Lay Leadership Infographic

There have been some complaints in the Bloggernacle recently about this infographic.

As someone who certainly hasn’t shied away from criticizing how the LDS church treats women, I just wanted to say: I don’t think it’s all that bad.

I agree that the graphic has strategically tweaked a few things to make LDS lay leadership appear more egalitarian than it is. Namely, it has:

  • Entirely omitted the (usually) all-male Priesthood Executive Committee.
  • Depicted the Ward Council as having equal numbers of men and women, when it almost always has quite a few more men than women (something like 9:3 or 10:3).
  • Combined the Elders Quorum Presidency with the High Priests group leaders into a bizarrely-labeled “Lay Priesthood Presidency” to make it seem like there’s parity between the number of men’s quorum leaders and the Relief Society Presidency. It may also be incorrect in lumping the adult men’s quorums in with “ward auxiliaries.” (Elder’s Quorum is considered an “auxiliary”? Can anyone fill me in on this and I’ll update this post accordingly?)

But other than that? I actually think it’s a decent graphic. Even with what’s presented, it’s pretty clear that there are far more male leadership positions on a local level than there are female leadership positions, and that women ultimately serve under the direction of men. It’s even clear that women are limited to primarily ministering to other women and children. I don’t take any issue with the size of the bishopric and stake presidency boxes or their positions.

It’s much more accurate than the last infographic that the LDS church put out, which played pretty fast and loose with statistics.


Comments

Lay Leadership Infographic — 13 Comments

  1. “Combined the Elders Quorum Presidency with the High Priests group leaders into a bizarrely-labeled “Lay Priesthood Presidency” to make it seem like there’s parity between the number of men’s quorum leaders and the Relief Society Presidency”

    Unless you personally know the maker of this poster, this is no more than your opinion on what they were “trying” to do. It could just be that they were trying to accurately demonstrate the nuance of the High Priest’s Quorum, which is presided over by the stake president and not at the ward level, or just simplifying the model so it would fit on the page, or keeping it to one since branches don’t have high priest’s group, or any other number of completely innocent motives. It frustrates me that you so quickly attribute nefarious motives to anything the Church does that you personally find distasteful. Maybe they really are just trying to do the best they can, even if their best doesn’t measure up to your standards.

    That said, I’m not sure why they didn’t just put Elder’s Quorum Presidency.

  2. Haha…Jack, you’ll be thrilled to know that if one Googles “mormon lay leadership,” your blog is the 2nd hit, behind a KSL story, and ahead of the Church’s own “Mormon Lay Leadership” article from which the infographic originates.

  3. Tomchik ~ Unless you personally know the maker of this poster, this is no more than your opinion on what they were “trying” to do.

    I figured it was a given that this was my opinion. However, the church’s PR department has an established history of trying to make church leadership sound more egalitarian than it is, so I think it’s a reasonable opinion.

    It could just be that they were trying to accurately demonstrate the nuance of the High Priest’s Quorum, which is presided over by the stake president and not at the ward level, or just simplifying the model so it would fit on the page, or keeping it to one since branches don’t have high priest’s group, or any other number of completely innocent motives.

    And what was the “completely innocent motive” for depicting Ward Council with three men and three women? Come on, Tom. There is a pattern here.

    It frustrates me that you so quickly attribute nefarious motives to anything the Church does that you personally find distasteful.

    I guess we’re both frustrated now then, because (1) I wasn’t aware that I had a habit of doing this, and (2) as per the two blog posts I linked to by faithful Mormons at LDS blogs, Mormons themselves are already attributing these “nefarious” motives to “the Church.” And they’re criticizing it much more harshly than I am.

    If you’re frustrated with everyone who has voiced criticism of the graphic—well, okay, but this isn’t some kind of outsider prejudice here.

    Maybe they really are just trying to do the best they can

    Maybe. And maybe honest and respectful critique will help them to refine their ideas and do better next time.

  4. Jack,

    No priesthood quorum is an auxiliary. Thus any elder’s quorum, priests quorum, teacher’s quorum, or deadon’s quorum cannot be labeled as an auxiliary. The high priest’s group is also not an auxiliary because there are simply one sub group of a stake wide high priest’s quorum which has the stake president as its president.

    The truth is if a woman can lead it, it’s an auxiliary. If a man can lead it, it depends. Young Men’s and Sunday School presidencies are lead by men, but they are auxialiaries.

  5. Jack, I’ve always given you props for being very balanced in your evaluation and criticism of the LDS Church and its history, doctrine, leadership, and policies. I’ve read a very large percentage of your internet posts about Mormonism (on this blog, LDS and Evangelical Conversations, etc.). I’ve talked with you personally about various topics relating to Mormonism. You do a better job than most at keeping your criticism fair and accurate.

    Quite simply, I do feel that your opinions and criticism would carry more weight if you were a little less prone to pass judgment on the motives behind Church media/policy/history/doctrine, etc. and limited your critique to an evaluation of the product itself, not the motives behind it. For example:

    “The depiction of the Ward Council being comprised of 3 men and 3 women gives the impression that it is gender equal when in fact it is not”

    rather than

    “The Church is trying to portray themselves as more egalitarian than they are so they depicted the Ward Council as being comprised of 3 women and 3 men.”

    In reality, you (and the LDS blogger you linked) are not in a position to state what the intent was. You (and presumably she) were not privy to the process that generated the graphic, so while it is fair to criticize and say that their representation is inaccurate, it is not fair to state outright that they have ulterior motives for their choice of how to represent Church structure. The Church’s article about the graphic states that it was intended to “help journalists, opinion leaders and the public better understand the structure of local ministration and leadership.” For you to ascribe ulterior motives, unless you are specifically aware of them, is simply unfair.

  6. Wouldn’t the “Lay Priesthood Presidency” also include the presidencies of the Deacons’, Teachers’ and Priests’ Quorums?

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  8. I hope the simplifications in the infographic represent trajectories the institutional Church is on.

    For example, I’ve been thinking a lot about “lay leadership quorums”, and noting that the infrastructure has a tendency to sequester all the men successful at Mormonism away from the group of men who a) have less time because they’re not balancing work/family/church or b) just haven’t been called up yet. All that’s done there is to make them High Priests.

    So, instruction in the Elders *may* suffer from the fact that the people with the best advice are not in the room. I can see how asking High Priests to guest-speak in the Elders more often than zero times per year would be a benefit. And I don’t mean fifth Sundays either.

    Second, I note from attending worldwide trainings that the PEC is diminishing in influence; we’ve all been told that that committee is for the most confidential matters and the RS President is supposed to be invited along for the most sensitive welfare issues.

    And, almost all the traditional stereotypical roles of each group are being minimized in favor of outright one-on-one ministries with an organizational overlay. That is, Elders are no longer just the “group that loads your truck”, RS Sisters no longer just the “group that brings you meals or caters your funeral”, etc.

    This means that, in a sense, my *fear* is that the info-graphic is representative of over-generalization, because it looks like the Church I’d rather belong to and hope my church one day becomes, and then some.

  9. CF ~ I’ve removed your comments from this thread. Please consult the comment policy on this blog, particularly this part:

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can insinuate that I’m stupid, duplicitous, or emotionally unstable and still maintain your commenting privileges here.

    This is your first and only warning. You have a history of accusing me of all kinds of ill-intentions, and then disappearing when I ask you to put up or clarify, so you’re on thin ice as it is. Keep accusing me of being dishonest and I will ban you from commenting.

    Rob, I’m trying to decide what to do with your responses to CF, since they are now part of a one-sided conversation. Do you want me to leave them or remove them?

    —–

    EDIT:

    I went to the trouble of looking up CF’s commenting history on this blog and at LDS & Evangelical Conversations. For the record, his grand accusation of dishonesty on my part from “a year or two ago” happened at Tim’s blog, here, all because he didn’t carefully read my post in its entirety and see that I was talking about the confusion I felt when I was a teenager first studying the church; I was not claiming confusion about what the church teaches in the present. CF bailed from the thread after I pointed that out.

    His posting history at ClobberBlog:

    Here (He insinuates that I had something against Mitt Romney, when in fact I favored him over McCain in 2008.)

    Here (He suggests that those who even question how the church treats women are on the road to apostasy.)

    Here (I wasn’t sure what he meant by this one, but I took it to mean that he thought I was unspiritual and worldly. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and asked him to clarify, and he never responded.)

    Here (He suggests that I think Mormon beliefs are “a crazy load of horse crap” and then implies that, as a non-member, I have no business being interested in Mormonism. I responded and he disappeared.)

    Here (Respectfully argued his position.)

    Here (Respectfully argued his position.)

    Here (Respectfully argued his position at first, then posted a link to some terribad rape apologist later in the thread.)

    Here (Accuses me of dishonesty; disappears when I ask him to back up the accusation.)

    In terms of which members of the church were criticizing this infographic more harshly than I did here, there was nothing vague about it. I linked to them in the very first sentence of my post.

  10. Jack, I dropped you a private note, but what I’d say is that you don’t need to keep my comments around either. I’d like to hang on to number 9.

  11. Okay, Rob, I removed your responses to the CF comments that were sent to Outer Darkness, but left your initial response on this thread.

    CF, you are welcome to restate your critiques of my post respectfully and without calling me a liar. If you need an example of how to do this, see comments #1, #2 and #5 on this thread.

  12. CF ~ You have become the fifth person in five years to be permanently banned from my blog. I repeatedly and respectfully requested that you comply with the comment policy and stop accusing me of dishonesty, especially since you do so without presenting any evidence of dishonesty on my part. You refused. You’ve indicated that you feel justified in treating me however you like because the OP contains a very mild critique of your church. In that you couldn’t be more wrong. Your own religion teaches that all men and women are sons and daughters of God, inherently worthy of dignity and respect. I suggest you reflect on that next time you react to someone whom you feel has “attacked” your church.

    I have removed your comments from this thread in addition to most of the comments in reply to you because your volatile treatment of me did nothing to further either the topic of the OP or mutual interfaith dialogue.

    I wish you the best in whatever you choose to do with your life.

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