Thinking about editor Albert R. Hunt’s silly post-primary prediction where he sees Romney, “becoming president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” I decided to do a little math experiment on the probability that Mitt Romney could someday become the LDS Prophet. He will be 65 in 2012 during the election year. I will be using the most realistic “fast track” path.
He loses the bid for U.S. President, either in the primary or the general. This frees him up for a Church calling/assignment. The LDS Church leadership asks him to become a mission president. That lasts for 3 years. When finished he returns and is called to the First Quorum of the Seventy for another 3 years. He is now officially a General Authority with real “inner circle” leadership status, although limited by whatever duties given.
An Assignment to any of the other Quorum of the Seventies, second on up, would at his age make him technically ineligible to go higher in leadership. see the age note below. On the last year when he can be a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, as they become emeritus at age 70 unless granted yearly extensions, he is granted stay in the position for another year. On this fourth year a member of the Quorum of the Twelve dies and he is picked among 70 peers as the most junior member to fill in the vacancy. He is given the keys of a prophet, seer, and revelator as an Apostle.
He will remain a member of the Quorum of the Twelve for the rest of his life, with rare exceptions mostly broken by past ex-communications. Although common during the first half of the 19th Century LDS Church history, it has only happened a handful of notable times in the late 19th and full 20th Century. None, not even close, in the current 21st Century. Assuming that one member of the Quorum of the Twelve dies a year, skipping two for realism, then it will take 14 years for Romney to become the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. That is not, of course, the same thing as the Prophet and President of the LDS Church. For perspective, however, Brigham Young held this position for 3 years after Joseph Smith’s death before reorganizing the First Presidency. It took his predecessor John Taylor some time as well. Romney can also be called as a First or Second Councilor to the LDS Prophet-President before reaching the senior position.
When the LDS Prophet-President dies, the Quorum of the Twelve waits a month, hypothetically, before announcing the senior member Romney is called by revelation of the full body of the Twelve as his replacement. He reorganizes the First Presidency that includes Elder Jon Huntsman (I figure he has just as much of a shot in this far fetched scenario) as second councilor and another person as first councilor. Sorry, but Harry Reid is too old even now for a “fast track” General Authority assignment.
Do the math. That is at least 21 years if this path was taken. All told, Romney would be at least 86 when called as the leading Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The age is actually typical and gives him possible five to ten years as the world wide authority over the whole LDS Church. Still, its hardly the next in line after current President Thomas S. Monson. This is, again, assuming he is called in the right positions and quickly. Romney will soon be the average age when a person is called/appointed to the Apostleship of the Quorum of the Twelve.
For more information on the Seventy, go here. More information about the Twelve can be found here. More insight on the First Presidency can be read here. A good overview of how the LDS Church is administered was given here for more context.