50: The Defeat of the ERA and the LDS Church

Clay hosts a panel discussion about the church’s involvement in the defeat of the ERA. Panelists include Matt, Laura, and Melanny.


D. Michael Quinn—The LDS Church’s Campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment–1994, Journal of Mormon History, v. 20, p. 85–155.

Sonia Johnson—From Housewife to Heretic

The Chruch and the Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: A Moral Issue


  1. ciarran

    Great podcast! Good information for ERA beginners. I highly recommend Martha Sonntag Bradley’s book Pedestals and Podiums. It’s a dense read but it is the most in-depth source of information on the ERA and the LDS church. Thanks for keeping the topic alive in the bloggernacle.

    Reply Sep 18, 2013 @ 14:31:00
    • Clay

      Thanks, ciarran, for the feedback and the book recommendation.
      I’ll put it on my to-read list for sure!

      Reply Sep 18, 2013 @ 14:39:23
  2. Craig

    This was a great podcast, there was so much that I didn’t know about how that all went down. Also, Sonia Johnson is a badass.

    Reply Sep 19, 2013 @ 09:39:34
  3. jeanikins

    When I read From Mormon Housewife to Heretic, I felt a huge lump of lead developing in my stomach as I realized what I had done to Sonia by my lack of support. I wanted to go and find her and grovel at her feet and beg her forgiveness for my ‘blind faith’ in listening to the leaders and doing nothing to further the rights of women. I’m so glad you talked about this, but there is so much more to say. Find Sonia Johnson and get her on the podcast; now that would be awesome.

    Reply Sep 19, 2013 @ 17:52:12
    • Clay

      Thanks for the feedback, Jean. You are right; having Sonia on would indeed be awesome.

      Reply Sep 20, 2013 @ 11:43:35
  4. mike

    what are the key words for the mark peterson parody on youtube, i cant find it.
    great show. i remember well the nonsense about uni sex bathrooms which we do have now but it didn’t eliminate male and female bathrooms. there was also the thing about women being forced to join the military and being raped by enemy soldiers if ERA was passed. well the military is now integrated and they are being raped but by there fellow soldiers, superiors and military contractors.
    another fond memory from around that time was the first test tube baby. i remember my mother and other members saying ‘those evil scientist are play god’. now we have fertility clinics devote to helping infertile couples to have kids. isn’t science great. and what would CNN do without the octomom.

    Reply Sep 20, 2013 @ 02:23:23
    • Clay

      mike. Those are all very good points. Thanks for the input and thanks for listening!

      Reply Sep 20, 2013 @ 11:42:55
    • Blorg Jorgensson

      I get a kick out of people saying that scientists are “playing God.” What does it say about God if humans can summon and imitate his power (even without the priesthood!)?

      Sort of puts into doubt the omnipotence of God, if not his existence altogether.

      Reply Nov 09, 2013 @ 19:23:02
  5. Cory

    Please post the Savage Misogyny quote by Sonia Johnson. It was awesome

    Reply Sep 20, 2013 @ 12:44:32
    • Clay

      Stand by, Cory. We’ll get it posted and I’ll give you a heads up.

      Reply Sep 20, 2013 @ 12:47:17
  6. sonya_d

    Wow, what a great podcast!! You all did an amazing amount of preparation on the issue and the information was fantastic.

    I was born in 1970 but was young when all of the ERA stuff was going on. The only thing I remember was that supporters of the amendment picketed outside our church in New Jersey one time, and I remember hearing them chanting while we were in Primary. I also remember seeing Sonia Johnson on the Donahue show back in the 80’s, but I didn’t know much about it. Listening to this now, I echo what all the panelists said: what was the big deal?? It seems like such a no-brainer.

    It is disconcerting to hear so much about Pres. Hinkley and his activism. He was the president of the church for much of my adulthood, and even after my disaffection, I had a certain amount of affection for him. It is almost like learning that my dad cheated on my mom or something to find out how underhanded he was in this matter and the Hoffman affair.

    Reply Sep 20, 2013 @ 13:00:02
    • Expositor's Heather C.

      I completely agree with you in regards to Hinkley, Sonya. I held him in high regard even after my disaffection as well. But the more I learn about him the less I respect or like him. It definitely feels like a betrayal.

      Reply Sep 21, 2013 @ 07:34:08
      • SMcMullin

        SAME. Between the comments on the ERA, his Hoffman depo! and other interviews rewatched with post-Mormon eyes, my pedestal for him has fallen. He’s not the sweet grandfatherly figure I once thought.

        Reply Sep 25, 2013 @ 08:35:26
  7. CatalunyaPhil

    I was on a bishopric in England, way back then and we were also instructed to “follow the brethren” and present it to the congregation, even though we were only an outpost of SLC!
    Enjoyed the discussion and it also brought back many reminiscences of that whole era!

    Reply Sep 22, 2013 @ 03:49:10
  8. Matthew Crowley

    Here’s the video.

    Reply Sep 25, 2013 @ 14:37:56
  9. arkad

    Are you going to do the General Conference review again?

    Reply Sep 28, 2013 @ 22:51:14
    • Clay

      Hey, arkad. Yes we are doing GC reviews this year. Thanks for listening.

      Reply Sep 29, 2013 @ 10:11:25
  10. Heather

    Great podcast. I think there are people that are talking about this, although the greater Mormon majority would like to sweep this under the rug. When there was all of the talk about allowing a woman to pray at General Conference earlier this year, someone mentioned Sonia Johnson and how she stated in front of the Senate committee that it had been announced that women were not allowed to pray in sacrament meeting. (Of course as soon as she brought this to national attention, the policy was changed and the statement made by Kimball repealing this policy is the basis of the feminist’s demands to pray in GC.) After hearing about her I had to read Housewife to Heretic, and my husband read part of it too. It was a huge eye opener for both of us. He had already left the LDS church, but we both found Hinckley’s behavior shocking. Her writing does bring to light some behavior in the church that is inherently sexist, and can’t be described any other way. Honestly, reading it was a relationship builder for us, because it helped us recognize some harmful things that we had adopted ‘because we had been taught to do so’ and in the end we came out respecting each other more. Highly recommend the book. Kudos to Sonia Johnson and anyone else who is standing up for the equal rights of others.

    Reply Sep 30, 2013 @ 13:55:45
  11. SloppySeconds

    There’s a great summary of the Church’s involvement in the movement against the ERA in the Utah-specific supplement to the documentary MAKERS that aired on PBS at the beginning of the year. If I can find a link I’ll post it.

    Reply Oct 01, 2013 @ 15:51:26
  12. SloppySeconds

    It’s no longer available on KUED but it’s called “Makers: Voices of Utah Women” and it’s good. Here’s an uninteresting trailer from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXESS4yvwFM

    Reply Oct 01, 2013 @ 16:03:13
  13. The ERA and Mormonism - Nearing Kolob Nearing Kolob

    […] Mormon Expositor episode (link) […]

    Reply Oct 28, 2014 @ 08:02:36

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