS session with their wives. I doubt they’d want to. I can guarantee you, the last thing my husband would want is to go to yet ANOTHER meeting. Just sayin’

  • Tracy Keeney September 27, 2013, 7:49 pm

    What I got from the particular part of the statement that said “…and give them the opportunity to gather and receive instruction related to priesthood duties men and priesthood duties…. it is for these reasons that tickets for the priesthood session are reserved for men and young men…” wasn’t anything about seat space, but “gathering as men and young men”. The same reason why young men don’t go to Young Women activities or to the General Young Women Broadcast. It’s a meeting FOR the girls, so boys aren’t invited.

  • jennycherie September 27, 2013, 9:49 pm

    “The same reason why young men don’t go to Young Women activities or to the General Young Women Broadcast. It’s a meeting FOR the girls, so boys aren’t invited.”

    I really do get this – different meetings for different people – but men are not barred from attending the women’s meetings, or any meetings at all. Where these are meetings that are not secret or sacred (in the way that some spiritual experiences are so sacred they should not be shared widely) and are broadcast and published around the world, it just seems bizarre to keep anyone out when there is space available. It is important for us to be able to distinguish between rules that have significance and meaning and traditions that are continued because people believe they are something more than tradition.

  • Tracy Keeney September 27, 2013, 11:28 pm

    Do we even know that husbands AREN’T “barred” from attending the General RS broadcast? That’s an honest question– I don’t know the answer.
    Do we know that young men aren’t “barred” from attending the YW broadcast?

  • Tracy Keeney September 27, 2013, 11:32 pm

    – I know that there are ‘males’ present at the RS meeting– but they’re there as leaders. But can random “Joe Blow” walk into the RS session?

  • jennycherie September 28, 2013, 6:04 am

    you know, I can’t imagine anyone would even notice if a man walked into a RS or YW meeting since there are already men there. Having a young man come in would be noticeable, though I would be inclined (if it were up to me) to keep him in there so he wasn’t creating mischief elsewhere in the building. I also don’t think it would be an issue since men generally have no reason to feel marginalized. I have always assumed that if I were the only one available to take my son to priesthood session, that I would just sit in the session with him, but I wonder now if that would be allowed.

  • Tracy Keeney September 28, 2013, 7:58 am

    See– and I would have thought the opposite. I would have assumed that men COULDN’T go. I’ve never purposely LOOKED to see if men were sitting among the congregation in the RS session of conference but I don’t ever noticing any. When the cameras pan the congregation… I don’t ever remember seeing men there. Maybe security guys? I don’t know. I’ll have to pay attention tomorrow.

  • jennycherie September 28, 2013, 8:51 am

    in that, I was thinking more of in our local meetinghouses. I assume in Salt Lake City, Bishops and High Councilmen still attend but in their meetinghouses and not in the conference center, unless it is like the priesthood session where there is plenty of space. Or maybe they seat then men out of range of the cameras just to be less conspicuous?

    I was just thinking that in our Stake Center, I wouldn’t notice additional men there and wouldn’t be bothered by it. I had always assumed the same would be true if I were taking my son to watch the priesthood broadcast, that no one would notice or care if I was sitting with him watching the broadcast.

  • Tracy Keeney September 28, 2013, 9:46 pm

    OH! Well yeah– I can envision a random husband here and there maybe going to the RS broadcast at the local building- I’m honestly not sure that I’ve actually ever witnessed it though. But again- I wasn’t looking for it either. I wouldn’t be bothered by it either.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 30, 2013, 2:04 pm

    I’ve seen men in both the Conference Center and in local chapels in the congregation. Not in significant numbers. I’ve also seen elementary aged boys — too young to stay home unattended — in tow.

    I’d also suggest that when you see the camera “pan the congregation,” there is a man behind the lens. And likely mostly men in the booth and in other production areas. :) If even female reporters are barred from attendance, it’s likely female crew are as well.

    The fact, however, that men preside at and give the “keynote” in EVERY general women’s meeting — while women are banned from attendance at the men’s meetings — speaks volumes.

    If nothing else, the fact that the church officially deems women and men extraordinarily different indicates that it would be good and helpful for a woman to speak at men’s meetings, at least once in a while.
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  • Tracy Keeney September 30, 2013, 8:27 pm

    A man behind the lens… most likely.
    I’m sure you understand and know that the reason why a man always speaks at women’s conference, is because he’s in the Church Presidency. A prophet, seer and revelator is speaking at the meeting– they’re the ones LEADING the church– the women are members of the church, so one of them speaks at the meeting. So unless you’re expecting them to call a woman to the presidency…

    And there have been plenty of times when women in general leadership positions have specifically addressed the men in the general meetings– talking about their roles and responsibilities as husbands and fathers, etc.
    They don’t have to go to the priesthood meeting to do that.
    And the RS sisters have meetings every single week in their home wards where there isn’t a man in sight. It’s not like the Bishop or some other man is sitting there “presiding” over RS. But it’s only common sense that at a worldwide gathering of all the sisters in the body of church for the two “big”, most important RS meetings of the year, that one the presidency would speak. I understand you’re not necessarily complaining that a man speaks at women’s conference (rather you think it’s unfair that in return, a woman doesn’t speak at the priesthood session) But I can almost guarantee that if one of the presidency DIDN’T speak at the RS conference, there would be women who would complain, “Why do the MEN get to have a special meeting with the prophet, and we don’t?”

  • Alison Moore Smith October 5, 2013, 10:08 am

    Tracy, yes, I kind of do know the church hierarchy. But if women don’t “have” to go to priesthood to speak to men, men don’t “have” to go to general RS meeting to speak to women. Particularly when we have so few general female speakers at ANY event.

    Yes, most of the time there aren’t men in ward RS meetings, but so? As you already noted, it’s not that I’m just hoping and praying for more female-only meetings. It’s parity.

    If women are, as the church contends, so utterly different from men that it requires exclusive domains, exclusion from function, etc., it stands to reason that (these utterly distinct) women can’t be fully served by men and that men also can’t fully be served by other men. In fact, they need direct female perspective as much as we need male perspective (prophetic or not — how about prophetessic).
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