Is It Bad that LDS Quorum of Twelve is Still a Bunch of White Guys?

I predicted that someone from South or Central America--a hispanic--would be the next member of the Quorum of 12 Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Instead, it was Neil L. Andersen, another caucasian Brigham Young University graduate. Some people have intimated that Andersen was a poor choice, because it perpetuated the image of an exclusive white-man's club. What do you think?

Update 4/6/09 - Twelve "Apostates"? Was it just a faux pas at BYU's Daily Universe?

Update 2: Yes it was. ;-)

During President Thomas S. Monson's inaugural press conference following the death of Gordon B. Hinckley in early 2008,

Does it matter that 12 white guys, 11 of which graduated from Utah universities, comprise the Quorum of the Twelve? It shouldn't.

a member of the press asked what the leadership would do to change the perspective that Church leaders are just a bunch of white men from Utah.

The choice of Neil Anderson to the Quorum of Twelve did nothing to change the suspicions of people who are suspicious of such things. I'll admit that this same thought crossed my mind yesterday. I'll specifically admit that I thought "Another white guy?" The thought has probably crossed several people's minds, in and out of the church.

Several commenters to the Salt Lake Tribune article announcing Andersen's call were very underwhelmed at the announcement. One said

What a surprise! They chose an old white guy of northen European descent! Talk about daring!
Another opined

Another whitie gets inducted into the Mormon hierarchy. Ho-hum, yawn, booooriiing. The Mormons continue to keep a very white face in what it claims to be a worldwide organization. Don't know how that is supposed to appeal to anyone outside those parameters...
Despite its caucasian-ness, the quorum is developing something of an international flair. Andersen, specifically, has spent ten of the last twenty years outside of the United States. Of a recent experience in Colombia, Andersen made what I think is a very important observation:

It was amazing to see the church totally without North Americans there.
In one week there on Church businsess, Andersen encountered exactly one North American. Which is a strong indication that in most places in the Church white men no longer (need to) dominate Church leadership.

Race and skin color seem to still make a huge difference in today's world. The call of Neil L. Andersen as the newest Apostle is a subtle reminder that these things shouldn't matter.

That is a healthy development from the perspective that the Church, as prophesied, is indeed filling the whole earth.

Does it matter that 12 white guys, 11 of which graduated from Utah universities, comprise the Quorum of the Twelve? It shouldn't. Besides, it's only a matter of time before an increasingly cosmopolitan Church becomes so represented in its church leadership. The Quorums of Seventy are beginning to look a lot more racially, nationally, and culturally diverse already.

A few years back, total Church membership outside the United States eclipsed that inside the U.S., indicating that the LDS diversity juggernaut, if it may be called such, will not be stopped. But could it perhaps be for now that, through the appointment of Elder Andersen, Jesus Christ is trying through revelation to get people to overcome the hangup of thinking that race and skin color matter?

I think, just like the announcement in 1978 allowing worthy black males to hold the priesthood, that the calling of non-white males to the Quorum of the Twelve will occur on the Lord's time table.

President Boyd K Packer reminded the men of the Church in last night's General Conference priesthood session:

Do not fall into the trap of feeling inferior about...your height or your weight...or your skin color or your race. You are a son of God. You lived in a pre-mortal existence as an individual spirit child of Heavenly Parents.
Race and skin color seem to still make a huge difference in today's world. The call of Neil L. Andersen as the newest Apostle is a subtle reminder that they shouldn't.

Someone reminded us yesterday in General Conference that the LDS Church, although it's like most other churches in proclaiming that it is the only true church, is one of the very few that does NOT proclaim that everyone else is going to hell.

Skin color quotas don't matter. Divine ancestry does. And we all have a claim to divine ancestry.

Update 4/6/2009: Someone from the BYU Daily Universe made either a huge faux pas or was trying to be very sneaky. Here's what the Daily Universe said in apology:
In printed copies of Monday's Daily Universe, due to a spelling error in a photo caption, the word "apostles" was replaced with a different word. The Daily Universe apologizes to the Quorum of the Twelve and our readers for the error.

Read the caption carefully on the picture below.

Update 2: In the last few minutes, the Daily Universe has come out with this (much better) explanation. Which almost confirms my suspicion (I suspected aloud to co-workers that someone errantly accepted the first word that came up on the editing software’s word-completion list). Here's an excerpt from the explanation:
“Our copy editor in charge of the front page, who was under deadline pressure, was using spell check on her page and had misspelled the word apostle...One of the first options that came up on InDesign’s spell check suggestions was the word apostate. Unfortunately that’s the one she clicked on..."
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  1. I look forward to the day when we have a Hashimoto, a Moralez, and a Daraja in the Q12. But I'm not terribly surprised nor disappointed that the Quorum is still rather homogeneous. Their words are more important than their ethnicity and nationality.

    That said, I can certainly understand how people of other nationalities and ethnicities would be disappointed in this selection. I can see how they could feel that what appears to be largely a good ol' boy club from the Book of Mormon Belt would not understand their needs and perspective. Even several years experience abroad doesn't necessarily make one more cosmopolitan in perspective.

  2. He was called of God through the spirit of revelation by one in authority. Nothing else matters.

  3. The church is relatively young, younger so than our country. It was first established in "white" countries. It takes time for the church to grow and for members to gain the experience necessary to become a 70 and so on. Also consider that those guys live a LONG time and they are usually not released until the lord takes them so it's no wonder that there are not yet ethnics in the 12. Someday though.

  4. Interesting thoughts. As in everything, the Church (i.e. the Lord) does not subscribe to the philosophies of men, as you said, no quotas, etc. Who cares what other people think? The Lord will call who He wants to be an apostle. The end.

  5. I think Good Ideas has it right. The fact that the church was incubated in areas that are overwhelmingly white means that we should not be surprised that the pool of people with the depth of experience and preparation to make them even close to prepared for an apostolic calling is extremely small still. Consider that blacks were not allowed to hold the priesthood until 30 years ago. In that period of time we can't expect a large pool of black members to be prepared for such a calling. Men from Latin, Oriental, or Polynesian cultures may be ahead of blacks because of that, but the diversity of church membership is still relatively young.

    Will it happen? Barring the abolition of the quorum anytime soon I would expect it to happen, and I will welcome that day when it comes, but I see no need to be concerned that it has not already happened.

  6. The apostles were foreordained pre-mortally, right? So their preparation for this calling has extended far beyond their mortal experiences with or cultural affinity to the organization of the church.

  7. That is a very interesting way to look at it. It makes me wonder if in our pre-mortal life were there distinctions in our spirits the equivalent of race and skin color. I'm sure for our Heavenly Father, either way, it doesn't matter. Quotas are not the way things are done.

    It kind of reminds me of the question that KSL radio asked Mitt Romney in an interview this morning: whether two Mormons (he and Jon Huntsman) could "take the same stage" in the next presidential campaign. My answer to the question would have been, I don't think it should matter.

  8. I get the various ideas offered defending the status quo (God's ways are not our ways, young church, God prepares the chosen by raising them within strong LDS culture). But I also think we need to recognize that this is very easy for we traditional members (white, raised or living in the Book of Mormon Belt) to accept those explanations, just as it was rather easy for the traditional membership to accept the priesthood ban. We ought to try to be understanding of the fact that these issues are more personal and perhaps difficult for other sorts of members.

  9. I have been contemplating this issue for several years now. Not that I think it matters the race of the Apostles.

    However, I feel that I have come up with a good answer.

    While there are many good and worthy men who could serve as an Apostle in our day. These men are not needed there now. They are needed in the trenches of South America, South Africa, Korea, or where ever else they are serving. Their willingness to serve, their testimonies, and their leadership is needed where in their communities. That is why we don't see many ethnic Apostles. They need to be with the people more than an Apostle can be.


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