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Probing questions answered by Elder David A. Bednar

May 2022 at the National Press Club

After addressing those attending the National Press Club meeting in May 2022, he answered questions submitted by the media:

  • ABORTION: Does the Church plan to publicly advocate for its position on abortion?  “Our existing policy … is that we believe in life, we affirm the sanctity of life, and also the means whereby mortal life is created.  It already highlights the fact that there should be consideration given in cases of rape, incest, the health of the mother, and the viability of the fetus.”
  • AFRICA: Regarding Church growth, what are some of the reasons that the Church is growing so much now in Africa?  “Africa has been influenced in many parts of the continent through early Christian missionaries.  When you go to visit with a congregation there and you recite a verse from the Bible, everyone in the congregation, without looking at a text, can recite it with you.  There is a very strong Christian tradition.”  Elder Bednar said the message of the Restoration of the Savior’s Church strikes a resonant chord in Africa.  “They come, they see our congregations, they participate, and they desire to join.”
  • FINANCIAL RESERVES: With over $100 billion in funds and assets, the Church has more capability than any other church in the country to help eliminate poverty.  What more could the Church do in terms of humanitarian efforts?  “You can read in the Old Testament about seven years of famine and seven years of plenty.  It is a good idea to prepare.  These undertakings that I have described are resource consuming, not resource generating.  A lot of people depend on the resources we provide.  If things are different in the future than they are now, we think it is provident and wise to prepare to maintain that kind of support in an uncertain economic environment.”
  • LGBTQ CONCERNS: Can you envision a day when LGBTQ Church members can marry and be sealed within the Church?  “We believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and that the family is central to the Father’s plan for the eternal destiny and happiness of His children.”
  • NAME OF THE CHURCH: Can you talk about the decision to really emphasize the full name of the Church as opposed to calling yourself Mormons or the LDS Church?  “I think that President Russell M. Nelson will be known forever as a man of remarkable courage to say we will no longer use a nickname, pejoratively attached to our Church by our enemies, anymore.  And we are asking other people to call us what we are called: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The name of the Church ws revealed.  We did not have a task force to test the name with focus groups.  It was revealed by the head of the Church, who is Jesus Christ.  And we simply are asking people to respect that and call us what we are.”
  • TEMPLES: Many locals will visit the Washington D.C. Temple before its rededication.  What do you hope they will take away from that experience?  Elder Bednar said he hopes people will learn what the temple is, as well as the nature of the spiritual journey that includes temple worship.  “It is a worship space, it is a sacred space, but it is also an instructional space. … It is a place where we go to meditate, to pray, to ponder, to seek heavenly influences and guidance in our lives,” he said.
  • TITHING: Given the significant financial strain that tithing is for those in war or abject poverty, is there any discussion within the Church about not requiring the payment of tithing for people in those situations, or at least tithing only what is left after paying for housing, food, and other necessities?  “President Gordon B. Hinckley stood at this pulpit in 2000 and made reference to the law of tithing.  I remember watching him teach in impoverished areas of the country and promising the people: ‘the pathway out of poverty is keeping the commandments of God, including tithing’.  The Church does not need their money, but those people need the blessing that comes from obeying God’s commandments.”
  • TRANSGENDER CONCERNS: How would a transgender person be treated if they had already completed their transition before exploring membership in the Church?  “We welcome all and strive to love them.  Now, I use the word strive because we do not do that perfectly.  People have stereotypes, they have misconceptions, they have biases, and they had prejudices.  We strive to love everyone.”
  • WOMEN IN THE CHURCH: You mentioned that women lead within the Church in many ways.  Will there ever be a female president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?  “We follow the pattern of the ancient Church.  We believe that a man must be called of God by prophecy and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the gospel and administer the ordinances thereof.  The pattern anciently was that the apostles were men.”

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