By Dennis B. Horne (guest blogger)
Among the many subjects that a “bloggernacle” surfer occasionally finds being discussed, usually from a negative standpoint, is Church Correlation. It seems that Correlation’s purpose is not well understood and has become something of a boogeyman to those who have only sketchy knowledge of what it is for or that disagree with what it does. Some bloggers speak of it as something of a secret guardian that bars the interesting subjects and deep doctrines from being discussed in Sunday School and priesthood or Relief Society. If they think the approved curriculum is boring or lacking in sophistication or scholarly depth, they opine that “Correlation” is likely at fault. Since Correlation does not represent a single individual, it seems safer and less disloyal to criticize it than, say, the current prophet or an apostle.
So what exactly is Church Correlation? What we know as Correlation today began to take formal and organized shape and wield great influence during the administrations of Presidents Harold B. Lee and Spencer W. Kimball. The main objectives were to unify church departments, eliminate duplication of work, reduce and simplify curriculum, and ensure doctrinal purity in all printed matter. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism contains an excellent overview of the history and development of correlation up to the 1990s.
Correlation largely traces its roots to special reading committees, made up mostly of general authorities, organized to review manuscripts proposed for use as church study manuals. Eventually Correlation became its own church department with specific responsibilities to evaluate and approve all Church produced materials (today that includes church websites). It is what the Correlation Department supposedly does with the doctrinal and historical content of Church manuals that raises the ire of some and gives rise to repeated frustrated discussion by some bloggers. Evidently, further education and understanding is in order.