Call the Show 800-520-1234
LIVE: Mon-Fri, 6-9AM, ET
Hugh Hewitt Book Club
Call 800-520-1234 email Email Hugh
Hugh Hewitt Book Club

A Conversation with LDS Elder Jeffrey Holland

Email Email Print

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and a past president of BYU as well as PhD from Yale and an articulate defender of religious freedom around the globe.  He joined me in my California studios Friday:




HH: I’ve got a special first hour of the show for all my audience across the United States. I’m so honored to have in studio in studio with me Elder Jeffrey Holland, who is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He is also the third such member that I’ve had an opportunity to interview. Elder Dallin Oakes was here a couple of years ago. Before that, Elder Neil Maxwell did a show for me for PBS. I’ve had a lot of good friends in the Quorum. But the third time’s the charm, so maybe I’ll get one of these interviews right, Elder.

JH: Thank you, Hugh, you’re getting it right.

HH: It is very good to have you here. I want to begin with the obvious most pressing question of the day. Is the dress white and gold? Or is it black and blue?

JH: I just happened to turn on the news this morning, and it looked to me like it was blue and black. But I don’t know.

HH: Have you checked with Mrs. Holland, yet?

JH: No, I haven’t, and I don’t dare do that.

HH: Well, last night, we were looking at this, and I said that’s white and gold, and the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt, to whom I’ve only been married 32 years, how long have you been married?

JH: 52.

HH: 52, so you’ve got 20 years on me. I said are you out of your mind? That’s black and blue. And so we join the parade. And it was, that’s the big news story of the day. It’s so great to have you here. You were at Chapman University earlier today. And you’re out talking about, I assume, religious freedom.

JH: Yes. Let me give a touch of history to that. Ten years ago, when the Fish Interfaith Center was created on the Chapman campus, I was invited to help inaugurate that, participated in the dedication. So as they were talking about a way to commemorate a decade of activity at that interfaith center, they made the mistake to have invited me back. I’m going to come back until I get it right. So this is really a sweet journey down memory lane for me to come back and recall that event ten years ago, and to kind of renew that, and yes, that provided a context to talk a little bit about the current issues of the day, and I called for an interfaith consideration of religious freedom on some of the issues we’re wrestling with nationally.

HH: I want to dive deep into that. Before that, though, I told you when you sat down, when Elder Oakes was here, I got the fun fact and known and tell about Elder Oakes was that, of course, everyone knew he was a great giant of the law.

JH: Yeah.

HH: But that he had, at the time, the most cited law review in the history of the University of Chicago Law Review, and it was on the exclusionary rule. That stunned me.

JH: Yeah.

HH: So I went looking for fun facts and known and tell about Jeffrey Holland. Your son is, one of yours sons…

JH: Yeah.

HH: …is a professor at Harvard Divinity School.

JH: He is. He is indeed, the first Latter Day Saint ever, I suppose, on that faculty.

HH: You see, I’m amazed by that.

JH: It’s a first.

HH: Now Clayton Christensen has been a guest on this show many times.

JH: Yes, right.

HH: And you cite him in your article on religious toleration. But I didn’t think that any Mormon scholar would want to go to the Harvard Divinity School.

JH: Well…

HH: I don’t think they believe in anything there.

JH: Let me explain. He’s not in the clerical business. He teaches history.

HH: Ah.

JH: So he teaches specifically American religious history. So he could teach that almost anywhere, and that’s a pretty good audience, and they are treating him wonderfully well. And he is, if you know the nomenclature in the lay service of our congregations, he is a stake president. That’s over a kind of a diocese, so he’s an actively engaged Latter Day Saint, and teaching on that faculty. It’s probably a sure sign of the apocalypse.

HH: That, I am more than a little surprised on that, but you have produced at least one other educator as well.

JH: Yes.

HH: You yourself was an educator before you joined the Quorum of the Twelve, right?

JH: Right, I was president of Brigham Young University.

HH: And that was after Dallin Oakes and before Rex Lee.

JH: That was, I succeeded Dallin Oakes and preceded Rex Lee.

HH: You see, I’ve had the chance to work with Rex Lee and interview Elder Oakes, so that’s, I kind of now have the trio of BYU. How’s the university faring, in you view?

JH: It’s doing very well. It continues to do well. We’ve, the most painful element of present life at BYU, I think, is the capping of enrollment. We just, we can’t grow. And with the growth of the church, there are more and more young people who would like to be at BYU but aren’t. That gives rise, I’ll finish the sentence you started with my other son. He’s the president of Utah Valley University in Utah County, and so many of the students who would like to have been at BYU are over in that, on that campus with him, and it’s now a campus of 34,000 in Utah.

HH: You’ve got a, 34,000?

JH: Yeah, largest school in the state of Utah now.

HH: Huh, and he’s the president of it?

JH: He’s the president.

HH: Well, you have a PhD from Yale.

JH: I do.

HH: And I want to ask you about, it’s in American studies.

JH: Right.

HH: I don’t know what that means. What’s that mean?

JH: Well, nobody does. That’s why I pursued it.

HH: Well, what did it involve, and who did you learn from?

JH: American studies can kind of be how a university defines it. But at Yale, it was the most attractive program in the nation for me. It was a mix of American literature, American history, and by my choice, American religious development. It’s a fairly fluid, loose kind of program where you can pull together any such threesome and make a mix in American culture. And so for me, it was American Lit, American History, and American Religious Development. And I studied with R.W.B. Lewis, was my principal literature advisor, wrote a wonderful, legendary book as a young man called The American Adam, Adam as the prototypical American, and he studied and wrote about that at a very young age in his career, studied with Sydney Ahlstrom, who was probably the foremost American religious historian in the country at the time, Charles Feidelson, whose specialty was Moby Dick. I had a wonderful, wonderful faculty. It was a wonderful experience.

HH: What was your dissertation about, Elder?

JH: My dissertation was on Mark Twain’s religious sense, when there really was a religious sense, up to his 48th birthday when he published Huckleberry Finn. What we know about Mark Twain usually are his later years, what he called the damned human race years, where he didn’t like anything, because it included people like him, where he was so bitter, and…

HH: He’d lost all his money, right?

JH: Yeah, he lost his money two or three times, and had family misfortune. He lost children, he blamed himself for losing the children, so he was pretty bitter in his old age. But I take him from his early years up to the publication of Huck Finn, where I think there was a wonderful, unique religious sense, hardly really viable in the sense that you and I would talk about religious faith, but he was preoccupied with it.

HH: Really?

JH: His cats were named Famine, Pestilence, Satan and Sin. He just thought about, he worked in religious metaphors. When he moved to a new city, his first friends were always ministers. Wherever he went, he would seek out a ministerial associate. Joe Twichell in Hartford was his closest friend to his death.

HH: Are you still reading Twain?

JH: No, not much. I’m too busy, I guess, unfortunately. I kind of left that behind with this ecclesiastical call.

HH: I have a card in my office in the studio, given to me by my friend, Jan Janura, which is not applicable to you…

JH: Right.

HH: …but it’s nevertheless obviously, it says I drink to make my friends interesting. I love Twain. Twain’s all around me.

JH: Yeah.

HH: But when you got out of Yale…

JH: Yeah.

HH: How did your life proceed? People don’t know you that are not in the LDS community, so give them a little idea of how it proceeded.

JH: Well, I obviously with that kind of a degree, I had some doors opening to me. And it was expected, I think my professors thought I had something of a future in probably teaching American history and American Lit with this religious component. That was the package I was interested in. And I went back to BYU. I went back to be on a religion faculty at my old alma mater. And I think my professors thought they had failed me. I think they thought here is this young man, and now he’s turning out to be a disappointment, because I don’t know that they thought that, but I think they were surprised that I would not have tried something a little bolder or a little more imaginative with that kind of a degree. But in fact, I went back to that unexpectedly, didn’t know that door would be open to me, but went back to be on a religion faculty at BYU, and from there, came the presidency of the university, and since then, this call. So I accept that as God’s hand in my life, and the guidance that we pray for and expect, but don’t always understand when we get it. And I didn’t understand all of it when I was getting it then, but I look back on a wonderful life.

HH: You know, I’m curious about this. In 1995, when I and PBS teamed up to do Searching For God in America, and we approached the authorities of the church, we said can you give us a Mormon to talk to?

JH: Yeah, yeah.

HH: And they said check back with us in a couple of weeks, and they produced Elder Maxwell…

JH: Right.

HH: …and with whom I developed a wonderful friendship. But why didn’t they send me the Yale PhD?

JH: Well, I was very young then. I was just, I was one of Elder Maxwell’s protégées to the extent that he would have had a protégé. That’s the wrong word. I was one of Elder Maxwell’s young friends.

HH: Yeah.

JH: He loved me, and I loved him. And by the way, he loves you. To this day, through the veil, he still loves you.

HH: You know what, the reason I bring him up, last conversation I had with him, I was in my law office and we were talking, because he was a political junkie.

JH: Yes, he was. Oh, was he ever.

HH: As well you know, off the record, always, but talking politics. And he said things are moving at such a speed that I never anticipated, and they weren’t going in the right direction.

JH: Yeah.

HH: Do you agree with that assessment right now?

JH: I do agree with that, and I think if that was 1995 or so…

HH: It was.

JH: Then I would say just 20 years later, it’s more so, yeah. I think it’s probably still going down the path that he saw it going down, but he was a political junkie, and he did talk about it all the time. Some of the rest of us aren’t as trained in politics as he was, but we agree with the direction he saw then, and the direction we’re realizing now.

HH: Well now, I want to broaden it out. When we come back from break, are you still in charge of the church’s operations in Africa, Elder?

JH: I was until eight months ago. Now I have Asia.

HH: Then we’ll talk about that when we come back.

— – – – —

HH: When we went to break, I had read in Elder Holland’s biography that he had had charge of Africa until recently. But now, you’ve been given Asia.

JH: Right.

HH: Is that more or less of a burden?

JH: Well, it’s half the human population.

HH: That’s what I mean.

JH: But we don’t have as much there, yet, as a church. So our congregations aren’t overwhelming there, yet. But in terms of planning and serving and humanitarian relief and that kind of service, yeah, it’s a staggering assignment. I’m just getting acquainted with it. I’ll be going to Vietnam and Cambodia and Thailand in a few weeks, and I’m learning more. I’m on a very steep curve to kind of see what the issues are there.

HH: Does the church have a stake in Singapore?

JH: It does have a stake in Singapore, and it has a mission in Singapore, yes.

HH: Because I have a good friend who’s the Young Life regional director for Asia…

JH: Yeah.

HH: …who works out of Singapore, and it seems like everything happens out of Singapore.

JH: Yeah, Singapore’s a central spot for us, has been for a long time, and we’ve run a significant portion of Southeast Asia out of Singapore for a long time. With growth, we start to break that out and have some local centers of strength, but Singapore was a very central spot for us for a very long time.

HH: So Elder Holland, you’ve got this vast global perspective – Africa, Asia, before that, who know what else, and it seems to me that intolerance is on the rise not just in the United States where it’s actually kind of gentle. But today, an American blogger was hacked to death in Bangladesh. He was an atheist. He’s also Bangladeshi. And he was in the Hitchens mold.

JH: Yeah.

HH: A new thinker, in quotes.

JH: I’m with you.

HH: No one should ever be attacked that way, but it seems to me endemic that people of faith, and people of no faith at all, are all coming under threats of violence.

JH: Well, it seems like every day, I had not heard that incident, but these incidents that we read about or hear about almost literally every day, I think, are genuinely frightening. We do have, the Middle East is another area that I supervise, so I watch very carefully, and read with some anxiety what can happen and does happen in those locations. I visited with some Maronite leaders in Lebanon recently, and they’re just, they’re just very fearful – fearful for their lives and their safety, especially in a spot like Lebanon, but also worrying about Christian flight. They’re very concerned that there won’t be any Christians left in the Middle East if this kind of atmosphere prevails, if this kind of threat continues, and whether it’s a physical threat and the loss of life, or whether it’s just to be uncomfortable to be a Christian. That’s a legitimate concern in lots of places in the world.

HH: And I’m sure the prayers of religious believers of all sorts across the globe are with the 300 plus Assyrian Christians who have been kidnapped by Islamic State.

JH: Yeah, I was just thinking of that example.

HH: Yeah, and so I just was reminded when you were president of BYU, you opened the LDS Center in Jerusalem, correct?

JH: I did. I did.

HH: How does that fare? And tell people about Israel’s approach to religious freedom.

JH: Well, we were only able to, we had, let me start back. With, in the aftermath of the Six Day War in the 60s, we took our first students into Jerusalem, a Christian campus, Latter Day Saint people obviously very interested in the Holy Land. So we took our first students in, in ’67 and ’68 and ’69, and then all those years watched for a place to house them. We had lived in hotels, we’d taken them to whatever accommodation we could find, and finally got a piece of property on Mount Scopus, of all places. That’s a miracle in its own right.

HH: Wow, yes.

JH: But we got that property and built the center, and it’s been prosperous ever since. We’re 25 years now in that wonderful building. Our architect was cited for and received the Israel prize partly for the work on our center. It is an absolutely gorgeous architectural piece. Teddy Kollek said to me personally that he thought it…

HH: The mayor of Jerusalem.

JH: …the mayor of Jerusalem who helped us in a courageous way to get that building built in the name of tolerance and religious freedom. But when I took him through it at the conclusion of the construction, he said this may well be the most beautiful building built in Jerusalem in the last one hundred years. That’s a bold statement. Anyway, we’re there, and it does do well, but we have challenges, and we have to have our young people, have our students mindful that there are places they don’t go on a certain day. There are things they won’t do on a certain day. And we have a very good relationship with the Israeli Security Forces and the local police. And they will every morning give us a briefing and say do not go to the old city, or of course, we will never go to, for example, most parts of Bethlehem. There’ll be places in Hebron we wouldn’t go. We just, safety and protection for our students is our first concern. But once they’re there, and if they can be safe, we want them to have a great experience in the Holy Land. And so far, it’s working, 25 years of success.

HH: That is amazing. Now I want to contrast that with other parts of the world where no missionaries of any faith can go.

JH: Right.

HH: And I think more doors are closing than are opening across the globe. Do you agree with that?

JH: Yes, and I have two elements of those. Much of that’s in Asia, if you broadly define Asia, and certainly Communist China, and the Middle East. Many of the Islamic nations, we don’t have any missionaries. And if we have any presence at all, it’ll be an ex-pat or somebody at the embassy, or somebody on a corporate assignment. We try to serve them. We try to provide a congregational experience for them, small as that congregation might be, but no attempt to do missionary work, and probably many of those doors closing.

HH: You see, I asked Jeb Bush two days ago what the tap root of the Islamic State was, and he thought it was civilizational alienation. And then Mark Steyn yesterday was talking about a commitment to religious freedom is really essential, of all breadth, of all faiths…

JH: Yeah, I, we agree.

HH: …in order to have a democratic success.

JH: Yeah.

HH: This is your assessment as well?

JH: Yeah, and it was the heart of my message last night on the Chapman campus is, because I was invited in the name of an interfaith activity, thus the ten year commemoration of the Fish Center. So, but my interfaith message was nothing could combine us better, nothing calls for our service more, nothing, there’s almost nothing on which we could stand shoulder to shoulder given circumstances of today than this matter of religious freedom and the chance for every man or woman of whatever religious conviction to have the freedom to say what they want to say and believe what they want to believe. And much of that is under threat in this nation and around the globe.

HH: You know, your friend, Jeff Shields, who helps pave the way for these, provide me with the article that you gave to the J. Reuben Clark Society, in it you quote David Brooks, Jonathan Last…

JH: Right.

HH: Michael Novak, none of these are Mormon thinker/scholars…

JH: Yeah.

HH: You also quote Clayton Christensen who is…

JH: And Hugh Hewitt.

HH: And it just seems to me, though, that you’re, that the group of people who are rallying around religious freedom is growing, but not fast enough.

JH: It’s not fast enough, but I think it’s more articulate, Hugh. I think it’s more focused. I think there is more interfaith, if you broadly define a phrase like interfaith, I think it’s not growing fast enough, and who knows the ultimate growth, but I do believe there’s more interest, there is more shared participation, very bright people, very articulate people, I think, are talking more and more about this and saying it does matter, and it needs to matter to more of us.

HH: Now at the law school at BYU, are you training up people to defend 1st Amendment freedoms all across the land?

JH: Just had that discussion with the law faculty at Chapman, as long as we’re talking about a faculty member at Chapman. We had that discussion with Dean Campbell and the others there, and yes, we are doing that at the law school in Provo, and we want to do more in association with like-minded faculties at places like Chapman. So another one of the reasons that I’m here in town.

— – – – –

HH: 15 million Mormons now, right, Elder?

JH: Right.

HH: And of those, 83, 85,000 are in mission fields right now?

JH: Right, about 85.

HH: All right, now I have had a lot of Mormon interns, two of whom have gone on mission. Marlon is not currently, and never went on a mission. But I would, one went to Zimbabwe.

JH: Yeah.

HH: One stayed in San Antonio, Texas.

JH: Yeah.

HH: The first was a man, the second was a woman. I would wonder what the burden of having all these young people on the road in an era of religious intolerance is like.

JH: It is a burden. It is a worry. We proceed with great faith. We say a lot of prayers on behalf of those young people, because they’re your sons and daughters and my sons and daughters, collectively speaking, and they’re someone’s child. And we worry about them a lot. But the miracle is that every indication we have, and we try to be very careful, we try to be very sensitive about where they work and to what locations they’re assigned and so on and so forth, but having said that, the statistics are that they’re safer in the mission field than they were at home. The chances for an accident, the chances for a serious difficulty or a death, are really minimal. We have been very, very blessed. We knock on wood and say our prayer, and don’t want to be arrogant about that, because there is a very high risk. But we’re greatly blessed, and they continue to come They continue to serve. And those numbers will increase. We’re projecting out probably within four years, the baseline number for the missionary force will be something around 100,000.

HH: Wow. You know, I have a good friend who’s just been called to be mission president, he and his wife, in a part of Peru, Dan Rasmussen.

JH: Yes, yes.

HH: And I said I could never be a Mormon, because you know, in the middle of the, your wonderful law career, they pluck you up and they send you off. You know, watch out, Shields, you could end up anywhere.

JH: Yeah, faithful people.

HH: You did that in Chile, right?

JH: Yeah, I did. I did.

HH: And so what’s that job involve?

JH: Well, it’s, it involves just putting your life on hold and wrapping things up. And you get two or three months to get your life in order, and then you go and do nothing. You do nothing for 36 months but worry about these kids. You just….

HH: That’s…

JH: That’s what you do, all day and all night. You go to bed hoping the phone will not ring, because the ringing phone is a bad sign. Again, I have to say, we’re very blessed. We have very, very few challenges, but there will be an incident here, a threat there, a potential kidnapping somewhere. With 85,000 young people out there…

HH: How many countries are they in?

JH: 120-125.

HH: That’s remarkable.

JH: Yeah.

HH: Now given that spread, that spectrum, how does the United States stack up in terms of the climate of openness to religious flourishing and freedom, of all sorts?

JH: Yeah, well that’s a good question, Hugh, because I think in some ways, as secularism prevails and the 21st Century unfolds, in some ways, we’re less reverent, we’re less spiritual, maybe less religiously affiliated as a nation. But within that, there is an emerging group, a subset, if you will, that I think is more interested, are more willing to listen to the missionaries. Maybe a little harder to find, but when you find them, these are people that probably are more interested now in a way than they were 20 years ago. Maybe it’s the issue of the day, maybe it’s the kind of political and social phenomenon you’ve already referred to, but something is getting their attention that say maybe we ought to have more faith, maybe there ought to be more religion, maybe there ought to be more devotion. So maybe it’s a kind of a polarization. I wouldn’t say sheep or goats or wheat and tares. That sounds too ominous. I’m not an apocalyptic guy. But…

HH: I’m glad to hear that.

JH: But I do think that probably those who are less interested are more obvious in the 21st Century, but I think those who do entertain faith are spectacularly loyal and devoted, and good people. And whether they join the LDS Church or not is beside the point. In their own faith or the quest for a new faith, that’s more attractive and more visible, I think, more obvious than I think it was even a quarter of a century ago.

HH: Phillip Johnson, a great Berkeley law professor, once told me, he went to Harvard in the 50s, and said in Harvard in the 50s, everyone was a Christian.

JH: Yeah.

HH: Harvard in the 70s, nobody was a Christian. That’s when I was there.

JH: Right.

HH: And now, Harvard in 2015, you know which side everyone is on.

JH: Yeah, exactly.

HH: So there’s great clarity.

JH: That’s a nice way to say better than what I just said. I do think that’s probably what’s happening. But a little…

HH: But the clarity comes, I don’t know if you’ve seen the clip of Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic posted it of a UCLA student gathering, where they refused to admit a woman into the UCLA judicial council because she was Jewish.

JH: Yeah.

HH: They had to revers it. It’s illegal.

JH: Yeah, sure. Yeah, of course.

HH: I mean, it’s clearly illegal, but that there’s such a little call on conscience about respecting people’s individual liberty.

JH: Yeah, there’s, I think there’s more and more to that. And the whole issue of, I’m very concerned about the little incident in Houston where somebody could subpoena sermon notes. I mean, you know…

HH: Or the Atlanta fire chief. We’ll come back after the break and talk with Elder Jeffrey Holland of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

— – – – –

HH: When we went to break, you referenced an incident in Houston. Right now, I’m helping Alliance Defending Freedom raise money to defend the Atlanta fire chief who was fired because he circulated his own Bible study.

JH: Yeah, an incredible story, incredible story.

HH: And then you mentioned Houston.

JH: Yeah.

HH: …where the mayor went after every pastor in the city that disagreed with her, and in both of those, I think, we’ll win. But we shouldn’t have to fight these battles.

JH: No, no, that is unprecedented in American history. That is absolutely, it may be unprecedented in Western civilization. I don’t want to be overly dramatic about it, but I think those are warning signs. And it is then legitimate to be talking about the future of religious freedom in this country. We should be talking about it for the whole globe. But I think we have to take seriously what those portend, and to be aggressive, appropriately aggressive, on the front of that to make sure that that first right granted, the first human right in this nation, was its religious freedom. That is the first element of the Bill of Rights, and as you know, you’re the legal scholar, but I think we can’t assume that some other right, or some other civil privilege is going to trump something as fundamental as free expression.

HH: And you quote in your article Mike McConnell, a great professor of law at Stanford, formerly on the 10th Circuit.

JH: Yeah.

HH: I might get to see him next week, an old colleague with Rex Lee at the Department of Justice…

JH: That’s right.

HH: …saying the first freedom is double-barreled.

JH: Yeah, double-barreled. That’s right.

HH: Isn’t that a great phrase?

JH: It is a great, yeah…

HH: McConnell’s brilliant, of course, and he shouldn’t have left the bench, doggone it, Mike McConnell.

JH: Yeah.

HH: But maybe Utah was too cold?

JH: Maybe, probably.

HH: How often are you in Utah? And how often are you not there?

JH: Well, I’m not there very often, but it’s been very mild. We’ve had a very mild winter. It’s a good winter to be in Utah.

HH: Okay, so the 10th Circuit was pretty robust. McConnell’s founded this Center for Religious Liberty. You’ve got BYU up and running like this. So are you optimistic about the United States’ commitment to religious freedom?

JH: Well, I am, I am, because I’m a hopeless romantic. I’m an optimistic guy by nature. But I don’t think it’s going to be easy. I don’t think it’s simple. And I don’t think the forces that are aligned against such freedom, I don’t think they’re incidental. I don’t think they’re insignificant. I think this is a battle. I think this is a fight. But I think it’s a fight we can win. I think it’s a fight we have to win. If the founding fathers meant what they meant, with those kinds of religious protections and free expression, we simply are obligated as Americans, to say nothing of Latter Day Saints, in my case, we’re obligated to fight this fight.

HH: Next hour, I’m going to talk to Lindsey Graham, and we’re going to talk about the Islamic State…

JH: Yeah.

HH: …and the rampage of the Islamic State ought to chill everybody.

JH: Yeah.

HH: And they are, of course, they’ll be the first in line to decapitate our critics on the left…

JH: That’s right.

HH: …those who don’t like organized religion. But we don’t stop doing that. But do you sense that the left is figuring out in the country, or the secular absolutists, I always talk about them abstractly, but they’re real people and they have real concerns about theocracy, etc.

JH: Sure.

HH: But do you think they have any sense of the fact that the world is held together by religious toleration, not threatened by it?

JH: Well, that’s part of the message, I think, that we’re trying to get out. I don’t know whether they get it or not. And they wonder whether I get things or not. But I believe that there really needs to be a return to some of these founding issues. I quoted John Adams last night, I quoted George Washington last night. You can’t lose with sources like that.

HH: No, you can’t. No, you can’t.

JH: But you know, the idea that a democracy functions on the premise of a moral, religious people, that is simply the way democracy can work, and it cannot work without. I do not believe it can work without morally-founded, for me, religious people. You can define religious as broadly as you want, but people need to obey the unenforceable. That’s Clayton’s phrase.

HH: And expand on that, because Clayton Christensen, great Harvard Business School professor a frequent guest…

JH: Yes.

HH: How Do You Measure Your Life, one of my favorite books.

JH: Yeah, sure.

HH: But you told that story in here about his friend from, I think, Chile.

JH: Yeah, no, from China.

HH: China.

JH: From China, this is Communist China, who comes and says, Clayton said what surprised you? And he said what surprised you about your study in America? And by the way, here’s a communist Chinese, wonderful man, coming to study capitalism and democracy, the two things that I guess he was missing most.

HH: Let’s hope he gets it right.

JH: Yeah, but he said what surprised you, and he said what surprised me is that fundamental to democracy, and fundamental to capitalism is a religious sense, is a religious life. And out of that grew this idea that what we have to enforce is the unenforceable. You have to voluntarily choose to be honest. You have to voluntarily honor a contract. You have to voluntarily care about what the course of your community is, or the integrity of your leaders. We can’t hire enough policemen to do that. You can’t get a government oppressive enough or large enough to manage all of that. That has to be something from the human heart. That has to be something from the soul. And that’s what a morally honest and a religiously oriented people do for democracy. And I’m not saying everybody has to be a Latter Day Saint. I’m not saying they have to be a Catholic or a Baptist. But there has to be some agreement on religious conviction and religious morality that doesn’t make religion and ugly word, or devotion to God something that’s politically unacceptable. This country will be in trouble if that’s the direction we go.

HH: And it requires, also, genuine affection for people who are not in agreement with you on matters of first principles.

JH: Absolutely. Absolutely.

HH: Genuine affection. Natural law…

JH: Yeah.

HH: …that’s basic Christianity, is that love everybody, and tolerate everybody.

JH: That’s right. I said in a press conference in Salt Lake a few weeks ago that the greatest guarantee that we have is that for party A to extend to party B precisely the privileges and protections that they want party B to extend to party A. We’ve simply got to be that compatible, that cordial, if you will, in a Christian cordiality. I guess that’s the Golden Rule. I guess that’s do unto others.

HH: Well, I want to compliment you. My friend, Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary…

JH: Yeah.

HH: …was invited by you to, by the authorities of the church, to go to BYU and to lecture. And I think you folks have been really trying to do this, maybe as far back as that PBS series with Neil Maxwell 20 years ago.

JH: It may well be, Hugh, that that’s where that started.

HH: I don’t think that.

JH: No, but we have been working at that, and we have had very distinguished guests, and some wonderful friendships. In that same spirit, we invited George Wood, head of the Church of God, and I guess the largest, maybe the largest Protestant congregation in the world. George came out, and we hosted him, and that went so well that he invited me to Springfield. And we’ve just developed a wonderful, wonderful personal relationship.

HH: Oh, really?

JH: Those are blessings to us that we haven’t had enough of, and we haven’t done enough about in earlier years, and we want to be a little more, we want to be a little more interfaith oriented. We want to outreach better than we’ve done.

HH: One more quick segment with Elder Holland when we come back./

— – —

HH: Elder Jeffrey Holland, it’s been a great honor and privilege to have you in the studio with me. Thank you so much for coming.

JH: Privilege, Hugh, my privilege.

HH: I thought I’d give you just a couple of minutes. In your piece, you talk about family. And everyone’s kind of figuring out now that family is the cornerstone of everything. But I can’t imagine, I’ve raised three children, and God bless it, and they’re wonderful, loving kids with whom I’m close. But I really wouldn’t want to do it now, because it’s a tough situation.

JH: Yeah, it’s hard.

HH: What are you telling your young people?

JH: I’m telling young people to believe. I’m telling parents to believe. I’m telling them both, families and participants in the family of all age to believe in God, and to believe in help, and to believe in the future, to believe in themselves, and stay close. And the family is the fundamental unit of society. It is certainly the fundamental unit of a church. I guess, probably, it’s the fundamental unit of everything. And our friend, Michael Novak, said once this law obtains that when things go well with the family, life goes well. And when things do not go well win the family, life is, can be really miserable. Let’s start there. Let’s work better at home. Let’s work better with parents and children. And if we can master some principles in that little circle, maybe we can extend them to the state and the nation and the world. But better to start closer to home, and I believe God will bless us in every way to succeed in that most fundamental mission we all have, and that is to save and bless the next generation.

HH: And in terms of, I always say you’re only as happy as your least happy child.

JH: That’s right.

HH: Is the church working to extend its educational system and its family support network across the globe at the same time? We only have about a minute.

JH: Yeah, not so much institutionally, but certainly more in the home. We’re trying to provide more curricular materials, more teaching helps for parents to talk to children, children respond to parents. We probably won’t be doing a lot of brick and mortar, but we’ll be teaching more in the home from parents, with parents, to children. We believe in that for as long as we’re in the business.

HH: Elder Jeffrey Holland, great to have you, thank you for coming by.

JH: Thank you, Hugh.

End of interview.


Listen Commercial FREE  |  On-Demand
Login Join
Book Hugh Hewitt as a speaker for your meeting

Follow Hugh Hewitt

Listen to the show on your amazon echo devices

The Hugh Hewitt Show - Mobile App

Download from App Store Get it on Google play
Friends and Allies of Rome