Friday, May 06, 2011

Executive Power

In my opinion, Br Veazey is merely streamlining and codifying the state of leadership in the Community of Christ since the beginning. Although we have always had World Conference and common consent, in practice, they have never meant much. Real policies are always set by the leadership, either by divine revelation, or by just doing it (no conference action or divine inspiration created the policy that says priesthood can't perform civil marriages of glbt, for example).

In general, the Presidency has used its influence to direct Conference action to its desired outcome - either through direct action, or indirect usurption of rules. In the rare event that Conference takes action in contravention of Presidential desires (non-discrimination policy; requirement that all publications are simultaneously translated into 3 languages) they are generally ignored. This is possible because of the fact that our structure has no checks and balances. Their is no Supreme Court to take leadership to, there is no official opposition to criticize, and no policy auditors with even the ability to see if they are conforming to WC dictate.

All Br Veazey is doing differently, in my mind, is stopping the charade. WC becomes less and less legislative and more and more about learning and communing ( go back and count how many resolutions have been adopted by WC over Br Veazey's tenure ). With the establishing of the "non-legislative" national conferences to handle any contentious issue, he has further established the notion that there is a collaberative process of decision making, but that the ultimate decision is not made by raising our hands, but by the Presdiency.

And this is not necessarily a bad thing. We do not have a corporate body or structure that is very capable of important legislative decision making. Delegates are not chosen based on their insight, knowledge or position on any particular issue. Due to the nature of WC, delegates are genearally not a very good representation of consituents, as they need to be made up of people with the time and resources to attend. And, as previously stated, there is no mechanism for checks and balances anyway. So having decisions made by a bunch of relatively homogenious, disinterested and uninformed reunion-goers is not exactly a solid cornerstone for representative government.

That said. Br Veazey does have a choice. He could implement a better system, a better structure - where the constituents of the Church are actually represented. Resolutions could be presented in such a manner to allow proper, deliberative consideration prior to Conference. He could establish a body to hold the Church accountable for decisions made and a mechanism for checks and balances of power, in order to give the legislative process some real legitimacy.

Of course, as long as you agree with the way the President is leading the church, the most efficient and effective way to go is through a more dictatorial style of government. This is certainly the direction the US is going as it vests more and more power in the executive.

In that event, however, the most important decision the body can make, is who that executive is.