And the four words you heard at Conference are: “Stop protecting sexual predators!” Not from one of the speakers did you hear these words. Not in a prayer or as words in a hymn, but from a female attendee who shouted it out early in the Saturday morning session. She is quoted as saying that “recent allegations of sexual abuse in the LDS Church inspired her to act.”
No doubt if one of the speakers had been inspired to act by “recent allegations of sexual abuse,” a longer and more tailored treatment of the topic might have been delivered. It would have been nice if one of the Sisters had addressed this from the pulpit. It would have been nice if one of the Brethren had repeated President Hinckley’s admonition of ten years ago, strongly condemning all forms of abuse. But I’ll take the four words we got. It’s nice to get revelation from above, but I’ll settle for revelation from below. Stop protecting sexual predators. If we keep repeating it, we might hear it from the pulpit at some point.
In other respects, it was a remarkable General Conference. The LDS priesthood at the local level has been streamlined: just one quorum in each ward now. The keyless local High Priests Group Leader is no more. Home teaching and visiting teaching have disappeared into a new and broader program, “ministering.” You can still visit and teach and help and console, just call it ministering. Two new apostles will bring some novel views to the Twelve and seven new temples were announced. Most striking — and I haven’t heard anyone mention this yet — this was not the usual “every speaker chooses their own topic” approach to Conference that has been the rule as long as I remember. They planned particular themes for particular sessions and had the speakers address planned topics. Wow, planning. There’s a new sheriff in town.
Still. I understand there was a lot planned and they were eager to roll out these changes and new programs. I understand they don’t want to shine a spotlight on problems. I understand they don’t want the new president’s first address to be an exercise in crisis management. But the bottom line is this was a missed opportunity. Consequently, the most important four words spoken at Conference, the ones the Church needed to hear, the ones you will remember, were shouted out by some lady who was quickly thrown out of the session by LDS security goons. Stop protecting sexual predators! Next time, try devoting a session to that theme.