Monday, January 23, 2012

Church Leadership

I spent a few minutes on Wikipedia learning a little about the professional lives of the LDS First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  I realize Wikipedia is not a 100% reliable source, but it only gave me more details about things I'd already known...with the exception of the newer apostles, whose background I admittedly knew nothing about until today.  Here's what I found:

Thomas S. Monson, President
Monson has two business degrees, one from the University of Utah and the other from BYU.  He was a reasonably successful publisher, working in various positions for the Deseret News Publishing Company.  He has served on boards of directors for several different corporations.

Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor
Eyring studied at the University of Utah and has a doctorate in business administration from Harvard.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor
Uchtdorf was a successful pilot who eventually got a degree in business administration and became a senior vice president for Lufthansa Airlines, a position he held for almost fifteen years.

Boyd K. Packer
Packer studied at both BYU and the University of Utah and has a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and a doctorate degree.

L. Tom Perry
Perry graduated from Utah State University with a degree in business.

Russell M. Nelson
Nelson graduated from the University of Utah and the University of Minnesota and became an internationally-respected surgeon and medical administrator.

Dallin H. Oaks
Oaks studied accounting at BYU and law at the University of Chicago.  He was the chairman of the board of directors for both PBS and the Polynesian Cultural Center.  His notoriety mostly stems from his career as a lawyer and judge, including four years on the Utah Supreme Court.

M. Russell Ballard
Ballard attended the University of Utah and worked as a businessman in the automotive industry and the real estate industry.

Richard G. Scott
Scott received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from George Washington University and became a nuclear engineer.

Robert D. Hales
Hales graduated from the University of Utah and the Harvard Business School and served as a high-level executive for several different corporations.

Jeffrey R. Holland
Holland studied at both BYU and Yale.  He began a career in education, working in the Church Educational System and serving as the President of BYU for just short of ten years.

David A. Bednar
Bednar was educated at BYU and Purdue University.  He became a university professor and eventually worked his way up to the presidency at BYU-Idaho.

Quentin L. Cook
Cook graduated from the University of Utah and Stanford Law School and worked his way up through a coporate law firm to become a healthcare executive.

D. Todd Christofferson
Christofferson graduated from BYU and the Duke University School of Law before embarking on a successful career as a lawyer.

Neil L. Anderson
Anderson graduated from BYU and the Harvard Business School and became a vice president for a health network in Florida.

These are some very well-educated, well-connected men.  And I have a few interesting observations:

1.  All of the fifteen leaders listed above have at least one college degree.
2.  Eleven of them have two or more college degrees.  If you count Scott's doctorate work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for which he was not given a physical degree because his work was "classified," it would be twelve.
3.  Thirteen of them have a degree from a university located in Utah.  If you count Uchtdorf's honorary degree from BYU, it would be fourteen.
4.  All of them speak English, fourteen of them as their first language.
5.  All of them are white.

Mormonism prides itself in being a worldwide religion.  Mormon missionaries are in scores of countries carrying copies of the Book of Mormon in countless languages.  But the leadership is made up of white, English-speaking, highly-educated men, many of which have strong ties to the state of Utah.  That does not sound like an honest representation of the membership's demographics.

The makeup of the church's leadership also contradicts the church's claim that the Holy Ghost will reveal important gospel truths to anyone willing and worthy to hear them.  It looks more like if you're well-educated and successful, you'll be privy to religious truth.  Joseph Smith was a poorly-educated farm boy.  Jesus was a carpenter who picked a few humble fishermen to share his message with the world.  But we have surgeons, nuclear engineers, business executives and lawyers to share that message today.  Why?

I propose the next addition to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles should be a garbage collector.  Or a WalMart sales associate.  Or a pizza delivery guy.  According to church doctrine, they should have the same ability to receive revelation about the gospel.  Actually, they should have a greater ability to do so, considering how the Book of Mormon warns that education can lead to pride, which drives away the spirit.

So why does Mormonism need so much secular knowledge in its leadership?  Maybe because it's actually a secular organization.

And that doesn't seem right to me.

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