I was running late on my way down to Layton, UT for a mission reunion. We were watching the Saturday Afternoon session of General Conference together, and I was about 15 minutes away when the broadcast started. I flipped on my car radio and tuned in as they began reading the names of the General Authorities for a sustaining vote. As the names of the first presidency were read and the vote requested, I silently raised my hand as a personal message to myself that I sustain Thomas S. Monson and his two counselors. I sat there reflecting about the oddity of the situation. There I was, wandering through the suburban maze of Layton, UT, hopelessly lost; and yet, I felt an obligation to show my personal support for our leaders, knowing full well that only me and the bearded man mowing his lawn and giving me funny looks would see it.
As President Uchtdorf moved on, I focused again on finding my destination. Moments later I was surprised to hear shouts of “Opposed! Opposed!” drifting out my car radio. I literally stopped my car and sat there listening, the lawn-mowing man now staring me down with contempt. “What was that I just heard?” I thought. “I’ve never heard someone do that. What does this mean? How do they handle this?” As any of you who watched or listened to the broadcast are well aware, President Uchtdorf took it in stride, inviting those opposed to speak with their stake presidents about the reasons for their opposition.
While I had never heard of this happening before, I can say I wasn’t overly shocked, considering recent events such as the excommunications of both John Dehlin and Kate Kelly, as well as other controversial social issues with which the church has been involved. Later, while researching the events of the day, I discovered that the whole thing was a stunt that had been planned in advance, and that President Uchtdorf was more than likely expecting this to happen. Still, as I sat there pondering, the faint sound of sprinklers echoing in my thoughts, I questioned, “Can they do that?” The answer is a resounding, “Of course they can.” Here’s why.