Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 8.04.13 PMThe voice of Mormon Apologetics in the past has been predominately male. In this episode we explore the intersection of gender and Mormon Apologetics.  We discuss the reasons that this may be, as well as how this tradition is changing and creating a space for more women within FAIR.

In this episode, we are pleased to have with us a strong panal:

  • Nancy Ross, Assistant Professor of Art History at Dixie State Universtiy and has a Ph.D. from the university of Cambridge. She has been blogging the Book of Mormon chapter by chapter with a feminist perspective at .
  • Kevin Barney, studied classics at BYU, then obtained law degrees from the University of Illinois and DePaul University. He also serves of the board of directors for FAIR Mormon and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.
  • Jessica Finnigan is a Master’s Student at King’s College London, where she studies religion in the contemporary world. She recently completed an advanced Diploma in Religious Studies at the University of Cambridge. She earned a Bachelors from BYU in Marriage, Family, and Human Development..


  1. Bill January 9, 2015 at 7:24 am - Reply

    There can be little doubt that the mission of FAIR is to defend the current structure and policies of the church. Their mission is not to question or to suggest or to advise or to recommend. Only to defend. A prominent apologist recently said on the FMH podcast “Jesus would be pleased with the way the church is being run today.” When they say (Ridiculous? Asinine?) things like that, I have a hard time taking their opinions seriously. I won’t (and can’t) argue with their scholarship or the conclusions that they make based on that scholarship, but when they try to defend the indefensible, I have to dismiss their opinions out of hand.

  2. Rio January 9, 2015 at 10:34 am - Reply

    As long as ecclesiastical power and authority are solely in the hands of men in a patriarchal system, women are always going to be seen as lacking equal authority or worthy of equal voice within the official community. You can send thousands of women into the mission field, they can become articulate scriptorians and theologians, but without equal ecclesiastical sway, they will continually be seen as second-class adherents to the faith by those with orthodox privilege.

  3. R January 9, 2015 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the discussion. I think although a lot of important points were made it never got to the root cause of the issue. The bottom line is that women are not seen as spiritually equal to men in the Mormon church. This belief is at the foundation of Mormon doctrine and all the things talked about in this podcast are symptoms of that belief. This belief is institutionalized in EVERY aspect of the Church and it’s doctrine. It doesn’t matter how much “space” is made, or how many women are encourage to contribute or how many girls go on missions. No…matter…what… a man can always trump anything a woman says or does in the church.There is NO exception to this. Men have ultimate and absolute power over women in the church. If what a woman says or does is not congruent with her Priesthood leaders views her options are to submit to his way or be exiled. That’s it…ABSOLUTE. Nothing will really change until this belief is honestly addressed.

  4. Bryon Craig January 9, 2015 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    Did not enjoy this one. It was as if the guests did not come prepared with a point of view and instead were just submitting to an interview. It wasn’t until the 43:00 mark that there was actually any meaningful discussion.

    • Molly January 12, 2015 at 12:42 pm - Reply


  5. DHB January 10, 2015 at 7:45 am - Reply

    I actually enjoyed this podcast, even though their opinions, conclusions on truth claims of the church differ in most ways than mine, I still felt that they were honest and articulate in their views. I know that my views on these issues have changed significantly over time. Who knows how theirs may change as well. Truth in the end will win out. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to do this interview. Good luck sorting through these difficult issues.

  6. Leslie January 11, 2015 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    You want women to speak up? Ok, I’ll bite.

    The initial premise of the podcast is that women are significantly underrepresented in the realm of Mormon apologetics. This seems to be true but the statement is an observation, not an agenda. There are no barriers to affiliation other than a woman’s interest and effort. Nancy took issue with Kevin when he suggested that women may be less interested in arguing online about these topics. She stated that women like arguing on the Internet but then gave a list of reasons why women don’t engage. Such statements support the comment she wants to oppose. She blamed the culture for not respecting women’s voices pursuant to which Kevin backs off his statement and concedes “male privilege”. But the evidence shows that women don’t participate at the same level as men. How is that a lack of respect for women? Women choose to not participate. Period.

    Women self-limit or self-exclude. Jessica cited fear or lack of confidence as a reason. Toward the end of the podcast, Nancy stated that women don’t want to be filmed or recorded. So, if this is true, let’s not blame anyone but ourselves. It is so counter-productive. Let’s deal with our own inhibitions and get on with engaging with the world. Beyond the issue of inhibitions, I suspect that most women simply do not have the time. With all the demands on a woman, bantering online is a luxury.

    So much of the feminist discourse presupposes that the female realm is less legitimate than the male realm. When we pursue equality (as sameness) in the spaces we occupy, we are suggesting that what men are doing is superior to what women are doing. True feminism would lend credibility and legitimacy to female interests and activities. Women don’t need to look, sound, dress, act like men and occupy male spaces in order to be equal. We need to emphasize the importance of the spaces each of us occupies. For example, when women advocate for holding priesthood callings, we are suggesting that being Bishop is a badge of honor. Rather, it is a responsibility imposed, a position of servitude. Personally, I am relieved to not be on the list of potential candidates for priesthood positions. I would rather choose where, when and how I serve my fellowmen. Was Mother Teresa limited because of her lack of access to priesthood positions? No, she just got on with changing the world in her own way.

    As an aside comment about Ordain Women, believing that women should hold the priesthood is a legitimate position. Interfering with people’s religious worship is rude and unbecoming. Further, why would anyone want to be a leader of a group with which you fundamentally disagree? Other groups, such as the Community of Christ, would accommodate such believers without antagonism. Why not participate there?

    I am not suggesting that there are not in equities or unfairness in the world and in the church. What I am saying is that a life is made up of what you have, not what you don’t have. Energies are far better spent accomplishing something rather than complaining or blaming. We don’t form alliances with people (male or female) by assaulting them.

    Do the forgoing comments make me an apologist? I don’t know. Much of the history of the LDS church and the current organization is a struggle for me. Notwithstanding, I participate in a way that strengthens me. I navigate the waters I’m in – not the iceberg-free waters I wish I were in. I taught gospel doctrine for 11 years. I comment (or withhold comments) in classes according to my desire. In the broader world, I attended BYU law school and out of an enrollment that was 6% female, I was elected student body president. I have practiced law off and on for over 25 years in a predominately male environment. For the last 18 consecutive years I have served in appointed or elected positions in local government. My energies were applied to accomplishment, not complaint. Gender had nothing to do with it.

  7. Katherine Pollock January 11, 2015 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    There is no comparison of the number of women publishing/speaking, ect. in the opposite way (against the Church) vs. men, (saying this because since Mormon Stories primary audience is the disaffected).

  8. Sandy January 15, 2015 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    I disagree. I really enjoyed the first half of the episode and think that the exploration of how two prominent female Mormon scholars came to enter the male-dominated environment and why they don’t consider themselves to be apologists, despite writing about difficult issues with a faithful bent. The observation that many view Mormon feminism, at least insofar as it involves activism or a desire for change, and apologetics as somewhat incompatible is valuable and speaks to my experience.

    I can say that I would have enjoyed even more substantive discussion about why women in general don’t engage in Mormon scholarship. It seems like there is a lot more to say on the subject. For example, I wonder how many women who identify as feminists engage more readily on the topic of women’s issues than on other difficult doctrinal issues (historicity of the Book of Mormon, etc.) not because they aren’t interested in or don’t feel qualified to speak on such topics, but because women’s issues are so much more pressing and urgent in their lives? That certainly been my experience. As interesting as they are to me, it feels like a luxury to devote the limited time and energy I have for Mormon scholarship to issues that don’t impact my day-to-day quality of life, when I could spend that on writing or actions that are geared toward improving the experience of women in the church. Like, let’s get women ordained and figure out how to protect my daughter from body shaming, and then I can figure out how the Book of Abraham fits into my testimony.

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