Michael Quinn gave a fascinating interview on a wide range of topics on Mormon Stories. There are a lot of topics I could discuss, but I was surprised to hear Quinn defend correlation. In response to a question about correlation, Quinn said (at about the 29 minute mark of Part 2),
In correlation’s defense, it’s not a threat but it is a challenge. The church, ever since the 1960’s has faced a fundamental challenge of centrifugal growth. With that massive growth in the hinterlands of the church, in particular for different cultures where English is not the common language, it was a question of losing the identity of Mormonism that it might become what the Irish Church was to Catholicism and Rome, what the French Church was to Catholicism and Rome–national churches with their own way of doing Catholicism, sometimes in opposition to the Holy See in Rome. Well, the leadership of the church didn’t want to re-live that experience, and that’s a major reason why correlation came into effect was to standardize the manuals, the instruction, and I”ve often said that–and this is unfair but I’ve said it–this is to make the General Authorities feel at home no matter where they are in the world.
But it’s also to make sure that Mormonism is the same, and that you don’t get a Mexican version of Mormonism, which happened in Mexico in the 1940s. Some of those–they don’t have living memories because they have most of them are too young, but some of the much older men do remember that. They remember that what was called the Third Convention in Mexico. They built their own chapels, they gave their own lessons, they ran a parallel and rival church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Third Convention. So Correlation is one defense against that happening, and for that reason, I don’t think they will ever give up the idea, philosphy, and the engine of Correlation. But I am hoping that it will be more adaptable to the differences that are inevitable in the multi-cultures that the Church enters.
I don’t know–it may not, because there are many people in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, who are happy to be Americanized, and they are very happy to become a part of an American religion. Other–I think a vastly larger population in those areas– do not want to be Americanized, and resist the American trappings that are offered by missionaries to the gospel and by mission presidents. That’s a tension and I expect that’s going to remain a tension. My hope is that Correlation is going to loosen it’s grip. But like I say, historians are terrible as prophets.
This made me want to find out more about this “Third Convention” church. Apparently, between 1925 and 1933, all foreign clergy were expelled from Mexico, leaving the church in Mexico quite isolated for many years. Because of these restrictions, Mexican saints asked for a local leader as their mission president, however the request was not granted. After their third request (giving name to the Third Convention), Mexican members broke away and were excommunicated. However, in 1946, President George Albert Smith traveled to Mexico for 10 days and changed the punishment to disfellowshipment. Church members eventually reconciled and came back into the church. For more information, you can read about in in this 1972 Ensign article, as well as the Orson Pratt Brown website, which gives more biographic information on the men involved in this episode in history.
Except for Fundamentalist Mormons, I wasn’t aware of other schismatic groups, or their reconciliation. I guess Quinn sees this as a way to prevent national churches, and to that end, it does seem that Correlation has prevented that. What do you make of this?