The Man Who Voted Opposed

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General Conference

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.

October 2016

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.

The Miracle

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.

The Vote

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.

Consequences

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.

Other Resources

  • 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.

19 thoughts on “The Man Who Voted Opposed

  1. As a former Mormon, I understand your concerns. But as a Friend (Quaker), we do things a different way. We believe that church policies are set through the discernment of the community. Changes are discussed from the bottom-up rather than the top down. Our leaders organize communication and help facilitate the will of the meeting or conference, but they do not impose their will from the top down. If your concerns with Mormon governance continue to grow to the point where you find yourself on the outs with leaders and you want a church serious about common consent governance, I hope you will consider Friends General Conference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David, my friend,

      First, I love the name of your community…Friends. That’s just great.

      Second, I feel it an honor that you have invited me to consider Friends General Conference. I am finding out that most Mormon’s are not aware of the mandates in our scriptures regarding common consent. So, there is a big education process. We’ll see where is goes. My preference is that we start following our own founding documents. But, it may lead me to new Friends.

      All My Best, Sam

      Like

  2. I’m sure the number is more than 267 who are in the church but feel it’s headed in the wrong direction. When I was a member, I felt like the vote to sustain was like casting a ballot in North Korea – sure, I *could* vote dissent, but at best it’d be ignored. I’m interested to hear more about what happens to “Adam.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One thing that the Common Consent Register does is show that there is more than one person who disapproves. The number is now more than 267 and growing. 273 have come out of the closet of hidden opinion. There are hundreds of thousands who have serious disagreements with various policies. The problem is at least two fold. First, very few know or understand the Law of Common Consent. Second, there is a strong stigma against voting opposed.

      At best ignored? Even 273 are likely to be ignored by the apostles. But, it isn’t being ignored by the rank and file who become aware. If the church doesn’t change at all, there is still much good happening as a result of the open expression of dissent. Hearts are being touched. Integrity is being maintained. Seeds are being planted.

      Although, Kate Kelley was excommunicated, her movement resulted in noticeable changes at the very top.

      The Church IS going to change. The mechanism for instigating change is embedded in it’s foundational documents. Ignoring laws and commandments declared by God for the governance of His church has and is causing problems. They will only get worse by continuing to ignore Common Consent.

      I hope to see my church actually become the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today, one could say that it’s only the Church of the Apostles.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My understanding is that common consent does not mean the church is a democracy. As stated in the church manual you referenced, the decisions are made by revelation, and the members are only asked if they will support the decision. If one does not sustain the leader, the only effect is on the person withholding the sustaining vote, and has no effect on the validity if the action. The dissenting vote is only intended to make known information regarding a potential leaders worthiness.
    The church as a whole has not been asked to sustain a most things that affect the whole church, including the Handbook of Instructions. Why start now, with this one issue? Even if they did offer up this one single issue for a sustaining vote, dissenting votes wouldn’t matter since the decision has been made through the regular channels, and is binding on the church anyway. A dissent would only affect the individual dissenting. The Lord, through common consent, invites us personally to accept, or reject by abstaining. He is not looking for our opinions or input. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear David,

      “Thanks for taking the time to read this?” Oh my gosh….thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I really appreciate that. And, then you make a comment! I love you brother. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. BTW, you are not just sharing with me. There have been over 1,500 views of this article in just one day. YOUR opinions are being shared around the world for many, many, many to read.

      “Does not mean the church is a democracy?” Absolutely it’s not a democracy. But, what we have today is not what Christ mandated. We have become a dictatorship. The apostles make a decision, announce and implement. The membership have no input, no voice, no recourse. This is the definition of a dictatorship. Christ made it clear in our founding documents that ALL things MUST be done by Common Consent. Today, the only matters we vote on are callings. Our doctrine says that “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.” According to Christ’s words and church doctrine, the church is not a democracy nor a dictatorship. The apostles are put in place by God and by the CONSENT of the people. Unlike a democracy, the membership doesn’t put forward candidates. Nor do we have a slate of candidates to chose from. Unlike a dictatorship, ALL important matters are to be presented before the membership for ratification or rejection. This is how the early church operated. Even things presented by Joseph Smith were sometimes voted down at conference.

      “The dissenting vote is only intended to make known information regarding a potential leader’s worthiness?” I can’t find that anywhere in the scriptures. In the D&C, Jesus COMMANDED Joseph to get names approved or disapproved. Christ did not put any qualifications of what constituted a valid vote.

      “The church as a whole has not been asked to sustain most things that affect the whole church, including the Handbook of Instructions. Why start now?” Oh man, what a great question. In the Old Testament, the prophet Joshua made this statement, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The best day to start obeying the Namesake of our church is TODAY.

      Disobeying this law has landed the church in trouble. For example, for over 125 the church barred blacks from the blessings of the priesthood and temple. Our apostles today, CONDEMN our past “racism.” As they should. Our racist policies were established by the dictates of prophets. Not revelation. Never presented to the membership for their consent and ratification. However, in 1978, the terrible policies, doctrines and teachings of our past were removed from the church by the vote of common consent.

      Here’s another reason to do it now. Hundreds of thousands are leaving the church, either by formal resignation or just resigning into inactivity. Why should I stand silently on the sidelines and watch family and friends flee the church that I love?

      “Even if they did offer up this one single issue for a sustaining vote, dissenting votes wouldn’t matter since the decision has been made through the regular channels, and is binding on the church anyway.” This is a huge misconception. In the early 1900s, Joseph F. Smith testified before congress, under sworn oath. He stated to the world that revelations ARE NOT binding on the membership until the have been presented to the membership and approved by a simple MAJORITY vote. The way the church is operating today makes a liar out of this prophet. If the ‘regular channels’ circumvent Common Consent, then the ‘regular channels’ are contrary to Christ’s mandate, church doctrine and the pronouncement of Joseph F. Smith.

      “The Lord is not looking for our opinion or input?” David, I think that the Law of Common Consent is one of the most beautiful commandments of the restoration. The Lord absolutely is soliciting our opinions and input. He respects you and me as fellow citizens in his church. He values you and me so much that he has mandated that our opinions and input be an integral part of church governance. The longer that we ignore His respect for our opinions, the more people are going to leave and the more troubles the church is going to have.

      Now, my friend, thank you for being part of the Church of Jesus Christ. Thanks for taking the time to stand up and voice your opinion. I feel like you and I are going forward arm-in-arm to support and defend the Savior’s church. We may not see eye to eye on everything. But, we are pretty much on the very same page.

      Like

    1. Right. Exactly how I feel about him. I has been an inspiring pleasure to interact with him. Someday, when the church has become a safe place, he will be able to share his miracle in a sacrament meeting talk.

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  4. Sam, I really don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but I will anyway. The Nov change was not , in my opinion, a direct revelation from God to the Prophet. It was a Policy Change based on what was in the best interest of the Church as a whole. I am not an attorney, however, I see a lot of legal ramifications from the prior policy. With the active voices against the Church becoming louder with each passing year, I could see people coming out of the woodwork to sue. Especially the unhappy ex spouses. The great thing about policies is that they can be changed more easily than doctrine. The Leadership has protected the Church, the membersand it’s tithes and offerings ,from the those who could file frivilous lawsuits.
    Second, the list of those who oppose bothers me for a couple of reasons. First, there are names on that list who have been inactive for years. There is one I know who has told mutual friends that she has resigned and had her name removed. It was my understanding that your list was of people who were active members who opposed something for whatever reason. A list of Inactives who wouldn’t be at conferences to sustain or abstain or oppose aren’t saying anything.
    Lastly, one replyer called this action brave, showed courage and integrity. When one of these people who courageously oppose, and then go for a Temple Reccomend interview and answer the questions according to their conscience and opposition, are they being members of integrity? And if they are being honest to their Bishop and Stake President, and he signs it anyway, is there something wrong with that picture? This is troubling to me and I hope others see this dilemma. I did not attend the Temple for 10 years because I could not answer those questions honestly and didn’t return until I could. I know another person on the list who had already “left the church in her heart”, but went to her Bishop and SP and told them how she felt, and they gave her a recommend anyway. In that case, I would not be able to sustain that Priesthood holder. I do not feel that I could oppose. That would be something the Lord needs to take care of.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I get where you are coming from Janice. You say that the November change is a policy. I agree completely. Our doctrine says that policies are to be ratified by the membership at conference. The MANDATE of Christ is that “ALL things MUST be done by Common Consent in the Church.” We aren’t following the doctrine nor the commandments. This blatant disregard for our doctrine and open disobedience to Christ is getting the church into trouble. That’s my big issue. And thousands of people are leaving over it. I am not willing to sit silent as my friends and family exit because of the uncaring disobedience throughout the church. It appears that almost NOBODY else cares about people leaving. I DO. I am standing up for the church, for the Law of God, for our established doctrine and for my friends who can’t stand up for themselves.

      Like

  5. I understand your opposition and this is your vision for how you feel, through your interpretation of the scriptures, that the church should be run. I do not personally see how this can be done by just opposition. Someone(s) have to be in charge especially in policy making decisions. When we changed doctrine—polygamy, was put before the church in the form of the Manifesto. We have gotten to large to vote on every little thing that comes up within the church….that is IMHO.
    You conveniently missed the second part of my reply. That of the Temple and whether you can, in good conscience, vote opposed to sustaining the Leadership , and still attend the Temple. The entire Temple experience is about Jesus Christ and our obligations (covenants) with him. Just like you cannot pick and choose which part of the Temple experience you want to believe and obey, you can’t pick one aspect of the Gospel you want to believe and obey….Again IMHO. To me the Church and the Temple are one and the same. It is about obedience and faith. The entire Church is a matter of obedience and faith. My testimony is based on faith. I have not seen Jesus Christ or Heavenly Father, but I know they exist. The Temple experience has shown me that. The Leadership of the Church has shown me that. I do not believe that Heavenly Father would allow the Leadership to steer us away from His truth. I know there are some that say that they have. I don’t agree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Janice,

      Great questions. Thanks for posing them.

      1) Too large to vote on every little thing that comes up with the church? I don’t think the doctrine ever was to vote on every little thing. Rather “policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints” are mandated to be ratified by Common Consent. This is current church doctrine backed up by the words of Christ, “All things MUST be done by Common Consent in the church.” To say that we’ve gotten too big to live a mandate from the Head of the church sounds like a very dangerous position. No way am I going to take that one.

      2) I take the temple and temple covenants seriously. I have written over and over about this. So, what I’m going to say is repetitive. Here’s a quote from the article you are commenting on “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.” I just voted opposed. I was in the minority. I now sustain the apostles as the vote is binding on me and the church. The beauty of Christ’s model of governance is that the names will be put up for another vote at the next conference. I’d say Jesus is pretty serious about the whole process.

      3) “You cannot pick and choose which part of the Temple experience you want to believe and obey.” Exactly. I made a covenant to obey the Law of God. Whose Law is the Law of Common Consent? The Devil’s? Nope. It’s the law of God. I am not going to pick and choose. I’ve made a promise to obey this and all the Laws of God. Frankly, I believe that it’s other people who are picking and choosing when they ignore this clear and simple Law.

      4) “You cannot pick and choose which part of the Temple experience you want to believe and obey.” Here’s another covenant I am not going to ignore. “Avoid all unholy practices.” I view the exclusion of children from priesthood ordinances as an unholy practice. As I have prayed and gone to the temple the spirit has told me that in order to obey this covenant, I can’t stand silent and countenance this unholy practice. My temple promises ARE my guiding light here.

      5) “The entire Church is a matter of obedience and faith.” Exactly! The entire church should be obedient to the Law of Common Consent. And in faith! But, faith in what? The only saving principle is faith in Jesus Christ. I have faith that when Jesus gives a commandment 1) I should obey out of faith in Him, 2) There are actually ways to keep the commandment, 3) I should attempt to obey even when my friends tell me that Jesus’ laws are antiquated, hard to live, impractical, or…..the prophets can’t lead us astray, so don’t obey the law of common consent. My temple promises ARE my guiding light here.

      6) “I don’t agree.” Janice, I’m good with that. I respect your opinions. They are very good ones. However, your temple covenants may not have the same meaning as my covenants. If they do, then I invite you to start living the Law of Common Consent with me and 277 other members.

      I hope that helps clarify where I’m coming from. I have chosen my path precisely because of my faith in Jesus Christ and my desire to keep my temple covenants.

      Liked by 1 person

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