Feminist Agitation, Mormon style

Julie’s post on the daughters of Zelophehad and the ensuing comments reminded me of a story I read in a locally-published book called An Ensign to the Nations: History of the Oakland Stake.

It seems that in the late 70s, the Church’s opposition to the ERA caused a bit of an uproar in the Oakland Stake, particularly in the Berkeley ward. During an especially tense period, Paul H. Dunn of the the First Council of the Seventy came to town to speak at a missionary program in the Interstake Center auditorium. Because of previous protests involving the ERA, there was some concern that the gathering (about 4,000 people) would invite further incident.

Toward the end of the meeting, two women walked up the side of the aisle, stopped, and waited there until Dunn had finished speaking and the closing hymn was being sung. As the closing hymn continued, the two women approached the stage. It became clear that one was carrying a bag of some sort.

Recalling the incident, then-Stake President Bud Billeter said:

“At the end of the hymn, one sister came darting up on the stage and she put her hand in the bag and started to pull something out of it. I jumped up and intercepted her before she got to the podium or to Elder Dunn. I was between her and Elder Dunn and I told her that we were going to have the closing prayer and that this wasn’t the time for her to be coming up. Of course, everything stopped. Everybody was watching this interchange. She said, ‘I want to make a protest. I have something for Elder Dunn.’ She hadn’t pulled her hand out of the bag yet and I didn’t know if it was a gun. She then pulled her hand out and she said, ‘I have this to give to Elder Dunn. It’s a pie.’ I didn’t know whether she was going to throw the pie in his face or what. It had an inscription on it to the effect of women’s rights and ERA. She presented this pie to him. Following that we had the closing prayer; after that several sisters that had come with her in the delegation came up and visited with Elder Dunn. It was very peaceful, but it gave us a start and was an interesting event for him. He really was a bit concerned.”

2 comments for “Feminist Agitation, Mormon style

  1. Poor Elder Dunn. It was only the first of several pies to be hurled in his direction.

  2. Hm. I wonder if they would have done the same thing to the Prophet. Of course, not everyone seems to accord GAs traveling at the behest of the 15 the same respect as the Prophet himself or one of the 15, but…perhaps they should?

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