I may choose to ignore people who comment anonymously. I choose never to be anonymous online myself. I have little tolerance for this behavior.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The New Arizona Temple and its Opposition

Note: (08/25/10) See the Church's new web site for the temple.


Opposition to L.D.S. (Mormon) temples is not new. In fact, most of the issues people have with them are never new. It is the same old issues being resurrected over and over and over again. Announced May 2008, the new Phoenix temple will be one of several in Arizona.

I am always astonished that resistance to the temples usually forms around the same issues. I am stating these mostly by memory. Here they are.

1. It does not fit into the neighborhood.

2. It is too large. (spire too tall or building too big.)

3. It will obstruct views.

4. It will increase traffic.

5. It will affect property values negatively.

Starting with the first, my brother visited me once when I lived in Roanoke, Virginia. As I drove to my chapel we passed many of the other denominations' buildings in the community. I explained that our chapel was rather isolated and in a growing residential neighborhood. We discussed how people often felt our chapels should be located in areas with other churches in "more appropriate" areas. My brother remarked, "Yeah, with the other BUSINESSES." L.D.S. chapels and temples are not revenue-generating businesses. They are revenue-eating places of worship.

The accusation that our buildings, or aspects of them, are too big is strange. This is puzzling because most people do not have any idea of the temple's purpose. You do not find people complaining that a football field is too large, a school's building or playground is too big or a city building is over sized. Generally, an entity's purpose is considered when judgments about its size and scope are made. Temples have specific purposes and serve a geographic area. There are reasons for the size they are and temple interiors as well as parking areas are configured to reflect these purposes.

I do not generally hear about people protesting other churches for building entities too big. It is even more baffling because all L.D.S. congregations are kept uniform. We do not build mega churches or have mega congregations. 100-400 is generally the norm with 500-600 being considered due for splitting in two. Temples are different but small temples have become the norm.

Obstructing views is a legitimate concern. However, temples are such breathtakingly beautiful structures, they are THE VIEW, or become THE VIEW very fast. In growing neighborhoods, nature views eventually become obstructed no matter what. It looks like the Phoenix temple would deprive people of a view of an empty lot.

The traffic complaint is the complaint most easily refuted and generally without any basis in fact for very simple reasons. Temples are not open on Sundays so there is no traffic on days people normally expect it. In addition, temple traffic comes and goes throughout the day on weekdays and Saturdays. People do not enter and exit at the same times. They normally stay for a minimum of three hours and visitation is generally pretty small. I do not see temple stats but I am guessing most temples will see only about 200-300 people in a day at most. Small temples may be anywhere from 25-50 or 50-100. Huge temples probably function around 500 people a day. Most arrive in pairs, groups, or buses minimizing traffic.

Property values are affected positively. There is not anything better to protect or increase property values than a temple in the neighborhood. Just ask any real estate agent anywhere near a temple. It is called "The Temple Effect." In addition, temple buildings are beautiful, the grounds are always immaculate. Can you imagine a better neighbor?

Considering the new Phoenix temple specifically, I notice a few things from the news articles and people's complaints. First, the narrow legal issue that may go to public vote is the extra ten feet to the height of the structure that was approved and the temple's color. Voters will NOT vote on whether the temple can exist. However, people obviously think they can, especially if you look at this picture where the sign reads, "REFERENDUM PETITION'S SIGNED HERE," "PLEASE SIGN NOW ONLY 7 DAYS LEFT," and "STOP THE TEMPLE."

It is clear from many of the comments in the articles and in the comments section that most do not understand the difference between temples and chapels.

At best the Phoenix temple will be built to its current city approved plan. At worst, they may have to lop 10 feet off of the structure. But, since spires cannot be regulated, the building will sill be a beautiful and tall structure.

I wish opponents would research other temples in other areas to determine if their concerns are valid once a temple is built. I think they would find out that most of them are not.

Phoenix will get its new temple, and it is going to be beautiful.


Other blog postings: 8/25/10 and 1/19/11

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