Building Temples, and Building Mosques



Luzern, Switzerland


My understanding, derived from conversations during my mission in Switzerland and from reading various items in the mission home on Pilatustraße in Zürich, where I was assigned for the last six months or so of my service there, is that the original site chosen for the Swiss Temple was the town of Lucerne (German Luzern).  Opposition was fierce, and it ultimately forced relocation of the temple to Zollikofen, just outside of the federal capital of Berne (German Bern).  There are stories about that, too, but they can wait.


The Bern Switzerland Temple
of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints
(dedicated 1955)


One of the weapons used by opponents of the temple was gross exaggeration and distortion.  (That’s never happened since then, right?)  Among other things, I’m told — and, though it’s been forty (40) years or thereabouts, I seem to remember seeing an actual press clipping — an article appeared in one of the Swiss newspapers showing an image of the Salt Lake Temple, expanded to easily three or four times its actual size and superimposed upon a photograph of the pretty but relatively small city of Luzern.


The Kapellbrücke or Chapel Bridge, in Luzern


The thing was so absurdly huge that nobody in his or her right mind would have wanted such a monstrosity in Luzern.  Heck, it would have looked out of place and overly large in Manhattan.  It probably would have interfered with central European weather patterns.


It was as a kind of ironic homage to that bit of propagandistic disingenuousness that, in my post from last night entitled “A Mosque in Orem?,” I published a photograph of the Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, with those Wasatch-like mountains behind it, and captioned the photo “The proposed design for the planned Orem mosque.”  (I identified the real mosque of the photograph at the end of my post, and said that such a building would definitely not be erected in Orem.)  The number of Muslims in Utah Valley is far, far too small to need, construct, or sustain so large a structure.  But such a grandiose image would certainly be helpful to those opposing the project!


My basic point is that Latter-day Saints who lament the opposition that springs up every time we announce a new temple — and, not infrequently, when we propose a simple chapel or stake center — should be very, very careful about objecting to the construction of places of worship for those of other faiths.


I can think of no good reason whatsoever to object, in principle, to a mosque in Orem.


There is a slight chance that I’ll be able to make it for at least a portion of tonight’s meeting at UVU regarding the proposed mosque.  If I can be there, I will.  And I’m particularly interested in what the opposition might have to say.  If anybody manages to attend, I would love to hear a report.



If you happen to be in Darmstadt on Thursday or Friday, please drop by!
The Supreme Court hands an 8-1 victory to advocates of religious rights
The only paradise that cannot be lost?
Luxuriating in German cultural history
  • Nathan000000

    I’d be very interested in hearing about it as well. Hopefully Latter-day Saints will remember that the Church has not only encouraged but actually donated thousands of dollars to help build or repair other religions’ structures in Utah, such as the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake, or the Hindu temple in Spanish Fork.

  • Stephen Smoot

    Brother Peterson,
    I plan on attending, and will take notes. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, and hopefully I’ll see you there.

    • danpeterson

      Thank you! I just came home — too late, in my judgment, for there to be much purpose in my heading over. By the time I got there and found parking and made my way to the room, probably everybody would be gone.

  • Strategoi

    I hope that the mosque may be built, and not have to be abandoned like the one in NY, or like our temples that we’ve only been able to build recently after 170 years of waiting.

    There is a foreign exchange student at my high school who is from Pakistan. She wears the hijab, and it’s pretty cool to talk to her about her religion. I tried the interfaith diplomacy stuff, and it worked well. Thanks for the idea.

    Speaking of interfaith discussions or lack thereof, how tolerant were the Ottoman Turks of of other religions? Some of my ancestors fled after they conquered modern day Bosnia, and I’m wondering if there was any good reason for them to go??