Summarized by Kent Larsen
Boston Globe Looks At LDS Church, History of Boston Temple
BELMONT, MASSACHUSETTS -- In a set of articles starting on the front page of
the Boston Globe, the newspaper looks at the LDS Church and the history of
the Church's Boston Temple, which will open next month for public tours
ahead of its dedication on October 1st. The Globe looks at the LDS Church's
growth and the more dramatic growth of its temples in the two years since
President Hinckley started the small temple program.
The main Boston Globe article points out that the LDS Church has a long
history in New England, but that in most of that period the Church was very
small. The Boston Temple's new president Loren Dunn says that when he lived
in Boston as a college student in the 1960s there were more Catholics in the
Archdiocese of Boston that there were Mormons in the entire world.
Now, however, the Church has grown significantly, reaching 16,000 members in
Massachusetts, triple the number of members there 25 years ago. The article
also mentions several prominent members in the Boston area, including Kim B.
Clark, dean of the Harvard Business School and a candidate to be the
university's president, Michael D. Schetzel, director of sales for the Red
Sox, and Mitt Romney, who opposed Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy in
1994 and now heads the Salt Lake City organizing committee for the 2002
These members and others interviewed in the article all expressed pleasure
at the Temple. "The church started here, but went away, and was not very
large in New England for a long time," said Clark. Romney added that the
Temple represents the growth of the Church there, "It feels great to have a
temple closer to home. It makes you feel proud that the membership of the
church has grown large enough to merit a temple being constructed so close
The Belmont Citizen-Herald also looked at the Temple in an article Sunday,
observing that the building will be very noticeable atop Belmont Hill, along
route 2, a popular commuting route for those entering Boston. The
Citizen-Herald article looks at the interior architecture of the building,
exploring the theological purposes for the different rooms in the building.
It also observes that in place of the Temple's steeple, the building has a
removable, sealed roof, which will be taken out if the Church's attorney's
can win an appeal prohibiting the steeple.
The Globe also covered the steeple, giving a history of the four-year battle
over it and over the building itself. The Globe observes that the Temple was
originally to be a three-story, 94,000-square-foot, six-spired building, but
that the Church scaled back the building after neighbors objected.
The Church first filed for a special permit with Belmont's Zoning Board of
Appeals on May 23, 1996, sparking 12 public hearings over the next nine
months, attracting several hundred people at each meeting. Eventually, the
board permitted a 139-foot steeple in a 27-page decision that argued that a
steeple "serves a religious purpose."
The debate also sparked a dispute about the so-called Dover Amendment, a
50-year-old Massachusetts law, which favors religious groups and educational
institutions in zoning matters in an attempt to keep local jurisdictions
from discriminating against them. But the temple's neighbors now argue that
the law favors religion, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's first
amendment. ''Other communities are watching Belmont because the issues at
the heart of the Belmont Temple dispute are central to literally hundreds of
zoning cases across the Commonwealth, so what eventually happens here will
doubtlessly affect our other decisions as well those in other communities,"
said Belmont Town Manager Mel Kleckner.
While two lower courts have upheld the state law, three neighbors, including
Charles Counselman, are set to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the law.
The LDS Church's attorney in the matter, Kenneth Harvey, who is also a
Church member, doesn't think that the Church will have to take down the
Temple, even if the Court rules against the Church. "We don't think there is
much chance any judge would actually order us to take down the building even
if the plaintiffs were to prevail. It's here," said Harvey.
But Counselman hopes differently. "Like any developer, the Mormons built
this building at their own risk knowing full well the potential consequences
if our lawsuit is successful. Our first concern, however, is the protection
of our property values and that is an issue that should resonate with every
homeowner in the state."
As for the steeple, the LDS Church's appeal to the state's appellate court
hasn't yet been scheduled. But regardless of the outcome of both of the
lawsuits, they have taken a toll in the feelings of those in Belmont. "If
there is one emotion most closely associated with this project, it's
frustration," says Belmont Selectman William Monahan. "Those who wanted to
see it built don't understand why it has taken so long, and those who didn't
want it don't understand why the town didn't have more leverage to keep it
A visible faith
Boston Globe 27Aug00 D1
By Michael Paulson: Globe Staff
A refuge of peace atop Belmont Hill
Belmont MA Citizen-Herald 23Aug00 D1
By Linda Pinkow: Staff Writer
Steeple is at center of legal battle
Boston Globe 27Aug00 D1
By Caroline Louise Cole: Globe Correspondent
Some tenets of the Mormon faith
Boston Globe 27Aug00 D1
By Globe Staff