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French kiss-off? Mormon temple near Paris facing opposition

Published February 10, 2012 4:44 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The proposed LDS temple in Le Chesnay, France, a small town outside of Paris, has hit some potential roadblocks.An Internet group of opponents has gathered about 6,000 signatures on its petition to stop the project, reports Voice of America writer Lisa Bryant.Some oppose it for political reasons — they don't like the town's mayor who gave it the green light — while others, such as Marie Drilhon, local chapter head of a group fighting religious extremism, "view the Mormon faith with skepticism."The two main issues for French critics are tithing and exclusion of anyone but the most devout Mormons, writes LDS scholar and blogger Wilfried Decoo.France has a history of rejecting faiths it deems as a "cult," Decoo writes, and one of the critera for that classification is "requiring a significant amount of money to allow access to 'vital' religious material, sacraments or ordinances."Mormons believe that temple rituals, including eternal marriage, are necessary for salvation, he writes, and paying a full tithe is required to get into a temple."It is easy for outsiders to define as extortion this combination of the highest religious exigency and the obligation to pay for it," writes Decoo, a retired Brigham Young University professor who lives in Belguim. "Some accuse the church of building temples with the concealed purpose of raising more tithing."Further, the exclusion of nonmembers, he writes, "reinforces the image of a secret and therefore perfidious society."Decoo suggests that the Utah-based faith could open the temple on Sundays to outsiders (when it is otherwise closed) for music and meditation, making it "a serene space to welcome and appease the worried citizens of Le Chesnay."If church leaders did that, it would be a first for a dedicated LDS temple.Peggy Fletcher Stack