Russell M. Nelson, 93, has assumed the role of president of the Mormon Church following the death of the previous president, Thomas S. Monson, on January 2nd.
Monson had served as president since 2008. In the Mormon Church, the leadership is composed of a president and his two counselors. There is also a Quorum of Twelve Apostles that participate in the leadership of the church as well. When an apostle dies, the president selects a replacement. When a president dies, the senior apostle replaces him and selects new counselors. These positions are all exclusively held by men, and are usually held for life.
Some of the challenges that face the new president are the Mormon Church’s hemorrhaging of members, at least among young demographics. The Mormon Church, like the Catholic Church, is facing its own sex abuse scandals involving church leaders preying on children. The church has also been criticized for its anti-homosexual campaigns, especially after the recently deceased president, Monson, had urged the members of the church to campaign in California against gay marriage in 2008. In 2015 the church announced that anyone entering into a same-sex marriage was immediately considered an apostate. Most young people today support gay marriage and equality for homosexuals, which makes the Mormon Church seem like an out-of-touch, hateful dinosaur to today’s youth.
So how will the new president tackle all these challenges now that he is the top leader of the church? Well, for one thing, he is 93-years-old, so his tenure is probably not going to be too long. But assuming that Nelson will be around for a while, he is unlikely to cause any real change. The fifteen men (1 president, 2 counselors, and 12 apostles) that make up the Mormon Church’s leadership are far too dedicated to tradition and their backwards ideals that I would be shocked if anything really changed.
If we are lucky they will just plant their feet and remain dedicated to the same ideals that are driving away youth en masse. Then we just have to wait for the elders to die off.