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Does the Mormon Church Empower Women? A Social Media Storm Answers.

On Sunday night, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encouraged women around the world to gather to celebrate the Relief Society, a women’s organization in the church that was observing its 182nd anniversary.

In a video produced for the event, J. Anette Dennis, a leader in the Relief Society, spoke glowingly about women’s roles in the church. “There is no other religious organization in the world, that I know of, that has so broadly given power and authority to women,” she said.

But when the church’s official Instagram page posted an excerpt from Ms. Dennis’s speech, including that quote, the response was immediate, overwhelming and largely negative. “What a joke!” one commenter wrote. “The sexism in this organization runs deep.” The post had more than 14,500 comments as of Friday morning, with some critical comments receiving thousands of approving likes.

Anger had flared a couple days earlier when comments were deleted before being restored. In a comment on the post and in emails to The Times, the church blamed an Instagram glitch. A spokesman for Meta, which owns Instagram, said there was no issue that had affected comments.

The conversation quickly burst out of the bounds of the church’s comments section and into a flurry of text messages among L.D.S. women, who shared accounts of feeling marginalized and belittled in their interactions with church leaders.

The Instagram post had tapped into a long-running seam of discontent among some women in the church, who have chafed at the church’s restrictions and say that its discussion of empowering women is essentially hollow. Women are not eligible for the church’s priesthood, a designation of God-given authority that applies to only men.

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