Gordon B Hinckley 2002 Interview - Salamander Society

Gordon B Hinckley 2002 Interview

Hinckley's Interview With German TV - Response to Tough Questioning

Gordon B. Hinckley Interview – ZDF German Television
Salt Lake City, Utah January 29, 2002 Conducted by Helmut Nemetschek at 47 East South Temple

Hinckley's responses which the Salamander Society staff believe are "untrue or misrepresenations" are highlighted in black with our corrections made in red.

HN: President Hinckley, what are your desires, expectations and your wishes for the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City?

GBH: Well, we expect great things in the first place. I’m very happy we can host the games. People from across the world through TV, people everywhere, millions, billions will look upon this community. It’s a great community and festival of athletes who come and try to excel before the world seeking excellence of performance and victory. I am looking forward to it and am pleased that it’s happening. We want to be friendly, gracious and hospitable to all who come here.

HN: What would you like to introduce to the world about the LDS Church?

GBH: 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. (What about The Jehova's Witnesses, The Seventh Day Adventists and Evangelical Churches? The site www.adherents.com lists the LDS Church as the 23rd fast growing Church.) We now have more members of the Church outside of the United States than we have in the United States, substantially more. We’re growing in about 160 nations. We have a great worldwide undertaking. We come with a message of peace and love and that God has spoken to bless His children. Our purposes are all positive and we are all beneficial to all. Ask Holocaust survivors if they believe Mormon temple proxy baptism for Holocaust victims is postive. Ask non-Mormon family members how positive it is for them to be refused entrance into the temple to be present at their loved ones marriage sealings.)

HN: What will be your personal legacy when, Mr. President, your time will be coming to an end?

GBH: My personal legacy? You think my time is coming to an end do you? (with a grin and a chuckle) I just want to build understanding in this world. I believe our Father in Heaven would have us live in harmony and peace. My desire is to bring about peace, respect and understanding among people wherever they may be found.

HN: Your church is experiencing growth. More than 50% are living outside of the U.S. Do you see some theological problems when people, more and more people are coming from different cultures, maybe Oceania and Latin America?

GBH: No, I don’t see any problems. (As long as new members assimilate into Utah cultural norms. What about the polygamous convert in Zaire who can longer practice polygamy after joining the Church? What about thousands of Native and Latin Americans who can't make sense of the "Lamanite Curse/Blessing doctrine?) 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 and the same truths. We all have ambitions of one kind or another. People are very much alike regardless of nationality regardless of the nation from where the come. We’ve had great experience in this matter of working internationally and we feel very optimistic about it. We wish to go forward and do all we can to build brotherhood around the world.

HN: Your missionary work is very successful but why do you never publish the figures of dissidents?

GBH: Oh, we have a few dissidents. (How about 40 to 50 thousand Mormons officially resign membership annually. The brightest and most innovative people are excommunicated.) We hear from them. They’re not quiet. They make themselves known. But we don’t have many dissidents really, very few. They’re very few really. Once in a while but not frequently at all, no. Our people are very congenial, happy people who work together and have a good time. They feel the belong to a great organization, love one another and enjoy life whether they’re German, Scandinavian, Japanese, Australian, American. It’s all the same everywhere.

HN: Until 1978 no person of color attained the priesthood in your church. Why it took so long time to overcome the racism?

GBH: I don’t know. I don’t know. (Hinckley knows full well there was no revelation, just a policy change due to outside political pressures and terrible PR.) I can only say that. (long pause) But it’s here now. We’re carrying on a very substantial work on Africa for instance and in Brazil. We’re working among their people developing them. We’ve had them among the leadership of the Church and they’re able to do a great work and we love them and appreciate them and we respect them and we are trying to help them.

HN:The LDS Church in Europe is sometimes considered by the older churches as a religious sect. There are no ecumenical contacts with other churches. Why is it so and maybe you would like better ecumenical contacts?

GBH: We regret that. If there is any of that we’re sorry. We think that comes from lack of understanding. We invite our critics and any others to meet with us and to investigate us. See what we teach, to become acquainted with us, to observe our program. I think as they come to understand us and what we try to do, that all of that will disappear. (It is precisely because the world does investigate the Church that the world avoids the Church like the plague.)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’ve expended millions upon millions upon millions of dollars in helping people in the unfortunate areas of the world. We’ve reached out to them, none of them members of the Church. We have a great concern and love for people everywhere who suffer. (This "great love" translates into about 5% of the Church's gross budget, most of which does not come out of the tithes, but out of a separate "Humanitarian Aid" section of the faithful's donation receipts.) We worked for instance, with the German Red Cross and found them very efficient and very able in helping with our humanitarian efforts.

HN: Yes, but my question was, would you prefer to have better relations with the other churches?

GBH: Of course, yes, of course we would. We would 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. (Hinckley overlooked the Pearl of Great Price scripture, verse 19, currently available online at the Church's official website in which Joseph Smith quotes Jesus Christ, Himself: "I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

Do we have something to offer? Yes. I say to other people, you bring all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to that. That’s our whole purpose, our mission, the way we operate. We want to be cooperative with other people. We want to share with other people.

We do so in this community. We have good relations other churches. We get along very well with the people, Catholic, Protestant, other people, Islam people, people of Islam. (Most Christian churches actively complain that Mormons are not Christians. The Southern Baptists are especially vocal about this.) We’d like to build better relationships wherever we go.

HN: Critics of your church maintain that LDS is anti-democratic. What is your answer?

GBH: Anti-democratic? Nothing could be more further from the truth. We’re a very democratic organization. (Those who vote "no" when sustaining the leadership are removed from the congregation. Mormonism is a theocracy, not a democracy.) Our priesthood, for instance. Priesthood is available for every worthy man. We don’t have a few ministers trained in Seminary. 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 serve as a head of stake, a diocese, of 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 over all effort of the Church.

HN: Yes, other critics about finances. I read in different magazines the rumor that your Church is very wealthy and I read the figure of 30 billion U.S. dollars. What do you respond?

GBH: That’s somebody’s guess. That’s a wild guess. Well, the fact of the matter is this. If you count all of our assets, yes, we are well off, but these assets, you have to know this, are not money producing. (KSL-TV, numerous radio stations, Deserert Book, Ensign Peak Advisors, Bonneville International are cash cows for Hinckley.) These assets are money consuming. These assets include 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 of the missionary work, they include humanitarian work. The include all of these things which use money which don’t produce money.

In income of the Church comes from the consecration of the people. They tithe themselves, pay their tithes. The ancient law of the tithes is the Church’s law of finance. That’s where the money comes from that operates the Church.

If you look at our balance sheets that show all of the facilities that we have and the programs that we carry we appear very wealthy , but you must realize that all of these programs consume money, they don’t produce it. The money we use comes from the consecration of the people.

HN: In my country we say the people’s churches, the Protestants, the Catholics. They publish all their budgets annually to all the public. Why is not this possible for your church?

GBH: Well, we simply think that information belongs to those who make the contributions, not to the world. (The books are totally closed to even those who donate thousands of dollars in tithing. This secret is more closely guarded than the "sacred" temple ceremonies.) That’s the only thing. Yes.

HN: Now, Mr. President, one question which is a little bit complicated for me to understand but I heard it an one colleague asked me to ask you. What will be your position when DNA analysis will show that in history there never had been an immigration from Israel to North America? It could be that scientists will find out?

GBH: It hasn’t happened. That hasn’t been determined yet. All I can say is that’s speculative. No one really knows that, the answer to that. Not at this point. (DNA science show no evidence of Israelites migrating to the Western Hemisphere. Only FARMS and BYU attempt to dispute this foregone knowledge.)

HN: Okay, last question. Do you agree that religions in this time have their own responsibility of peace in all the world?

GBH: Yes, of course. We have responsibility for peace and to work for peace. That’s our responsibility 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 striving and making efforts and the world is a better place for the efforts of those who try to improve it. (When is the last time Hinckley was in the news helping to negotiate peace in the Middle East or other hot spots around the world. At least the Pope will stick his political neck out.) End of interview.

Comment Section

Gordon Hinckley is a professional, media-savvy man. His carefully worded responses in this interview (outside of the juvenile out "I don't know") is meant to parry and side-step 'difficult' and socially unacceptable doctrines that the world has come to know and ridicule (despite Joop Scholte's protestations), and is an attempt to make the Mormon Church of Joseph Smith Christ more acceptable, more palatable, and more mainstream to the general public. Even if it meant directly contradicting God's very own words as regards "all other churches". Even if it means sticking his little neck out, pronouncing his rejection of science over faith. Savvy, indeed, yet sad. - 11/01/2009 - buddhist punk


I'm a faithful Latter-day Saint and I'm not perfect. So get a fucking life and quit ruining peoples joy! - 03/19/2008 - anon


Anon sounds like a faithful LDS with his mastery of the "F" word. You must have just returned from a real spiritual sacrament meeting. How inspired you must feel. - 03/20/2008 - dansdone


For a Latter-Day saint to post on here using the word f*****g, I must say that you must be a spiritual giant in your Mormon Faith. I'm real impressed and now understand why you are remaining anon.............and as far as DNA is concerned in regards to the BOM, YOU need to go do your homework and perhaps not open your mouth except to insert foot. - 08/05/2008 - Daniel


Wow, hundreds of hours and time spent on humanitarian aid. Why is it so hard to achieve peace? Do you have a responsibility of peace in all the world? All I see is an effort to tear down, put down, and denograte in this article. Why is it so hard to achieve peace? The answer lies in people. - 01/30/2008 - thinker

Dear Sir,

From an objective point of view it is not fair to make comments on an interview in the manner you have done. When do you see this in a newspaper? Never. This is not objective journalism. It would have been fair if you would have given Gordon B. Hinckley the chance to comment on your not-so-profound criticism contained in your comments.

1. The Jehovah's Witnesses are not a church, neither are the Seventh Day Adventist. Where are the American Evangelical Churches outside the USA?

2. Baptism for the dead is a normal Christian ceremony (see the New Testament).

3. The temple is a sacred place. Therefore it is only logical to keep it sacred by restricting entry to faithfull members. There is nothing negative in this. For family who hate to be absent at the ceremony itself a civil ceremony can be arranged prior to the Temple wedding.

4. Obviously the new members from Congo or South America who can't practice polygamy anymore or who wonder about the "Lamanite curse or blessing"-as you define it- before they join the church have accepted those facts, otherwise they would not have joined.

5. Your comment that Hinckley knows full well that there was no revelation about the priesthood for blacks, only a policy-change, tantamounts to saying he lies, which he doesn't. There was a revelation given to Spencer W. Kimball in 1979 and you know that very well! Even if that revelation would come after pressure from outside, it is still a revelation, just like the one about polygamy. There is nothing wrong with a revelation coming after outside pressure.

6. Your comment about the world avoiding the church like a plague is utter nonsense. The church is respected everywhere in this world. The church has for instance greatly contributed to the constuction of churches of other faiths in Utah. Where do you see that?

7. Your comment about "verse 19" in The Pearl of Great Price" is talking about the other churches in the Eastern United States at the time of Joseph Smith, not necessarily about the great demoninations of today"s world.

8. If other churches complain about the fact that the LDS church is not a Christian church, why they worry about that? Only because they seem to be loosing members to the LDS church, not because the LDS church is not a Christian church. How can someone call the LDS church not a Christian church if we publish a book which claims to be a second witness of Jesus Christ?

9. The Church is a democratic organisation in the sense that everybody has a chance to become president of the church, not only people who have studied at certains clerical schools. Everybody has a chance to become a Bishop, Stake president or whatever function in the church, not just people who have a degree in theology. Moreover, they do not get paid for that work. Your comment that people who vote "no" are removed from the congregation is simply not true. What happens in reality? After a meeting where somebody votes "no" he is taken apart and asked why he has voted no. It could be he has information about the person proposed in the meeting to hold a certain function that others don't have. It is as simple as that.

10. Hinckley was not talking about KSL, Bonneville etc. when he made his comments about the non-cash-producing assets, which form the majority of the assets of the church.

11. If the world would have insight into the books of the church it would only be another reason to criticise the church unjustified, as you are doing in your comments to this interview.

12. I have no knowledge of your DNA remarks. Have you seriously studied this matter? Before you seriously study such a matter, you are not in a position to comment, just like me.

13. Hinckley does not want to be in the news negotiating peace in the Middle east, even if he would do it. But he is in the news proclaiming peace and goodwill whenever he can, as is shown in this interview. The church is not a political organisation.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. - 11/18/2007 - Joop Scholte

Mormo: Satanic God. His followers are called mormons.

DNA Science has proven that the Book of Mormo is wrong, not true and fantasy at best. Nothing to aruge here... I would say that if your a Mormo follower and reding this that you should do your homework before you open your mouth. - 09/03/2007 - anon


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