We hear a lot of talk in progressive Mormon circles about how the current church leaders in Salt Lake City seem behind the times, that they grew up in a different era. Our method of selecting new Apostles almost guarantees that any new apostle will conserve the status quo, as they are selected by the Church President, and he will select somebody who thinks like he does.

I see a lot of parallels in the impact of selecting a Supreme Court Justice here in the USA, and how they will influence laws for decades, with how Apostles are selected, and how they will influence the church for decades. Take for example this paragraph from a recent CNN article

Almost always, the Supreme Court is a lagging indicator of the relative standing between the two parties. Because justices serve for many years, it is not unusual for the court’s composition to bear the imprint of presidents and Senate majorities that governed years, if not decades, earlier. Kennedy, for instance, was confirmed during the Ronald Reagan administration, before the youngest voters in the past three presidential elections were born.

And then, with just changing a few words you have this comparable statement about the Q15

Almost always, the Q15 is a lagging indicator of the opinion of the members. Because Apostles serve for life, it is not unusual for the Q15 composition to bear the imprint of presidents that served years, if not decades, earlier. Nelson, for instance, was sustained during the Spencer Kimball administration, before some of the parents of the current crop of YM/YW were born.

So, will the future bring new blood in the Q15? Will a new generation of Apostles bring a more accommodating posture for LGBT and female members?

I don’t see that happening. While sitting in my new giant Elders Quorum, I can see several very orthodox young guys that are ready to take up the mantel when Elder Bednar is gone. What has changed is that there is not as many of these future orthodox GA types in the ward. So the selection process for future GAs will be more selective.

The church won’t be able to be as selective for local leaders, and some heterodox bishops and Stake Presidents will sneak into the mix (yours truly as an example). And maybe even some MP and Area Authorities. From them, one or two 70’s will slip in. But they will be fully vetted before they are selected as an Apostle.

Now, maybe the progressives will try to slip a “sleeper agent” into the mix. This would be a man that is not orthodox, but plays the part of a TBM for years and maybe decades, just waiting for the call to the Q15, where he could then do his bidding. That would make a great novel! A Manchurian Candidate!

Or maybe there will be a “coming to Jesus” moment for one of the current Q15, when they have a gay grandchild, and it comes to them that God wants this gay grandchild to have full [1] membership in the church. But, that will only be one of 15, and he (no “she” yet) will just have to be quiet until he is first in line.

So what do you think?  Is it a good thing that the Q15 are a “lagging indicator” with current trends? Do you see any chance that the next generation of General Authorities will be any less conservative? Will real change happen within our lifetime?

[1] “Full” implies all blessing and ordnances.