Boyd Packer was president of the Mormon religion's highest governing body, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. A staunch advocate for a conservative form of Mormonism and an outspoken critic of homosexuality, Packer was next in line to become president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He had been a member of the Quorum since 1970 and became president when Thomas Monson moved up to became overall president of the church. The Quorum, modelled on Christ's apostles, serves under the church president and his two counsellors. Packer is the second Quorum member to die recently, following Tom Perry in May. Russell Nelson, 90, now becomes the member who would take the place of Monson, 87, who is likely to step down soon. Considered the religion's prophet, Monson will name replacements for Packer and Perry in the coming months.
Born in Brigham City, Utah, Packer was a bomber pilot during the Second World War and graduated from Utah State University, then gained a master's degree in educational administration from Brigham Young University. He spent 45 years as a member of the Quorum.
Packer spent most of his adult life working for the church and earned a reputation of being a tenacious advocate for his orthodox views on Mormonism, according to Patrick Mason, chairman of the religion department and professor of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University in California. Some called him a bulldog, but Packer preferred the biblical analogy of "watchman on the tower", said Mason.
He wielded much influence within the church hierarchy and bureaucracy, and is remembered for a speech in 1993 in which he warned that the religion faced the greatest threat from three groups: feminists, homosexuals and intellectuals. In 2010, in a speech entitled "Cleansing the Inner Vessel", he denounced homosexual attraction as unnatural and immoral and he had become a target of gay rights advocates in recent years. In 2013 a Utah gay rights organisation started a petition to protest against the naming of a new Weber State University centre after him.
Armand Mauss, a Mormon scholar, said Packer would be remembered "for an unyielding resistance to the secular, social world, especially as that world evolved during his lifetime."
Boyd Kenneth Packer, religious leader: born Brigham City, Utah 10 September 1924; married Donna Smith (10 children); died Cottonwood Heights, Utah 3 July 2015.Reuse content