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Moments after being handed a note informing him that the United States was bombing Afghanistan, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, told the faithful to trust in God and prepare for war. He had prepared the comments on Saturday.
"We are plunged into the state of war, it is the first war of the 21st century," President Hinckley said Sunday at the faith's 171st semi-annual General Conference. "Now we are off on another dangerous undertaking."
He cautioned church members not to confuse terrorists with those of the Muslim faith.
"This is not a matter of Christian against Muslim. We value our Muslim neighbors around," he said. "Do not become a party in any way in the persecution of the innocent."
Speaking on the last day of the two-day General Conference, President Hinckley said the attacks would impact the church in many ways, including possibly its welfare program and tithing. He also said it was unclear how this would affect the church's missionary work around the world.
President Hinckley also urged church members to get out of financial debt and to store food for personal hard times.
"I do not wish to be an alarmist, I do not wish to be a prophet of doom," he said, adding that he does not believe the current events are signs that "calamity will overtake us."
He vowed that the church would be prudent in its finances and reminded followers to practice tithing and fast offerings.
"Occasions of this kind pull us up sharply to the realization that life is fragile, that peace is fragile, that civilization is fragile," President Hinckley said, his voice briefly choking with emotion.
Earlier Sunday morning, Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the church, said comfort can be taken from the promise of life after death.
He said the terrorist attacks showed the need for church members to work toward good every day.
"How fragile life, how certain death. We do not know when we will be required to leave this mortal existence. And so I ask, 'What are we doing with today?' If we live only for tomorrow, we'll have a lot of empty yesterdays today," he said.
"There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved," he said.