Nelson’s Appointment is Met With Both Praise and Criticism.
The selection of Russell M. Nelson as the 17th president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came as no surprise to many. The LDS church has a tradition of choosing the senior member of the leadership as the next leader and the 93-year-old was seen as a conservative voice that the Mormon church has previously preferred for their leadership.
President Nelson will be the second-oldest apostle in Mormon history. He was a world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon who served in the Korean War as a combat medic.
President Nelson comes at an important crossroads for the Mormon faith. There are nearly 16 million members. A growing concern has been raised about the departure of millennials from the faith. Over half of all Mormons are now outside the United States. Part of the reason of the significant exodus is the ruling by the previous president of gay marriage where he allowed excommunication and baptism could be refused for the children of gay marriages.
President Nelson has supported the measure, stating that the institution of marriage is key to brining back inidividuals to the faith and was a convenant with God that could not be modified. LDS has taken other measures that have been seen as homophobic, including cutting ties with the Boy Scouts of America when they allowed gay adults.
President Nelson has already spoken out about an ethic of love and respect for individuals. However, he verbally supported the anti-LGBT measure and while acknowledging the lack of diversity in the Mormon leadership, made no promises to modify it.
President Nelson will be responsible for both the business and religious parts of the faith in conjunction with the governing body.