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.”
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Religion provides a much needed easy explanation for that which we don't understand...you know the little things like death and morality. The Mormon religion is no stranger than any other form of Christianity, Hinduism, Bhuddism, Islam, etc, etc, etc. It's hard to keep an open mind sometimes when your belief is the tether that perhaps preserves your sanity, but ask enough questions and all religions appear based on at least some faulty logic. Perhaps there is a higher power, perhaps there is not, even those that espouse atheism are closed minded in that regard. If your mind can handle it try to remain open to all possibilities.
Thats a bunch of bunk.
If your belief is your only tether to sanity,
You should see a psychiatrist.
Stay away from cults and DONT VOTE MITT ROMNEY 2012!
I'm pretty sure we know what causes death.
Google: White Horse Prophesy.
Know the danger the LDS mormon church poses to America.
DONT VOTE ROMNEY 2012!
Hi. I wrote a couple of comments in reply to some of the other posts, but it seems only yours are getting through the filter..... I guess CNN likes what you say! haha! Sigh. Oh well.
Now they are posted. nice. Have a nice day, Mr. Biologxico. Please stop being a hater if you can. Much appreciated.
I have only love for my mormon brothers and sisters.
They're my fellow Americans.
But just like gay people...they're just a little misguided.
Good people, but misguided in their ways.
You misconstrue my contempt of your religion as a personal attack on your people.
Please don't do that.
Thanks and have a great day!
Susan - a refresher on the taboo word fragments for you:
Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
cu-nt.....as in Scu-nthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
p-orn… as in p-ornography
pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.
Wow. There are a couple of trolls about. Biologixco, Dave are a couple. You as obsessed with Mormons and Rush Limbaugh is with President Obama. Cool down.
Now I'm a troll?
You should see how the mormon faithful hijacked my screen name and made posts deceptively trying to make it look as though I had written them. That really ticked me off. Is that the kind of DIShonesty your church deals in?
Im a college educated, God fearing man who doesnt steal and cheat and laugh about firing American workers like MITT ROMNEY does. Read my posts carefully. There is a urgent message to my fellow Americans: Stay away from cults and DONT VOTE ROMNEY 2012!
What a pretty church!
How can I join?
How much will it cost?
At least 10% of your income.
And an afterlife in a fiery lake, hun.
But hey. Got no money?
They take VISA and Mastercard at the door!
It's free!!!! Please join us. We will welcome you with open arms!
Yes you're welcomed with open arms.
And open palms!
Just sign your property deed over.
And YOU can be a chosen one...
request to speak to your local missionaries. Its free!
As a Jew, I think it's very sad to see so many mean spirited comments about the Mormon religion.
You're a paid mormon LDS shill.
Look at the posts here, their game becomes obvious.
The mormons play a cat n mouse game of deception.
Rachel, that is very kind of you to say. Honestly, some of the best people I have ever met are Jewish. Thanks for your comment. :D Susan
Earth to Kolob Earth to Kolob
These pesky Americans are on to us.
O commander Smith, what shall we do???
Kolob to Earth Kolob to Earth
Come in Kansas City temple.
Just discredit them and call them silly names until we get our death ray fixed.
We'll get 'em!
I heard biologixco say "Kolob" more times in the last two days than in 40 year of church membership.
I think that, although unwillingly, you are indeed doing "God's work". People heard so much from you about "kolob" and "magic undies" that they don't sound strange anymore. Now people can focus in the important doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ.
That's cool. The more Americans learn about KOLOB, MAGIC UNDERWEAR and JOSEPH SMITH,
The more they learn about the insidious danger the mormon LDS church is to America.
Hence they will NEVER vote for mormon's HIGH PRIEST and ELDER MITT ROMNEY in 2012.
Shout it from the highest Utah mountain!
It's sad that there is so much hate in the world today.
Yes. I think about that every time I hear how MITT ROMNEY got a kick out of firing American workers.
Say NO to Willard (MITT) Romney 2012!
Today? When has the world not been full of hate?
Bet they have a free heating bill in that new temple.
You know, beings they're sooo close to that FIERY LAKE?
They dont show you the big KOLOBIAN BRAINWASHER in the basement.
Or the human sacrifice altar on the 4th floor
Those areas are off limits during the tour...
Haha. I would like to study this Kolobian brainwasher,
Ive heard they can throw 100 people at a time in there.
But I wouldn't go within 10miles of that temple!
Woe be to those that enter it's door.
Ask ANY EX-mormon!
I'm so grateful that there will be a temple in the Kansas City area! It's a special place where we can go to learn about our relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The temple where we go to learn how important everyone is to Them, and we also go there to dedicate ourselves to living the teachings of Jesus Christ. My life has been blessed by the things I've learned and felt in the temple. I'm also grateful for our friends and neighbors of other faiths or who are agnostic or atheist who have made it easier to live my faith and shown me great kindness, respect, and civility. We all love each other!
I wanna go visit the temple.
So I can mash some old chewing gun into that nice carpet.
Man those couches in there are UG-LEE.
Time for a reuphostery job there.
@biologixo...#true talk#.... it is an occultic church
Wow. The blatant intolerance here is appalling. Even if you disagree with someone on a particular point, I think we owe each other a lot more respect than what is being shown on these boards.
I owe you nothing but the truth as its been discovered by legions of Americans since 1820.
Read my posts...
Wonder if they have a credit card scanner at the door.
VISA and Mastercard accepted here.
Buy your way closer to God.
GREAT POINT! How CAN you buy your way closer to God, my mormon friends?
Really! You know nothing about the temple! Sheesh go learn something then post!
Where are you getting the credit card scanner thing? You say you aren't trying to be insulting but they don't take money at the temple, no cash registers even. You are just trying to be rude.
Let's check our mormon history here.
Run out of upstate New York. Early 1800's. Check.
Run out of Missouri and Illinois. Mid 1800's. Check.
Pushed into utah scrubland, where you figured out you could fool the masses by intertwining Christianity into Joseph Smith's FALSE prophesies. Now you try to foist your HIGH PRIEST MITT ROMNEY into the White House.
You didn't fool Americans then and you dont fool us NOW.
Just say NO TO MITT ROMNEY 2012!
My husband and I were not allowed to go into the Morman Temple so see my step son's wedding. Imagine that. You can't even see your own son's wedding. They only allow the best Mormans to go into the Temple. Those who have a temple recommend card. My husband went on a 2 year mission for the Morman church. He left the Morman church in his thirties. But now his son is so brainwashed that he believes it is more important to marry in the temple than have your father at your own wedding. When my step son was on his 2 year mission, he was not allowed to call us for 2 years except on Christmas and Mother's Day. He could right an email on Mondays to us, but that is it. Imagine only being allowed to speak to your son 4 times in 2 years. When we asked him in the emails to stop writing to us about the Morman Church and trying to get us to join the Morman church, just write about the food and how you are. He then quit writing to us. Each email showed how much he was brain washed to just repeat the gospel lessons. He just wasn't himself anymore. Even now that he is off his mission, he doesn't treat us well anymore since we are not members of the church. He treats other members of the church like they are his family now and not us. It is very sad. There is NO WAY I would vote for Romney!
It is "Mormon", not "Morman"...
Nice try, anyways.
Sure thats not MORON?
No matter what you call it.
I still call it a cult!
I understand your concerns. I called home only 4 times in the two years that I served as an LDS missionary, but my letters home were not in attempt at converting my family because they were already LDS. And when your son stopped writing you, I can see how he would be offended by you asking him to censor his religious beliefs from his letters to you. As for my wedding in an LDS temple, both of my wife's parents waited outside, along with some members of my family; however, the actual festivities for the wedding (the cake, the photos, etc...) always take place away from Mormon temples. So, everyone gets to celebrate. I'm sorry this has become a point of contention in your family.
Ouch! I know you have suffered because of your stepson's beliefs. My family also has felt left out at times because of restricted entrance into the temple. Other families, though, approach it differently. They are supportive and plan an additional ring exchange ceremony so that all members of both families can attend. That way all are included on the big wedding day. It is too bad that your stepson and I did not know that before our families felt left out. And I know how to fix the situation. If you ask him to remember you and your husband in his prayers, that will heal the pain you have all felt. Promise. Sorry it is has been so rough. And a note to other reading this comment: Before I joined the church I had heard the same weird rumors and thought it was a cult, too. I approached membership into the church as an investigative researcher to see what really goes on inside the "cult" and at the altars of the temples. As a skeptic and logical person, I made sure to avoid anything resembling brainwashing. All I encountered during the investigation was "take your time" "study all world religions" "think it over" "if you want to join, great, if not we can still be friends" There was never pressure or anything that ever made me feel uncomfortable. A long time later, after much research, I decided to join the church and go into the temple. Inside the temple, I found beautiful shiny mostly-white-haired little people speaking reverently in quiet tones. They smiled and said hello. They helped me find my way around. Honestly, it was peaceful and quiet and kind of like I imagine heaven might be. There were no weirdness. The rumors are just rumors, folks. People like this biologixco person get bent out of shape over something and make it their life's goal to badmouth Mormons. Sorry they have that hate because the church teaches love and forgiveness and learning to be like Jesus Christ, Our Savior. So, dear "Mad at the Mormon Church", I am very sorry you have had a rough time with your stepson. If you ask him to pray for you, his heart will be closer to you again. That is the way it works. Warmest regards, Susan
They keep that big Kolobian brainwasher in the basement of that temple.
Sounds like Susan might have tumbled in it just a little too long.
Mad, you're story could have been written by thousands (MILLIONS>?) of American families that found out just how mormons drive wedges in families and split them up.
Just like Scientology, the mormons California buddies.
They injure the family unit. One of the most sacred of God's enshrinements.
A cult is a cult is a cult. Stay away. You were warned.
Susan, don't waste your efforts. This story is probably fake. Just look at the final phrase. If you feel so bad about one of your children, would you mix politics into it?
"My catholic girlfriend left me. There's no way I will vote for Gingrich!"
"Mad at the Mormon Church" that is such a really sad story. I hope the best for your family.
But, it has nothing to do with Mitt Romney. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) is also Mormon. Romney's religion has little to do with his politics. You have to really be grasping at straws to blame Mitt Romney for your family situation.
Razzle, four years of MITT ROMNEY and American families wont have straws to grasp for the misery he will cause.
We will have Romney's neck.
But it will never get that far, my friend.
SAVE THE MISERY: DONT VOTE ROMNEY 2012!
I think it is creepy!! Every member has to contribute 10% of their income to this Church and if they don't follow the rules they will not become a Spirit and eventually a God.
Wonder if they have a credit card scanner at the door.
VISA and Mastercard accepted here.
Buy your way closer to God.
Wow the ignorance!
Johnson seems to be getting his facts from South Park's Book of Mormon play.
You've been answered and proved wrong many, many times by a great number of different (and certainly patience) people, but somehow you decide to keep telling the same lies over and over. Some time ago you said that you were doing "God's work". Does God command you to lie? Does your "end" justify any "means"? I think is time for you to re-think your position in this issue, and maybe, if feel prompted to, repent of your attacks.
Since I started posting on this log, Ive been called a liar, zealot, creep, knucklehead...etc etc.
Im sure my mormon friends will come up with even more personal attacks.
I must be doing SOMETHING RIGHT.
Mormons don't like being outed.
Their secret society doesn't like the curtain being pulled back and God's sunshine let in.
Funny how KocHroaches scurry when the Light comes in!
Let's hope that thing can't withstand an f4 tornado.
Or plopped upside down in a fiery lake...
bloop bloop bloop...
You are proving yourself to be a close-minded bigot by your absolutist and extreme terms.
They dont like anyone questioning their "religion"
They are a dangerous cult.
Pizz em off and they will send the mormon goon squad to attack you.
Kidnap you and water torture you in that baptismal font.
Steal your wife and kids and sacrifice them on the altar found on the fourth floor.
I know, It happened to me.
Mormons are no different to any other ridiculous Christ cult. Anyone who believes in religion is a fool. I like the cute policy of 'closing the secret club forever' to everyone other than the brainwashed members of the cult. Very cute.
It seems to me that people with faith are far from foolish, and most are much happier than those without such a belief system. Remember being an atheist is also predicated by a belief system of its own that assumes there is nothing else at work. Belief in nothing is still belief as you can no more disprove the existance of a higher power as can religious people seeking to proffer the exact opposite. I like to ask both atheists and religious people the same questions about what preceded "God" or what preceded the "Big Bang". It's maddening to a degree, but at some point no one can provide plausible answers.
There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
A false witness who utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.
I'm sure there are those who's feet would rapidly run to #6 and point at the Mormons...
And yet these are people that despite doctinal differences and matters of interpretation, believe in the same Savior we do. Maybe those of you so quick to stop at #6 should continue reading on to #7...
google the White Horse Prophecy. it's why Glen Beck got fired from Fox News, you won't believe it
blah, blah, blah.
mormonism is blasphemous
Joseph Smith is a false prophet.
Your great expensive temple tells a story about how God lets false prophets rise.
But He will smack you down in the end
Down into that fiery lake.
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.