Latter-day Saint Temple Dedicatory Prayers and Terrorism

Can you guess which building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a dedicatory prayer which includes protection from “acts of terrorism?” To what extent do dedicatory prayers invoke protections from physical danger?

Priesthood leaders perform dedicatory prayers to dedicate the physical structures of LDS temples, meetinghouses, and other buildings prior to use. Priesthood holders are even encouraged to perform a dedication of their homes to be places where the Holy Ghost may reside and where family members can find refuge from spiritual and physical dangers.

Dedicatory prayers for church buildings, however, include aspects of the purposes or redemptive work performed within those buildings. They often contain requests for physical protection from various forms of threats. Such threats mentioned in dedicatory prayers can be, and routinely are, destructive forces of nature or mankind.

One slight variance among prayers is the extent to which church leaders invoke physical protection. The following graph depicts the degree to which dedicatory prayers of temples mention physical threats. Assessed values are in accordance with the criteria listed below the graph:

Legend: Value of Reference to Physical Harm:

1 = absence of references to protection

2 = general words of protection (e.g., “protection from the elements, storms, and evil”)

3 = references to harm caused by man (e.g., “vandalism,” or “defilement”)

4 = one direct reference to evil plots (e.g., “machinations,” or “evil designs”)

5 = two or more direct references to evil plots (e.g., “machinations,” or “evil designs”)

As is evident in the graph, there are clusters of points indicating similarities in degrees of physical protection invoked, as well as some minor trends with location and timing. For instance, shortly following the 9/11 attacks, the dedicatory prayers of the Columbia River Washington Temple (November 18, 2001) and the Monterrey Mexico Temple (April 28, 2002) included more references to topics like vandalism, desecration, evil, and mobs than most dedicatory prayers. While most temple dedicatory prayers include protection from various threats, none of the temple dedications include the word terrorism in any variation (e.g., terrorist).

So, do any building dedicatory prayers specifically mention terrorism? Yes!

When Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Conference Center on October 8, 2000 in Salt Lake City, Utah, he implored in the prayer, “Protect it [the Conference Center] from the storms of nature and the desecrating hand of the vandal and destroyer. Preserve it from conflict and acts of terrorism.” Learn more about these invoked protections and my analysis regarding these threats in War with the Remnant: The Hidden Narrative of Terrorism and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which you can order here:

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