Nepotism in the Church: 2009 Update

Jeff SpectorGeneral Authorities, Mormon, Mormons, Utah 27 Comments

Last time, I did a lengthy post on Nepotism in the Church, which you can find here.  This is an update for this year so far.  As you can see, the list is pretty short.  I haven’t had a chance to go back and do more research on the appointments other than General Authorities, Temple Presidents and Mission Presidents.  Biographical information is hard to come by for Area Authorities and Stake Presidents.

One thing is clear; the church is getting much more diverse in appointments for Mission Presidents and Temple Presidents.  While there are still a number of Mission P residents coming out of Utah and other church strongholds, local/regional callings are on the rise.

As far as Temple Presidents, with the large number of Temples in operations, local Temple Presidents are now the norm.  Except for the “big” Temples in various areas, Utah, Hawaii, and Washington D.C where emeritus General Authorities or released 2nd Quorum of 70 members are called.

And while you don’t see a significant number of relatives being called to the General Authorities, long time Church employees or other “well-connected” members are getting the nod.  But this has probably always been true as President Hinckley was a long time Church employee prior to his call to the General Authorities.

Name Position Relationship Relative Position
Allan F. Packer 1st Quorum 70 Son Boyd K Packer Quorum of 12
Charles W Walton Mission Pres 2009 Son in Law Ray H Wood 2nd Quorum 70
Clark B Hinckley Mission Pres 2009 Son Gordon B Hinckley President
Dale G. Renlund 1st Quorum 70 Son in Law Merlin Lybbert 2nd Quorum 70
David J Bullock Mission Pres 2008 Son in Law Boyd K Packer Quorum of 12
Gregory M Saylin Mission Pres 2009 Son in Law Keith K Hilbig 1st Quorum 70
Michael Tally Ringwood 1st Quorum 70 Son in Law Russell M Nelson Quorum of 12
Miguel Tenorio Mission Pres 2008 Son Octaviano Tenorio 1st Quorum 70
Richard A Hunter Temple Pres 2008 Son Howard W Hunter President

Comments 27

  1. Two others:

    Dale G. Renlund-First Quorum 70-Son in Law-Merlin Lybbert-2nd Quorum 70
    Michael T. Ringwood-First Quorum 70-Son in Law-Russell M. Nelson-Q 12

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  5. So far, it’s looking like power in 2009 “flows” through the daughters, not so much the sons, of general authorities. 🙂 Interesting.

  6. If we have to include Mission Presidents, Temple Presidents and Area Authorities to compile this list in 2009, it really is becoming less and less an “issue” and more and more a natural result of inevitable statistics. Nine out of hundreds – I can accept that.

  7. I was thinking about that too – there are 300 missions in the world and each MP assignment is 3 years. That’s 1000 in a decade. Some of them will be related to GAs, especially given the expansion of the 70 in the last decades.

    Mind you, I’m no purebred Saint. I haven’t got a drop of pioneer or polygamous blood in me, unless transferred there by mosquito.

  8. What about non-church positions that are still heavily influenced by church members like the board of regents hiring Elder Holland’s son for the UVU job?

  9. “When I was a young missionary in the Canada Toronto Mission under M. Russell Ballard back in the mid70s Elder Ballard used to tell us about how his grandfather Melvin J. Ballard would talk about how the noble and elect were born in to the homes of LDS families of noble heritage. He personally was the grandson on his father son of an Apostle Melvin J. Ballard and on his mother side of Apostle Hyrum Mack Smith, son of Joseph F. Smith and brother of Joseph Fielding Smith. As missionary I was convinced one day he would be an Apostle. I remember his sense of humor on the day he found out he was called to be an apostle. He said to my wife and I who were visiting him “Pay attention tomorrow in conference and you will see the Lord has a sense of humor. Will wonders never cease?” The next day he was called.

    Elder Ballard used to tell us that he had believing blood and that a descendant of LDS general authorities knew a lot about church governance and how things operate so they made natural leaders. He grew up around his grandfather Melvin J. Ballard. His relatives were apostles. I never really disputed this because it made logical sense to me that the Lord placed men like Russell Ballard in the homes in which they were born for a reason so they could learn leadership.”

  10. All General Authorities, but especially Apostles, have extremely high Metachlorian counts! It simply runs in certain family lines… And Mormons are smarter than Jedi and Sith, because we don’t discourage marriage and the rearing of children, instead we encourage it! : )

  11. I was also thinking that maybe mission and temple presidents shouldn’t be included.

    What’s hard to ascertain is the extent of the ‘friendship’ factor for GA callings. It would be interesting to know how many will recommend a friend to be added to the list. Like were Uchtdorf and Kopischke friends before hand? I’ve often wondered if there was ever a complete unknown to any GA when recommended. If there was a case where a GA from Mexico felt that some stake president in Japan, who he never spoke to, should be included in a recommendations list or if simply all of them are known well, and accepted as friendly, before they are recommended. I wonder.

    By the way what’s a Metachlorian count?

  12. Although we have developed a “sacred custom” in the church of having the senior apostle become the next president after a president dies, several early apostles, including Heber J. Grant, wanted presidential succession to be done along blood lines. That is why Pres. Grant sought to skip over Wilford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow and give the presidency to Joseph F. Smith. Go even further back, according to some historians, and you will see Brigham Young maneuvering to have one of his sons, presumably Brigham Junior, succeed him. Blood or family has always been there.

  13. Ray,

    “Nine out of hundreds – I can accept that.”

    First of all, do you have a choice either way? 🙂 I don’t know that I have a problem either way either. But it is interesting. But if you take any particular GA and compare him to an average family, it would be unusual that many sons and/or sons in law are either a GA, AA70, mission president, stake president, visitor center director, Temple president or MTC president.

    That is a better comparison, perhaps.

  14. We have one couple in our ward who both have dads in the 70. I kind of assumed they met at some big GA barbecue.

  15. “Elder Ballard used to tell us that he had believing blood and that a descendant of LDS general authorities knew a lot about church governance and how things operate so they made natural leaders.”

    Umm…even back when I was a missionary who all but idolized his mission president, if he had said anything about “believing blood” to me I would have had to work hard to make sure my reaction didn’t offend him.

    GW and Jeb Bush worked really hard to get into the family business, too. Does that mean they have “presidential blood”? It’s a pretty natural thing for those kinds of aspirations to exist within a family. In the church, you don’t necessarily have to be aspiring to a certain position, but I’m sure many children of leaders aspire to live lives similar to their parents’.

    So while I think “believing blood” is absolute male bovine feces, there would certainly be other factors that would lead to what we see without it necessarily being outright, nefarious nepotism. That being said, what I’ve seen so far from Ann Dibb….well, it’s hard for me to believe that she’s somehow uniquely qualified to reach young women. Does anyone know what the stipend is for a counselor in the YW gen presidency? (too cynical?)

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    “That being said, what I’ve seen so far from Ann Dibb….well, it’s hard for me to believe that she’s somehow uniquely qualified to reach young women.”

    That is exactly what started this in the first place.

  17. The idea of “believing blood” goes back to a Masonic idea of royal bloodlines that include tales and connections of the Illuminati and the Merovingian bloodlines. Ancient people also believed that certain bloodlines carried blessings, spiritual gifts or curses with them, such as the curse of Canaan. The tribe of Dan was prophesied to be the black sheep of the nation of Israel which would bite the other tribes of Israel. It seems archaic having the idea of bloodlines inviting some psychic ability. Is that why the Tribe is named in our Patriachial blessing, to support some sort of bloodline theory?

  18. A missionary in our mission told the Prez off for not making him a leader — he had read into his patriarchal blessing a promise he will be a leader…

    Methinks patriarchal blessings’ tribe statements are almost 100% spiritual, and have nothing to do with “blood relations”/bloodlines.

    Sorry for threadjacking… there was a stake reorganization around here, where the Area President knew absolutely nobody (according to second hand report), when he interviewed them. So he really couldn’t go with a relative or even a foaf.

    The Church is getting more diverse, and there’ll be less Utah-centrism and nepotism. But there will always be the natural assumption that if someone was brought up by faithful parents — and has acquired a testimony of his/her own — s/he will be able to do more because there’s just going to be that practical experience, even if second hand. I mean, compared to a convert, who’s called to be a Branch President three months after baptism. I know one like that, and others who were called similarly within a year of being baptized.

    Am I making sense here? I feel like I’m driveling…

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