A special portrait was painted to commemorate President Nelson receiving the award. The oil painting of himself in front of Jesus will hang in the International Hall of Honor at Morehouse College. Below is a photo of Rev. Lawrence Carter shaking hands with Nelson in front of the portrait.
Back in 2018, right after President Nelson was sustained as the new President of the Church, there was as strategy created at Church Headquarters to promote Nelson as a world faith leader. The Church was hoping people around the world would view President Nelson on the same level as other world religious leaders like the Pope. There were many public events held around the globe to help with this campaign. When Nelson was touring all of the countries, the church news made a series of videos documenting his trip. The videos focused on all of the adoring crowds and how they had waited hours to see Nelson. They didn’t focus much on what he said, just the crowds. In essence the videos highlighted that Nelson was almost just like the Pope with all of the adoring crowds from all over the world. Nelson even visited local people and handed out photos of himself. See video excerpt below.
It seems like for a while now, the message is not always using the Church to bring people to Jesus as instructed in 3 Nephi 27, but it is almost as if it is the reverse by using Jesus to bring people to the Church and essentially to President Nelson. I find it interesting that in the paintings, visual images and videos of Nelson that Jesus is in the distant background and Nelson is in the foreground. Oftentimes, Nelson is striking the same pose as Christus statue of Christ used in the Church Logo—which seems to be all part of the choreographed strategy. The message is almost like, "if you believe in Jesus, you will believe in Nelson and the Church". While subtle, it is though Nelson is essentially showing that he is a stand in for Christ.
Here are some links to examples of the Church's PR and Media strategies to promote Nelson:
It is interesting to see the Church’s Public Relations Department execute this strategy that began just over five years ago. While they have all right intentions and most likely see themselves as promoting the gospel of Christ, but from the outside is appears they are instead promoting a man.
|A picture of the First Presidency that hangs in one of the cubicle offices in the Jordan River Temple.|
While more could be said, I want to conclude with an excerpt from the book, Eighteen Verses- A Discussion of the Book of Mormon:
The lowest state of glory, the Telestial Kingdom, will include those who say they followed God’s properly ordained, authentic messengers of the Gospel. Though the messengers they claimed to follow were authentic, the faith of these followers was not. This is one of the great reasons why true messengers do not focus attention on themselves. They do not make themselves idols. They do not seek fans, nor welcome personal adulation and vainglory.
Religious leaders and teachers who want the adulation of their followers are leading them to a Telestial state. Those who encourage others to adore men are furthering a false religion which can only damn its followers.
The Lord’s true messengers would never want reverence or demand honor to be bestowed upon them. They do not want people to be awed by them, rise when they enter a room, or claim their salvation is derived from any mere man. Instead they want Saints to be awed by the Lord, show reverence to Him, and look to Him alone for their salvation.
All who succumb to the temptation to follow a personality, rather than the Lord, will suffer damnation, and then be resurrected to the Telestial glory. For anyone who invites people to “follow them,” it “were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt. 18: 6.) The Book of Mormon calls such acts “priestcraft.” We call such folks scholars, professors, inspirational speakers, great performers, inspiring speakers, heroes, etc. We should make no mistake about it; these forms of “hero” worship are currently going on among the Saints. And we seem to be blind to it. Some folks magnify their egos rather than their callings. That is one of the problems with this second estate. We can clearly see the mistakes of past generations, but our own lives are so blighted by the chaos of culture, tradition, and group-think, we cannot properly see our own failings.
In the Church, there are many men whose devotion to Church leaders goes beyond hero-worship. They make themselves “ladies in waiting” hoping to secure for themselves favorable attention from Church leaders who can “call” them to positions which they covet. Their slavish focus on Church leaders, and desire to get noticed, makes them fit decidedly within the Telestial description given here. It is no wonder such people are only capable of handling Telestial glory, for they have failed to face the fearsome responsibility of acting before God as an agent for themselves. Agency has done them little good, since they have surrendered it in favor of following men to their damnation,
Links to some of the PR: