Attorney Kate Kelly was excommunicated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by an all-male panel for pushing gender equality for its members. Kelly founded Ordain Women, a group that fights for gender equality, believe “as a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.”

Excommunication is the most severe punishment that be levied by the church court. The decision prohibits Kelly from attending, praying, wearing temple garments or give tithes and offerings to the church. Ordain Women shared the email sent to Kelly from a local leader from Washington, D.C.

“You must be truthful in your communications with others regarding matters that involve your priesthood leaders, including the administration of Church discipline, and you must stop trying to gain a following for yourself or your cause and taking actions that could lead others away from the Church.”

Losing her church family is traumatic for the 33-year-old, but said she will continue to be a light for gender equality.

“The decision to force me outside my congregation and community is exceptionally painful. Today is a tragic day for my family and me as we process the many ways this will impact us, both in this life and in the eternities. I love the gospel and the courage of its people.”

Women hold leadership roles in the church, but are not allowed to become bishops or become part of the second highest governing body of the church, like the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The longest standing member of the apostles (there are 15) is the President of the Church. These apostles are special witnesses of Jesus Christ to teach and represent Him throughout the world, according to LDS. LDS.org released the following statement regarding the ruling.

“We understand from time to time church members will have questions about church doctrine, history or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding. We feel special concern, however, for members who distance themselves from church doctrine or practice and, by advocacy, encourage others to follow them.”

Kelly is expected to appeal the decision to the First Presidency.

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