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5 hands among thousands mark rare votes of dissent during LDS Church’s General Conference

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SALT LAKE CITY – There were some rare votes of dissent Saturday in Salt Lake City at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ semi-annual General Conference, which is held each April and October, and this is reportedly the first time a vote in opposition has occurred at a conference session since the '80s.

During the Saturday afternoon session of the 185th semi-annual General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church, read the names of LDS Church leadership and asked members attending to raise their hand as a vote to sustain them as leaders, an event that occurs as part of the regular business of the semi-annual gathering and almost always proceeds with unanimous assent.

When it came to sustain the LDS Church’s First Presidency, at least five people raised their hands and some people could be heard shouting when opposing votes were called for.

"I stood up in the Tabernacle, raised my hand and said, 'I oppose' and sat back down," said Laura Pennock. "My heart was pounding. It was probably the scariest thing I've ever done."

The same five indicated dissent again when the vote to sustain the members of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was called. It did not appear the individuals opposed votes to sustain other leaders, and business proceeded as normal as the votes to sustain continued.  After the first shouts during the call for opposing votes is heard, Uchtdorf says, 'The vote has been noted' then continues to the other sustaining votes. He made a similar comment after the second round of shouts. See the video below for the exchange.

While a few hands and shouts among a crowd estimated at about 22,000 people may seem minor, an LDS Church spokesman said he could not remember the last time anyone had voted opposed during General Conference. Members who voted in opposition Saturday said they are the first to do so during a session of General Conference since sometime in the 1980s; LDS Church officials did not offer a specific date for the last such vote.

Some LDS Church members said they felt this most recent vote of opposition was not appropriate to the setting.

"I think people have a right to oppose things, I just think there is a time and place to do it--and the time and place to do it is not inside the general assembly," said LDS Church member Julie Ann Debenham.

After the end of the sustaining votes—most of which appeared to proceed with unanimous assent--Uchtdorf made a brief statement regarding those who opposed the proposals, and when contacted about the incident LDS Church Spokesman Eric Hawkins directed FOX 13 News to that comment and said people with concerns should contact their local leaders.

Uchtdorf stated during the conference: “We invite those who oppose any of the proposals to contact their Stake Presidents. My dear brothers and sisters, we thank you for your faith and prayers in behalf of the leaders of the church.” See the video below for that comment.

Stake Presidents are regional LDS Church leaders who oversee a stake, which is made up of several local LDS congregations called wards.

However, some of those who voted in opposition said they have already tried speaking with local leaders about their concerns.

"I have other friends, they've tried, and they hit the glass ceiling that is basically the stake presidency level," Melissa Martinez said.

The dissenting votes were planned in advance, according to a press release sent to FOX 13 News. LDS Church member Don Braegger told FOX 13 News he was among those who voted in opposition, and he cited recent excommunications of prominent critics within the LDS Church, among other things, as his reasons.

"With the recent excommunications of Kate Kelly and John Dehlin and some others, it has seemed, to a lot of us, that the church is trying to stifle an open voice and an open conversation," he told FOX 13 News.

Danell Roberts also attended the session of conference, but she was among the thousands who voted yes and she spoke about the opposing votes.

“It’s disappointing to me; it made me feel sad that someone would oppose, especially, the prophet of God," she said. "It was very sad to me to see that evil is coming in and people are doubting, losing their faith."

Braegger sent a statement about the decision to vote opposed, and in it he described himself as an LDS Church member "in good standing" who comes from "pioneer stock" and who served an LDS mission and in various church callings in his life. While the event was organized under the name "Any Opposed" and the Twitter handle @AnyOpposed, Braegger stated it isn't an organized effort with specific goals for change.

"I do not have a blog, I am not part of any organized effort to change policies or doctrines of the Church. I do not wish to convince family members, friends or membership of the Church at large that they should share my concerns and doubt their faith. But like the little boy from the childhood fable, I must state what I see and proclaim “The Emperor has no Clothes! In doing so I realize that I risk ridicule, alienation from family and potential disciplinary action from Church Leadership. I purposefully take these risks in order to have personal integrity.”

In the statement Braegger cited things like the LDS Church's previous policy of not ordaining members of African descent to the priesthood as well as recently released essays on topics from the LDS Church's history that include polygamy and LDS Church founder Joseph Smith marrying a girl just prior to her 15th birthday.

General Conference has multiple 2-hour sessions Saturday and Sunday, and those sessions are streamed online by the LDS Church. Click here for more information and to view the live stream.

374 comments

  • MR.REALE

    The reason for voting anything in a open meeting is that you understand the possibility to have supporters or dissents to your cause. What’s the point in asking for people to manifest their support if you only accept “yes” as answer? The fact is that they demonstrated courage and, as far as I know, in a respectfully way. Would be no surprise if such expressions happen more frequently in future gatherings.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    People who look for the beauty of a rose will find it while people for looking ugly will only see the thorns. Its an attitude thing. Those who insist that they are a mistreated minority are justified while those who concentrate on making this world a better place will move beyond self imposed slavery.

  • Amravin de Schur

    The official position of the LDS Church’s PR offices is this: The Prophets were also humans, the race dogma was never part of the official dogma of the LDS Church (of course they lie on this), and the Church does not adhere to what Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and their cronies preached about the African Diaspora. Unfortunately, that statement is not enough healing to improve the problem they have caused by brainwashing a whole U.S. state with eugenic ideologies focused on White Supremacy for two hundred years. All of the scholars related to this subject know very well of the intricacies that unite the Racism/Anti-Semitism that has prevailed first in the USA and then in Nazi Germany. This book should give you an idea of why many white scholars prefer not to mention the dirty little secret of the damnation of Blacks. To be honest, I see a disconnect between the narratives that white and black researchers have on the same subject. White thinkers and researchers may be purposely evading the implications of eugenics in the historical development of the “mystical racism” invented by the Mormons, because they may not want to be a part of the disarray that the confrontation of such narratives would mean to the American Public.

    Dr. De Gruy has written quite a lot on the subject, but from the perspective of those who were harmed by the hate mongering religious language (“Blacks are damned, cuz God told me so!”).
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/076791547X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=076791547X&linkCode=as2&tag=forhar-20&linkId=AIRNOGBL44HWFCIG

  • Nick Diesel

    The original Apostles replaced Judas Iscariot by a vote of 120 (or more), the legal number in Ancient Israel needed to authorize a leader, which is to say that a popular vote or acknowledgement is not new to the Lord’s church. Though not a republic, the Church acknowledges the feelings and opinions of its members.

  • GreyWolf

    I have been lds for 41 yrs now ,never have i seen such a display , i haven’t always been happy with church decisions either. but ! I respected it , asked questions , and talked about it , and prayed about it till i was happy with the answer. The conclusion I see here is a few people going through the motions, but who are not, as yet, truly converted. They may think they are , but truly aren’t, or they would never question things the way they did. Evil creeps in everywhere and in the oddest places. You either blieve ALLOF IT or NONE OF IT , you don’t get to pick and choose . Pluck the log from your own eyes, before you look for the mote in someone else’s eye. SAD truly SAD !

    • Amravin de Schur

      ANOTHERBOB — The Mormon Church silences their objectors for all the wrong reasons. To their leaders, it doesn’t matter if their followers do not believe in the dogmas of Mormonism. Their bigotry goes as far as seeking to control society outside the boundaries of their own religion. Such behavior is unacceptable, as it defies the separation between Church and State. The Mormons are acting like bigots. In their two amicus curiae briefs they filed in U.S. Courts, the Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Presbyterians were conspicuously absent from the coalition. Most Christian groups abstain from participating in such a witch hunt action, because it is unethical.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    Some people spend their lives looking for offense while others appreciate life and look for ways to help others. That’s why I appreciate what the LDS Church does to help those in need.

    • Amravin de Schur

      The “help” that the Mormons give to those “in need” is part of the pattern of ecological fascism practiced by its leaders. All their organizations are protected under the NGO non profit status. They need to practice “charitable” activity (even if the activity only covers profit ventures that benefit insiders), in order to keep their tax exemption. The inhumane way they treat homeless people in the Deseret Industries of Utah is part of the reason why their acts qualify for the label of eco-fascism. Don’t get me wrong. I am not answering to you, ANOTHERBOB. You simply give me an opportunity to unveil the parts of Mormonism that are invisible to people from the outside. Each of your arguments is unsupported and on the contrary completely visible through legitimate counter-arguments that are part of today’s society and culture. People have the right to know what the Mormon Church really is, and why they should not baptize if they don’t have all the information regarding the dark aspects of that organization.
      http://home.ca.inter.net/~greenweb/Ecofascism.html

  • ANOTHERBOB

    Re: AMRAVIN DE SCHUR – First you say we shouldn’t suppress another person’s opinion, then you say we shouldn’t attacking individuals, and then you condemn the Mormons.

    Is it do what I say and not what I do Amravin?

  • ANOTHERBOB

    Amravin – People who attempt to play the race card in today’s world need to throw away their crutches and stand on their own two feet. The racist card was overplayed long ago. Get over it.

    • Amravin de Schur

      STUART MCDONALD AND ANOTHERBOB — The Doctrine of The Curse of Cain, a dogma invented by the white supremacists who created the religion of Mormonism, is the real racism. Please do not twist reality to confuse those who aren’t informed of the true history of Mormonism, because The Truth can be found today in many sources, not created by myself. Are you denying that these speakers were members of the LDS Church talking to the public? “Indians ate people”? “Blacks are cursed by the “revelations” of the pioneers”?
      https://youtu.be/yk2GyccN26E

    • Sean

      People that have facts tend to show their sources openly. And after listening to the whole thing any Morman would know at least some of it is downright untruthful. Every Morman Priesthood holder knows the churches position on pornography. There is no flexibility. It is a sin. If he will lie about that he could make it all up

      • Amravin de Schur

        SEAN — No thinking person is a Mormon. Even teenagers joke at the statue of Brigham Young in downtown Salt Lake City, as BY has his back to the Mormon Temple with his hand reaching out to Zion’s First National Bank.

        If you are really interested in Mormon history read Fawn Brodie’s fine book “No Man Knows My History.” Brodie was a niece of one of the most beloved Mormon Presidents who set out to write a glowing biography of Church founder Joseph Smith. Being a journalist she followed the evidence, but she ended up writing a book that showed Smith to be a liar and a criminal based on public records and first hand reports about him.

        Even knowing the real facts about the founding of the church, essentially understanding that the whole thing is a giant fraud perpetrated by a convicted con-artist does not even help the Mormon people to wake up, because they live in fear and mental starvation through scare tactics and peer pressure by those whose main interest is keeping people trapped in a delusive cult.

      • David Whittington

        Amravin – Excellent comments. Fawn Brodie was a well respected biographer. Fawn Brodie produced award winning biographies of Thaddeus Stevens and Thomas Jefferson and Richard Nixon as well as her seminal biography of Joseph Smith: No Man Knows My History. Fawn Brodie was given unprecedented access to Church historical documents because The Church thought Fawn would write the typical sanitized and fictional yarns about the buried metal plates and the magic translations that followed using ‘seer stones’. But Fawn stuck to writing FACTS – which is what excellent biographers do. Fawn saw Joesph Smith as he really was – a con man and huckster who knew if he could somehow start his own church he could get free money and other favors from his followers. Joseph Smith manufactured the metal plates himself and the ‘translation’ from behind a screen was simply Joseph reading from text he had already prepared. Joseph Smith was also a 32nd Degree Freemason, and Joseph plagiarized Freemason rituals and incorporated the Freemason rituals into Temple rituals that are still practiced today. Fawn Brodie’s book changed my life. I would encourage ALL Mormon’s and potential converts to read this book. Before all the Bob’s and other fundamentalist religious zealots who post here label me ‘anti-Mormon’, let me assure you I am NOT anti-Mormon – I am anti-Joseph Smith. Some of the finest, honest, hard-working people I know today are Mormons. Rank and file Mormons today are GREAT. Joseph Smith was a thief and adulterer and con man and was even a murderer through the use of his contract hit-man Porter Rockwell. There is NO way Joseph Smith was God’s ‘Chosen Prophet’ !

      • Amravin de Schur

        DAVID WHITTINGTON — Thank you. I am always assured that someone who is not trapped in the cult is co-reading these conversations and thinking neutrally about the problem.

      • Amravin de Schur

        Mormonism, either mainstream or fundamentalist, is a nauseating piece of fascist crap. Their standpoint actually says, “I have nothing against blacks, my neighbors are blacks… but.. they were sent to earth to suffer, because they sinned before they were born, because Brigham and his cronies said so. The people aren’t guilty, because they were born and raised in that cult that stole their freedom of thought. They were brainwashed to believe that those subliminal messages of hate are “true”. And they are trapped for life in a peer pressure organization that does not let them ask questions, or differ. They cannot think too deep. Their minds are like dead. The State of Utah is a planet of Zombies. Soft Nazis, that won’t kill the minorities, because they would have to respond for crimes against humanity. But, they do everything else they can, to keep them down… deep in the crap, because that’s how they learned to treat those who by the power of some racist leaders were condemned to eternal damnation for having been born “Native Americans” or “Africans”… It’s too transparently nasty to pretend it’s not real. The problem is, the public is so maliciously brainwashed, that they are not supposed to disagree. Look what happened to John Dehlin. He was excommunicated, for the sole crime of THINKING out of that perverted box.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    AMRAVIN DE SCHUR – How do you explain all the Blacks who are joining the LDS Church in Africa? What is it that they know that is a mystery to you?

  • ANOTHERBOB

    AMRAVIN DE SCHUR – i suppose you were excited to read that the LDS Church is building a new temple on the Ivory Coast in Africa for the Africans who are flocking to the church.

  • Dan Jazz

    According to the story of The Council In Heaven, if people followed Satan’s way, followers would not have free agency, but would succeed in reaching the highest glory. Jesus’s way was to give everyone free agency. It doesn’t take too much thought to realize that the two plans amount to about the same thing. Members can exercise their free agency to disagree or dissent, but the catch 22 is that if their actions or decisions disagree with church doctrine or revelation, they will not attain the highest glory.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    AMRAVIN DE SCHUR – After giving it some serious thought the verdict is in. Calling the Blacks in Africa you don’t agree with “uninformed” is a racist comment. The word “hypocrite” must now be added to your resume.

  • Amravin de Schur

    “THE PURPOSES AND TACTICS OF COERCIVE PERSUASION
    Coercive persuasion or thought reform as it is sometimes known, is best understood as a coordinated system of graduated coercive influence and behavior control designed to deceptively and surreptitiously manipulate and influence individuals, usually in a group setting, in order for the originators of the program to profit in some way, normally financially or politically.
    The essential strategy used by those operating such programs is to systematically select, sequence and coordinate numerous coercive persuasion tactics over CONTINUOUS PERIODS OF TIME. There are seven main tactic types found in various combinations in a coercive persuasion program. A coercive persuasion program can still be quite effective without the presence of ALL seven of these tactic types.
    TACTIC 1. The individual is prepared for thought reform through increased suggestibility and/or “softening up,” specifically through hypnotic or other suggestibility-increasing techniques such as: A. Extended audio, visual, verbal, or tactile fixation drills; B. Excessive exact repetition of routine activities; C. Decreased sleep; D. Nutritional restriction.
    TACTIC 2. Using rewards and punishments, efforts are made to establish considerable control over a person’s social environment, time, and sources of social support. Social isolation is promoted. Contact with family and friends is abridged, as is contact with persons who do not share group-approved attitudes. Economic and other dependence on the group is fostered. (In the forerunner to coercive persuasion, brainwashing, this was rather easy to achieve through simple imprisonment.)

    TACTIC 3. Disconfirming information and nonsupporting opinions are prohibited in group communication. Rules exist about permissible topics to discuss with outsiders. Communication is highly controlled. An “in-group” language is usually constructed.
    TACTIC 4. Frequent and intense attempts are made to cause a person to re-evaluate the most central aspects of his or her experience of self and prior conduct in negative ways. Efforts are designed to destabilize and undermine the subject’s basic consciousness, reality awareness, world view, emotional control, and defense mechanisms as well as getting them to reinterpret their life’s history, and adopt a new version of causality.
    TACTIC 5. Intense and frequent attempts are made to undermine a person’s confidence in himself and his judgment, creating a sense of powerlessness.
    TACTIC 6. Nonphysical punishments are used such as intense humiliation, loss of privilege, social isolation, social status changes, intense guilt, anxiety, manipulation and other techniques for creating strong aversive emotional arousals, etc.
    TACTIC 7. Certain secular psychological threats [force] are used or are present: That failure to adopt the approved attitude, belief, or consequent behavior will lead to severe punishment or dire consequence, (e.g. physical or mental illness, the reappearance of a prior physical illness, drug dependence, economic collapse, social failure, divorce, disintegration, failure to find a mate, etc.).
    Another set of criteria has to do with defining other common elements of mind control systems. If most of Robert Jay Lifton’s eight point model of thought reform is being used in a cultic organization, it is most likely a dangerous and destructive cult. These eight points follow:
    Robert Jay Lifton’s Eight Point Model of Thought Reform
    1. ENVIRONMENT CONTROL. Limitation of many/all forms of communication with those outside the group. Books, magazines, letters and visits with friends and family are taboo. “Come out and be separate!”
    2. MYSTICAL MANIPULATION. The potential convert to the group becomes convinced of the higher purpose and special calling of the group through a profound encounter / experience, for example, through an alleged miracle or prophetic word of those in the group.
    3. DEMAND FOR PURITY. An explicit goal of the group is to bring about some kind of change, whether it be on a global, social, or personal level. “Perfection is possible if one stays with the group and is committed.”
    4. CULT OF CONFESSION. The unhealthy practice of self disclosure to members in the group. Often in the context of a public gathering in the group, admitting past sins and imperfections, even doubts about the group and critical thoughts about the integrity of the leaders.
    5. SACRED SCIENCE. The group’s perspective is absolutely true and completely adequate to explain EVERYTHING. The doctrine is not subject to amendments or question. ABSOLUTE conformity to the doctrine is required.
    6. LOADED LANGUAGE. A new vocabulary emerges within the context of the group. Group members “think” within the very abstract and narrow parameters of the group’s doctrine. The terminology sufficiently stops members from thinking critically by reinforcing a “black and white” mentality. Loaded terms and clichés prejudice thinking.
    7. DOCTRINE OVER PERSON. Pre-group experience and group experience are narrowly and decisively interpreted through the absolute doctrine, even when experience contradicts the doctrine.
    8. DISPENSING OF EXISTENCE. Salvation is possible only in the group. Those who leave the group are doomed.

    • Samuel

      Maybe people should simply learn what they desire to know for themselves, and then be content, instead of fighting a war of words and ideas based off of what they’ve heard, and based off a book they haven’t sincerely read.

  • Amravin de Schur

    The people in Utah have been indoctrinated to believe with the full of their hearts that those who were disobedient and lazy and dirty and bad, were the Blacks. White-Anglosaxon born people were already blessed from their birth, because they obeyed God. This whole delusion is why the Mormons are seen as a cult. The LDS Racism that started in 1837 has not been bettered with the inclusion of Blacks into the Priesthood. Even culturally relevant Blacks who live in Utah, declare in tears that they have lived for so long in that strange state, to suffer all kinds of abuses and discrimination based on their color of their skin and their physiognomy (“And the sign to recognize the curse is the flat nose and the dark skin” — this is Mormon doctrine).
    https://youtu.be/6WAiz77yW50

  • Amravin de Schur

    “What kind of God uses the skin pigmentation of a people, and allows it to go from light to dark and from dark to light? How come NAZI Germany was ‘white and delightsome’?” The racial ideology that Joseph Smith implanted in the book of Mormon and the racism invented by the Mormon “Prophets” (all of them went to prison on federal charges) is nothing but RACISM. The Mormon Church has never apologized for implanting that brainwash in their people and for chastising the public as maliciously against those whose skin had “color”.
    https://youtu.be/wqTaHdzRHBs

  • Amravin de Schur

    The whole story of the Mormon racism is an ethical dilemma that won’t find a solution, no matter how many colored people they may hire today as tokens, their history is filthy, full of racist hatred and unsightly to anyone who seriously believes in the existence of Goodness among the Human Family. Spencer Kimball simply took too long to stop that collective delusion. The slow motion in which the “Manifesto” came about, may have been slowed down because these folks were all too busy stealing and repossessing the goods that the Natives in Utah owned from the beginning. What they have created is a society and culture where they have produced the mental conditions to abuse and use the rights of others for the benefit of their “own kind” (Anglosaxons). A filthy ideology was that Curse of Cain. No wonder they went to prison. And such ideologies do not vanish away in such a short time. The majority of the people in Utah still believes in such horrendous racist curses.

    https://youtu.be/wqTaHdzRHBs

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