Summarized by Kent Larsen
Hinckley Marks 5 Years as LDS President
Salt Lake Tribune 26Feb00 N1
By Peggy Fletcher Stack: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- As President Gordon B. Hinckley approaches
his fifth anniversary as LDS Church prophet, the Salt Lake Tribune's
Peggy Fletcher Stack interviewed him on the last five years and on
what he expects for the Church in the future. President Hinckley was
set apart as LDS Church President and Prophet on March 12, 1995.
The interview covers a wide range of subjects, including the
positions the Church has taken on moral issues, which have injected
it into both national and local politics. He also spoke about the
Church's efforts to be seen as Christian and about the possibility of
future changes in the status of women and the scriptures.
The interview, portions of which were published verbatim in the
Tribune, also covers the strains on leadership and finances that the
growth of the Church causes. Hinckley told Stack his feelings about
the Church's history and its continuing growth.
As always, Hinckley was modest in the interview, playing down his
personal accomplishments. He says he is in good health, and that he
hasn't set out to define his presidency in any way, unlike President
Benson's emphasis on the Book of Mormon. While he has many notable
accomplishments, he was reluctant to name anything as his greatest
accomplishment, instead saying that his ambition has been to get out
among the members of the Church around the world.
In spite of this modesty, Hinckley has dedicated 24 temples as
President of the Church, and 22 more before that -- more than
everyone else. He is also the source of the brilliant idea to build
smaller temples, rapidly expanding access to temple blessings around
the world. He has also presided over the building of the LDS Church's
new Conference Center and the issuing of the "Proclamation on the
As far as getting "out among the people of this church across the
world," Hinckley has visited more than 100 nations where there are
members of the LDS Church, "Wherever we go we see local leaders of
various nationalities speaking various languages with different skin
colors all acting as if they've been in the church for 50 years,"
Hinckley said. "It lets them see we are one with them and we're all
one great big family working together for the same common cause."
The interview also squelched some long held rumors, such as the claim
that the LDS Church will adopt the "Proclamation on the Family" or
the more recent "Testimony of the Apostles" as scripture. "We've
never considered it," Hinckley said. He also said there was no need
to shorten or eliminate Sunday School from the standard 3-hour block
of LDS meetings, "It's not a serious problem to go for three hours,"
he said. "If you are at a university, you are in class after class
all day long, five days a week in some cases."
Hinckley went on to say that many of the predictions about the LDS
Church's growth are speculative. In response to a question about BYU
President Merrill J. Bateman's suggestion that the Church would have
1000 temples by the year 2025, he said that he didn't know what the
Church would do, "He made the statement, you ask him."
On the Church's role in issues like same sex marriage and the Equal
Rights Amendment, Hinckley defended the Church's involvement, saying,
"What's a church for if it isn't to fight for values, to take a stand
and face up to these moral issues?" While he says that the Church
classifies as moral issues are "those things which directly affect
the welfare of the church," he notes that the Church's involvement
with California's proposition 22 is as part of a coalition, and that
the Church didn't contribute financially, instead encouraging members
Stack asked him then if the Church weighed public opinion before
taking a stand on an issue. Hinckley said no, ". . . this church is
not run by polls, . . . we don't pay any attention to polls." But he
said that the leadership of the Church is out among the members of
the Church and is constantly aware of what the feelings of the people
He told the Tribune that he had expected some resistance on the
purchase of a one-block section of Main Street from Salt Lake City.
While emphasizing the Church's actions were above board and open so
that the public knew about the sale, he said that the reason for
purchasing the street was for control, "The only reason we own
property around here is so that we can control the use of it. Really."
On the position of women in the Church, Hinckley said he foresaw no
changes in their organizational roles, "Those
women sit on other church boards, they sit with us in other
deliberative bodies and they make a tremendous contribution. Now, are
they in second place to us? No, I don't think so. We walk side by
But he did say that the Seventies are likely to keep expanding as the
Church expands, "The church is organized in such a way we could go on
expanding the Seventies limitlessly," he said.
In one particularly interesting part of the interview, Hinckley
listed some of his favorite authors. The first mentioned was Charles
Dickens, who's "Life of our Lord" is an oft-quoted favorite. Hinckley
was recently given a first edition copy of the 1834 book. He also
expressed an admiration for pulitzer prize-winning author Wallace
Stegner, who was a classmate at the University of Utah. Hinckley said
he admired Stegner's account of the Mormon pioneer trek, "The
Gathering of Zion," calling it "a very moving book." "He's done a
good job, and I have enjoyed it. I've quoted on it, extensively at
various times." Hinckley also mentioned biographer William
Manchester, saying he particularly enjoyed his "Life of Churchill."
Hinckley also hinted that he as a surprise for the community coming
this summer. He will turn 90 on June 23rd, and when the Tribune asked
if he had any special plans, he said, "Yes, but I'm not going to tell
you. I'm a man who doesn't need anything. On my birthday, I'm going
to try to give something to the people of the community."
Transcript of the Interview with Gordon B. Hinckley
Salt Lake Tribune 26Feb00 N1
In His Words
Salt Lake Tribune 26Feb00 N1