Articles/Essays – Volume 11, No. 1

Church and Politics at the IWY Conference

During the spring of 1977, Utah’s two major newspapers began their coverage of what was to become one of the hottest political controversies of the year: the Utah Women’s Conference authorized by the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year and scheduled for June 24-25. Publicity appeared both before and after the grassroots mass meetings which were held in May to help determine the conference workshop topics and to guide the task forces on those topics. Although part of me wanted to participate, because of various commitments I was planning only to follow the conference in the press. When my Relief Society President asked me to recruit 10 women from our ward to attend the conference, it was all the impetus I needed. 

She assured me that the Church was not instructing Mormon women how to vote but was merely encouraging them to be present and to reflect “church standards” when appropriate. She shared a comment from the stake Relief Society leadership expressing concern that the conference would be too “liberal” without the presence of Mormon women. She also passed on a copy of the conference pre-registration form, on which a stake leader had checked those workshops she thought Mormons ought to attend; they included, among others, workshops on the Equal Rights Amendment ERA, reproductive health (which was to discuss abortion), teenage pregnancy and young women. The Relief Society President and I concurred in the decision that the most appropriate way to involve ward sisters would be to share factual information about the conference and to invite them officially, on behalf of the Relief Society, not only to attend but to share their individual values and viewpoints. 

It was interesting and surprising to me that most of the women I contacted were unaware of the conference, even though it was only two weeks away. The press had reported that the Utah conference was one of 50 being held in every state in the nation as a follow up to the International Women’s Year Conference in Mexico City the previous year, and that Congress was subsidizing all 50 conferences. The press had also reported that 14 Utah delegates were to be elected to attend a national conference in November in Houston and that the deadline for pre-conference nominations had been in early June. I had read that additional nominations were to be accepted from the floor, and that both state and national resolutions were to be voted on at the conference. Not only did most of the women I contacted plead ignorance, but they expressed only moderate interest. About half were able or willing to attend workshops of their choice at the 2-day event. 

The week of the conference two phone calls made me wonder if Church desire to involve its women in the IWY Conference had gone beyond mere community participation. The first call was from a friend in a Salt Lake City east bench ward. She had been asked by her official Relief Society “recruiter” to attend as a ward delegate and to vote against the Equal Rights Amendment and other resolutions seen as contrary to church positions. She was also asked to attend an informational caucus at Highland High School the night before the conference. My friend accepted the invitation to attend the conference, stipulating that she would vote her own conscience, but she declined to attend the caucus. (I later learned that this same ward organizer delivered to my friend a slate of anti-ERA, anti-abortion names which had been prepared by the politically conservative organizers of the caucus and from which my friend was asked to select delegate preferences.) 

The second call was from a woman in my ward who had attended sacrament meeting in another ward the Sunday before the conference. The woman thought I would like to know that the bishop in that ward had read from the pulpit a letter alleged to be from Ezra Taft Benson, in which women were urged to attend the conference to defend church positions and to prevent feminists and radical leftists from dominating the conference. She said that the letter suggested that conference participants report to the Right-to-Life booth in order to find out how to vote. (A check in my own ward revealed no such letter. Both before and after the conference, other sources made reference to a “Benson letter.” In each case which I investigated, the letter turned out to be the original Relief Society letter to regional representatives (discussed below), which invoked President Benson’s office as sanction for its request that at least 10 LDS women per ward be asked to attend the conference.[1] The letter, signed by the Relief Society Presidency, made no mention of domination by radical feminists and gave no instructions on voting.[2]

On Thursday morning, the day before the conference, the Salt Lake Tribune covered the growing charges and denials that the Church was attempting to pack the conference with pre-briefed delegates. Relief Society President Barbara Smith was quoted as saying that the Church was not telling members how to vote,[3] only inviting members to participate. Ironically, that evening an editorial appeared in the church owned Deseret News entitled “Utah Women Should Match Power with Responsibility.” The editorial noted that “unhappily” many of the state and federal resolutions affecting women’s rights “rely heavily on government.” The editorial observed that many of Utah’s women had already shown their “common sense” at earlier IWY mass meetings by rejecting abortion, the ERA and federally supported day-care centers and by seeking tougher antipornography and rape laws. “Balance” and “reasonableness” were said to characterize these positions. The editorial cited revision of credit and property laws as instances of progress in women’s rights, expressing confidence in the ability of Utah’s women to keep the home as the cornerstone of a good society and to exercise their power responsibly at the conference.[4]

It is interesting to contrast the reporting in the two newspapers on the eve of the conference. The Deseret News remained silent on the charges that the Church was trying to orchestrate the proceedings. It noted that a battle was brewing between forces opposing and favoring the ERA and abortion, but, unlike the Tribune, it reported no charges against the Church. Instead it covered counter-charges attributing the anxiety of Utah IWY officials to their realization that the conference was going to be “dominated” by women with conservative leanings.[5]

In its morning coverage the Tribune not only had noted the charges leveled against the LDS Church and the Relief Society denial thereof but also had informed its readers of the contents of the original Relief Society letter inviting participation at the conference.[6] The letter contained four instructions for Relief Society presidents: 1) encourage LDS women to read the Deseret News for information about the conference rules (the Tribune neglected to mention this part of the letter), 2) “select one capable and experienced LDS woman who could speak from the floor at the convention as a concerned citizen/’ 3) encourage at least ten women from each ward to register for the conference and to “support good recommendations and to file a minority, dissenting report if necessary,” and 4) encourage LDS women to bring “friends, neighbors or women affiliated with other churches who share mutual concern.”[7] After the conference, Relief Society 1st Counselor Janeth Cannon acknowledged the attendance goal of 10 women to have been a mistake because it was interpreted by so many as a “call to arms.”[8]

That the Church’s quota system was effective was shown by the presence at the convention’s opening song and prayer of some 9,000 registrants. The conference organizers had originally planned for 3,000 participants; ultimately attendance was to swell to over 13,000. A clue to the mood of the conference came as introductions of dignitaries were made. While polite applause greeted the introduction of Mary Anne Krupsak, New York State’s Lieutenant Governor and the IWY federal observer assigned to the Utah conference, rousing cheers greeted the introduction of Relief Society President Barbara Smith. Most of the audience were clearly LDS and eager to demonstrate their loyalty. 

The major business of the first morning was to adopt the rules governing the convention, to receive nominations from the floor for the 14 delegate spots and to hear the keynote speaker. Several of the rules governing the convention were challenged. Statements from the Utah IWY Coordinating Committee explaining the rationale for proposed procedures were not honored at face value. The registrants would not accept the presiding officer’s assurance that the Coordinating Committee would accept everyone’s nomination if it had been filed by 8:45 that morning regardless of whether there was time for each person from the recently swollen ranks of nominees to be placed verbally in nomination before the convention. Floor speakers openly accused the Coordinating Committee of feminist bias and charged that prefiled nominations had been “stacked” by the committee. 

From Friday morning’s proceedings it was clear that the majority of conference registrants were openly hostile toward the Utah Coordinating Committee and the federal regulations guiding the state women’s conference. Additional time was spent that morning haggling over whether Utah was legally bound by the federal regulations. State legislator Georgia Peterson pressed the point. In the immediate weeks preceding the conference, she had been busy organizing a group called “Let’s Govern Ourselves,” which had prepared and was distributing an anti-ERA slate of nominees for Utah’s 14 delegate spots. It seemed to me that the primary reason for these parliamentary maneuvers was to establish early in the conference that the majority bloc of registrants—and not the Coordinating Committee—had political control of the conference. 

The source of the enormous ground swell of distrust for the Utah IWY Coordinating Committee was puzzling to me. I knew a number of the Committee members and several members of task forces. From past experience I knew them to be responsible people; from conversations with several of them I also knew the Committee had tried to be both fair and moderate in all conference preparations. The Coordinating Committee of 33 women had been selected in Washington, D.C. by the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year from approximately 200 names submitted from a variety of statewide women’s organizations and personal and political sources. The vast majority of the Committee was made up of women from all parts of the Wasatch Front (the state’s urban core, where the majority of its population resides). Half were LDS. Some were young, some elderly. Some were homemakers; some were professional women. Most had records of community involvement. Ethnic minority women were represented. The Committee chairperson was an active member of the LDS Church and a BYU faculty member.[9] The cochairperson was an elected Salt Lake County official and an active Republican.[10] The positions of the Committee members on specific women’s issues were not solicited by the National Commission, which instead was interested in evidence of contributions to the community or women’s organizations, as well as in demographic balance. It should not have been surprising, however, that members proved to be interested in at least some aspects of the women’s movement, most as supporters or sympathizers, a few as detractors. 

From the approximately 100 pre-filed nominations for the 14 delegate spots at the Houston conference, the Committee had endorsed a slate of 42 candidates. Following federal guidelines, the slate was selected to achieve geographic, occupational, religious, age, ethnic and socio-economic balance. Approximately half were LDS. The slate included one man. Again, although specific positions of the nominees on controversial issues were often unknown, most of the people on the slate were active in community or women’s organizations, or they were simply interested in women’s issues—a not unnatural phenomenon for a women’s conference. 

To judge by remarks heard from the floor of the convention, the fact that organizers and nominees were generally interested in the women’s movement seemed both perverse and conspiratorial to most conference participants—who were not similarly interested and had therefore passed up chances to become involved until the Church had rallied them. It was not until after the conference was over and their control secure that the majority would acknowledge that the Coordinating Committee had run the conference fairly and had not used dirty tricks on unwitting conference goers. 

After the Friday morning adoption of rules of procedure, the rest of the conference was structured to provide for three major votes. Secret voting on a set of nationally formulated resolutions took place all day Friday in dozens of voting booths set up in the convention center. On Friday afternoon and again on Saturday morning concurrent workshops were held on 26 state issues on women’s rights and needs. Scheduling allowed attendance at three workshops. In most cases resolutions had been prepared in advance by task forces responsible for the formal presentations in each workshop. These resolutions and others introduced by workshop attendees were the subject of parliamentary debate in each workshop. A proposed set of resolutions was to emerge from each workshop. Friday evening and Saturday afternoon were devoted to plenary sessions at which emerging workshop resolutions were voted on openly by the full body to determine a state plan of action on women’s issues. The secret balloting on Saturday morning and early afternoon elected, from nearly 200 nominees, a slate of 14 delegates to attend the national IWY conference in Houston.

Different workshops produced differing experiences for conference goers. Some were constructive and even peaceful. Other workshops were quarrelsome and chaotic. In the Friday afternoon ERA workshop, which I attended (and which was repeated Saturday morning), the audience listened to the two proponents of the ERA politely and quietly for the most part, but frequently interrupted the speeches of the two opponents to shout enthusiastic approval. The ensuing parliamentary debate produced some of the conference’s most “anti” militant resolutions. The audience did not support the task force’s “neutral” resolution urging dissemination of information, pro and con, on the ERA. Instead it voted down not only support for the ERA but also support for any public funding for discussion of the issue. Saturday’s participants went further and advocated abolition of all future funding for International Women’s Year. 

The debate in the teenage pregnancy workshop, which I joined in progress, was in some disarray, primarily because of confusion over parliamentary procedure. A task force resolution was defeated which urged compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (nondiscrimination in schools on the basis of sex) for pregnant students and students who were parents. Also defeated was another task force resolution recommending the development of a state plan to reduce teenage pregnancy through education and to assist young parents at school. The resolution in question had noted that “where school policies prohibit discussion of birth control responsibilities, those institutions have an even more crucial obligation to refer students to other sources of information.”[11] One modified task force resolution did emerge from the workshop recommending that local school districts take special note of vocational training needs of pregnant students or parent-students. In the plenary session another recommendation was added to it before both were passed as a package. The new resolution read as follows: 

Because the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancy is increasing at an alarming rate particularly among teenagers, and because the mores contained in the media have encouraged premarital sex, we the women in Utah would like to see an encouragement of chastity of both men and women, in schools, in media, and by society. If and when out-of-wedlock pregnancies do occur, we affirm that abortion is not a solution, that good prenatal care, emotional support, good nutrition should be available to teenagers or to any woman who has a problem pregnancy and encouragement be given to give life to the preborn child rather than killing the preborn child to solve someone else’s social problem. We deplore the so-called progressive education that is now present in our schools. We desire to have Utah schools free from sex education. We reserve that right to ourselves as parents of those children.[12]

Clearly, the participants wanted to make explicit that they did not favor abortion or sex education in the schools as possible solutions to the problem of teenage pregnancy. 

The Friday evening plenary session, which amended the conference rules to extend the time limit on debate, managed to vote on the emerging resolutions from only 4 workshops. The session dragged on until 1:30 a.m. Differing sides later agreed that participants were not leaving or voting to recess because of fear that the Coordinating Committee would reconvene the session on the sly and pass resolutions which the majority would oppose. Finally Barbara Smith’s motion to recess (solicited by the Coordinating Committee) was accepted by the body. Even then, the audience refused to disperse until the Coordinating Committee had left the podium. 

The following morning I moderated the workshop on Lifespan Planning for Young Women, having been recruited only a few days earlier. The task force presenters were moderate in tone; the atmosphere was charged and somewhat suspicious, but behavior was reasonably courteous. After an hour of presentation and an hour of parliamentary debate, the workshop emerged with two recommendations for the plenary session. One was an original task force resolution urging improved sex education for parents and the helping professions so that sex education could be strengthened in families. The other was a modified resolution urging home and school training of young women in “decision-making skills centering around conscious life choices” to prepare them to be self-supporting and to be adequate wives and mothers if and when either option arose. The workshop defeated a task force resolution urging less sex role stereotyping in career counseling and instructional materials. The two resolutions emerging from the workshop were later defeated in the plenary session. 

By Saturday the results of the national resolutions, voted on by secret ballot the day before, had been tallied by the computer. Every one of the national resolutions had been defeated.[13] In addition to rejecting unpopular resolutions supporting the ERA, the right of a woman to control her own body (abortion on demand), enforcement of non-discrimination in education on the basis of sex (Title IX), and day-care programs, the registrants defeated a host of more moderate resolutions, examples of which are quoted below: 

Arts and Humanities: Judging agencies and review boards should use blind judging for musicians, singers, articles, and papers being considered for publication or delivery, exhibits, and grant applications, wherever possible. 

Child Care: Education for parenthood programs should be improved and expanded by local and state school boards with technical assistance and experimental programs provided by the Federal government. 

Credit. The Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act should be vigorously, efficiently, and expeditiously enforced by all the Federal agencies with enforcement responsibilities. 

Employment. The Executive Branch of the Federal government should abide by the same standards as private employers. 

Female Offenders: Federal and state governments should cooperate in providing more humane, sensible, and economic treatment of young women who are subject to court jurisdiction because they have run away from home, have family or school problems, or commit sexual offenses (“status offenders”). 

Legal Status of Homemakers: More effective methods for collection of support should be adopted. Older Women: Public and private women’s organizations should work together to give publicity to the positive roles of women over 50 and to provide the services that will enable elderly women to function comfortably in their own homes instead of moving to institutions. 

Rape: State and local governments should revise rape laws to provide for graduated degrees of the crime to apply to assault by or upon both sexes; to include all types of sexual assault against adults; and to otherwise redefine the crime so that victims are under no greater legal handicaps than victims of other crimes. 

Women in Elective and Appointive Office: The President, Governors, political parties, women’s organizations, and foundations should join in an effort to increase the number of women in elective and appointive office, including especially judgeships. 

A major factor in the negative vote was obviously the acknowledged philosophical opposition of the majority of the participants to both feminism and to the women’s movement. They had no wish to examine individual issues on their merit but rather were present to make a political statement in opposition both to the very legitimacy of the need for the conference, and to the role of the federal government in establishing state coordinating committees and the upcoming convention in Houston. 

But an explanation for the defeat of all the resolutions, even supposedly noncontroversial ones, must go beyond this. Great numbers of conference participants had attended pre-conference caucuses and were heavily swayed by the judgments and attitudes of caucus leaders. Attendees stated that caucus leaders had urged the defeat of the national resolutions, had voiced fear of radical feminist control of state and national conferences, had cited “horror stories” from other state conventions about homosexual life-style support and pornographic movies, had expressed open distrust of the IWY Coordinating Committee in Utah and had distributed anti-ERA, anti abortion delegate slates. Every vagueness in the wording of the national resolutions was seen as conspiratorial and devious. Some caucuses were told not to bother to read the resolutions because some of them might “sound good” and therefore might deceive the reader.[14] Caucus leaders had represented the politically conservative forces opposed to abortion, the ERA and the women’s movement in general. They had used the Church’s organizational mechanisms and their own Church affiliation to encourage attendance at the caucuses.[15] Many persons in attendance accepted such representations unquestioningly, neither challenging the sources of the information nor checking its accuracy. 

Another contributing factor was that for many participants the conference was the first introduction to the women’s movement and its concerns. The complexity of many of the issues may have made many women feel too ignorant to make sound judgments; under these circumstances, they simply adopted the old adage which has defeated many another political issue: “When in doubt, vote no.” 

While all the national resolutions had been disposed of, most of the state resolutions were still in limbo. Saturday afternoon was spent voting on those state resolutions not voted on the previous evening, which were most of them. 

A word of explanation about the plenary sessions. The Coordinating Committee had hoped publicly that the plenary sessions would reflect a spirit of cooperative searching for solutions to problems. Such an idealistic hope was based on several assumptions: (1) that most conference registrants would not be hostile to the women’s movement, (2) that they would come to learn, and (3) that they would be willing to examine issues with open minds. Even so, it was optimistic to think that resolutions emerging from 26 workshops could have been discussed throughtfully and voted on in the 5 scheduled hours of plenary session. Twelve minutes per workshop is not much time to search together for solutions, under the best of circumstances. Given the ultimate makeup and size of the conference and, more importantly, the political purpose of the sessions—it was naive to believe that the plenary sessions could have been anything but the political battleground they became. There was little inclination to explore the rationale behind various resolutions or to strike compromises which would honor minority needs and rights. Rather, pre-determined points of view fought for supremacy in the balloting. 

Although 11 hours were ultimately consumed in plenary sessions, time constraints made it impossible to vote on most workshop resolutions item by item, and therefore many workshops found all their resolutions either accepted or rejected as a package, depending on who was at the microphones to explain and justify the resolutions or to maneuver for modification or rejection. 

The actions taken on state resolutions tend to confirm and extend the impressions set forth above as to the causes of the defeat of the national resolutions. Most of the original state task force resolutions were modified or stricken in the workshops. Those which did emerge intact were frequently defeated on the floor of the plenary session. This may appear paradoxical, since the plenary sessions were attended by the same people who attended the workshops. One might suppose that task force resolutions which survived the workshop would survive the plenary session. Perhaps one reason they did not was because all registrants had not had the benefit of the two-hour workshop discussion and therefore did not understand the issues as well as workshop participants did. Or perhaps registrants did not distribute themselves evenly at workshops, stacking some and ignoring others at their “peril”, as they later perceived it. At any rate, if the purpose of the resolution was not clear on its face at the plenary session, it was usually in trouble. It also became evident that there were several emotionally loaded terms which, if mentioned, boded ill for any workshop resolution; suspect terms were abortion, ERA, sex education, sex-role stereotyping, Title IX, affirmative action, taxes, welfare programs or, for that matter, any federal government program. Irrespective of the extent of the problem or the established roles of various levels of government, as soon as the resolution hinted at one of these subjects, it was slated for defeat. 

Killed either in the workshops or on the floor were all the original task force resolutions from 10 of the 26 workshops. In some of these, substitute resolutions were passed which merely negated the original task force resolutions; e.g., in lieu of proposals suggesting sex education courses, improvements in day care, and dissemination of information about the ERA, resolutions were substituted which rejected any movement toward sex education, government day care, ERA, etc. In other cases, no substitute resolutions were prepared and the state platform remained silent, for instance, on equal pay for equal work, credit opportunities and access to elective and appointive office. 

The one set of task force resolutions to pass the plenary session intact was that on “Women in Utah History,” which urged recognition of the fact that women have contributed to the history of society.[16] Task force recommendations urging expanded mental health services and improved services for battered wives remained essentially intact with added qualifications about the need for community involvement and local control. Passed with modifications and some substitutions, were some of the task force resolutions from 11 other workshops. Among them were specific resolutions supporting counseling for minority students, repeal of mandatory retirement provisions under the Social Security guidelines, tighter control of child abuse, reduction in sexual exploitation by the media, reform of inheritance tax laws to help home makers, improved services for female offenders and more effective prosecution of rape cases. The Lifestyle and International Interdependence task forces did not prepare resolutions, and the Lifestyle workshop purposefully did not entertain any from its participants. The International Interdependence workshop wrote its own anti-international-interdependence resolutions (see appendix), most but not all of which passed the plenary session. A lifestyle resolution forbidding advocacy of homosexuality by the public school system was introduced and passed on the floor. 

A detailed summary of action on workshop resolutions forms an appendix to this article.[17] Analysis of these actions reveals some common threads. A fear of federal encroachment has already been mentioned. Also apparent are both the relative satisfaction with the status of women and the open hostility to affirmative action and to equal access by women to labor markets, equal credit, even equal promotions and, in one case, equal pay. There is satisfaction with current role definitions and pronounced disagreement with pleas for less sex-role stereotyping. There is dissatisfaction with both state and federal social service programs and spending, unless they directly benefit participants (such as extending disability provisions to home makers and not taxing transfers of property between husbands and wives). The delivery of expanded social services (food and housing programs, bilingual education, child care services, improved health programs) to the disadvantaged are rejected. Paradoxically, compassion for the female offender is demonstrated—by acceptance of the need for more appropriate and effective governmental programs on their behalf. The legitimacy of the federal government’s role in helping to operate a welfare system is strongly challenged. Any new governmental spending, either state or local, to accelerate non-discrimination on the basis of sex or to enforce existing rights of women under the law is rejected. The body of decisions was politically conservative and out of spirit with the national women’s movement. 

While rejecting government participation in many social concerns, participants demonstrated that they felt it was appropriate for government to enforce the participants’ perceptions of morality. Governmental programs were seen as legitimate when they restricted pornography, homosexuality, child abuse, abortion, wife abuse, and rape of women. Governmental programs which were seen as protecting traditional family responsibilities were sanctioned (e.g., a mandatory Family Court system in Utah, juvenile court judges and social workers to help reduce child abuse, and the Utah Parentage Act to help determine paternity and establish the financial obligation of unwed fathers). Parenthetically, maintaining the traditional family unit appears to have been more important than rewarding the role of the woman in that family; for instance, participants were not interested in having Social Security benefits accrue equally to the employed spouse and to the homemaker. 

Feminists and nonfeminists alike were able to unite in their disapproval of all forms of sexual exploitation. Pornography, rape, wife abuse, and exploitative advertising and newspaper reporting were all abhorrent to both groups. 

Judging from the plenary sessions, most of the national resolutions would have gone down to defeat even if the balloting on them had been held after the plenary sessions instead of before them. There were a few, but not many, inconsistencies in the two sets of votes. A number of state rape resolutions were accepted while similar national recommendations were defeated. Similarly, support for school district parenting classes and more effective methods for collection of child support were accepted in state resolutions but rejected in national resolutions. However, given the conference’s suspicion of the federal government and its rejection of the federal role in sponsoring the IWY meetings, it is likely that even those national resolutions would have been rejected either out of protest or out of fear that they would not be left to state and local control. 

That conference attendees were there not to work out compromises but to triumphantly acclaim their own value system was driven home when the duly elected slate of 14 delegates and 5 alternates to the Houston convention was announced on Saturday afternoon. In contrast to the balance on the IWY slate, all but one of the nineteen were Mormon, all were Caucasian (one was a Chicana), all were middle class, all but one were over the age of 40, all but one were Republican, and all were from the anti-ERA and anti-abortion slates distributed at and before the conference.[18] The rights of the majority were supreme. 

How much of the results of this conference, either good or bad, can be laid at the doorstep of the Church? Did it anticipate its exploitation by the political right? Did it do anything to prevent it? What evidence is available to suggest whether church leaders were happy or displeased with events at the conference?

Certainly the large turnout at the conference can be attributed to the Church’s calling of 10 women from each ward. The church’s organizational mechanisms are superb, as those who watched it work after Idaho’s Teton Dam disaster can testify. Use of both the priesthood authority and the quota system made the invitation to attend acquire the nature of a call, with the intended result: people came.[19]

What transpired after the initial phone calls from President Benson’s office is unclear, but it is clear that messages farther down the line (from stake Relief Society Presidents to ward presidents to ward members) stated over and over again that the Relief Society wanted women at the conference to defend Church positions and to prevent domination by radical feminists. Concern about the nature of the conference, rather than the desire to encourage community participation by LDS women, was the dominant theme of countless messages relayed down the chain. Given the IWY Committee’s personal request to the Relief Society to support the IWY Conference by inviting its women to attend, some may question whether the actual way in which the Church chose to accept the invitation was either generous or gracious. 

Both before and after the conference the Church insisted that it had not told its women how to vote; it had only encouraged them to attend. It seems obvious that members did not need to be told explicitly how to vote. Their attitudes about the conference had already been shaped. 

The Church has acknowledged in a variety of ways that it received an avalanche of agitated inquiries from its own members about its role in Utah’s IWY conference. In a form letter responding to many of these inquiries, the Relief Society Presidency tried to spell out its involvement to the satisfaction of inquirers.[20] The letter notes that the Committee suggested that the Relief Society prepare an informative fact sheet for its members so they would attend the conference as informed citizens. This, the letter observes, the Relief Society declined to do for fear that some would think they were trying to “manipulate the thinking of our women.” Hindsight being better than foresight, one can wonder how an informative fact sheet could possibly have been more manipulative than what actually happened. 

The letter of explanation goes on to say that many persons approached the Relief Society before the conference seeking support to try to “unite” LDS women at the conference. To each, the Relief Society suggested they act as individuals, as the Relief Society did not want to take sides. Relief Society Board members state privately that although they did not realize it at the time, their attempts at neutrality allowed a vacuum to be created into which the right wing moved. Some of the right wing organizers have stated publicly[21] and privately that they felt they had the silent blessing of the Relief Society for their actions in organizing pre-conference caucuses. 

In an article in the Salt Lake Tribune of August 14, 1977, Relief Society President Barbara Smith is quoted as saying that she holds herself partly to blame for the confusion in the minds of many people between the conservative caucus activities and those of the Relief Society. As she puts it, “I didn’t say, ‘Don’t use the Relief Society.”‘ She acknowledges in the article that the Relief Society was used by the “far right.” One wonders, however, whether the Relief Society’s tolerance of the use of its informal machinery for right-wing purposes was as innocent as is implied. If, instead of the anti-feminist Phyllis Schafly report, the caucuses had distributed the latest pro-abortion flyer, would the Relief Society have remained as passive?[22]

While the Relief Society may have been dismayed by the storm of controversy in which it has found itself, the Relief Society Presidency did not seem disappointed with decisions reached by the conference. Its letter of explanation is revealing both for what it does and does not say. While acknowledging that it was “unhappy” over the passage of the motion not to hold future IWY meetings, the Relief Society Presidency did not express unhappiness over any other conference action. Instead, the letter claims “huge success” for the conference, “even though there were some happenings that caused personal distress.” Privately Relief Society Board members have expressed satisfaction with the “unity” of the actions taken and with the Mormon-dominated slate of delegates. The Deseret News, in an editorial close on the heels of the conference, declared the conference a success,[23] while the Salt Lake Tribune was editorializing that it feared “the community at large has suffered a net loss.”[24]

If the Church is not worried about the actual conference decisions, because to a real extent they reflect the socio-political values of many of our present leaders, there are indications that at least individual church officials[25] and a good number of church members are concerned about the Church’s role in shaping those decisions. Its failure to control its own bureaucracy does not square with its statements of official neutrality. Also the ambiguity of the Relief Society position was risky. Ambiguity is a powerful tool for giving general direction while leaving implementation to individual interpretation. For this very reason, it is exploitable, sometimes in ways which cannot be anticipated. In political situations it may be cleaner and less manipulative of members to either stay completely out of or to jump openly into issues of special concern. Allowing others to use the Church for purposes which it can technically disavow smacks of either too little or too much political sophistication. 

The behavior of conference participants in reaching their decisions is also something with which the Church ought to be concerned. The conference was too often characterized by distrust, self-righteousness and a battlefield mentality which demanded unconditional victory. For women with Judao-Christian roots, too many behaved in unchristian fashion. Politics has been known to elicit such behavior before and is likely to again. 

We in the Church often cite with pride Joseph Smith’s pronouncement: “I teach the people correct principles and they govern themselves.”[26] When we are gullible, unquestioningly believing persons who are acting in secular capacities and trading on their Church ties, one may ask whether we have indeed been taught correct principles. When we do not make time for community service without church pressures such as quotas and priesthood authority, can we say we have learned correct principles? When we are unable to participate in the political arena with love, courtesy, compassion and respect for all persons, including those whose beliefs are different from our own, can we say we have learned correct principles? 

How can the Church improve the behavior of its members? Perhaps it needs to write lessons on how to employ more skepticism and scholarship in the search for light and truth—a skepticism which insists on knowing sources of information and instruction, a scholarship which searches out evidence, that forms preliminary judgments and tests them. Perhaps it also needs to explore better ways to generate community activity among more church members. Can wards create or promote ways to effectively recognize the value of community service, not just to the community but to the Lord? Finally, ward members need to practice, in church settings, how to acknowledge conflict and how to disagree on important matters without ceasing to respect and cherish each other. Perhaps we ought to address some hard social issues in Relief Society, and other church meetings, with clear church sanction and clear church acceptance of divergent solutions among its members. If church members do not practice correct principles under conditions of stress, how can we say with assurance that we know how to govern ourselves? If we cannot do it even among ourselves, how can we do it in the larger world? 


A summary of the action taken at the plenary sessions is included as an appendix for those who wish more detailed evidence of the philosophy dominating the conference. Recommendations surviving the workshops were voted on in plenary session. Task force recommendations killed in the workshops were not resurrected. 

Workshops are listed in the order of their discussion at the plenary sessions. 


Three task force recommendations survived the plenary session. Passed were recommendations to reform the Social Security guidelines by raising the earning limitations, repealing the mandatory retirement provisions, and continuing SSI benefits during periods of temporary institutionalization. The session defeated task force recommendations supporting (1) maintenance of individual Social Security accounts without regard to marital status and (2) relaxation of the eligibility requirements of separated couples for individual SSI benefits. Earlier, the workshop had killed task force recommendations to fix responsibility in a single agency for enforcement of laws prohibiting age and sex discrimination and to encourage the mass media to hire women without regard to sex or age. 

Child Abuse 

Surviving the plenary session were four task force recommendations plus an additional workshop recommendation to expand outreach programs. The four recommendations included appointment of more juvenile court judges, expansion of the State Advisory Committee on Child Abuse, establishment of a central registry within the Utah Division of Family Services, and funding for increased social workers in the Division of Family Services and for training programs on the prevention of child neglect and abuse. Killed in the workshop was a task force resolution promoting cooperative nursery schools, crisis nurseries, the Crisis Center (at the University of Utah), and Great Britain’s “new mother” program. 

Arts and Humanities 

One task force recommendation survived the plenary session, although all had survived the workshop. The session passed the recommendation urging better public education regarding availability of grants and grant application procedures. The session amended a follow-up recommendation, substituting “equal” for “special” consideration for rural, remote communities of the state. Defeated was another follow-up recommendation, this one added in the workshop, to allocate state funds to employ a public information person within the State Division of Fine Arts. The plenary session also defeated task force recommendations urging blind judging for music auditions, for articles submitted for publication, and for grant and entry applications. Three other resolutions which were introduced and passed in the workshop and which urged upgraded art education in the schools were never discussed or voted on in plenary session, due to time limitations imposed on workshop debate. This was the only workshop unable to present all its emergent recommendations to the plenary session. 

Child Development 

No task force recommendations survived the plenary session. The session defeated a task force recommendation asking for junior high, high school, and post high school parent education classes using teachers competent in areas of child development and family relationships. In place of a series of task force recommendations urging better training and increased financial resources for child care providers and state administrators, the workshop had substituted a recommendation stating that day care should be the responsibility of the family first and that better child care services should be developed by the local community, church, and businesses for those who need them. This substitute resolution passed the plenary session. Killed in the workshop was a resolution to have the Utah Office of Child Development report directly to the Governor’s Office. (It presently reports to the Utah State Board of Education.)

Teenage Pregnancy 

One modified task force recommendation survived the plenary session; it urged that reviews by local school districts (the original resolution had stated “reviews by the Office for Women”) take special note of the vocational training needs of pregnant students and students who are parents. In addition a resolution was introduced on the floor and approved which opposed abortion and sex education in the schools as solutions to the problem of teenage pregnancy. Defeated in the workshop were resolutions urging school compliance with Title IX for pregnant students and students who are parents and urging a state plan to reduce teenage pregnancy through education and through school referral to sources of information about birth control responsibilities. 

Power: Elective, Appointive, and Personal 

No task force recommendations survived the plenary session. Although all the task force recommendations emerged intact from the workshop, all were defeated as a package on the floor. Summarized, they included: (1) requests of the legislative and executive branches at state and local levels to fill appointed positions with equal numbers of men and women, (2) advocacy of a campaign within political parties to work for equal distribution of public financing to men and women candidates, (3) encouragement of the recruitment and support of women candidates for political office and launching an educational program within the political party system to inform women on how to become more involved. 

Reproductive Health 

No task force recommendations made it to the plenary session. The workshop rejected them and substituted their own. Defeated in the workshop were recommendations pressing for comprehensive sex education in Utah schools (grades K-12) and establishing a timetable and guidelines for its implementation. The plenary session passed as a package the substitute recommendations espousing (1) sex education classes for parents sponsored by local religious and civic organizations to help parents assume their responsibility for sex education,* (2) parenting classes in schools under the direction and control of parents in each school district and excluding sex education,** (3) the illegality of all state and federally funded abortions, (4) the Right to Life Amendment (and urging that funds now used for abortion be used for medical research and for help with adoption procedures), (5) retention of the distinction between male and female gender in textbooks, (6) outlawing of sex “training” in classrooms and textbooks “with the exception of basic anatomical natural reproduction” training, which is not to begin until the 6th grade, and (7) prohibition of public school instruction in “unnatural sex acts such as homosexuality and self- stimulation.” 

* A similar recommendation was later defeated under the “Lifespan Planning for Young Women” workshop. 

** A similar but less restrictive proposal had been defeated earlier under the “Child Development” recommendations. Essentially that same proposal was later accepted as part of the “Mental Health” package of recommendations, while still another proposal urging mandatory parenting classes was defeated under the “Men” recommendations. 

Mental Health 

Modified task force recommendations survived the plenary session. The workshop accepted the thrust of the original resolutions but specified community control, local funding, and other restrictions on the training and services recommended. The plenary session passed, as a package, recommendations supporting parenting classes within the secondary system, community education programs, and local funding of services in the areas of job preparation, financial management, cooperative day care and temporary welfare programs. 

Enforcement of Laws 

No task force recommendation made it into the plenary session. Defeated in the workshop were recommendations urging (1) public information programs to educate married women on the need to establish credit in their own names, (2) education of women about their rights under consumer credit laws, and (3) assistance to Utah high schools in educating students about proper use of credit. Also defeated in the workshop were recommendations urging equal opportunity for women in competitive sports in Utah. No substitute resolutions were offered, either in the workshop or on the floor, so there were none for consideration by the plenary session. 

Women as Educators 

No task force recommendations survived the plenary session. A lengthy series of recommendations, enlarging upon the original task force recommendations, emerged from the workshop. Summarized, the recommendations included the following: less sex-stereotyped career counseling and instructional mate- rials, compliance with federal and state anti-discrimination laws, dissemination to prospective educators of information on employment rights and protections, state legislation to enforce the spirit of the State Affirmative Action Study, school district incentives to reward higher levels of teacher preparation, skill, and experience; more hiring of qualified women in administrative and other positions. The plenary session defeated all the recommendations as a package. 


Five task force recommendations and an additional workshop recommendation survived the plenary session. Task force recommendations had been accepted, refined, and enlarged in the workshop session. Initially all were passed as a package in the plenary session but were later reconsidered one at a time. Passed were recommendations urging (1) placement of news by subject matter not sex, (2) elimination of exploitation of men and women to add irrelevant sexual interest, (3) elimination of personal details (sex, sexual preference, appearance, religion, etc.) in a news story when irrelevant, (4) granting the same respect to women’s activities and organizations that is shown to men’s, (5) public education by the media on the violence of rape rather than the sexual appeal of rape, and (6) withdrawal of all TV and radio commercials concerning women’s personal health products (a workshop addition to the task force recommendations). Ultimately defeated was a recommendation establishing as a goal the employment of women in policy making positions, urging special efforts to employ qualified and knowledgeable women, and supporting equal pay, opportunity, training, and promotion of women in the media. Also defeated were recommendations respecting a person’s right to determine for publication her (or his) own title and encouraging the media to broaden the subject matter of news stories to include more activities of women in the population. 

Minority Women 

No original task force recommendations made it into the plenary session. The workshop struck the original resolutions, which were concerned mostly with assessing minority needs and urging involvement of ethnic minority women in the larger women’s movement. The workshop objected to the language of the original recommendations which suggested that minority women felt isolated from white women and had unusual needs. The workshop substituted its own recommendations, which the plenary session voted to take up one at a time. Passed on the floor were recommendations urging that teachers-in-training have at least 5 credit hours of cultural awareness courses prior to certification, that qualified “ethnic people” be hired to teach these courses, and that counseling be provided for minority students. Defeated were recommendations that adequate minority representation at the National Conference in Houston be assured, that adequate funding for child care services for low income women be advocated, that a coalition be formed to take a stand against the Bakke decision,* that teachers be required to take the equivalent of one credit of cultural awareness training every 5 years, and that bilingual education should be provided in educational institutions. 

* In the Bakke case, then on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court upheld the white plaintiff’s argument that he had been discriminated against in his admission to medical school because of the University of California at Davis’ affirmative action policies guaranteeing a certain number of spots to minority students. 

Legal Status of Homemakers 

Five task force recommendations survived the plenary session. Passed were recommendations sup- porting the Utah Parentage Act and urging the establishment of a mandatory Family Court System to deal with domestic problems, tax reform to allow tax deductions for expenses accrued by disability of fulltime homemakers, tax reform to eliminate taxation on all transfers of property between husband and wife at death and all gifts between same during their lifetimes, and cooperation of women with State and County Recovery Services. Defeated in the plenary session was a task force recommendation urging that the Social Security Act benefits presently accruing to the spouse employed outside the home accrue equally to the homemaker and the spouse. Previously killed in the workshop was an endorsement of the Utah Uniform Probate Code. 

Women Offenders 

All three emerging task force recommendations, some of them enlarged in the workshop, survived the plenary session. Included were recommendations: (1) urging adequate health services for female offenders and the inclusion of a woman on the medical staff at the Utah State Prison, (2) encouraging job training services, community treatment facilities, generous visitation rights, and counseling for the offender with children, and (3) requesting the appointment of an independent and diverse body of citizens, including women, to inspect local jails, state institutions, and community programs to assist the legislature in setting uniform standards for such facilities. Killed in the workshop was a recommendation asking for support of affirmative action in the recruitment and hiring of women to staff positions within the Division of Corrections and the Department of Social Services.

Basic Needs 

No task force recommendations survived the plenary session. Concerned primarily with single-parent (usually female) families receiving welfare, the emergent task force recommendations focused on job training to help recipients become self-sufficient and capable of holding their families together. In the plenary session these recommendations were struck, and floor substitutes were passed which deplored the trend to a welfare state and which recommended that people meet their own basic needs through their own earned income. Local measures and private good will, not federal programs, were recommended for those who could not provide for themselves. Additional substitute recommendations were passed, urging evaluation, consolidation, and enforcement of present supplementary food programs and organization of voluntary committees in each city of the state to evaluate basic needs for food and housing and to forward their recommendations for action to the Utah Legislature. Earlier, the workshop had defeated task force recommendations urging improved and expanded governmental food and housing programs. 

Equal Rights Amendment 

The original task force recommendation did not make it into the plenary session. Recognizing the controversial nature of the ERA in Utah, the task force had recommended that a special committee of equal numbers of proponents and opponents be appointed by the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women to locate neutral facilities and to disperse information reflecting both sides of the issue. This public education approach to the ERA was defeated by the workshop and a resolution substituted opposing the ERA and opposing the use of any public funds to promote or oppose the ERA. The workshop went further and passed a resolution directing the U.S. Congress to appropriate no new funds for IWY. These recommendations passed in the plenary session along with another, introduced on the floor, which added that the national convention in Houston should be told that “rights for women can better be accomplished by more efficiently enforcing existing laws and applying pressures to society in other ways. We the women of Utah recognize that any government which is powerful enough to give its people everything they want is powerful enough to take away everything that we have.” 


No task force recommendations survived the plenary session. They had been refined in the workshop and a new one had been added. They concentrated on fair employment practices, hiring of more women at administrative levels, designation of more CETA funds to advance the training of women, studying merit and civil service systems to remove barriers to women’s advancement, development of programs to attract women business owners to Utah, and directing the Small Business Association to consider women as an economically disadvantaged group and to develop technical assistance programs for them. Every recommendation was defeated in the plenary session with the exception of the new one, which stated that employers should not be bound by quota laws except where the job applicants were equally qualified in every respect for the job in question. 


This workshop did not have recommendations prepared in advance by its all-male task force. Three were formulated in the workshop. The plenary session first passed the one urging stronger control of the distribution of pornographic materials and stringent enforcement of existing antipornography legislation. Another recommendation focused on providing alternative living accommodations for victims (“usually wives and children”) of family violence. Alternatives were to be provided through private or public facilities. This recommendation passed after being amended to limit the public role to “temporary public funding for facilities.” A third recommendation, that parenting skills be made mandatory training at the secondary school level, was defeated by the plenary session. 

Lifespan Planning for Young Women 

No task force recommendations survived the plenary session. The workshop had accepted a task force recommendation urging sex education for parents, the medical profession, clergy, and counselors so that sex education in the family and for the helping professions could be strengthened. The workshop also passed a modified recommendation urging better preparation within the home and school system for both motherhood and vocational self-sufficiency. Both these recommendations were defeated in the plenary session. In their place a substitute resolution was passed, encouraging each woman to “seek knowledge through the private and public resources now available” and deploring “government agencies assuming more authority, responsibilities, and control.” Defeated earlier, in the workshop, was a task force recommendation urging less sex-stereotyped career counseling and instructional materials in the public schools. 

Wife Abuse 

All task force recommendations survived the workshop and plenary session, some in modified form. Two new recommendations were added in the workshop, one of which passed the plenary session. Recommendations included establishment for battered wives of a network of emergency shelters sponsored by local organizations and the Division of Family Services (a similar recommendation had passed earlier under the “Men” workshop discussion), encouragement of stronger state laws for punishment of wife abusers, establishment of laws requiring a husband to pay for losses (medical expenses, child care during recovery, etc.) suffered by his battered wife, and a request (one of the workshop additions) that law enforcement bodies maintain separate statistics on wife-abuse incidents. Not adopted was the other new workshop request urging that private groups and the media educate the public about wife abuse. 

International Interdependence 

There were no preprinted task force recommendations for this workshop. The workshop emerged with its own resolutions against foreign aid, international interdependence, and “any world government body which attempts to dilute our national laws and personal sovereignty.” In addition it resolved that the right to trial by jury should be “restored” as a basic right of all citizens, not to be limited by Supreme Court decisions. Lastly it resolved that separation of powers be “reestablished” and that the executive branch be prohibited from establishing administrative regulations which have the status of law. The plenary session adopted all the resolutions except the one against foreign aid. 

Health Education 

Two task force recommendations survived the plenary session, one asking that the Food and Drug Administration compile and distribute a table of generic drug equivalencies and the other supporting removal of taxes from eye glasses and hearing aids. The plenary session denied support to workshop- prepared recommendations asking better preventive health education by local health professionals using state funds, improvement in existing school health programs, placement of more women in policy-making health positions, and abolishment of sex discrimination by insurance companies. The workshop had earlier defeated task force recommendations encouraging health care deliverers to better educate their patients about their own bodies and encouraging better public health education by public health organizations. 


Four of the task force recommendations survived the plenary session. Four did not. The original recommendations had been accepted and refined by the workshop session. The emerging recommendations urged increased medical sensitivity to the needs of the victim, freedom of choice in terminating or sustaining pregnancy resulting from rape, compensation to victims for property damage, loss of income, and medical and counseling expenses; training for prosecutors and law enforcement officials in collection of evidence and prosecution of rape cases, prohibition of introduction of evidence of past sexual conduct unless clearly relevant to the case, elimination of language in Utah laws which discriminates on the basis of gender of attacker or victim, the bringing of rape and sexual assault laws into harmony with other criminal statutes by including spouses as victims, and the offering of workshops to inform people on how to report a rape and avoid rape and incest situations. Half were passed. Defeated were those recommending freedom of choice in terminating or sustaining a rape-induced pregnancy, inclusion of spouses as victims under criminal statutes, elimination of gender-based discrimination in statutory language, and compensation to victims. 

Women as Students 

No task force recommendations made it to the plenary session. Killed in the workshop were the original recommendations urging public education on the Title IX regulations and elimination of sex bias and stereotyping in all textbooks, counseling materials, and educational institutions. In their place were recommendations that the Title IX regulations be eliminated, that Congress state the intent of the Title IX statute at the time of passage, and that Congress specify enforcement procedures. Also added were recommendations supporting the Utah State Board of Education’s pending suit against Title IX and rejecting any movement to eliminate gender from children’s textbooks. All these substitute recommendations passed the plenary session. 

Women in Utah History 

The original task force recommendations survived both the workshop and the plenary session. They specified “that women be included in the history of Utah as it is written in textbooks and monographs, as it is taught in the public schools and institutions of higher learning, and as it is ritualized in programs, pageants, and monuments” and “that institutions responsible for the care and dissemination of materials and information relating to Utah history hire more women in managerial positions,* actively collect women-related historical materials, and conscientiously promote the inclusion of women in Utah history. . . .” 

* This was the only time out of several tries that a recommendation urging the hiring of more women in managerial positions passed the plenary session.


There were no recommendations planned for the lifestyle workshop because lifestyles were seen by the task force as “so much a personal matter.” The workshop discussion was intended rather to define lifestyles and outline conditions which influence them. Therefore no recommendations were entertained in the workshop. On the floor of the plenary session, however, a recommendation was introduced and passed which stated that drastic cultural changes including lesbianism and homosexuality should not be advocated or taught within Utah’s public school system.

[1] Letter of June 3, 1977 on Relief Society letterhead, addressed to all regional representatives in Utah and signed “Relief Society General Presidency.” The letter began, “This is a follow-up on the phone call you received from President Ezra Taft Benson’s office, and here is what should be done.” 

[2] Later, after the IWY Conference became so controversial, my friend declined to identify the bishop.

[3] Salt Lake Tribune, June 23, 1977, p. B-l.

[4] Deseret News, June 23, 1977, Editorial Page. 

[5] Deseret News, June 23, 1977, p. B-l.

[6] Salt Lake Tribune, June 23, 1977, p. B-l.

[7] The letter of June 3, 1977 enclosed enough copies for stake presidents and bishops and concluded with a deadline for their distribution. Some found the letter innocent. Others attributed hidden meanings to it. The ambiguous clauses quoted in the text were seen by some as subtly encouraging a defensive posture from the outset on the part of recruited ward delegates. 

[8] Linda Sillitoe, “Women Scorned: Inside Utah’s IWY Conference,” Utah Holiday VI:12, August, 1977, p. 28. 

[9] Jan L. Tyler then Asst. Professor of Child Development and Family Relations, BYU.

[10] Katie Dixon, Salt Lake County Recorder.

[11] Draft Copy, A Proposed State Plan of Action (Working Paper Developed by the Task Forces of the IWY Coordinating Committee), a copy of which is on file with the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, Utah State Capitol Building, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84114. 

[12] Transcript of Recommendations Coming Out of Workshops, Utah State IWY Meeting, June 24-25, 1977. Filed with the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114. 

[13] All the nationally-formulated resolutions were printed in the Deseret News, June 16, 1977, p. C-l-3. They were a summary of major recommendations appearing in To Form a More Perfect Union, the report of the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year, copies of which were available to the first 5,000 registrants at the conference. 

[14] Numerous attendees, representing women of varying persuasions, confirm that these were the attitudes and statements made by caucus leaders. At the Provo caucus, one of the caucus speakers, representing the Conservative Caucus and the American Party, went so far as to argue that the IWY Commission wanted to legalize rape. Kathleen Flake, a member of the Utah IWY Coordinating Committee, was present at the Provo caucus and took the podium to attempt to clear up such misconceptions. 

[15] Groups inspiring and/or conducting the caucuses were the “Conservative Caucus,” a coalition of various right-wing interests led by self-described “Bishop” Dennis Ker (an LDS Bishop), and “Let’s Govern Ourselves,” led by Republican state legislator Georgia Peterson. Caucuses were held in Bountiful, Ogden, Kearns, Provo, Salt Lake City (Highland High School), and Logan. The author has substantiated reports from five separate Salt Lake Valley wards that Church machinery was used to invite women to attend these caucuses. For additional documentation of caucus activities and use of Church organizational mechanisms and ties to publicize the caucuses, see Sillitoe, pp. 63-65. 

[16] It is interesting but perhaps just coincidental that on Wednesday, June 22, Thursday, June 23, and Friday, June 24, i.e., the two days preceding and the first day of the conference, the Deseret News ran feature articles providing information developed by the Women’s History Task Force on the role of women in Utah’s development. 

[17] The following three documents were available after the conference from the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114. They form the basis for the summaries provided in the appendix. 

(a) Draft Copy, Proposed State Plan of Action, A Working Paper Developed by the Task Forces of the IWY Coordinating Committee. 

(b) Transcript of Recommendations Coming Out of Workshops, Utah State IWY Meeting, June 24- 25, 1977. 

(c) Recommendations Approved by the body in Plenary Session, Utah Women’s Meeting, June 24- 25, 1977. 

Recently these documents have been combined into a soft-cover monograph, Utah State Plan of Action, The Utah Women’s Meeting, June 24-25, 1977, which also includes minority reports filed with the Utah IWY Coordinating Committee. Limited copies of this document are available, but one is filed with the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, Utah State Capitol Building, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114. This document is the one being forwarded to the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year. However, there are at least two errors in its reporting of the final recommendations. The correct version is to be found in the separate printing of recommendations cited in (c) above.

[18] Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, June 26, 1977, A-l. Salt Lake Tribune, Thursday, June 30, 1977, B-ll. Sillitoe, p. 68. 

[19] Earlier, informal attempts by the Relief Society to encourage LDS women to attend the grassroots mass meetings had met with only partial success. 

[20] The copy in my possession is dated July 11, 1977. It is written on Relief Society letterhead and is signed by all three members of the Relief Society Presidency. 

[21] “Bishop” Dennis Ker is quoted by independent sources as having stated (at the Highland High Caucus) that although the Relief Society had not authorized these caucuses, they were aware of them and wanted their members to be informed, thus inferring that the Church did not disapprove.

[22] Page 1 of Lifestyle Section.  [Editor’s Note: This footnote is not in-text in the PDF, so I placed it here.]

[23] Deseret News, Monday, June 27, 1977, Editorial Page. 

[24] Salt Lake Tribune, Wednesday, June 29, 1977, Editorial Page. 

[25] Private communication. 

[26] Journal of Discourses, V. 10, p. 57.