In May 2005, for example, then–Harvard Business School dean Kim B. Clark was asked by Hinckley to leave that plum job and take the reins of Brigham Young University-Idaho, a relatively obscure Mormon institution. Clark assented, and offered this explanation to the Boston Globe: “Personally, if President Hinckley called me on the telephone and asked me to do something, I would do it. There’s no confusion in my mind that this is a responsibility which comes to me from him, and it comes from the Lord.”
Several Mormons who spoke with the Phoenix predicted that, in the event of your presidency, Hinckley would probably take great pains not to give you advice or ask for favors. They may be right; after all, if you’re the first Mormon to hold the nation’s highest office, the acutely image-conscious LDS Church won’t want to do anything to taint that achievement. But what if Hinckley does decide to speak with you on a matter of great import? Would you be comfortable rebuffing the “Modern Prophet” if he came to you with a direct request?
Who can be saved?
You’ve emphasized the common ground shared by Mormons and other Christians, but the LDS Church is predicated on the idea that only Mormons can attain salvation. That’s why Mormon missionaries work in Western Europe and here in the US, and why Mormons perform ceremonies aimed at giving deceased non-Mormon relatives a chance at salvation.
Since you’re running as an explicitly Christian candidate, Catholic and Protestant voters may want to know: will they go to heaven if they don’t convert? If you’re feeling expansive, you could also talk openly about some of Mormonism’s divergences from other Christ-centered faiths, such as the notion ( downplayed of late by Hinckley) that God was once a man, or the concept of a multi-tiered Heaven .
Abortion and contraception
In the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry, who is Roman Catholic, was criticized for dissenting from his church’s teaching on abortion. How do you feel about the LDS position, which opposes abortion but allows for exceptions in cases of rape and incest, when the mother’s life is in danger, and when the fetus has such defects that it won’t survive birth? Also, given the widely held Mormon belief that a finite number of spirits are waiting to come to earth as physical beings , do you endorse the use of birth control by married couples?
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Husbands and wives The LDS Church is deeply ambivalent when it comes to gender roles. The good news is, men and women are supposed to function as “ equal partners ” in marriage. Then again, Mormons played a pivotal role in derailing the Equal Rights Amendment . The doctrine of “ eternal marriage ” allows husbands to have multiple wives, but wives can’t have multiple husbands.
And like the Catholic Church, the LDS Church refuses to ordain women. As you see it, should men and women have equal responsibilities within marriage? Or should their roles be sharply differentiated?