Criticism of Leaders


Excerpt from ‘The Lord’s Way’ by Dallin H. Oaks, Pub. 1991: 1

“Government or corporate officials, who are directly or indirectly elected or appointed by majority vote, must expect that their performance will be subject to critical and public evaluations by their constituents. That is part of the process of informing those who have the right and power of selection or removal. The same is true of popularly elected officers in professional, community, and other private organizations. I suppose the same is true of religious leaders who are selected by popular vote of members or their representative bodies. Consistent with gospel standards, these evaluations, though critical and public, should be constructive.

A different principle applies in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where the selection of leaders if based on revelation, subject to the sustaining vote of members. In our system of church government, evil-speaking or criticism of leaders by members is always negative. As President George F. Richards of the Council of the Twelve said in a conference address in April 1947: “When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.” This is why the Holy Ghost will not guide or confirm criticism of the Lord’s anointed or of church leaders, local or general. This is why we are commanded and counseled to refrain from criticism of church leaders. It is for our own spiritual well-being.

The Lord’s command to avoid criticism, faultfinding, and evil-speaking will never be welcome in a society where controversy is a popular form of entertainment, where opposition is institutionalized, and where personal criticism is commonplace. Some Latter-day Saints do not understand and accept the reality that the institution of “loyal opposition,” which serves a valuable purpose in a democracy governed by the majority, is a contradiction of terms when applied to a theocracy. Some also do not understand that the faultfinding is spiritually destructive to those who engage in it, and that members who engage in personal criticism of church leaders isolate themselves from the Spirit of the Lord. There are ways to differ with the church leaders, but they are the Lord’s ways, not the world’s ways.”



1 ‘The Lord’s Way’ by Dallin H. Oaks, Pub. 1991 –