A ringing denunciation of racial strife and other forms of conflict, hatred and bitterness characterized the remarks by President Gordon B. Hinckley during the priesthood session of conference Saturday evening.
"I have wondered why there is so much hatred in the world," the 95-year-old Church president mused. "We are involved in terrible wars with lives lost and many crippling wounds. Coming closer to home, there is so much of jealousy, pride, arrogance and carping criticism; fathers who rise in anger over small, inconsequential things and make wives weep and children fear."
Lamenting that "racial strife still lifts its ugly head," he said: "I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be."
Noting that it seemed the Church rejoiced over the 1978 revelation given to President Spencer W. Kimball granting the priesthood to all worthy men regardless of race, President Hinckley said, "I was there in the temple at the time that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord.
"Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?"
He admonished the assembled priesthood brethren that if any of his hearers was inclined to indulge in racial hatred, "then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such."
President Hinckley said he receives letters from time to time suggesting items to be dealt with at general conference. One such letter came from a woman who indicated that her marriage following a divorce was to a man who seemed kind and considerate but she discovered after the marriage that his finances were in disarray and he had little money, yet he quit his job and refused employment. This forced her to go to work to provide for the family.
"From the early days of this Church, husbands have been considered the breadwinners of the family," President Hinckley declared. "I believe that no man can be considered a member in good standing who refuses to work to support his family if he is physically able to do so."
Saying that the adversary causes conflict and hatred by working on individuals, President Hinckley warned, "He destroys strong men."
He recounted the story of a young man not of the Mormon faith who grew up among Church members, some of whom belittled him, made him feel out of place and poked fun at him. "He came literally to hate this Church and its people. He saw no good in any of them."
Then, his father lost his job, and the family had to move. In the new location, at the age of 17, the young man enrolled in college where, for the first time in his life, he felt the warmth of friends, particularly of one named Richard.
At the age of 19, he found himself as a tent partner with Richard during their summer employment. There, he noticed Richard reading the Book of Mormon. At first repulsed by it, he became interested when Richard read from the book, and he thus discovered that Mormons believe in Jesus.
Later, Richard asked him to sing in a stake conference choir with him. At the conference, they met the visiting General Authority, Elder Gary J. Coleman of the Seventy, who testified to the young man about the Book of Mormon.
"Time passed, and his faith increased," President Hinckley said. "He agreed to be baptized. His parents opposed him, but he went forward and was baptized a member of this Church. His testimony continues to strengthen. Only a few weeks ago he was married to a beautiful Latter-day Saint girl for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Temple. Elder Gary Coleman performed his sealing.
"That is the end of the of the story, but there are great statements in that story. One is the sorry manner in which his young Mormon associates treated him. Next is the manner in which his newfound friend Richard treated him. It was totally opposite from his previous experience. It led to his conversion and baptism in the face of terrible odds."
President Hinckley said such miracles can and will happen when there is kindness, respect and love.
"There is no end to the good we can do, to the influence we can have with others," he exclaimed. "Let us not dwell on the critical or the negative. Let us pray for strength; let us pray for capacity and desire to assist others. Let us radiate the light of the gospel at all times and all places, that the Spirit of the Redeemer may radiate from us."