No Taxation without Representation

In the 1700s, the settlers of the Thirteen Colonies in the Americas decried the taxation of the British, because the American settlers had no representation in the halls of parliament. “No Taxation without Representation” became a rallying cry and one of the major reasons for the American Revolution.

The phrase presents a prophetic question within Adventism, as the General Conference moves ever so stealthily to isolate the unions that have voted to ordain women. Early this year, the Unity Oversight Committee sent out a survey to the division and union presidents, who comprise about half of the General Conference Executive Committee, asking the questions in simple yes/no manner that they have been trying, but failing, to get voted at the last two annual councils.

In essence, can the General Conference discipline unions and their representatives for not complying with voted actions of the General Conference in session? The specific discipline mentioned in the survey questions was taking away voice and vote from representatives of entities not “in compliance” with those session votes.

In the tabulation of the survey results that was shared this week with the world church, only the votes of the union conference presidents are identified, not that of the divisions. But along with the breakdown of the percentages for each yes and no vote, the percentage of the world field represented by that vote is listed. For example, question 4 of the survey was, “Should presidents of unions not in compliance with voted actions of GC Sessions and of the GC Executive Committee be allowed to speak at meetings of the Executive Committee?”

The yes vote technically won with 50.3% of the vote, but the report then says that the percentage of the world membership residing in those unions is only 34.3%. While the no vote got 44.4% from unions whose percentage of world membership is 60.9%. There were 8 union conference presidents who did not answer and their votes represented 4.9% of church membership. How does the committee read those statistics? Any way they want?

What we see in this form of tabulation is that not all votes are equal. First, in choosing to whom the survey would be sent, half of the GC Executive Committee was excluded; only union and division presidents received the survey. Then, in reporting the results, it essentially weighted the votes based on the percentage of the world field the vote represented. A vote from the Inter-American Division thus carries more weight than one from North America.

This weighting of the vote raises many possibilities as well as questions. What would the vote look like if it were weighted for tithe dollars or baptisms? Why is the question that comes back again and again, because the weighting of the vote, frankly, just makes the General Conference look manipulative. And the length to which the General Conference seems willing to go to get a vote to punish other church leaders is almost as astonishing as the agreement by so many unions to be punished.

But beyond the machinations of the vote, the question is really this: how long will church members in a union that would be potentially disciplined by taking away the voice and vote of their representatives continue to send their tithe and offerings to an organization where they have no voice or representation?

Further Reading: Unity Oversight Committee Survey Results General Conference Re-asks the Questions of 2017 Unity Oversight Committee Releases Statement Regarding Way Forward Unity Oversight Committee Continues to Gather Data

Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Photo by Joakim Honkasalo on Unsplash.

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We now have the purge mentality that prevailed in Battle Creek. The next move will be to relocate the GC to Salt Lake City


That’s because it is.


Wow, Tom…I was just thinking (once again) how the LDS church and the SDA church have the same basic problem. A Prophet that adds to Scripture with their “new truth”, “new light”, restored Gospel, remnant status, everyone else is Babylon…the list goes on.

But, the Adventists missed out on having their own state…:wink:


This is the way to split the church. We trsut in God and not in split votes or dividing policy. Until when???


Unfortunately, the person[s] reporting on the Tabulation of The Survey does NOT Give us
the names of ALL THE Unions, and HOW EACH ONE voted with their Yes’s and No’s. So
we have NO CLUE as to what part of the world Unions say Yes, and what part say No.
The reason I bring this up is that CULTURE has a LOT to say about HOW THE WORLD

Is it First World against Third World thinking, with Second World caught in between???
We ALSO have the problem that ONLY ONE PERSON IN EACH UNION VOTED. That was
the President of the Union. All the SDA members of every Union around the world DID NOT
GET THE OPPORTUNITY to voice their opinion directly.
NOR is there any way to know if there WAS an honest tabulation of votes by the members
at the Union levels, and WAS there Honest Reporting from them.

All this was a waste of time, waste of printing the materials on paper, waste of postage.
A General Waste of Money!!!


I just can’t understand how a union or division president could make an accurate estimate of how their constituency would answer these questions, without actually surveying their constituency. Furthermore, how could this ever be an accurate representation, if it relies on an aggregate of majority estimates? For instance, what if four presidents of unions of equal size were to answer the question, “How would the majority of your constituents answer the question, ‘Do you prefer red or blue?’” One president answers “red,” guessing that 55% of his constituents prefer that color, a second answers “red” for for 60% of his constituents, a third answers “blue” for 90% of his constituents, and fourth answers “blue” for 75% of his constituents. The tally, in the end, would appear to be tied 2-2. But, n fact, more constituents across the four unions would favor blue, by a large margin. Is anyone really going to be convinced by these numbers? This “research” is seriously flawed and should never be considered as anything but a smoke-and-mirrors operation.


if tithe and offerings truly were a tax, where the right exists to minimize or eliminate it where legally possible, i suppose we could draw some analogy with events preceding the revolutionary war if the GC removes voice and vote from representatives of noncompliant unions…but that analogy would be weak, at best…

while it is true that britain protected the colonies from france during the french indian war, there was no real obligation for the colonies to pay a tax beyond the fact that britain ruled them, and demanded it…the colonies themselves had nothing to do with the rivalry between britain and france in the new world, much less the expenses britain and her allies incurred during the seven years’ war against france and her allies in the old world…it isn’t surprising, then, that it occurred to them to remove themselves from british rule in order to avoid paying a tax from which they correctly perceived they could expect no real benefit, even if they’d had representation in the halls of britain’s parliament…

the truth is that britain was sinking under massive loads of war debt, and her mainland citizens were being taxed to the breaking point…on the other hand, the colonies believed they had a bright future ahead of them, and that they could protect themselves…even without the tax, it is likely they would have moved to secede…

in terms of our church, our tithe and offerings are definitely not a tax imposed by the GC…we speak in terms of returning them, rather than paying them, because we believe they represent our individual responsibility to god, given what he continually blesses us with…and we don’t generally think in terms of legal maneuverings to reduce or eliminate them…we want god’s blessings to flow to us freely…therefore we return our tithe and offerings freely…

but even if we thought of our tithe and offerings as a tax imposed by the GC, a voice and vote at the GC level still seems to imply a cooperative willingness to abide by collective decisions, or votes, that were freely participated in, as opposed to a right we have because we’ve paid for it…in the absence of cooperative willingness, can it really be a reasonable expectation to retain that voice and vote, that is, be in a position to formulate policies that others must abide by…if we are not willing to abide by what amounts to a policy formulated by someone else, what standing can we have to expect others to abide by a policy we formulate…the right to a voice and vote - to formulate policy - must go hand in hand with the responsibility to abide by policy if democracy is to be preserved, and hypocrisy avoided…

i would say that if any noncompliant union threatens to withhold tithe and offerings because their representation has been effectively removed pursuant to their own choices, the nuclear option of dismantling them and establishing a mission that will return tithe and offerings would be justified…even from a purely pecuniary, fiscal and business standpoint, removing and redesigning unprofitable outlets and locations happens all the time…

it is far better to take a long term view by paying a fine for infraction, while factoring that cost into our working budget, so to speak, if we believe WO is really important to us…the reality is that the worldwide positive trajectory of WO means it is only a matter of time before a GC vote on it succeeds…by paying our fine - by accepting the removal of our voice and vote, if it comes to that - we are in fact making a statement that our values are important to us, while preserving unity with those we disagree with, and who disagree with us…but the hardball tactics of refusing to forward tithe and offerings will only inspire similar action against us…in the end, a permanent split will become inevitable, with everyone saying good riddance…

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Jeremy –
What you are suggesting is the FIRST [1st] STEP in decreased participation by certain
Unions in the World Church.
The VIEW by the UNIONS could be “If you don’t like us, we will leave and play with our toys
without you!” "And we will play with like friends."
Rejection by this Body of the GC towards the Unions
COULD call for the Rejection by the Unions towards this Body of the GC.

Then everything just escalates down to the local church member level!!


That survey has no validity. It demonstrates a basic ignorance of how a survey should be conducted, It simply astounds me.


Those who put this survey together knew EXACTLY what they were doing! Statistical surveys are not conducted in this manner and any person even reasonably acquainted with statistics can see through all the smoke and mirrors!


I previously posted the following: “We have been told that most, and perhaps even all, unions are noncompliant in some way or another. I wish the GC would clarify whether this is true by issuing a report that discloses all noncompliance, if any, of each and every union.”

I have read elsewhere an answer provided by someone I highly respect. He states that 80 percent of unions are noncompliant with respect to finances, but with respect to the entire policy book, 100 percent of unions are noncompliant in multiple ways.

I wonder if Ted Wilson could ever make the following statement: “I’m sorry, but I cannot support depriving voice and vote solely from presidents of unions who are violating GC policy by ordaining women as ministers, because the presidents of all of the other unions, which are also noncompliant in various multiple ways, are not being similarly punished.” If he were ever to make such a statement to indicate the even-handedness and sound judgment we deserve from the president of the GC, he could allay suspicion that he deserves to be compared to the tyrannical George III.


Or as Mark Twain was reported to have said…
There are liars,
There are damn liars, and
There are statistics…


Thank you Bonnie Dwyer for this astute analysis of the GC’s arcane abstruse and arrogant use of “statistics “. to fortify their untenable,position.

Any church entity disciplined for “non compliance “ should immediately expand their “non compliance “
by refusing to forward tithe dollars to the upper echelons of the church hierarchy.

Money and finances are most potent weapons. We are reminded today by the powerful MARCH FOR OUR LIVES, that the NRA uses the muscular and controlling tool of money to buy corrupt politicians and keep them in line.

Similarly, our affluent conferences (South Eastern California conference is the prime example) with their generous, magnanimous, benevolent constituencies have a potent weapon : the largesse of their tithe dollars go a long way to support those impoverished, indigent, third world union conferences who are supposedly “compliant “ with the GC’s misogynistic agenda.

Cutting off this financial support line would soon elicit a clamor from our third world brethren to allow our NAD constituencies the right to ordain our women pastors !


“And the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’ ”

Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king.
And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.”

Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.”

So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.

And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.” I Kings 3:23-28 NKJV

I’m enjoying watching this SDA power struggle, because it is revealing long-hidden SDA hypocrisies. (Better the rattlesnake that you see than the one in ‘camo’ !) And, I’m learning how and why to trust no SDA leader. (Why would any SDA woman want to be a part of such a poisonous bunch ? )

Nevertheless, the unshakeable truth is that God’s truth is not the product of any human majority, or ‘vote’ that is ‘sliced’ to favor anything except the life of the ‘whole baby’.

10 princes of Israel voted down Caleb and Joshua in order to wander 38 more years in the wilderness, and die there, with their ‘majority’ ‘slice’ – the all-too-familiar, dead,
‘church in the wilderness’.

Who among SDAs cares about God’s SDA ‘children of Israel’ most ?
The suicidal ‘majority’/’minority’ ‘voters’?
The murderous ‘baby slicers’, ‘vote slicers’ ?
. . . Or, the miniscule ‘Remnant’ who must needlessly suffer through ‘38’ more wasted years before the SDA ‘voters’ and ‘slicers’ are out of the way, and God is finally allowed to keep His own promises, to His own SDA ‘children’, in His own way ?

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If Ted Wilson 's objective is to preside over a schism and civil war, he’s doing a very good job of it. Rehoboam, with his heavy handed tactics did the same. This president is astonishingly ignorant of the lessons that that story teaches concerning wise or unwise leadership.

TW’s manipulation started with his treatment of the result of TOSC and continues with this latest, laughably transparent maneuver. All due to his misguided view that enforced uniformity is the same as unity.

The early church and its leaders got the idea that God’s kingdom was about a unified diversity. A diversity of practice within a united church of Jews and Gentiles, each accepted as they were. Apparently, this is lost on TW as well. He could have used his influence rto push for this type of accommodation and solution to WO. Instead, he pushed his own personal view, and relied on what was essentially a partisan type vote to enforce a uniformity on the world church. IThe result is that he’s helped to bring about deeper division than ever before.

What a disgrace.



I see a problem here. Needless to say, the decision to return/pay tithe starts with each member of a local congregation. According to policy, each local congregation must then submit a hundred percent of the tithe received locally not to the union conference but to the local conference. Should each local church keep the tithe received for their own use? What would happen if members of each local congregation in the Southeastern California Conference were to decide not to return/pay their tithes?

Beyond their local congregation and respective local conference, what do the average members really know or care about what happens? Since hiring of pastors, male or female, whether they are ordained or commissioned, is a decision made between local congregation and local conference, should it really matter whether their own union conference is compliant or not?


Very interesting definition of General Conference. You just formulated a new name for it: GWM = General Waste of Money. This is it. Period.


And the president would say: “Great, then I can rule by myself. As you have found out, dear Union presidents, you all are out of compliance and thus without the voice and vote. You can now sit and watch me and my cronies rule the church. No voice, no vote. Stay calm (in other words: ‘be silent’) and enjoy my rules.”


Bonnie Dwyer has written an excellent analysis of the survey and pointed out the major inherent flaws that Unity Oversight Committee is working with. Most top to bottom survey research is susceptible to cultural errors of interpretation.
Getting honest reactions and feedback is going half the distance in obtaining accurate information. Interpreting survey results without bias or hidden agendas is almost impossible in resolving theological disputes. To be successful in doing God’s will we need more than flawed data or skewed research results.

Perhaps we are like Joshua in the Bible when he had to make a decision and he went with what was God’s word to him and was successful! (the ONLY time success is mentioned in the Bible).
Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Ashok K. Lalwani warns us that in using survey data we must remember to **"…evaluate the validity of survey responses in light of people’s tendency toward socially desirable responding. It also helps consumers predict their own behavior and potentially modify it."***_ The Distinct Influence of Cognitive Busyness and Need for Closure on Cultural Differences in Socially Desirable Responding. Journal of Consumer Research, 2009; 0 (0): 090114112719036 DOI: 10.1086/597214