I was on a flight recently and came across a man who was in charge of monitoring construction safety. When he learned I was Mormon, he told me that he went to the LDS temple in Lubbock, Texas (pictured above) when it was under construction in order to do a safety inspection. When he got there, they asked if he was Mormon, and he said he wasn’t. They responded that there was part of the temple he could not visit since he wasn’t Mormon. He didn’t mind because that wasn’t what he came to see.
I was pretty astonished to hear this story because during the open house, non-Mormons are shown the Celestial Room, Endowment Rooms, the Baptismal Font, Sealing Rooms, which I would view as most sacred. I tried to figure out what was off-limits to this man. (As I said before, it was under construction, so hadn’t been dedicated yet.) The only room I can think of that people don’t see is the Initiatory booths, but I believe this is due to the fact that those rooms are generally a dead-end and hard to get people into and out of the rooms easily. I don’t believe it is due to the sacred nature of the area.
What room(s) do you think were off-limits to this non-Mormon? Did you find this story strange too?
Totally strange, and I suspect not legal if it came down to it. Our temples have to pass inspections at every point in construction, and there is no way we could insist on only having endowed, recommend-holding members be the inspectors. Our buildings must conform to all codes and building safety specifications, full stop. That’s the point of having a dedication after the open house.
I worked on the Snowflake temple for a period of time. What the inspector said could not be true. I was aware of OSHA inspections and they went everywhere. If they would have been barred, they would have shut the job down. The architects were non-members and they designed the whole thing. They do have different construction standards for those buildings. The level of being particular is off the charts. Some mischievous worker wrote the f— word on a wall in the celestial room. The supervisors had workers remove the drywall and start over, just sanding and painting would not suffice. I believe the inspector told the story, but maybe some church people were out of line. The only thing in a functioning temple that is guarded is the veil.
Working in the development industry, all I can say is that’s illegal. I’d be surprised if any government would agree to exclude certain portions of a building from inspection or agree to a requirement that only temple worthy LDS inspectors could conduct the inspection (since that can be very difficult or impossible to count on having qualified, licensed inspectors that also have a temple recommend already on staff). I expect he misunderstood.
I wonder if there was a remodel where it was dedicated or something and they only wanted him to see the remodel portion. That makes more sense than anything else. I can’t imagine being denied entry during the construction phase, but perhaps during a remodel phase.
I was once told that if people try to enter the temple by force it is the Temple President’s responsibility to ensure the veil is removed. The veil is not shown during open houses. But of course that shouldn’t affect anything during construction unless everything is already done and in place for opening.
I consider my last comment about the veil to be rumor; I do not claim to have heard it from an authoritative source.
Shannon – that same story was told for another temple near me (not near Utah ).
Either the guy was yanking your chain, or some local worker was completely out of line. That would be both illegal and unnecessary.
During a remodel at the St Paul MN temple, I did some work in the celestial room and also removed some furniture from that room to work on in my shop. To do that, I had to be recommended and wear white, and they had someone at the desk to check my recommend. But that was just a two-week closing for some fix up stuff. I reupholstered the sealing room altar kneelers and repaired the gold leaf on the table in the celestial room. It’s a little weird to see people with saws and drills and hammers at work in the temple in white t-shirts and painter’s pants! 😉
If you construct a building in a certain very specific way it acquires supernatural powers that no other buildings have provided you keep that building procedure a secret. I think something similar applies to garments but so far I can’t prove it.
I wonder if the temple he inspected was the one at Yearning For Zion out in West Texas .. On the FLDS compound.
Maybe there was a misunderstanding about which temple he had attempted to inspect.
He was pretty clear the temple was in Lubbock. Eldorado is about 3.5 hours away, so I don’t think he would have confused that.
It is not a temple until it is dedicated. It is a building.
Oh so it’s the dedication that that releases the supernatural aspects? I always wondered about that.
Well if thats so, what’s the building for?
I attended the chapel adjacent to the Lubbock Temple during the entire time from announcement to dedication. I’m certain the inspector’s claim is incorrect. After all, the thing was *built* by contractors and construction workers who were not LDS. During construction, there was a pair of construction missionaries with an office in the adjacent church. Part of their responsibility was to provide information to visitors. For obvious reasons, they couldn’t take you inside the construction fence, but they showed photographs of all areas of the temple at all stages of construction. You could examine all the blueprints.
During construction, the site itself is under control of the contractor, not the church. It would be very odd to have the non-LDS contractor deny entrance to non-Mormon inspectors to an area the non-Mormon workers themselves had constructed.
To the best of my recollection, the open house showed everything except the dressing and laundry rooms of the baptistry, the veil area, the men’s locker room (we went through the bride’s room and women’s locker room instead, with an indication that the men’s locker room was identical on the other side), rest rooms, president’s office, shop, and mechanical areas (which even after dedication, open to the outside and are accessible without a recommend.
The veil wouldn’t have been installed until after the dedication. I happened to have been seated in the veil area for the dedication (I could lean back in my chair, peer through the windowed door into the celestial room and see President Hinckley’s backside.) I think the veil area was skipped during the open house, not because it is particularly “sensitive,” but more because it’s a small, uninteresting, and (to some degree) unfinished space. The Terrestrial Room looks better with the veil curtain closed, than it would exposing the veil area in the front of the room to allow visitors to pass that way into the celestial room.
There’s nothing at all interesting or sensitive in the shop area (that’s the low part of the building in the left foreground). I went in there once, and it’s only accessible directly from the outside, and I believe that it specifically is designed to be outside of the recommend area, so that anything that needs work can be brought there for service . Obviously, that wouldn’t be off limits.
I can’t imagine anything in the president’s office during construction that would restrict the area to church members. I believe they have a safe or vault there, but it would certainly be empty during construction and no reason for building inspectors to be excluded.
Recommends are just not required before dedication. I’ve been in virtually every corner and closet of the Lubbock Temple. There would have been nothing off limits to inspectors during construction.
The inspector said the Lubbock Temple was under construction, but that was in 2000-2002. However, the Temple had a recent maintenance period March 20-April 3. Being denied access during maintenance makes more sense.
What about the Holy of Holies? What sort of protocols are in place for who goes in there and when?
I believe only the SL Temple has a Holy of Holies area. I’d be shocked if the smaller temples like Lubbock have such an area.
A guy from a different group attended a meeting with me and several of the guys at work. Somehow, in the informal period before or after the meeting, the topic of the Mormon temple came up. The guy was a talker, and he wondered aloud at what went on in the Mormon temple, since no-one was allowed in. He said that he’d gone into the grounds to see what it was, but saw the two big Polynesian dudes in suits guarding the door and knew he didn’t want to mess with them. Amused, I asked the guy if he was sure they were guarding the door, and he insisted that they definitely were and that they”d made it clear that he’d better clear the premises and fast. The guys I worked with were interested, because this guy’s description didn’t match up with the sorts of things they’d heard from me, and they promptly outed me. Once the guy knew I was Mormon, he kind of backtracked a little in style, but insisted on the two big Polynesian dudes.
I kind of put the contractor’s story in the same category as this guy’s. Sure, I wouldn’t have been surprised if their were two big Polynesian guys in suits waiting outside the door of the temple. And he was right that the public isn’t invited into the temple. But this guy was also the type who was likely to have been bounced from a bar once or twice, and that would probably have colored his perception of what was really going on.
Before the dedication the safety official could go into any area. The temple is not fully “prepped” for patrons until after the dedication so there is nothing he shouldn’t have been able to see. The individual that told him he could not go in was wrong.
Emergency personnel may go anywhere they need even after the dedication. If they need to go to the celestial room then they go. The recorder, and others, will clear the way for them but they are not restricted when a life is in jeopardy.
I asked my son-in-law, who is the project engineer of a temple currently under construction, about this. He says there is no place on the site that is not inspected multiple times during construction. I think your pal on the flight was either feeding you line or misunderstood something he was told. Or an overzealous supervisor made a bad call.
Definitely no Holy of Holies in Lubbock. Manti has a Holy of Holies that was formerly used as a sealing room. Last time I was there, it was roped off so you could walk partway in, but was no longer in use as a sealing room. I don’t believe it was used as a Holy of Holies, except perhaps very early, before the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated.
In any case, it would still just be a room until the temple is dedicated. I agree with the others who suggest that there was probably a miscommunication, perhaps in not being clear that restricted areas only come about after the dedication.