Does Pres Monson Have Dementia?

I was listening to John Dehlin’s interview of Kate Kelly this past week, and they brought up an interesting point that I wanted to discuss more openly.  In the last 5 minutes of part 2,

John, “Some people are speculating that there’s a power vacuum in the Church right now, that….”

Kate Kelly interrupts, “Some people on NPR are speculating….”

John chuckles, “Yeah.  Well early 1990s, my cousin Ezra Taft Benson was incapacitated.  His grandson Steve Benson acknowledged this publicly and many say that it was during this vacuum where he was sort of an invalid that Boyd K. Packer asserted himself and began excommunicating people.  I’ve probably talked to 50 people who work directly with the church in some significant capacity who all confirm that President Monson has some form of dementia and that unless he’s got handlers around him, and unless he’s reading a speech, he’s unmanageable and incoherent, and you know that doesn’t mean he can’t be friendly to a child and wink to a crowd or wiggle his ears or read a teleprompter, but in terms of really managing the church, he’s over 90.  He’s past his capacity given dementia.  Do you ever think about that stuff and that might might be why–you know if the prophet’s not speaking, it can’t be Boyd K. Packer that responds to you, but if the prophet’s not able to even think about it, let alone really respond to it, thus we don’t have statements from the Brethren, and thus we get statements from PR, and is it possible that it’s this power vacuum where someone like a Ballard or a Clayton might feel empowered to come after a you or a me, when otherwise a strong leader wouldn’t allow that?”

Kate, “Yeah, I mean I don’t know.  I don’t know if that’s true, I don’t know how much it negatively affects him.  I know that people over 90, I mean people don’t live forever, so eventually he will lose capacity even if that’s not the case now, that’s just like a fact of biology.”

John agrees, “Yeah.”

Kate, “So no one can argue against that.  That’s going to happen if it’s not happening now.  So I think the church needs to be able to respond.  I mean there are fifteen people who are leading the Church, the prophet is at the head.  I would hope that that wouldn’t create, you know, an opportunity for people to do nefarious things, but that the Lord would continue to direct his work.  I think You know there maybe should be a way for them to compassionately step down once they’re no longer able to say, you know like the Pope.  The Pope stepped down and said I can’t do it.  They are human.  Every Mormon knows that the prophet is not infallible and not a superhero, and so I think there should be a place for them to cry out if that’s the case.  I don’t know if that exists, but I don’t know.

I think again this goes back to my view of the Zion, that it’s not just one person who comes up with an idea totally unattached from anything else that’s happening in the world.  I think this criticism comes from some people who say now’s just not the time.  Maybe later, maybe when President Monson dies and there’s a younger person in there, there will be more of an opportunity.  You really need to pay more attention to the inner machinations of the church, but I’m saying now’s the time because now’s the time for us.  Women are suffering.  So now’s the time when people say, and whether it’s going to change after President Monson dies, I don’t know, but the person taking over for him is also going to be very old, and so that’s just the way the current structure of the Church is, so I’m not sure.  I mean if that’s true, I have a lot of compassion for him and he has a huge responsibility for him, and if he’s really ill, may not feel up to the task, so I would have a lot of compassion for him, but I don’t think that means that we need to do anything differently.  I just think that means that time will tell.”

It reminds me of my previous post in which I discussed President Kimball’s failing capacity.

There were a few warning signs in the early summer of 1981.  When he was interviewed for a documentary on the Dallas Temple, the producer decided not to use the footage because “the film of the interview made him look very feeble and absentminded.”

Despite the improvement, rumors spread.  One friend told Ed that he had been assured that Spencer was “a blob.”

His mental acuity was something like a radio signal, fading in and out.  He managed small talk but had trouble calling up names, even of family members.

Michael Quinn also noted that during President Benson’s incapacity, an autopen was used giving his authorization for others to administer affairs of the church.  My questions are these.


15 comments on “Does Pres Monson Have Dementia?

  1. This is beyond acceptable to post this lie and therefore perpetuate it! This is one instance when the Church should sue for slander. Did you even watch the last General Conference? Any fool can see he doesn’t suffer from dementia or any other mentally limiting capacity. The only reason to come up with these kinds of theories at this time is to put into question exactly what the leadership of the Church has said and done to these apostates.

  2. In my lifetime, let me state the presidents who have had serious mental or physical difficulties associated with age (I will leave off Pres Monson.)

    Pres McKay
    Pres Joseph Fielding Smith
    Pres Kimball
    Pres Benson
    Pres Hunter

    Now let’s look at the list of presidents without these problems.
    President Lee
    President Hinckley

    Basic math tells you that 5/7 men (71.4%) have serious health problems while serving as president.

    My father-in-law served a mission under President Monson, and has said his health is a problem. We can even look at Elder Packer (the man most likely to succeed Monson) and see he has serious health problems. We can hide our head in the sand, but we can also see that these old men have serious health problems. Elder Hugh B. Brown broached this subject in the 1960s or 70s. It needs to be discussed, not suppressed. No wonder our prophets, seers, and revelators don’t prophesy, see, or revelate. They’ve got too many health problems.

  3. What does the fact that your father-in-law served a mission under President Monson have to do with whether President Monson has dementia? Was he exhibiting signs of dementia at the age of 34?
    Do you think it’s respectful to speculate before billions of people about whether someone has dementia, especially when you have no reliable information?
    Do you think KiwiMormon is someone whose interpersonal skills and respect for Church leaders are worth emulating?

  4. Sorry Nathan, I guess I was not clear. My father in law attends the mission reunions every year and has noticed Monson’s decline over the years. Monson almost didn’t attend last year, and was kept farther from the missionaries he led. The decline in mental acuity is noticeable by those around him.

    I wish I had billions of people reading my blog, but I don’t. Maybe you could spread the word so I can get billions? I’m lucky to get thousands.

    Yes, I think KiwiMormon is worth emulating. I am quite familiar with her posts, and she is quite insightful.

  5. Forget the dementia, John and Kate’s most shocking revelation is that President Monson has apparently been lying about his age all these years. Either that or the dynamic duo can’t get the most basic facts correct.

  6. What the heck are you talking about?

  7. Hint: 86< 90

    In the spirit of your speculations, I'm going to speculate that your parents dropped you on your head when you were a child.

  8. I speculate that you were abused and a child molester and have no manners (oh wait–that isn’t speculation!)

    Ok, now that’s over, let’s go back to respectful comments or the rest will be deleted.

  9. John Delin got President Monson’s age wrong “he’s over 90”. He was born August 21, 1927. That means he will turn 87 this month.

    Was it an error, or was he embellishing for effect? President Monson’s age is easy enough to look up.

  10. Age isn’t the issue. Dementia is.

  11. Can I ask a question about what Mormons believe as far as the Christian Trinity goes? And a couple of others too? Do you believe that Jesus is the son of God and he was sent as a sacrifice in order that we may be redeemed and have spiritual salvation? The reason I ask is that I know Mormons say they believe in Jesus but in what capacity…? Also, I’ve been to one Mormon church and didn’t feel entirely comfortable for a few reasons, mainly oddly organized format with no bible or teaching/preaching and the fact that there were so many little kids in the sanctuary, literally, I could not hear what was being said.

    Also, when the young elders have come to my house to tell me about Mormonism, – well they seem unnatural in their mannerisms. Very polite and respectful but without any personalities at all. Without trying to be rude here, it creeped me out because it made me think of ‘cult’ behavior where people have that same look, flat effect. Another thing, as a female, I would more appreciate and believe it would be more helpful to people like myself if they allowed women to do elder work too. Like, for me, I would like to speak to more females (though I don’t mind the young men either) because sometimes it’s more comfortable to speak to women. This is especially true when men knock on my door and I’m home alone. I just don’t really want to let them in nor do I want to stand at the door and talk to them ~ even if they are nice. Thank you for your blog and please do not publish my e-information anywhere, thank very kindly!

  12. Can I ask a question about what Mormons believe as far as the Christian Trinity goes? And a couple of others too? Do you believe that Jesus is the son of God and he was sent as a sacrifice in order that we may be redeemed and have spiritual salvation? The reason I ask is that I know Mormons say they believe in Jesus but in what capacity…?

    Let me answer the third question first. Yes Mormons believe Jesus is the Son of God and was sent as a sacrifice in order that we may redeemed and have spiritual salvation. In fact, our First Article of Faith states

    We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    But Mormons don’t believe that is the same as the Trinity. Mormons will tell you that the word Trinity is non-Biblical–the word is never found in the Bible. Mormons would refer to God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost as the “Godhead”, rather than the Trinity. We believe that they are 3 separate beings. God and Jesus have physical bodies, while the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. To my understanding, most of the rest of Christianity believes God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are 3 manifestations of the same being, like water, ice, and steam. Mormons don’t believe that. Because Mormons have a different conception of Jesus, that is why so many label Mormons as “non-Christian.” We do believe in Jesus, but we believe he is a resurrected being with a physical body as he showed the apostles.

    Mormon worship services are quite different, so I can understand why you were uncomfortable. We have no paid clergy, and the leaders are not trained like other denominations. We teach each other. We also believe in keeping our families together, and yes, it can be noisy at times, especially when the families have younger children. (Some congregations aren’t as noisy, and we are always working on teaching our children to be quiet and reverent in the meetings.)

    As for the missionaries, you might want to ask them if there are some sister missionaries available. (is that what you meant by “elder” work?) I’d estimate that probably 40% of our missionaries are women now. I served a mission, and I can tell you that everyone has a different personality. Some are very somber, while others are very genial and outgoing. It sounds like you have met some serious missionaries, but there are funny ones out there also–you’ll have to get to know a few more, so I hope you don’t judge all missionaries by these 2.

  13. […] were quite a few of you that took exception to my post discussing President Monson’s possible dementia a few weeks ago.  My issue is not with his age, but rather is Monson acting like Steve Young where […]

  14. […] were quite a few of you that took exception to my post discussing President Monson’s possible dementia a few weeks ago. My issue is not with his age, but rather is Monson acting like Steve Young where […]

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