Mormon church President Gordon B. Hinckley on Saturday told the world’s nearly 10 million Mormons not to worry if it sometimes appears in the media that he doesn’t understand church doctrines.
“I think I understand them thoroughly,” Hinckley told faithful members who revere him as a prophet, seer and revelator. “It is unfortunate that the reporting may not make this clear.”
The estimated 6,000 people gathered at the pioneer-era Tabernacle for the church’s 167th semiannual general conference laughed after Hinckley asked them not to worry.
Hinckley was one of several church leaders to speak on the first day of the two-day conference. Other topics included making new converts feel welcome in the fast-growing religion and protecting the traditional two-parent family by adhering to Mormon teachings.
Hinckley did not cite specific cases where he felt his comments were misunderstood by reporters.
In a lengthy Time magazine article about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in August, the 87-year-old religious leader was uncertain in his responses to questions about such Mormon beliefs as men becoming gods and that God was once a man.
Hinckley called misquotations or misunderstandings “blips” in what otherwise has been extensive and favorable news coverage.
Much of the coverage has been during the past few months as the church celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Mormon pioneer trek west to settle the Salt Lake Valley.
Later Saturday, during the conference’s priesthood session, Hinckley announced plans to build a number of small temples in remote areas for the faith - including Anchorage, Alaska; in northern Mexico, and Monticello, Utah.
The new temples - scaled down versions of the traditional grand structures - will provide Mormons living away from large population centers access to the faith’s marriage, baptism and other sacred rites.