The Philadelphia Enquirer reports that after months of touting a shared tradition of religious tolerance with Philadelphia and after an extended struggle over potential sites, the Mormon Church has finally secured location for a 68,000 square foot temple in downtown. Philly’s mayor has proclaimed the project an effort to beautify the selected boulevard; the area is home to Saints’ Peter and Paul Cathedral, the future Barnes Collection and the Free Library. It is estimated that the temple will serve 40,000 visitors and provide the community with 50 permanent jobs, though church services will be accessible to members only.
Tucked into the story is this little-reported statistic: ”One of the fastest growing denominations in the United States, and the fourth largest, the LDS Church claims 5.5 million members nationwide and 13 million worldwide.”
Meanwhile, Bush-appointed Judge Vaughn Walker is expected to announce his ruling today on Perry v. Schwarzenegger. The decision will determine the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a ballot initiative, primarily funded by the Mormon church, that made same-sex marriage illegal in California. In anticipation of a ruling to overturn Prop 8, opponents of same-sex marriage have filed a stay in order to appeal. Members of the Church of Latter Day Saints reportedly contributed $24 million to promote the passage of Prop 8.