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'All is not well in Zion,' says small band who voted against Mormon leaders

Published April 19, 2015 8:31 am

'Opposed' • At least seven people show their dissent during leadership affirmation.
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For the first time in decades, Latter-day Saints who disagree with their church stood during General Conference on Saturday and publicly shouted "opposed" to sustaining the top Mormon leaders.

At least seven people rose in dissent as part of an action by a loosely organized group calling itself "Any Opposed?"

Conversely, thousands of Mormons in the Conference Center silently raised their hands to show their support for the faith's governing First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.



The opponents did not say more during the afternoon session, but one of those who stood, American Fork resident Don Braegger, said the group has a variety of concerns, including 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.

Unlike in the 1970s and '80s, when opponents were removed from General Conference after voicing "no" votes, Saturday's opponents remained for the rest of the afternoon meeting.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor to President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, noted the contrary votes each time they were cast by replying, "The vote has been noted."

After a long series of announcements of changes in church leadership, Uchtdorf suggested any who voted "opposed" to consult their stake presidents, regional LDS leaders who oversee a number of congregations.

In a statement at the anyopposed.org website Saturday, the group's participants attempted to explain their action to fellow Mormons.

"We are members of the church just like you. We have spent our whole lives in dedicated church service. We are return missionaries, Primary teachers, Relief Society presidents, and Elders Quorum instructors. We are mothers and fathers who want the best for our children," the statement said. "Like you, we have wrapped our entire lives and our fundamental identities around the wonderful promises of the Gospel."

Those involved in the group have their individual reasons for their opposing votes, the statement said. They have "doubted our doubts" for months, years and decades, and have "tried desperately to lower our expectations and remain faithful to our covenants and keep our families together."

" ... For ourselves, and for the thousands of Latter-day Saints who find themselves marginalized by our families and communities, we are here to say, 'All is not well in Zion.' "

Braegger — a descendant of Mormon pioneers who reported contributing more than $250,000 in tithes and offerings in his decades in the church — said he filled a Mormon mission, has served in LDS bishoprics and a stake high council, and worked in the temple.

He said he began losing faith in Mormon leaders a year ago after reading essays that the church posted on its website to answer thorny doctrinal or historical issues.

Braegger said he had always been diligent about avoiding "anti-Mormon" rantings, but when he read these articles, he found himself "quickly realizing that I and all members of the LDS Church have been lied to for decades regarding some pivotal claims of our church and its leadership."

Bountiful resident Laura Pennock said she was the only one to stand and say "opposed" in the historic Tabernacle on LDS Temple Square. Those who don't have tickets to the Conference Center often watch the proceedings from that venue.

"It was like nothing happened," she said of the reaction of her fellow Mormons.

"I'm here to repent for being silent too many times," said Pennock, who regrets not speaking out when her church helped finance campaigns in California and Hawaii opposing same-sex marriage.

She also is unhappy with the excommunications of Ordain Women founder Kate Kelly and podcaster John Dehlin.

Toward the end of the afternoon session, apostle Quentin L. Cook disputed the claim that "more members are leaving the church today, and that there is more doubt and unbelief than in the past."

That is "simply not true," Cook said. The LDS Church "has never been stronger."

He stated that the "number of members removing their names from the records of the church has always been very small and is significantly less in recent years than in the past." At the same time, he said, "the increase in demonstrably measurable areas, such as endowed members with a current temple recommend, adult full-tithe payers, and those serving missions, has been dramatic."

kmoulton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @KristenMoulton

 

 

 

 

 

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