Any Opposed?: Weekend Poll

By: wheatmeister
September 8, 2012

We all know the drill.  Someone is called and we are asked for a sustaining vote.  Maybe it’s a bishop who micromanages and has a world-class ego.  Maybe it’s a nursery leader who hates kids.  Maybe it’s a gospel doctrine teacher who is the world’s most boring person.  Maybe it’s a relief society president who is irritatingly sweet yet stabs people in the back.  Maybe it’s a YM being advanced in the priesthood who doesn’t treat the YW with respect.

Have you ever been in the “anyone opposed” category?

What you have done when you have felt "opposed" to someone's calling? (choose the best answer)

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14 Responses to Any Opposed?: Weekend Poll

  1. ji on September 8, 2012 at 3:12 PM

    I have never been opposed. I have never felt the need to substitute my judgment for that of him who is issuing the call, and I have never known anything that, if known by the man issuing the call, would have been a basis for reconsideration.

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  2. Ray on September 8, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    I have never felt strongly enough about something to oppose formally by raising my hand, but I certainly would if I felt I knew something that must have been hidden by someone being presented for a position.

    At the extreme, it would be a convicted serial pedophile being called to teach Primary, but I would have a hard time sustaining a Young Man to be ordained a Priest or Elder, for example, whom I knew regularly got drunk and was having sex with his girlfriend or boyfriend. In the first instance, I would raise my hand in opposition; in the second case, I probably would talk with the leader privately immediately following the meeting – before the ordination could occur. That would be true especially if I knew others were aware of the young man’s activities.

    Generally, I would err on the side of not embarrassing the person publicly but addressing it privately.

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  3. Julia on September 8, 2012 at 9:08 PM

    When I was working in our school district’s alternative education program, I was often aware of circumstances that a bishop (and sometimes even the parents) was not aware of. There were three different times where I was aware of things that a young man or young woman was involved in that would be problematic. Only one actually involved sustaining in a church meeting.

    Once was when a young man would have been ordained a priest, and the other two were young women who were planning on attending a youth temple trip. With the young women, I knew the temple trip was coming up, and I let them know ahead of time that I needed to let the bishop know about their drug use.

    With the young man, I hadn’t realized the bishop didn’t know the circumstances. I was pretty torn, especially because he wasn’t one of my students, it was his pregnant girl friend that was in my class. I prayed all through fast and testimony meeting, and by the closing hymn, I felt that talking to the bishop quickly, was the appropriate course of action.

    I don’t know if the young man knew that I was the one who told the bishop, but he was not ordained that Sunday. He was ordained a priest about six months later. I was at his girlfriend’s baptism the following week, where he baptized her a member. They were married about a month before their son was born. (I believe they were waiting until after her 17th birthday so they didn’t need a special license.)

    Seven or eught years later, I happened to be visiting the ward that the young couple lived in, (another friend had a baby being blessed) when he gave a talk on the priesthood. Most of the talk was directed to the young men and their families. He emphasized that being a deacon, teacher or priest was more than just a class during third hour, and about how much more he appreciated his priesthood service after waiting to be ordained a priest.

    I have been aware of a calling that I felt should not have been given, and if I had been there the Sunday the person was sustained, I would have raised my hand in not sustaining. By the time I heard about it, he had been released, (after two weeks) so I am guessing I was not the only one who was concerned.

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  4. Douglas on September 8, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    There’d have to be a compelling reason for me to “vote” nay…if I simply don’t like the person, that’s not sufficient, nor is there having “run-of-the-mill” deficiencies. Else, it’s better just to go with the flow.

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  5. el oso on September 9, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    I have made sure the Bishop found out later and could take appropriate action or inaction. In one instance his counselor had chewed me out a few weeks before for trying to get another person a HT assignment who had a similar (but more publicly known) problem.
    For a high-profile calling (ward council) or MP ordination I would probably oppose publicly, but that has not yet been an issue. I now have a teenager, so my interaction with potentially wayward youth is increasing.

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  6. NewlyHousewife on September 9, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Never been in a situation to oppose mainly because I was not in attendance the day the person was sustained, or I was not a member of the ward/stake.

    Are non-ward/stake-member oppose votes counted, or at least taken into consideration? I know at least for myself as a teen if anyone knew about my actions it would be members of other wards since I didn’t hang out with my Wednesday/Sunday attendees.

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  7. ji on September 9, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    NewlyHousewife (no. 6) — Only the votes of members of that unit count — Church members visiting another unit are invited to join in the sustaining, but their no votes, if any, don’t count.

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  8. Ray on September 9, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    ji is correct, but there is no restriction against members of other units talking with Bishops, Branch Presidents, Stake Presidents, etc. other than their own if they are aware of serious issues that would affect callings.

    For a rather extreme example, if someone in a different ward was aware that someone being presented for just about any official calling was committing adultery or guilty of sexual abuse of a spouse or child, that person would be expected to talk with the local leader issuing the calling – just like a member of the person’s ward or branch. The objection might not be “official”, but it would be expected.

    Of course, in the case of sexual abuse of a child, especially, the person should report it to legal authorities and not wait for a calling to be extended before talking with someone.

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  9. Justin on September 9, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    Holy moly — 83% of LDS participating here have either never been opposed to any calling for any reason, or have been opposed but either raised their hand in favor anyway or just didn’t raise their hand at all ??

    I’ve found voting “opposed” more often can spice up an otherwise lack-luster or bland church experience [which is why I included it as an option for "spicing up one's church experience", in a post I wrote on that subject].

    Personally — I’ve been voting based on the rationale that D&C 121:39 states:

    that it is the nature and disposition
    of almost all men [not women]
    as soon as they get a little authority
    as they suppose
    they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion

    So that unless I know for certain otherwise — I just vote in accordance with the most likely nature and disposition:
    For all women who are called to a position, whose character I am unfamiliar with, I raise my hand in the affirmative — unless the Spirit tells me explicitly to oppose.

    For all men who are called to a position, whose character I am unfamiliar with, I raise my hand in opposition — unless the Spirit tells me explicitly to affirm.

    If I come across a woman who indicates that she believes in maintaining the power or influence of any priesthood holder by virtue of his priesthood office and calling alone — then I make a note to vote against her next time her name comes up.

    If I come across a man who indicates that he gives no regard to the priesthood office of another man, and that his only qualifications for following, or being influenced by, another person are those found in D&C 121:41-45 — then I make a note to vote for him next time his name comes up.

    But people could also just vote however their conscience falls on the matter on that particular day — whatever — the point is – it does not matter what the reason for your vote is, it only matters what the vote is. Even if your reason is totally ludicrous, your vote is still valid.

    People think that a single vote won’t change anything — because by the voice of a majority, the calling still passes. However, if each week there is a single vote against, the claim to unanimity can no longer be made.

    Even closed-minded people are naturally curious — and everyone always remembers if there was a time that someone voted against a calling.

    The event is powerful and eventually certain members of the congregation began approaching me and asking why I raise my hand in opposition. It’s been a great teaching opportunity — and a better way for me to get to know fellow-members.

    In a secret ballot [like our state elections], a solitary vote against is essentially meaningless. But in the church, we have an open vote, where everyone in the congregation can see that one, contrary vote taking place.

    It can be quite powerful — especially if it becomes a common occurrence. Add two votes to the contrary and it becomes downright dangerous to any would-be priesthood abusers.

    We are told that the practice of taking a dissenting member aside to find out the reason for their dissenting vote is a way to see if they have information on the worthiness of the person being called, which if known to the leader might make them reconsider the calling. But that is just how it is presented.

    In reality, taking aside and interviewing is a method of control. Leaders know there are secret dissenters among every congregation, meaning members who have dissension in their hearts but do not actively manifest it — but to discipline them, they have to get them to divulge their angst and get some dirt on them by which they can either be forced to conform to the standard of unanimity or be disciplined in some manner.

    This is why the leadership have gotten to the point where they don’t use the word “vote” any more. The act of raising your hand for [not against] is called “sustaining” — while raising your hand against is always called “not sustaining” — and it is continuously taught that it is your duty to “sustain our leaders” [presumably by raising your hand for them].

    By getting away from the word “vote” [which has no stigma if you vote your conscience] — and by using the word “sustain”, the leadership have invented a new sin and multiplied guilt and fear.

    Now everyone is afraid to exercise their voice of consent and the priesthood is free to engage in ecclesiastical abuse with nothing to hinder its progress – without the voice of the congregation to keep them in check.

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  10. Mormon Heretic on September 10, 2012 at 1:25 AM

    I will admit that in an Institute class, the teacher asked me to be the class leader. I wasn’t really fond of the idea, and didn’t really want to do it. When he asked for a sustaining vote for me, I was the only one that raised my hand in opposition. It didn’t matter. I was still class leader. :|

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  11. Hedgehog on September 11, 2012 at 2:54 AM

    As a child I remember someone opposing. I don’t know why, but I do recall hearing someone sitting behind me say how brave that was. I haven’t opposed myself, but would if I had a very good reason for doing so.

    It always reminds me of the traditional wedding ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’. If we as a people were more inclined to oppose when necessary, then any problems known to some (even if not to the Bishopric) may mean they would be more likely to be mentioned by that individual at the time of interview, and the call subsequently not extended… To what extent are those who sustain, in spite of any pertinent knowledge against, responsible for any fallout if a bad mistake has been made?

    Historically however, weren’t calls often made without interview? Perhaps now that prior interview is the norm, the vote is seen more as a formality.

    A few months ago one of our Primary children asked why we have the sustaining of all church officers in General Conference, and I explained the principle of common consent, and that we all need to have the opportunity to show our feeling.

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  12. FireTag on September 13, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Pure curiosity. Do you have procedures to ensure that those voting to sustain are actually ward/stake members? I ask because the CofChrist is about to elect delegates to what may be a contentious National Conference, and our “stake” is not following the loose procedures that have been in place in the past.

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  13. Julia on September 13, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    Someone who has been in priesthood leadership may know more than me, but this is what I have seen, or have been told.

    This information is from notes I took at a Ward Council Meeting about four years ago.

    Bishops and Bishopbric members are expected to know the members of their ward, whether there is a vote on callings or not. Anyone who is in sacrament meeting, that is not known, should be welcomed by the Relief Society president and/or the Bishopbric.

    If they are visitors who are members, they should be welcomed, and introduced as such in the classes they attend.

    If they are new members, they should be welcomed, and introduced as such in the classes they attend, their information gathered so their records can be obtained, and if they have primary children, an introduction of the parents and child to someone in the Primary presidency should happen on that first Sunday. Any teenagers should be invited to their age group classes, and the Young Men or Young Women’s presidency should obtain contact information for the teen(s).

    If they are investigators or nonmembers who are interested in the church, one of the ward missionaries should invite the adult(s) to Gospel Essentials and any teenagers or children should be invited to their age group classes.

    This information was from a stake training (I am pretty sure it was a combined RS/Priesthood leader training) in 2005. It is quite a bit older, so there may have been changes I don’t know about, and some things may be peculiar to that stake.

    In general, no one present in a sacrament meeting should be discouraged from sustaining new callings.

    If someone is under church disciple, and has been asked not to participate in sustaining, it is the Bishopbric’s job to note and discuss any “infraction” that may occur. Not even parents should be monitoring their teenage children who may be under church discipline, since they will not be aware if the bishop has decided that more church privileges are appropriate.

    The only time someone, not under church discipline, should be approached about their vote is when they oppose a calling being extended, or against the resustaining of a current calling at ward or stake conference. Only a Bishopbric mber should discuss the reasons for voting as opposed. No member should feel that they can’t vote their conscience. (I then wrote “see political statements on conscience”)

    So, those are the things I have heard from ward or stake leadership. I don’t know if that helps or not.

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  14. [...] Justin, commenting on wheatmeister’s post “Any Opposed?: Weekend Poll” at W&T: I’ve found voting “opposed” more often can spice up an otherwise lack-luster or bland church experience [...]

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