“Christians, Jews Honor President Hinckley,” Ensign, May 1995, 108
The Utah Region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, an organization whose purpose is to promote understanding and respect among all races, religions, and cultures, recently honored President Gordon B. Hinckley, then First Counselor in the First Presidency, for his powerful example.
“In his role as a world leader in his church, President Hinckley through the decades has quietly but powerfully been a force in giving to Utah—and the Salt Lake City area particularly—a high level of moral values and practices,” said Nick S. Vidalakis, presiding cochairman of the Utah Region. “He has also been a great strength in lifting culture in the Beehive State in his noteworthy support of music, both vocal and instrumental, and the visual arts.”
In receiving the honor and an olive-wood statuette of Moses, which was made especially for the occasion, President Hinckley said, “I’ve tried to do only that which every man ought to do without any thought of recognition, be he Christian, Jew, Muslim, or of any other persuasion.”
During his remarks at the February 21 meeting, President Hinckley talked about the five men who founded the Utah Region of the conference and observed: “The work of this organization is so urgently needed in a world that is weary of strife and hatred. How very heavy is the burden of human suffering, the suffering that comes of war; of so-called ethnic cleansing; of conflict in the name of religion; of foolish ideas of racial superiority; of intolerance, bigotry, and egotism.”
During his address, President Hinckley shared a statement that the Prophet Joseph Smith made in 1843: “It has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a ‘Mormon.’ I am bold enough to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination” (History of the Church, 5:498).
“This,” President Hinckley continued, “I hope, has been and will continue to be my standard.”
Accompanying President Hinckley to the dinner and also receiving a medallion was Marjorie P. Hinckley, President Hinckley’s wife. Also attending the gather-ing with their wives were President Thomas S. Monson, then Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and eight members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: Elders L. Tom Perry, David B. Haight, James E. Faust, M. Russell Ballard, Joseph B. Wirthlin, Richard G. Scott, Robert D. Hales, and Jeffrey R. Holland. Other General Authorities were also in attendance, as well as various government and community leaders.
Throughout the evening many tributes were paid to President Hinckley, including remarks by Malcolm S. Forbes Jr., editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine and the featured speaker. “[His] life is a model and an inspiration in a secular age for people and for all of us who yearn for spiritual guidance,” he said. “He is a human hero and a genuine hero.”