By Eric Marrapodi and Brian Todd, CNN
Kansas City, Missouri (CNN) – Elder William Walker slipped white booties over his black wing-tip shoes and instructed his guests to do the same as he led them into the newest Mormon temple in the world.
This day was the first chance the public had to see inside the sacred space for the area’s 49,000 Mormons, and it was also one of the last.
On May 6, when Thomas S. Monson, the head of the 14 million member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, dedicates this temple, the doors will close forever to the public. The church said it expects as many as 100,000 visitors in Kansas City before the temple will be closed to the public.
After that, only temple-recommended Mormons will be able to walk through the heavy wooden and stained-glass doors.
“This is a sacred space, set apart place for only those who are devout followers of the faith,” Walker said.
For Mormons, temples serve as places of contemplation, instruction and worship experiences, like weddings and posthumous baptisms.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
The 67-year-old Walker is the executive director of the Temple Department, and he is the point man for the church’s 137 temples.
Walker is a top official in the LDS church as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and he reports directly to Monson. The Canadian-born hockey fanatic has been a lifelong member of the church. He graduated from Brigham Young University, served a Mormon mission to Japan and spent time in the private sector working in securities and investment banking before being called to serve the church full-time in 2002.
Kansas City’s temple is the latest to open. The church has announced it will build 29 temples across five continents. Construction is under way in Paris and Rome, and temples are planned for Peru and South Africa.
“We’re building temples where the church is grown and have a concentration of members,” he said.
Outside the new Mormon temple in Kansas City, Missouri.
Inside the temple the required first stop is the Recommend Desk. After the dedication, only Mormons who have a recommend card are able to enter and participate in worship. The personalized cards are given by local church leaders to adherents who profess to be living in accordance with church teachings.
As he explained the process, Walker reached into his wallet, pushed his Utah driver’s license aside and pulled out his recommend card, which was endorsed by Monson, his bishop. Walker said his credit-card-sized recommend card, like all others, is only good for two years.
CNN was invited by church officials to tour the temple with Walker before its dedication. The church denied CNN's request to film inside the space, saying it was against church policy. The LDS church provided still images after the tour, which accurately depicted key parts of the temple. In a rare move, CNN was permitted to film inside the front of the temple at the Recommend Desk, but no farther.
"It's not about secret. It's about sacred,” Walker said after the tour, making what the church sees as a key distinction. “We feel that it's a very sacred and special place and therefore it is reserved for those worship functions and those ordinances that take place in the temple. It's not about secret."
Walker said the policy is not unlike that for Shinto shrines in Japan, where he served his mission.
But it's a thin line between sacred and secret. Public tours of the temple are only available when they are first built or undergo massive renovations. After that, outsiders and Mormons who are not temple recommended are kept out, even from wedding ceremonies.
In the sealing room, where eternal weddings take place, Walker points out the altar at the center of the room. The bride and groom kneel facing each other and the officiant stands off to the side. The room is richly decorated with Swarovski crystal chandeliers and massive gilded mirrors on either side of the room, and Walker raves about the design on the white carpet, carefully explaining how local artisans cut the meticulous pattern by hand.
Despite the grand size of the building, each room is small: This is the biggest of the three sealing rooms, and its capacity is just 49 people.
Guests are welcome at Sunday worship at one of the church’s 18,000 meeting houses, Walker is quick to note. The temple, he observes, “is a sacred, special place that’s unique. There are only 137 of these temples in all the world.”
The temple also contains a gleaming baptismal font. Though it’s a point of pride for Mormons, it has been controversial elsewhere. A church ceremony called “proxy baptisms” by Mormons includes posthumous baptisms of Jews, some of whom have protested the practice.
The baptismal font at the newest Mormon temple.
However, in Mormon doctrine, baptism is essential for salvation. While converts to the faith are baptized in services at local wards, the weekly meeting place for services open to the public, proxy baptisms take place only in the temple and in private.
The proxy baptisms are supposed to be for Mormons’ ancestors who were not of the faith. Walker said the baptism serves as an invitation to accept Mormonism as an avenue into heaven.
Explainer: How and why do Mormons baptize the dead?
At the temple, Walker took his visitors through the process as it is supposed to work.
The font rests on 12 oxen, which he said represent the tribes of Israel.
Adherents change into white gowns he jokingly referred to as "jumpsuits," provided by the temple. A male priest leads the proxy into the waist-high water, gives the blessing and the name of the ancestor, then the proxy is lowered into the water, fully immersed, then brought up to the surface. The desk next to the font has a small monitor and a light. That person's job is to record the act for the church's central database.
When the temple begins operation, Walker said, this is a scene that will play out “hundreds of times a day.”
But some Mormons have used the church’s extensive genealogy database to baptize others who are not Mormon ancestors, such as the murdered Jewish reporter Daniel Pearl and holocaust victims like Anne Frank. It’s a practice that has outraged Jewish leaders.
“When people violate the church policy of doing baptisms for those who our leaders have said we’re not going to do that, they’re acting on their own in contradiction of church policy,” he said. “We’re unhappy about that. We love our Jewish friends. We don’t want to offend them or anyone else by our religious practices.”
“We’re sorry. We live by our word and when we say we’re going to do something, we’re going to try and do it,” Walker said.
He promised disciplinary action.
“We’re now tracking those who’ve done this contrary to church policy and we’re going to shut down their access to the church’s database, Family Search, so they can’t do this.”
He acknowledges interest in proxy baptisms, and other Mormon practices, has spiked thanks to Mormon Mitt Romney’s run for president.
While the church takes no position on party politics nor allows its officials to endorse candidates, Walker can see some good coming out of Romney's run for the White House.
“I think it’s perfectly understandable people who are considering him would want to know more about the church he espouses,” he said. “In many ways it may be a good thing that people will want to know more. Maybe some of the old ideas about the church that have persisted in American culture can change.”
Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.
Mormonism is heavily borrowed from freemasonry, with an admixture of Christian and jewish ideas and phrases because the Book of Mormon plagiarizes very heavily both directly and indirectly from the 1611 King James Bible. Then there's the Hindu ideas, plus stuff like totla fantasy on where the Native Americans came from. Plus the teachings about anyone with skin not white being inferior, cursed, etc. It's a silly mixed bag of ideas that have been researched back to Joseph Smith, his times, and his cronies. Many people have written thorough books on its ideas and early leaders. There was a boatload of chicaney and debauchery going on for decades at its beginning, and some would argue, it still goes on. It is a pretty easy-to-dissect belief system, originated by a man disparaged by most Americans of the 1800's, the charismatic, womanizing, very dishonest, and money-hungry Joseph Smith. ..Brigham Young. Smith's successor, was a different type of personality but had many of same traits anyway- very money and power-hungry, "married" to over 50 women, dishonest, etc. Polygamy was woven in tightly with the foundation of mormonsim. It is still actually part of the inner layers of it, no matter how leadership denies it. Mormonism is indeed a large, lie-and moeny-based cult. Many who were members are completely comfortable calling it a cult, even if the media tries to veneer that fact.
Actually.......Freemasonry is a corrupted remnant of an ancient pattern given by God to man. After thousands of years of being handed down man to man, it had lost its original meaning and intent. When Joseph Smith saw these fractured remnants, he inquired of God concerning them and the original pattern was restored to the earth through him in its original purity and intent. Hence came Mormon temple worship.
You do not have your facts right. LDS members do not practice polygamy. Trust me, LDS men are only allowed to have one wife and women are only allowed to have one husband. You must not know the difference between FLDS and LDS. They are not the same religion. The book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. Isn't it great to know that God loves all of his children?
here we go again on Religion issues make it very subtle but enough to sense these are about candidates ! .any 4th graders will know this.very quiet bashing! America is nation with many religion. Leave it alone. stop doing this dirty tricks. smell really stinks CNN ! who says catholic or any other religion is the only right one for anyone?
I agree with yout that the motives are political. However, I also think CNN's article was fair.
Gosh my three comments have been used up . . ..
Going to cast pearls before swine here.....The Dictionary sez that any Group(including Religions)which has "One" leader at its head is considered a "Cult". Now as far as I know all "Major"...and some not so Major Western Religions would fall into that catagory...just sayin folks.
So by your definition... anybody who believes the One God is at the head is a cult? Or the Catholic church is a cult with the pope?.... sounds more like a definition made up by one group to castigate another.
The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a new religious movement or other group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices. The word was first used in the early 17th century denoting homage paid to a divinity and derived from the French culte or Latin cultus, ‘worship’, from cult-, ‘inhabited, cultivated, worshipped,’ from the verb colere, 'care, cultivation'.
If the Mormon church is tax=exempt, it is partially subsidized by the public and therefore it should be publicly accessible. No?
Makes sense to me . .
No such thing ans Private Property Rights since Individual Liberty is now owned by the Government.
No. Tax exempt does not imply any subsidization at all.
Word! Can a brother get all up in that Legislation to revoke their 0 tax status. We all know damn well it it a well oiled business, not Religion. They desrve tax exempt as much as big oil deserves 4 billion in subsidies from the US Government. How bout the rest of America weigh in on this? Tax exemt or not to this CULT??
All religions that get involved in politics should be taxed. If you're going to act and impose your beliefs as law, you better start coughing up.
Nemo – You mean like Media Matters? They are in politics as a propaganda machine for the Obama Camp. Shouldn't they be getting taxed?
Francis, how is it subsidized? Individual members, like those of all faiths, are not exempt from paying taxes, and the LDS church does not take any government funds for its operations or activities. Its business interests are taxed according to laws of each country they operate in. And since the LDS church provides substantial humanitarian aid throughout the world, it would seem that its organization is subsidizing the governments, including the US's. But if you have some information that could support your claim, I would be interested in reading it.
Francis... the church is not subsidized in any manner.
People are very quick to get up in arms about the Mormon church and the money it has. If they were doing evil things with the money I would understand that. But you obviously are not aware of what the church does with its money, maybe you should read up on the many humanitarian programs it supports throughout the world. I volunteered at the Mormon bakery in Salt Lake where they make thousands of loaves a bread a day and donate every single one. Do you take issue with that? They do a lot better job of handling their money then the government does. I would trust the Mormon church with my money long before I would trust the government.
two words for these people. – psyh – co
two syllables for you: Bi-got.
I'm Catholic but I find the Mormon religion rather interesting and unique. Whoever snobishly calls them a cult is just plain wrong.
You're prime pickins for these people. You are so vulnerable. Get some help before it's too late.
"Interesting and unique" does not equate to comparing the beliefs of the mormon cult to the truths of Biblical doctrine. As a Catholic I'm not surprised you don't do that as you rely on your priest to read your Bible for you. There is but ONE mediator between man and God and that is Jesus Christ our Lord. "Mother God" and Satan (Jesus' brother according to the mormon religion) are not in line with the truths of the Catholic church or any Christian religion, so you need to check with your priest before coming to validate a cult like mormonism.
Do you have a clue as to what the Morman church stands for? It is a cult by defintion of what a cult is. Before commenting, check to see what they actually stand for and do.
@Cliffthethird – arguing over who has the right invisible sky daddy is so futile !! It's like arguing whether Santa is black or white. It's just plain psycho !!
People fear and hate what they don't understand. I will never understand why people are willing to just take someone's word about what the Mormon's believe rather than asking a Mormon or investigating the Mormon Church themselves. If I wanted to know about a Catholic I wouldn't ask a Baptist. I'd ask a Catholic.
I also think people hate the Mormons because we do not accept many of the "traditional" doctrines of Christian theology like the Trinity, infant baptism and original sin.
Some of the things we do believe in are:
God the father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.
The Bible is the word of God as is the Book of Mormon. We believe that all people are responsible for their own choices, lives and that God will not force us to be obedient to his laws or commandments. We believe in living prophets and continuing revelation and we believe in doing good to all people. We believe in baptism by immersion and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying of of hands. We also believe that everyone can choose their own path in life. We invite all to come to Christ and learn of him. We ask that you pray and investigate for yourself if our Church is true.
For more information see:
I've never seen anything surrounded in this much secrecy that isn't a cult. Most Mormons I've known are extremely close minded. Granted I don't think they're hurting anyone, but a lot of cults don't.
Guess you've never visited CIA headquarters then.
I agree, I think in a way it's good. Not too many religions in America follow and live thier faith.
Actually, most Mormons I know are quite open minded... though they tend to be firmly established in their own faith.
Word Mormann means, self centered, a secular in hindrance to truth absolute 360* or a hindu. denier of truth.
1. Noah was the prophet sent by God to warn the earth a few hundred years before it (the earth) was baptized by water (during the great flood).
2. Joseph Smith was the prophet sent by God to warn the earth a few hundred years before it (the earth) is baptized with fire (at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ).
God follows the same pattern in all ages of time. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." Amos 3:7
nothing but a incident borrowed from teachings of Hebrew's to substantiate hinduism, denial of truth absolute in hinduism, called Mormann ism, self center ism or secularism.
Doesn't it bother you that you spend more time researching a car than you do a religion? You keep praying, I'll keep evolving. ;-) ... let's see, i think i can find one more...... oh, here it is: Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful... ONE HUGE BUSINESS. In a few hundred years we will look at these silly religions like we look at Greek Mythology today. Just sayin'.
Yep! Too bad it won't disappear in my life time. Seems like there's a new religion invented every week, and 10,000 people waiting to follow it.
I lost the women I cared for the most to this cult... Her family was falling apart and nothing in her life seem to make sense. One of them was already a part of her life and sucked her in was she was most vunerable. Once I finally figured out what was going on, it was too late. Now, she is no longer the girl I remembered. The only think left that I can do is pray that she realizes her mistake and gets away from that life.
That same thing happened to me. If they were do loving, why would they want to tear apart families... I have serious issuse with Christianity, but these guys are freaking nuts...
sorry for your loss
Don't count on it! Anyone sucked into a cult, never emerges the same person they were previously. So sorry about your loss. She won't be coming back. This, like all religions, is a brain-washing, life-altering, permanent. mental disability.
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." -Jesus (Matthew 10:34-37).
The scriptures of black people being cursed by God in the book of the cult are SEVERLY horrific. Can you imagine Jesus aproving of this? They the Lds are the most racist so called religious group in America. After pressuring thus Audience, they finally answered my question of why there are no black elders? They said yes there is & he is in Afica. What an incredible smokescreen & PP answer. Please Us Congress take away thier tax exempt status. They remind me of 300 million dollar Richie Rich Romney & his overseas secret back accounts.
They hate blacks, gays, and anyone not like them. They also make woman 2nd class.
Actually, many people in the church accept people of all colors. If that was not the case, the church would not be international. Yes, there are many priesthood holders from the LDS church that are African Americans that live her in the United States.
Mormons were murdered and driven from Missouri by the thousands in the 1800's because they wouldn't back down from their anti-slavery beliefs. It's true... look it up. Utah was also the first state to grant voting rights to women.
"God forgive them for they know not what they do"
Why would God have to be told that, shouldn't he who knows all have already known that?
Hindu word drive from Latin word hindered, negative, Hun for great, Han, to be in greatness, hind, to be negative to both of them, hinduism, way of negativity, hindu's hind, deny truth absolute 360* in their hindu Judaism, criminal self center ism, secularism to hind, fool humanity,
Huh? Dude, you might have an interesting take on things if you could sober up from your dime bag and articulate your ideas. Try again later..
Jesus received a proxy baptism, so all of you are really praying to a Mormon carpenter, not Jewish.
I pray to no one! So you are wrong.
What is the big deal about baptizing dead Jews like Anne Frank? It is totally painless for the beneficiary and doesn't mean anything if people don't believe it works.
lol wow look at all the left wingers who are so hurt by this article. Insecure much? Throwing tempertantrums much? LOL like little kids wow this is funny.
We're trying to free you from your cult, before you try to jump on the next passing comet.
Edwardo, why are you concerned about "cult" members jumping on the next comet? Isn't that contrary to basic Darwinism and survival of the fittest? I have no qualms if someone wants to drink poison kool-aid and hop on the next astroid to the sun. That cleans up the gene pool. So butt out and let nature do its thing, or hop on the next kool-aid train yourself.
Interesting how CNN is so focused on Mormons and their faith every time there is "Romney" news buzzing.
CNN is very pro-obama and will use any means of discrediting romney, particularly his faith.
I suspect the concern you interpret CNN having about Romney's faith is actually America's concern. The majority of religious Americans are part of the 'larger' faith systems and Mormonism is still misunderstood by many. I couldn't quite say whether CNN is attempting to mock Mormonism or discredit Romney, that could just be your interpretation. Religion in general could fairly and realistically be viewed as strange, but again, interpretation.
If this indeed is the case, it's no different than conservative/right wing (whatever that means anymore) media claiming Obama is a Muslim, which people somehow interpret that as a bad thing.
I personally view a religious person in the white house being a liability. The fact that we're free to worship who/what/wherever we want is a wonderful thing. But actions and decisions must be based in reason and logic and tangible things. If we find ourselves facing a national crisis, each American can decide whether to pray, chant or do whatever they please. But the president must examine information and make decisions based on that information, and not on hope and faith. So as I see it, we'll be faced with two poor choices, regardless of the Republican candidate.
I've never seen a Mormon critical other people's religion. And since there are fourteen million Mormons running around in America one would think we could find at least one finger pointer among them. On second thought, maybe its because other religion's have no faults. I guess that must it.
Are you kidding? No faults? umm yeh... someone had a dream and now 14 million people are infected with some stupid ideals they'll take to their graves. Fault enuf for you dimbulb?
I'm a Mormon, and trust me, we're not perfect (me especially) and though publicly you would not likely hear a fellow Mormon put down another's faith, it happens from time to time, just like in any other community and culture. But true adherents of Christian principles (Mormons, Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, etc.) would never put down another person's faith, publicly or privately, but rather allow all to worship (or not worship) according to the dictates of their own conscience. It is a clear presentation of one's true character and belief, if they can believe in their own way, and allow others to do the same, without resorting to politics, etc, as an excuse for bashing others' faiths. Santorum's subtle digs and the Evangelicals who support him come to mind, as does John McCain's mother, as being examples of intolerance and contradicting of Christian principles. Free agency, whether liberal or conservative, pro-life or pro-choice (I'm pro-choice, by the way), and Christian or non-Christian, is the foundation of all freedoms. The "pick-and-choose" free agency of Santorum's belief system is contrary to freedom loving people everywhere.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.