A Cloud of Witnesses

by Helene Swanson

So here I am in Salt Lake City, capital of the third non-ERA ratifying state of the 15 non-ratifiers I’ll pass through before I reach Washington, D.C., next March 8, 2015, on my coast-to-coast pilgrimage to press for full equality for women. My heart leaped up at the warmth of the reception I received in Nevada and Arizona before I got here. Women in those states are on the move along with the men who support them. And outposts of my beloved Episcopal Church in Nevada and Arizona were, for the most part, incredibly supportive.

Utah is Mormon country, and top officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (as the church is formally known) are vigorously opposed to admitting women to the priesthood, a role to which virtually all male Mormon adults are ordained. In fact, the church recently publicly excommunicated a woman, a lifelong and dedicated Mormon who urged them to reexamine the policy. Whether that second-classing of women spills over into Utah’s secular politics remains to be seen. I will be seeing Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah’s senior senator, a Republican, at his office here next Tuesday, the 40th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Eleven. I’ll be pressing him to support the ERA amendment in the U.S. Senate. We’ll see how it goes.

On a side note, my iPhone was stolen five days ago, forcing me to learn just how dependent I’ve become on this kind of link to the wider world. Hey, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews didn’t need an iPhone to feel awe-struck at how great a cloud of witnesses surrounds us as we move through this pilgrimage of life. I need to remind myself of that. The cloud of witnesses surrounds me too, whether I can phone them up or not.

This post was penned by William R. MacKaye, fellow Board Member of http://www.KatrinasDream.org.