A representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was in the spotlight at the White House, not once, but twice on Friday afternoon.
Elder John K. Carmack, a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, first received on behalf of the church a President's Historic Preservation Award for its restoration of the Newell K. Whitney Store in Kirtland, Ohio.Then about an hour later, he represented the church again at the signing of sweeping drug legislation that contains anti-pornography provisions, which the church and other religious organizations had urged.
Carmack, who is also the managing director of the historical department of the Church Museum of History and Art, said he was especially proud of the award the church received for its meticulous research and restoration of the Whitney Store.
Joseph Smith - the church's founder and first president - lived during the 1830s in an apartment above the store, which was owned by an early church bishop. Smith also taught early church leaders there in what he called "The School of the Prophets."
And Smith said he received many of the church's important early revelations there, including the "Word of Wisdom," which advises abstinence from tobacco and alcohol.
Carmack said the church purchased the store in 1980, then carefully restored it using painstaking research.
He said, "This award is a nice recognition when you consider how large our United States is and how many historical places there are. This shows they (church employees) did their work well."
Ten such awards for non-government, privately funded restoration projects were given by Reagan.
Reagan joked at the beginning, "You know, when they told me that today's event was the presidential Historic Preservation Awards, I said, `Oh no, not another occasion to honor me.' Besides, if anybody deserves credit for this president's historic preservation, it's Nancy."
More seriously, he honored the recipients as people "who have intertwined our hopes for the future of our civilization with a deep respect for the glories of our heritage.
"The presence of historic properties as working and productive assets in our communities gives us an important link between the past and the present and reminds us of what we were, who we are and where we hope to be."
Judges from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent federal agency, also issued a statement praising the restoration of the Whitney store.
"The Whitney store restoration demonstrates careful research contributes to an understanding of how one particular religious group moved across America and shows how carefully preserved religious history can contribute in a broader sense to the life of a community."
A full house of legislative, religious and other leaders was on hand later for the signing of the anti-drug and anti-pornography legislation.
Carmack said, "We (the LDS Church) have been a major contributor to the Religious Alliance Against Pornography, which has really pushed this bill. So I have been invited to represent the church, Utah and our community."
Rep. Bill Hughes, D-N.J., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime and an author of the legislation, issued a statement that "the anti-pornography provisions give the federal government strong new authority to go after organized crime and other large-scale distributors of pornography and obscenity."
He added, "I'm confident that the legislation strikes the proper balance between the needs of our law enforcement community and the protection of our constitutional rights of privacy, free speech and a free press."
Hughes added that drug sections of the bill provide new law enforcement tools and make a major commitment to education and treatment.