The Mormon Land newsletter is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Support us on Patreon and get exclusive access to Tribune subscriber-only religion content and podcast transcripts.
Temples, temples, temples
The Latter-day Saint temple surge is keeping schedulers busy.
With more than 130 temples either under design, under construction or undergoing renovation, the calendar of groundbreakings, open houses and dedications is quickly filling up.
For instance, in the past week or so:
• Apostle Dieter Uchtdorf rededicated the renovated Hamilton Temple in New Zealand on Sunday.
On this “glorious day of thanksgiving and celebration,” he recalled the past, when the faith was preached to the Maori people; celebrated the present, noting New Zealand’s nearly 110,000 members; and embraced the future, when the South Pacific country will have three temples (the others will be in Auckland and the capital of Wellington).
• The church announced Brazil’s Belém Temple will open its doors to the press and the public from Oct. 22 through Nov. 5 in advance of a Nov. 20 dedication by apostle Dale Renlund. It is one of 18 existing or planned temples in South America’s largest nation.
• Elsewhere on that continent, Ecuador’s Quito Temple is staging an open house through Oct. 29 before a Nov. 20 dedication by apostle Quentin Cook. The single-spired, 36,780-square-foot, Angel Moroni-topped edifice will be the country’s second temple.
• Groundbreakings, meanwhile, have been scheduled for four more Latin American temples — in Managua, Nicaragua (Nov. 26), Miraflores Guatemala City (Dec. 3), Torreón, Mexico (Dec. 10) and Querétaro, Mexico (Jan. 7).
• On top of that, the church reopened its only temple in war-plagued Ukraine.
Leaders have “carefully evaluated the current circumstances,” a church spokesperson said, “and decided to resume — on a limited basis — the sacred religious ceremonies in the temple.”
The number of existing or planned temples worldwide now tallies 300 — with 118 (nearly 40% of the total) announced by church President Russell Nelson.
God is “making his temples more accessible,” Nelson said at the close of the latest General Conference. “He is accelerating the pace at which we are building temples.”
So expect this tide of temple milestones to keep swelling.
It’s condom sense
In July, Latter-day Saint author and influencer Gabrielle Blair appeared on “Mormon Land” amid the latest abortion debates with a simple message for men: Use a condom.
Her book on that topic came out this week with a provocative title that gets right to the, well, point: “Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion.”
“Men are much better positioned to prevent pregnancy than women are,” she said during the podcast. “There are no questions around whether they are fertile or not. They actively choose where they put their sperm. It’s their sperm; the woman can’t choose that for them. They have to choose that. And also they have really great birth control options, but we don’t talk about them much. Condoms are easier, more convenient, more accessible, safer, and more affordable than women’s birth control options.”
The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: the LDS film feast
Latter-day Saint filmmakers Jared Hess, who co-wrote and directed “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Murder Among the Mormons,” and Greg Whiteley, who directed “New York Doll,” “Mitt” and “Cheer,” discuss Hollywood’s fascination with the church and its members. Listen to the podcast.
From The Tribune
• To many Latter-day Saints, the “covenant path” represents a to-do list, but scholar Matthew Bowman suggests it may be time for members to, perspective-wise, take a covenant path less traveled.
• The refusal to apologize is “damning” the church spiritually, warns Religion News Service columnist Jana Riess, adding that the faith cannot move forward in a “meaningful way unless and until we’ve openly confronted the wrong we’ve done.”
• With a popular podcast and a successful conference, the Faith Matters organization is showing that, true to its name, faith matters — even to questioning members.
• Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black, the showrunner for “Under the Banner of Heaven” and the subject of the new HBO documentary “Mama’s Boy,” credits the church for making him a family man. “Granted, I might define family a little more broadly than many Mormons do in Utah these days,” he says, “but I still think it comes first. My son and my husband are the most important things in my life.”
• A suspected state-sponsored cyberattack targeted some of the church’s computer systems, gaining access to personal data of some members, employees and others. Officials say the breach didn’t include donation histories or banking information.
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