Mormon temples are places apart

Later this week yet another new temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint–this one in Kansas City, … Continued

Later this week yet another new temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint--this one in Kansas City, Missouri–will open its doors for public tours before being dedicated. After dedication, the building will no longer be open to the public, but only to members of the church “in good standing.”

George Frey

BLOOMBERG

The spire of the Mormon Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is seen in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011.

To some, it seems like a curious thing for a place of worship not to open its doors to all comers. It may be a good time to try to explain.

Mormon temples come in all shapes and sizes. They range from the iconic six-spired granite edifice on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, to the towering white marble structure familiar to Beltway commuters in Washington, D.C., to the smaller temples in unlikely places like Nuku’alofa in Tonga, or Hong Kong.

In all, Latter-day Saint temples now number around 150 built or under construction –more than half of them finished or started within the past dozen years. All of them, no matter what the architecture or location, have one external identifying feature in common. Above or close to the front entrance, etched in capital letters, is the inscription: “Holiness to the Lord. The House of the Lord.”

Bible scholars will recognize the words. In the days of Moses the phrase “holiness to the Lord” was inscribed on a kind of headband or crown worn by the high priest, whose duties and vestments are described in detail in the Old Testament books of Exodus and Leviticus. While the office of high priest has long ceased to exist among the Jews, there is a world of meaning in the same words now inscribed on every Latter-day Saint temple.

The English word “holy” doesn’t entirely capture the intent conveyed by the ancient Hebrew. English usage of “holy” certainly associates objects or people with the sacred, as in worship. But the original Hebrew (kah-dash), Greek (hagios) and Latin (sanctum) each carry the additional sense of something separate or “set apart” for sacred purposes. Latter-day Saints understand the words “Holiness to the Lord” in exactly this way. Temples are places consecrated, dedicated and set apart for sacred purposes, and when temple-goers walk through the doors they have already set themselves apart mentally.

Set apart from what? From the distractions of the world, from the profane and materialistic, and instead–as the apostle Paul urged Jesus’ followers–in order to set their affection “on things above, not on things on the earth.”


View Photo Gallery: “The Mormon story is a quintessentially American tale,” writes On Faith columnist Lisa Miller.

A few years ago a leader of my church put it rather well: “Holiness is the strength of the soul. It comes by faith and through obedience to God’s laws and ordinances. God then purifies the heart by faith, and the heart becomes purged from that which is profane and unworthy. When holiness is achieved by conforming to God’s will, one knows intuitively that which is wrong and that which is right before the Lord. Holiness speaks when there is silence, encouraging that which is good or reproving that which is wrong.”

Isn’t this the same reason why we walk through the doors of any church? No, not exactly. There are many thousands of Latter-day Saint chapels, or meetinghouses, around the world, and of course just like other churches they are treated with reverence and respect. Our buildings typically include a chapel for public Sunday services, classrooms, a basketball court and a kitchen to service recreational activities through the week. For Latter-day Saints, these buildings are part house of worship, part community center and all are welcome to join us in worship and communion.

No Latter-day Saint would ever regard the temple as a community center. For a temple-going Latter-day Saint, crossing the threshold of a temple is accompanied by a wholly different feeling than walking through the doors of a chapel for Sunday worship. To begin with, we don’t go to the temple on a particular day of the week. There is no schedule for temple attendance and no expectation of frequency beyond a person’s own motivation. Temple attendance is not a matter of calendar but of a personal desire for a higher commitment to God. In a weekly Sunday service, our taking of the “communion,” or “sacrament” as we call it, is an act of reconciliation, a reminder of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and a symbolic gesture that invites the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives for the coming week. In the temple, however, “Holiness to the Lord” engenders something more – an understanding that we are not simply going to try to live our faith for another week, but that we are about to make personal promises to God to consecrate and dedicate our whole lives to him.

Ultimately we show our loyalty and devotion to God by observing what Jesus described as the second great commandment –by loving our neighbor. Men and women through the ages have sought places of spiritual sanctuary, free from the temptations of the outside world, where they can draw close to God. Monastic orders and convents are one manifestation of this. But Latter-day Saints see the temple not as a place of permanent retreat, but as a place of personal covenants, where for an hour or two they can immerse themselves in communion with God, render ceremonial service for those who have departed this life, and unite families together for eternity through sacred ordinances. Paradoxically, the resultant effect of temple worship is not withdrawal or isolation from the world, but to impel the believer to re-enter the world better prepared to serve members of one’s family, church, neighborhood and beyond.

Former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley described it this way when speaking to a large gathering of men in the church in October of 1995:

“If every man in this church…were to go to the house of the Lord and renew his covenants in solemnity before God and witnesses, we would be a better people. There would be little or no infidelity among us. Divorce would almost entirely disappear. So much of heartache and heartbreak would be avoided. There would be a greater measure of peace and love and happiness in our homes. There would be fewer weeping wives and weeping children. There would be a greater measure of appreciation and of mutual respect among us. And I am confident the Lord would smile with greater favor upon us.”

With all of this in mind, a few moments’ thought should make it obvious why temples are not open to the public. In my whole life I have never heard a church member refer to a temple as “secret.” The term of choice is “sacred,” and Mormons understand the difference. It is important for Latter-day Saints to maintain that sacredness. Large “visitors welcome” signs routinely flank our chapels, but they are not to be found at temples, other than those few that have adjacent visitors’ centers. Rather than places for casual visits from the public, temples are places where we continue a spiritual journey already begun. While we do not invite the public into the temple, we do invite sensitivity, understanding and mutual respect for the sacred – values which are sadly diminishing even in our religiously pluralistic society.

Michael Otterson is an On Faith panelist and heads the worldwide public affairs functions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


More On Faith and Mormonism:

Otterson: What baptism for the dead means to Mormons

Kathryn Skaggs: For Mormons, this moment is personal

Sally Quinn: Mormonism’s modern-day problem

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  • gcrobmd

    Good article and comments! Lots of information!

    Death Oath? Sounds plenty sinister. The Death Oath is a declaration of determination to keep certain things sacred. No one was threatened with death.

    Have you ever said, Cross my heart and hope to die! Have you ever said, I would rather die than (blah blah blah)! If so, then you are guilty of the nefarious Death Oath! It was a bit rough for us modern city folk, so it was removed, but it was nothing unusual for much of the rest of the world throughout history.

    Good knowledge in the article. Good information in the comments. One group of comments is full of peace and joy. The other group is different, where you can learn about things like the Death Oath.

    For more things of peace and joy, go to LDS.org or Mormon.org. Listen and watch General Conference. Read the Church magazines under gospel library, or the Book of Mormon. Find a meeting house and attend. This is where you will find the true character of my Church. It will be worth your time.

  • ccnl1

    FROM THE LAND OF LOADING MORE COMMENTS

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    Money wasted as Mormonism will go extinct like all religions because of its/their absurdity.. It is time to replace all religions with a few rules like “Do No Harm” and convert all houses of “worthless worship” to recreation facilities and parks.

    Some of these absurdities:

    THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS AS THEY CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

    Joe Smith had his Moroni. (that statue on top of Mormon temples).

    “Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah.”

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this “tinkerbell” got around).

    Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented.

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other “no-namers” to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these “pretty wingie thingies” to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    As a good student, you have read the reiterations of the “fems” (flaws, errors, muck and stench) of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Reality makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!!

  • beaufordslyone

    From a commenter:

    Death Oath? Sounds plenty sinister. The Death Oath is a declaration of determination to keep certain things sacred. No one was threatened with death.

    Let’s get the actual wording and actions of the rite to avoid confusion:

    “I, John, covenant that I will never reveal the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood with its accompanying name, sign and penalty. Rather than do so I would suffer (the right hand, palm down, is now placed near the throat so that the thumb is under the left ear)—my life—(the thumb is now drawn under the jaw-bone and across the throat to the right ear)—to be taken (the hand is now dropped to the side).”

    Now lets look at the previous oath:

    We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by our roots.

    How about looking at the another oath that was previously used in the Mormon temple:

    We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the Seond Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree to have our breasts cut open and our hearts and vitals torn out from our bodies and given to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.

    This is why Mormons tell you to go to lds.org or or Mormon.org. This stuff is embarassing! This is the history they don’t want you to see.

    It reminds me of the prophecy in Luke 12:3:

    Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

    The Internet has made it impossible for the Mormon church to burry their history. This is why they are currently experiencing an exodus that thier own historian claimed had not been seen since the days of Kirkland Ohio.

    Fluff pieces like this by Bo

  • beaufordslyone

    CherylWatson got a small taste of how dissenters are treated in the Mormon church. She came to this comment section looking for information. Her honest query was met with accusations of deceipt.

    When asking for a straight answer, she was met with deception and outright lies. She was actually told that the penalties never existed. She was sent off to links that failed to adress the issue but instead attempted to obfuscate the issue.

    Her reaction to what she found echoes the reaction that many members experience when they find the deception perpetuated by church leaders in regards to the foundation of the Mormon church.

    CherylWatson, your good neighbors are likely unaware of many of the points brought to light on this discussion board. I personally attended Mormon seminary for 4 years and took 4 years of LDS institute courses in college. I served a honerable mission for the LDS church.

    At no time was I made aware of Joseph Smith’s affair with 16 year old Fanny Alger. At no time was the similarities between the endowment ceremony and the Free Mason ceremony discussed.

    We were taught to ignore all non-LDS sources. We were taught that the reason that people criticized the LDS church was because of the influence of Satan. We were told that Satan was seeking to destroy the only true church and this is why the chuch had detractors.

    This mindset creates a natural tendency in Mormon church members to shut out all criticism. When we heard criticism our conditioned response was to feel terrible and attribute the criticism to the influence of the devil. This caused us to disassociate with those who disagreed with us.

    If you choose to discuss this information with your neighbors, consider that you may lose their friendship. Their reaction may be like the raction of the Mormon faithful on this board.

    This is probably why many consider Mormonism a cult. Disagreement or criticism cannot be rationally discussed without demonizing the critic.

    I wish the best for you and your persuit to

  • haveaheart

    “In my whole life I have never heard a church member refer to a temple as ‘secret.’ ”

    The temple may not be “secret,” but the rituals certainly are. Wasn’t it only a few years back that members had to affirm, on pain of death (miming the throat-slitting, disembowling, etc., that would result), that they would never divulge their “secret names” or any of the rituals performed in the temple?

    Secrecy is one of the only things the Mormon church has going for it. , and even that is disappearing fast, as more and more ex-Mormons come forth with their appalling stories.

  • bolojse

    I love the temple. There is such a difference in my life because of it. I know that I have greater power within myself to make the right choices in this world of criticism. The links posted from FAIRLDS.ORG that are referenced above as lacking in info have commented directly on point. FAIR is a wonderful resource for any that want both sides of the story. I do know that being radical in opinions will bring credibility issues in ones stance. It is funny how people can see issues so differently, but hasn’t it been that way even before Christ? As Mitt told Santorum on TV in a national debate, “There’s no need to get angry,” or something along those lines, as I watched Santorum be thrown into eyeshifts.

    I think this world needs a place where groups of people can go to seek a higher source of inspiration to handle the issues of the day, especially with the stressors that are met with current media and people saying things they would never say face-to-face. We see it all over with the power of facebook, etc., offering those with anger and deception in their hearts to strike out in an attempt to damage those that live the principles they themselves have failed to live up to in their own life. I look forward to going to the temple soon so that I can be strenghened in my ability to have peace joy in my life.

  • beaufordslyone

    The free flow of ideas on facebook and social media was a major factor in the Arab Spring we’ve witnessed over the past year. The Internet has literally crushed tyranny and those that wished to maintain oppression.

    Those dictators involved attempted to prohibit access to social media. We see the same thing in China. Control over what people read and what people say is monitored and controlled by the government.

    I’m going to predict that brother Otterson will opt to post future blogs on sites where the expression of free thought can be controlled and “moderated”.

    “FAIR is a wonderful resource for any that want both sides of the story.”

    Fair, lds.org, mormon.org, farms are places that silence any criticism. These sites have dictitorial policies that ensure that only one view can be expressed. They are members of the LDS propoganda machine that seeks to maintain the now tenuous hold on the information that is exposed to the LDS membership.

    The fact is this information is damning. With each member that discovers the truth, a revenue stream is lost. We can’t know how much this information has damaged the Mormon church because financial information is not shared with the membership. Members aren’t made aware where or how the money is spent.

    Temples are a key mechanism to control the loss of revenue. Any member that wishes to continue to enjoy attending family weddings and participate in family based temple worship must be a full tithe payer and profess undeviating belief in the “Restoration” of the Mormon version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Any deviation or admitted disbelif disqualifies a member from entrance.

    I’m happy to see that the information age is having a moderating effect on the Mormon church. You may see it as throwing stones, striking out, or damaging, but I think the pressures will result in a church that is more focussed on Christ and His Biblical teachngs and less focussed on maintaining Masonic rites and elitism.

    If you want to see where all this is headed,

  • bolojse

    BLESSED are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

    Isaiah 52:7 7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

  • bolojse

    BLESSED are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9

    Isaiah 52:7 7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

  • 1OZAN1O

    Dear Cheryl,

    Since Beaufordslyone has taken even my attempts to answer you and skewed them, I will try to speak to you person-to-person regardless of who is reading and judging this.

    I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and for more than 45 years. I love the gospel, I love the temple, I love the concepts of eternal families that I cannot find anywhere else.

    If I have offended YOU, I apologize sincerely. I made the mistake of trying to address you and Beauford together, since his emails (as intended) seemed to amplify and feed your responses to me.

    He, as a previous member knows well that no individual will try to speak for the church, nor will disclose randomly and in such a forum the things which they hold sacred. He knows that the bible tells us as does the Book of Mormon, that FAITH comes first and then knowledge. God does not answer men for the sake of idle curiosity, nor did Christ perform miracles to prove himself divine. BSlyone says my restraint is “hiding from the truth.” I say this is wisdom.

    I have six children, ten grandchildren and a wonderful husband and we are sealed in the temple for time and all eternity. This is one of my most valuable assets, because I do believe in a life to come when all will be made right, and all truth will be shouted from the rooftops.

    BSlyone accused me many times (acting on your behalf) of being deceitful, when he knows well the code of honor, respect and values that I cherish. Yet because he turned against them (saying that he was fooled,) he insists therefore that I am also.

    Cheryl, I want YOU to know that my 45 years in the church have not been consecutive. I was born and raised by great parents who were members of the church. I had 5 other siblings. 2 have been faithful all of their lives. 1 rejected the gospel and 3 of us have struggled. I was a rebellious teenager, married outside the gospel and then (while raising 3 children) discovered which beliefs were my own and whi

  • 1OZAN1O

    To Cheryl CONTINUED…

    I read the books and listened to arguments against the church, its doctrine and its founders. I looked, I heard, I felt what x-mormons feel. But, being one NOT to get brainwashed, I also hoped and prayed to know where I should be to fulfill the purpose of my life. It was great to live free of commitments, unencumbered as it seemed, and I thought that I could really teach those Mormons a thing or two. My husband was well versed in various branches of Christanity. We had mind-expanding discussions regarding the possibilities of God and this universe (and even a Godless universe.) We read the Bible (several versions) forward and back. We made comparison charts and we worked the information.

    I found wonderful truths everywhere, and yet I did not find what I call CONTEXT. The context I desired was knowing how any piece of information applies or matters to our lives. RELEVANCY. I came to appreciate the FACT that anything taken out of context and said in an alarming way could annihilate truth. (It is possible to make the local PTA look like a group of war-mongers if individual statements and actions are exacerbated.) I know that those who wish to “free the Mormon people” feel and why they get so excited about it. It is a complicated set of emotions that follows when so much is lost and their lives become irreconcilable. They have to justify themselves with everyone else in their world.

    I gave you a link that has the founder of MormonThink saying in his own words that he is not a believer, he is an LDS spy and that he is just waiting to be found out and dismissed from the church for his state of apostasy. His sight, though he claims he is trying to be fair, and he offers some cut and paste from actual LDS documents, is assembled in such a way that all LDS teachings are forced from CONTEXT. He tries to inflame the issues and predict the LDS “typical” responses that he claims we are taught. Such generalization does not include those w

  • 1OZAN1O

    To CHERYL…

    I received my own personal witnesses to the validity of the Book of Mormon and I love the precepts it teaches with all my heart. The temple means more to me than I could ever express. I have never gone there to “pretend” anything, nor have I experienced anything morbid or inappropriate in the temple. But, the nay-sayers can make even wearing my sacred white dress sound obsurd. Without context, inflamed information does misrepresent the truth.

    I am a very positive and open-minded person by nature, yet I have come to look at all “out-of-context negatives” as having an agenda. I am not like most Mormons you have met, nor like most people you have met I am sure. I am willing to “go the distance” and to call injustice exactly that. But to you, Cheryl, I simply say: Namaste.

    I love the Lord, Jesus Christ with all my heart. I believe that many of his precepts will not be fully understood until after this life, and that there remain many wonderful surprises for us all. I believe that even the anti-mormons are not so far off that they cannot find what they are really looking for. I hate to see any group of people violate the rights of another, knowing that when religious freedom is taken from one group through persecution, the destructive power shall then descend upon the next.

    I know that if a person will humbly seek a relationship with God everything else falls into place. And the news is great: “He is risen.” CONTEXT: He broke the bands of death so that we and our loved ones can be risen too.

    –ZAN

  • 1OZAN1O

    TO CHERYL,
    Sorry there are 3 posts here from me (this is the 4th) in reverse order.

    “Namaste” The goodness in me sees the goodness in you and wishes it well.

  • CherylWatson

    1OZAN10,

    I can tell you are sincere, and I am glad you have found peace.

    But OMG! Is Beaufordslyone telling the truth about the material he posted below? ( I repeated it here at the end of this post.) Is that stuff made up, or did Mormons really say these things? Because I respect you, and again I appreciate your sincerity, but how can those things (miming cutting your own throat?) be anything but a cult ritual??

    I am trying to be respectful, and I am trying to think how that can be “out of context,” but I can’t for the life of me see how that is anything but what it seems. But I am happy to listen.

    From beaofordslyone’s post:

    Let’s get the actual wording and actions of the rite to avoid confusion:

    “I, John, covenant that I will never reveal the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood with its accompanying name, sign and penalty. Rather than do so I would suffer (the right hand, palm down, is now placed near the throat so that the thumb is under the left ear)—my life—(the thumb is now drawn under the jaw-bone and across the throat to the right ear)—to be taken (the hand is now dropped to the side).”

    Now lets look at the previous oath:

    We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by our roots.

    How about looking at the another oath that was previously used in the Mormon temple:

    We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the Seond Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree to have our breasts cut open and our hearts and vitals torn out from our bodies and given to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.

  • CherylWatson

    1OZAN10,

    I can tell you are sincere, and I am glad you have found peace.

    But OMG! Is Beaufordslyone telling the truth about the material he posted below? ( I repeated it here at the end of this post.) Is that stuff made up, or did Mormons really say these things? Because I respect you, and again I appreciate your sincerity, but how can those things (miming cutting your own throat?) be anything but a cult ritual??

    I am trying to be respectful, and I am trying to think how that can be “out of context,” but I can’t for the life of me see how that is anything but what it seems. But I am happy to listen.

    From beaofordslyone’s post:

    Let’s get the actual wording and actions of the rite to avoid confusion:

    “I, John, covenant that I will never reveal the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood with its accompanying name, sign and penalty. Rather than do so I would suffer (the right hand, palm down, is now placed near the throat so that the thumb is under the left ear)—my life—(the thumb is now drawn under the jaw-bone and across the throat to the right ear)—to be taken (the hand is now dropped to the side).”

    Now lets look at the previous oath:

    We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by our roots.

    How about looking at the another oath that was previously used in the Mormon temple:

    We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the Seond Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree to have our breasts cut open and our hearts and vitals torn out from our bodies and given to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.

  • SODDI

    I don’t care what goes on in a Mormon temple, because I know what goes on in a Mormon temple – hoodoo mumbo jumbo, that’s what. Just a whole load of mystical nonsense designed to make the faithful think they’re having a religious experience, so they can feel like they’re getting something for their 10%.

    Nah, the sinister conspiracies happen OUTSIDE the temple, right out in broad daylight. When the head of the Mormon church tells the Mormon mayors of all the cities in Utah and the Mormon governor what is going to be done,by the governments for the Mormon church and who the Mormon church will permit to be on what ballot. When the head of the Mormon church tells the Utah police forces what to do and how to suppress voices critical of Mormonism And when the Mormon church and community leaders conspire to ostracize and deprive those who have left the Mormon church of their civil rights.

    I don’t need to tour a Mormon temple and I certainly don’t need to go to Utah.

    And I’m going to watch the election results VERY carefully, because I bet Mormon leaders are already conspiring to “lose” any votes in that state for Barack Obama.

  • Benevolentia

    SODDI, put on your tin foil hat. The only thing you left out was Bigfoot.

  • klk3

    Where are you getting your information? I have lived in this state for 16 years (I lived in Indiana, NY, & Missouri previously). I participate in my local caucus meetings, and have been elected a delegate to county conventions. I know personally 80% of my colleagues who have been county and state delegates. NEVER have I been told by the Mormon church how to vote–NEVER. Nor have any of my colleagues. .

  • post36

    I love Mormon Temples. They are a place apart. This is most apparent in the NYC Temple there on upper Broadway across from Juliard. I could not believe the peace I felt inside those doors while a;; Manhatten hustled and bustled and honked just outside. Inside the peace and serenity were heaven sent.

    But it is not just the peace of feeling. It is the opportunity to do for others what they can not do for themselves. What goes on in a tepmple, (and it is easiest to understand baptism for the dead) is all very symbolic. Like in ancient Isreal, those who enter the temples must first cleanse their lives to a great extent and get their hearts and minds right wth God. If we do that, our experience inthe tempe is all the more powerful and spiritual.

    In the temples I feel peace, I feel contentment, I feel great love for my fellow man, and I can better reflect on life and the gifts of God. It is a place apart.

    I had a Hindu friend say to me the pther day, “I wish I had a temple near me like you do. I need to find a place like that right now where I can sit and think without all the interference.” He nailed it.

  • Benevolentia

    So Cheryl, from your perspective do you consider the Jewish bris a “cult ritual?” In that ceremony there is no “miming.” Using an ACTUAL sharp knife, the mohel cuts off the foreskin of the male genitals of an 8 day old baby boy. Without the religious context it seems one would say “How gruesome? Or how could anyone possibly do that to an innocent little baby?”
    How about the Catholic ritual of the Eucharist? In that ritual a devout Catholic believes that the bread and wine ACTUALLY become the body and blood of the violently crucified Christ. Again, without the religious context it seems one would say “How gruesome?” Or “Those people are sick “miming” cannibalism.
    How about the Christian practice of displaying the cross on buildings, jewelry and other artifacts? Might it seem like a cult obsession to some observers that Christians display the weapon of Jesus’s gruesome murder rather than the open tomb, a symbol of His glorious resurrection?
    The point is that many rituals taken out of the context of their religious perspective may seem weird to others. Questioning those practices as to their meaning is certainly inoffensive. Labeling them “weird” or “cultish” is judgmental and offensive to those that subscribe to them.
    I guess I am old but I was taught growing up that it was rude to denigrate others in such a way. My observation is that, other than for most rude, impolite sorts, the average person would never be so disrespectful to a Jew or a Catholic regarding their “strange” beliefs, at least not out loud (and now on blogs.) Do the Mormons not deserve at least the same consideration?

  • SODDI

    Yep, those are cultish rituals.

  • SODDI

    You all know each other, you’ve all been at it for 16 years, Rpublicans, no doubt – congratulations, you’ve already been programmed. You all vote in lockstep anyway.

    How many non-Mormons have you allowed on your tickets?

  • Benevolentia

    Soddi, I wasn’t really asking you. You believe in some sort of conspiricy theory about Mormon Church leaders controlling the government officials in Utah. So in my OPINION there is little of any value in your OPINION since it has no factual basis to it at all.
    It was more directed at people that believe in God and have rituals that they think are not weird when they are equally as different from the non-believing world.
    You did not answer my last question but I am guessing that you fall into the category of the rude, impolite sorts I was mentioning.
    I’d love for you to share some worthwhile principles that would benefit us all WITHOUT referring to what you are against. The world would be a better place.
    Shalom.

  • Benevolentia

    Soddi, you really should do a little research before you post stuff, unless your intention is to look uninformed.
    Scott Matheson (D) was recently the governor of Utah. Rockie Anderson (D) was recently the mayor of Salt Lake City.

  • CherylWatson

    Benevolentia,

    A couple of things strike me here. One is that the Mormon church claims itself, as I understand it, to be THE ONE AND ONLY TRUE church on the Earth. But what I am hearing here is “But we’re doing nothing more unusual than all those other guys.” So as someone just looking into all this from the outside, it seems you kind of want it both ways: You want to be the one and only true church, but you want to say your rituals are no more unusual than all the other faiths.

    And to answer your question directly, you betcha. I think cutting the foreskin off a baby is a cult-like ritual that makes zero sense to me.

    As for some faiths’ displaying crucifixes, I do not see that as anywhere near cult-like as asking your members to pretend to cut their own throats.

    Another thought is that it surely comes across as “victim-hood” when I hear “You wouldn’t be so rude to Jews or Catholics.” I have carefully re-read all of my posts, and I see nothing rude at all about saying that I think pretending to cut your own throat or disembowel yourself as to me a cult-like ritual. I still think that and I do not consider it rude to say it. And I am about decided that those gestures are or were a part of your temple rituals, as I can’t seem to get a believing Mormon to come right out and deny it.

    And I do not for the life of me understand what you are saying when you suggest those gestures might not be seen as weird if they are taken “in context of the religious perspective.” I cannot imagine ANY context where pretending to cut your own throat could possibly be seen as anything else.

  • Benevolentia

    First of all using the term cult is meant to be pejorative (i.e. rude).
    Second, when you again expressed your disbelief about the the “mimimg” throat ritual you failed to address the Jewish bris where there is ACTUAL cutting off of an 8 day old baby’s foreskin on whether or not that is cultist. If you agree that it is, then I certainly understand your position and although I may disagree with it I can respect it. But if you think the one mimed one with adults is worse than the ACTUAL one with unconsenting babies than I perceive you as having a very double standard and don’t think any possible explanation anyone could provide you would be logically and fairly evaluated by your thinking process.
    Third, your true church argument was not one I made so I can not debate the merits of your past conversations so you’ll have to bring that up with them.
    .

  • Benevolentia

    Cheryl

    I reread your post and noticed you do think the bris is cult like. So I get now that you think that other religions beside Mormons practice what you deem cultlike. Jews yes, Christians no.
    So regarding the crucifix I am saying that many may see it as cult like following your theme of rites that display gruesome exhibitions of death.
    The cross is the murder weapon that was used to brutally murder and torture the Savior, the redeemer, the Son of God. What I am saying is that many may see that as gruesome to wear that murder weapon around your neck as a piece of jewelry. As an example, say my mother stepped in front of a murderer trying to shoot me with a gun. Then I decided to wear a charm bracelet of little tiny guns and bullets to honor her great sacrifice for me. Most people would think that was gruesome and wierd. If many people did it they may use the term cult like.
    But in the context of a religous perspective the cross has a different meaning in that it represents for some not the death but the gift of salvation.
    Perhaps Mormons thought the throat slitting represented willingness to die for Christ. I don’t know. But again for you to label it cultist is based on your limited knowledge of why it was done. No matter how much you for the life of you you can’t figure it out doesn’t really make it right for you to denigrate the belief. You can certainly say you disagree with it but you don’t really need to overreact to it on this blog as if you have some super insight into what people who practice something that you don’t practice.

  • CherylWatson

    Benevolentia,

    I am not pretending at all to have any “super insight.” I am offering my views, and so long as I meet the standards of the owners of this site, I will continue to do so.

    I think having members of a church pretend to slit their throats and disembowel themselves as a promise to keep secret what they are doing while dressed in ceremonial clothing worn only inside that building is decidedly cult behavior. But anyone (and everyone) can disagree with me if they want to.

    I have only recently started reading seriously about Mormonism and its temple rituals. I read all of the “script,” and from what I read, I don’t think there is a whole lot of commitment to Christ in the ceremony. I read that there is a promise to “consecrate” all someone has or may have “to the building up of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” That is an institution, not Christ himself.

    So I am thinking the death gestures were not about willing to die for Christ. And from reading the script that accompanied the gestures, the throat slitting and disemboweling were part of saying “And rather than reveal the first token of the priesthood, I would suffer my life to be taken.” So it was about willing to have your throat slit before you would tell anyone what you learned in that ceremony.

    Now I am a mom, and I am thinking there is no way I would leave my babies without a mom so I could protect some secrets I learned in a religious ceremony. That is just cultish.

    I am enjoying this discussion, and thanks for keeping it respectful. But man, I am learning things about Mormons I never have believed.

  • Benevolentia

    Since today is Easter I will just respond with I know that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that He paid the ultimate price of suffering in the Garden of Gesthemene and dying a gruesome death at the cross. He was resurrected on the third day and gave to us the greatest of all gifts that through his grace and our acceptance of Him we can have eternal life.
    My 30+ years of attending the temple have given me a greater love for Jesus Christ and has helped me to try to live more like Him in selflessness and love.
    As a father of 5 and grandfather of 7 I hope it would never come to it but I would give my life for Jesus Christ, at least I hope I would.
    Happy Easter!

  • CherylWatson

    Happy Easter to you as well.

  • Nashville33

    I work on various projects for Lifeway Christian Stores in Nashville, TN. I’ve also worked for the United Methodist Publishing House and the Southern Baptist Convention. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is definitely Christian. As with so many things in life, it’s fear of the unknown that leads to the negative comments. Mormons are some of the most Christ-like people I know. I see these people as Christians especially because I never hear of their speakers or teachers speaking ill of other religions and they don’t get paid for their service in the church. This website- Mormon.org explains their core beliefs and isn’t tainted by fear spread online. The beliefs are simple, but profound. I’ve read them and felt a feeling that has changed the negative to positive.

  • rainbow_linda1957

    It’s all symbolic. It shows how much we do not want to talk about this to non-members.

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