Today several brave souls stood up in General Conference and raised their hands to oppose the sustaining of the general authorities as current leaders of the Mormon church. As a part of the movement that is in opposition to the current leadership, I'm so proud of the brave people who had the courage to do this (there were
three others, by the way.)
I have had my own journey with this controversy. When I was in high school, there was a new bishop put in our ward. Within a year, several families felt he was using his position as bishop to financially abuse them, to take financial liberties and to financially ruin them.
They took their evidence and frustrations to the stake presidency and as I recall, this was not a small group of people, even though it was a minority in the ward, there were about a dozen families involved, (including my own). They put their grievance before the stake presidency only to have it divide the presidency and cause further divide within the ward.
The families who brought the charges were not getting any redress, so they were being rather vocal within the ward with their frustrations, as well. This was causing a great divide within the ward. Ward conference was coming up and the stress level for everyone was high. When the stake presidency called for a sustaining vote of the bishop, the opposition was high, and vocal.
The stake presidency said they would meet with those in opposition after church, which they did, but they only decided to leave the bishop in his position (two members of the presidency voting to keep him in, one voting to remove him), thinking that removing him would cause the ward members to distrust them and the process.
Several ward members went inactive over this and several family members lost homes over business deals and the financial repercussions were severe, who ever was at fault.
Years later, when I was going through my faith crisis, I began to realize that the church leaders did not make decisions based on listening to promptings from god, but on the leanings on the arm of flesh. This realization led me to the conclusion that I could not raise my hand to sustain church leaders. There is great pressure to go along with the consensus, the group think has incredible pressure within the church, so being the lone person to raise my hand in opposition did not seem like a viable option.
What I chose to do instead; every Sunday for a few years, was to not raise my hand at all, and so for years I would not raise my hand to sustain my leaders. I would not raise my hand to sustain new people being called, I would not sustain bishops, apostles, nobody.
As I look back, I wonder how many people were also silently protesting the group think, the system that didn't give us a voice, the pressure to conform.
My heart goes out to all those who continue to feel stuck in a system that doesn't work for them, who are continuing on with their silent protests. I will raise my arm with a glass of wine in it to you today, in solidarity to those of us who refuse to be part of the group think.