Barbara Bradshaw Smith Dies

Barbara Bradshaw Smith, who was the face and focal point of the LDS Church’s battle against the Equal Rights Amendment, died yesterday at the age of 88. According to The Salt Lake Tribune:

On national television and newspaper front pages, she was the well-dressed, soft-spoken woman who became the face of LDS Church opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment.

But while Barbara Bradshaw Smith helped lead the faith’s fight against the failed constitutional amendment, she also sought to expand women’s roles, saying she supported additional rights but not the ERA.

The former LDS Relief Society president, who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, died Monday at age 88 in Salt Lake City.

Now, I remember this fun little fight against the ERA, which always has perplexed me. And how the LDS leaders (read MEN) talked all their women into going along with this ALWAYS perplexed me. Because it WAS the Mormon women who led the fight, with the men behind them, using them like puppets with a hand sticking up their back, telling them when to open their mouths, and what to say. AND HOW TO THINK.

From the Trib article:

Smith also was at the center of the controversial 1977 International Women’s Year Conference in Salt Lake City. Critics claimed LDS women took over the gathering on orders of church officials in an effort to thwart the ERA.

I remember my mother attending that conference, like so many other Mormon women, dutifully doing their part to keep MEN in control. Now the LDS apologists and defenders might jump in here and say the Mormon Church offers MORE to women than ANY OTHER CHURCH. I’ve always found this interesting, since:

1. In order to make it into the Celestial Kingdom, the highest of all God’s kingdoms, you have to be pulled through the “veil” by a MAN. In short, if you aren’t married in the temple, and some dude doesn’t know your SECRET name, although you don’t get to know his, then you ain’t getting the shot at the top glory. Hello Telestial. Or is it Terrestial. I don’t remember. But, hey, you get the point. A woman’s SALVATION, at the end of the line, is totally in the hands of a man. If that man doesn’t want to let her in, well, she’s screwed.

2. Only a man can hold the “Holy Priesthood.” Women, they say, get to hold it “through” their priesthood holder. Sorta like that game we used to play at my friends house, when we were young and dumb, and we’d all hold hands and the one at the front (always a boy) would touch the electric fence and the rest of us would wait to feel the shock course through our bodies. Hey, we lived in rural Farmington. It livened things up a little.

3. The thing I remember most about the Church’s fight against the ERA is the fear tactics used. I remember hearing them. “If it passes girls and boys will have to take gym together and shower together.” Gasp. OMG. Yikies. Um, why?

Yeah, that pretty much is what it was all about. Fear and stupidity.

So what I am wondering is WHAT DID the ERA really threaten? Why are people so scuared of equality, and partnership? I remember jumping a little at the electrical current, which you really only felt if you were at the front of the line, and thinking, “Why did I do that? That wasn’t fun.”

Yeah. Not fun. Godspeed Barbara Bradshaw Smith. Here’s hoping your husband remembered your secret temple name so you got into the Celestial kingdom okay. (Here’s a hint: they used the same name for all women who went through the temple that day. All you gotta do is find someone who was there on the day you were. Although they probably won’t tell you, because it’s secret. TOP SECRET. Hmm. Well, good luck in the hereafter.)


About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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8 Responses to Barbara Bradshaw Smith Dies

  1. Cele says:

    So fifty five women arrive at the pearly gates on the same day – fifty five men hold out their hands to Sarah and a cluster fuck is born… pun was not intend.


  2. Suzy says:

    very well written Natalie, made me laugh out loud!


  3. WendyP. says:

    Fear and stupidity indeed. Just like the anti Gay Marriage arguments LDS use today.

    My favorite feisty Mormon from the ERA years? Ms. Sonia Johnson.


  4. Ashley says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog and it disgusts me. That is all. You spend way too much time baggin on people. You should find something better to do with your life.


  5. Brent says:


    Just stumble your way right back off the blog. If you bothered to spend any time at all on this site, and actually ponder the comments – and it still “disgusts you”, “That is all”. Then – people like you need to be discusted more often. Maybe learn instead of turning your head in discust. Or, are you one of the highly medicated women in Utah for depression?

    Or – does this fact discust you as well? Take a pill



  6. Suzy says:

    Ashley I don’t think anybody force fed you any of the information on this blog.. take a hike if you don’t like the subject matter!


  7. Jim Frederick says:

    All religions are filled with ridiculous rituals and dogmatic beliefs, much of which is perpetuated in fear and ignorance. But the Mormon religion has to be one the worst. It’s hard to believe that in 2010, they still believe in the lifting/dragging of the veil as the only way for women to receive or be worthy of celestial honor. Frankly, the whole concept of celestial honor is nothing more than an anecdote that has long since past any potential relavence, like most religious doctrines that are responsible for majority of the misery and suffering on our planet.


  8. Crystal says:

    O my Hell I’m laughing my head off at your blog!! I love it!! It’s great to hear someone who “gets it”!!! I got out 2 yrs ago!! (after 25 yrs as a card carrying member!!) Yahooooooo!!!

    Keep em coming!!


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