We are not doing our business by the voice of the people

See The voice of the people signifies a majority for background on this post.

Consider this: When we say we are 13 million members strong, we are lumping together both active and inactive LDS, including those inactives who no longer even consider themselves LDS.  According to the Law of the Harvest activity numbers, about 35% of the LDS membership is active worldwide (between 4 and 5 million).

What this means is that when we sit in sacrament meeting and raise our hands in a(n often unanimous) sustaining vote, we active LDS, representing the lesser part of the people, in other words, the minority, are doing the business, while the majority remains silent.

There are a few scriptural lessons to be learned here, taught by Mosiah:

Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.  And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.  (Mosiah 29: 26-27)

First, we, the active minority, are breaking the laws of God.  We are doing the business, not the majority.

Second, the scriptural principle is that it is common for us, the voting, active, LDS minority, to desire that which is not right.  That is a sobering thought that we might be kept in mind the next time we feel to criticize our inactive brethren.

Third, if the non-voting, inactive, LDS majority are choosing iniquity, as they are counted as the people of the Lord, still listed on the records and numbered by us, then the judgments of God must come upon us.

Should the inactives’ votes be counted?

We count inactive LDS as members of record by saying we have 13 million members, not 4 million members, so, if we see them as full members, shouldn’t we count their votes, too?

When someone is going to be called, should we send the Aaronic Priesthood around to the inactive members’ homes and ask them whether they approve or disapprove?  Maybe they could write down on a card their voting preference?  Or would this violate some scriptural principle that states they must go to a meeting to cast a vote?  By sending messengers to inquire as to how they vote, the church would then be doing its business by the voice of the people, complying with scriptural mandate.  Something to consider…

Votes of no-confidence

Or, perhaps the no-shows should be counted as no-confidence votes.  Before you say that there are no such things in the church, consider that you have three options when voting.  You can raise your hand for, you can raise your hand against, or you can leave your hand down.  What does leaving your hand down mean?  I think it can only mean a vote of no confidence. Likewise, if you intentionally do not attend a meeting in which a vote is taking place, that can also be construed as a vote of no-confidence.

Now, counting all the inactives who intentionally do not show up for church, and thus intentionally do not vote, as no-confidence votes, poses quite the problem.  A majority of no-confidence votes defeats a measure, calling or appointment, doesn’t it?  Can you imagine sitting in church when a sustaining vote is called for and you and 34 other people raise hands in approbation while the other 65 people keep their hands down?  Do you think such an appointment would go through?

Leaving the status quo as it is

Maybe there is no ideologic problem with leaving the inactives alone, not consulting them for votes, not counting their lack of participation as no-confidence votes, yet counting them as full-fledged members.  But I wonder if maybe our current practice is going to eventually get us into trouble with the Lord.

Previous Common Consent article: The voice of the people signifies a majority

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist


  1. […] the Voice of the People? Filed under: Uncategorized — mahonri @ 3:15 am Taken from the LDS Anarchist […]

  2. Couple of observations, that I hope don’t come across too harshly…

    First, Since you are not choosing between candidates for a position, you aren’t really voting in church, just showing that you confirm the choice that has already been made… or not. Which brings me to my next point.

    Second, there is only one acceptable vote in church, that is, you must affirm the choice that has been made. God has already made the choice, and you are to show your fealty by affirming that choice.

    Finally, due to the aformentioned nature of the ‘voting’, it is actually only a way to identify problem members to the leadership. If you vote no on a regular basis, you will be talked to, and the leaders will try to get you to change the problem with yourself, never admitting a problem on their end.

    It should also be noted, that in the mormon church, there is no secret ballot, in the majority of cases.

    In other words, the “voting” is really “monitoring” of the membership.

  3. measure76,

    Saying, “you aren’t really voting in church” is not entirely accurate. The church voting system is a vote of ratification, meaning that a name is presented to us and we either approve or disapprove it. Votes of ratification happen all the time in the American ballot system, yet we consider them a valid form of voting. On the ballot of the American system, names (and initiatives) are presented to us (did we choose these names?) and we approve of only the names we want to serve in those positions. The differences between the two systems is that the American ballots usually have more than one name per position and also a spot where we can write in a candidate’s name. But, essentially, as all the names that are on the ballot are picked beforehand to be on the ballot, and as most people don’t take the time to write in anyone else’s name, the American system is essentially just a system of ratification (like the church system). Both, then, are valid voting systems.

    measure76 said, “There is only one acceptable vote in church, that is, you must affirm the choice that has been made. God has already made the choice, and you are to show your fealty by affirming that choice.”

    That is the current cultural position of many in the church, but it wasn’t always so since the time of Joseph Smith, and such a position is not scriptural:

    And a commandment I give unto you, that you should fill all these offices and approve of those names which I have mentioned, or else disapprove of them at my general conference; (D&C 124: 144)

    The Lord wouldn’t mention the legitimacy of disapproving “names which [He had] mentioned” unless such a vote was perfectly acceptable in the church.

    Concerning monitoring: well, it goes on all the time in the church. All numbers are monitored, though not all of them are reported. You are right, if you vote no (even once), you will probably be talked to, but there is nothing in the church articles that says you must divulge your reasons for voting. You can vote however you want without explaining to anyone why you voted as you did.

    Culturally, though, Mormons have conditioned themselves to loose their tongue when anyone in authority asks them questions. They have abandoned the principle of silence and trust their religious leaders so implicitly that they have become self-incriminatory blabbermouths. Miranda rights of silence apply equally to religious authorities as they do to state authorities. No amount of monitoring of votes to put the blame or guilt upon someone voting “the wrong way” will work if people will just assert their right of silence and learn to keep their mouths shut.

    There is no specification of how church voting is to take place. It can be a secret ballot or open ballot. Personally, as I have a natural distrust of those in authority, unless the authority has been shown to be a man of God, I prefer an open vote, where I can see that my vote was counted:

    Alma said, “Trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.” (Mosiah 23: 14)

  4. You are perhaps the most reasonable Mormon I’ve met since I left the church. I think I’m going to subscribe to your blog.

    I still think there are issues here worth considering, but your reply certainly recognizes certain problems within the church, which most Mormons would never admit.

  5. I came across a blog post today that mentioned the fact that Robert’s Rules of Order states that when voting, a quorum is necessary in order for it to be legitimate. I found this applicable to church voting. Follow the links to learn what Robert had to say about both voting and quorums.

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