Joanna Brooks is a bit different than the common definition of a Mormon woman. She was a bright child who started questioning her faith when she reached adulthood, and she turned away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But she never turned away from her faith.
Brooks has been a feminist activist since she was very young. She watched the LDS Church excommunicate many of her inspirations during her childhood. She attended Brigham Young University in Utah, which is an LDS Church owned school. She spent her time there being very outspoken, by the standards of that school. She rallied for causes that were unpopular among the LDS, such as pro-choice rights.
While she was in school, however, the LDS Church began to excommunicate her like-minded intellectuals, claiming they were a threat to the Church. During this time, many BYU professors either lost their jobs or left, and six prominent scholars were excommunicated. To be excommunicated is a very serious thing for believers in any religion, because it means to lose all rights and privileges associated with that religion. In LDS, it meant to lose access to the Temples, among other religious rights.
Perhaps the last straw for Brooks personally, however, was when LDS rallied hard against same-sex marriages. She spent ten years away from the church after that. Although she was straight, she had always been a staunch believer in equal rights.
Brooks eventually found her way back to LDS after she was married with two daughters. She had been married outside of the LDS. Her husband is Jewish, and they are raising their daughters as interfaith children. She went back to the church largely because she wanted her daughters to be familiar with all aspects of her religion, and that included the LDS. However, soon after she went back to the Church in 2008, the LDS began rallying in support of Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriages in California, the state she was born and raised in. (Prop 8 is currently in the process of possibly being ruled unconstitutional). She protested Prop 8 by destroying some LDS Church propaganda on the issue.
Joanna Brooks is currently helping Mormons through crises of faith. She is a supporter of President Barack Obama. She also writes about her faith and dispels myths about it in national newspapers, and her Twitter account was named in “50 Politicos to Watch.” She is trying to inspire the need for diversity into the faith that she loves so much. “Is there space for difference?” she asks. “No one wants a schism.”