President Gordon B. Hinckley, the fifteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, excited the membership of the Church by increasing the number of temples available to members. He announced that the Church would construct smaller buildings – as compared with existing temples at the time – thereby allowing for greater numbers of temples to be built. He set a goal to build 50 temples in a two and half-year period: double the number the Church had ever attempted to build in any decade. Thirty-four of these temples were built in the United States, and newspapers – both local and national – covered the construction of these temples with over 330 articles. This thesis analyzes the newspaper coverage of temples built within the United States from October 1997 through December 2004, and draws important conclusions from this data regarding the nation's perception of the Latter-day Saint temples.
Each of the 330 articles was scored according to specific criteria, and grouped by region (as defined by the Church's official web-site). Then, after individual and regional scoring, overall newspaper exposure for the Church's small temple building was scored for the United States as a whole. As each temple's unique story unfolded in the newspapers, the general public's view of the Church's small temple construction became clear. Although quite a few of the proposed temples experienced opposition with regard to building specifics and anti-Latter-day Saint efforts, Church departments and members negotiated, compromised, and softened the impact of this opposition, and many people welcomed the temples into their communities.
In addition to gaining a sense for the public's viewpoint, some global observations emerged from this study, revealing the importance of professionalism within Church departments and programs when working with the media and public. A few observations also revealed three lessons to be remembered in future temple building relations. But most importantly this study shows that not only did the Lord's revelation through a prophet open the way for the Church to build more temples, but as a by product of this revelation, the smaller temple concept helped to lessen the controversial and negative articles that the larger temples tended to generate.
College and Department
Religious Education; Church History and Doctrine
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Gurr, Kevan L., "An Analysis of the Newspaper Coverage of Latter-Day Saint Temples Announced or Built Within the United States from October 1997 Through December 2004" (2005). Theses and Dissertations. 4731.
Mormon temples, United States, Press coverage, History, 20th century, 21st century