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.
I've never read comments filled with more hate and vitriol than I have here. I doubt the KKK or Islamic extremists could hold a candle to some of you.
LDS "War Room?" – Really? That's news to me, as I'm sure it is to every single Mormon out there, including the leaders of the church in Salt Lake. I'm sure they will be prowling the halls of the church office building to find this "secret war room."
Worshiping Joseph Smith? – Again, really? I guess I didn't get that memo. It's so strange that when sitting through Sunday services there will be days when Joseph Smith name is hardly mentioned, but the name of Jesus the Christ is mentioned time after time after time. Somebody needs to get ahold of the local leaders of the church and let them know that they are supposed to be bowing in the direction of Joseph Smith, not Jesus.
I guess if you can't stand the truth about something (the LDS church) then you can just make up any lies and distortions that you please and then preach them as the truth. But, I guess that's why Jim Rohn used to say, "all good will be attacked. Don't ask me for a reason, but in this world all good will be attacked."
Don't waste your time replying to this post, because I've said my piece and I am now off to more important things. And pretty much anything is more important that wasting my time responding to haters and liars.
Mormonism sucks and is evil!
dgcasey, you're just like my siblings. They are still mormon and they spew their anger and how right they are and how wrong I am for leaving the church BY CHOICE and then they say, "don't reply to me, I will ignore you!" ROFL! No you won't, you'll come back and read and get angry and hate non-mormons even more. You'll feel persecuted, believing you're the chosen people (as mormons) because your cult leaders tell you that gods chosen people are always persecuted. How PATHETIC!
What are mormons really up to?
Google: The White Horse Prophecy
Just say NO Romney2012
heguido, we're not making these comments about the mormon church JUST because of Romney but because the mormon church is shoving it's beliefs down peoples throats with billboards, commercials and articles like this that normally would have closed comments and not have been on the FRONT PAGE of the beilefs board. YOU people are the ones trying to force feed us your religion and we're SICK OF YOU! That is why we won't shut up. Not until you do!
I think that if you think that using "billboards, commercials and articles" is "shoving" things "into peoples throats", you live in the wrong country.
There are a lot of other countries that will not allow you to show your beliefs in any way. They call it "censorship".
Free of speech is a great thing. People is not "forced" into anything. They listen, and decide.
We have great news for the world, and the Lord's command to take those news as far as we could. It's in the Bible!
People's life is changing for good... all around the world.
Although not from the United States myself, I'll always be thankful for your country to be the cradle of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a pity you can't see how blessed you are to have so many "mormons" among you. Treasure them.
Mormonism is awesome!
I would never ask you to shut up. If you have something good in your life, share it with the world!
I promise I won't attack your beliefs.
Please, don't attack mine.
Mormonism is awesome!
We all made these messages to show that mormonism is a cult that said we couldn't be happy without it's tenants and rules. That's the message we're trying to share. Find out the truth about the mormon church (from non mormon sources) before you even think of joining and losing who you really are.
After all, I don't see the relationship between this alleged strange beliefs (assuming they were true, what is not always the case) and the capacity of Romney as a potential president of the United States. I'm not from the United States, and I don`t even live near there, maybe that is what won't let me understand this campaign. Rejecting someone for its religious beliefs, instead of personal history, political views, etc, is unthinkable in most of the world, but in some "extremist" arabic countries, where it matter most if you are shiite, sunnite, or whatever.
What I see here is the organized attack to a whole religion, just to damage one politician.
Anyways, gnash your teeth a little louder, if you want.
Mormonism is awesome.
You are constantly on this board. Trying to get Mitt Romney elected. And you are not even a citizen??? You are a pimp for a cult. You are a disgrace. And we will not let you make a cult mainstream. No matter how many brainwashed fools you sign up. Let the deprogramming begin.
heguido, get the heck off our American boards. If you're not a citizen you have NO right to meddle in our politics or brainwash our people. No wonder your grammar is so awful in your posts. Now you're just making yourself look pathetic by trolling these boards non-stop. Non-mormons are going to think all mormons are crazy stalkers like you. Get lost!!
Well heguido, you even seem to now be thinking that some Mormon doctrines are strange. They are! Google the names James E Mitchell, John B Jessen, and Jay Bybee. Why? Because the Bush era "enhanced interogation technique" known as waterboarding has their fingerprints all over it. What does this have to do with Mormonism? They are all Mormon. The two LDS psychologists, Mitchell and Jessen, sold the technique to the CIA. Now how to two LDS psycholgists become torture experts? White House LDS lawyer Bybee signed off on the technique in the famous "Bybee Memo." The LDS church has way too much power as is. Many FBI field offices are headed by Mormons. They have a full time job covering up the crazy things polygamist wanna be fundamental Mormons are doing. BTW, Polygamy is still in Doctrines and Covenants, section 132. But you probably already know that.
Haha! Why the bitterness?
It won't affect me if Romney is elected or not. Why would I campaign for him? All I am saying is that you are attacking a whole worldwide religion trying to damage one particular candidate of one particular country. The sad thing is that there are a lot of "mormon" that wouldn't vote him... Maybe reading your attacks is changing their minds. It's always a by-product of dirty-campaigning.
I think Romney is a cool guy. I'm not so into your politics to know if he would be the best president for you. I consider myself a little left-leaned. You would probably call me a Democrat if I'd live among you. But clearly I don't see that the other candidate is getting all of this attacks on his religious beliefs... but in his case it seems that is not so important. And I don't think that that is fair. I don't know. Maybe you deserve four more years of this other guy. I saw him in MythBusters, and he seems cool, also.
BTW: "American boards"? I thought that all this internet thing was about freedom of speech... Well, you criticize every time China or Iran try to make "their own internet". Maybe you are not so different to them than you think. As far as I can see, this post is about a visit to a Mormon Temple. You are telling a bunch of lies about mormonism, I can spot them on the flight, and I'm pleased to take my time to address all of them I could.
I'm not a mormon leader, or whatever you claim. As a matter of fact I'm an engineer, and I'm the Choir Director of our little branch... I've never been in Utah in my life.
Finally. I think my grammar is still better than most of the "native english speakers" I found around here. I would love to see you arguing in MY mother tongue and on MY country issues.
Mormonism is awesome!
Our branch choir is awesome, as well!
So you are saying your church is right because you have an awesome choir? heguido, I would love to vote for Romney but I doubt my consience would let me vote for a cult member who follows a false prophet and false Jesus. It has to do with Jesus, not politics. I know better than to trust any political savior, Jesus is my savior.
Yeap... The church is true because our branch choir is awesome... (sigh!)
heguido, the only reason to go to church is for bible truth and to worship Jesus. If the singing sounded like all the members but me were tone deaf, but the church had the truth, that is the church I would go to. If the church had the truth and could only afford a mud hut, that is a church I would go to. If the pastor had no charisma at all and a funny voice, but if he was well versed in the Bible and gave truthful inspiring sermons, that is the church I would go to. Truth is the only thing that matters. If I were told by the government that I was worshipping the wrong way, and was threatened with losing my life, I would still go to the church that taught the truth. All the superficial stuff is ultimately worldly trappings. Jesus has my reward with him in Heaven.
Finally some common ground! Hallelujah!
Those are the same reasons I go to my church.
BTW: Our choir sometimes sounds like cr*p. (I hope none of the choir members ever read this), but is awesome since we all do our best to worship the Lord.
Heguido is one of the official LDS "monitors"
They monitor blogs like this for messages "contrary" to their cause.
Based in the LDS "War Room" in Salt Lake City
Their job is to shape and mold the comments to always portray mormons in a positive light.
Kind of an Orwellian mormon boogeyman from the LDS "goon squad"
Cat's outa the bag heguido.
We got your number
I would so love if you could prove this. Sounds like them. I will research the topic.
Have you seen the "I'm a Mormon" TV ads designed to placate the American electorate? Where do you think these ads are thought up? Madison Avenue? Noooo.
heguido, why do you think that when we say we are healthy, happy non-mormons that we are attacking you? And are you really more concerned about your church being attacked or is it just you that feels attacked?
You are not the only person in the world. Your church is very young and it's not the only religion in the world. Perhaps the very fact that you defend it so heatedly shows that you have your own doubts and cannot handle hearing other people say that your church is wrong.
Who is this heguido? Why does he or she constantly go on about how superior he or she is to anyone that isn't a mormon? What a sad little person.
There is a large building in Salt Lake City where there is a whole floor dedicated to a mormon LDS "War Room".
From this location they run the current "I'm a Mormon" tv ad campaign trying to sell themselves to a skeptical American electorate.
From this location they monitor all blogs about mormons (such as this blog).
From that location they monitor all Sunday talk shows and Romney ads.
Raise your hands Salt Lake monitors~!
Mormons like to paint themselves as neutral when it comes to the political scene.
But this is a facade. One big lie.
Google: the White Horse Prophecy
Understand the danger of mormon takeover of elected US government.
Say NO to Romney 2012!
Is that where you work Heguido?
The LDS "War Room"?
Why attack mormonism?
Maybe Gamaliel's counsel could be useful today:
34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as aobeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is not the center of the Mormon church, Joseph Smith is. When people fall away they are told they need to get a testimony of Joseph Smith, not Jesus Christ. Do you think Jesus would approve of the doctrines that God was once a human? Do you think he would approve of a the polygamist leader Smith who sent men away on missions so he could steal their wives? Do you think he would approve of the doctrine that Adam was God? How Brigham Young twisted the bible around in his mind to imagine God creating himself out of the dust of the earth and then talking to himself is beyond ridiculous. Would Jesus approve of secret masonic inspired rituals in his name? Would he agree with the idea that his blood didn't cover some sins? Would Jesus tell you that he had three wives?
Mormonism is not Christianity. Pure and simple. Mormons may be nice law abiding people, but that does not make Mormon doctrines Christian. Nor could it. You can use the name Jesus Christ all you want, but a polygamous Christ with three wives who then visited the Americas and destroyed many cities killing hundreds of thousands or possibly millions (3 Nephi chapters 8 and 9) is not the real Jesus Christ. Lets look at the real Jesus who said, "my kingdom is not of this world" in John 18:36 and laid his life down as a lamb. Your Mormon Jesus cannot be my Jesus.
Why attack Mormonism heguido? Why attack those that used to be mormons and no longer want to be? Why do you attack people, forcing your beliefs down their throats and then you cry when they turn around with facts that make your church look as bad as it really is?
Why attack mormonism?
Because heguido, everyone here including YOU (wink) KNOWS the book of mormon is blasphemous.
Because mormonism is like an insidious cancerous blob that consumes and destroys souls in its wake.
Because mormonism is thinly veiled in Christianity to make it "palatable" to the American "sheeple"
Because mormonism is trying to shove their HIGH PRIEST Mitt Romney upon us as President (God forbid)
A man by the name of Behunnin once told the Prophet Joseph Smith that if he were ever to leave the Church, he would not do as others had done and turn and fight against it. "I would," he said, "go to some remote place where Mormonism had never been heard of, settle down, and no one would ever learn that I knew anything about it." Joseph Smith's response was immediate: "Brother Behunnin, you don't know what you would do. [Then, referring to apostates who were fighting against the Church, he said:] No doubt these men once thought as you do. Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant"
Maybe this explains why we don't see other campaigns like:
"I'm an ex-baptist"
"I'm an ex-methodist"
"I'm an ex-catholic"
"I'm an ex-anglican"
Joseph Smith seems to be right... again.
Joseph Smith was wrong then, just as his false prophesies are wrong now.
Levelheaded Christian Americans can see right thru this blasphemous nonsense
Because most of those churches have the same Jesus, the real Jesus. Not the one who supposedly killed perhaps millions of people in the New World in Joseph Smith's imagined visitation. It is because coming out of a church with a false Jesus is A VERY BIG DEAL! Finding We know how hard it is for people to leave, because many have been told all their lives that other churches are false.. That is why Mormonism is so different. It is a cause for celebration when people leave, then it is possible to find the truth for oneself. It is like a slave being set free to find Jesus everytime a soul leaves.
At this point you just seem to be babbling incoherently heguido. Perhaps you should focus your love for your church on doing good deeds and staying off of this chat board. From the looks of things, people are exhausted with your meaningless mormonisms.
There's more of us than you think.
Now you will be cast out, ostrasized and treated like dirt.
See what you get for being mormon?
This life ruined.
And a swim in a burning lake after you die.
Here is a wonderful film that examines the Book of Abraham which Joseph Smith claims to have interpretted from Egyptian burial scrolls. The scrolls were actually typical burial scrolls designed to assist a dead Egyptian to successfully make the journey to the next life. The scrolls contained such pagan gods and godesses as Anubis, Osiris, Isis, and the the sun god Ra. The Book of Abraham that resulted from his obvious mistranlation became Mormon scripture.
This is a great film. I saw it once before...I think the History channel? Not sure, but it's pretty clear with scientific fact and a clear understanding of what the Mormons really believe.
Don't we look like normal people? Not the crazy, immoral people that Mormons paint us out to be for leaving their church.
We all have a story to tell that we fell people need to hear so that they can see both sides. We're all human beings on this earth, living and dying together. It's a journey, but not to godhood like the mormons believe. That just belittles Christianity.
Mormons believe that we are all the "spirit" children of he and his heavenly wife (that we have a goddess for a mother in heaven). They also believe that it was not the Holy Ghost that filled Mary, the mother of Jesus with child, but that God himself had real "relations" with Mary. That means that God had s*x with his own "spirit" daughter. That's incest isn't it?
It's true that most people that have experienced the mormon church don't want a mormon for President of the USA. But there's a big reason for that and it's important that American citizens know what the mormons really are. We don't need a President that keeps secrets and believes he's going to become a god!
mormon.org is a one-sided view of the mormon church, scrubbed clean and pure by it's officials. The people are actors, not real people and they make you feel fluffy and warm and toasty without telling you what the real beliefs behind their cult are. Listen to the people that have left the church...the real people that found out what Mormonism is all about.
The sad thing is that you are doing this anti-mormon campaign only to pursue a political objective...
Actually I think people are putting these videos as well as the true history of the mormon church on here because they are tired of a massive corporation that makes billions a year going untaxed. You know your church is a corporation and has its hand in many businesses yet gets away tax free. That alone says a lot about your church and yes, it says even more about Romney and why we don't want a mormon in the White House. What's wrong with pointing that out?
Mark, the Catholic church is hundreds of times bigger and takes in hundreds of times more money than the LDS church does. How come you're not going after them? Kennedy was Catholic, so I guess you would have gone after him, too. Almost all of the Old World Protestant religions are bigger than the LDS church and take in more money. How come you're not attacking them?
There are a lot of people that feel that the mormon church represents something that goes against the values of most Americans.
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.