A Mormon temple, in Russia?

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
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Toronto
#1
Earlier this year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans to build a temple in Russia, even as religious freedom there continues to dwindle and the relationship between the United States and Russia grows more tenuous.

The tensions between the two countries came to a head earlier in July after President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a special summit in Helsinki, Finland.

Americans wanted to know whether or not Trump would hold Putin accountable for his country’s interference in the controversial 2016 U.S. presidential elections after multiple U.S. agencies confirmed there was meddling. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in 2017 that Russia interfered with the 2016 election and the Justice Department’s special counsel recently issued indictments for 12 Russian intelligence officers for their involvement in hacking into the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

Instead, Trump ignited a media storm when he said, in a joint press conference with Putin, that he believed Putin when the Russian president said Russia did not interfere with the elections. Trump also acknowledged the decades of poor U.S. relations and blamed both the U.S. and Russia, saying that the United States has been “foolish.”

Trump offended Americans on both sides of the political aisle. Some called his actions “disgraceful” while others called them “treasonous.”

Trump has since attempted to correct his original comments, saying he actually believes that Russia interfered with the election and asserting his belief in the intelligence agencies.

The recent Helsinki Summit is the latest event on the long timeline of a tense history between the United States and Russia.

The U.S. is also increasingly concerned with religious freedom in Russia. In June, the Department of State criticized the country’s harsh treatment of certain religious groups.

Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the Department of State, tweeted on June 18 that “the U.S. is deeply concerned by the growing number — more than 150 — of political & religious prisoners held by the Russian government. We call on #Russia to release these prisoners immediately & cease its use of the legal system to suppress dissent & peaceful religious practice.”

Despite long-standing tensions between the United States and Russia, LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson closed the last of the five sessions of the church’s semi-annual general conference in April by announcing plans to construct seven new temples around the world.

After announcing builds in Argentina, India, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Utah and Virginia, Nelson took a breath and concluded with, “And, a major city, yet to be determined, in Russia.”

While it’s common for the LDS Church president to announce plans for new temples, the church has never before announced a temple in Russia.

Members sitting in the 21,000-seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City, could be heard gasping. A rumble of voices rippled as Nelson, whom church members also revere as their prophet, paused for them to quiet.

Needless to say, the announcement came as a surprise to church members watching around the world.

One member tweeted, “I never thought I’d see a temple in India or Russia.”

And another: “NEW LDS temple to be built in RUSSIA!! I believe in MIRACLES!”

Brett Jaynes, 24, who returned home from his mission in Samara, Russia, in February 2015, was also “a little shocked” to hear Nelson’s announcement.

“I knew there would be a temple at some point in Russia, but I especially didn’t think right now, with the circumstances,” the Provo resident said.

Jaynes said he was met with mixed reactions while he was a missionary in Russia. He said that not only were Russians, especially those of the older generation, not very open to learning about new religions, but many people were angry at him for just being American.

He experienced a fair share of violence while serving his mission. Once, when he and his missionary companion went to watch the Olympic torch pass through one of the cities he lived in, they approached a man to talk to him about their message. He refused politely, but then came back a few minutes later angry and punched Jaynes in the throat. Jaynes believes it was because the man recognized that Jaynes was American and was mad.

Jaynes coughed up blood and was speechless for three weeks. Another time, his jaw was broken after taking a blow. He had to have jaw surgery when he got home.

Jaynes said he didn’t know what was more offensive to Russians — that he was American or that he was a missionary.

“I think it was a mixture of both,” he said. “It was that we were American and missionaries.”

Others intimately familiar with religious expression in Russia are weary the Mormon temple will be able to be built.

“It will be really tough for them to build a temple,” says Prasun Prakash, the Director of Public Affairs of the Centre for Conservation of Indian Culture — Shri Prakash Dham. Prakash lives in Russia and is fighting his own battle as one of 140,000 Hindus there.

Daniel Mark, chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), says the situation in Russia “is not good and arguably getting worse.” He calls it “a toxic mix of politics and religion.”

USCIRF released its annual report in May, recommending that the State Department designate 16 countries, including Russia, as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs. A CPC designation would trigger some sort of legal consequence — ranging from sanctions to lower level diplomatic repercussions — to be left to the discretion of the current administration.

This year marks the second time Russia has been recommended to be added to the list of CPCs, according to the report. USCIRF recommended that Russia be added in April 2017, but the State Department didn’t include Russia that year.

“During 2017, Russia showed no signs of wavering from the repressive behavior it demonstrated in 2016,” the commission’s report notes. “It maintains and frequently updates laws that restrict religious freedom.”

In July 2016, Russia adopted a group of amendments called the Yarovaya Law that included banning “missionary activities,” which USCIRF notes are things like, “preaching, praying, disseminating religious materials, and even answering questions about religion outside of officially designated sites.” Heavy fines have been imposed to punish those who disobeyed. According to a recent report by the State Department, fines can be as high as “5,000 to 50,000 rubles ($86 to $860) for individuals and 100,000 to 1,000,000 rubles ($1,700 to $17,300) for legal entities.”

LDS missionaries in Russia became “volunteers” and stopped wearing their iconic black name tags. This happened in Jaynes’s mission in Samara right before he came home in 2015.

In 2017, the Russian Supreme Court banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses, labeling them an “extremist organization.”

Currently, the only religions recognized by the Russian government are Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. Religions not recognized by the state threaten the state, according to Prakash.

But even the recognized religions, other than Russian Orthodoxy, still hit roadblocks. Prakash says that though Buddhism is an official religion, Buddhists have been fighting for years to build their own temple in Moscow.

USCIRF’s chairman Mark says that the Russian Orthodox church and Russian nationalism are “intertwined.”

Jaynes noted that Russian people are very loyal to the Russian Orthodox church, even if they aren’t actively practicing. Even for the less religious younger generation, the church is a tradition.

Prakash echoed that, saying, “The fact is that the Russian Orthodox church doesn’t want the religious minority to gain power.” And what’s more, he says that Russian president Vladimir Putin depends on the Russian Orthodox church to win elections.

“He depends on these people for his own power,” Prakash said.

Jaynes saw this in action. He heard about propaganda-style programs on Russian television meant to portray the LDS Church as a cult. He once attended a meeting that was secretly being videotaped. He said he’s still confused about how the camera got inside because the meeting was with an LDS general authority and missionaries only — it had been closed to the public. Jaynes found out because he later saw a video of the meeting that had been uploaded to the internet and altered to be like propaganda.

Prakash says the best pathway forward for religious minorities in Russia is to fight for their religion to be officially recognized by the government. And Prakash has been fighting. Last December, he and his father Kumar Prakash, the recognized spiritual leader of the Hindus in Russia, visited the State Duma to appeal Kumar Prakash’s lawsuit filed against Russian anti-cult activist Alexander Dvorkin, a man who Prakash calls a “dark Russian.”

The younger Prakash doesn’t see the tension lessening any time soon. “In the end, there might be a very big brawl on this issue,” he said.

Indeed, Mormons must wade through the deep waters of international relations in order to keep expanding in Russia, with its fragile relationship with the U.S. and oppressive religious freedom laws.

But the LDS church is slowly growing there. According to the church’s website, there are 23,252 members in Russia and six different missions, in which the church’s missionaries, now volunteers, serve.

Mark says he’s noticed that the LDS church generally has a very good track record in working with governments. The church tends to “work within the system,” he said, noting that he doesn’t criticize the actions of other religious groups who want to fight against the system.

The LDS church did confirm plans that a temple will be built in Russia, though the church’s public affairs office couldn’t provide more details.

“Details about temples announced or under construction are typically not shared until the First Presidency announces a groundbreaking,” said a spokesperson, who added that there is no standard timeline for temple construction.

At the end of April, LDS apostle, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, visited Russia and talked to members of the church there about the promised temple, calling it a blessing and sounding optimistic.

In an interview with a Russian journalist, Uchtdorf said, “We’re very grateful for Russia to be a country where religious freedom is established. We may practice our faith here.”
U.S.-Russia relations make Russian LDS temple no small feat

It's not exactly true about Buddhists.

A Buddhist spiritual center was opened in Moscow last year
[video=youtube;O5RtxgIJ2BA]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5RtxgIJ2BA[/video]

Elista, the capital of Kalmykia, a republic populated by ethnic Mongols on the Caspian sea coast, holds the largest Buddhist temple in all of Europe


and then, there's Ivolgnisky Datsan, in Buryatia, in Siberia, the residence of the supreme Lama of Russia, and the heart of Russian Buddhism

The one thing the Buddhists are consistently denied, thus far, is a visit by Dalai Lama. Putin won't allow it, so as not to screw up relations with China.

As for Mormons, on the other hand, yeah, the Orthodox Church doesn't like them...

They are not bad people, at least Russian Mormons aren't. They have a "Helping Hands" program, where their volunteers perform all sorts of public services for free, like cleaning parks


But, Orthodox nationalists see them as a threat, and whenever in recent past Mormons wanted to open own temple in any Russian city, Orthodox hardliners would show up to protest this and confront them.

This is with the blessing of the government. At the very least, one often sees people from the Youth Guard, the youth wing of Putin's United Russia party, participating in these things


At least they are not banned outright like the JWs... YET. We shall see though... I can't see them building a temple anywhere in Russia though, no way.
 
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Jun 2014
59,999
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Cleveland, Ohio
#2
The premise of the Book of Mormon is that Joseph Smith found golden tablets about Christ's time in the U.S., and that he was guided across the country to Utah by the Lord.

Etc.

It's a very American-centric religion with a rigid heirarchal structure that will always be seated in Utah.

Hard to imagine this will ever be palatable to Putin or the Orthodox Church.
 
Likes: 1 person
Apr 2012
10,688
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East coast USA
#3
The premise of the Book of Mormon is that Joseph Smith found golden tablets about Christ's time in the U.S., and that he was guided across the country to Utah by the Lord.

Etc.

It's a very American-centric religion with a rigid heirarchal structure that will always be seated in Utah.

Hard to imagine this will ever be palatable to Putin or the Orthodox Church.
They found the source of his fake script, it was a shopping list in Arabic.

Also, in Utah the Morman church is on First street, the state capital sits behind on second street.
This is different than all other states, the capital is on 1st street.

Pss Salt Lake City is probably one of safest cities in world. The people being the nicest, and helpful. Yes, they wear Morman underwear, no there are no prostitutes in the city.
 
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Likes: 2 people
Jun 2014
44,770
44,169
United States
#4
The premise of the Book of Mormon is that Joseph Smith found golden tablets about Christ's time in the U.S., and that he was guided across the country to Utah by the Lord.

Etc.

It's a very American-centric religion with a rigid heirarchal structure that will always be seated in Utah.

Hard to imagine this will ever be palatable to Putin or the Orthodox Church.

Hard to imagine that any heretical form of Christianity would be palatable to the Orthodox Church.
 
Likes: 2 people
Jun 2014
59,999
34,323
Cleveland, Ohio
#5
They found the source of his fake script, it was a shopping list in Arabic.

Also, in Utah the Morman church is on First street, the state capital sits behind on second street.
This is different than all other states, the capital is on 1st street.

Pss Salt Lake City is probably one of safest cities in world. The people being the nicest, and helpful. Yes, they wear Morman underwear, no there are no prostitutes in the city.
Yeah, for my money, the harmful effect of the LDS church in America on our government is exceeded only by the Roman Catholic church.

Hard to believe any authoritarian ruler would welcome them in.
 
Likes: 2 people
Jan 2016
46,356
42,287
Colorado
#6
They found the source of his fake script, it was a shopping list in Arabic.

Also, in Utah the Morman church is on First street, the state capital sits behind on second street.
This is different than all other states, the capital is on 1st street.

Pss Salt Lake City is probably one of safest cities in world. The people being the nicest, and helpful. Yes, they wear Morman underwear, no there are no prostitutes in the city.
Saying that there are NO prostitutes in Salt Lake City sounds about like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claiming that there are no homosexuals in Iran.
 
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Jan 2016
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#7
Yeah, for my money, the harmful effect of the LDS church in America on our government is exceeded only by the Roman Catholic church.

Hard to believe any authoritarian ruler would welcome them in.
It is kind of a universal law of human nature: Authoritarians do not like competition from other authoritarians.
 
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The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
43,518
29,980
Toronto
#8
The only "foreign" church that seems to be doing well over there, is the Catholic Church, under Archbishop of Moscow Paolo Pezzi, who also goes by his Russian name, Pavel, these days lol


And Pezzi has gone out of his way to maintain good relations with the dominant Orthodox denomination, he has personally met with Patriarch Kirill on numerous occasions

and their respective representative Catholic and Orthodox clergy regularly sit down to work out any differences between them


It is said that Pezzi even helped organize the historic meeting of Patriarch Kirill and Pope Frances in Havana, Cuba, in 2016, first meeting between Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic supreme leaders in 1000 years!


Pezzi also attends all the Kremlin events alongside all the leaders of Russia's major religions, such as National Unity Day


Pezzi and a couple of his underlings were also present at Patriarch Kirill's Orthodox Christmas service at Cathedral of Christ the Savior, on January 7th this year, likely not for first time, but nobody probably noticed them before lol

Needless to say, NO Orthodox brass graced the Catholic Christmas at THEIR Cathedral on December 25th haha

Actually, while this was likely indeed Pezzi showing respect to Kirill, it kinda backfired... A lot of Orthodox nationalists were pissed off. They do NOT want Catholics in their Cathedral and were angry at the Patriarch for even letting them in lmao There was a big brouhaha online, the poor Patriarch was even called a traitor and apostate at one point! The fact that the Catholic clerics did not remove their skullcaps in the Cathedral, as all Orthodox men are required upon entering their place of worship (while women, on other hand, are required to COVER their head lol) only added fuel to those flames...

But, anyway, yeah, point is, Pezzi and the Catholics are much smarter than others.

Catholicism has existed in Russia for centuries, that's why they even, again, have own beautiful Cathedral of Holy Mary of Immaculate Conception in Moscow

They have learned how to get along and survive, all this time.

Even in Crimea, the Catholic Church is being quietly pragmatic. Officially, the Vatican doesn't recognize Russia's re-annexation of Crimea; but, post-2014, they installed the Polish Bishop Jacek Pyl to lead the congregation there, he was moved from Odessa, in Ukraine

and Pyl actually has no problem cooperating with the new Russian-installed authorities and their officials, for the benefit of his Church and his flock, such as here with Yury Krivov, Deputy Governor of Sevastopol

Krivov oversaw a ceremony in June, whence a building formerly housing a Catholic church, which was confiscated in the past by the Soviet government and turned into a movie theater, was now returned back to the Catholics.

Other minority denominations preach philosophies which contradict not only Orthodox doctrine, but Putin's aggressive nationalist and militarist ideology:

Jehovah’s Witnesses are opposed to military service, and discourage voting, participation in patriotic activities and flags.
Facing religious persecution in Russia, Jehovah's Witnesses find refuge in Finland

The Evangelical Baptists are similarly pacifistic and also some in Russian government worry about Russian Baptists' connections to Baptist communities in Ukraine: Russian Baptists Facing Legal Challenges from Anti-Evangelism Law

But the Catholics, again, are not hurt by any of these new laws, because they, again, are more numerous and have a better relationship with the authorities:

A missionary Catholic priest serving in Russia, who asked to be kept anonymous to protect his identity and his parish, told CNA that he expects the laws will have a much bigger impact on small groups of Evangelicals than they will on the Catholic Church in Russia.

The priest, who has been serving in Russia for 24 years, said that since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Catholic Church has followed government regulations that require religious organizations to be officially registered with the government.

Some smaller religious groups, often Evangelical groups, believe it is against their conscience to register with the government and so they refuse to do so, the priest said.

These new laws seem to be intended to target these newer, less established groups who are unregistered and may meet in private residences, he added.

The anti-evangelism law carries fines up to US $780 for an individual and $15,500 for an organization. Foreign visitors who violate the law face deportation.
New religious laws in Russia not expected to hurt Catholic Church
 
Likes: 4 people
Apr 2012
10,688
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East coast USA
#9
Saying that there are NO prostitutes in Salt Lake City sounds about like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claiming that there are no homosexuals in Iran.
The entire city is Morman, well, 99%. I was there in 2002 Winter Olympics.
They only sell 3.2 beer in bars, missionaries stand outside the two strip joints.
The girls wear panty and pasties. NO prostitutes. Lol
 
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Tedminator

Former Staff
Jun 2010
26,566
18,632
South Florida
#10
A Mormon temple, in Russia?
LDS Temples look great.. it's got that neoclassical castle postmodern fortress look going on. Their DC Temple is a memorable sight from the beltway (I used to drive by it coming home from work and its an impressive building)..

 
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