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by W. John Walsh
The term Clergy generally refers to the group or body of ordained persons in a religion, as distinguished from the laity. Since Latter-day Saints have lay or non-professional priesthood leadership, they do not use this term.
Instead, all worthy male members of the Church starting at the age of twelve are ordained to the priesthood. (See Priesthood Organization home page) The presiding member of an LDS congregation is designated as either a Bishop or a Branch President. Bishops typically preside over congregations with approximately 300 members called Wards. Branch Presidents typically preside over congregations with less than approximately 300 members called Branches. Bishops and Branch Presidents usually serve for several years in their callings, while maintaining their normal employment, and are then released and replaced by another member of the congregation.
Latter-day Saints have historically had negative feelings about professional clergy of other religions because of their sponsorship of religious persecution against the Church. The mob that murdered Joseph and Hyrum Smith was led by a Protestant minister. Likewise, many of the other atrocities committed against Latter-day Saints have historically been inspired by the clergy of other religions and denominations.
Even today, clergy of other religions continue to sponsor religious persecution against Latter-day Saints. This persecution usually takes a wide variety of forms. A few examples include: Clergy of various faiths have tried to prevent the building of LDS chapels and temples in an attempt to stop Latter-day Saints from having a place to worship in their communities. They have tried to bar LDS missionaries from countries denominated by their respective faiths in an attempt to curtail the religious freedom of people living in those countries. Similar to the Nazi propaganda efforts against the Jews, clergy frequently print and distribute false and salacious material about the Church.  While violence was not as common in the 20th century as it was in the 19th century, Latter-day Saints chapels are sometimes targets of arson and vandalism and Latter-day Saints are still occasionally beaten or killed for their religious beliefs.
Despite this religious persecution and their exclusionary view of religious authority, Latter-day Saints have always tried to work with other religious groups for the uplifting and betterment of society. (See Tolerance)
 Random House Websters College Dictionary, McGraw-Hill Edition, 1991.
Widtsoe, J., Priesthood and Church Government,
 Roberts, B., New Witnesses for God, Vol.1, p. 217.
 For example, Fundamentalist Protestant groups often show up at zoning hearings to voice opposition to new LDS buildings in their community.
For example, LDS missionaries are barred from entering Muslim dominated countries or
For example, busloads of Protestants always travel to every LDS public religious event and
pass out pamphlets to any passersby containing gross misrepresentations of our beliefs. The Watchman Fellowship, one of the many
Fundamentalist Protestant groups performing this activity, reports on their activities as
follows: Over the years, Watchman missionaries
have traveled to the openings of several LDS Temples. These would include
For example, Paul Goble of Radio Free Europe reported: On August 20th , a Mormon
congregation and a Jehovah's Witness congregation were driven from their meeting places
[in Russia] in separate attacks, and two LDS missionaries from the US were threatened by the
attackers. These attacks were sponsored by the Russian Orthodox Church who has tried to
outlaw other Churches, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in
(Taken from http://www.russiatoday.com)
Copyright © 2001 by All About Mormons
All About Mormons