Gilbert Mormon Temple invites all, teaches tolerance

Major religious organizations are grounded in traditional values, rarely evolving morals and historically conservative practices. That's why much of our millennial generation seems reluctant and detached from religious institutions.

Often in the press we read about religious leaders and doctrine opposing left-sided propositions, condemning homosexuals and abortion, and, ultimately, disgruntling the majority of the public.

Religiously affiliated ideas and buildings create skeptics of all spectrums. The most recent of these is the new temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which opened Jan. 18 off Greenfield and Pecos roads in Gilbert.

Church leaders have allowed public tours of the Gilbert temple, which would usually be off limits, between Jan. 18 and Feb. 15.

Because of the public availability to witness the interior of the temple firsthand, people seem to be more comfortable with the Mormon temple opening for practice on March 2. Reactions to the Temple's construction have been surprisingly approving and supportive for an 83,000 square-foot building on more than 15 acres of land owned by the Mormon church.

According to Erik Huso, a religious instructor at the LDS Institute on the Tempe campus, private tours of the Gilbert temple were arranged between Jan. 15 and Jan. 17 for first looks at the new building.

The first day was open to all who worked on the construction of the Temple, and their families to walk through. The following two days were limited to the press and religious leaders of other faiths, from various organizations and regions. According to Huso, non-local religious leaders were even flown in for the viewing of this very special look into a Mormon Temple.

English literature senior Rebekah Hood is a member of the LDS faith. She gave a touching explanation for the usefulness of opening up the Temple to the public.

“We believe that the temple is a place the Holy Spirit resides, the fact that people who are not Latter-day Saints are able to be inside the rooms where sacred ordinances take place, I think they get to recognize that there is a special feeling that is unique, different to anything they have ever felt before. That feeling is what we are trying to share with others.”

There is a sense of unification in this open display of the Temple for all of Gilbert’s citizens. By allowing the public eye inside for viewing, it reduces skepticism and creates awareness among a wide diversity of people belonging to all spectrums of religion and society at large.

The press releases from Fox and ABC 15, shining a light from the inside look, have been nothing but insightful and knowledgeable. It seems to have been a nice stray away from criticism of religious practices and instead frame this as a learning opportunity.

The invitation extended to religious leaders of other faiths depicts a sense of concordance. It’s a statement of acceptance, that although religions vary greatly in jurisdiction, they are relatively similar in purpose.

Regardless of political or religious associations, this is an infrequent opportunity to educate oneself on a subject often seen as incredulous. This is a chance to show unification across the many different spheres of our modern and diverse culture.


Reach the columnist at aubrey.mccleve@asu.eduor follow her on Twitter @theartsss

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