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HappyJackWagon

Is Protesting Valid Communication?

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Whether it's Harold B Lee pioneering the church's welfare program as a stake president, Emma Smith seeking changes that resulted in the WoW, or something more controversial like protests, that over time have helped to shift church and leadership opinion in areas such as feminism, race relations, BYU honor code violations, or protecting children by calling for an end to one-on-one interviews with minors, the church has a history of bottom-up leadership towards change. I suspect many here will take exception to my characterization of bottom-up leadership including protesters, but that's really what I want to discuss. As I'm watching/reading about protests at BYU-I regarding the honor code I'm seeing a kind of anger expressed by many staunch members about the method of communication. I am seeing many comments like "I agree with the changes they're asking for, but they're doing it in the wrong way. They should go have an adult conversation with the leaders if they want to effect change." It's not too many years ago that this would have been my comment too, but now I'm more ambivalent.

For many in the church there seems to be a strong aversion to the entire concept of protesting. People will readily agree that Emma did well in taking her concerns to the prophet, thus culminating in the WoW, but that wasn't "protest". Lee is likewise credited for being a change agent as he worked from within the system to create something new and good, but that wasn't "protest". There are many differences between Emma, Lee, and modern day protesters, but the one I have been thinking about is the modern lack of access the average member has to decision makers. Emma was married to the prophet: easy access there. Lee was a SP at a time when the church was much smaller, in a place where he had access to top church leaders. Today, most of us don't have that access, so we don't really have the opportunity to take issues of concern directly to top leadership who has the ability to make official change. I think many within the church feel that they have no voice and therefore no ability to reach decision makers. Going to the bishop and SP doesn't meet the need for access in a church of 16 million people. 1 bishop out of 35,000 bishops is nearly as inconsequential in having his voice heard as any other member.

In lieu of access to decision makers, members seem more inclined to turn to protests to have their voices heard even though most membership views protests as ineffective/inappropriate.

I'm curious if anyone is aware of any study/writing done on the subject or protests in the church. IMO protests seem to be the only way sometimes for people to be heard, yet is has a stigma attached to it that seems to make it counterproductive in some ways. But it could also be argued that protests on race, feminist issues, honor code issues, child protection issues have had some impact, even if the impact isn't immediate. Thoughts.

 

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I don't know of any study and I agree it would be interesting to read one if it existed.  I do wonder though it protests are just more popular now in general in our culture, and that culture is spilling into the church.  People use protests as a form of activism in our society right now.  And activism seems to be more popular than it's ever been.  

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Posted (edited)

Everyone has end run access to the monarch of the organization and is encouraged/commanded to speak with him directly at least twice daily. If you trust the monarch to take your concerns into consideration does it really matter if you can easily talk to his VPs?

Edited by The Nehor
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My thoughts on this briefly:

 

For whatever reason, Latter-day Saints (at least in the US) can't seem to separate their politics from their faith. They want the former to have a prominent place in the latter. For a long time the politically conservative members of the Church did this by guilting and claiming some sort of divine approval of their politics thereby elevating them above those who dared vote democrat. In the past 10 years or so (basically since the election of Pres. Obama), it feels to me like those in our faith on the American left have been prone to inject their politics into the Church (SSM, Ordain Women, etc.). Folks on the American left love their protests, sit ins, and other public pressure campaigns to influence change. I say good for them. But many seem to want to use the same tactics to influence change in the Church. The problem is there is no scriptural precedent supporting this and there is a lot that doesn't.

In short, God doesn't care if you are a R or a D. I think God cares very much when you bring your worldly politics, whatever they may be, into his divine kingdom.

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1 hour ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I think protests, whatever their utility or efficacy in the broader culture, are inherently hostile and confrontational and thus inappropriate among a people striving to be a Zion society. It’s thus no great mystery that those who engage in them against the Church so often end up in apostasy and/or excommunication. 

Does this include civil disobedience as a form of protest?

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5 minutes ago, sjdawg said:

Does this include civil disobedience as a form of protest?

I am curious as to how one practices civil disobedience against a church with no legal ability to enforce its laws.

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1 hour ago, HappyJackWagon said:

.................................

In lieu of access to decision makers, members seem more inclined to turn to protests to have their voices heard even though most membership views protests as ineffective/inappropriate.

I'm curious if anyone is aware of any study/writing done on the subject or protests in the church. IMO protests seem to be the only way sometimes for people to be heard, yet is has a stigma attached to it that seems to make it counterproductive in some ways. But it could also be argued that protests on race, feminist issues, honor code issues, child protection issues have had some impact, even if the impact isn't immediate. Thoughts.

D&C 98:5-6,  "And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.  Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;"

D&C 101:77,  "According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;"

U.S. Constitution, Amendment 1 "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Is protest the only way to effect change?  Of course not, and church governance is already heavily conciliar.  As stated by President Stephen L Richards, first counselor to President David O. McKay:

Quote

“As I conceive it, the genius of our Church government is government through councils. The Council of the Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, the Council of the Stake Presidency … the Council of the Bishopric. … I have had enough experience to know the value of councils. … I see the wisdom, God’s wisdom, in creating councils: to govern his Kingdom. In the spirit under which we labor, men can get together with seemingly divergent views and far different backgrounds, and under the operation of that spirit, by counseling together, they can arrive at an accord.” (Conference Report, Oct 1953, p. 86)

Sometimes these councils fail to take into account divergent views, and then things can go very wrong, as they did (for example) in Mexico with the protesting Third Convention,  during the time of Pres George Albert Smith -- who actually went to Mexico and achieved a rapprochement with the protesters.

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15 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I am curious as to how one practices civil disobedience against a church with no legal ability to enforce its laws.

Maybe stop accepting callings?  That would get some attention if done by a number of members in a ward. 

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2 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

Maybe stop accepting callings?  That would get some attention if done by a number of members in a ward. 

That might be a boon to leadership as I am guessing the Venn diagram of people willing to protest like this and those who don’t do anything in their callings anyway is a probably nearly a perfect circle.

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Brigham Young imposed a top-down leadership style and structure in the church. Some apostles recorded that people feared him.

I think the problem is two fold - some lay members do not feel “heard” by leadership. Some members are fine with this, and fit nicely into the autocratic leaderships structure and culture.

Ill share with you my personal experience that helped me empathize with protesters and those who may not otherwise feel “heard.”

I’ll summarize because I can’t stand reading long posts.  I felt I was treated unfairly by the first presidency on a matter a few years ago. My bishop agreed with me. My stake president agreed with me. BOTH told me clearly that the first presidency was wrong and unfair.

Unfortunately, neither was willing to communicate their thoughts on the matter ‘upward’ to the first presidency or area leadership.  They indicated that in these situations it was unwise to express their concerns, and to just trust the process.

I wrote a letter to an apostle who I know personally. The letter was rejected (probably by his secretary), and forwarded to my stake president.

It is very hard to feel heard and understood in this organization and culture.  Many members are comfortable with this and defend the structure, and have a hard time empathizing with those of us who feel more comfortable in a more inclusive environment.

In defense of the current leadership structure, I think we see more inclusive leadership with the formation and teaching on the importance of councils.

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13 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

That might be a boon to leadership as I am guessing the Venn diagram of people willing to protest like this and those who don’t do anything in their callings anyway is a probably nearly a perfect circle.

Maybe!

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34 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

That might be a boon to leadership as I am guessing the Venn diagram of people willing to protest like this and those who don’t do anything in their callings anyway is a probably nearly a perfect circle.

Been thinking about this. While I think you’re using hyperbole, the assumption of this argument is that those people who aren’t comfortable with an autocratic leadership style don’t serve in their callings. Not sure I agree.

But, maybe you’re kidding.  I often don’t know with you, man!

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Can someone protest without contending against someone or something?   Since Christ has taught that contention is of the devil, I think the answer to that question would have real implications for whether or not protesting is a valid thing for members of the church to do to the church. 

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3 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I'm curious if anyone is aware of any study/writing done on the subject or protests in the church. IMO protests seem to be the only way sometimes for people to be heard, yet is has a stigma attached to it that seems to make it counterproductive in some ways. But it could also be argued that protests on race, feminist issues, honor code issues, child protection issues have had some impact, even if the impact isn't immediate. Thoughts.

I wonder if politics factors into this as well?  With Mormons skewing Republican, I have noticed that in general many are opposed to political protests as well.  Just my observation, but there seems to be a disdain for people that protest in general from many of my more conservative friends and family. 

Personally, I've never participated in a protest myself either and I even though I no longer identify as a conservative politically and am much more open minded and independent, I think there is a level of discomfort for me personality speaking with the idea of personally participating in a protest.  I'm not against them at all, and intellectually I'm supportive of the people brave enough to protest, I probably just have some fears about personally participating that I need to work on. 

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2 hours ago, SouthernMo said:

Maybe stop accepting callings?  That would get some attention if done by a number of members in a ward. 

A congregation's value and worth is found in the willingness of its members to serve one another. All that refusing to serve the congregation achieves is a less well-functioning structure. If members seek their personal benefits over the congregation, then both potentially are weakened. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

I wonder if politics factors into this as well?  With Mormons skewing Republican, I have noticed that in general many are opposed to political protests as well.  Just my observation, but there seems to be a disdain for people that protest in general from many of my more conservative friends and family. 

Personally, I've never participated in a protest myself either and I even though I no longer identify as a conservative politically and am much more open minded and independent, I think there is a level of discomfort for me personality speaking with the idea of personally participating in a protest.  I'm not against them at all, and intellectually I'm supportive of the people brave enough to protest, I probably just have some fears about personally participating that I need to work on. 

I am against almost all protests in this age. I have concluded that we have too many who are are just committed to protesting and seek for a cause, any cause, that will allow them to cause disturbance. I find protests, almost all of them, hateful and contentious. 

Edited by Storm Rider
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1 hour ago, SouthernMo said:

Been thinking about this. While I think you’re using hyperbole, the assumption of this argument is that those people who aren’t comfortable with an autocratic leadership style don’t serve in their callings. Not sure I agree.

But, maybe you’re kidding.  I often don’t know with you, man!

I often don’t know either what I mean so I feel your confusion.

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7 minutes ago, Storm Rider said:

I am against almost all protests in this age. I have concluded that we have too many are are just committed to protesting and seek for a cause, any cause, that will allow them to cause disturbance. I find protests, almost all of them, hateful and contentious. 

I think the media uses protests, both to support causes and to malign causes.  The reality is that protests have a certain amount of influence on large institutions.  I'm not saying they are the best method, but I do like the idea that the people have ways of communicating their displeasure.  I think its an important part of a society built on the freedom of speech.  

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30 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I wonder if politics factors into this as well?  With Mormons skewing Republican, I have noticed that in general many are opposed to political protests as well.  Just my observation, but there seems to be a disdain for people that protest in general from many of my more conservative friends and family. 

Personally, I've never participated in a protest myself either and I even though I no longer identify as a conservative politically and am much more open minded and independent, I think there is a level of discomfort for me personality speaking with the idea of personally participating in a protest.  I'm not against them at all, and intellectually I'm supportive of the people brave enough to protest, I probably just have some fears about personally participating that I need to work on. 

I have too many things in my Netflix queue to have time to protest.

8 minutes ago, Storm Rider said:

I am against almost all protests in this age. I have concluded that we have too many are are just committed to protesting and seek for a cause, any cause, that will allow them to cause disturbance. I find protests, almost all of them, hateful and contentious. 

I find your inability to imagine a motive for a protest that is not a desire to “cause disturbance” to be hateful and contentious. I am going to protest this on your lawn as soon as I find out where you life. Also, I need to watch Netflix so I do not get behind on my queue. Can I get your WiFi password? K thx bye.

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4 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

IMO protests seem to be the only way sometimes for people to be heard, yet is has a stigma attached to it that seems to make it counterproductive in some ways. But it could also be argued that protests on race, feminist issues, honor code issues, child protection issues have had some impact, even if the impact isn't immediate. Thoughts.

I think if you feel it is the only way to be heard, and you feel sufficiently passionate about your stance, then stigma or ineffectiveness should not be a barrier. Choice of vehicle and venue would be the consideration at that point.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Sometimes these councils fail to take into account divergent views, and then things can go very wrong, as they did (for example) in Mexico with the protesting Third Convention,  during the time of Pres George Albert Smith -- who actually went to Mexico and achieved a rapprochement with the protesters.

It seems to me this could have involved the Church councils that appealed / repealed the excommunications (reinstating the dissidents with disfellowhipment), and performed outreach. If President Smith acted alone, that would be interesting, but I'm sure he discussed his plans in council. I don't see what the Third Convention did was a protest but making a demand and storming off when it wasn't met. A demand is different and more egregious (in my opinion) than a protest anyway, and by nature cuts itself off from any council process. These leaders certainly had access in one form or another to the Church leaders to whom they made the demand, including their peers.

Edited by CV75

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4 hours ago, bluebell said:

I don't know of any study and I agree it would be interesting to read one if it existed.  I do wonder though it protests are just more popular now in general in our culture, and that culture is spilling into the church.  People use protests as a form of activism in our society right now.  And activism seems to be more popular than it's ever been.  

Flashbacks to youth, protesting was big back then.  Only ones I am aware of in the Church were at most a few individuals though.  

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2 minutes ago, Calm said:

Flashbacks to youth, protesting was big back then.  Only ones I am aware of in the Church were at most a few individuals though.  

I’m not sure when you were a youth but in the 60s protesting was very popular as part of the counter culture and student movements. I think the difference today is that it’s popular across all groups in society, from youth to senior citizens. 

At least that’s how it seems. 

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Yes and I have already reported this thread several times.

😮

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