the thinker

Democracy within the Church

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“[The Church's] only democratic characteristic inheres in the right of the membership to accept or reject law or doctrine transmitted from on high. There is no provision in the Church for nominations by the membership of the governing authorities, and church elections have the doubtful status of oral plebiscites.”

- Dale L. Morgan, The Great Salt Lake, 1947, p. 403

“I am sorry that no one has even taken a picture of the [General Conference] audience voting to accept the Church leaders for a new period of office. Every hand in the audience goes up simultaneously. The question of voting “Yes” or “No” on a particular candidate is so mechanical that the hands go up in a unison that is most dramatic.” No member is ever asked to choose between two individuals; he is asked to vote “Yes” or “No” on the official or on the policies of the Church, as the case may be... The officials would be highly indignant if there were any hands raised in opposition and there have been instances where one hand has gone up in opposition and the person attempted to explain the reason for his opposition but such a person is usually ejected...
“I do not want to bother you with the story but I am sure that any student of Sociology who is interested in the problem of authoritarianism would find the Mormon Church a laboratory rich in material for his studies.”

- Dean R. Brimhall, letter to Miss Dorothy Kahn, April 17, 1939, Dean R. Brimhall Papers, Box 26, Folder 15, University of Utah Library