|From the #ISustain campaign|
After at least seven LDS members at last count raised their hands in opposition to sustaining the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve on April 4th, 2015 during the Saturday Afternoon General Session of the 185th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, faithful LDS members are launching a counter-offensive online to show that the dissidents do not speak for rank-and-file Church members. They have launched the #ISustain campaign.
But first, let's have a roundup of all the information published by the Utah media about the dissidents as of April 6th. The primary media sources are KSTU Channel 13 and the Salt Lake Tribune, and the dissidents reportedly were motivated by and announced their intentions in advance on the AnyOpposed.org website. At last count, there were at least seven dissidents. Six of them attended the session at the Conference Center and also shouted "Opposed", while one of them was in attendance at the Tabernacle, which was designated one of the overflow venues for those unable to get tickets into the Conference Center. Four of the dissidents have been identified by name. At the Conference Center were Don Braegger, M'lisa D. Martinez Glyndwr, Micah Nickolaisen, while Laura Pennock was at the Tabernacle; all identified as LDS members, and Braegger's "pedigree" includes service in a bishopric and a member of a stake presidency. After the No votes were manifested, President Dieter Uchtdorf made a brief statement regarding those who opposed the proposals, saying “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.” Unlike in previous similar situations, the dissidents were not asked to leave by security. LDS Living published an explanation of the voting procedure.
After the session, Don Braegger said he filled a Mormon mission and served in an LDS bishopric and stake presidency, and his concerns are the perception that LDS history is rife with disturbing episodes, that the faith does not treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons fairly or offer wide enough roles for women. Separately, Laura Pennock said she is also is unhappy with the excommunications of Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly and podcaster John Dehlin, and M'lisa D. Martinez Glyndwr opined that her efforts to speak with local leaders about their concerns have been fruitless, characterizing the stake presidency as a "glass ceiling".
Meanwhile, faithful LDS members are already firing back and proclaiming their renewed loyalty to Jesus Christ, his top servants, and the Church. LDS.net reports the emergence of the #ISustain campaign, where LDS members are pledging their continued loyalty towards the Brethren. Loyalty does NOT mean infallibility; it simply means AUTHORITY. We recognize that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve has been chosen by the Lord, set apart under proper authority, and, to the best of our knowledge, have engaged in no ethically or morally disqualifying behavior while in office. A good example of this was posted by April McMurtney, who also published a blog post to SomethingToShoutAbout.org
“So, to sustain my prophet, whom I love dearly, I will do something to show my support. I will defend him. I will share his words. I will do what I have been counseled to do during this conference and all the others. Then, slowly, I will begin to become something better. I will not just say I will do something, or intend to be better, or raise my hand without thought. I will commit to KEEP TRYING, until I become more like my Savior. I think that’s what he would want, and what the Lord would want.”
One LDS member may have gotten a bit carried away and reproved the seven with a bit too much "sharpness". BYU running backs coach Mark Atuaia tweeted Saturday that those opposed should go see their stake presidents, as President Dieter Uchtdorf suggested to opponents, "Then find me and oppose those beloved men in front of me and witness how I sin," Atuaia tweeted. Many respondents accused Atuaia of bullying; later, he backed down a bit, acknowledging he could have phrased his reaction to the conference opposers better. But he will not apologize for standing up for Thomas S. Monson, his counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve to those that oppose them. He maintains the dissidents did not follow protocol, which is to raise one's hand but not speak when voting to sustain or not sustain leaders. But "sharpness" should never mean "abuse"; it means clarity, and must always be accompanied by an increase of love thereafter (D&C 121:43).
No weapon formed against us will prosper.
As for the fate of the "seven", it is too early to speculate about disciplinary councils. The real problem is not so much that they raised their hands to vote No, but that they appeared to have orchestrated it in advance. Undoubtedly, the four who identified themselves by name will be called in by their bishops and asked to explain themselves, but they'll be offered an opportunity to repent and recant before facing disfellowshipment or excommunication. If they have temple recommends, they will likely be pulled. Because Don Braegger is the most outspoken, holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, and has a portfolio of past leadership positions, he is the one most likely to be subject to a disciplinary council, but just as Denver Snuffer, Kate Kelly, and John Dehlin were offered numerous opportunities to repent in advance, the same consideration will be given to Braegger. Sadly, this post by Braegger on Reddit, along with his subsequent responses, indicate he may already be on his way out of the LDS Church in his heart.