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Two Major Ironies Anti-Mormons Miss in the Fairview, Texas Temple Steeple Controversy

 

OPINION, By: Luke Hanson, Editor in Chief, Ward Radio News

Made from Rendering of the McKinney Texas Temple (Source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

If you haven't heard of the controversy around the Fairview, Texas temple, you haven't missed much. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church) is trying to build a temple in Fairview, Texas, but the town council has resisted approving a height limit exception for the proposed 174-foot temple. To help gather support for the temple, Church leaders sent out a letter encouraging local members to send emails of support to the planning manager of Fairview, Texas. The letter quickly became infamous because it said, "The height of the steeple is part of our religious observance."


Predictable as always, anti-Mormons have pounced on the story. Mormon Stories, Mormon discussions, and Nuancehoe have all covered the "story." But Nemo the Mormon takes the cake in his interest in the topic. (Obsession is probably the better word, but the objective journalist in me is hard to suppress.) Nemo has two videos, two live streams, and at least six community posts on YouTube covering the topic of temples and zoning laws. That's not all. He got funding to fly himself from Britain to Texas to speak for three minutes at the town council meeting about the topic at the beginning of June.


Source: YouTube @nemothemormon 6/16/2024

There's a lot of comedy in that story (like thinking about how the town councilman might have told his wife about his day at work, "It was good, there was this guy who flew from Britain to give a speech about it...Yes, you heard me right, all the way from Britain... No, I think he was here just for the meeting about the temple. And I thought the faithful Mormons were odd.") But my main point is to elucidate two broader trends in anti-Mormonsim highlighted by this story.


The first has already been hinted at: if the Church truly is an evil, oppressive, misogynistic, etc. force, shouldn't there be more interesting things to cover than a dispute over zoning law exceptions in a suburb in Dallas? Surely a Church with over 17 million members and tens of billions of dollars would have some better controversies to discuss. Highlighting this "controversy" only highlights how little controversy there is to highlight.


The second irony is more subtle and requires some explanation. Exmormons, on average, have values that align with liberals while current members have, on average, values that align with conservatives. This is not just speculation, a recent survey measured current and former members' scores on the five foundational values proposed by Jonathan Haidt's moral foundations theory validated this idea. Many ex-Mormons readily identify themselves with the liberal mindset. I'm reminded of a Mormon Discussions video about "exposing Deznat" that I watched to make clips for Ward Radio. In it, the guest asserted that "the smart, liberal, caring people left already and got [on the ex-Mormon subreddit] first."

Moral Foundations values of self-described conservatives, moderates, and liberals compared to current and former members of the Church | Source: B.H. Roberts Foundation 2023 Current and Former Latter-day Saint Survey, of 2,625 self-identifying church members.

Generally, these left-leaning ex-Mormons will fight for the LGBTQ+ community, blacks, the poor, the sexually repressed, women, etc. But the citizens of Fairview, Texas are none of these things. The town votes Republican, is over 75% white, and has a median household income of $103k. Not only that, but height restrictions in zoning laws are usually not championed by liberals. According to an opinion piece in the left-of-center governing.com, height restrictions, and other zoning laws "have their roots in racism and class discrimination." because they limit the building of tall cheap apartment buildings. That's not the only problem according to the piece; multifamily housing (i.e. tall apartment buildings) is important for "environmental sustainability" too. Anti-Mormons fighting for a town like Fairview on behalf of a policy like height restrictions sounds like a satire piece Jonah Barnes would write, not the anti-Mormon news of the month.


Why then are so many anti-Mormons jumping on the Fairview, Texas controversy given these two glaring ironies? I don't see how else to describe it other than their hate of the Church has blinded them to the hilarity of their reaction to this story. I think we can safely assume this is not the last time that hatred will blind them.

 

Ward Radio News is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Church) and does not officially represent the Church. The views expressed by contributors do not necessarily represent the position of Ward Radio News.


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5 Comments


LDSDS! This term needs to be a thing!


Latter-day Saint Derangement Syndrome: The acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the doctrines, the authority—nay—the very existence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Ward Radio is delusional. Height of steeple has nothing to do with religious observance. Can't believe y'all buy into that s***

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We are ex Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Stop giving victories for Satan. Sheesh!

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You mentioned the concern anti-mormons have but then never addressed it. The church asked members to lie by saying the steeple is part of our religious observation. It is not. Some temples have no steeple at all. But the work the work done there is just as valid & important.


I have been a member for 58 years. I don't condone lying, even if it is done to help the church get a steeple. Do you think it is okay?

Thanks.

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It is quite interesting that the only factor that is measurably different on average between former members of the Church and self-identified Liberals is "in-group preference\loyalty", with former members being lower in that dimension. It may explain, partially, the willingness on the part of ex-member anti-mormons to bend the truth or re-conceptualize their life experiences surrounding their past in-group, in order to satisfy the moral demands of the fairness and care dimensions. It is a bit disconcerting that politically liberal individuals seem to score so low on 3 out of the 5 statistically differentiable dimensions outlined by Dr. Haidt and his lab. I don't know whether than indicates a different prioritization or a true deficit in those dimensions of moral…

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