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A collection of RadioWest conversations about LDS history, faith, and culture.

Gerontocracy and the Future of Mormonism

LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, 89 years old, spoke as part of the 2016 LDS General Conference.

Of the major U.S. religions, the LDS Church is the only one whose top leader serves until he dies. That wasn’t an issue in the 19th century when medicine rarely prolonged life after a serious illness. But today, researcher Gregory Prince says that as Church presidents live longer, they’re more likely to experience age-related conditions like dementia. It’s something he explores in a forthcoming article, and Tuesday, he joins us to explain what this “gerontocracy” means for the future of Mormonism.

Gregory A. Prince, along with Lester E. Bush, Jr. and Brent N. Rushforth, is co-author of an article entitled Gerontocracy and the Future of Mormonism. It's due out in the Fall 2016 issue of Dialogue: A  Journal of Mormon Thought.

We received this statement from Eric Hawkins, Senior Manager of Media Relations for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. October 3, 2016.

President Monson is 89. It’s natural that he and others in Church leadership are feeling the effects of advancing age. However, he spoke at General Conference and attended all the meetings. He comes to the office every day, attends First Presidency and committee meetings, leads the discussion, and makes decisions. The workload of the First Presidency is up to date. President Monson has always been private about his health, but appreciates the prayers and sustaining support of Church members, as do all of the First Presidency and the Twelve. Emeritus status is not a consideration for members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. Apostles serve for life.