Kate Kelly, the founder of a group that questions gender roles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was excommunicated on Monday on grounds of apostasy. The decision was made by an all-male panel in Northern Virginia.
A human rights attorney, Kelly, 33, started Ordain Women as a way of starting a discussion about women being able to join the Mormon priesthood, and has led public protests and training workshops to spread the word. While women can hold leadership positions in the church, only men can be called to the highest reaches as bishops, stake presidents, and members of the church's ruling bodies, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency.
A disciplinary hearing was held for Kelly on Sunday in Oakton, Virginia. In a letter to Kelly, Bishop Mark Harrison wrote: "The difficulty, Sister Kelly, is not that you say you have questions or even that you believe that women should receive the priesthood. The problem is that you have persisted in an aggressive effort to persuade other church members to your point of view and that your course of action has threatened to erode the faith of others."
If Kelly can prove in a year that she has stopped committing "actions that undermine the Church," she can be re-baptized. Now that she has been excommunicated, Kelly is no longer allowed to contribute a 10 percent tithe, take the sacrament, give a talk during services, or wear temple garments.
Kelly is one of a handful of Mormons facing disciplinary action. She made it clear that her battle isn't over. "I hope there is a point where people band together and fight against silencing women," she said. "I'm not going to give up on the cause because... in God's eyes, I am equal."