It has recently come to my attention that my ward and stake are in a gross state of apostasy.  I was completely unaware of this until I saw this infographic on the LDS Newsroom site, but now that I know about it, I really think you need to send us some GAs to reorganize everything, because we’re doing it all wrong here in the suburbs of Austin (and every other place I’ve ever lived, come to think of it).

First thing:  in my ward and stake, the bishopric and the stake presidency are the main leadership.  But according to the infographic, they are supposed to be marginal, sidelined figures.  I had no idea!

Next thing:  a quick look shows that the stake RS, YM, YW, and Primary presidencies are the central leaders for the entire stake.  We don’t do that at all.

Also, I did not realize that the YM program was an auxiliary.  I think this might be news to them.

Further, I had no idea that the stake high council was so unimportant.  But look how tiny they are!  Here, they are very well known because they speak regularly to the wards, whereas most ward members have absolutely no idea who the stake-level YM, YW, and RS pres, members are, even if they are in those organizations themselves.  We are way off-base here in Austin!

Also, our stake has a Sunday School presidency, but apparently those aren’t supposed to exist.  Oops.

Also, we are really messing up by having the same women who are in the ward RS, YW, and Primary presidencies serve on the ward council, when this graphic suggests that there are entirely separate women serving on the ward council. (Who are they?  What are their callings?)

And as if that weren’t bad enough, our ward council is way wrong, too:  apparently it is supposed to have a total of six people with an equal number of men and women, but ours has almost a dozen men and three women.

And here’s where we are really messing up:  we have divided our men into an “Elders Quorum” and a “High Priests Group.”  But now I know that they are all supposed to be part of one group that is called “the Lay Priesthood Presidency.” I’ve never even heard of this before–that’s how apostate we are down here.

Plus, I don’t think my ward RS Pres knows that they are over the Sunday School and Primary the way that this chart shows.

More generally, this chart suggests that stake and ward leadership responsibilities are roughly evenly divided between men and women, and that the men and women have similar roles.  Um, I don’t quite know how to put it gently, but:  we do nothing of the sort down here.  Here, almost all leadership responsibilities are given to priesthood holders.  Who are all male.   Wait . . . are we doing that wrong, too?


Julie M. Smith





95 comments for “Dear SLCHQ,

  1. Hard to tell if you’re being sarcastic or not. I’m guessing this is your first experience with infographics? Their purpose is to simplify complicated concepts for the uninitiated. I wouldn’t concern myself too much with the relative size, number, position or color of the little people in the image.

  2. Ducheznee, there’s a world of difference between simplifying and misrepresenting.

    Michael, here’s the first sentence of explanation of each group from the current handbook:

    MP: “The priesthood is the power and authority of God.”
    YM: “The priesthood is the power and authority of God.”
    RS: “The Relief Society is an auxiliary to the priesthood.”
    YW: “The Young Women organization is an auxiliary to the priesthood.”
    Primary: “The Primary is an auxiliary to the priesthood.”
    SS: “The Sunday School is an auxiliary to the priesthood.”

    MP and YM do not use the word auxiliary in their descriptions. So, based on that, I do not believe it is accurate to say that the YM are an auxiliary.

  3. If something is auxiliary, it has to be auxiliary to something else. The auxiliary motor on a D9 Caterpillar bulldozer is secondary to the main motor. In an LDS context, the auxiliaries exist in order to help bring about priesthood purposes. So by definition, it is impossible for a priesthood quorum to be an auxiliary.

  4. And why the flippin’ heck are all the women republicans? Does this mean that when Brigham Young divided Utah politically that the congregation was already gender segregated? Are we doing that wrong too? If so, who is the third set of benches for in our chapel?

  5. Yeah, that’s pretty bad. It may simplify something, but, other than the use of certain terms (e.g., “auxiliary,” “Sunday School”), it’s pretty much unrelated to the organization of the church where I attend. Of course, “inaccurate” and “infographic” may well be synonomous.

  6. A priesthood quorum can’t be an auxiliary, but the Young Men/YMMIA has always been regarded as an auxiliary. See here for a recent instance of YM being listed as an auxiliary:

    Although they have been more closely integrated since the ’70s, YM and AP have never been the same thing. Aaronic Priesthood meets on Sunday and has youth leaders. YM meets on Wednesday and is led by old guys like me.

  7. I read your entire post before seeing the infographic and thought “wow, they must have really messed up!” After seeing the graphic I think you’re making much ado about nothing. The size and/or positions of a leader in the graphic don’t constitute the degree of authority. Not every infographic works like a word cloud.

    I’ll agree with you that MP and YM are not auxiliaries but for the sake of explaining to others, I don’t see a problem listing them with the other auxiliaries.

    I will voice my disdain at the horrible fonts across the heading and used for the words “Stake” and “Ward” as well as the muted colors that make this graphic look like something from the 1940’s. Barf.

  8. I wouldn’t concern myself too much with the relative size, number, position or color of the little people in the image.
    I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not. It’s an infographic, the relative size, position, number and color are the entire point.

  9. Thanks for the kind shout-out, Julie. I am so sorry to hear of the state of affairs in your stake. It sounds like you have truly gone astray. Best of luck to you and your fellow Austin saints in getting that sorted out and back in line. I should very much like to come visit your ward and stake if you do manage to get it cleaned up to match the infographic.

    Warmest regards,


  10. Is there a Paid Priesthood Presidency on the obverse? Because–just in case someone’s inclined to give it to me–that’s the priesthood I want. Just for pin money, of course.

  11. Women with calf length dresses look terrible in silhouette, unless it flares out like a princess skirt or hugs like a pencil skirt. Do all LDS women in leadership look so shapeless and matronly?

    And what is with the sexy catwalk stances? Overly modest in their dress, and overly immodest in their provocative poses. That Young Women’s Presidency especially, is really rocking it!

  12. I like the simplicity of the infographic. For people not of the church this is helpful. But I don’t find it helpful that a description under the ward council photo in the article refers to the church as Latter-Day Saint. How many times do we hear media outlets misquoting the real name of the church?! We should at least get that as we want other people people to know us.

  13. I could worry since we’re doing it wrong in my stake too. Or I could laugh at the hilarity.

  14. Love the wicked humor, but of course this is designed to give non-members a general impression of how things work. And women do serve in leadership, and in a way that is much more than in many other churches.

    To be fair, I have been in ward council meetings when women came close to outnumbering men, back when there was an activities committee, I was there for the ward newsletter, and we had sister missionaries. Also, some units invite the entire RS presidency.

  15. “And women do serve in leadership, and in a way that is much more than in many other churches.”

    Could you be specific, Naismith? Name a church with fewer lay leadership opportunities for women, please.

  16. One of my sisters is Baptist and another is Catholic. They both have great admiration for the way LDS women speak and pray before the entire congregation, and tell me that they have no opportunity to do so. In one case, the congregation’s social services agency is run by a paid professional rather than a relief society president. In one case, the sunday school teacher is always a (male) minister, so a woman never teaches the adults.

    Women also serve in stake and regional public affairs, family history, and music callings–all situations where men may report to them.

  17. The focus seems to be more on how your Mormon neighbors participate in the work of their church, and not so much on who’s calling the shots among your area’s Mormons.

  18. The ward in the infographics as described sounds far more appealing to me than the reality of current life in my LDS ward. I have in my imagination an LDS church that might have been, if the iron rod correlation Nazis hadn’t gotten so much power and did everything they could to castrate the auxilaries and slap the women down. The real ward that I attend seems to be trying to be prety much the same as the Austin ward. I am cheered that this is acknowledged as apostasy.

    Perhaps this infographics is a last gasp for an LDS church that might have been? Or maybe a hopeful initial realization that correlation has gone too far for too long and it might be past time to start a 50 year process of swinging back to a better place? The hemorrhaging of members will eventually stop one way (bleed to death) or another (fix the problems). This will require a real reformation, not a few snazzy advertisements.

  19. I checked the infographic. I agree that it is much ado about nothing.

    The YM is indeed referred to as an auxiliary. Not the Aaronic Priesthood, mind you, but the YM organization.

    The size of the high council silhouettes is to accommodate the number of images on the page. I think to equate that with the relative “importance” of the high council is a trifle…disingenuous.

    As for the ward council, I can easily see that graphic as being representative of the fact that there are six ward level organizations listed on the infographic (correctly listed with 3 male leaders and 3 female leaders). Does this represent the clerk, bishop’s councilors, ward mission leader, etc.? No. Does it represent completely the male/female dynamic of church leadership? No. Nor do I think that either of those things is the point of the infographic. Bringing up more questions than answers in an infographic would be a pointless exercise. Someone’s always going to find a nit to pick when depicting an organization or process at a high level.

    Stake vs. ward – Obviously the stake is listed at the top of the page, with the ward at the bottom. I think it’s a pretty straightforward way to explain to those unfamiliar with the organization of the church that the stake is over the ward, in terms of precedence. However, too much stress on relative importance at the auxiliary level is both confusing and superfluous for the purposes of such a graphic. This is an explanatory graphic, not a political one.

    At the end of the day, I don’t think the level of snark in the OP(and certainly not the accusations of intentional misrepresentation in the comments) is warranted by the infographic. Trust me, creating one of these things isn’t nearly as easy as it looks and you can’t please everyone, especially those who are not necessarily in the target audience of the infographic.

  20. Amen to John Mansfield’s comment. Some may view the local leadership through a different lens and hence object that some of the details are not connected in the way that is important to the viewer. But for giving an overview to our neighbors of the service given by our members as lay leaders in a church setting, I think it make sense as is.

    Thanks Naismith also for your comments. As a sister missionary I was also part of Ward Councils where women outnumbered the men (because my companion and I tipped the scale), but usually in my experiences in Ward Councils have been slightly male heavy. After my mission in I had a point where I and my RSP counselors were invited to Ward Council, but we didn’t usually all come feeling that one representative was sufficient. (Does that make us slackers?)

    And sure, if we’re being picky, the graphic could leave off the Ward Council entirely and just note that the leaders depicted in the darker shades in addition to meeting the needs of their organization, meet with the Bishopric to discuss the needs of the entire ward. But, that may not have looked graphically pleasing, so ah well, we’ll double count everyone. I don’t really think that’s very deceptive when the details are available elsewhere. Graphics can’t always say it all AND look good.

  21. UPDATE: It appears that the infographic on the Newsroom’s website was changed overnight so that it now includes a stake Sunday School presidency.

    Leftfield, I see your point that there might be some contexts in which it would be appropriate to consider the YM an auxiliary, although I don’t think this chart is one of them. However, I can’t think of any context in which it would be appropriate to call the ward-level “Lay Priesthood Presidency” an auxiliary, as this infographic does.

    For those who don’t see what the big deal is, try a little thought experiment. Let’s say that instead of an infographic, the same information was presented in the form of “should” statements by a female BYU Religious Education professor in a published article:

    “The bishopric and the stake presidency should be sidelined.”
    “The stake aux pres. should be the central leadership of the stake.”
    “The role of the stake high council should be minimized and the role of stake aux pres regarded as much more important.”
    “The ward council should have six people, half of them women.”
    “The Aaronic priesthood should be completely ignored.”
    “The leadership of wards and stakes–in numbers and in responsibilities–should be roughly evenly divided between men and women.”

    How many nanoseconds do you think it would take her to be fired?

    Perhaps I should be thrilled that the Newsroom seems to be really pushing the envelope in terms of feminism. (I’ve heard through the grapevine–and this rumor is worth every penny you paid to read it–that the Newsroom is actively pushing a pro-gender-equality agenda in order to change not only the opinion that outsiders have of the Church but the opinion that Church members have as to how things should be.) But it just comes off as misleading to me.

    I don’t actually know if this infographic was deliberately designed to be misleading, or just done sloppily. (The overnight addition of a Sunday School stake-level pres. suggests sloppy to me.) However, given that the picture on the top of the article shows a roughly gender equal ward council, and given this previous production from the Newsroom:

    “Do Mormon women lead in the Church?

    Yes. All women are daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. Women and men are equal in the sight of God. The Bible says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). In the family, a wife and a husband form an equal partnership in leading and raising a family.

    From the beginning of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints women have played an integral role in the work of the Church. While worthy men hold the priesthood, worthy women serve as leaders, counselors, missionaries, teachers, and in many other responsibilities— they routinely preach from the pulpit and lead congregational prayers in worship services. They serve both in the Church and in their local communities and contribute to the world as leaders in a variety of professions. Their vital and unique contribution to raising children is considered an important responsibility and a special privilege of equal importance to priesthood responsibilities.”

    . . . I think we need to consider the possibility that someone is cherry-picking to create an impression more in line with what they wish were true than what is true.

    I think we can look back now at what CES did in the 70s and 80s and see how they shaped LDS theology in a very conservative direction by cherry-picking GA quotes and filling their manuals with the most conservative LDS thought, while ignoring other threads. I’m getting the feeling that, now that CES has been reigned in, the Newsroom is taking up that mantle.

  22. Given the utter uselessness of a ward SS presidency my mind boggles at the overwhelming utter uselessness of a stake SS presidency.

  23. I think you could have conveyed your points without such a high level of snark and sarcasm. This makes you sound bitter.

  24. …this chart suggests that stake and ward leadership responsibilities are roughly evenly divided between men and women

    I think that was almost entirely the point of the infographic.

  25. #23 – “Let’s say that instead of an infographic, the same information was presented in the form of “should” statements by a female BYU Religious Education professor in a published article.”

    That certainly would outrageous. But we’re not talking about such a person – we’re talking about an infographic in the LDS Newsroom, the place where the Church disseminates basic information to the press and general populace. This is not an org chart.

    If we’re going to critique the accuracy of the representative pictures in the graphic, may I point out that my ward meets in the Stake Center, so the Ward building in my case should be the exact same size and shape as the Stake building. Additionally, all of the silhouetted leaders are clearly prime physical specimens. Where are the overweight elders, hunch-backed high priests, pregnant sisters, or that 7′ brother from the high council? I also don’t see anyone toting an iPad, with the possible of exception of the left-most member of the ward YM presidency who may, in fact, be using LDS Tools on his smartphone.

    When I’m attempting to describe the organization of the Church to a non-member, this infographic is remarkably similar to what I might say.

  26. I’d like to also point out that the Handbook of Instructions does NOT contain any infographics. Therefore, either the infographic is apostate material OR we’re already replacing the handbook.

  27. ” I’m getting the feeling that, now that CES has been reigned in, the Newsroom is taking up that mantle.”

    One thing to keep in mind is that if church PR is like most PR and like most LDS regional public affairs councils with which I have worked, it is likely women who are writing some of this.

    But they are LDS women who have had LDS men working under them, often have served missions, have had to respond to phone calls from local media, etc. So in their real-life experience, they truly do believe that women lead in significant ways. It’s just that their real-life experience may not be representative of the real-life experience of all or most LDS women.

  28. Threads like this are as much fun to read for what they reveal about commenters as about the topic of the OP.

    You troublemaker, Julie. If your neighbors are as wicked[ly funny] as you are, no wonder Austin is doin’ it rong.

  29. I don’t think PR is doing this without full approval of the Higher Ups. I think it is a vision of the direction the FP and 12 would like to see us go. it certainly is a vision I have of a more gender fair Church structure.

  30. @ Ducheznee #1

    Their purpose is to simplify complicated concepts for the uninitiated

    uh, no. the purpose of a good infographic is to convey data with more detail and clarity than could be accomplished in a similar amount of space filled up with printed language.

  31. For some of us at church, we have no idea that women don’t have any power or aren’t represented. Some of us spend our adult lives in Primary and Relief Society were we see women leaders. We never attend Ward Council to know who is there and who makes the decision. We have no real clue what PEC is or what a High Council does. While we occasionally know that the boring old guy speaking is a High Councilor we don’t remember if he is the same guy from last time because we arrive to church 10 minutes late and have never heard his name, and we don’t know if he speaks once a month or once a year because we don’t keep track of that sort of thing, we are just trying to make it through with our young children.
    So while some people are concerned with the gender power structure, for many of us who only sit in the bishop’s office for tithing settlement or a calling extension, we don’t actually see this power being used.
    The infographic doesn’t look strange to us because the High Council seems irrelevant to my life.
    I could blame this on my gender and never being taught things in Priesthood meetings (I’m sure my brothers know all this stuff), but my husband is probably more clueless than me. Yes, he was the type to have never known what General Conference was until he went on his mission, to his family it was a holiday and no one at church had ever taught him any differently.

  32. Can’t comment on the rest of the snark, but YM Presidencies are indeed aware that they are considered an auxiliary.

    That’s why I have to go to all the priesthood leadership training AND the auxiliary training.

  33. Ah, my mistake. If we are to start off with the base assumption that the infographic is an insidious indicator of some alleged church agenda against women, then of course all of the snark makes perfect sense. Of course, if you dispute the premise…

    Also, expressing in excruciating detail all the various socio-political underpinings of an organization is, in fact, NOT the purpose of an infographic.

    “The bishopric and the stake presidency should be sidelined.”
    First thing on the page after the definition of stake is the stake president. But of course because it isn’t centered on the page (which would ruin the flow of the page and create dead space, thus forcing one to turn a one page document into several. Which is what you want when the average person has the attention span of a piece of lettuce.

    “The stake aux pres. should be the central leadership of the stake.”
    Again, page position. Great basis for that assumption.

    “The role of the stake high council should be minimized and the role of stake aux pres regarded as much more important.”
    Since you can obviously fit 12 silhouettes in the same space as 6. It obviously has nothing to do with fitting the available space in a font not designed to destroy eyesight.

    “The ward council should have six people, half of them women.”
    The document is obviously self-referential and doesn’t mention all of the players in a ward council. But any good infographic should, of course, introduce new information not explained anywhere else in the infographic which truly is not pertinent to the vast majority of the target audience. Silly infographic. Give us all the minutiae.

    “The Aaronic priesthood should be completely ignored.”
    Or, since the Bishop presides over the Aaronic Priesthood and is already represented, you could go with the actual structure of the ward as presently constituted. Just throwing that idea out there.

    “The leadership of wards and stakes–in numbers and in responsibilities–should be roughly evenly divided between men and women.”
    The only thing on the entire chart that could realistically even be alleged as misleading and which could very easily be a simple function of not including all players in the ward council, in the available space on the page. Hint: There isn’t anymore space and the other members of the ward council are not critical in understanding the hierarchy of the church.

  34. On the representation of the high council – those figures could have been made larger to better represent their roles as overseers and advisers to the auxiliaries if the designer had chosen to include fewer of them. Just as eight male members of the ward council were deleted from the graphic for the sake of space and simplicity, so also eight members of the high council could have been similarly deleted.

  35. But then again, outsiders might have assumed that some of the missing high councilors were female, so I take back my suggestion. Sorry.

  36. So while some people are concerned with the gender power structure, for many of us who only sit in the bishop’s office for tithing settlement or a calling extension, we don’t actually see this power being used.

    jks, why do you assume that you are describing two different groups of people? Almost every detail of your self-description applies to me as well. I don’t go to ward council, I have no idea who’s on the high council or when they spoke or what they said, I spend all my time at church wrestling small children, etc. But why would a maternal situation–such as the one we both occupy–preclude being concerned with gender and power? Wouldn’t it, on the contrary, motivate one to inform herself about those structures so she could make sure that her children would have the best possible church experience?

    I’m very leery of the Mormon woman tendency to throw up our hands and say, “That’s all for the men to worry about, so glad I don’t have the priesthood!”–and to see this abdication of our responsibility to inform ourselves about the power structures that govern our church as a virtue. We would never in a million years take that attitude toward our schools or our government. (No matter how virulently traditional our ideas about gender. Gayle Ruzicka, Exhibit A.) Why on earth would we consider it virtuous to abdicate knowledge of the social structures that we believe administer the ordinances of salvation?

  37. Peter LLC on April 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm
    Can’t comment on the rest of the snark

    You just did.

    I commented underneath it.

  38. Please, some of us are very sensitive about all this. These are actual pictures of my stake and ward. Yes, we are blue and pink. Don’t I look beautiful? (I am the pink middle figure in the families section).

  39. Of course, the infographic is incomplete, because it does not include Jesus, who certainly is not professional clergy.

  40. Doesn’t it get tiring to continuously bear these fruits of discontent?

    There’s an actual person, or group of people who put some effort into an imperfect graphic to make a point, and yes part of that point seems to be an attempt to push back against the nonsensical idea that women are second class citizens in the church.

    It’s reasonably understandable that someone outside of the church would get that idea based on how Christianity is largely perceived and practiced by many fundamentalists (and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often gets lumped in with the fundamentalists). But it’s absolute nonsense for a faithful member to suggest women are generally treated as a matter of policy and structure as second class citizens.

  41. I read the OP and then clicked on the infographic, and I didn’t see what I expected to see. It looks like a fair representation of reality to me. I would rather you do a post on how the RS is an “auxiliary” if it is, as Sister Beck says, an integral, necessary part of the restoration. Could you get on that please?

  42. chris, a better way to push back against the idea that women are second class citizens is to stop treating them that way in church. You know, maybe give them just a bit of power in the institution. A misleading little infographic that papers over the issue by pretending it doesn’t exist is less than helpful.

    Also, your opening line that blames people for being irritated by things like this is absurd. If women were pushing for power in some secular realm, say the right to vote or something, would you patronizingly ask them if they weren’t tired of bearing their fruits of discontent, to suggest that the problem was with them and not with the structure that didn’t let them vote?

  43. I’ve been in wards before where the SS Secretary was a woman (BYU student wards and a few family wards where she was the spouse of the presidency). Yet this picture does not portray that. Has that changed?

    The poster reminds of me some sort of separate-but-equal statement. Sure the numbers are equal, but no co-mingling allowed in the boxes. Except in my apostate wards, as noted above.

  44. “You know, maybe give them just a bit of power in the institution.”

    Putting aside the fact that it is the Lord’s church and all should be done according to His will whether the vessel receiving the inspiration has a penis or not….

    This implies that women as decision-makers will be different from men, and make decisions that are better for women.

    At least twice I have complained to a priesthood leader about something I did not like, and asked them whether women were present when the bonehead move was taken. Okay, I admit, once I actually said, “There must not have been any women there when….”

    Both times, there were women there.

    Also, sometimes the church does not make public what power women do have. When our stake was reorganized, it was announced that the boundary lines were recommended by a committee of members that had been working for some months. I happened to know that quite a few of those members were women, but they didn’t make a deal out of saying that it was a committee of brothers and sisters. Which maybe they should have, and are trying to do more.

  45. Both times, there were women there.

    Women there who might have been acquiescing to what they understood the priesthood leaders to be requiring, though.

  46. Naismith, I’m sorry that you had a couple experiences where you felt embarrassed for spouting assumptions that turned out to be wrong, but I don’t really see any connection between that and “implies that women as decision-makers will be different from men, and make decisions that are better for women.” I don’t have to believe that black male priesthood leaders make decisions any differently from white male priesthood leaders to believe that excluding black men from the priesthood is harmful to our religious society. I don’t have to believe that left-handed people have different voting patterns from right-handed people to believe that excluding left-handed people from voting would be harmful to our democratic society.

  47. Putting aside the fact that it is the Lord’s church and all should be done according to His will whether the vessel receiving the inspiration has a penis or not….

    Yup, “should be” is the operative phrase here. Do you really believe that GAs are infallible? Because unless you do, this argument that you’re “putting aside” (but passive aggressively bringing up) falls flat. I believe GAs are fallible, so of course there are areas where the Church could be changed that God would be okay with (or even happy with) that they haven’t gotten around to changing.

  48. The presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood is the bishopric, right? Therefore the YM presidency is not the presidency of any priesthood quorum or any other priesthood body. I think the graphic is actually quite accurate in this regard.

  49. #60. The bishop is just the president of the Priest’s Quorum. The Teacher’s and Deacon’s quorum each have presidents that hold priesthood keys.

  50. #61 – True, however that does not invalidate the point that the YM presidency is not the presidency of any priesthood quorum and is, in fact, an auxiliary, as suggested by the infographic.

  51. If I were a non-member looking at this infographic, I would see that:

    1) a ‘stake’ contains several ‘wards’
    2) the lay ministry within both are very similar, with a presidency, a council, and then responsibility for members divided up among six principle organizational structures, three of which are staffed by men and three by women (except, where is the ‘lay priesthood presidency’ at the stake level?)
    3) I can figure out the purpose of most of the organizations (YM, YW, Children’s Primary, Sunday School, Priesthood), and though the meaning of ‘Relief Society’ is not immediately obvious, a quick look at Wikipedia explains it

    Now I’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect if I were to visit a Mormon church meeting. Thanks for the great infographic!

    (I pre-apologize for the feathers the following will ruffle.) I think many people here are reading a LOT more into this infographic than they should. I can understand feeling underappreciated and disrespected, but I would hope that none of our testimonies hinge on the acquisition of implied power. All else being equal, I’d rather not have any calling at all – just show up, sing and pray, then go home to nap. But all else is not equal. The Church is what it is because we all serve in various capacities at different times in our lives. Perhaps dealing with either side of this issue is one of God’s ways of keeping us humble. We can choose to be bitter and murmur like Laman and Lemuel that our younger brother would rule over us, or we can humble ourselves and share equally in the blessings that the Lord gives to all that seek Him. As far as I know there is not an extra heavenly reward waiting for those that serve in positions of Priesthood leadership, so why worry about it?

  52. scoob, the point of this post was _not_ to argue that women should have more leadership, it was just to make fun of a poorly-constructed infographic.

    That said, you should understand that the final paragraph of your comment, while perhaps seeming completely reasonable to you, is the kind of thing that makes a feminist reader want to slam her head into a wall. Here’s a little thought experiment for you: let’s say that tomorrow, you woke up in an alternative universe where [people with scoob’s eye color] were not allowed to hold the priesthood, but everyone else was. Do you think “why worry about it?” would solve all of your problems, or do you think you might spend some time thinking about what the priesthood ban for [people of scoob’s eye color] implied for the concept of eye color, for your specific eye color, for your personal life as a person of that eye color, for God’s character and purposes, and for how you relate to your spouse (who has a different eye color and therefore exercises the priesthood in your home)?

    There will be some unreflective people, sure. There will be some people who find the rationales for priesthood eye color ban very persuasive and so they won’t think about it after an initial pass. But a big chunk of people, whose life will now in large part be defined by their eye color, and going to want to think and talk about it. And you don’t need to agree with them (with their concerns or their conclusions), but you come off as unreasonably flippant, patronizing, and belittling if you just dismiss their concerns out of hand.

  53. Hi Julie, I understand the point of your original post (to make fun of the infographic) and I disagree that it was poorly constructed. I suspect that precisely accomplishes what it was intended to.

    My final paragraph was specifically addressing the some of the views expressed in the comments. As for your eye color example – I can honestly say that it wouldn’t bother me. The priesthood is not something I covet. My wife tells me at least once a week how glad she is that SHE doesn’t “have to deal” with it. Now if you had said people of my eye color could not play baseball or could only eat dog food, you would have likely persuaded me to your side of the debate.

    And as for your final paragraph, I’m not asking anyone to agree with me – just chiming in with my opinion in this vibrant discussion. I believe the gospel is really very simple. But we choose to make it complicated; present case in point. Maybe that makes me naive. Maybe I’m choosing the blue pill and with it, ignorance. Time will tell.

  54. “Women there who might have been acquiescing to what they understood the priesthood leaders to be requiring, though.”

    Okay, so do you want women’s voices to be heard or not? Do we not trust women to speak for themselves? Is it possible that the differences between women may be greater than the differences between women and men?

    And while it is true that some female leaders might be acquiescing, if so they are ignoring what they are taught in just about every leadership meeting about speaking up and making a contribution in councils. Also, it is just as likely that men would want to say what is socially acceptable, in order to gain favor and move up the leadership ladder.

    “Naismith, I’m sorry that you had a couple experiences where you felt embarrassed for spouting assumptions that turned out to be wrong, but I don’t really see any connection between that and “implies that women as decision-makers will be different from men, and make decisions that are better for women.”

    Um, because women had, in fact, been integrally involved in making those (IMO bad) decisions. From the outside, I couldn’t tell the difference between a decision made by all men vs. one that was made with a coed group. Maybe I am just a poor judge. Or maybe it often doesn’t matter. By speaking directly to the bishop and finding out, I knew the truth and thus gave up the right to complain about the sexism of the decisions.

    “Yup, “should be” is the operative phrase here. Do you really believe that GAs are infallible?”

    No. Since all church leaders are human, they are of course fallible. But looking at a continuum where on one end is “infallible” and the other is “doing whatever-the-hell they want,” I have to say that the church leaders with whom I have dealt at the ward and stake level have been more towards the infallible side than self-serving, and certainly as regarding intention to serve even though they admitted later that they could have done better.

    I have had some very sweet spiritual experiences that reminded me it was the Lord’s church and not run by the bishop, etc. I can’t count how many times I received an answer to prayer as an RS president, initially expected that the bishop would hate it, planned all sorts of logical arguments to convince him as if I was at my day job, but then walked in and laid it out and the bishopric all nodded and agreed immediately. In some cases saying something like, “We knew that wasn’t right but couldn’t see how to fix it.” When that happens and they know through the spirit what was also revealed to me, it is a wonderful feeling.

    I appreciate that not everyone has those kinds of experiences and/or not all the time.

    “I believe GAs are fallible, so of course there are areas where the Church could be changed that God would be okay with (or even happy with) that they haven’t gotten around to changing.”

    You could well be correct about that; I don’t particularly disagree. I don’t have a problem at all with women having the priesthood or whatever. Women already use priesthood power to serve in the church and perform ordinances in the temple. And when/if they do, we will see how much of a difference it makes.

  55. “My wife tells me at least once a week how glad she is that SHE doesn’t “have to deal” with it.” (scoob, 65)

    I think Shakespeare said something about that, and Google refreshed my memory: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

  56. “My wife tells me at least once a week how glad she is that SHE doesn’t “have to deal” with it.” (scoob, 65)

    Um, if “dealing with it” means home teaching once in a while, participating in service events like helping a neighbor move, cleaning a chapel, giving a blessing, or blessing the sacrament, all things that tend to make a person feel the Spirit, well then sure. I’ve had the Priesthood for nigh on 20 years and have never found it something I deal with. It’s something I hold and, from time to time, I remember just how important it is.

    Your wife, never having held the Priesthood, can only hold such an attitude observing the way people around her who hold the Priesthood “deal with it.” So what does that say?

    Me personally, I’d rather have the Priesthood than play baseball. But I’m no good at baseball.

  57. @scoob: “I would hope that none of our testimonies hinge on the acquisition of implied power.”

    I missed where Julie (or anyone else in this thread) said that they had lost their testimonies over this issue. It’s actually pretty insulting of you to suggest this out of the blue.

  58. Boy, I’m sure glad I won’t have to be judged by you guys (and I use ‘guys’ generically to include the women here).

    Oh, wait. I just was.

    @Chadwick – Why don’t you tell me what you think it says? I can’t speak for my wife, but I’d guess that she sees all of the added responsibilities and time commitment that result from a sincere effort to fulfill our portion of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood – the Saturdays spent away from the family doing service, late-night phone calls to help give a blessing, numberless meetings, vacation time from work spent at scout camp instead of with her and the kids, etc. – and then thinks to herself, ‘Wow! I’m glad I don’t bear that particular burden, despite its many spiritual blessings for my husband and our family’.

    @ Cynthia L. – I didn’t see that anyone said that either, nor intend to suggest that anyone had.

  59. Where is the infographic for the Mormon Paid Ministry? That would be very useful for job seekers, particularly if it was arranged by pay grade. It could start with the Prophet, First Presidency, Apostles, 70s, Presiding Bishopric, a section for CES, Young Women’s, Relief Society and Primary Presidencies, etc.

  60. Helping people move, scout camp, etc., are not priesthood responsibilities. Women help people move, take meals, go to girls camp, serve in time consuming callings, answer calls to serve at all hours of the day or night, etc.

    Conflating our regular church activities (which do not require priesthood authority) with priesthood is ridiculous and shows a lack of understanding regarding what the priesthood is and how ordained priesthood functions in the church.

  61. Let’s see if I can make this simple and informative:

    First, MP and YM are the Priesthood, Melchizedek and young Aaronic Priesthood, respectively.

    Second, Priesthood is not the authority to command people, but a calling to serve them.

    Third, an auxiliary is responsible for supporting the Priesthood in serving its members and others.

    So, from my viewpoint, we are supposed to be in this together, all of us, nobody better than the other.

    My observation has been that many presidencies don’t study the handbook, so your ward/stake may or may not have things that the handbook specifies…

  62. “….the Saturdays spent away from the family doing service, late-night phone calls to help give a blessing, numberless meetings, vacation time from work spent at scout camp instead of with her and the kids, etc.”

    And just what is it that you think a Relief Society president does? While you guys are carrying boxes around, we are fixing a meal for the new family, scrubbing their bathroom, etc. We get late-night calls to sit with the woman whose child is sick or husband dying, or to comfort a sister who has been raped. I had to take time off from my paid job to pick up food orders, orchestrate meals for weekday funerals and missionary zone conferences, and so on. I tracked my mileage for tax purposes and it was not unusual to drive more than 100 miles in 24 hours.

    My husband has had a lot of those “big” priesthood callings, and in our experience high councilor and bishopric counselor were much less demanding than RS president. Orders of magnitude. Although I grant you that may vary from ward to ward, depending on the needs. Our inconsiderate people had a bad habit of dying and losing their jobs. Only as a bishop did he spend more hours.

    I cannot even start to express how insulting and offensive I find the notion that priesthood callings are more demanding, because it dismisses women’s work as if it doesn’t exist. And that is one reason I am not particularly in favor (not against but not advocating) of women getting the priesthood. Because all it does is continue to dignify the same work that men have always done, not recognize the vast amounts of work that women have always done.

    Oh, sorry for the threadjack, Julie.

  63. To clarify, the three members of the bishopric form the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood in a ward. Unlike every other ward auxiliary, a newly called young men’s president in a ward does NOT prayerfully recommend his counselors. That is done by the bishopric, as outlined in the CHI. Though a deacon’s and a teacher’s quorum president holds priesthood keys, each of those quorums are overseen by a member of the bishopric, with assistance from the quorum advisers. Therefore, the young men’s organizations on both the ward and stake level are indeed auxiliary organizations.

  64. @70, sacrificing your family’s vacation time together so you can spend that time at scout camp is not a priesthood duty or responsibility; with all due respect, it is poor planning and if it causes a strain for your family it moves from poor planning to stupidity. (Besides, scout camps are perpetual while family vacations with children have time limited horizon, so enjoy your time with your kids and spend time with the scouts when your kids are gone.). It may be a sacrifice and you may be doing something really valuable for the scouts, but you are in no way fulfiling a priesthood duty anymore than when I politely decline a similar offer so I can spend my vacation with my family I am being a priesthood slacker. You need to distingsh between priesthood service and Church service or you will be guilted into a bunch of things mistakenly thiinking you are fulfilling a priesthood obligation when you are just doing something good and something a sister or non-member could just as easily do, if not a bit better or more efficient. And, if you are in a leadership position, you will unfairly guilt a lot of other people and confuse them at the same time. In terms of Christian service and time and sacrifice invested, I’m not at all confident we priesthood holders can say we do more than non-priesthood holders, be they women or non-Mormons.

  65. #54
    My twenty year old single daughter is the Sunday School Secretary in our family ward.

  66. Do Mormon women lead in the Church?

    2 Julie

    Women do not lead. Yes, we have callings but, only under the direction of men. We do not get to make unilateral decisions for those under our direction. We need to ask for permission from the Bishopric.

  67. Diane, you may have missed that that was a quotation from a statement that that the Newsroom put out and not my own words. If you were to ask me “Do Mormon women lead in the Church?” my answer would be the only intellectually honest one: NO.

  68. Julie, I just want to register that this was pure and delightful genius. That’s all.

  69. Last I checked, the number of unilateral decisions anyone in the church was supposed to make was approximately nil.

  70. So, here is my take on it: Julie Smith is making fun of a poorly done church infographic in typical brilliant fashion. However, the poorly done infographic touches a nerve because of the unequal status of men and women in the church. It appears to me that “errors” in the infographic all seem to downplay the importance of men, and increase the apparent influence of women in leadership positions in the church.

    My extensive, life-long experience with the church and the way it functions is that it is a great and wonderful organization which is nearly completely run by males. Maybe this inforgraphic suggests that the church is ready to grow a bit. At the last General Conference there were 39 addresses and prayers given. Two of those 39 were offered by women. Curiously and strangely, the two sermons offered by women were the third talk of the first session, and the fourth talk of Sunday morning’s session, which is the exact place of the exactly two sermons offered by women for the last 10 conferences, or so. I would say that 2/39ths is about right in terms of direct male and female influence in what I would call the “administrative” church. Not the “ministering” church by which I mean the grass-roots where actual service is done.

    Perhaps the “church” is becoming sensitive to such realities and we will see women’s roles expanded in our administrative culture.

  71. This infographic does feel a little too focused on ‘leadership.’ I think a better message would be illustrating that each member has a responsibility, these responsibilities change often, and that they are volunteer roles focused on following Jesus’ example in ministering and service.

  72. Stephen Hardy, excellent comments. I would just add that the general conference imbalance is even more extreme than the (already quite extreme) 2/39 would indicate. First, the two women are given the shorter time limit that the speakers from the Quorums of 70s are given, not the longer time limits that the speakers from the Quorum of the 12. So 12/37 male speakers are speaking at much greater length than the two women speakers. Also, there are in the four general sessions of conference 8 prayers offered (an opening and closing for each), and 0/8 prayers are offered by women.

  73. The 39 already included the eight prayers, and in fact also included the 2 prayers (and the talks) given in the Priesthood session. Perhaps I shouldn’t include Priesthood session in the ratio, but the Priesthood session is in fact part of General Conference. My main point is that the the infographic suggests equal leadership by men and women in the church, while my personal experience is closer to the 2/39th part for women.

    I hadn’t thought about the time given for talks. Is that really true? Were the women’s talks really shorter?

  74. @82, you left out the general YW session and the general RS sessions. I dont know if they are officially part of GC or not, but their talks pop up in the GC gospel library section for the ipad app with the other general sessions. I think they are also incuded in the printed GC edition of the Ensign. That would increase the total number of women participating and, perhaps, praying but, alas, it seems we men cant leave well enough alone and have to barge in on those meetings as well since men speak in those sessions as well.

  75. And yet if a member of the First Presidency didn’t show up, some would complain that they’re too important for the women…

  76. This post is one of the most childishly petulant, obnoxious things I’ve ever read and I am embarrassed to share a religion with the person who wrote it.

  77. Jake, if this mild thing is really the most childishly petulant, and obnoxious to you, you should totally read my blog sometime.

    Speaking of which, Stephen Hardy, our exchange above inspired me to make an infographic of General Conference speakers. (click my name to see) Thanks!

  78. rbc (86), that you think, but do not know, that talks from the YW and RS sessions are printed in the Ensign speaks volumes. These talks and speakers have not been part of your gospel study and review of Conference messages. Women’s voices and counsel and teachings and testimonies are outside your conception of what it means to hear from Church leaders. That’s kind of the point of this post. Thanks for making it so clear.

  79. @91, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of this new thing called the interwebz or internets, but thanks to it I have not read a printed version of the Ensign in probably 3 years. I’m not even sure if we still subscribe to the printed version in our home; if we do, I don’t bother with it. The Ensign is now more like a series of streaming articles from which I can electronically pick and choose with no regard to how they are organized on a monthly basis. In fact, thanks to the interwebs, I can easily segregate womens voices and counsel and only read them.’ You should try it before you send ignorant and snarky messages via the interwebs.

    Before the internets, my mother served as a Stake RS President and she was told by a counsellor in a SP that women leaders do not sit on the stand during ward conferences with the male stake auxillary leaders like the Stake Yound Men’s President and Stake Sunday School President. She complained to the SP who agreed with her and things changed until the SP was released. The SP was replaced by his retrograde counsellor and women took their place back in the pews instead of the stand. In sum, I’ve seen the kind of nonsense illustrated by the OP for a long, long time. I may no long remember exactly how the printed version of the Ensign is organized and if that makes me a bad, bad man in your eyes, so be it. However, like your ill informed comment, I don’t really care how the printed version of the Ensign iis organized.

    Thanks to the infographic at Cynthia L’s blog, I really wonder how the Women’s and YW’s sessions are considered. Are they really part of GC? I always thought they were and we treat them as such in our home, but according to the infographic from the Church they aren’t part of GC since GC is defined as 5 two hour sessions. Alas, back to the pews for the Women and Young Women. That is a shame.

  80. The interwebz? Oh, golly gee, Ah’ll have to investergate me some o’ that there an’ git back to yez.

    The online version of the Ensign, dear brother, has the same content as the paper version, unless you, like me, opt for the text-only edition and avoid the illustrations. In either case, you should know, not merely think you know, that the Ensign — online as well as on paper — carries the talks from the RS and YW sessions. That you don’t know this, apparently, suggests that you DO pick and choose in a way that avoids those talks.

    Not that I care what you do or don’t read. Your boorish response puts you beyond the pale.

  81. And it is time to close it down.

    Thanks, all.

    Even Jake, who I am happy to acknowledge as a fellow Saint.

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