There’s been a lot of chatter about the staggering (?) announcement of twenty new temples at this past weekend’s General Conference. The usual inside-baseball chatter is going to be what you would expect: people excited about their community or where they’ve lived or visited previously or served a mission finally getting a temple. From the progmo community, there’s some question about why we need twenty more temples when the ones we have aren’t in full use anyway. Is it a sleight of hand to signal growth (that isn’t actually happening) or to spend some of that rainy day fund (that it won’t make much of a dent in)? And a solid chunk of the exMo community thinks temples are an opulent waste of money in a world with more pressing needs like poverty, disease and lack of drinking water.
Let’s unbox some of these things. First, I was excited (here’s my inside-baseball plug) to see that Singapore was on the list! As a former resident of that great nation, I recall that ward youth temple trips involved a flight of several hours and a hotel stay at the local Cebu Marriott where prostitution was rampant in the pool area. Whoever did the write up for the Church Newsroom apparently doesn’t actually understand anything about Singapore, though, as they claimed that it is located to the south of Singapore. Singapore is a city-nation. The whole island is one city, one nation. Whatever. Editing is apparently not what it used to be. While Singapore only has one stake, every temple trip is a multi-hour flight either to Hong Kong (Cantonese-speaking) or the Philippines (Tagalog-speaking), neither of which share Singapore’s official languages (English, Tamil, Mandarin, and Malay). There are also 5 disricts (33 wards) in neighboring Malaysia and 2 stakes & 1 district in nearby Indonesia. There’s a case to be made for a temple there, despite the membership numbers being few. On the downside, Singapore is extremely expensive (unlike both Malaysia and Indonesia), often in the top 3 most expensive places in the world, but if you have $100B laying around, why not, and the Changi airport usually tops the list of best airports in the world. Singapore, like Hong Kong, is often a connector for Asian destinations.
That’s a pretty solid justification for one specific temple, but the push for so many temples in a shrinking Church is somewhat puzzling. What is the Church on about?
Preparing for the Second Coming. Personally, I’m not much of a millenialist, but that doesn’t mean top Church leaders are not. Is there a sense of urgency from the big red chairs regarding temple work as a way to prepare for the Second Coming? Maybe. I always thought that the doctrine was that temple work would be one of the main activities after the Second Coming, not as a precursor to it (although I guess if you have the temples there, you are ready to roll).
Creating demand. This one feels like a strong case to me. There are two ways the closer proximity of temples can create demand that didn’t previously exist: 1) the theory that members will attend more if it’s more convenient, and 2) the theory that a visible temple and open houses will create more interest among non-members in investigating the Church. In this scenario, the temple functions as a strip of flypaper, attracting flies and anything else that happens to flit by, and then creating stickiness from which it is hard to extricate themselves.
Reducing global footprint. LOL, OK, I don’t really believe this one, but let’s give it an airing. My Singapore example is a very stark example of this. Norway would be similar. We are definitely encouraging people to fly a lot more than is absolutely necessary in areas where membership numbers are lower and as a result temples are further apart. In the Canary Islands where I served my mission, members had to fly to Frankfort, Germany to go to the temple (now Madrid). If we are encouraging youth temple trips, those flights add up to a lot of carbon footprint for temple attendance.
Illusion of growth. We are getting into some of the more cynical views with this theory. Announcing new temples feels like growth even if it’s not growth; it can re-invigorate members’ excitement in the ways listed above, through affiliation with different locales, and through pride in these visibly beautiful structures.
Spending the $100B. This one is probably an even more cynical view. Temples are expensive, particularly in certain places, and they do show the Church investing in infrastructure for members, doing something that is doctrinally part of the overall purpose of life (saving our dead). It checks all the boxes and takes some heat off those who feel there is nothing to show for their tithing investments in light of the Church’s surprising wealth.
Legacy building. President Hinckley said: “Adulation is a disease I fight every day.” He was renown for being the first Church President to announce a ton of new temples, kicking off this phenomenon of many much smaller temples. President Hinckley was also one of the most media savvy Presidents we have had. Is Nelson trying to catch a little of that renown? He is certainly quoted by the rest of the speakers in General Conference a lot. I can’t remember another living Church President who was so frequently quoted within his own General Conferences, honestly. It’s a little cringeworthy. I’m not so sure about this driving the opening of twenty temples, but perhaps there is some tie to the Church President who announced specific temples and that leader’s personal legacy of perceived achievement. The reason I’m not convinced by this one is that I literally can’t name a single Church President who announced a specific temple, but maybe that’s just me. But a President’s legacy (since Hinckley anyway) could be tied to the total numbers of temples. If there were baseball cards for Church Presidents (or the Church Almanac, same thing), stats would probably include number of temples built, among things like number of wards or stakes or missions created. We all know actual membership growth isn’t happening, so this is a different growth statistic for those keeping the stats; it’s his infrastructure package for the future.
Strengthening member ties to high-demand requirements. There are several ways in which more temples can do this: 1) a higher expectation for frequent attendance (requiring an active temple recommend, which they’ve been pushing since the mid-90s), 2) requirements for temple workers to staff these temples, including high level leadership roles in the form of Temple Presidents and Matrons (barf to that “title”). Because temples are necessary to receive specific Mormon ordinances, having them closer to home enables more people to participate in those; however, since each Church member only needs three total ordinances in a temple for self (washing & anointing, endowment, and sealing), there is some question about the “stickiness” of temples based on proximity. There are probably stats on this somewhere, though. Since the mid-80s, temples have been used to enforce tithing as a requirement, and since the 90s, a temple recommend has been increasingly required to hold callings. Given the worthiness interview about compliance with beliefs and behaviors, this increases the orthodoxy and orthopraxy (and overall commitment to the “covenant path”) of Church members to be able to participate.
Let’s revisit for a moment that idea of creating demand, something which the Church (and many companies) is often very good at doing. For example, convert baptisms go way up in a place that is flooded with missionaries. Some imagine that flooding an area with missionaries is only done because there is too much work already there, and that doing so is a response to a demand, but the flow can work the other way also. By flooding an area with visible symbolic presence, you create a stir, public interest, and this leads to some additional convert baptisms. As a missionary, we used to use this tactic which we called blitzing an area (probably a reference to the Blitzkreig raids of WW2 in which Germany bombed the hell out of England).
There is a possible downside to the idea of creating demand, though, which is regarding the product itself. If the product is in fact what people both want and need, informing them that it exists is great and leads to growth through word of mouth. If the product is not able to meet the wants and needs of consumers, advertising it too much may actually cause losses. How do the members feel about temple attendance? Is the temple all it’s cracked up to be as an experience? Has this changed over time, and if so, in which direction? I’d love to see some data on how people view their temple experiences and whether this product is something that is beloved, merely tolerated, or somewhere in between. I know many Church members who love it, who find it a place of peace and calm. I know at least as many who feel guilty because they don’t love it at all, and they think this is evidence that they are broken in some way or less worthy or spiritual. I know a lot of women who find the inherent sexism and polygamous overtones alarming and unacceptable, even with the recent changes (protip: we all know that the “new and everlasting covenant” refers to polygamy, and obviously the temple film fails Bechdel hard since there’s only one woman in it). This third cohort is certainly not going away and is only growing as the world continues to slowly treat women better (for obvious reasons, this remains a huge blind spot and only one of many problems for a patriarchal Church). Keeping the temple contents mostly secret can help create interest in attending it for new converts, but the contents will either attract return trips or not, once one’s own ordinances are complete. What does attendance look like among age groups? It would be expected that attendance would rise as folks retire and have more time on their hands (and fewer small children). Does this remain true as ensuing generations retire, or are attention spans getting shorter and expectations for how to spend their downtime changing? Only time will tell.
From where I’m sitting, the Church doesn’t always have the best read on where “demand” is. For example, many of you will recall Carrie Jenkins’ utterly ridiculous claim that BYU didn’t sell caffeine on campus because there was no demand for it. You may also recall discovering that, according to the CES department, all women automatically left their paid jobs when they had a child because they wanted to stay home, implying that it was their choice. Unfortunately, their bills didn’t just disappear like magic. As a missionary, I was taught that humans all had these same meta-questions that we were there to answer: who am I, where am I going, what is my purpose on earth. Funny thing is, most people didn’t consider 18-22 year olds to be the best resource to ask these questions, if indeed they had them. What I did find was that there was a demand for answers to questions we were wholly unprepared to provide: when and how should I leave my abusive husband, will God forgive me for having had an abortion, what do I do as a trans person now that my family has kicked me out, how can I care for my disabled child and cover our expenses.
Let’s see what you think about this largest-ever temple announcement.
- Is the temple answering questions (through the experience) that speak to members and humans broadly? Is this experience adequate to the needs and wants of members or does it require further evolution to meet the needs?
- Why do you think the Church is making this huge commitment to temple building? One or more of the above reasons or some other reason? Why is this a top priority right now?
- Are people you know excited about the new temples?
- Is the Church good at assessing demand or creating demand? Why or why not?
I think maybe church leaders really do feel that nothing is more important or helpful than having a lot of temples in the world. The church has a lot of money, so they can build these temples that don’t honestly seem really needed in some cases but to them, are worth it.
I think this is a mixture of legacy building for Nelson (by the way, the adoring quotes in every talk are more than just a little cringe worthy), trying to create demand in numerous places, and trying to anchor people. The demand comes in the form of cultural pressure. Some members will be very excited about the new local temple and talking about it nonstop, taking pictures from across the street while it’s being built, etc. The ones who don’t have a TR will get on board with that, or so the though goes. I’m not completely bought into that but you get the idea. Also it can give members in remote places something to rally around to keep the most devout and active from eventually migrating to a place with more members.
I think you’ve nailed it. Except the environmental explanation. Who cares about climate change when Jesus is coming back any day now? (According to Nelson.)
“Is the temple answering questions [?]” I would disagree with many Church leaders and say no. So many times I’ve heard Church leaders talk about the temple being full of symbolism and learning from that symbolism through the Spirit, but if we’re using symbols that don’t have a set and understood meaning for the audience (or at least a limited range of meaning), then it’s quite hard to assume that everyone is getting the intended lesson from the symbolism. I can’t help but contrast that with ancient and classical religious symbols carved into temples, homes, tools, weapons, and myriad other items that were well-understood by the people who made and displayed them.
But leaving alone the symbolism, I can’t think of a single doctrinal question I’ve ever had that the endowment answered. To the extent that the Church maintains that the story presented during the Endowment is historical (and I don’t think it really does), nothing in there is particularly novel or unavailable from other sources. The covenants made are essentially an explicit statement of commandments we are already expected to obey (perhaps the law of consecration is an exception there). The only truly unique things then are the signs and tokens (with accompanying covenants of secrecy) and the ceremonial clothing (which is never explained at all despite the obvious ties to Free Masonry).
Of course, we could go one step further and conclude that the endowment’s original function ceased with either the death of Joseph Smith or the official public acknowledgement of polygamy by Brigham Young. If indeed the ceremony was created in large part to ensure loyalty to Joseph and to keep quiet about polygamy, then we’ve lost (or jettisoned) that teaching nearly completely, especially after the 1990 changes to the endowment ceremony (though eternal polygamy is still alive and well). It instead lingers on as a way to keep members active and paying tithing.
Ultimately, I’m not a fan of the endowment ceremony, and I attend because my wife and other Church members expect me to attend, not because I find deep meaning in it. I do enjoy baptisms for the dead more and washings and annointings at least don’t take a long time to complete, but performing sealings reminds me too much of the fact that much of my and my wife’s family were unable to attend our temple wedding (a decision we both wish we could go back and change) for it to be an enjoyable experience.
Having had temples closed and less available this year I’ve definitely missed the access. But given that global situation, I think even this announcement didn’t produce the sort of enthusiasm it might have in yesteryear, because everything in Covid times seems like a pipe dream. That’s great you want to build all those temples, but right now we can’t go in them, or travel to Oslo or Vienna or those other locations. Open houses have been delayed for DC and other temples we were excited about. I’m still upset about the Minerva Teichert/loss of live endowment situation. So no irreverent cheers here, just some mild eyebrow raises as we absorbed the news…
Why the opposition to temple building? Are we back in the Missouri of Governor Boggs?
A global church should seek to have all members receive the same experience to the greatest extent possible. That includes going to the temple. A temple has to be accessible to the people in order for them to go?
What would the author prefer that members do instead of attending the temple? Sitting around in sweatpants and crocs watching hot dog eating contests on television? A church should always strive for more than that for its members.
FYI, for your statement “blitzing an area (probably a reference to the Blitzkreig raids)” well, yes the word has it’s roots there but it’s use in missionary work is connected to blitzing in football where temporarily, you put almost the entire defensive team on the line to rush in and attack.
Temples are an institutionalized wasting of people’s time. Instead of organizing people to go out into the world and actually help those in need or to do a public good, temples divert them to go into opulent buildings and watch a movie, over and over. The wasted hours! It’s baffling…
Brother Spring, again with the sweatpants, crocs and hot dogs. Now I think you’re just trolling everyone on the site.
As a millennial, my temple attendance would go up if I could wear my crocs, sweatpants, and buy $1.50 Costco hotdog/drink combos at the temple (I want to eat the hotdog not watch someone eat it).
Excitement for temple building amongst people I know follows their political affiliation- conservative friends and family are ecstatic, liberal friends and family are disappointed that the money won’t be used to temporally help more people. “At least the construction might provide more jobs for people,” one of my more liberal family members said.
I feel twinges of concern when I go to the temple and see large numbers of temple workers and patrons who could be tutoring schoolchildren from disadvantaged backgrounds, reaching out to fatherless (and sometimes motherless) children, volunteering at soup kitchens, sitting at the bedsides of nursing home patients and visiting people who have been incarcerated (is there not a quote from Jesus about this?).
I see temple work so much as opportunities lost in the actual hands-on kinds of ministering that Jesus seemed to encourage and teach. I see all the places where we can do active work to help those who suffer and are oppressed as being the highest form of temples we could spend time in.
The church used to build schools, colleges, universities, and hospitals. In the past it took a more active role in coordinating services for the homeless.
I don’t understand the shift in emphasis. I wish we could consider schools, hospitals, soup kitchens, environmental worksites, free legal clinics for the poor (this could be a great project for our leaders and members with legal expertise), youth centers for disadvantaged kids, treatment facilities for people with addictions, soup kitchens, homeless and domestic violence shelters, vaccination sites, even prisons, all, in a sense, to be temples. The opportunities really are limitless. We could redefine what being a temple-going people means and the impact we could make would be priceless.
Some one else has observed that the church is spending a lot of effort announcing temples, but is not as successful actually completing them. (Citation needed)
Another take that Exmos have on temples is that they are tithing generators. I don’t know if I agree. I think the logic is that every time a sealing is done in a temple it puts pressure on less enthusiastic members to catch up on their “debt” to the church, or something like that, so they can attend the sealing. When temples are far away these less enthusiastic members don’t go and have less incentive to keep up on their tithing. I think there are a LOT of assumptions here, but maybe?
I commented on temples in yesterday’s discussion on a separate topic so I’ll try not to be too redundant. Let me summarize:
1. The Church seems to be moving away from what I’ll call the “Mormon” stuff. No more “Mormon”. Less Moroni.
2. The Church seems to be moving more in the direction of Christ. New logo. Increased emphasis on Christianity.
3. The Church is not growing at a rate worth writing home about.
4. The Church is known to have $124b+ just sitting there.
5. Because of #1, the Church has lost some of it’s unique differentiation.
6. In order to remedy #5, maintain #1, overcome #3, and redirect #4, the Brethren have decided to focus on temples, temples, temples.
This projects growth. This allows the Church to maintain strong differentiation (i.e., eternal families). This deflects the argument that the Church is sitting on too much money. And finally, it looks like we are growing when we are constructing multi-million dollar buildings all over the world.
Our Sunday School, Priesthood, and Relief Society meetings could be structured to teach us how to engage in these types of ministries. How do you talk to someone who is homeless, or who has suffered a miscarriage? What are the needs of someone in prison? What is an appropriate greeting for someone in line at a soup kitchen? What do I say to someone who is going through a painful divorce or has had a parent pass? Our Children and Youth meetings could address issues of kindness, charity, recognition of hidden needs, and so much more.
We have structures in place and in many ways are burying our talents by endlessly going over old content in our meetings. Vintage manuals used to address some very practical topics. It’s not too late to shift our direction. We could give members real and tangible reasons to stay.
I wonder if the recent acceleration of temple construction is a reponse to a concern that long distance and international travel will become increasingly difficult and burdensome. Lingering effects of the pandemic may include increased difficulties in getting travel visas or other travel restrictions. An increased global focus on reducing greenhouse gasses (which is a good think) may result in less travel by air and increased costs for travel, at least in the near term. These potential increased burdens on travel, may make it prohibitively difficult for members who live far from a temple. So perhaps the Q15 is trying to prempt this potential problem by bringing small temples to where the people are, instead of bringing the people to the temples.
If only The Church cared as much for the living – especially those living in difficult circumstances – as much as they care for the dead.
My vision of temples is skewed by my own experiences, but here goes.
First, of all, I don’t get it. When I first went through the SLC temple 55 years ago, I was shocked (in a negative way) and I have never gotten over that shock. I suspect that many throughout the Church’s history have had a similar reaction. According to his biographer, DOM had a similar reaction the first time he went through the temple. He obviously eventually “got it.” As President, he emphasized temple prep classes. But I’ve never “gotten it.”
While serving as a missionary in Belgium and France in the mid-1960’s, I was shocked at the lack of Church infrastructure to support the members. There were only 2 temples in Europe at the time: London and Bern, Switzerland. And they were relatively small. Few books were translated into French. There were almost no support systems. Several branches only had only a few active members and missionaries served as Branch Presidents. Activity rates hovered around 10 percent.
During my 2-1/2 yrs in Europe, I wondered about ways to better support members. To be honest, adding more temples wasn’t high on my list. My thoughts were mostly about improving reading opportunities. Maybe establishing a university in Europe. Having more opportunities for member to interact.
I don’t know what the situation in Europe is like now. But I keep hearing stories of poor retention rates after baptism, etc. Consolidating Wards and Stakes, etc. But I wonder if the Church’s desire to construct more temples is related to trying to improve retention rates. I personally would rather see the Church emphasize education, but nobody asked me.
My cynical self tells me that temples are a legacy item. At President Nelson’s funeral, I’m sure someone will mention all the temples that were started and/or completed during his tenure.
When it comes to priorities, I would place helping the poor (those in need generally) way, way, way, way, way above temple construction. I’m with Madi.
rogerdhansen: Interesting thought I had reading your comment: what if the Church (which has invested in higher ed globally through the PEF) built a BYU-Europe? There are 7 European countries that currently offer free tuition to American students with most required classes offered in English. Mormon parents in Europe would eat that kind of opportunity up with a spoon, and even US families would love the alternative. I could see that being a huge retention boost, even bigger than temples.
I wonder if anyone in the COB has considered the manpower it takes to run a temple as they continue to make these announcements. When you build more temples and subsequently divide temple districts, the available labor pool for temple workers decreases. For a couple years (about 15 years ago) I lived in the district for one of the “mini-temples” in the southeastern US. It was a 3-hour drive away, so we went maybe once a year, and only on special stake temple trips when they chartered a bus. This temple had no regularly-scheduled endowment sessions, but only ran them on an as-needed, by-appointment basis. There weren’t enough workers to keep it running on a regular schedule, nor was there enough patron demand. Same for other ordinances. More recently, my aunt and uncle (retired boomers) served two back-to-back senior missions as temple workers (one in the U.S., one in South America). These announced temples are scheduled to open their doors across the next several years, but I don’t foresee a corresponding increase in faithful retirees with the inclination to spend their days and evenings running temple ordinances. Nor do I predict an uptick in senior couples willing to travel to faraway places at their own expense to spend their golden years away from their grand children, scanning recommends and handing out towels all day.
I think the temple building spree is more indicative of a recent trend for Church leaders to hold up The Temple (they always use the definite article, as if there were only one) as the be-all and end-all of earthly religious experiences; the idea that receiving the ordinances of the temple are the key to cementing a lifelong commitment to the Church and building up the next “righteous generation” while stopping the bleeding of members. I can imagine they might be interpreting the sagging growth metrics this way, and believe the solution is build more temples. Naturally, I disagree with this approach. It leads us to a form of idolatry–in this case, worshipping a building–by celebrating it’s importance but never really explaining the why and the how of the ordinances therein, the eternal consequences, or even begin untangling the controversial history behind temple worship. We also tend to build up temple ordinances too much to young people, so when the time comes for their first endowment, the experience is either baffling, disturbing or disappointing (or some combination of those). And now we shepherd our young people into the temple as young as 18 (before their brains are fully formed) to make serious covenants, hoping that they will be more firmly committed by experiencing that initiation at a younger age. I’m not sure what the answer is to fix the most pressing problems of the modern Church, but I seriously doubt that answer is more temples, especially when we can barely operate the ones we have.
If you ask me, “strengthening member ties to high-demand requirements” is more or less a foolproof theory for what’s occurring. Sure, I’ve heard from plenty of exmos who cast this under the guise of getting members to pay more tithing, but I’ve also heard from my fair share of mission presidents, seventies, etc. who make essentially the same claim under faithful pretenses. Temples increase member retention and activity–I’m aware of no evidence to suggest otherwise.
Elisa, please tell me you’re referring to President Nelson’s actions and not paraphrasing a quote.
Jack Hughes, are Church leaders “celebrating its importance but never really explaining the why and the how of the ordinances therein” & “the eternal consequences,” or are they not explaining the ordinances to your/our satisfaction? That sounds much harsher than was intended–I just haven’t heard the temple divorced from family history work/living ordinances, although there are, of course, all sorts of logical quandaries that lead reasonable people to question whether there’s any efficacy to our ordinances. I otherwise agree with your comment.
Madi, yes, and there’s another quote from Jesus that pertains to this discussion. “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”
I’m with rogerdhansen. The temple is a rather shocking experience and I hear more and more believers coming out and saying the same thing. If trends continue and it becomes more the norm for members to be taken aback by the temple ceremonies, then this could put a damper on the church’s desired effects from increased temple construction.
“Is the Church good at assessing demand or creating demand? Why or why not?”
I think the church has proven itself in the past. They were quite good at assessing demand decades ago when more people had a demand to “know” which church was the truest and when more people were scared of creeping secularism. Since the dawn of time, large opulent buildings have given people the illusion of grandeur of a body of priests or spiritual leaders and have drawn people to them. The pyramids impressed upon Egyptians minds the glory of the kings and the guardian priests of the ancient Egyptian religion. It made them think just how important death rituals were and how close to the gods the dynasty and its priests must be. I believe that constructions of temples in the past have helped increase devotion of a local body of worshippers in the past for reasons related to grandeur and prestige. Will this model be successful moving forward? I have my doubts. But then again, I used to think some 12-15 years ago that the US population with increased college education and an increasing acceptance of secularism and rejection of traditional religion would move away from conspiratorial thinking. Then Trump got elected. How wrong I was. We must never underestimate the power of confirmation bias, groupthink, paranoia, and natural human psychological phenomena that bind people to social organization and social causes, be it to traditional religious organizations or not.
“Is the temple answering questions … that speak to members and humans broadly?”
Members: If you aren’t sealed in the temple, your family relationships end at death.
Humans broadly: Uhh, I don’t believe that.
Sorry for the spam, but I also vaguely remember a quote from Hugh Nibley or someone (used in this context) about how civilizations obsessed with building opulent structures are destined to fall. Perhaps someone here is familiar with this line of thinking–at any rate, there are certainly parallels to be drawn here between the empires of old and our own “empire,” with what that entails.
Finally, Not a Cougar, I do think there’s deep meaning to be had in the endowment, but not enough to justify this building-palooza. If the purpose of the endowment is to teach necessary truths, and not to act as a rubber-stamp saving ordinance needed to gain entry to the celestial kingdom…well, what necessary truths can’t be learned elsewhere?
Thank you for writing on this subject. When I heard the temple announcement on Sunday, I must admit I did an eye-roll.
I have written before about what a negative experience it was for me the first time I went through. I agree with rogerdhansen. I just didn’t get it. And my husband and I DID have the temple prep classes. The classes provided absolutely nothing in regards to what actually took place. Another common thing was the members who said, “keep going; soon you’ll get it”. Nope. I didn’t get it. The handshakes, clothing, words, etc. I NEVER want to go back.
And for anyone to preach that if we don’t have current temple blessings, we will never be with our family in eternity, is an absolute insult.
So, I remain on the side of church going to support my husband, but silently believing very little. I think using any monies for temple construction is outrageous. Service and charity work throughout the world are much more needed by all, LDS members or not.
It also seems that when they build a temple in a specific area, they ask the members in that area to donate to that temple. i.e., will the members in Grand Junction and surrounding areas be asked to contribute to the new temple that is being built in Grand Junction? Does the church show the amount of monies they spend on each new temple, i.e., is it coming out of the billions that are stockpiled?
Andy: Doggone sportsball analogies always trip me up, even after decades in a corporate environment.
I had no idea what kind of religion I’d been raised in until I visited the temple, and then that became the death knell for my miniscule belief. If young people are pushing back now on the temple ceremony because it seems alienating and cult-ish, imagine what the combination of today’s young people and the penalties / washing and anointing that used to be part of it would create.
I’ve since reached the conclusion that the temple ceremony is the Mormon crucible: Embrace it, despite perhaps not understanding it or enjoying it even a little, and you’ve abdicated at least a bit of yourself to the organization and what it says is best. You’re probably in for the long haul and will even enthusiastically defend that which you cannot explain. Many, however, have been unable to do that.
Does anyone even know what percentage of church membership regularly attends the temple?
jaredsbrother: “what percentage of church membership regularly attends the temple?” When I was in the RSP, the President often said we should all go to the temple together. (I was willing but not enthusiastic). Despite three years of her feeling guilty about not going, we never could find a time we could all go. That’s simply modern life. To attend, you are literally blowing half a day of one of your only two days off a week (and frankly Sunday often doesn’t feel like a day off for active Mormons). Actually, I’m pretty sure the President didn’t usually have two full days off since she was working two jobs. Aside from that, we had sisters with needs: memory care patients, people who needed meals or rides, women who were moving. There was more than enough pulling on our limited time. Only one of our presidency members didn’t have a job, and she had teenagers to ferry around.
Why do we need the endowment by proxy for the dead? Couldn’t you do a short veil for every person? Do fewer endowment performances and more ordinances? The video part is for the living not the dead.
I’m with rogerhandsen. I took the temple prep class in the late 90’s but it did not prepare me at all for wandering around the temple in nothing but a shield, watching a movie, memorizing handshakes, names, and phrases, etc. After the temple my family all went to Olive Garden to celebrate (I was going on my mission soon). Everyone there looked so happy. So I dismissed my own feelings. But it just never felt right to me.
And I don’t get the whole temple date night thing. My idea of a date night is one where I actually get to engage with my date, not sit across the room from them.
But now I just have other ways I prefer to spend my time. Every now and again I can be guilted into the once-a-week special 6 am session they offer so I don’t miss family or work time. And what do I care; I can catch up on the sleep I’m missing once they dim the lights.
Lastly, as for the comments about getting more temples to reduce travel time, sure that makes sense for Singapore. But I live 15 minutes from the Newport Beach temple; why does Yorba Linda need a temple?
Angela, right, I don’t mean to appear insensitive to the other demands on a person’s life that might keep them from the temple. I’m just thinking, if temple attendance is a good measure of commitment (I think it is), then what percentage of members can the church actually retain based on temple attendance? That may play a part in the decision to build 20 more.
Reducing Carbon footprints? Potentially. We were once assigned to a temple in the Southeast US, and several stakes had to drive across a state on one of the most lethal two-lane highways (used primarily for freight) to get there. During those few years there were several serious auto accidents and even one fatality. The commute was equidistant to other temples, so we chose to go elsewhere. I know that our stakes communicated the risk several times up the ladder. We were relieved years later when a smaller temple was built nearby. .
Don’t forget that the church has massive data on us, and that data (if handled correctly) is more predictive than any of our pontification. With the new bar-coded recommends, they count each of our temple visits, time w/ and w/o a recommend, usage (prayer roll submissions and genealogy work are all tracked). This data can be pivoted against all sorts of stake and ward aggregate data, member data (tithing, callings and activity, mission, family status, church school attendance, seminary/institute graduation etc.) I’m 100% positive that the church wouldn’t be building all these new temples if they didn’t have data to show that proximity to a temple increases base metrics including activity and tithing. I don’t know whether it is convenience, peer pressure, or the peace (benefit of meditation/prayer/communion) that draws people to temples. But, I can bet that they are leveraging something. The fact that they aren’t telling us irks me, but at the same time- it probably wouldn’t be as effective if they did.
I don’t know why such small towns with less than the usual number of supporting stakes for a mini-temple are getting them. Helena, MT? Burley, ID, Elko, NV? Eye roll.
The other thing that irks me is that even though these temples are popping up in backyards (of towns with less than 20k), the people zero part in temple building.
We are no longer the artists (as Minerva’s murals lie in peril and the SLC Temple murals lie in trash heaps). Any educator, especially an adult educator will tell you the experience means less if the people don’t help construct. Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn (Ben Franklin?)
The temple experience has become shorter, dumbed down (tremendously), less intense, and less participatory. It makes temple attendance as easy as possible. Temples have been correlated too- art has been removed, homogenized, and the number of symbols- reduced. We don’t build temples- we don’t have to lift a finger, just show up when they are done.
I watched a cool Netflix documentary about freemasonry which at least had some good context for our sacred rites.
@Chadwick: yes, the distances are baffling. The Jordan River and Draper temples are 23 minutes apart. Jordan River to Oquirrh Mt. is 15 minutes. All three are 30 minutes from SLC. There are 12 temples on the Wasatch Front, none more than 45 minutes from another.
Mortimer, Ever since the Church noted (seems like a long time ago) statistics about retention of members who went to the temple, there has been a push to get new converts to the temple for baptisms for the dead as soon as possible/within months after their baptism. I have suspected that they have mistaken correlation for causation in that push, that is was not going to the temple that kept new converts “active”, but that it was the “active”/committed ones who chose to go to the temple.
You’ve raised issues about other sorts of temple related statistics that might feed into the build-more-temples project. Got any way of finding out what they are?
Here when we got a local temple, having for years had to travel to another state to attend, it seemed to devalue going to the temple for some members, increase leadership harangues about going to the temple, create more ward and stake staffing problems as a result of temple staffing, and it wasn’t many years before the temple schedule was cut and most endowment sessions were less than 10% full. But still there are many grateful to have it nearby, and quite a number who go regularly and often (and attempt to shame others into doing likewise).
Build it — and He will come.
“Is this heaven?” — No, it’s Burley, Idaho.
“ First, of all, I don’t get it. When I first went through the SLC temple 55 years ago, I was shocked (in a negative way)”
Having grown up hearing how marvelous and spiritual the temple experience was, my first visit was very disappointing. But, I chalked my feelings up to being a temple newbie. But it hasn’t changed. Admittedly, I haven’t attended much— most of my adult life I’ve lived at least 2 hrs away from the nearest temple. I kept yearning for that spiritual experience. Part of my struggle was being a woman and made to feel subservient to men.
Women in the church are still subservient. I don’t know why women can’t access Heavenly Father as men do. (ie Priesthood and leadership).
Hard to feel good about requiring an entrance fee, spending so much money to build temples when so many lack the basic necessities of life.
What Mortimer said about data. Even without any data myself, I would place the 20 temples into the following categories:
1. Accommodating real membership growth–Mozambique, Ghana, and (maybe) Belo Horizonte and Cape Town. Look for these to be open full time.
2. Overflow for temples overcrowded on the weekend–Yorba Linda and Smithfield. Look for these to be open only a few days a week.
3. Distance reducing–Oslo, Brussels, Vienna, Helena, Burley, Casper, Grand Junction, Farmington, Eugene, and Elko. Look for these to be open only a few days a week too.
4. Mostly 3, but some 1–Singapore, Cali, Torreon, and Querataro. Look for these to be open full time.
@Mortimer, I think the Church is not doing a great job reading data because of confirmation bias. When my dad was in a leadership position get had a presentation from Church HQ about how there was a lot of data that showed that doing a lot of genealogy strongly correlates with high Church activity. So their recommendation was to really push genealogy. His response was that he thinks they’ve got that one backward – people do genealogy because they are super active. Not the other way around. Correlation not causation etc etc.
@Dylan correct I was not referring to a specific quote. I just meant one of RMN’s major themes from my perspective is preparing for the second coming which he treats (1) super literally and (2) super about to happen. Because I don’t view the second coming in at all an orthodox way, much of his lecturing falls really flat with me because it’s such an emphasis.
I think President Hinckley once said he learns something new every time he attends the temple. I’ll fully admit that I don’t. However, I have noticed that when I attend more often, I’m more patient with family and strangers, I’m calmer, I’m more focused, I’m more balanced, and more service-oriented, among other things. Don’t ask me to explain why, but if even a handful of people feel and act even a fraction of the way I do, having more temples is worth it.
Preparing for the Second Coming – I know you meant spiritual work, but someone once pointed out to me that it wouldn’t take a lot to make temples effective mass bomb shelters. Some fixing up and rededication afterwards and it’s back to work for the dead.
Creating demand – I read an informal, independent study once that concluded temples had no significant effect on creating new converts. I’ll admit I was a little surprised and disappointed.
Mostly, I don’t think world leaders are going to make travel much easier in the near or distant future overall, even post Covid. I’m guessing a lot of this is preemptive on the Church’s part.
Regarding building temples versus university facilities in other countries, a couple of things I recall BYU Professor Ted Lyon saying in a class I had in 1986:
1. The government of Spain had offered land to BYU to build a university campus, but the Church turned it down, just not wanting to make that kind of commitment.
2. Elder Maxwell was quoted as saying that the Church could not dot the earth with temples if it continued to dot BYU with additional buildings.
I assume the financial context for #2 has changed since then. As has the ability to reach people through technology for educational purposes.
I also assume that a justification for temple construction is this idea of dotting the earth with temples (a vague attribution to JS, I recall) in the last days and bringing them to the people to increase in holiness/dedication and so on. This seems consistent with President Nelson’s focus on these concepts. And right now they can afford it.
As noted, it seems like they take a long time to build and don’t always have the approvals they need before announcing. Consider the stories ranging from Tooele to China to one of the temples in the NE US that got moved.
I appreciate the discussion and resonate with some of the reasons given in the OP. One reason that was not brought up is that building temples is scriptural. We are in the Church History and D&C year in terms of curriculum. If we are supposed to “liken the scriptures” to us in these days, then the temple growth could be directly related to all of the D&C sections commanding that a temple be built. The decision to add temples may be no more than a desire to follow the commandment to build the Lord a house.
Wondering and others,
The only insight I have into the church’s market research/data analytics work comes from people like John Dehlin, other former COB employees, or from LDS job descriptions for data analysts, sociological researchers (PhDs required), statisticians, computer programmers, etc. We know that the church creates queries/programs to calculate certain metrics from the member records to identify potential bishops, stake presidents, and even GAs.
If I were in the church office (bah ha ha ha) I would identify metrics that indicated interaction with the temple such as:
*temple attendance (your recommend gets zapped by a bar code scanner each visit)
*temple roll usage (now primarily tracked through your app)
* submitting names to the temple (volume/frequency)
* beehive clothing usage- buying garments (Frequency/amount) is linked to your member ID
*temple website hits (From the app) on hours/directions/visitors centers/call phone number
*library app hits for temple-themed content (scriptures, talks, lessons, etc.)
What else am I missing?
Those temple engagement variables (individually or cumulatively in a temple-use-score) could be checked against a number of different variables for loyalty like attendance, family activity, church service, mission, baptism, endowment, temple marriage, CES participation/graduation, tithing/donations, callings, do not call listings, disfellowshipment/excommunication/name removal, etc.). I’m sure this study has been done with fancy statistical models and is justifying the use of billions of dollars in small temple construction. If only the bloggernacule’s own statisticians over at Zelophehad’s Daughters had the data too, or could elaborate on what is possible with the data that is now being collected.
I realize this is completely off topic, but while we’re putting in requests for statisticians, I would love to see how the longevity of the Q15 and that of their wives compare to the average. It seems like the men not only live very long lives but also outlive their wives—currently Nelson, Oaks, and Ballard were/are widowers.
A few years back I served as executive secretary in an eastern US ward that had recently had a temple built nearby. For a year prior to the dedication and almost a year afterwards, the bishop insisted that our Sunday printed programs feature a picture of the temple on the front. Imagine visiting our church and trying to figure out why we had a picture of a building on our programs!
After quiet lobbying on my part, he finally agreed to replace the temple picture with a picture of the Savior. I feel like this small example says a lot about the view leadership has of the temple. And I think that view is not grounded in reality or Christian discipleship.
Is there any symbolism in 69 temples being announced by RMN?
The primary purpose of the temple is to reinforce blind obedience.
I don’t know quite why I am wading back into this, but looking at all the downvotes on my previous comment I am surprised that there is such a negative reaction to the idea that maybe the church leadership actually believes the doctrines they profess. There could be ulterior motives, but if the 1st Presidency and the 12 actually believe the doctrines of the temple, then it makes sense they would want to build more temples. The Saints scrimped and saved to build the Kirtland temple then abandoned it. The waited to leave in Nauvoo to finish the temple then abandoned it. They began construction on the SL temple at great expense and took 40 years to get it finished. All of these, if you remove the spiritual rationale, were wastes of money finances. But, there was a sense that God wanted it done. Why couldn’t that be the same motivation for today’s leadership? Whether you agree with the decisions, or believe that God is really directing the 12, the idea they may be motivated by their real and personal faith in LDS scriptures does not seem unreasonable.
@Gilgamesh: I don’t think your perspective is unreasonable, but I also don’t necessarily think the downvotes were a measure of that perspective. If the church wasted money on temples in the past, it follows that they would be cautious about doing so again. They are not cautious. The proximity of one temple to another on the Wasatch Front is well documented, and many of the temples the church spends millions on around the world will see so little use (hello, Rome!) that it makes little sense to build them. Will Catholic Italians be flocking to Mormonism in the future? Doubtful. Even if we assume that church leaders genuinely believe that God wants more temples, the choices about how many and where appears to just be the equivalent of setting piles of $$ aflame. Many on this forum think that money could be better spent elsewhere, so perhaps your comment was interpreted as a defense of profligate spending.
Of course, I may just be speaking flatulently and your defense of the brethren was not appreciated, but I wanted a break from real work and this was my opportunity.
hg, just because I’m feeling snarky, and because you were trashing editors, I thought I’d make you aware of a few edits your post could benefit from.
1. Regarding the Philippines, the national language is actually Filipino, since 1987, a standardized version of Tagalog, but Filipino and English are both official languages, and when I was there I discovered that most of the people spoke pretty decent English.
2. It’s Frankfurt, Germany, not Frankfort. Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky.
3. That $100B is not “laying” around. It is lying around.
4. Misplaced modifier: “As a missionary, we used to use this tactic . . .” (Of course, it should read “As missionaries, we used to use this tactic . . .” or “As a missionary, I used to use this tactic . . .”)
Bonus nitpick: I bet you can indeed correctly recollect which president announced the reconstruction of the Nauvoo Temple.
You’re welcome, and have a nice day.
Gilgamesh: I was also surprised by the downvotes on your comments and was hoping some of the commenters would explain more what they found objectionable to your hypothesis. In particular, Pres. Nelson seems to be very much a D&C literalist (the basis for his war against the nickname “Mormon”). I think your suggestion is very plausible.
I think RMN should have linked his “time is running out” statement with the announcement of the new temples but I guess his hands were tied due to the handbook caution against survivalism.
Gilgamesh, your argument that the leaders are motivated by sincere belief and the words of the scriptures isn’t unreasonable. But that doesn’t preclude the leaders from thinking like cold, calculated businessmen. Most of the comments seem to assume that they mostly think like businessmen and then claim that the leaders are a bit out-of-touch in their decision to rapidly expand temple construction, resorting to thinking of past decades but refusing to update it to changed circumstances. Yet after rereading your earlier comment, I think you have a point in highlighting the fact that the leaders don’t just wear the hats of businessmen, but also the hats of spiritual leaders whose motivations are actually rooted in Mormon traditional thought and scripture. They wouldn’t be where they are if they didn’t have a strong belief in the actual teachings of the religion. They’ve had to reaffirm those beliefs time and again throughout their lives before believing audiences, and perhaps most importantly their inner circles of personal support, which includes family, close friends, and church colleagues whom they’ve known for decades. I couldn’t imagine anyone in their position not really believing Mormonism, or only partially believing it, but just being in it for the prestige or because they had gone too far to turn around. The cognitive dissonance would be overwhelming. Perhaps doubts and questions have flashed through their minds, but I can only imagine that they avoid dwelling on those doubts for too long. Clearly personal conviction has to be a motivating factor at some point.
I missed the announcement in Conference itself, so I just looked at the list, and was surprised to see Grand Junction, Colorado on it. I was a missionary there for six months in the late seventies. I loved the area, and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge, but a temple? You’ve gotta be kidding me…
I downvoted your original comment because it seemed like a fairly reductive description of the commandment to build “a temple.” I understand that you were asserting this theory descriptively as an explanation of the Q15’s behavior, not personally adopting it. I respect that. But some elaboration by way of nuance might have helped. Why so many temples? Why in these locations (i.e., Utah)? What of competing scriptural commandments? What, for example, about the Church’s longstanding (and now, relatively, diminished) emphasis on welfare and caring for the poor? What about missionary work and keeping people in the Church? What about education? Some of those scriptural injunctions are much clearer than temple building as a commandment.
It’s not that I oppose defending the Q15’s choices; I’m in the minority here because I often do just that. But if your hypothesis, as stated, really is their reasoning, it’s shallow, simplistic, and rests on virtually no exegetic foundation. Nothing in scripture directs the saints to build a particular number of temples. We did just fine with fewer than 10 for our first 100 years. Having so few was not even a minor victory for Satan. We did not fail God (or fail to live by the “doctrines of the temple,” as you call them) by having multiple priorities and relatively few temples.
Moreover, nothing explains why the Q15 are now emphasizing this particular commandment over others that hold equal or greater relevance (like alleviating poverty, fostering education, or keeping members in the Church).
A thought experiment: If RMN had announced 1,000 new temples (even at a lavish cost of $100 million each, the Church could more than afford this with its $124 billion), would the D&C explain that? There’s some number number of temples (n) that goes beyond simply keeping up with the command to build temples, and must be serving some other purpose. IMO, n < 20, given our current and projected rates of growth. I think the Q15 knows that, too.
Billy Possum: First, thanks for elaborating on your downvote to clarify. Also “Having so few was not even a minor victory for Satan.” I suppose that depends on who you ask! (I’m old enough to remember ETB singing “I am a Marmin Boy” proudly, embracing the name Mormon which apparently if I use the name today, for some members, this will peg me as one of Satan’s minions.)
Re the absurd number of temples along the Wasatch Front; a personal hypothesis.
I was speaking with a co-worker about the announced Smithfield temple, which he will live within throwing distance of probably. I asked him if the Logan temple was really so busy and we talked about the possibility of the Smithfield temple being open part-time, kind of like an overflow temple. He did say that the youth are using the baptistry a lot. They are going at 5:00 in the morning and waiting an hour to get a turn. So maybe we don’t need more temples, just more baptistries. And that’s why there are so many temples on the Wasatch Front. For baptisms. What we really need are just a bunch of basement baptistries built. The youth are the big temple users in Utah.
It’s all theoretical of course and taking wide liberties on my part. I haven’t been inside a temple in 14(?) years. And, since my kids aren’t active, I may never go back.
In terms of usage, it actually makes sense to me that temples are being built in Utah.
Like Cloves, above, it has been quite a while since I had regular temple attendance. Back when I frequented temples I found that while temples spend most of their time with ordinance rooms rather empty, there were regular busy times as one should expect. Friday nights, Thursday nights, Saturday mornings, if I recall, all tended to be quite busy. On multiple occasions I found my self waiting for the second (or even a third) session before there was room for me. This could be a wait of 30-60 minutes in temples along the wasatch front. I found in had to either take time off from work or spend quite a bit of extra time in the temple waiting.
Where temples are few and far between, as in Europe, people take bigger trips on vacation time and attend the temple at times that are spread out more thought the day or week. In Utah the temples are empty during the business week but quite busy and frequently overcrowded during the evenings and on Saturdays.
I’m not a fan of temple work. I would prefer that we find ways to provide service to the living. I suspect that if we were to focus the temples on doing living ordinances and less proxy work, it would be more efficient to have a temple fund that helps people travel to the temples rather than build temples in places where they will be mostly vacant. I’m not at all saying proxy work should end. Certainly people can submit names of family members and ancestors if they wish, or even do ordinances for the random names that you get at the temple. But I will admit I don’t really see the point of going and doing a list of names of people drawn from questionable genealogy work. And really a lot of the work done to submit names is rather dubious in its accuracy.
Of course the downside is that people far from temples would attend less often. That wouldn’t bother me, as I have already said I don’t attend anymore. But I can see why members in places like Singapore would want a temple nearby rather than just a fund to help them get their living ordinances.
I am wondering where most of your (LDS) new converts “comes from” as for religious background? Can’t find much or any data yet for that info. Am I right in guessing at that many of your converts do come from mainstream protestant and liberal evangelical churches?
My family joined the church in Australia, we moved to Cardston Canada, to go to the temple, and live in a mormon community. Were only there 11 months when called on a building mission to UK. Met my wife in UK, married in Epsom, sealed in London temple.
Now live in QLD Australia 15 minutes from the temple which is fully open but with masks and social distancing.
We have not been since it was reopened, but I understand the tokens are no longer given to each individual, just the witness male. I do not know how the prayer circle or veil are done.
Does anyone know how a covid safe endowment session works?
There is a temple in each city with over a million population, so don’t expect any more though Darwin doesn’t have one and its closest temple is Adelaide 3000k or 1885 miles away, or Brisbane 2103 miles. Cairns is 1046 miles to Brisbane and in the same state. Tasmania could be next as it is an island with 2 stakes. We have 11 stakes in our area, within an hour of the temple.
Thought experiment: at what point would it cost less to build a temple in a given location than to just have the church subsidize the travel of temple patrons, particularly for people receiving their own ordinances?
For anyone who actually knows, I’ve heard that they church long ago exhausted the list of people for how ordinance work still needs to be performed and is now just re-baptising the same people over and over so the youth have an activity, learn the lessons of ordinance work, etc. Is that just a myth?
Myth. At least so far as my wife’s and friends’ genealogical research and temple work and our ward’s youth temple trips are concerned. There are records of duplication of baptisms and other temple ordinances. I haven’t heard of anyone doing that intentionally. But it’s possible.
The church provides transportation and housing for members from less affluent countries to attend the temple. The Freiburg Temple receives members from other countries, and has a small hostel-like building for travelers on the property. The church used to subsidize youth trips to the temple as I grew up, probably still does. We had to contribute some of the funds individually too. I recall the yearly support being a few hundred dollars, maybe a thousand (hotels, a bus or usually several leaders’ cars) Nothing that would over time, come anywhere close to the equating to the cost of a multimillion dollar temple. The cost of schlepping all the stakes In my “mission field” temple zone before the temple-building blitz wouldn’t have even equated to the grounds maintenance for one year of the last large temple, two days drive away. Since that time, four new temples have been built. There’s no comparison.
I really like the explanation that it’s a distraction on the breaking of the $100 billion investment fund story. It would make sense why the number of announced temples has ramped up *so* dramatically just recently. And like someone said (on another thread, in the past few weeks–I can’t find the comment to give credit) I think it maybe comforts members who worry a bit about the Church having so much money. After all, they’ll feel like building all these temples must be the reason for the fund being so big. Of course they won’t think at all about the details of what a small fraction of it is actually being built on temple construction. Or at least the Q15 hope they won’t.
Also, I’m late to the party, but FWIW, Mortimer, as a ZD statistician, I love your list of possible variables Church statisticians might be able to analyze to see what’s associated with what.
And Dot, on the question of Q15 members living longer, this is only for them and not for their wives, but I did this post a few years ago where I checked how much I needed to adjust the mortality rates in the table I was using to make it fit the actual rate at which they died. Using data from 1960-2014, I found that I needed to multiply the table mortality rates by 0.89 to get the best fit to the actual Q15 death rates.
Word. I would never describe the temples as beautiful. They are usually discordant and impervious to their surroundings. And what’s with the glaring lights? Many of them look like a mashup of a Great Western motel and a mortuary. Ugh.
@vajra2 I think some are beautiful and some not. My local temple for many years had what I can only describe as phalluses all over the endowment rooms. I am not one to notice that or make something out of nothing – I truly could not see them for anything else and it was extremely distracting in the session.
J A Horberg,
I don’t wish to derail, but I do appreciate seeing a commenter’s question getting at least a brief answer. I don’t think this has been done yet in your case.
According to a PEW research poll from 2012 (I’ve avoided the link since they often seem to get a comment stuck in the queue) done in the U.S, about 53% of converts came from Protestantism, 31% Catholicism, 15% were unaffiliated, and 1% were not Christian previously. I found those stats interesting.
From a worldwide perspective, the Church sees some of its largest growth in Latin American, which is obviously predominantly Catholic. There are no doubt other factors in that growth. The Church is sending missionaries to most any Christian or non-Christian country that they can get to lawfully. The people of some nations are more receptive than others.
Bringing it somewhat back around, despite the study I cited earlier about the presence of a temple not being a significant draw of converts, they are a distinguishing factor from the rest of Christianity, and often make an interesting conversational topic with other Christians. At this particular blog, especially with the announcement of 20 temples, you’ll find those opinions wide and varied among members of the Church.
I don’t think there’s any consternation in Burley as there was in Boston when a temple was built there.
The church if wants growth should push service. The youth In my area are lazy because they have leaders that don’t encourage it. My wife is secretary in YW and misses a lot since she is the only one with a full time job.
I read once on BCC missionaries should be changed being involved with local charities. I’m all for that. I think more people would see what the church has to offer if they went that route.
I would be for one Sunday a month we help with a local cause. Rather it be clean up or simply providing a week or two of basic food needs to those in need.
It’s funny how some members will use sabbath day is holy and refuse to do something’s yet do others which why.
Note I don’t care how people spend their sabbath day as that is private decision.
We did just fine with fewer than 10 for our first 100 years.
Ah, yes. The good old days. Danged kids these days want temples handed to them on a silver platter. Why can’t they just slog through mud for mile after mile like the good Lord intended?
In case you can’t tell that the last sentence is a link…
168 dedicated temples.
35 under construction.
48 announced but not started. 19% of the total.
According to the Ensign Peak whistle blower, there have only been TWO disbursements from the fund: the City Creek Mall investment and the Beneficial Life bailout. None of the $124B has been tapped for temples. With what we know of current practices, the temple budget comes out of the annual tithes so that will dictate the pace of temple construction.
RMN’s announcements are checks that future presidents will have to cash. That will be done on their schedule. It will be interesting how the construction schedule plays out and if the next presidents will feel they have to up the announcement ante. At some point, the “announced but not yet started” category could grow into a liability rather than a rally cry.
@BeenThere that’s fascinating. I had no idea we had so many announced but not begun. Do you know what the ratio was like before the pandemic slowed everything down?
Kirkstall, even before the pandemic, there were a lot announced and not started. Here’s a post from last year where I ran the numbers.
Kirkstall – don’t have exact #’s but most of the announced category has been RMN in the last 3 years.
To be honest, I wasn’t so surprised at the number of temples announced as I was disappointed that the prophet spent the waning moments of Easter Sunday conference talking about building projects rather than about Jesus. That being said, I think we have to take what RMN says at face value. He seems to sincerely believe that the second coming is absolutely imminent and sees temple work as a centrally important in preparing for this event. I think Matthew 25 would prescribe other priorities, but nobody asked me. Of course, there’s no reason the church couldn’t do both. That is, build temples while dramatically ramping up initiatives and projects that would benefit “the least of these.” Are 20 desalination plants out of the question? What if instead of building the Smithfield, UT temple, the church put in transitional housing on the same property. I’m sure the good folks in that area would welcome that. 😉
I am thankful for your reply. Having a lot of questions and thinking of my own I’ll do the best not to derail the thread.
The LDS temple, I believe, has a significant role in attracting new members. It stands out as a symbol of all that the LDS religion represents and also adds to the visible presence of same. Since LDS is a quite “visible” religion (sometimes sort of almost the “only” visible religion in some areas) not the least in that it has large missions, whereas most other churches have long ago ceased from or having them far away. You have also a lot of institutions and organizations beside this.
There has also been, I believe, an increased interest in what could be called rituals or the liturgical field the last decades, as compared to the 70s. I know a few folks who have converted (from lutheranism, which dominates my home town) to the greek or eastern orthodox churches for such reasons. Others have joined masonic lodges. The temple, indeed, might raise curious questions for those who are interested in the ritual field.
Interesting how one’s observations on the motivations of others can often reveal more about their own motivations than those on which they comment.
Hum de hoo, now it’s 21 temples. The murals stay in the Manti temple and a new smaller temple was just announced for Ephraim. It is said that this is directed by revelation, and is due entirely to the prayers of the faithful Saints and absolutely, 100%, not at all due to the protests and bad press over what they were going to do to the Teichert murals. Right-o, then. This is the first time I’ve seen in real time the sort of thing that’s happened several other times in Church history: an unpopular, problematic decision or policy is announced or enacted, negative feedback of many kinds follows, and the thing that is problematic is changed due to revelation and absolutely, 100%, not at all due to the feedback.