Members reported falling asleep in greater numbers and for longer periods during the 175th Semiannual General Conference this past October than in any previous Conference. Brother DeWayne M. Young, Salt Lake City Zone Leader of the Strengthening Members Committee noted that roughly 450 attendees bowed their heads at the opening prayer and didn’t come back up for at least an hour. In one extreme case, a High Priest from the Riverside, California Stake nodded off early in the Saturday afternoon session and didn’t reawaken until halfway through the Priesthood session that evening.
According to the Strengthening the Members network of operatives, the anesthetic affect of this conference was not limited to those in attendance at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.
Brother Eldon Mitchell of the Kellog, Idaho 3rd Ward drove an hour to watch the Sunday Morning session at the Stake Center in Cour d’ Alene, only to fall asleep as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir began the opening hymn. “I don’t know what hit me,” he confessed later. “I began to regain consciousness briefly, but President Monson was in the middle of one of his heartwarming stories about some missionaries somewhere—or was it a kid in Guatemala with cancer? Regardless, I blacked back out so fast I injured my neck.”
While the statistics for “sleepers” during this Conference were unusually high, chronic sleepers passed out at roughly the same rate, 98%, as usual.
“It was the same thing last April,” says Sister Meg Preston of the Lehi 29th Ward. “When the first Seventy gets up to offer the opening prayer, I’m just gone. And it’s not the Prozac, because I didn’t start that ‘til June of 2003, and I’ve slept through every Conference talk since 1977.”
According to Brother Young, the issue of snoozing members has grown progressively worse since he was first called as Zone Leader five years ago. “Of course, we are required to report all offenders, but despite their record as a “sleeper”, they continue to re-offend. It doesn’t matter if they’re watching in person, at their local Stake Center, or at home.” Young points out that the Strengthening the Members Operatives are like Santa Claus. “We know who’s naughty and nice when it comes to staying awake while the General Authorities tell us all again and again and again the things we need to know for our salvation. But there’s something about it all that’s almost like chloroform. Heck, even I nodded off briefly during one of Neil A. Maxwell’s talks two years ago.”
Brother William “Bill” James of the Ogden 957th Ward and a first-time offender thinks he knows what’s going on. “We’ve all known for some time that the General Authorities speak in a cadence that puts people in a semi-hypnotic state. I think they are taking it to the next level, with your best Mormons being most likely to achieve full harmony with the brethren as they speak; eyes closed and minds completely susceptible to the marvelous words of the living prophet.” James claims that when he reads the Conference edition of the Ensign, he finds that the messages are not so much talks as they are post-hypnotic suggestions. “I know that when I woke back up on Sunday, I had an irresistible urge to contribute to the Perpetual Education Fund.”
Not so, says Elder LaGrand R. Marshall of the 23rd Quorum of the Seventy. “These are mostly old men who are talking, and they just aren’t as lively as today’s audiences are accustomed,” he said. “The problem is, it’s causing the Church to lose precious souls. If members are not awake, they cannot hear the Savior’s message to conform. If my fellow Brethren cannot manage a little spice in that rhythmic drone, we’ll have to go back to letting the flock drink Mt. Dew, guilt-free.”