Larry King Live!
CNN recently broadcast an hour-long interview with Gordon B Hinckley, the Mormon prophet. Although not a Mormon himself Larry King recently married a Mormon and it seems clear that the interview was conducted in light of this fact. I mean who wants to go home and tell his wife “Honey, I just savaged your prophet on national TV”? It was a bland interview spent talking mainly about football and Bill Clinton but there were some interesting insights.
Succession in the Presidency
Anyone who has studied Mormonism over many years will know that Mormons believe that their prophet is chosen by revelation. Succession in the presidency can be a touchy subject with critics saying that it is cut and dried and Mormons saying otherwise. This little exchange, then, was very interesting:
KING: How do you get to be president?
HINCKLEY: You’re appointed a member of the counsel of 12 and you out live everybody else.
Mormon fundamentalism, noted for promoting polygamy, is in the news in Utah and when asked to comment Hinckley distanced himself from it saying
They have no connection with us whatsoever. We have nothing to do with it. It’s outside the realm of our responsibility.
He further stated
There are no Mormon fundamentalists!
Whilst the Mormon Church no longer practises polygamy it certainly does still believe in it. How tragic that they should feel no weight of responsibility for the confusion caused when early prophets taught polygamy as a fundamental law of the gospel, and later prophets buckled under public pressure and discontinued a fundamental Mormon practice. Confusion that is surely directly responsible for producing the so-called fundamentalism that abounds in Utah today.
Do Mormons criticise other Churches?
Other Churches are never criticised by Mormons, did you know that? Well here is the prophet on it:
KING: You’re not saying, leave your Catholicism.
HINCKLEY: I say this to other people: you develop all the good you can. We have no animosity toward any other church. We do not oppose other churches. We never speak negatively of other churches. We say to people: you bring all the good that you have, and let us see if we can add to it.
Is this a prophet of God speaking? No, its sixty-five years in public relations work speaking.
Negroes and the Priesthood
The president of the Edinburgh Scotland stake appeared on Channel Five’s Sunday morning programme “Do You Believe In?” In true Mormon style candour was not the order of the day. In particular when the issue of the Mormon bar on Negroes holding authority in the church was raised the question was asked, Why? Why, until 1978 were coloured people barred from all but basic membership? President Stephen Kerr, a self-declared fourth generation Mormon, raised in the church and president of the Edinburgh stake declared,
I don’t know. We don’t know. None of us know. Only God knows.
This in spite of the fact that June this year saw the issue plastered across the pages of the London Time and the Los Angeles Times. This in spite of the fact that the reasons are fully explained in Mormon scripture and have been routinely taught in Mormon publications. President Kerr, everyone knows why Negroes were barred. It is because they were less than valiant in the pre-existence. It is because they carry the mark of Cain and are an emblem of Satan on the earth. And your scriptures and the writings of your church leaders still say as much. There! Now you know. Will you now have the decency to explain it to Jenny Adamson, your coloured friend who appeared with you on the programme and seemed totally taken in by this claim of ignorance?
Mormon Tabernacle Choir – Ambassadors for Mormon Culture
Songs of Praise recently featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir recorded at the Royal Albert Hall. Introduced by Harry Secombe, the broadcast was quite innocuous although many have complained that a cult has appeared on a basically Christian programme. I am afraid this is the shape of things to come. We have long warned that the Mormon Church is seeking a place in the sun with the mainstream churches and this is simply a sign of their success. One commentator has observed that when we witness to Mormons we are not simply witnessing to a cult but to a culture. The Mormon Tabernacle choir is one very acceptable and powerful expression of that culture. It was interesting hearing them singing truths that they don’t believe in and thrilling their audience with them. This is the acceptable face of Mormonism and, in a main feature in the October 1998 Ensign magazine the European tour of which the London concert comprised was reviewed.
A company of angels, L’Unita Due, Rome.
The Mormon Choir…makes God its most powerful instrument, Le Temps, Geneva.
Such were the responses to what is after all a magnificent choir. I am reminded of something John Stewart of Home Evangelism said about the new Preston Temple. One non-Mormon visitor said to him, “you must admit it’s a bonny place”. John replied, “Aye, but so is Loch Ness and that has a monster!”
The Ensign article spoke of the Mormon Hymn, Come, Come, Ye Saints as the well-known “Mormon Anthem”. It got us thinking. The next time a Mormon challenges you to call the church by its proper name ask them if they enjoy the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints anthem as sung by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Tabernacle Choir.