Bush and Hinckley meet for a fourth time
President Bush met with Mormon leaders early Thursday morning in the LDS Church's Administration Building in downtown Salt Lake City.
Bush's motorcade sped by the building's entrance at 47 E. South Temple, entering instead from an underground parking lot on North Temple. A group of onlookers waved at the train of passing cars.
LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley greeted the U.S. president in his office, but neither the White House nor The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' spokespersons would confirm any details of the scheduled 40-minute meeting. Hinckley's counselors in the governing First Presidency, Thomas S. Monson and James E. Faust, joined in the meeting.
This was Hinckley's fourth such meeting with Bush as U.S. president. Bush first came to Utah as a presidential candidate in 2000 and met with Hinckley then. Next, Bush and his wife, Laura, arrived in Utah for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Two years later, Hinckley was at the White House to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It was Hinckley's 94th birthday, June 23, 2004, and Bush praised the Mormon leader for having the "heart of a servant but the gifts of a leader."
"Through his discipline and faithfulness, he has proven a worthy successor to the many fine leaders before him," Bush said at a White House ceremony. "His church has given him its highest position of trust, and today this wise and patriotic man receives his country's highest civil honor."
Hinckley, considered a "prophet, seer and revelator" by 12 million Mormons, also joined two dozen religious leaders in the White House on Sept. 21, 2001 to give their blessing to Bush's campaign to eradicate terrorism. The 27 religious leaders, representing Roman Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and others, met with Bush privately for more than an hour, praying with him and singing "God Bless America."
The religious leaders issued a joint statement after the meeting backing action against terrorism.
"Because these terrorist attacks were global in their consequences, the president is correct in seeking a coordinated, international response," said the statement.
As Bush led the country into a war against Iraq in 2003, Hinckley told the Mormon faithful gathered for the church's 173rd Annual General Conference in April that he supported the president's decision to defend and unseat a dictator. The LDS leader said he believed in supporting the U.S. government, but acknowledged that Mormons in other nations might have different views.
"We are now a world church with members in most of the nations which have argued this matter," Hinckley said. "There have been demonstrations for and against."
He urged the faithful to treat those of opposing opinions with respect.
"Let us never become a party to words or works of evil concerning our brothers and sisters of the church in various nations on one side or the other," Hinckley said. "Political differences never justify hatred or ill will."