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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 24, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 20Sep00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Los Angeles Times Hints Religion Behind Opposition to Boston Temple

BELMONT, MASSACHUSETTS -- In an article discussing the legal battles surrounding the LDS Church's Boston Temple, the Los Angeles Times hints in its headline that opposition to Mormonism  is behind the battles. However, in the article itself MIT astronomy professor Charles Counsleman, one of the principal opponents of the building, claims that the opposition is not to Mormonism, but to the building, "The opposition that the neighbors have to this temple is exactly the same kind of opposition you'd have if someone wanted to build a shopping mall on that location."

The building is still without the single proposed 139-foot steeple permitted by the Belmont Town Zoning Board of Appeals, but denied by a state judge. The LDS Church is appealing that decision, and expects to be able to add the steeple to the Temple eventually.

But the building's neighbors, about 100 of whom have joined Counselman in the organization Action for Neighborhood Zoning, actually want the recently completed Temple torn down. They say that Belmont permitted the building under Massachusetts' so-called Dover Amendment, which they claim is unconstitutional. The group expects to file an appeal of the law with the US Supreme Court before today's court deadline. The group has so-far lost twice in federal court challenges to the law.

Boston lawyer Paul Killeen, who represents the LDS Church in the matter says that the neighbor's effort is "from my perspective, totally nuts." He says that their efforts are simply NIMBY-ism, 'Not-In-My-Back-Yard.' "They have made a decision that they don't want to accommodate other people's religions," he said. "Theirs is fine; theirs is already built."

Local town officials even dispute one of the neighbor's complaints, that the Temple will have an adverse effect on housing prices in the neighborhood. Belmont Board of Selectmen Chairman William Monahan says, "It's a beautiful edifice. They've taken a piece of ledge, total rock, and made it into a striking garden, with 20,000 shrubs and I don't know how many flowering bushes. Twenty years ago, if someone said they were going to build there, you would have said it was impossible."

Meanwhile, the Temple's open house proceeds, without the steeple, which the Times says makes the building "look sadly incomplete." "It's a gorgeous building, it has a wonderful entryway and it goes up to a stubby top that's just begging for a steeple," says Salt Lake-based LDS Church official Bruce Olsen, who recently visited the building.


Suspicions About Faith Underlie Town's Fight Over Steeple Los Angeles Times 19Sep00 N1 By Elizabeth Mehren: Times Staff Writer


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