Political pundits slapped the nickname “Trust Buster” on President Theodore Roosevelt when he went nose-to-nose with previously untouchable men and corporations of wealth in the early 1900s.
With the Sherman Antitrust Act in his hip pocket and a favorable U.S. Supreme Court on the sidelines, Teddy broke up the nation’s sugar, railroad, oil, tobacco, and beef monopolies.
When all is said and done, President Russell M. Nelson may well be known as the “Policy Buster” among Latter-day Saint history buffs.
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, significant changes in long-established policies and practices have come from the prophet and president at whirlwind paces.
Earlier this year, the First Presidency told church leaders to toss their handbooks and rely on the internet site for policies. With the rapid succession of policy changes, the printed handbooks are obsolete.
“There’s much more to come.” President Nelson said in interview during his South American ministry tour in October. “Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest.”
“Wait until next year,” he added.
The list of implemented changes is long and range from minor tweaks to major shifts.
For what it’s worth — and in no particular order — here is my perspective among many of the changes.
The Boy Scouts of America provided a quality program and mountains of memories for young men of the church over four generations.
However, litigation, sky-rocketing costs, and a plethora of alternative youth activities wrote the 100-year-old obituary for the church and scouting.
The church is encouraging young men and parents who are interested in Scouting to become involved in community programs. I know Tooele has a strong non-denominational pack and troop, and one in Stansbury Park is in its final organization stages.
Church leaders will roll out much anticipated guidelines for youth programs on Sept. 29. No longer will the phrase “When are you going to get your Eagle” haunt 15-year-old boys in the church.
About one year ago, the church instructed leaders of young women to toss the decades-old camp manual into the fire. They now have the flexibility to hold the summer girls camp when, where, what and how long to meet the needs of teenage girls.
Three cheers for “No more certification!”
The women figured this out 176 years ago when Emma Smith served as the first Relief Society president.
Now all men over the age of 18 meet, coordinate activities, and receive assignments as one quorum. Great things are happening now with fewer meetings and increased effectiveness.
Two-hour meeting block
It’s true: the shorter meeting time interrupts numerous Sunday naps; however, I’m loving every minute.
I am so grateful that as a church, we now focus more on Christian service with our neighbors than with percentages, reports, and uttering the dreaded question, “Is your home teaching done this month?”
“How progressive!” is how a good friend replied with a tinge of sarcasm when sister missionaries were told they now have the option to wear dress pants.
The small wording changes in both the sealing and endowment ceremonies make huge differences in the significance of those eternal ordinances.
I was thrilled when the policy of the waiting period between civil and eternal marriage changed from a mandatory period to a worthiness base.
The recent policy change that brought the most joy to my heart was the reversal of how the church addresses family members of gay parents. The printed word shows more kindness and love than the previous policy.
Down the line
What’s next? Who knows? I do know, however, that President Nelson and members of the Quorum of the Twelve know and understand the challenges members face in a growing church and rapidly changing world.
Charlie Roberts previously served as a bishop of the Tooele 6th Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.