SALT LAKE CITY — The senior spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Thursday in an open letter that church leaders are broadly engaged in women's issues.
Michael Otterson, managing director of LDS Public Affairs, sent the five-page letter to several blogs to offer context specifically to online discussions about women in the church.
Otterson addressed three criticisms raised on various blogs. He said church leaders "expend much energy" training local leaders to be sensitive to women who seek to be heard.
He said they listen to LDS women worldwide.
“Even as the church has grown much larger, the First Presidency and the (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) are widely read on current issues and continue to travel and engage with the body of the Saints," Otterson wrote. "Such assignments invariably bring them into contact with rank-and-file members of diverse thought and backgrounds, not just leadership.
"I have heard members of the First Presidency and the Twelve speak many times of those experiences, and what they learn from such engagements. When they return, those interactions are often shared and a formidable knowledge base develops over time, especially given the lifetime of experiences of the senior Brethren. The same is true for the women leaders of the Church, who meet one-on-one in the homes of members, hold focus groups and have countless conversations with women and men as they travel the world.”
Otterson said Public Affairs and other church departments also have reached out to women, including feminists, for several years. That outreach often is in group sessions that last several hours. Findings are shared with church leadership.
"Those kinds of conversations are continuing under similar guidelines to promote honest discussions,” he wrote.
Otterson said his office and the church in general do not engage with some extreme women's groups, "such as individuals or groups who make non-negotiable demands for doctrinal changes that the church can’t possibly accept. No matter what the intent, such demands come across as divisive and suggestive of apostasy rather than encouraging conversation through love and inclusion."
The letter was posted by several blogs, including The Millennial Star, By Common Consent and Mormon Women Stand.