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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: April 13, 2012 02:12PM

With Mitt Romney's recent utterly hypocritical attempt to siphon women voters away from the President, I spent some time on a political blogsite detailing the Church's "anti-ERA" activities of the mid 1970's to the early 80's.

Predicitably, I was accused of lying, etc. with one person maintaining that since she didn't know any who were ex-communicated for such activities I couldn't possibly be telling the truth. I managed to remain polite in replying to that one...

I am close friends with two posters here who were formally excommunicated from the church for their activities at the time, and I linked a story of Sonia Johnson as well.

What I would like is a thread that can be archived so that this bit of history is readily available to counter the propaganda. I'll invite all who have legitimate information to reply, and trust they'll offer as much documentation as possible. This includes those who were solicited to campaign against the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Unbelievably, the suppression of this story has become more widespread than the black priesthood issue.

Thanks to all in advance...

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Posted by: duffy ( )
Date: April 13, 2012 03:30PM

I was a new convert in 1979. The ERA movement was absolutely a topic of discussion at church. I knew that the Mormons were against this amendment. I don't know that we ever heard anything "from the pulpit". But it was a major issue at the time and we were supposed to be against it. Sonia Johnson was notorious for standing up FOR the amendment. Also she was notoriously excommunicated for being public about it.

A TBM friend of mine (friends since 1980) just recently told me about an ERA related issue. She was at BYU (student) and she was in favor of the ERA amendment. Some of her friends/roommates were shocked that she was open about supporting it, even though they all knew the church was against it. She said she told them that the prophet had not made any pronouncement about it, and until he did, she felt comfortable openly supporting the amendment. This friend told me that not long after that, the church DID come out with some sort of official statement, and since that time she has still privately supported ERA, but kept her mouth shut since that day. I can try to get more info about this.

I was shocked when she told me this story (just in the last few months), because I never thought she was living a "double life" as far as the church was concerned. She is a hard core TBM, works in the temple once a week, RM, former RS pres, now in stake RS presidency. However the point is that there must have been some official word from the 1st presidency about not supporting ERA that shut her up. I will try to find out what that was.

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Posted by: Suckafoo ( )
Date: April 13, 2012 05:14PM

"There’s no doubt that the LDS Church actively opposed the ERA. In 1978, a First Presidency letter read by bishops urged members to get engaged with other citizens to defeat the ERA. In a 1980 Church News editorial, the church expounded on its opposition. Later an insert in The Ensign was devoted to criticizing the ERA."
http://blogs.standard.net/the-political-surf/2010/04/15/sonia-johnson-the-era-a-contentious-issue-during-presidency-of-kimball/

Maybe someone has that Ensign with it in there.

I found an article from the 1980's on her that alludes to it being officially declared: "Johnson's troubles began soon after she co-founded Mormons for ERA to oppose the church's covert campaign against the amendment"
See full article dated 2/11/1980 here in People archives: http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20075792,00.html

and
http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon415.htm

and there is information found here: political connection: "Sonia Johnson began speaking out as a Mormon for Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1977. Her first national exposure was following her August 1978 testimony in front of the Senate Constitutional Rights Subcommittee where she came into conflict with Utah's junior Senator, Orrin Hatch."
http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/UU_EAD&CISOPTR=1830#id550569



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 04/13/2012 05:41PM by suckafoo.

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Posted by: Villager ( )
Date: April 13, 2012 05:32PM

I have the booklet that was sent out to members of the church. I searched and found it online.

http://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/03/the-church-and-the-proposed-equal-rights-amendment-a-moral-issue?lang=eng

.

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Posted by: Villager ( )
Date: April 13, 2012 05:40PM

A Sunstone article about Sonia Johnson and the ERA

https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/019-35-43.pdf

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Posted by: Phantom Shadow ( )
Date: April 13, 2012 05:57PM

It's long. I'm pretty sure it was never archived. Cabbie, let me take a look at the original again and see if I can cut it down a bit or if I want to change it.

It has info about my letter from GBH and my encounter with Barbara Smith, then RS general president.

The leadership in my stake was afraid to excommunicate me.

I'll get back to you in a couple of days.

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Posted by: anagrammy ( )
Date: April 13, 2012 06:17PM

Around 1973, some of my homeschooling friends accompanied me from Pleasant Grove to hear a speech in Richfield, Utah, by the woman (whose name I have forgotten) who actually started the anti-ERA movement in Utah. Her slogan was "Hot Dog or Steak" and the premise was that the Equal Rights Amendment offered a steak but delivered a hot dog, i.e., women would lose preferential treatment that they now enjoyed, bathrooms would be coed, mother's would lose custody preference in divorces, etc.

The original literature was mimeographed and I think I still have some in my old files.

Then Phillis Schafly and the Eagle Forum took over the anti-Era movement and they invited me to appear on television and speak against the amendment, which I did. There was no question at the time that the church was against the ERA and was recruiting women with public speaking experience to "stand up" against the feminists.

The issue was good and evil, Mormon women against feminists. There was no such thing as a Mormon feminist before Sonya Johnson. Her excommunication polarized Mormon women and literally turned them on each other. The feminist movement was painted black--an attack on the family.

After the publicity died down, the priesthood quietly brought the Relief Society under its patriarchal wing and the women no longer selected their own leaders or managed their own money. Away from the spotlight, the men eviscerated the ability of women to define anything or speak about anything ever again--except the insipid "Mothers Who Know" type talks.

The Relief Society used to be a very powerful arm of the church, determining its own missions in various parts of the world, earning its own money and running its own programs. It was fun to go to Relief Society and learn about art, culture, even other religions, and especially I remember the sharing of skills the sisters had with each other.

Did you know that to make those hard rolls with the super soft insides, you raise the bread once, then knock it down and freeze it, get it out in the morning, let it thaw all day, punch it down and shape into loaves or rolls when the kids get home from school (they love to help) and you have GUARANTEED the lightest rolls ever.

I also learned how to slaughter a rabbit, milk a goat, and can. I taught a class in how to crochet slippers that your children could never outgrow and laundry management for big families.

I realize now that the ERA debate killed the Relief Society and lead to it becoming the pale shadow it is today. What relief can they offer? None. What society do they provide? None--only checking and spying for the priesthood.

I used to have in my files the old Relief Society magazine from the 20's and 30's where they kept the American Mormon women informed on all the projects they were doing worldwide. They were relieving hardship, sending food/blankets/clothing, training ladies on how to dig sanitation trenches. Seriously, there was one whole issue devoted to the importance of handling human waste in a sanitary manner.

But now you can go to Relief Society and learn how to make an angel tree topper out of foil and a toilet paper core.

Anagrammy

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Posted by: Lorraine aka síóg ( )
Date: April 14, 2012 04:26AM


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Posted by: yorkie ( )
Date: April 14, 2012 07:07AM

Could anybody tell me exactly when it was that RS lost its self funding status? I joined the church in the mid 70's but wasn't aware that RS had held its own funds in the past until a few years later.

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Posted by: robertb ( )
Date: April 14, 2012 11:41AM

The Relief Society had its own funds, owned its own building, and printed its own publications until Harold B. Lee told the Relief Society to turn them over to "the Priesthood." The Relief Society enjoyed a great deal of autonomy until then. Lee was also the church president who began Correlation. His push was to put everything under the control of the priesthood and the central authority in SLC.

On the general topic of Mormon women and feminism you may enjoy Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism.


http://signaturebookslibrary.org/?p=840

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