Questions from Jack Cushman, The New York Times
President of the National Press Club
National Press Club Newsmakers Luncheon
March 8, 2000
Q. Perhaps the most frequently asked question on all of these cards that I have is what role is politics going to be for the church and its members? Please comment a little bit about political activism among your church members?
A. Well, the church itself as an institution does not involve itself in politics nor does it permit the use of its buildings or facilities for political purposes. Now, we do become involved if there is a moral issue or something that comes on the legislative calendar which directly affects the church. We tell our people who are citizens of this land and other lands that they as individuals have a civic responsibility to exercise the franchise that is theirs so they become very active. But as a church, as I have said, we do not become involved in tax matters or any other kinds of legislation unless there be a moral issue which we think is of great importance or something that may be directed to the church, harmfully as we view it, and then we would become involved. We do very little politicking. We look at Washington and smile. (laughter)
Jack Cushman: We welcome smiles in Washington.
Q. A questioner said the church actively supported Proposition 22, the ballot measure banning same-sex marriage which California voters approved yesterday, and asks does the church take any credit for that result and is this a signal of an activist political posture?
A. I don't think it signals a more active political posture, but we were actively involved there. We were part of a coalition that very actively worked on that matter. We are not anti-gay. We are pro-family. I want to emphasize that. We are very grateful for all who worked so diligently and happy for the outcome of that vote, was about 61-38 (percent), by a very sizable margin that prevailed. We are very grateful because California is a bellwether state, and the fight there was very real. I'd like to add the church put no money into that as an institution. All that we spent was contributed by members of the church as individuals, and they gave of their means and their strength and their energy to win a great victory, I think, in terms of their attitude and position.
Jack Cushman: We will go beyond politics shortly, but we have a couple more.
President Hinckley: It doesn't scare me.
Q. Someone asked: Since George W. Bush's appearance at Bob Jones University elevated this question of religion and politics this year, what is your opinion of his appearance there and the aftermath?
A. Oh, I haven't given it much thought. We have been persecuted a great deal during our history, terribly so. We've endured every kind of insult and difficulty. Fortunately, that has largely disappeared and we are not going to fuss over that. I heard him the other night on the Larry King Show, and I felt a little sorry for him. We'll stand as we have stood all of these years and move forward with a smile on our face and greeting in our hearts for anyone who speaks against us or for us.
Q. The church is sending missionaries into the inner cities in the United States. What kind of sensitivity training are the missionaries given, especially regarding the history of the church and African-Americans?