Main Street Church

Interview with LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley

In Winter of 2002, prior to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, a German television reporter had a chance to interview LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley.

It was from this interview that a short clip regarding his stance (or lack of it) on the DNA issue was taken to be incorporated in the video DNA vs. The Book of Mormon.

However, more interesting quotes are contained in this interview, which highlight (among other things):

* The LDS Church's racist background

* The Church in society

* Mormon dissidents

* Inter-faith, ecumenical motivations

* The wealth of the Church and lack of financial disclosure

* The DNA issue


TRANSCRIPT

REPORTER:

PRESIDENT HINCKLEY, WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS, YOUR DESIRES, YOUR WISHES, FOR THE OLYMPIC GAMES HERE IN SALT LAKE CITY?

HINCKLEY:

WELL, I EXPECT GREAT THINGS IN THE FIRST PLACE, IT'S A WONDERFUL THING THAT'S HAPPENING. I'M VERY HAPPY THAT SALT LAKE CITY HAS THE OPPORTUNITY OF HOSTING THE OLYMPIC GAMES. THAT WILL…THE GAME WILL BRING HERE PEOPLE FROM ACROSS THE WORLD. AND THROUGH TELEVISION. UH, PEOPLE EVERYWHERE, MILLIONS, BILLIONS, WILL LOOK IN ON THIS COMMUNITY. IT'S A GREAT COMMUNITY UNDERTAKING, AND A GREAT FESTIVAL OF THE WORLD, OF ATHELETES, WHO ARE EXCELLING, TRYING TO EXCEL BEFORE THE WORLD. THEY'RE SPEAKING OF EXCELLENCE, OF PERFORMANCE, OF VICTOR…VICTORY, AND ALL THAT IS A WONDERFUL THING. I LOOK FORWARD TO IT, AND I'M PLEASED THAT IT'S HAPPENING. AND WE WANT TO BE GRACIOUS IN EVERY WAY WE CAN, FRIENDLY, HOSPITABLE, TO ALL WHO COME HERE.

REPORTER:

YOUR MESSAGE ABOUT THE LDS CHURCH, WOULD YOU LIKE…WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO INTRODUCE TO THE WORLD?

HINCKLEY:

WHAT WOULD WE LIKE TO INTRODUCE TO THE WORLD?

REPORTER:

YES, ABOUT YOUR CHURCH.

HINCKLEY:

ABOUT AN UNDERSTANDING OF THIS CHURCH.

REPORTER:

YES.

HINCKLEY:

WELL, THIS IS A VERY INTERESTING CHURCH. THIS CHURCH BEGAN ON THE SOIL OF AMERICA, IT'S THE ONLY CHURCH TO COME OUT OF AMERICA, WHICH HAS SPREAD ACROSS THE WORLD. WE NOW HAVE MORE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES THAN WE HAVE IN THE UNITED STATES. SUBSTANTIALLY MORE. WE'RE GROWING. IN ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY NATIONS. WE HAVE A GREAT, WORLD-WIDE UNDERTAKING. WE COME WITH A MESSAGE OF PEACE. A MESSAGE OF LOVE. A MESSAGE OF …THAT GOD HAS SPOKEN TO BLESS HIS CHILDREN, TO BRING THEM LIFE AND KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING. AND A GREATER APPRECIATION OF WHO THEY ARE, AND WHAT THEY CAN ACCOMPLISH, AND DO WITH THEIR LIVES. OUR PURPOSES ARE ALL POSITIVE. AND WE HOPE ARE BENEFICIAL TO ALL WHO WE TOUCH, WHEREVER WE GO.

REPORTER:

YES. WHAT SHOULD BE YOUR PERSONAL LEGACY, MR. PRESIDENT, WHEN YOUR TIME WILL COMING TO AN END, YOUR PERSONAL LEGACY TO YOUR CHURCH?

HINCKLEY:

MY WHAT?

REPORTER:

PERSONAL LEEGACY

[OFF CAMERA WOMAN: "LEGACY."]

REPORTER:

LEGACY.

HINCKLEY:

LEGACY? MY PERSONAL LEGACY?

REPORTER:

YEAH.

HINCKLEY:

YOU THINK MY TIME'S COMING TO AN END DO YOU?

REPORTER:

NO, NO, NO, NO, NOT IN THIS WAY. WHAT'S YOUR PROGRAM, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO…

HINCKLEY:

WELL, I JUST WANT TO BUILD UNDERSTANDING ACROSS THE WORLD, I…I SEE THE GREAT TRAGEDIES THAT ARE GOING ON IN THIS WORLD. THE BITTERNESS THAT EXISTS AMONG PEOPLE. IN SO MANY AREAS OF THE WORLD. I'M…I BELIEVE THAT OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN THAT LOVES HIS CHILDREN WOULD HAVE THEM LIVE TOGETHER IN PEACE AND HARMONY AND LOVE AND RESPECT. ONE FOR ANOTHER. AND MY GREAT DESIRE, MY GREAT AMBITION, IS TO BUILD THAT DESIRE, TO BRING ABOUT PEACE, AND UNDERSTANDING AND RESPECT AMONG PEOPLE, WHEREVER THEY MAY BE FOUND.

REPORTER:

YOU JUST, UH, SPOKE SOMETHING IN THIS DIRECTION, YOUR CHURCH, EXPERIENCING GROWTH, MORE THAN…FIFTY PERCENT ARE LIVING OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES. DO YOU SEE SOME THEOLOGICAL PROBLEMS…WHEN PEOPLE, MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE COMING FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES, MAYBE FROM OCEANEA, LATIN AMERICA…

HINCKLEY:

NO, I DON'T SEE ANY PROBLEMS. I THINK WE'VE HAD ENOUGH EXPERIENCE TO SHOW TO OURSELVES THAT REALLY THERE ARE NO SERIOUS PROBLEMS. PEOPLE ARE THE SAME EVERYWHERE. WE'RE ALL ALIKE, WE'RE ALL SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD. WE ALL RESPOND TO THE SAME IMPULSES, THE SAME TRUTHS, AND WE ALL HAVE AMBITIONS OF ONE KIND OR ANOTHER. PEOPLE ARE VERY…SO MUCH ALIKE, REGARDLESS OF THEIR NATIONALITY, REGARDLESS OF THE NATION FROM WHICH THEY COME. WE'VE HAD GREAT EXPERIENCE IN THIS MATTER, WORKING INTERNATIONALLY. AND WE FEEL VERY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT IT. WISH TO GO FORWARD, DO ALL WE CAN, BUILD BROTHERHOOD, AMONG THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH.

REPORTER:

YOUR MISSIONARIES…IS VERY SUCCESSFUL. I READ AND HEARD. BUT WHY DO YOU NEVER PUBLISH THE FIGURES OF DISSIDENTS?

HINCKLEY:

OF DISSIDENTS?

REPORTER:

YES.

HINCKLEY:

OH, WE HAVE A FEW DISSIDENTS. WE HEAR FROM THEM. THEY'RE NOT QUIET, THEY MAKE THEMSELVES KNOWN, BUT WE DON'T HAVE MANY DISSIDENTS, REALLY. VERY FEW.

REPORTER:

VERY FEW.

HINCKLEY:

THEY'RE NOT…THEY'RE VERY FEW, REALLY. ONCE IN A WHILE, NOT FREQUENTLY AT ALL. NO. OUR PEOPLE ARE VERY CONGENIAL, HAPPY PEOPLE. WE WORK TOGETHER, AND HAVE A GOOD TIME, AND FEEL THEY BELONG TO A GREAT ORGANIZATION. LOVE ONE ANOTHER. AND ENJOY LIFE. WHETHER THEY'RE GERMANS, AMERICANS, SCANDINAVIANS, JAPANESE, AUSTRALIANS, IT'S THE SAME EVERYWHERE.

REPORTER:

UNTIL 1978, NO PERSON OF COLOR ATTAINED PRIESTHOOD IN YOUR CHURCH. WHY IT TOOK SO LONG TIME TO OVERCOME THE RACISM?

HINCKLEY:

I DON'T KNOW. I DON'T KNOW. I CAN ONLY SAY THAT. BUT IT'S…WE'RE…IT'S HERE NOW. WE'RE CARRYING ON A VERY EXTENSIVE WORK IN AFRICA, FOR INSTANCE. WE'RE CARRYING A VERY SUBSTANTIAL WORK IN BRAZIL. WE'RE WORKING AMONG THESE PEOPLE, WE'RE DEVELOPING THEM. UH, WE'VE HAVE THEM AMONG THE LEADERSHIP OF THE CHURCH. AND THEY'RE ABLE, THEY DO A GREAT WORK, AND WE LOVE THEM, AND APPRECIATE THEM. AND RESPECT THEM, AND ARE TRYING TO HELP THEM.

REPORTER:

THE LDS CHURCH OFFICIALLY…IS OFFICIALLY IN THE STATES, THE CHURCH, WITHOUT ANY DOUBT. IN EUROPE, SOMETIMES IS CONSIDERED BY THE OTHER CHURCHES, OLDER CHURCHES I WOULD SAY, AS A RELIGIOUS SECT. THERE ARE NO ECUMENICAL CONTACTS WITH OTHER CHURCHES. WHY IS THIS SO, AND MAYBE YOU WOULD LIKE BETTER CONTACTS, TO HAVE BETTER CONTACTS?

HINCKLEY:

WE REGRET THAT, IF THERE BE ANY OF THAT, WE'RE SORRY. WE THINK THAT COMES FROM A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING, A MISUNDERSTANDING. WE INVITE OUR CRITICS, ANY OF THEM, TO MEET WITH US, TO INVESTIGATE US, TO SEE WHAT WE TEACH, TO BECOME ACQUAINTED WITH US. TO OBSERVE OUR PROGRAM. WE THINK AS THEY COME TO UNDERSTAND THAT, UNDERSTAND US, AND WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO, THAT ALL THAT WILL DISAPPEAR. WE THINK WE'RE PART OF THE GREAT BROTHERHOOD OF CHRIST, ACROSS THE WORLD. TESTIFYING OF HIM, TEACHING HIS TEACHINGS, BUILDING HIS SENSE OF BROTHERHOOD AMONG PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. LIFTING OTHERS, WE CARRY ON A GREAT HUMANITARIAN EFFORT. WE HAVE EXPENDED MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN HELPING PEOPLE IN THE UNFORTUNATE AREAS OF THE WORLD, WHO FOUND THEMSELVES IN DISTRESS BECAUSE OF WAR, OR BECAUSE OF FAMINE, OR BECAUSE OF OTHER MISFORTUNES. WE'VE REACHED OUT TO HELP THEM. NONE OF THEM MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH, WE HAVE A GREAT CONCERN, A GREAT LOVE, FOR THE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE, FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER PARTICULARLY, AND WE HAVE TRIED IN A VERY REAL WAY TO HELP THEM. WE WORK, FOR INSTANCE, THROUGH THE GERMAN RED CROSS, IN SOME OF OUR EFFORTS, AND HAVE DONE SO AND FIND THEM VERY EFFICIENT, AND VERY ABLE IN HELPING WITH OUR HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS.

REPORTER:

YES, TWO DAYS AGO, I HAVE SEEN YOUR HUMANITARIAN CENTER, AND I HAVE GREAT RESPECT FOR WHAT YOU PEOPLE ARE DOING, AND…YES, BUT MY QUESTION WAS, WOULD YOU PREFER, WOULD YOU PREFER TO HAVE BETTER RELATIONS TO THE OTHER OLDER CHURCHES?

HINCKLEY:

OF COURSE, YES, OF COURSE WE WOULD. OF COURSE WE WOULD, WE'D LIKE TO TALK WITH THEM, WE'D LIKE TO RECOGNIZE THEM. I RECOGNIZE THAT EVERY CHURCH DOES GOOD. THERE ISN'T ANY QUESTION IN MY MIND ABOUT THAT. THEY ALL DO GOOD. DO WE HAVE SOMETHING TO OFFER? YES. I SAY TO PEOPLE OF OTHER CHURCHES, YOU BRING ALL THE GOOD THAT YOU HAVE, AND THEN LET US SEE IF WE CAN ADD TO THAT. NOW THAT'S OUR WHOLE PURPOSE, THAT'S OUR MISSION, THAT'S THE WAY WE OPERATE. WE WANT TO BE COOPERATIVE, WE WANT TO WORK WITH OTHER PEOPLE. WE DO SO RIGHT HERE IN THIS COMMUNITY. WE HAVE GOOD RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER CHURCHES. WE GET ALONG VERY WELL WITH THE CATHOLIC PEOPLE, PROTESTANT PEOPLE, OTHER PEOPLES. ISLAM PEOPLES, PEOPLE OF ISLAM. WE…WE HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP. WE LIKE TO BUILD THAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP WHEREVER WE GO, YES.

REPORTER:

CRITICS OF YOUR CHURCH MAINTAIN THAT LDS IS ANTI-DEMOCRATIC. WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER?

HINCKLEY:

ANTI-DEMOCRATIC?

REPORTER:

ANTI-DEMOCRATIC.

HINCKLEY:

NOTHING COULD BE MORE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. WE'RE A VERY DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATION. OUR PRIESTHOOD, FOR INSTANCE, PRIESTHOOD IS AVAILABLE FOR EVERY WORTHY MAN. WE DON'T HAVE A FEW MINISTERS, TRAINED IN SEMINARIES. THE PROGRAM OF THE CHURCH IS CARRIED FORWARD BY THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH. EVERY WORTHY MAN MAY HOLD THE PRIESTHOOD. A MAN MAY SERVE AS A BISHOP. MAY AS A SERVE AS THE HEAD OF A STAKE, A DIOCESE IN THE CHURCH. THE CHURCH IS RUN BY PEOPLE WHO SERVE ON A VOLUNTEER BASIS. IN THE MOST DEMOCRATIC KIND OF SOCIETY THAT YOU CAN IMAGINE. WHERE THEY ALL WORK TOGETHER, EVERYONE HAS A RESPONSIBILITY. EVERYONE IS EXPECTED TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION TO THE OVERALL EFFORT OF THE CHURCH.

REPORTER:

YES. ANOTHER CRITICS ABOUT FINANCES, I READ IN DIFFERENT MAGAZINES THE RUMOR THAT YOUR CHURCH IS VERY WEALTHY, AND I'D LIKE THE NUMBER OF 30 MILL…BILLION DOLLARS, US DOLLARS, WHAT DO YOU RESPOND?

HINCKLEY:

THAT'S SOMEBODY'S GUESS. THAT'S JUST A WILD GUESS. WELL, THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, THIS, YES…IF YOU COUNT ALL OF OUR ASSETS, YES, WE ARE WELL-OFF. BUT THOSE ASSETS, YOU HAVE TO KNOW THIS, ARE NOT MONEY-PRODUCING. THOSE ASSETS ARE MONEY-CONSUMING. THOSE ASSETS, INCLUDING MEETING HOUSES, CHURCHES, THOUSANDS OF THEM ACROSS THE WORLD, THEY INCLUDE TEMPLES, THEY INCLUDE UNIVERSITIES, THEY INCLUDE WELFARE PROJECTS, THEY INCLUDE EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES, THEY INCLUDE ALL THE MISSIONARY WORK, THEY INCLUDE HUMANITARIAN WORK, THEY INCLUDE ALL THESE THINGS WHICH USE MONEY. WHICH DON'T PRODUCE MONEY. THE CHURCH IS…THE INCOME OF THE CHURCH COMES FROM THE CONSECRATIONS OF THE PEOPLE, WHO TITHE THEMSELVES, PAY THEIR TITEHS, THE ANCIENT LAW OF THE TITHE IS THE CHURCH'S LAW OF THE MANSE. AND THAT'S WHERE THE MONEY COMES WHICH OPERATES THE CHURCH. IF YOU LOOK AT OUR BALANCE SHEET, THAT SHOWS ALL THE FACILITIES THAT WE HAVE, AND THE PROGRAMS WE CARRY, WE APPEAR VERY WEALTHY. BUT YOU MUST REALIZE THAT ALL OF THOSE PROGRAMS CONSUME MONEY, THEY DON'T PRODUCE IT. THAT THE MONEY WHICH WE USE COMES FROM THE CONSECRATIONS OF THE PEOPLE.

REPORTER:

IN MY COUNTRY, THE…WE SAY THE PEOPLE'S CHURCHES, THE PROTESTANTS, THE CATHOLICS, THEY PUBLISH ALL THEIR BUDGETS, TO ALL THE PUBLIC.

HINCKLEY:

YEAH. YEAH.

REPORTER:

WHY IS IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOUR CHURCH?

HINCKLEY:

WELL, WE SIMPLY THINK THAT THE…THAT INFORMATION BELONGS TO THOSE WHO MADE THE CONTRIBUTION, AND NOT TO THE WORLD. THAT'S THE ONLY THING. YES.

REPORTER:

NOW, MR. PRESIDENT, ONE OF…ONE QUESTION WHICH IS A LITTLE BIT COMPLICATED FOR ME TO UNDERSTAND, BUT I HEARD IT AND ONE COLLEAGUE ASKED ME TO ASK IT. WHAT WILL BE YOUR POSITION WHEN DNA ANALYSIS WILL SHOW THAT IN THE HISTORY NEVER HAVE BEEN AN IMMIGRATION FROM ISRAEL TO THE NORTH…TO NORTH AMERICA? IT COULD BE THAT THE SCIENTISTS WILL FIND OUT…

HINCKLEY:

WELL, IT HASN'T HAPPENED. THAT HASN'T BEEN DETERMINED YET. ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT'S SPECULATED. NO ONE REALLY KNOWS THE ANSWER TO THAT, NOT AT THIS POINT.

REPORTER:

OKAY. LAST QUESTION. I UNDERSTOOD IT. MR. PRESIDENT, DO YOU AGREE WITH ME TO SAY…THAT BUT I WANT TO ASK ANOTHER QUESTION, DO YOU AGREE WITH ME THAT SPECIAL CHURCH RELIGIONS IN THIS TIME HAVE THEIR OWN HIGH RESPONSIBILITY OF PEACE ALL OVER THE WORLD?

HINCKLEY:

YES, OF COURSE. WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY FOR PEACE. EVERY RELIGION HAS A RESPONSIBLE TO WORK…TO WORK FOR PEACE. NOW, THAT'S OUR RESPONSBILITY ALONG WITH OTHERS. AND WITH MEN AND WOMEN OF GOOD WILL EVERYWHERE, TO BRING ABOUT PEACE IN THE WORLD, WE ALL DESIRE IT, REALLY. WE'RE TRYING TO WORK FOR IT. I DON'T KNOW WHY IT'S SO DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE, BUT IT IS, AND THAT'S UNFORTUNATE. BUT WE KEEP WORKING, WE KEEP STRIVING, WE KEEP MOVING FORWARD, WE KEEP MAKING THE EFFORT, AND I BELIEVE THAT THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE FOR THE EFFORTS OF THOSE WHO HAVE TRIED TO IMPROVE IT.

REPORTER:

THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.

HINCKLEY:

THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH. THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US.


Mormonism in Brief:
A bird's-eye view of the LDS Faith

Testing the Book of Mormon:
A biblical mandate?


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