Summarized by Kent Larsen
President Hinckley's remarks at National Press Club
Sharlene Gilmer Anderson 8Mar00 N1
[Notes on this event from attendee Sharlene Gilmer Anderson, who has graciously given Mormon-News permission to carry her assessment.]
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- To date, the most amazing Washington event I have
attended occurred this afternoon at the National Press Club.
President Hinckley was holding a press conference about his new book
Standing for Something. In the room were around 200 people, 3/4ths
of which were press, including Mike Wallace (who wrote the foreword
for the book) and many other notable figures. Also in attendance
were Senators Hatch, Bennett, Reid (NV), and Gordon Smith (OR) and
many other congressmen and influential people from the area. There
were also the crashers (myself included) who came to hear Pres.
Hinckley take on the DC press corps right after super Tuesday amid
Prop 22 and Bob Jones U.
President Hinckley gave some remarks, which were very good and
touched on the presence of the Church throughout the world. One of
the timely points that stuck out to me was that the Church as two
helicopters it rented to help the rescue effort in Mozambique.
At the conclusion of his remarks President Hinckley received a
standing ovation by every person in the room, started by some of the
journalists and photographers - you know us Mormons, we are hesitant
to do anything too loudly for fear of breaking decorum. I have been
to a number of events in the NPC, and I haven't seen an ovation by
the press corps.
He then fielded questions from the audience. They ranged from the
Church's involvement in the Prop 22 issue in California to how he
stayed so healthy at almost 90. He handled them all beautifully and
received more applause after basically every question - it was a
little startling seeing the Prophet receive applause after remarks -
we just don't do that in General Conference! The only question he
refrained from taking a stand on was whether he believed public
schools should have moments of silence, though he did put a plug in
for mediation and prayer in our lives on a personal basis. He was
even asked if it was possible for a good Mormon to be a Democrat (a
very interesting question since Senator Reid is a Democrat and was
sitting on the stand), he said of course. It wasn't the political
party he was concerned about so much as the personal beliefs of the
individual. When asked why there hasn't been divine intervention for
the BYU football team, he said they were working !
hard on that issue. One of the most humorous moments was when he
claimed he didn't know much about the Internet, that he was an old
man. Then, the moderator of the event - the president of the
National Press Club - turned to him and said - "An old man with a
very large web site" - referring to the genealogical sites which get
8 million hits per day.
I would imagine that the press conference may be picked up in some of
the press outside of the DC area, so watch for it if you are
interested. I would also be happy to go into more detail on his
answers to some of the other political questions if you want me to -
just ask. A final note, he did say that the Church's position on
Washington and politics is primarily to "look at Washington and just
smile." Needless to say, I left smiling myself.
More notes on the Prop 22 questions:
About the Prop 22 question it was a three parter -
1. Why did the LDS church get involved in prop 22
2. Do you take credit for its passage
3. Does this mean the LDS church will now be more involved in politics
Answers (basic points of the answer, not verbatim)-
The church only gets involved in moral issues - this doesn't mean an
increase in activity necessarily, but the church will take a stand on
some moral issues. The church is not anti-gay, the church is
pro-family. (I think that was a direct quote). While the church
encouraged member involvement surrounding the prop 22, the church
didn't spend any money on efforts related to its passage, it was all
funded by individual members. The church is very glad it passed by a
wide margin because California is seen as a "bellweather" state.
He didn't comment on the taking credit part directly.