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Apr 9th 2008

AP Reports on LDS General Conference – Sort Of

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Here’s a description of the Saturday night priesthood meeting, which struck me as a little odd:

The session, which prohibits attendance by women, was also broadcast to church facilities worldwide via satellite. [Associated Press]

I wonder if this reporter bothered to ask anyone at the meeting if they would characterize the meeting as “prohibiting” attendance by women. In fact, I have seen women at these meetings (for example, fathers who have brought their daughters along with them for whatever reason). Do the Relief Society and Young Women conferences prohibit men? Or are members of organizations in the 21st century no longer allowed to split voluntarily into groups to be taught based on their distinct responsibilities, needs, and traits?

I don’t know….am I overreacting? It just seems like there are so many ways to explain who participates in priesthood session, and “women prohibited” is probably the harshest way to say it.

14 Responses to “AP Reports on LDS General Conference – Sort Of”

  1. This seems similar to a lot of things back from Romney’s run.

    These people that write these things don’t know any Mormons, and therefore, know very little about Mormonism.

  2. No, I don’t think you are overreacting at all. It was an over-the-top slap at the Church.
    The sentence would lose nothing at all by describing it as a “men’s session” or by simply removing the reference to women. In fact, the AP’s self-proclaimed focus on accuracy would be much better served by either alternative since, as you state, women are not prohibited from attending.

  3. Was she prohibited from attending? How was she able to report on this? Was she there or did she have to rely on other sources?

    It’s a subtle use of words that may seem slight but dramatically misrepresents the story.

  4. […] Travis catches the AP reporting that the Church “prohibits attendance by women” at the Priesthood session. […]

  5. It is a gross misrepresentation. I remember a few years ago a woman came in our chapel and was “allowed” to stay. I believe she was not a member and perhaps concerned about what her husband would be taught or something like that. In any case, she was not prohibited and more than men are prohibited from attending the women’s session.

  6. That should have been “…any more than men…”

  7. There were women at the broadcast of Priesthood session that I attended where I live. They came and sat through it because of the distance to travel and the fact that the Saturday afternoon session would be broadcast shortly thereafter (we get the Priesthood Session on Sunday morning over here across the pond).

  8. It’s an accurate description in any of the wards i’ve lived in, however.

    In addition, it historically went further–as recently as the 1960s, the meeting was only open to holders of the priesthood.

    Of course, this leads to me wondering why in the world it isn’t broadcast like the other general sessions are, and nobody’s been able to give me an answer to that question that matches up with the facts, aside from “Cuz that’s how it’s done.” Oh well–tradition and all that, i guess.

  9. It’s an accurate description in any of the wards i’ve lived in, however.

    your wards are holding their own general priesthood session? do you go to church in eldorado, texas by chance?

    i have never seen anyone, of any gender (or any other characteristic, for that matter) turned away from being present in any priesthood meeting of our church. ever. for any reason. this goes back over ten years.

    In addition, it historically went further–as recently as the 1960s, the meeting was only open to holders of the priesthood.

    fascinating. do you think the associated press just picked up some old news story they wrote “as recently as the 1960s” and reprinted it? or do you think this news story, written in the present tense, is supposed to be about current events and describe modern practices? if the latter, then certainly it is inaccurate.

    Of course, this leads to me wondering why in the world it isn’t broadcast like the other general sessions are, and nobody’s been able to give me an answer to that question that matches up with the facts, aside from “Cuz that’s how it’s done.” Oh well–tradition and all that, i guess.

    church leaders often take advantage of the less public format to address more sensitive subjects. for example, i believe elder richard scott denounced abuse at this particular session. there might be other reasons why it is not publicly broadcast, but i do not know what they are.

  10. To clarify, if it’s actually in fact necessary: Every ward i’ve ever been in has shown the broadcast of priesthood session of conference, and they’ve all limited attendance at the broadcast to men.

    Really, though, it still doesn’t seem all that opaque of a comment to me.

    In response to another twisting of what i wrote, i brought up the 1960s simply to point out that there’s a history here (which i presume the AP writer didn’t know about, but one might expect germane history to be considered, you know, topical).

    Also, if priesthood session exists to bring up topics are really all that non-public and sensitive, then why in the world are they published in the Ensign along with everything else?

  11. To clarify, if it’s actually in fact necessary: Every ward i’ve ever been in has shown the broadcast of priesthood session of conference, and they’ve all limited attendance at the broadcast to men.

    my point isn’t that the church does not presently “limit attendance” to men only. certainly, only men are invited, and it is presumed that only men will attend.

    but i have never seen an usher turn away a wife or a daughter or a female reporter, for that matter, from a general priesthood broadcast.

    and i have never attended a relief society meeting, but i don’t doubt i’d get to stay if i wandered in.

    In response to another twisting of what i wrote, i brought up the 1960s simply to point out that there’s a history here (which i presume the AP writer didn’t know about, but one might expect germane history to be considered, you know, topical).

    the AP writes, last week:

    The session, which prohibits attendance by women…

    no mention of the 1960s! it sounds like they are talking about the priesthood session in 2008. would you find it odd for the AP to write tomorrow, “the mormon church, whose members practice polygamy….”

    i would!

    because as a contemporary news story it is untrue.

    the more i think about this line, the more i think it deserves a spot with the heaping pile of falsehoods professional journalists spread about the church on a consistent basis.

    if priesthood session exists to bring up topics are really all that non-public and sensitive, then why in the world are they published in the Ensign along with everything else?

    perhaps because a month later, the hot-button stories aren’t newsworthy. as well as other reasons.

    consider: why can’t i “attend” my sacrament meeting by watching a streaming webcast of the service in my bathrobe? believe me, i’ve wished for this. there seems to be no valid reason the mormons can’t set this system up for me.

  12. Of course, this leads to me wondering why in the world it isn’t broadcast like the other general sessions are, and nobody’s been able to give me an answer to that question that matches up with the facts, aside from “Cuz that’s how it’s done.” Oh well–tradition and all that, i guess.

    I actually was just thinking about this…I think it is purposefully only broadcast to church meetinghouses and such to get the men of the church gathered together into one group…a different dynamic than sitting in your living room alone which the leaders of the church apparently are ok with for the general sessions.

  13. doug

    I think women would get a lot of sideways looks if they showed up for the priesthood session, but I’m not sure they would be “prohibited” from attending.

    As for sensitive topics, Elder Scott’s talk on abuse this conference was in the Saturday afternoon session, not priesthood. The only “recent” talk from a priesthood session that wasn’t reprinted in the Ensign, as far as I know, was Elder Packer’s talk in October 1976 on masturbation.

  14. Elder Scott’s talk on abuse this conference was in the Saturday afternoon session

    thanks for the correction, doug.