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Friday, May 22, 2020

"Behold, mine house is a house of DISorder"

Shanghai, China

On April 4, 2020, in General Conference, Pres. Nelson provided details regarding the announced Shanghai, People’s Republic of China temple [1]:

"Context for the plan for Shanghai is very important. For more than two decades, temple-worthy members in the People’s Republic of China have attended the Hong Kong China Temple. But in July 2019, that temple was closed for long-planned and much-needed renovation.

In Shanghai, a modest multipurpose meeting place will provide a way for Chinese members to continue to participate in ordinances of the temple — in the People’s Republic of China — for them and their ancestors."

Yet two days later, the Shanghai Religious Affairs Bureau disaffirmed that a temple would be built in Shanghai. Its announcement stated (this is an unofficial, Google-based translation) [2]:

"1. According to the relevant laws and regulations of China, foreigners are not allowed to set up religious organizations and venues for religious activities in China.

2. The Mormon Church of the United States released information on the establishment of the so-called "Temple" in Shanghai. Our civil sect department was unaware of it."

Even Foreign Policy newsletter picked up on the discrepancy [3]:

The church did not comment on the Shanghai bureau’s statements [4]. This is confusing in light of the fact that even the church said (and spent considerable space detailing) that Pres. Nelson "enjoys a decades-long association with the People’s Republic of China." [5]

The Shanghai Temple is still not mentioned on the church's list of current and anticipated temples. This may be because the church is likely dedicating a portion of an existing facility to accommodate ordinances, not building a new structure. Thus, it is considered "a modest multipurpose meeting place," not a temple. [6] Equally bewildering is the Chinese government's treatment of Pres. Nelson's announcement, for even Pres. Nelson is quoted as saying, “The Chinese people value those long-term relationships, and I’m really pleased that I’m regarded here as one of their old friends.” [5]

This is not the first time the Church has announced a temple without obtaining permission from local officials. Orem, Utah's mayor was caught off-guard when a temple was announced in his city in October, 2019. Why all the secrecy? Because [7]

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Another temple announced on April 4th is slated for Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It's based on an invitation by the UAE government.

"The plan for a temple in Dubai comes in response to their gracious invitation, which we gratefully acknowledge." [1]

The Arabian Peninsula isn't well-known for its overwhelming membership counts. The UAE only has 5 wards and 1 branch. [8]

The Church reportedly has 2,000-2,500 members spread out among two stakes and several districts in the Middle East, northern Africa, eastern Europe and western Asia. [9]

This mirrors circumstances found in other announced/constructed temples 

* The 40,000 square foot [10] Rome Temple, where Italian membership rolls total to around 27,486. Demand for temple ordinances is so scarce in this temple that patrons need to make an appointment. [11]

* The new temple in Okinawa, Japan, will likely have only one stake (five wards and three branches) and one district assigned to it as these are the only stakes and districts in the area. [12]

* The Russia Temple [13] will service only 23,300 members found in 3 stakes (2018) [14]. Missionaries are prohibited from proselyting there. [15] With activity rates between 17-23%, that leaves 5,359 active members (which includes children) in all of Russia. [16]

Tooele, UT

A third temple I'd like to highlight will be located in Tooele, Utah. Now, the Tooele Temple was announced on April 7, 2019. [17]

On May 5, 2020, the Church announced that it would develop a residential community to surround the temple. While the church's development of planned residential communities isn't new, what is surprising is its purpose [18]: 

I've never heard of real estate being an effective protection for temples. I think most would expect that to be God's job.


(First, some background: By my count, based on this page, there are 224 temples either operating, under renovation, being constructed or have been announced. Out of those 224 temples, 41 have been announced. The oldest announced (yet unconstructed) temple is the Harare Zimbabwe Temple, announced April 3, 2016) [19].

Based on the aforementioned facts, I have the following questions:
  • Why does the church consistently allow a considerable lag time between when it announces a temple and when the construction commences? While I understand the need for secrecy, it seems that announcing a temple before all the Is are dotted and Ts are crossed with local officials (1) seems a bit premature/presumptuous, and (2) forcing members (especially local members) to wait for 4+ years for some temples is a needlessly long wait. 
  • What does "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" [20] mean to you? Is the Savior just talking about making sure you have enough money in your bank account to build a tower, or could there be a bigger picture here?
  • If the Lord's "house is a house of order" [21], then why are we consistently encountering temple-related misspoken announcements, building delays, etc on a worldwide basis?
  • Why was "a modest multipurpose meeting place" in Shanghai, China announced alongside those of new temples? The positioning of this statement left members assuming the announcement was of a temple. Not only members, but the Chinese government, too. 
  • Please explain how real estate developments serve as protection for temples. What is the scriptural basis for this?
  • Why is the church (presumably) spending millions of dollars building temples in areas where there are hardly any members to fill them?
  • We are told, "And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God;" [22] If the house of God will require it being set in order at some future date (and we know it will be in the future, because "the inheritances of the saints" who are "enrolled in the book of the law of God" have not yet been officially arranged that I'm aware of), then that supposes the house of God is what? Perhaps not "set in order"?


20      Luke 14:28
21      D&C 132; 8, 18
22      D&C 85:7


mormons son said...

I have read your post and I agree.
I have not commented for years and this is because I have been studying the signs of our times. We have had several “signs” with in our days. Blood moons “Tetrads” 2014-2015 have come and gone and the next one is 2033, which I will be in anticipation if I am alive, for this one I am [personally] looking and waiting for.
Israel was born in one day 1948 by UN decree [prophecy fulfilled in Isaiah] = Shofar has sounded in WWII by a priest, when the Jews captured Palestine? We have had Tsunami's, seas heaving beyond it bounds, Tremors underneath and above “earthquakes” . We have had [prophecised wars] Wars , pestilence, famines, financial collapses, diseases ravage our world and there is yet more to come. BUT again I have seen the world trying to limit its people freedoms. Repressive governments and tyrannical leaders and despots rule with iron fists all in the name of citizens well-beings and safety. The list is endless all in our days alone and yet there is more to come? If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.
(Doctrine and Covenants | Section 63:34)
And the saints also shall hardly escape; nevertheless, I, the Lord, am with them, and will come down in heaven from the presence of my Father and consume the wicked with unquenchable fire.
If you read this, I ask you to look to D&C 63. Ponder it in your heart.
We as a "church" have lost the meaning in some aspects of what the Restoration was and was about. I have never prayed for the "world" or its economy and never shall. I have prayed to Father that those in those in the world might come to an understanding of the gospel and repent. And come unto Christ by the gate of Baptism administered by the priesthood.
The world “seeks” the shiny and new and all glitters and wants the praise of the world. The world seeks its own the vain, the outrageous, the liar, the wicked, the pretentious. It wants money, fame and wants to be lauded after. It see’s other nations and its wealth for profit and gain. Yet its eyes are shut and heart is closed to the weak, the infirm, the starving, the destitute, the homeless, the frail, the fatherless, the widows. God will reward them in his due time.
I have seen the church build massive grand buildings and has invested in many places. BUT for me, as a LDS, I would prefer the church spend its [ The Lords ] monies on the poor and the weak and the frail and the fatherless and widow as commanded too. I care NOT for NEW Temples or Stake centers or convention places whatever it may be, what I care about and for is its people. Is this NOT what the restoration is about? Compassion and healing in its wings?
As an LDS I have to say, I did NOT fast when President Nelson asked, I cannot state why but I did not.
In all honesty I do feel we have strayed from Christ and Father [ talking of myself ] and I have asked for forgiveness and have received it then. But yet there is more to be done.
My main concern is this, All is well in Zion, all is well, “2Nephi 28/21”. I have seen this and it bothers me. I see "other" churches imitate or try to emulate what we should be doing I see preaching to other nations and peoples in the name of Christ even against us? Which makes me laugh inside. I laughed because they go out and yet have not received his word to begin with...(D&C 11:21)
Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.
But it should make us realize that many are going out and even that is not that BAD A THING AFTER ALL.
We SHOULD ALL be saying faith in Jesus Christ and repentance of personal sins when talking of the gospel and it should be lead by example at church HQ.

Liberty Ghost said...

One possibility is that the church is following an “if you build it, they will come philosophy”. Back in the 60's the church nearly bankrupted itself because it overbuilt chapels. N. Eldon Tanner, a Canadian businessman was brought into the leadership of the church to reform its finances. He was successful in doing so and I think that those buildings were largely filled. Perhaps they are hoping the temples will be filled someday.

This does not account for the clumsy announcements and delays, however. But this is nothing new. In the early 1900's (When polygamy was still being practised after the first manifesto), one of the church's strongest communities was just over the border in Northern Mexico. As I understand it, the church announced a temple would be built. A local bishop in Salem Utah, Bishop Koyle, who seemed to have more of a prophetic gift than the Apostles, said it wouldn't happen.

“When the Church announced that its next temple would be built in Mexico, the Bishop said "President Smith wouldn't have made that promise if he had seen what I saw in a dream. I saw Mexican soldiers driving these Saints out of Mexico, and they were allowed to take only one piece of baggage each with them. There won't be enough of our people in Mexico to support a temple if this happens." [2]

When the revolutionary forces of Pancho Villa began their attacks on border towns in 1912, members in the Mormon settlements were driven from Mexico, and plans for a temple were scrapped, just as Bishop Koyle had prophesied.”

A cynical view is that temples are used as a means to extract monies from members in the areas in which they are built. This view postulates that because temple recommends require full tithe payment, having a temple nearby can be used to leverage higher attendance and that this also increases the relevant tithing numbers. If true, then one of the major reasons to build temples may be that they make economic sense for the church. Without seeing the reports used to drive the temple building program, it cannot be verified because the church no longer opens it's financial records as the D & C directs.
Dale B.

Dave P. said...

Liberty Ghost brings up a good point. I worked for the church for about 18 months in 2010-2011 and, during a meeting at Church HQ, the head of the Statistics Department broke the rules and gave us a glimpse of a report meant ONLY for the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, including the number of full tithe payers for the previous year.

That number? Less than 2 million out of the claimed 14-million membership at the time.

He also admitted why the church pressures young couples to marry ASAP: Because single members become less likely to pay tithing as they approach 30 unless they get married.

It's all about the money.