Friday, March 06, 2009

Infestation of Mormon Leadership

When something unusual happens it can be considered a coincidence. When it happens more than once a trend might be starting. In this case, Mormons are getting elected to leadership positions by other religious groups. That isn't to say that they are called to ecclesiastical positions any more than Mormons would grant a non-baptized person the Bishopric. Just like in the business world, however, top spots for finance and organization have Mormons picked as the leaders.

In one fascinating case there is Mark Paredes hired by The Los Angeles office of the Zionist Organization of America as an executive director. The duties of the office include promoting the State of Israel and fighting anti-Semitism. In the Q & A, Paredes explained:

Jewish Journal: At least two people have held your position since late 2006. What will be your formula for turning ZOA around?

Mark Paredes: I plan to bring together Jews, both religious and secular, who are proud to be Zionists, who are willing to defend Israel and the Jewish people, who want Israel to negotiate peace only with partners who have already renounced terror and incitement and recognize Israel, and who believe that Jews have the right to live in the Land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria. Belief in these principles transcends movements and the religious-secular divide, and it’s my job to organize events that will inspire our supporters and attract other defenders of Israel to the ZOA banner.

He doesn't leave any details as to how he is going to accomplish his goals, saying only he has "many weeks and months of hard work." It shouldn't take long to see if he is more successful than his predecessors. Recent leaders lasted only a few months. There is no available information in the article to determine why the others lasted such a short time. It is interesting that as a Mormon he was picked at all, although not extraordinary.

The second leadership position of interest is in Utah. Rev. Monsignor Terrence Fitzgerald, a friend of LDS Pres. Monson, has hired Mormon Brad Drake as executive director of Utah's Catholic Community Services. As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Our mission is not to proselytize or to make people Catholic, but to serve all those in need in any way we can," Fitzgerald said.

In addition to a good grasp of its mission, Drake brought something else to CCS: a lifetime of business experience capped by service in the nonprofit world.

He has "the ability and skills to manage a complex agency in difficult times," Fitzgerald said.

Why Mormons are getting picked in organizations controlled by other religions or if this is really a trend is hard to say. What this holds for future relationships is just as much a mystery. That this is happening during a time when Mormons are less liked than since the start of the 20th Century is heartening. At the least it represents discussions of "how wide the divide" should be scrapped for real working together.


Unknown said...

doesnt seem like a trend....i think Mark has been working with this group for a long time. Don't worry the trend is still very closed ranks.

Jettboy said...

True, two doesn't represent a trend as much as simply interesting. The important point is that this is happening at all.

gethipp said...

As a fundamentalist Baptist, how's that for a label, I'd wager that there is none better to understand the Zionist movement than an American Mormon. I don't think an Israeli Jew who considers themselves a Zionist would take issue with the substance of the position. As for the Catholic leader, both Mormon and Catholic are strongly Arminian in nature. It's not a big reach to see a Mormon true to the school of St. Thomas Aquinas. Where do I send my checks?

Jettboy said...

I'd be curious to know what you would see as Mormonism true to the school of St. Thomas Aquinas compared to other early Church Fathers? Do you see a possibility of a Mormon getting hired for something Baptist related?

gethipp said...

Now that would be a true indicator of infestation, though probably a good think for some Baptist congregations. What little I know of St. Aquinas and Brigham Young leads me to believe that there is something shared along the lines of earning through works a ticket through the Pearly Gates leading to the New Jerusalem in it's various incarnations. The Baptists though would likely stand on the justification by faith with the caveat of the book of James about living and dead works. That may be the hitch in Mormon hegemony.

Anonymous said...

"That this is happening during a time when Mormons are less liked than since the start of the 20th Century is heartening."

I disagree with this statement. Yes, there have been much publicized "stuff" towards the church (Romney, Prop. 8) but I do not think we are less liked now. I think we are still respected and even liked. Just not by some radical groups, that's all.

gethipp said...

My Dad would say "it's easy to be liked, tough to be right". Fogetabaoutit

Anonymous said...

What I find even more interesting is that President Obama has named two active Mormons to fairly visible positions (ambassador to China and head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs). I certainly wouldn't have predicted that.