While in California recently, I stopped at an eatery and looked up across the street to behold the majestic LDS/Mormon San Diego Temple. I have spent many hours there convinced I was “saving the dead” (the purpose for their temples and why geneology is emphasized). That notion, in a city that boasts the third-largest homeless population (or any significant number of homeless) and the largest percentage of homeless veterans in the U.S. is embarrassing, not to mention incomprehensible.
In 2012, it was reported that the LDS Church spent more money building City Creek Center (Mall) in SLC, UT than it spent on humanitarian contributions in the last 25 years, which amounted to about 0.7% of their annual $7-8 billion tithing revenue**. That is no small curiosity, considering tax-exempt status was granted to religions ostensibly to pick up the slack for the poor and needy. And it’s rather disingenuous, considering that the LDS Church – the richest in the world* – requires its members to pay 10 percent of their gross income just for the privilege of entering one of those temples.
Their own Book of Mormon specifically tasks members: “O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? … Your churches, yea even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” (Mormon 8:33, 36-37)
The root cause of violence and terrorism is poverty and inequality. The proof is evidenced in the staggering increase of crime in the past five years at home and abroad, due to economic downturn. What wouldn't you do to provide for your family? With its immigration challenges, San Diego was especially hard-hit. To its credit, SD is progressive in treating its homeless population, but they are 18th on the list for federal funding behind cities with less than half the number of homeless. With inadequate shelters to accommodate the burgeoning load, on any given night you can see San Diego’s massive homeless population bed down on city streets, referred to as “sleeping central”.
It made me wonder … what if, in an enormous gesture of goodwill, the LDS Church was to throw open the doors of the SD Temple, as well as a few local chapels, and allow the homeless to seek shelter and safety there?
What Would Jesus Do?
Temples, all 180 of them around the world, have a cafeteria, laundry facilities, showers, lockers, at least three separate large rooms that could be turned into sleeping quarters, and a large meeting room for instruction and learning.
Furthermore, the Church has nearly 30,000 thousand chapels worldwide with kitchens, restrooms, etc., that could also be used to house the homeless. They have a fleet of 85,000 enthusiastic young missionaries no longer allowed to track door to door, in need of service projects; and an abundance of multi-talented and service-oriented members, coupled with a frustrated and feeling-helpless worldwide community who would jump at the chance to save the living!
“What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone [temple or mall]?” (Matthew 7:9)