April 7th, 2012
08:48 AM ET
Taking a rare tour of a Mormon temple
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.
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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.
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.
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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About this blog
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.
Here's something else I would like to add to this discussion, which is related to the topic at hand. I believe that the faith (or lack thereof) of our politicians will determine how they conduct themselves while in office. Do you really want Mitt Romney as our President? He believes the stuff I mentioned in my other post. I would never want to vote for someone who believes that he will eventually become a God, and that Jesus and satan are brothers. Oh, and btw, mormons also believe that God is married. Can you imagine that? I was very young....in my teens....when I joined the mormons and I praise God that I got out. I don't know why I bought into that garbage.
I'm not sure Romney believes any of it.
Maybe he's just using Mormonism for his re-election.
"Bob" – I'm certain that he does. The Romneys have been in that cult for many generations.
Mormonism is more than a cult. If you dig deep enough you
will find it's Satanic roots. The young Mormons are unaware of this,
but the elders are. I'm so glad you got out. Come to think of it,
Romney is probably a very high ranking Mormon which speaks volumes.
Check Mitt's record in Mass. Did he do anything way out there? Or how about his record when he ran his company or the Olympics. He has proved himself time and again as a good decent man!
Diana, you know nothing about LDS theology. I too, am an ex member for my own reasons. You may have been baptized, but you never really studied or learned anything. You have zero understanding of how it all fits together and are saying things that try to sensationalize mormon beliefs just to scare people. You sound like you are regurgitating thoughts your local pastor gave you. You are obviously not very intelligent and don't have the brains God gave a turnip. Honestly, people need to sit back a look at religion and theology with half a brain. it's all weird and different. there are things in every faith, the deeper you look, that seem weird and dont make a whole lot of sense. jews, muslims, protestants, catholics, etc. I mean, has anyone read the bible lately. lots of weird stuff in there. The bible was written by men from a few thousand years ago and they had a different culture and belief system than mainstream america so its going to seem weird. I'm not sure anyone really knows exactly what the scriptures teach, or why would there be so many churches that teach things so differently. The bible is an inspired book, but to believe it is the literal word of God is idiotic. it is the writings of religious men telling their stories. they were gathered together by religious men of the day and organized into a book, not forged by the hand of God. We all just need to sit down and have honest conversations about differences in our beliefs instead of sensationalizing parts of what someone believes to try to scare off others. We need to try to understand others and see if they have something that can aid our understanding of God, not dismiss them because of a few random beliefs that aren't central to the theology and mostly were theories of men from 200 years ago. Ever looked into what some of John Calvin's weird beliefs were or any of the other great religious minds from the last 500 years or so. They have a lot of theories but not one of them knows for certain
Joseph Smith told a 13 year old girl and her family that they would be guaranteed eternal salvation if she (the child) married him (while he was married to Emma). This is also known as pedophilia. You mormons can argue your way around it anyway you try, but it is what it is. Basically, why would God or an Angel come to such a man and give him the true gospel of Christ? They wouldn't. Pedophiles go to hell I believe....that makes the mormon church a cult based on pedophilia.....Hmmmmm
You are a liar and a distorter of history. Better check your sources, ace. You've been sold a bill of goods...
PastMorm is a long time Chill. He/She/It has no interest in reality or fact finding, only hateful nonsense.
Are you sure? You sound very authoritative but I have closely examined Mormon history and have never found any instance of Joseph Smith doing this. You may want to check you facts or at least share where you got them so they can be checked.
Ah spence...little guy, you've got to remember our last discussions that finally shut you up. Sigh.
Anyhow, anyone can go online and look up the little girl that married Smith. Not mormon.org either....that's your propaganda. Man you mo-mos get so angry! Love that righteous indignation! I'm sure it helps you sleep better at night.
The best part is that I don't have to say anything, your anger shows your churches true colors...I'm not putting you guys down, yet you attack me. Interesting....
Good luck with that!
Look at your own history. I bet you had a grandpa from back in the 1800s or earlier that married a 14 year old(The girl was actually 14 but good try-sounds worse when you say 13). This was common practice back then and not called pedophelia. Quit trying to place judgments on what would be weird in our society on people from a different era. You would be the type to think Jesus was a weirdo too. This was a Jew with no job walking around proclaiming to be a demigod who was going to suffer for the sins of mankind. I doubt if Jesus lived today many of us would follow him. Its pretty sad
Um, Kcee (or whatever) I know my genealogy, back many generations because I am a 7th generation mormon and no, I don't have any 14 or even 16 or 17 year old great (great, etc) grandmothers. But if you want to get to semantics, Joseph Smith was already married to Emma when he told this little girl that she and her family would have eternal salvation if she (the 14 year old) would marry him. That's called polygamy and that WAS illegal in the US at that time.
They wanted to make this article more of a smear job, I believe, but couldn't find that many bad things to say. They did use an unnecessarily unflattering photo of the guy that led them around, though. Why the nasal cam pic? Why a dumb pic that looks like the guy is clapping with a dimwitted grin? This could have been a lot more professional, except that everyone knows CNN has an axe to grind against the GOP, and the probable GOP nominee will be a Mormon. Coincidence? Probably not...
I think it's a great picture! The caption should read, "Come unto me and bring me all your money!"
I don't think that's why CNN did the report this way, but I won't vote for any mormon for President. As for me, I support Rick Santorum. I used to support Obama and voted for him the first time around, but am sorry that I did. Never again. As I said before, the faith of a politician or the lack thereof will have an impact on how he/she governs. Mormonism is a cult.
such a bunch of whiners...
America is on to the LDS.
Its a bunch of BS.
Take mittens back to Utah.
A Temple for 50,000 people???
Well, it's not like all 50k will be there at once. Most Mormons go to a temple about once per month.
Just 20 years ago, the official teaching of the mormon church (which itself is very very new at 200 years) was that the only way a black man could get to heaven was if here were a slave. This church is a cult organization, it does not deserve tax exempt status, and I certainly wouldn't vote for anyone that is a mormon for president of these United States.
That's patently false. There will be no slaves in Heaven. Hundreds of Mormons were killed and driven from their farms in Missouri in the 1840s because the Mormons were anti-slavery and the Missouri natives feared their political power. Get serious, will you?
"Brian," I don't know about the cult's teaching on slavery, but until 1978 African-American males weren't allowed into the priesthood. They changed course after receiving a "revelation" – a/k/a response to negative publicity – and this is no longer their policy. They did the same thing with regard to polygamy. The church sees which way the wind blows and changes its policy accordingly.
The temple is where we learn about Christ and his teachings. I'm going there tonight with my wife to the Provo, Utah temple. It is the perfect way to get ready for Easter Sunday because that is where I learn about Jesus Christ and I feel peace and I feel closer to God than anywhere in the world. It is like a piece of heaven on earth. I know if you went into that temple on the tour, you would feel something different, something sacred. I can talk because I've been through the temple, and I've never felt better anywhere in this world. So if you haven't been to the temple....don't be quick to judge.
blake, smoking pot will also make you feel great. abondon this sacriligous cult and find christianity , the only path to heaven.
Blake, I am very concerned for you and your wife. Please leave the cult, accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and join a Bible-believing church! You don't have to be in a special building of any kind to worship God. You can worship at home, at a friend's house, or in another building. A mormon "temple" is the last place anyone should consider to worship God. I am an ex-mormon, and while I never went to one of the temples, I've seen YouTube videos about what they do in there. Anyone wanting to see them can just go to YouTube and look for "mormon Temple ceremonies."
I've been to Temple Square about...5 times? Because I'm not Mormon, I'm not allowed into the temple, obviously.
But I tell you what. I don't feel peace. I feel an overwhelming sense of evil when I am there.
Mormon cult vs. Christian cult
I believe in God, but I don't believe these religious crooks.
"I believe in God"
tomorrow morning, my family and i will get up, enjoy each other's company over breakfast, read the paper, marvel at the beautiful sunshine above, and not waste even one second thinking about crazy xtian or other beliefs. about a mile away, righteous families will try to kill each other getting out of the church parking lots, screaming at each other in their cars after praising their god that did not stop hitler.
What kind of church spends MILLIONS of dollars on a SHOPPING MALL? The MORMON church. I have a huge issue with ANY church that does this. The Mormon church rakes in SO much money, and they could choose to do so much good with that money–make sure American children are fed, schooled, and sheltered, as well as provide medical care, clean water, food, and shelter for those living in poverty around the world. And they do that, on a limited basis, when, with their funds, could do SO MUCH MORE. It's bull crap. And as right-leaning as I am, there is NO way I can vote for Mitt Romney as the republican presidential candidate. I'm going to have to research some of the alternate candidates.
Well Moo. It sounds like you are the one with the issues here. People, corporations, churches that have a decent amount of money don't spend it all as soon as they get their paws on it. This shopping mall (City Creek) was an "investment" by the Church. It costs us several million dollars and will continue to make even MORE millions of dollars. Those dollars are what we spend taking care of the poor and doing the work of the Lord. But hey, it's a free country. If you were down to your last $100, feel free to go buy cheese burgers and hand them out to homeless people in the park. We Mormons on the other hand, have enough money to invest. Buying that real estate downtown is also a good investment as we now control who sells their stuff right across the street from the SLC Temple.
I think you need to visit the Mormon Church web site my friend. The LDS church does all of things and more around the world.
I don't think you know anything about the humanitarian efforts of our church or you would not have said that. Here is a website that talks about the many of the services the church has provided.
My husband and sons also took off weeks of work along with hundreds of members of our church to help repair home in Katrina and weeks before that one that went to the hurricane that hit Florida. It is called "mormons helping hands" google that and see if you don't change your mind 🙂 It does make me sad to think how many negative things people are willing to say without knowing anything about what they are talking about 🙁
Not only a shopping mall but TV stations, newspaper companies, residential properties, commercial properties and anything else they can get their hands on. Not to mention how much they corrupt the state and local government, courts, law enforcement and zoning laws all to suite themselves and their beliefs. It can be very hard to live in Utah if you are not involved in the cult and give them money to be a part of them if you are not one of them. And yes i do know what goes on in and around the SLC area because i lived there 5 years and walked away from my job and home, packed my family up and moved them to the other side of the country.
You have enough money to build a shopping mall because it is REQUIRED that the members of your church give their 10%, or they don't get a temple recommend. Elders feel the need to visit families that can't afford the 10% and push them to give even though they can't afford it.
I didn't think churches were supposed to be in the investment business. I thought they were supposed to be in the "showing the world the love of Christ" and serving businesses. I guess I was wrong.
I love my Mormon friends and colleagues. They are some of the most thoughtful, caring, giving, ambitious people I've EVER met. They're just...brainwashed. That is the only way I can think of to describe them.
And thank you for your websites, but they're all mormon propaganda. I'm not biting. Sorry.
How about you visit exmormon.org and get some education?
Mr. Normal: I'm a fat girl, and City Creek has NO fat girl stores. Is that because you don't want fat people near your temple? Your temple is exclusive, versus inclusive. Why wouldn't you want people to be close to God? I don't get it. I visit Temple Square and see all of these families having to wait outside for their loved ones to emerge from being "sealed." What a waste. How many people could you reach spiritually if you just let them in? You also treat the couples who are getting married at the temple like cattle. And you make it pretty miserable for those who end up in abusive marriages to get divorced.
A cult concocted a 180 years ago by a con man , a grifter , It is about as legitimate as worshiping a tree in the backyard .Well maybe not at least the tree exist .
I would also add that he was a raging pervert.
Dont forget smith was a child molester as well!
Proof give proof of these allegations or your just as crazy as the "crazies you claim to be better then.
YOU ARE ALL STUPID!
If you have nothing of any intelligence to contribute to this cesspool of bigotry and hatred, then Shut up!
Leave these people alone, they don't do this to you so don't do it to them.
If i recall from my 10 grade history books these guys and there leader, where neither of those thing you constantly spew.
And if you really want to know ASK ONE! I am sure the hundreds of thousands of there Missionary would be happy to tell you. And don't just dismiss it as a cult, listen learn, you might be surprised at what you find out, form BOTH sides of the coin.
Joseph Smith was a con man. He also was killed while awaiting trial for treason against Illinois.
He originally ran away from Ohio on charges of bank fraud.
If you study Joseph Smiths life, you will find it amazing that anyone falls for the garbage he made up.
There really are a lot of suckers out there.
take out the second 'm' in mormon and the true meaning of mormonism comes to light.
Wow Bob! Did you think that up all on your own! You're brilliant, just like Obama. You voted for Obama, didn't you!
Until Christians can come up with some convincing evidence that gods and sons of gods can be conceived by gods and humans, then their claim that Jesus is a god, has to be chalked up to the mythology of its times. In the Greek/Roman world that Christianity grew up in (with most early Christians imbued with Greco-Roman culture), people commonly believed that seemingly humans could be gods and believed that such gods were conceived by human virgins (this was true of many Greek gods, but also of Roman emperors and heroes). It was easy for early Christians to believe in Jesus as a god or even the god, just had they had previously believed that Apollo and Julius Caesar were gods. However in the Scientific age we know that humans come only from humans, The most rational, non-mythological belief is that Jesus was a great man, but his biological parents were Joseph and Mary. When we were children, it made sense to think as children, but when we become men and women, it's time to apply reasonable thinking. Thinking is also a gift of God.
"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." – Revelation 22:18-19
sorry mormons but i think your prophets forgot about this verse when they decided to add their own stuff.
Do you think the bible came to us in one piece? The Book of Revelation wasn't included in the bible until the 16th century. It took centuries for people (some inspired, some not) to decide which books to include in the modern bible and which to exclude. The ordering of the books was also done by these people. John is telling people not to add to HIS book. Similarly, in Deuteronomy Moses commands people not to add or subtract from the book (meaning his own writings). Under your logic, everything after Deuteronomy isn't scripture. Maybe you should do some research into what the bible is and how it was formed before you make ridiculous remarks like this.
"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you neither shall ye diminish ought from it that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." Deuteronomy 4:6 John was talking about the book of Revelation only when he made that statement, just like Moses wasn't talking about the whole Bible in the book of Deuteronomy.
Twyme – guess you have never studied the Bible and it's history... and not knowing that the Book of Revelations manuscript was written before the Bible, which is a collection of books, existed... so most educated persons would know that the quote you used was only in reference to that specific Book of Revelations... and of course most historical scholars of the Bible believe that the Book of Revelations was written before several other books that are in the Bible... also knowing that the Bible was just beginning to be put together several hundreds of years after the last Apostle... by a council of numerous and sometimes disagreeing men, brought together under the direction of a Roman Emperor... and the earliest known Bible in existence today has more books than the current, modern/traditional Bible... even the first editions of the King James version has more books than today's versions....
The official vulcan of the bible, including Revelations, was created at the Council of Hippo, in 399 AD, by Catholic bishops. It was modified by Martin Luther (he removed Macabees 1,2, and other books he didn't like). Joseph Smith desecrated many minds with his false prophecies. He used "revelations" to meet his perverted needs (pedophilia and polygamy). Read, One Nation Under Gods for the truth about Joseph Smith. It is fully referenced with Smith's arrest files - he swindled retired people even before he found his "Golden Tablets". The M church spent millions performing DNA analysis of indigenous American people and found no evidence of their lost tribe of Israel being in the Americas. Also, the official History of the Church rewrites every embarrassing truth to meet their needs. Any church that hides the truth is a cult.
These people are not Christians, by any measure.
Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Thomas, a Christian believes in Jesus Christ. Mormons beleive in Jesus Christ and his teachings.
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We are Christian. In the following short clip one of our leaders speaks about the church's belief in Jesus Christ. I invite any who are wondering if mormons are christian to take 4 minutes and watch this video.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches as doctrine that Jesus the Christ is the only begotten Son of God, born in Bethlehem of a virgin, Mary, that he suffered and died on the cross for all mankind, that he is resurrected and lives as our Lord, Savior and Redeemer.
@Caitlin Cat, believing in Jesus Christ is NOT enough to be a Christian. Islam teaches that Christ was one of Allah's prophets and Muslims should respect Christian churches.
To be a true Christian you must accept Jesus as your ONLY guide, no later prophets being acceptable. Btw in the Bible there are warnings against later day so-called prophets.
Anyway, the fact remains that Mormons are not Christians.
If anyone does not think CNN is doing all of these Mormon stories as a veiled way of reminding voters that Mitt Romney is a member of a minority, sometimes spurned religion, look at the accompanying photo. Why did the editor choose this one and not a more flattering one? This is not journalism but the most vile and hateful kind of politics. Of course, expect a lot more of it from CNN and the allied Democratic Party between now and November.
I'm a Mormon and I don't find the picture objectionable at all. I thought it looked happy and welcoming.
Who care about mormons, it sounds like morons
It is pretty much that.....
I cannot understand why any thinking woman would be a Mormon...and why would anyone follow a man (Smith) who may simply
have been schizophrenic. (See delusions of grandeur and visions–i.e. hallucinations)? I am not being mean–I really do wonder.
Your version of Joseph Smith and Mormonism is one sided. Go to Mormon.org to get more information. Ask Ann Romney why she is a Mormon. She is an intelligent and independent...a typical Mormon woman.
Why do people find Joseph Smith to be any more strange than a fellow who talks to burning bushes and scratches into rocks what the bush tells him? Any religious belief can be phrased in a way that makes it appear to be utterly ridiculous.
People believe what they are taught when they are growing up, and do what they see other people do, so when they are grown and still participating in that culture, they don't see it as weird. They see it as right. How does that hurt anybody?
Doesn't anybody read the Bible anymore? Seriously!
Jesus Christ fought the religious beliefs that there should be a religious ruling class...that would include secretive "temples". As for baptizing the dead, the Bible clearly states that "the dead are conscious of nothing". How can you invite someone who has no mental functioning into a religion. The Bible teaches accepting God BEFORE you die...because there is no after.
Please, get your fingers off of the text buttons, video games and your heads out of the most unrealistic "reality shows" (that includes almost every one of them) and READ THE BIBLE.
Baptism for the dead comes from the bible
The reference to baptizing the dead is in I Corintians 15:29, but that is the only place I know of. However, it IS in the bible. I understand the position against such practices by a majority of Christian denominations, but one should know what's in the bible before condescendingly accusing others of being ignorant of its contents.
Uh, that should be I Corinthians 15:29; one should also not type with any sense of authority unless one can spell properly