First Mormon Secret Temple Aaronic Handshake
Second Mormon Secret Temple Aaronic Handshake
First Mormon Secret Temple Melchizedek Handshake
Mormon Temple Rituals
Mormon Temple Rituals Explained
Hindu statesman Zed invited to Boise Mormon Temple
June 10, 2010
In a remarkable interfaith gesture, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who delivered the reportedly first Hindu invocation of Boise City Council on June eight since its incorporation in 1866, visited the Boise Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) on an invitation before the historic invocation.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, was received at the Temple by J. Craig Rowe, Quorum of the 70 (Idaho) of LDS; R. Craig Rasmussen, Director Idaho Public Affairs of LDS; Wenden Waite, Temple President; and Laura K. Waite, Temple Matron.
Tallest East Tower of Boise LDS Temple, dedicated in 1984, has gold leafed figure of Angel Moroni and his trumpet and words "Holiness to the Lord" and "House of the Lord" are inscribed twice on it.
According to LDS sources, Jesus Christ is the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which has been restored by God through the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805-44). Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. (ANI)
Non-Mormon family not being allowed to attend son's wedding was wrenching
by Jaimee Rose - Mar. 28, 2010
The Arizona Republic
She raised her son to be sensitive, to be Catholic, to be her friend. When he was 18, he joined the Mormon Church.
She fought it. He fought back. They worked to stay close anyway. There were years of long talks on the phone: sometimes awkward, sometimes just like before.
He went on a church mission. He went to college. She went on working, coordinating weddings.
Last fall, another blow: He was in love, getting married - in the Mormon temple - and she couldn't come.
It hurt them both, but the mother more deeply than the son.
She knew all of it, already. When her son told her he was converting, Cheri Richardson studied his church. She knew that temples are the Mormon religion's most sacred places and only Mormons who obey the church's teachings are allowed within.
She knew that her son, Chase Richardson, held temple marriage among his most important goals: Mormons believe a temple wedding seals a marriage for eternity, to last even after death. It is a treasured cornerstone of the faith.
It would be a sacrifice for Chase to ask his family to stay away, to leave his father, sister and grandparents out.
His mother knew he'd do it anyway.
"His response is that God comes before all of that," says Cheri, 52, "and that's what I taught him, too."
The irony stung: As a wedding coordinator, Cheri had been to hundreds of ceremonies, but she would miss her son's.
Still, she knew that he would need her.
Chase was 22, marrying young, as many Mormons do. She had always been his confidante, his coach, his comfort.
He'd need help proposing, paying for a honeymoon, picking out a tuxedo.
And on his wedding day, Cheri knew Chase would want her to be outside the temple, waiting. He would come out after the ceremony and look for his mother's smile - a silent assurance that everything was OK.
That, Cheri knew, was something she couldn't do.
Because somewhere on the other side of the temple's concrete facade, there would be a moment when her son faced his bride and promised to love her. Cheri longed to see it, to memorize his face.
She couldn't stand and wait outside a place that promised eternal families, but stood between her and her child.
Her God would never ask this of a mother, Cheri says, "or a son."
Baptized by ire
Before they moved to Arizona, the Richardsons knew little about the Mormon religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Salt Lake, Donny Osmond - that's all I knew," Cheri says.
Cheri and her husband, Steve, raised their two children in Peoria, Ill., and sent them to Catholic school, though Steve is Methodist.
Steve's job moved the family to Scottsdale during Chase's junior year. He enrolled in public high school and met a girl, a Mormon.
Chase, a quiet type who likes music and his guitar, asked his girlfriend about her faith.
"It really intrigued me," he says. He considered Catholicism to be a culture, a habit.
"I went through the motions," he says, "but I didn't believe."
His girlfriend referred his questions to Mormon missionaries, and Chase met them weekly at her house to talk about their church.
"I felt a calmness, a peace," Chase says. "These words were comforting to me . . . that I am already saved, in a way, and I could be saved if I followed him. I felt a new hope I hadn't felt in a while."
He did not, however, feel hopeful in regard to sharing this news with his parents.
Chase says he told his mom he was learning about Mormonism. Cheri says she wasn't aware of it until "he came home one day and said, 'I want to be baptized.' "
She balked. He'd been baptized. She had pictures. She told him she'd need to talk to his father. She told Chase to slow down and give her time to learn about this new church, too.
Cheri found out as soon as she began her research. She Googled her way into an online support group called "Mormons have my child" and learned that if her son converted, a likely path would follow: He would leave college at 19 to serve a two-year proselytizing mission. He would look for someone to marry soon after he returned. The wedding would take place in a temple, and as non-members, Cheri, Steve and Chase's older sister, Danielle, 25, could not attend.
Cheri learned that U.S. couples are discouraged from having a civil ceremony before a temple wedding, even if only to include their families: Couples who do so must wait a year before being allowed to "seal" their marriage for eternity in a temple.
But in countries like England, France, Japan and Mexico, where Mormonism is not recognized as a legal marriage authority, a civil ceremony is allowed the same day.
"Temple worship is the highest form of religious expression for Latter-day Saints," says Kim Farah, a church spokeswoman. "In these sacred structures, members of the church make formal commitments to God . . . including the marriage of couples for eternity.
"No other type of wedding can take its place as one of the crowning sacraments of the faith."
Cheri learned about the interview required of church members before temple admittance: questions about chastity, honesty and whether they were paying 10 percent of their income to the church. Each member must be found "worthy," church language says, of the temple. Cheri learned that non-adult siblings aren't allowed at temple weddings, either.
Online, she read accounts from parents across the country. It happened often: non-Mormons turned away from temple weddings, and also Mormon parents who had violated church standards.
"It is easy to understand how feelings of exclusion can develop, but exclusion is never intended," says Farah, the church spokeswoman, citing the Mormons' "deep concern for those of other faiths who cannot attend the temple marriage of a loved one."
The church allows a family gathering, often called a "ring ceremony," to be held before or after a temple wedding. Rings are not a part of a temple wedding and can be exchanged informally inside or outside a temple, Farah says, as long as vows are not exchanged, also.
Cheri read enough about ring ceremonies to know the moment would feel forced and empty.
"I was livid, dumbfounded," Cheri says. Her son wouldn't want a wedding without his family. "I thought, 'This is going to be the "aha" moment, the thing I can tell Chase that will make him see.' "
The day she confronted him, Cheri remembers, her voice breaking, "he looked at me and said, 'I know, and that's OK with me.' "
Scriptures and video games
Chase was 17.
Cheri repeated it to herself to salve her feelings.
"What does he know about parents wanting to be at a wedding?" she thought.
Chase needed his parents' permission to be baptized. They declined.
Faced with his mother's scorn, Chase felt embarrassed of his faith.
"I had a feeling that she wouldn't believe like I had believed," Chase says. "She thought of it as a phase - something I'd get over, like a video game."
He worked to strengthen his testimony so he could combat his mother's objections. He found a scripture in the Bible - "Hey, you believe this, too," Chase told her - that he felt supported his plight.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.
Matthew 10:37. Chase had it memorized.
Cheri didn't think the scripture applied to weddings.
"I don't believe that God is in support of separating families," she maintained.
On weekends, working the weddings she'd been hired to coordinate, Cheri liked to watch the groom's face as his bride walked down the aisle.
This moment, she thought, this expression - awe and nerves, weightiness and love: This was what she would miss if Chase was married in a temple. Sometimes, during the processional, Cheri would tap the groom's mother and tell her to look back at her son. A mother shouldn't miss this, Cheri thought.
"It hasn't happened yet," she told herself. "It's not here yet. There's always a chance."
Chase turned 18.
He was baptized into the Mormon Church. He went to the University of Arizona, turned 19, and left for a church mission to Mexico City.
His mother e-mailed him every week: missives to challenge his faith, at first, and then mostly reminders that she loved him.
Chase wrote that he loved her, too. He missed her cooking, her listening ear.
"I think about you every day," he said.
While he was gone, Chase's high-school girlfriend married someone else.
While he was gone, Cheri's Internet research turned up the Temple Wedding Petition, started in 2007 by former Mormons. The petition asks church leaders to be more inclusive of families by allowing civil ceremonies before all temple weddings, on the same day, and not only in countries where required by law. The petitioners have collected more than 250 signatures, says co-founder Jean Brodie, 66, of Edmonton, Canada, and half are from faithful Mormons.
Cheri signed the petition.
After two years in Mexico, Chase came home in October 2008. He went back to school, got a job as a valet.
In May, at church, he met Annie.
At first, Chase loved Annie Fuge because she was pretty. Then he loved her because she seemed to love him back.
In the end, he loved her because she reminded him of someone he'd loved for years.
"She's everything that my mom is, really," says Chase - driven, smart, sociable and sassy.
Cheri liked Annie, too: "the strength of her handshake, the way she looked me right in the eye."
Chase proposed in November and was talking about a March wedding. Annie was 20, and Chase 22. Cheri and Steve thought they were too young to be married. Chase was still in school. So was Annie. How would they afford rent?
And then there was the location of the wedding ceremony itself, an unspoken pall hanging over all of them.
Cheri knew. Chase knew she knew.
No one told her. Cheri read about it on Annie's Facebook page: Chase and Annie would be married on March 12, 2010, in the Mesa temple. Beneath Annie's announcement, a few friends from church had already responded with excitement: "We'll be there!"
Cheri didn't know them. They'd be at her son's wedding. She wouldn't.
Cheri hoped Chase and Annie would consider a civil ceremony.
She called her son, shouting into his voice mail through her tears.
"You have no idea what you've done to me," she cried.
Still, she wasn't really angry at Chase, though she wished he had delivered the news himself.
"What is hurtful to me is that because of his beliefs, it feels like we're being forced out," Cheri says, "and the reason we can't be there is probably the most hurtful - that we're deemed 'unworthy' " by the church to enter the temple.
"You're there for 3 a.m. feedings. You're there at every single game and headache and shot and broken bone and parent-teacher conference. You hug him when he's got his heart broken for not making the basketball team, and to be told you're not worthy to be there on his most important day?
"He believes," Cheri says, "in a different God than we do."
That night, Chase came home to find his mother. They sat on barstools in the kitchen and cried together. Cheri told him about that moment • she loves at weddings, watching the face of the groom, and how she'd miss having that memory of her son.
Chase said he was sorry. Of course he wanted her to be at his wedding.
"I wish I could make everyone happy, but I can't," he told his mother. "I love the Lord. It's a commandment, and I try my best to put him above everything.
"I've had to, and it has been hard."
But also, Chase explained, he had to honor his love for Annie. This was her day.
"She has always wanted to get married in the temple," Chase said, "and not only sealed in the temple, but married, and that's what's really important."
His mother knew he was right.
The velocity of the wedding took hold. On the hardest days, Cheri clung to advice from her daughter, Danielle.
"Focus on the bond you and Chase have had for 22 years," Danielle had said. "The church is not going to take that away from you unless you let it."
Cheri promised herself not to.
Steve and Cheri met Annie's parents for dinner, lunch. At one meeting with Cheri after an emotional week, Kent and Susan Fuge delivered a shock: They had decided to spend Chase and Annie's wedding with Cheri and Steve, waiting outside the temple. They were Mormon and could attend, but wouldn't.
"We wanted to do whatever we could to help," says Kent, 48, of Phoenix. "We wanted to support them, and help them understand that it was a concern for us, what they were going through.
"Also, we wanted to help them understand that from our perspective, the really important part was that (Chase and Annie) were getting sealed in the temple, and that was more important, even, than Susan and I getting to see the actual ceremony."
Cheri was stunned by their mercy and integrity, but she insisted they attend. Their absence wouldn't make her feel better, but worse.
It "felt like two wrongs," Cheri said, and she had decided against waiting outside the temple. It would feel as if the church had won, as if she were following its rules.
From January to March, Cheri steel-jawed her way through conversations about registries, bridesmaids, invitations. She went to Annie's bridal showers, wrote down Chase's favorite recipes, did the calligraphy on place cards for the post-ceremony lunch she and Steve were hosting - the Mormon equivalent of a rehearsal dinner. She ordered a dress for the reception - a party at a friend's house the day after the wedding.
On the weekends, she worked other weddings, always watching the groom.
With a week left to go, Cheri invited Annie and Chase over for pasta. During dinner, Cheri teased Chase for acting lovesick, his fingers in Annie's hair.
"Chase Alan," Cheri said, "Can you possibly keep your hands off of her?"
Annie made everyone promise to cross their fingers it wouldn't rain.
Steve joked that he might bring his own alcohol to the reception.
Annie followed Cheri to the back of the house to go through old photos of Chase for the wedding slide show.
Cheri showed Annie her favorite, a black-and-white portrait.
Chase was 16, smiling in a way that made his eyes look exactly like his mother's.
He looked so happy. Cheri sighed.
"I love that face," she said.
The rain stopped the day of Chase and Annie's wedding.
Orange and pink poppies bloomed around the Mesa temple. Chase and Annie arrived late, and still, he'd forgotten his tuxedo. He called his mom and caught her and his dad on their way out the door.
They were coming to the temple, to wait outside for their son.
The day before, on the phone, Cheri had heard something in Chase's voice. Loneliness, she thought.
"My heart was breaking for him," Cheri says. "Before he could even ask, I said, 'Please. Please, Chase. Don't ask me. Please. You know I can't.'
"He said, 'I understand, Mom, I really do, but do you think Danielle will come?' "
Cheri hung up, sobbing.
Chase called his sister, in tears.
"I know Mom and Dad want to be there, and I feel horrible that they can't," he told Danielle. "If they could just come, if they could just wait outside."
After they hung up, Chase sought the comfort of Annie. She realized, suddenly, how hard it all was - fighting his parents, committing to his beliefs, and doing it alone. She had grown up in the church.
"I felt a little selfish - guilty, maybe, that I had all of that so easily," Annie said. "He doesn't get to have them there, just as much as they don't get to be there.
"I admired his certainty."
Cheri and Danielle ran last-minute errands. In the middle of Target, Cheri had a breakdown.
"I have to go," she told her daughter. "It's the right thing to do."
Danielle echoed her mother.
"You have to go," she said.
Later, at home, Cheri thought about the wedding moment she had wanted for Chase, but also about the moment he would have - walking out of the temple holding Annie's hand, looking for his mom.
"He's still our son," Cheri told Steve that night. "He should have somebody there to share that moment, and we can't get it back.
It would be humiliating, she knew, "to stand outside that place, knowing what's going on, knowing we're not allowed in, and who's judging.
"Putting aside the emotional part," she said, "it is absolutely absurd."
It would feel as if the church had won, Cheri said, had kept her from her son's wedding by leaning on a God she couldn't believe required it.
"It's the principle versus love," Cheri told her husband, "but love should outweigh the principle every time."
The next morning, when Chase walked out of the temple after his wedding, Cheri stood to one side, watching the groom's smile. It never faded.
She waited, wringing her hands, twiddling a silver cross she wore on her wrist, until he saw her.
"Mom," he said. "Come, stand right here."
Cheri climbed the temple steps toward him, and he reached his arms out for a hug.
She cried into his jacket and held onto him as long as he let her. There was no space between them.
"Thank you," he whispered.
"I couldn't not be here," Cheri told him. "I couldn't not come."
They turned to face the camera for a picture, the temple wall behind them.
Chase smiled, his arms around Annie.
His mother stood awkwardly at his side, her expression changing as she took in the moment.
It was on her face that onlookers could see everything: nerves-worry-anger-pain-relief, but also joy.
Mormon Church will lower height of Phoenix temple
by Betty Reid
Jan. 26, 2010
The Arizona Republic
The height of the proposed Mormon temple in Phoenix will not exceed residential zoning heights, church officials said Tuesday.
Len Greer, a spokesperson for the church in the Greater Phoenix Area, said the church will lower and redesign the height of the temple. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officials had proposed building a temple, at 51st Avenue and Pinnacle Peak Road, that would be 40 feet high, 10 feet higher than the land's current zoning, which is 30 feet. The temple would still have a 78-foot-high steeple and spire.
When the church revealed its plans last summer to build the Phoenix temple, neighbors were upset.
They said the temple was not a good fit for their neighborhood because the large structure would swallow the area, block their views and bring more traffic. They also said the temple's lights would light up their neighborhood.
Mormon church indefinitely closes Nigeria temple
Associated Press - August 26, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Mormon church has indefinitely closed a temple in Nigeria as a precaution following recent violence in the area.
The Deseret News in Salt Lake City reported in its online edition Wednesday that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also has evacuated temple workers to other areas.
Church spokesman Scott Trotter says violence in the area where the temple is located, even though it is not necessarily related to the temple, could put church members at risk.
The temple on the outskirts of Aba includes a stake center and administration office. It was dedicated in 2005.
Are ceremonies so sacred, or are Mormons insecure?
By Robert Kirby
Salt Lake Tribune
A bunch of us were in Bammer's garage when we learned that an upcoming "Big Love" episode would feature elements of the LDS temple ceremony. His only wife came out and read it to us from the newspaper.
She showed us the photo the newspaper had published of an actress dressed in Mormon temple clothing. After a withering look at the only Tribune employee present, she went back inside.
Because everyone in the garage was "go-to-church" Mormon, the reaction was interesting. It ranged from a simmering annoyance to nuclear outrage. How could television presume to display something Mormons consider so sacred that even a lot of Mormons aren't allowed see it?
Me, I thought, "Wow, now I know exactly how Catholics felt when the movie 'Disco Demons IV' showed a priest performing a jive exorcism on a possessed mirror ball."
OK, I didn't really think that until just now. At the time I was too busy actually wondering what had taken Hollywood so long. It's not like what happens in the temple is a secret. You can find it on the Internet.
I'm not bothered by "Big Love's" perceived insensitivity. Probably because I don't need HBO's respect or validation for what I consider sacred. Furthermore, I totally get the interest.
Mormons are, frankly, a big draw right now thanks to fundamentalist polygamy, Proposition 8, liquor laws and "Big Love." So it's only natural that people are going to be curious.
Also, this is America in the Information Age. Telling people something is sacred/secret only makes them more curious. Insist that it's none of their business and they'll find a way to prove it is.
Still, it raises the question about how far other people can poke around in what you consider sacred before you have a right to get mad. Even more to the point is how much they should care when you do.
Should the media refrain from exploring anything that might offend a religious group? We kicked the crap out of the FLDS and everyone (except the FLDS) seemed to think it was fascinating. Hollywood has featured American Indian rituals and even displayed their mummified dead. Meanwhile, Jews don't have a secret left.
What can Hollywood legitimately portray regarding Mormon ritual? I wouldn't ask Mormons. Just about everything is "sacred" to us if it isn't portrayed in a utterly positive light. When Richard Dutcher's film "Brigham City" showed the sacrament being passed in an LDS ward, he got lots of angry responses from Mormons.
It seems a bit hypocritical to behave like this and then presume you're an unbiased anthropologist when examining the inner workings of other faiths the media routinely pry into.
What viewers of these programs might regard as quaint, silly, delusional or even potentially dangerous is considered by those groups to be utterly sacred.
Afterward we feel enlightened and perhaps even a bit superior to such silly behavior. Meanwhile, they feel violated.
Maybe that's what bothers Mormons the most: That the rest of the world will peek inside the temple and see us exactly the way we see them.
HBO, Mormons square off over airing of sacred rite
By JENNIFER DOBNER, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
HBO on Tuesday defended its plans to depict a sacred Mormon temple ceremony in an upcoming episode of "Big Love."
The drama about a Utah polygamous family will show an endowment ceremony Sunday.
HBO said it did not intend to be disrespectful of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and apologized.
"Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectful to the church, but to those who may be offended, we offer our sincere apology," the premium cable channel said in a statement issued Tuesday.
But the ceremony is an important part of the "Big Love" story line, HBO said.
In the scene, actress Jeanne Tripplehorn's character, Barb, goes through the endowment ceremony as she faces losing her membership in the Mormon church.
On Monday, Mormon church leaders criticized HBO for its decision to include the ceremony and said airing the material shows the insensitivity of the network's writers, producers and executives.
"Certainly church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding," the church statement said.
Only church members in good standing can enter temples to perform or witness sacred ceremonies. The ceremonies are centered on religious teachings and re-enactments of Bible stories to help Mormons prepare an eternal place for themselves — and others by proxy — in heaven.
Members take a vow not to discuss the rituals outside temple walls, although details of the ceremonies are widely available on the Internet.
The dramatization of the ceremony was vetted for accuracy by an adviser familiar with temple ceremonies who was on set during filming, said series creators and executives producers Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer.
"In approaching the dramatization of the endowment ceremony, we knew we had a responsibility to be completely accurate and to show the ceremony in the proper context and with respect," Olsen and Scheffer said in a separate statement issued through HBO. "We therefore took great pains to depict the ceremony with the dignity and reverence it is due."
The church declined an interview request by The Associated Press on Tuesday.
News of the episode has sparked an online campaign by individual Latter-day Saints, who are calling for a boycott of "Big Love" and cancellation of subscriptions to HBO, AOL and other Time Warner Inc.-owned entities.
The church itself has not called for a boycott and said in its statement that doing so would just fuel controversy and interest in the program.
Church leaders also said members of the rapidly growing faith should not feel defensive about HBO's characterization of Mormons.
"There is no evidence that extreme misrepresentations in the media that appeal only to a narrow audience have any long term negative effect on the church," they said in the statement.
"Big Love" is in its third season on HBO and a fourth is in the works. The program tells the story of Bill Hendrickson, a fundamentalist (played by Bill Paxton) who runs a chain of hardware stores and lives with three wives (Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin) in a Salt Lake City suburb.
Like Utah's real-life fundamentalists, the Hendricksons' beliefs are tied to the early teachings of Mormon church founder Joseph Smith, who said polygamy was an essential doctrine for exaltation in the afterlife. The church ultimately abandoned the practice in 1890 as a condition of Utah's statehood.
When "Big Love" first aired, negotiations between the church and HBO resulted in a one-time disclaimer included in the show's credits that distinguished the modern church's position on polygamy from the beliefs of the fictional characters in the series.
This season, however, the show's polygamy-focused stories have included more mainstream Mormon references. The program references events from Mormon history and the Hendricksons take a family vacation to upstate New York for the Hill Cumorah Pageant, a reenactment of stories from the Book of Mormon.
"Despite earlier assurances from HBO, it once again blurs the distinction between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the show's fictional non-Mormon characters and their practices," the church statement said.
HBO contends that throughout its three-year run writers and producers of "Big Love" have continued to make a clear "distinction between the LDS church and those extreme fringe groups who practice polygamy."
Being featured in a popular HBO series is in many ways a plus for the 178-year-old church, said Daniel Stout, a professor of journalism and media studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
"It says the Mormon church has come of age, it's a major American religion," said Stout, who studies and writes about the intersection of religion and popular culture.
But the attention may also raise fears among church leaders that Mormons will become a target for ridicule or persecution because the details of the sacred temple ceremony will seem strange to non-Mormons. However, studies have shown that predictions about the effects of media depictions aren't always accurate, Stout said.
"There are many themes and issues dealt with by `Big Love,'" he said. "It's a story of family, of relationships and the dynamics of polygamy. It's entertainment. I'm not sure people will be watching it like a documentary."
"Big Love" makers apologize to Mormons, to air show
Tue Mar 10, 2009
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The makers of television polygamy drama "Big Love" apologized on Tuesday for any offense to Mormons in a depiction of a sacred ritual but made clear it would air the controversial episode as planned.
The HBO network's program about a non-Mormon polygamous family has stirred up a hornet's nest of complaints over an episode to be broadcast on Sunday showing its version of an endowment ceremony within a Mormon temple.
It is thought to be the first time the ritual, in which participants move to a higher level of understanding of their religion, will be shown on TV.
News of the episode prompted calls and emails for cancellation or an HBO boycott by angry members of the Mormon Church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
The Church itself has not officially called for a boycott.
"Big Love," which first aired in 2006, stars Bill Paxton as a member of a fictional breakaway Mormon sect who has three wives and eight children. The endowment ceremony is depicted in a flashback event for one of the women.
HBO said on Tuesday the writers had gone to great lengths "to be respectful and accurate" in the ceremony's portrayal.
"Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectful to the church but to those who may be offended, we offer our sincere apology," the channel said in a statement that was echoed separately in a similar statement by the series' creators.
The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, based in Utah, has some 13.5 million members around the world. Founded in 1830, it officially banned polygamy in 1890 although the practice continues in some breakaway sects.
The furor reflected the dilemma faced by Mormons as the growing Church takes its place in mainstream society.
"This is a very sacred event in the lives of LDS church members. To have it splashed all over television for entertainment purposes (and ultimately for monetary gain) is just offensive," wrote one poster called "nanberg" on HBO's official "Big Love" message board on Tuesday.
The Church refrained from calling for a boycott of HBO, or sister companies owned by corporate parent Time Warner Inc, such as Internet service provider AOL. But the Church did recognize that individual members might do so.
"Certainly Church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding," LDS said in a statement on Monday.
"Individual Latter-day Saints have the right to take such actions if they choose. The Church ... as an institution does not call for boycotts. Such a step would simply generate the kind of controversy that the media loves and in the end would increase audiences for the series," it added.
The LDS statement said that, despite assurances three years ago from HBO and the creators of "Big Love" that the show was not about Mormons, Mormon themes and increasingly unsympathetic characters were being woven into the show.
The Church was thrust into the spotlight last year for supporting a ban on gay marriage in California and during the removal of more than 400 children from a Texas polygamist ranch in response to an abuse complaint.
The LDS statement urged followers to behave with dignity, saying there was no evidence that extreme misrepresentations "have any long term negative effect on the Church."
Honduran Town Mayor Defeats Mormon First Presidency!
LDS to find a new site for Honduran temple
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
The LDS Church said it will not build a temple on its planned site in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, bowing to the wishes of protesters who feared the giant Mormon structure would overshadow and block the view of a historic and iconic Marian shrine.
The LDS First Presidency announced the temple for Honduras' largest and capital city of Tegucigalpa on June 9, 2006, to meet the needs of 120,000 Mormons in the country.
A year later, LDS members and officials helped break ground for the sacred structure to be built adjacent to an LDS Institute of Religion building. But construction had to be halted in September 2007, due to the opposition of several city officials.
"We did realize it was relatively close [to the basilica] and considered design options to minimize the possible impact," LDS spokesman Scott Trotter said Friday. "None were satisfactory."
Mormon leaders in Honduras met with the Catholic cardinal there, who was "gracious and "amicable," Trotter said, but asked that the church move its temple to a different location.
After months of
negotiation, Tegucigalpa's mayor refused to approve the plans and the church
withdrew. "Out of respect for the laws and to avoid any perceived stand against
the Catholic Church, LDS Church officials made the decision to relocate the
temple," according to an independent LDS Web site
Meanwhile, news of Mormon withdrawal came as thousands of Hondurans were making their way to Our Lady of Suyapa, to celebrate the annual feast of the patroness of Honduras, Catholic News Service reported. Suyapa's story traces back to 1747, when Alejandro Colindres, a Honduran laborer, reportedly found the tiny statue, only 2.3 inches tall, while sleeping in a corn field northeast of Tegucigalpa.
It was sticking in his side as he slept. Colindres took the statue home, so the story goes, and kept it on a family altar for the next 20 years. Devotees built the basilica in 1777 and, in 1925, Pope Pius XII declared Suyapa, the patron saint of Honduras. Mormonism in Honduras is on the rise, Catholic News Service reported, but the Utah-based church's presence has "never been the object of hostility on the part of Catholics."
New era dawns for LDS temple recommends
The cards giving entry to 'the House of the Lord' will include bar codes
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
Mormon leaders are requiring all
church members to turn in their "temple recommends," or authorizations to enter
one of the faith's 124 temples across the globe. In exchange, members will get
new ones that look nearly the same but have a bar code that can be scanned at
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not release statistics
on what percentage of its 13 million members hold a current recommend, but the
task will eat up many hours of time for Mormon bishops and stake presidents, who
must reissue the cards.
Only Mormons with current recommends can enter a temple, which is considered
"the House of the Lord." It is where they participate in religious ceremonies
that lay out the purpose of life and make covenants to serve Jesus Christ and
their fellow men. It is also where weddings are performed and proxy baptisms for
the dead are done.
Although LDS spokesman Scott Trotter declined to explain the reason for the
recommend exchange, members have been told it is for "security reasons."
Such steps may have been deemed necessary because of several Internet sites
that provide a replica of the paper recommend that can be downloaded and
possibly used to gain unapproved entry to a temple.
"My sole purpose was to show people what a recommend looks like," said
former Mormon Richard Packham of Roseburg, Ore., who published the image on his
Web site. "It is intended as educational information . . . [and I am not] aware
of anyone who has tried to download the image from my Web site and use it to
gain entrance to a temple."
Still, Packham acknowledges other Web sites do provide fake recommends, and
he can see why someone without a legitimate recommend would want to enter an LDS
"Some people are intrigued by the aspects of the church that are secret and
exclusionary," Packham said in an e-mail. "They want to be 'in on' the mystery.
. . . And, yes, some people are terribly curious about what goes on in the
endowment and want to see it for themselves, at any cost and any risk."
Packham said he believes the new recommends may reduce such unauthorized
Protecting the sanctity of its temples from unworthy participants has long
been one of the church's goals.
That's where the recommend comes in.
Starting in the so-called Mormon Reformation of 1856, LDS leaders began
asking members about their adherence to religious principles. They were asked
about their faith and commitment but also about whether they'd committed murder
or adultery. (See associated story.)
At that time, such questions were not necessarily used to determine whether
a Mormon could go to the temple - in fact, the St. George Temple, Utah's first,
wasn't dedicated until 1877.
For years thereafter, a Latter-day Saint had to be invited by the church
leaders to enter a temple, wrote Brigham Young University law professor Edward
Kimball in the spring 1998 Journal of Mormon History. Local leaders, relying on
"broad categories of worthiness," recommended members to the church president,
who issued approval.
"Letters of recommendation had to be countersigned by the church president
until 1891 when Wilford Woodruff, who had signed over 3,000 that year, delegated
responsibility for determining worthiness to bishops and stake presidents,"
The first set of standard questions was issued about 1922 and included
matters of belief in God and Jesus Christ, the LDS Church as a restoration of
pure Christianity, loyalty to church leaders and willingness to live Mormon
Payment of tithing was always important for a temple recommend, but
adherence to the faith's prohibition against coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco
varied in strictness.
The 1940 and 1944 versions settled for a "willingness to undertake" to
observe the health code known as the Word of Wisdom. The 1968 version specified
that keeping the Word of Wisdom meant abstaining from "alcoholic beverages"
rather than "liquor" to "make sure that even light beer and wine were included,"
While some LDS bishops and stake presidents have tried to make caffeinated
drinks one of the prohibited substances, he wrote, "cola drinks have never been
Nor has the use of birth control.
For the past few decades, people have been asked whether they "support,
affiliate with or agree with" any opposition groups, which is often seen as code
Worried about Mormon involvement in the thrift-and-loan scandals of the
1970s, church leaders added the question: "Are you honest in your dealings with
your fellow men?"
In 1979, a new question aimed at the problem of domestic and sexual abuse
asked applicants to consider whether anything in their conduct within the family
was "not in harmony with the teachings of the Church."
The church began to ask about child support in the 1980s and in 1999 began
asking specifically if candidates were up to date in their financial obligations
to children and former spouses.
"Such interviews have always been conducted with the intent of encouraging members to live Christlike lives," Mormon officials said in a statement this week. "As we see increasing strains on families everywhere, church leaders have felt it necessary to place additional emphasis on meeting all family responsibilities and obligations."
Romney's role in a Mormon temple saga
The Salt Lake Tribune wire services
By Sridhar Pappu
The Washington Post
BELMONT, Mass. -- It is late in the afternoon, just hours after this town's most famous resident and current Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, delivered a speech in Texas to address questions about his Mormon faith. And for all the clamor surrounding him, here at the Boston Massachusetts Temple - a controversial edifice that Romney helped build - there is only silence.
In the foyer, men in white suits and women in floor-length white dresses
greet those of the Mormon faith who have "temple recommend" cards allowing them
entry to the rooms beyond. The immaculate space is devoid of decoration save for
a portrait of Jesus tending a flock.
Even to an outsider, there is a serenity to the grounds. Built of marble
imported from Italy, the temple sits on a hill high above this well-heeled
suburb, surrounded by an immaculate lawn and parking lot. It's said that on
clear days you can see the steeple, with its gold-leaf statue of the angel
Moroni, five miles away in Harvard Square.
Unlike "meetinghouses" - chapels where Mormons and non-Mormons can gather,
sing hymns and listen to sermons - there are no regular Sunday worship services
at a temple. Instead, this is a place for different rituals: ceremonies for
eternal marriages, occasions where you can bind yourself to family members for
eternity or retroactively baptize the dead.
Despite its pristine appearance, though, this temple is the product of a
messy civic battle that went all the way to the state's highest court.
The debate is still raw, seven years after the temple opened. John Forster,
the onetime spokesman for a group of neighbors, says: "I don't care what they
believe. Why did they have to put a facility for the whole Northeast in a
residential neighborhood? Romney and other Mormons always tried to cast
themselves as victims of oppression and religious discrimination and it was
never about that. It was about square feet."
Grant Bennett, who represented the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints during the temple's construction, called the endeavor a "significant
Like Romney, Bennett came east from Utah for graduate work: He studied at
MIT, while Romney earned business and law degrees from Harvard. Both are part of
a ward - the Mormon equivalent of a congregation - that was created in Belmont
after the one in Cambridge outgrew its quarters on Harvard Square.
Romney held the unpaid position of bishop of the Belmont ward from 1984 to
1986 and supervised construction of the meetinghouse, which sits at the bottom
of the hill where the temple now stands. As both the ecclesiastical and
administrative head of the congregation, Romney set up Sunday school assignments
and speakers, and counseled people about marital troubles or wayward teens.
After serving as president of the Boston stake (the equivalent of a diocese)
from 1986 to 1994, Romney stepped down for his unsuccessful U.S. Senate run
against Ted Kennedy. Afterward, Bennett, now bishop of the Belmont ward,
appointed the future governor to teach Sunday school.
In 1995, Bennett helped the president of the Mormon Church, Gordon Hinckley,
look over the property in Belmont. Hinckley had yearned to build a temple in the
Northeast, with his focus on Hartford, Conn. But when informed that the church
owned 8.9 acres near Boston, he called Bennett asking to see the site.
By the time of his visit, prominent members of the Mormon faith had become
established in Belmont: Kim Clark, dean of the faculty at Harvard Business
School from 1995 to 2005, Romney's HBS colleague Kent Bowen, a noted research
scholar; John Wright, president of a boutique investment-banking firm.
Hinckley wouldn't divulge his intentions until the following September.
Originally, the building was to be 94,000 square feet with six spires. The
central spire, 144 feet high, would be topped by the angel Moroni, the figure
said to have come to young Joseph Smith in 1823 and supposedly one of the
authors of the Book of Mormon.
In retrospect, Bennett acknowledges: "It was a very large building on that
site. It was 94,000 feet on top of a hill in a residential area and it was very,
Too prominent, it turned out, for those who would live alongside it.
For months leading up to the local Zoning Board of Appeals decision in 1996,
there were tightly packed, emotionally charged meetings. For many opponents, the
issue wasn't religious freedom but the town's own ordinances, which set a height
limit of 72 feet. Despite protests, the zoning board approved the original
proposal for the temple, as well as scaled-back plans introduced in 1997 that
slashed the size of the building to 72,000 square feet and reduced the number of
steeples to one.
This did not end the tumult. On the first day of blasting, something went
terribly wrong, sending rock and debris and dust all over the neighborhood.
Another time, an underground explosion caused a rubber mat to overheat, sending
flames 20 feet into the air. Neighbors consistently complained about
Romney's public role in the debate over the temple was limited. In spring
1996, Romney and his wife hosted get-togethers with neighbors where both the
architect and landscape architect answered questions. In 1999 he temporarily
moved to Utah to organize the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. But even
when in Belmont, he rarely spoke publicly on the issue, says Clayton
Christensen, who served there in the church with Romney.
"We had a steering committee and he would attend the meetings," says
Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor. "At one meeting he said his
very participation might be a lightning rod for additional controversy since he
had run against Ted Kennedy. He was there and would give us advice but did not
take a public role."
Two lawsuits were filed. The first, in state court, challenged the variance
that allowed the steeple to be built. This was followed by a suit in federal
court challenging the right to build the structure itself. It claimed the
Massachusetts law allowing religious and educational institutions immunity from
local zoning restrictions violated the U.S. Constitution. Those suing said the
Massachusetts law in essence favored the spreading of religion.
Both cases were decided in favor of the Mormons. The temple opened without a
steeple. The structure, rising 139 feet, was added after the state Supreme
Judicial Court ruled for the Mormons in 2001.
"It's hard to know how much of it was bigotry and how much of it was wanting
to try and keep the tranquility of Belmont neighborhoods," banker Wright says.
"I suppose it was a little of both."
Critics of the project still bristle at such comments.
Charles Counselman, a former MIT professor, bought his home in 1997 and
later joined the federal lawsuit.
"I was attacked many times in many forums for being a religious bigot or
worse," Counselman says. "I don't have anything against the LDS church. The LDS
church has had a meetinghouse in this neighborhood for a long time. When I was
in college I had (ital) two (end ital) Mormon roommates. I contributed to Mitt
Romney's Senate campaign. It's not about that at all. In my mind it's a zoning
Among the thousands who visited when the building was finished in 2000 was Kennedy, who was guided around by Romney, his onetime political opponent. Kennedy called the structure "magnificent," adding he wished that Romney were a Democrat.
Monson dedicates Rexburg Temple
'First official act' as LDS president
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
REXBURG, Idaho - New
LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson relished his first temple assignment as
leader of the 13-million member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I can't think of anything I'd rather do as my first official act than
dedicate this holy house of the Lord," Monson told thousands of Mormons squeezed
into every corner of the temple or watched on closed-circuit television beamed
to the area's Mormon chapels.
The day held some unexpected moments for Monson.
He arrived, with his wife, Frances, and daughter, Ann Dibb, more than 30
minutes late for the first dedication session, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
There were three more dedication services scheduled throughout the day. Early
Sunday morning, he had learned that Ruth Wright Faust, widow of James E. Faust,
Monson's longtime associate in the LDS First Presidency, had passed away. Then
his plane had to be rerouted to Pocatello because of thick fog obscuring the
area around Rexburg.
But the fog did not suffocate Monson's jovial spirit.
He joked with onlookers as he tried to press mortar into the concrete
surrounding the temple's symbolic cornerstone. When some of the squishy
substance fell off his trowel, he asked someone else to pick it up and put it in
"That's called repentance," Monson quipped.
He called on LDS Apostle Russell M. Nelson, a former heart surgeon, to
assist him, saying, "Where's my doctor? He's better at instruments than I am,
but they were different instruments."
Back inside, Nelson said it was a "great privilege" to accompany Monson on
this historic occasion.
"We express our love and desire to assist President Monson in his weighty
responsibilities," Nelson said.
From there, Sunday's service followed a pattern that began with the 1836
dedication of the faith's first temple in Kirtland, Ohio. It featured
hymn-singing, prayers and several speeches, including one by Apostle David A.
Bednar, former president of Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg.
In his remarks, Nelson described the temple as a place where "we feel close
to the Lord . . . and learn about the creation, the fall and the atonement [of
Going to the temple is a sign of faith and a symbol of commitment to God,
In fact, only those Mormons with a current temple recommend, attesting to a
person's adherence to LDS standards such as the prohibitions on alcohol,
tobacco, coffee and tea, could attend the dedication or can enter temples once
they've been dedicated.
In his remarks, Monson said President Gordon B. Hinckley, who died Jan. 27
at 97, approved plans for this temple, looking at every page of the
"He's here with us in spirit," Monson said.
He promised the Latter-day Saints watching the service that if they live
"worthy lives," they would feel a spirit in the temple that would guide them in
all they do.
"The church has come out of obscurity," Monson said in his dedicatory
prayer. "Many not of our faith have previously visited this building. May they
acknowledge that it is thy holy house."
He blessed the hill on which the temple stands, the grounds and landscaping,
the furniture and decorations and all who enter it. He prayed that God would
preserve the temple from the destructive acts of nature and other people and
save it from "pollution of any kind."
Monson then promised that those who enter will "grow in faith . . . and
understanding of eternal life. They will look to this temple as a sanctuary."
The dedication's climactic ritual is the "Hosanna shout," where the
congregation rises, waves white handkerchiefs and repeats in unison three times,
"Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to God and the lamb."
According to Mormon teachings, the shout is meant to convey the same sense
of joy that believers in the Bible expressed by waving palm branches when Jesus
At the end of the service, the choirs and congregation joined in singing,
"The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning," the unique Mormon hymn sung at the
1893 dedication of the Salt Lake Temple.
It was an emotional moment for Lila Atkinson Moore, an elderly woman who has
lived on Harvard Avenue in Rexburg for 50 years and whose grandfathers were sent
by earlier LDS leaders to settle the area.
The dedication was "heavenly," Moore said. "Words cannot describe my
feelings. I am so thankful to be here. Our prayers were answered to have
President Monson here."
Just then, Monson himself came around the corner and spotted Moore, sitting
in a wheelchair. He leaned over and shook her hand. She was speechless.
"I shook President Heber J. Grant's hand when I was a child," Moore said,
referring to an LDS prophet who led the church from 1918 to 1945. "I never
thought this would happen in my life."
Moore's LDS bishop, Howard Egan, and his wife, Tauna, brought their elderly
friend to Sunday's ceremony.
"This temple is a fulfillment of prophecy," Egan said. "Now it's up to us to
take advantage of having it in our own backyard."
For Tauna Egan, the day was doubly blessed.
It was her 50th birthday, she said. "I think we'll have a temple cake."
More Mormons exiting Salt Lake City and moving to the suburbs
(Temple Square is being surrounded by Gentile hordes!)
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
In the 1920s and 1930s, Mormon leaders and members flocked to newly created Normandy Heights, a development on Salt Lake City's east bench with a creek running through the soon-to-be tree-lined streets and dotted with large, traditional houses, mirroring East Coast architecture.
It became the new center of Mormonism, replacing the Victorian houses
of Salt Lake City's Avenues neighborhood. And until the past decade,
the so-called Harvard-Yale area was home to dozens of apostles and
church presidents. Ezra Taft Benson built a home on Harvard, Spencer
Kimball lived on Laird, Joseph Fielding Smith on 12th East and Gilmer.
The LDS faithful filled in the spaces between and among their leaders,
creating a new Mormon ward every few blocks.
Now it seems the Mormon population is shifting north, south and west.
As Mormons move to the suburbs, downtown Salt Lake City has grown more
religiously diverse - and often more attractive to outsiders.
In the past few years, Mormons near the city center have prayed for
more of their own to move in, while real-estate agents alert potential
homebuyers than these areas have the smallest LDS concentration. LDS
stakes in Sugar House, the Avenues and the areas around the University
of Utah, which typically comprise six to nine congregations of 300 to
500 members apiece, have had to regroup, while stakes in South Jordan
and North Salt Lake are pushed to the limits.
Five years ago, the Avenues' three stakes were reduced to two. A year ago, the LDS Church closed a Mormon chapel on K Street between 10th and 11th avenues and sold the land. The building was demolished and replaced by houses. In March, the Foothill Stake, which stretches from 1700 to 2100 South and 1900 to 2300 East, went from seven to five wards.
Just last month, the Hillside Stake, from 1300 to 2100 South and 1300
to 1900 East, went from nine wards to six. Though it represented a loss
of members in the area, the move was a boon to those staying, says
Rebecca Gardiner, Hillside Stake Relief Society president.
"The church is not in the business of collapsing, it's in the business
of expanding, but our leaders are realists," Gardiner says. "They had
to create these dynamic wards. We are all superexcited. We've been here
16 years, and it was like a shot of adrenaline."
Still, she laments the loss of so many strong LDS families. "We wish
more of our friends would come back," Gardiner says, "and help grow the
church in Salt Lake."
The flight includes, by the way, many of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints' highest officials. Currently only LDS apostles
Dallin H. Oaks, Joseph B. Wirthlin and M. Russell Ballard live on Salt
Lake City's east bench. Apostles Russell M. Nelson, Robert D. Hales,
Jeffrey R. Holland and David A. Bednar all live in North Salt Lake and
Bountiful, as do Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the
governing First Presidency.
LDS spokesman Rob Howell confirmed that total population of LDS Church
members in Salt Lake City has decreased by approximately 5,000
individuals in the past five years.
"We understand that the total population of Salt Lake City has also
declined during that same time," he added.
While the Mormon exodus may trouble those who remain, it's pretty typical.
"This corresponds to suburbanization process we've seen all across the
country," says Pam Perlich, an associate with the Bureau of Economic
and Business Research at the U. "It is not unique to Utah."
People want bigger homes and can get more for their money farther from
downtowns. Plus, they tend to collect next to those they are
comfortable with, Perlich says. That helps explain why Mormons are
moving away, while single people, non-Mormons, out-of-staters and
ethnic minorities are buying the homes closest to the city. Those
Mormons who remain in these older neighborhoods tend to be more open to
diversity, less threatened by it.
"You cannot underestimate the impact of the University [of Utah] on the
demographic composition of this city," Perlich says. A few years ago,
Jen Jacobsen, with her husband and three children, moved from their
home on Princeton Avenue to Daybreak, a development west of Bangerter
Highway on 114th South. They liked the different houses and walking
community. It has the feel of the old neighborhood, but with new houses.
"My kids went from being one in 25 kids in Primary [the Mormon
organization for children younger than 12] to one in 250," Jacobsen
About 30 percent of her neighborhood moved from Sugar House, 30 percent
from out of state, and 30 percent from
the south valley.
Currently, Daybreak is between 60 percent and 80 percent LDS; after a
new South Jordan temple was announced, even more Mormons moved in.
After an LDS temple was completed in 1995, Bountiful saw an influx of
Mormons tired of housing prices in the older neighborhoods, where even
a smallish bungalow can go for between $500,000 and $700,000.
Eva Quinton and her husband moved to Bountiful in 1996, when houses were relatively cheap. Prices have risen steadily since then, but they stay because of the children.
"There are 28 children under 12 within nine houses on our cul de sac,"
says Quinton. "We are all stay-at-home moms and all Mormons. It's
Mormon Temple is not a place of public worship
House of Lords
Published August 7, 2008
Gallagher (Valuation Officer) v Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Before Lord Hoffmann, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Carswell and Lord Mance
Speeches July 30, 2008
A Mormon Temple, which was open only to Mormons in good standing, was not a place of public religious worship within the meaning of paragraph 11(1)(a) of Schedule 5 to the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and was thus not exempt from the rating list.
The House of Lords so held in dismissing an appeal by the taxpayer, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, from a decision of the Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Mummery, Lord Justice Jacob and Lord Justice Neuberger) ( EWCA Civ 1598) upholding a preliminary determination by the President of the Lands Tribunal, Sir George Bartlett, QC, on November 3, 2005, allowing an appeal by the Revenue and Customs from a decision of the Lancashire Valuation Tribunal on October 21, 2004, which overturned a decision of the valuation officer, Mr James Gallagher, who held, inter alia, that the Mormon Temple at Chorley, Lancashire, was not exempt from the rating list under paragraph 11.
Mr Jonathan Sumption, QC and Mr Richard Glover for the church; Mr Timothy Mould, QC and Mr Daniel Kolinsky for the valuation officer; Mr Philip Sales, QC and Mr Tim Ward for the Secretary of State of Communities and Local Government, intervening.
LORD HOFFMANN said that the difficulty for the church was that the same point had been decided more than 40 years ago by the House in Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints v Henning (Valuation Officer) ( AC 420).
The question had been whether a Mormon Temple was exempt from rates as a place of public religious worship within the meaning of section 7(2)(a) of the Rating and Valuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1955. The House held that the words could not apply to places used for religious worship from which the public was excluded.
Although there was no rigid rule that words used in an Act of Parliament had to be given the same construction as the courts had given those words in an earlier Act, it was inconceivable that Parliament did not intend the phrase to carry the meaning which it had been given in Henning.
The legislature had had at least two opportunities, in 1988 and 1992, to reconsider the matter and had not done so. Henning was, therefore, conclusive against the appellants on that point.
It was next submitted that a different construction was required by section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998. The exclusion of all but approved members of the church was a manifestation by the Mormons of their religion. Therefore, to deny them exemption on that ground would be to discriminate against them on the ground of religion, contrary to articles 9 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The 1988 Act did not discriminate on the ground of religion. The rule that exemption was accorded to places of worship only if they were open to the public was perfectly general. Anyone could comply.
The case was not one in which the Mormons were taxed on account of their religion. It was only that their religion prevented them from providing the public benefit necessary to secure a tax advantage. That was an altogether different matter.
Furthermore, even if it could be regarded as a case of indirect discrimination, it was justified. Parliament had a wide discretion in deciding what should be regarded as a sufficient public benefit to justify exemption from taxation and it was entitled to take the view that public access to religious services was such a benefit.
Lord Hope and Lord Scott delivered concurring opinions; Lord Carswell and Lord Mance agreed.
Solicitors: Devonshires; Solicitor, Revenue and Customs; Treasury Solicitor.
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX