He is considered by the membership to talk directly to Jesus Christ. It is understood that he meets personally with the Lord to discuss direction of the Mormon church and the world. He has been in the general leadership as an apostle since October 4, 1963. He has his own unique style when speaking. Over the years, he has given many talks about his service to the widows under his care as a local leader. His talks generally lack any real substance--just platitudes to generate positive emotions.
Tom's first counselor is Henry Eyring. He was sustained and accepted by the members as an apostle in April, 1995. He was subsequently called into the First Presidency in 2008. He comes from a family that has been deeply involved in the Mormon church for years. His father was an internationally recognized chemist, who was awarded many prestigious awards for his efforts in his research.
"Hank Jr" followed his father's footsteps in the hard sciences, through undergraduate school obtaining a BS in physics, only to switch directions and attend business school at Harvard. A highly educated individual who went into academia, holding positions of professorship at Stanford and MIT.
He is known among the members as a deeply spiritual man, who cries frequently and easily when giving talks. Among the ex mormons, he is affectionately known as "Henry B Crying".
The final member of the First Presidency is the "George Hamilton" of the Mormon church. Also known as the "Silver Fox", Dieter Uchtodorf. He is an anomaly to me. I can't figure out where he fits in the whole picture. He is the only foreigner in the big 15. As far as I can tell, he has no connections to the early Mormon church. He was a career pilot working for the German airline company Lufthansa Airlines. His mere presence makes women's knees buckle. In my opinion, he is the bridge to the NOM, ex mormon and non mormon. His talks are generally always "non offensive", although he is basically saying the same rhetoric as some of the hard liners in the big 15. Whether it is his physical charms or his accent--most people miss his underlying message.
The First Presidency basically controls the Mormon church. Reports has surfaced that since the failing health of Ezra Benson in the early 90's changes to the corporate transfer of power to the First Presidency. Steve Benson, grandson of Ezra Benson reports;
It is a matter of public record (thanks to the reporting of the Salt Lake Tribune) that--in direct contravention of established protocol for the transfer of power in the event that the Church president should die OR become incapacitated--Hinckely and Monson had the power of attorney over LDS corporate affairs shifted to them in the Church's incorporation documents a few years before my grandfather's death (see Mormon apostle James E. Talmadge's treatment of Church governance procedures in his book, "Articles of Faith").
Instead of having the First Presidency dissolved and an acting president installed to administer the affairs of the Church in a situation when the sitting president was unable to perform his duties, Hinckely and Monson had legal authority to run the Mormon empire transferred directly to them by the highly unusual method of employing my grandfather's autopen signature machine on Church incorporation documents (see an account of this episode in historian D. Michael Quinn's book, "Extensions of Power").
Here's a breakdown of the details that, in and of themselves, should be enough for any honest Mormon to leave the lying LDS Church:
--I informed Quinn of this surreptitious power grab and he found it significant enough to write that Monson and Hinckley secretly conspired to angle himself into the position of de facto Church president, in clear violation of official Mormon Church governance protocol:
"By May 1989 . . . counselors [Hinckley and Monson] felt it necessary to execute legal documents giving them Ezra Taft Benson's 'power of attorney [which] shall not be affected by his "disability" or "incompetence.'"
"However, Benson was already affected by that 'disability.'
"Despite a notarized statement by the First Presidency's secretary, President Benson did not sign those documents himself. A signature machine produced Benson's identical signatures on these legal documents.
"Without public acknowledgment, this machine-signed document formally ended an official provision for dissolving the First Presidency that had been in print for ninety years. Since 1899 the book 'Articles of Faith,' 'Written By Appointment; and Published By the Church,' had specified that the 'First Presidency is disorganized through the death or disability of the President.'
"However, this 1989 document specified that the counselors would not dissolve the First Presidency or surrender their powers despite the fact of the church president's 'disability' or 'incompetence.'
"The current apostles have supported this policy, even though the officially published 'Articles of Faith' continues to specify that when there is 'disability of the President, the directing authority in [church] government reverts at once to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles." (D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books], pp. 58-59,; fn 243-245, p. 432)
--The “Salt Lake Tribune” affirmed the story through its own investigative reporting efforts:
"In the years before his death President Benson suffered from poor health, suffering from blood clots in the brain, strokes, and heart attacks. During this time, Benson almost never appeared in public, and First Counselor Gordon B. Hinckley took on many of Benson's official duties, as he had done as Second Counselor in Kimball's last years.
"Joining Hinckley in this task was Thomas S. Monson, and the two of them received legal power of attorney to act in Benson's behalf in LDS corporate affairs. Important ecclesiastical and family documents continued to be signed in Benson's name, with the aid of a signature machine.
"There was some controversy as to whether Benson's actual mental health during this time was accurately portrayed by the Church. According to Church spokesman Don LeFevre, Hinckley and Monson reviewed major church decisions with Benson in his home, where he was attended by a staff of nurses.
"However, according to Benson's grandson Steve Benson, who later became a vocal, anti-Mormon critic of the church that he quit, the elder Benson by about 1993 was living in a sweatsuit, fed by others, and incapable of recognizing others or speaking coherently.
"Steve Benson stated that in a private meeting with apostle Dallin H. Oaks, Oaks explained to the younger Benson that the apostles rotated in pairs each week to visit the elder Benson at the apartment socially, but that Benson was incapable of conducting official business. . . .
"The fact that President Benson's counselors did not have a great deal of confidence in his ability to function became evident when documents filed with the state of Utah were examined by the 'Salt Lake Tribune':
"'Documents on file with the state of Utah are strong evidence that the parent corporation of the Mormon Church no longer is being directed by its president, Ezra Taft Benson.
"'It is the first time since the corporation was founded 70 years ago that anyone other than the church president has obtained total authority over Utah's most powerful corporation.
"'The documents, at the Utah Department of Commerce, were signed with a machine that duplicates the signature of 94 year-old President Benson. They were filed six months before President Benson . . . made his last public speech.
"'Church leaders said this week the filings and the use of a signature machine were routine, and done with President Benson's approval.... Today, the corporation owns all church assets--including a multi-billion dollar portfolio of financial and property holdings. . . .
"'Entitled "Certificates of Authority' and dated May 23, 1989, the documents say Presidents Hinckley and Monson can keep those complete powers--even if President Benson becomes disabled or is determined by a court to be incompetent. . . . the church made no announcement of the change. It has continued to portray President Benson as the ultimate power behind church affairs. . . .
"'Fran Fish, notary public administrator for the state Department of Commerce, said signatures written by machine are legal . . . .
"'Still, Ms. Fish . . . said use of a signature machine on state corporate filings 'is certainly out of the norm.'. . . Steve Benson . . . has said that his aging grandfather no longer possesses the mental faculties to handle church affairs.
"'"The church has misrepresented the condition of President Benson and stated flatly that his role as prophet has in no way been impeded," Steve Benson said this week. "My grandfather has become a storefront mannequin while the business of the store is conducted behind closed doors."
"'He said a signature machine has replaced his grandfather's hand on all personal and family correspondence.”Evidently," Steve Benson said, "the signature machine had not been programmed to sign, 'Grandpa.'"'"('Salt Lake Tribune,' August 15, 1993)"
(To view the actual signature machine-created signature of Ezra Taft Benson on the incorporation documents mentioned above, see "Hinckley Monson and Ezra Taft Benson's Signature Machine," by "cricket" [Steven Clark], 30 December 2006, at: http://www.salamandersociety.com/legal/; see also, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Mormon Inquisition?: LDS Leaders Move to Repress Rebellion," under "Non-Functional Prophets," in "Salt Lake City Messenger," No. 85, November 1993, at: http://www.utlm.org/newsletters/no85.htm)
The "face" of the First Presidency is squeaky clean. Look at those three men. Who wouldn't want them as a grand parent--or as in Dieter's case a husband. I think many Mormon women are waiting for polyandry to come back--but that is another topic. However, just like any other public figure head, there are always two sides of the story. Faithful members would never question the behavior of these men. That is the tragedy, they are going off of blind faith and obedience. Members are the first to condemn our country's leaders for questionable behavior but turn a blind's eye to any suspect behavior or words by the apostles of the church.
I must give my dues to the PR of the church. It has done a great job in selecting men to fill leadership roles in the organization. Looking at the First Presidency as a whole, there isn't really anything offensive about the three. They come across as gentle and welcoming. Rarely do these three speak about controversial topics such as Gay marriage or women's rights. Although I would bet that when the church begins to offer the olive branch to these groups--Dieter will be the one who does it. He is the least offensive of all the apostles. The church has really just enlarged the "menu" of its apostles. There is an "apostle type" for everyone. Whether a member is a right wing, conservative bigot or a moderate liberal, the church's general leadership has something for you. If Packer pisses you off, then you might gravitate toward Dieter. If gay bashing is your forte, then Packer or Bednar is your man. Either way you end up full on the Mormon diet.