Latest from Mormon Land: Line of succession after two old presidents — Joe Biden and Russell Nelson

Also: Satirical site takes jabs at missionaries for Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses; two notable members die; upcoming Hugh Grant movie triggers fears; summer garment challenges.

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Who’s next?

This U.S. presidential race is one for the ages.

Democrat Joe Biden, at 81 and the eldest ever to hold the nation’s highest office, and Republican Donald Trump, at 78, are the oldest ever (presumptive) presidential nominees for their parties.

Likewise, the church’s top leadership is one for the books.

All three members of the governing First Presidency are in their 90s (a first in Latter-day Saint history), led by 99-year-old Russell Nelson, the faith’s longest-living prophet-president. He is followed in age by his counselors, Dallin Oaks and Henry Eyring, both 91.

These numbers naturally spur questions about the ages and order of possible successors. Both the United States (through its Constitution and a congressional act) and the church (through decades of practice and precedent) have established rules for replacing their top leaders.

The top five next in line for the Oval Office after Biden are:

1. Vice President Kamala Harris, 59.

2. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La, 52.

3. Senate President Pro Tem Patty Murray, D-Wash., 73.

4. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 62.

5. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, 77.

(Andrew Harnik | AP) Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, shown in 2019, is fifth in line to assume the U.S. presidency.

And here are the five senior Latter-day Saint leaders (according to their length of tenure as apostles) in line to become church presidents after Nelson:

1. Dallin Oaks, 91.

2. Jeffrey Holland, 83.

3. Henry Eyring, 91.

4. Dieter Uchtdorf, 83.

5. David Bednar, 72.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Latter-day Saint apostle David A. Bednar addresses members of the National Press Club in Washington in 2022. He is fifth in the line of succession to assume the church's presidency.

You’ll note the ages are younger and more varied among the federal government list. And three of the five are women.

A mock missionary melee

In a one-two punch, The Babylon Bee, The Onion-like news site of Christian satire, took jabs at Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses this week with a tale of missionaries from the two faiths duking it out while going door to door.

“Several were injured in a recent brawl when a pair of Mormons found themselves confronting two rival Jehovah’s Witnesses on the front porch of an unsuspecting citizen,” the parodic piece begins. “As a representative from both groups tried to ring the doorbell at the same time…the quarrel … devolved into theological debate and occasional fisticuffs.”

The pugilistic proselytizers exchanged doctrinal jabs in the absurdist article:

“We may not believe in the Christian Trinity either, but at least we’re kinda like monotheists,” one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses shouted.

“Well, at least we use the King James Bible…and our own little addition to the Christian Scriptures,” fired back one of the Latter-day Saints.

The lampooning write-up misfired in labeling one of the Latter-day Saint missionaries “the Revered Elder Joseph Smitherson III.”

Elder? Yes. But the Rev.? Huh?

Two notable deaths

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Liquor lobbyist Steve Barth, left, and church lobbyist Bill Evans watch a Utah House debate in 2012. Evans had died.

• Bill Evans, a former church lobbyist and spokesperson who helped push California’s anti-same-sex marriage Proposition 8 and later joined the board of the LGBTQ support group Affirmation, has died. Read his obituary and a Tribune story about his advocacy.

• Alan Cherry, a trailblazing Black Latter-day Saint who joined the church while in the Air Force a decade before the lifting of the priesthood/temple prohibition and eventually served a mission, has died. Read his obituary and a Tribune story about his conversion and life before and after the ban.

From The Tribune

President Joe Biden's approval rating with religious groups

• President Joe Biden has lost more ground with Latter-day Saints and Muslims than any other religious followers.

• The trailer for an upcoming horror film, starring a frighteningly sinister Hugh Grant about the entrapment of two “sister missionaries,” hits uncomfortably close to home for Latter-day Saints.

(A24) A gif from the horror movie "Heretic," scheduled to be released on Nov. 15, 2024.

• Sweltering summer temperatures have descended. Thus begins, for Tribune guest columnist Rebbie Brassfield and her friends, the challenging hunt for breathable and fashionable temple garments.

• Another Tribune guest columnist, Latter-day Saint historian Matthew Bowman, explores the plight of two U.S. presidents: Lyndon Johnson in 1968 and Joe Biden in 2024.