An administrative department eventually was formed in the 1970s, and the Correlation Department became the corridor through which every text, website, image, DVD, film, commercial – everything produced at Church headquarters – was made to run. Here volunteers would check for historical accuracy, whether the material met certain needs, and whether it espoused only true doctrines. Though originally designed in the 1960s as a cost-cutting measure, Correlation has become a vast department in the corporate functions of the Church. Initially it was but a small committee charged with eliminating redundancy, content repetition, and organizational overlap in the creation of curriculum. This charge was to ensure that authorized materials could be printed and delivered at a minimum of cost, to expected converts in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Those twelve million imagined converts justified a vast expenditure and consolidation of creative power at the church headquarters. The future once shaped the present of the 1960s; what of the present’s shaping of the future?
The Correlation Department sits at the apex of power in the Church Office Building (COB). Everything that comes from “producing departments” (e.g., Audiovisual, Curriculum) at the request of “sponsoring departments” (e.g., Missionary, Priesthood, CES) must receive a stamp of approval from someone in Correlation. What inquiry does a Correlated item undergo? Whether the material teaches only the Truth, doctrinally and historically; whether it violates copyright and other intellectual property rights; whether it furthers the “three-fold” mission of the Church; whether it brings souls “unto Christ,” around the world and in Utah as well. Practically speaking, the department enjoys such a place in the production cycles at the Office Building that no challenge to its power can be expected. All other departments are subject to its whims. In the future the Correlation Department will do just what it does right now. Why? Correlation claims to accomplish that which cannot, practically speaking, ever be verified. Could one know whether their approved DVD really brought souls to Christ, or taught only Truth, or furthered the mission of the Church? Could one really be sure that it was because someone in Correlation Department reviewed the piece, that it thus accomplished these noble ends? Given its position of power over every creation at the COB – and that employees are evaluated on how much material they produce – the only serious challenge to Correlation Department could come from two fronts. First, that it doesn’t really achieve what it sets as its objectives. But the said purposes of Correlation are a combination of the utterly practical (Is this image copyrighted? Is that date in this essay accurate?) and the intangibly vague (Does this radio spot brings souls to Christ? Will the City of Enoch descend because of this DVD?). There’s really no chance of any collection of departments mounting this challenge. The other possibility? Cost.
What is the cost of Correlation (not the “spiritual” or “cultural” cost, of course)? In the future it is entirely possible, if not totally probably, that the revenue of the Church will suffer dramatic declines. Conversion rates fall, economies shrink, taxes increase, investments falter. Questions of cost-benefit will be asked, as they are now, but serious answers will at last be demanded.
Correlation is a surveillance agency in the corporate headquarters, to put it crassly. It exists because church employees are not entirely trusted to come up with true, accurate, non-infringing creations. Though the department expenses might be minimal compared to, say, Audiovisual (which budgets hundreds of millions of dollars per year for its labors), Correlation “gums up” the production cycles, and causes every department to expand its budget. These are costs “carried” on the balance sheets of departments other than Correlation, but at some point it is possible that these expenses – for surveillance because employees are not trusted – will be tallied; and the hundreds of millions of dollars demanded by Correlation will finally be accounted for. Perhaps in the future employees will be allowed to produce materials without extra-departmental oversight, if only to reduce the cost of running the corporate headquarters.