"Priestesses Unto the Most High God": LDS Women's Temple Rituals and the Politics of Religious Identity
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This study enters into broader debates surrounding the study of women in traditional religions by examining the ways in which LDS women utilize temple ritual in the ongoing production of religious identity. In-depth interviews with eighteen LDS women are explored to highlight themes in LDS women's perspectives regarding temple rituals. I demonstrate that LDS women's perspectives on these ceremonies reveal that LDS women draw from an amalgam of competing dominant, alternative, and oppositional discourses to define their religious experiences and identities. These self-definitions revealed that the women in this study drew from ritual symbols, gestures, images, and dialogue to shift normative definitions of LDS women as mothers who bear and raise children to more expansive identities as "priestesses unto the most high God." I argue that examining the practices of women in traditional religions reveals hidden layers of their experiences, identities, and ways of knowing.