Every six months, the LDS (Mormon) Church holds a much anticipated General Conference. All around the world, members tune in to watch and listen to the pronouncements of their highest leaders. Tens of thousands travel to Salt Lake City to witness the proceedings in person.
The Conference is composed of 6 two-hour meetings. A cherished part of the Saturday afternoon session is the Sustaining of Officers. The names and positions of the General Authorities are presented to the membership. An up or down vote is called for. Members may sustain, abstain, or oppose.
Almost always, the voting appears unanimous. However, this trend is changing. At the October 2015 and April 2016 conferences, opposed votes were clearly registered in the confines of the Conference Center. The numbers were few. But the votes of disapproval were noted by the leadership and all who were viewing.
This fall Conference was historic by modern standards. The sustainings were conducted on Oct 1st. The tally: sustain–almost all. Opposed–267!!! You can see their names HERE. This is a huge number. I and my wife were 2 of the 267.
Going against the consensus is NOT easy. There are hundreds of thousands of members–including many less active members–who would like to vote opposed. However, there is fear associated with negative voting. Our current LDS culture stigmatizes honest and open disagreement, especially in a Conference setting. This must change. It was Jesus Himself who mandated that “ALL things MUST be done by common consent.” It’s His church. Eventually, the stigma against following His directives in His own church is going to disappear.
The Lone Man…Adam
Out of the intrepid 267, only one person actually cast his opposing vote in the Conference Center itself on October 1, 2016. This article is written to tell his miraculous story. For the time being, I’ll call him Adam.
Adam is a faithful, believing member. He currently serves as a counselor in his bishopric. Like many in the church, he has had concerns in recent years regarding the church’s treatment of LGBT people and its involvement in political contests regarding LGBT issues. When the November 2015 anti-gay policy came to light, he was mortified. Vehemently opposed, he discussed it with his Bishop and Stake President. They counseled him to pray and “gain a testimony” of its divine origin as a revelation, despite the fact that it has never been presented to the membership for ratification as such.
By the time October Conference had arrived, Adam’s own conscience–as well as what he felt to be the promptings of the Holy Ghost–drove him to the decision to vote opposed in person. He was unsuccessful in obtaining a ticket prior to leaving home. Undaunted, he hugged and kissed his loving and supportive wife, jumped in his car and drove many hours, crossing multiple state lines to Salt Lake City. No ticket. Only hope and a prayer. During his long drive, Adam prayed. He asked Heavenly Father that if it were His will that he should follow his conscience and express an opposing vote in the Conference Center, that an admission ticket would somehow be provided.
Outside the Conference Center, he observed many people asking others if they had spare tickets. Adam even ventured a few inquiries. It soon became evident that this method was doomed to failure. He was directed to the standby line. Hundreds were ahead of him. He offered another prayer. “If it’s Thy will that I vote opposed, please provide a way in.”
Time was passing. Hope was fading. The long line discouraging.
Then it happened. A young woman approached. Hand extended, she asked, “Would you like a ticket?” With hundreds waiting in hopes of getting in, the mystery matron picked Adam. He counted it as an answer to prayer. A sign that God was sustaining him and his un-sustaining vote. A Miracle.
Adam was seated. The session was about to start. This humble and considerate man gently tapped the person in front of him. He quietly informed all seated around him of his plans to voice an opposing vote. No one seemed alarmed. Rather, the advance notice was received with appreciation and kindness.
President Eyring conducted the sustainings. Adam voted disapproval 3 times: to the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and to their being sustained as prophets, seers and revelators. His was the lone voice that echoed throughout the Conference Center. In front of 22,000 other attendees. In front of millions, the world over. As he did so, he felt come over him a great feeling of love for those 15 men and a great feeling of sorrow for the situation that had led to that heartbreaking circumstance.
But Adam was not really alone. Remotely, 266 others joined him that day. Modern history was made.
Adam, my friend, my hat is off to you. I commend you for your integrity and courage.
Opposed to What?
Adam–and most of those voting with him–are NOT opposed to the prophet and apostles, per se. We understand that, just as in other types of elections, once the results are tabulated, every participant–the yeas and the nays–can and do sustain in good faith those who receive the sustaining vote of the people, according to the Law of Common Consent.
Adam is not opposed to the church. He’s not opposed to the Restoration. He’s not opposed to the leadership. In fact, he loves the church with all his heart. He loves and respects the leadership. He made an exhausting, weekend-long drive with only a slim hope of being admitted to Conference. A poignant demonstration of his love and commitment to the church, Jesus, and a marginalized community.
What he IS opposed to–vehemently so–is a policy. The November 2015 policy labeling gay couples as apostates and excluding their children from Priesthood ordinances.
According to church doctrine and by divine mandate (D&C 28:13), “policies, major decisions and other things that affect the lives of the Saints” must be accepted by the Common Consent of the membership.
In today’s church, NO “policies, major decisions and other things that affect the lives of the Saints” are being presented to the church body for approval or disapproval. For members committed to living by the Law of Common Consent, the only option appears to be voting opposed to those who control the voting practices.
Adam has concerns that actions may be taken against him. He’s concerned that he may be released from his calling. It’s ludicrous that any punitive consequences could even be a consideration. Jesus has commanded the apostles to ask the members for their opinion. An honest answer deserves commendation not condemnation. His local leaders’ responsibility is to listen and pass his concerns up the line. Not to listen, pass judgment and punish him back in line.
But, Mormon culture may not be there yet. Our church needs more faithful, serving, believing Saints just like dear Adam.
Are You Opposed?
If you are a member of the LDS church. If you are opposed to “policies, major decisions and other things that affect the lives of the Saints,” especially, policies that have never seen the light of Common Consent, then consider voting your true opinion and feelings.
Make next April another historic conference. By then we WILL be more than 267. Can we be….2,067? Or….20,067? Or….?
Common Consent is the Law of God and the Law of the Church. It’s up to you and me, the common members, to make Common Consent the common rule of Christ’s church.
You have a voice. Please don’t leave without speaking up. Stand up for what is right. Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.
Take the step of publicly registering your disapproval on the Register of Common Consent, HERE.
- Information on LDS.ORG regarding Common Consent, click HERE. Please take note of this paragraph: “Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints.”
- Scriptural information about Common Consent, click HERE.
- Disturbing membership Trends, click HERE.
- Do We Love Jesus Enough?, click HERE.
- The Only True Hope for The Only True Church, click HERE.
- My personal sadness over my friends and family leaving, click HERE
- Common Consent Register—A Record of Those Who Disapprove click, HERE.