Would you pull kids from school for a learning experience about another religion?

We toured the outside of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City last summer. It's a beautiful building and frustrating not to be able to go into it. Only Mormons are allowed in after a temple is dedicated.

We toured the outside of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City last summer. It's a beautiful building and frustrating not to be able to go into it. Only Mormons are allowed in after a temple is dedicated.

We have an opportunity to tour a brand-new Mormon temple in our area before it is dedicated. Non-Mormons can only tour temples before they are dedicated. Non-Mormons can visit Mormon meetinghouses any time.  This is the fourth temple built in Arizona. It looks like Georgia has one that was built in the 1980s.

(Here is a map showing the population density of Mormons across the United States. It’s from 2010 but you get the idea.)

You have to make reservation to tour the temple and even though I reserved tickets the very first day, the weekends were already taken and I was assigned a Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. So while absolutely interesting, we are trying to decide if it’s worth pulling our kids from school to tour it with us?

Here’s more on the temple from AZ Central.com

“At 85,000 square feet, the Gilbert Temple is the largest the church has constructed in 17 years. The five-level temple is 821/2 feet tall with a spire reaching 195 feet, making it the tallest building in Gilbert and among the tallest in the Southeast Valley. The highly detailed ivory exterior features high quality precast concrete and stone accentuated with fine rustications and beautifully crafted art glass windows…”

“While the church’s 18,000-plus meetinghouses are open to all people who wish to attend religious services, temples are open only to faithful Latter-day Saints after they are formally dedicated. Temples are considered “houses of the Lord” where Christ’s teachings are reaffirmed through marriage, baptism and other ordinances that unite families for eternity. Inside, members learn more about the purpose of life and make promises to serve Jesus Christ and their fellow man….”

“Once dedicated, the Gilbert Temple will be the 142nd operating temple of the church worldwide. It is among four temples in Arizona, the others being in Mesa, Snowflake and the Gila Valley. A fifth temple in Phoenix is under construction and a sixth, in Tucson, has been announced.”

I am surprised by how many non-Mormons in our community are so excited about touring the Temple. The pastor of our Catholic Church is going ton a VIP tour, and all the ladies I teach with at church are going. Many of our neighbors have signed up too.

I hate for my children to miss school, but we view it as quite an opportunity. They have visited the outside of the mother-ship temple in Salt Lake City, which is quite a site to behold.

We visited the BAPS temple in Gwinnett last summer too. The kids thought it was amazing. That is my dad in the shot. I highly recommend touring the BAPS temple.

We visited the BAPS temple in Gwinnett last summer too. The kids thought it was amazing. That is my dad in the shot. I highly recommend touring the BAPS temple.

This summer when visiting my folks in Atlanta we toured the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple in Gwinnett. It is the largest Hindu temple in the United States and was utterly amazed. I am so glad my children got to see first-hand the culture and architecture of this Indian faith. (I highly recommend visiting the temple.) We even brought home desserts from their store and comic books in the Gujarati. I feel like touring the Mormon temple is equally educational and may be the only opportunity to do so in their lifetime.

So the question is: Would you pull your kids from school in the middle of the day to take them on a tour of religious site that is not your own religion?

45 comments Add your comment


January 13th, 2014
8:25 pm

As a Social Studies teacher I applaud both your openmindedness and your desire to enhance your children’s learning.


January 13th, 2014
8:25 pm

You do realize all religion is garbage used to control the masses.


January 13th, 2014
10:17 pm

Yes, absolutely! Go! This is a rare opportunity. I was able to tour the temple outside St. Louis before it was dedicated. It was really interesting — I learned a lot. A few hours of missed school can be made up.


January 13th, 2014
10:32 pm

Sure, go! I personally feel religion is the opiate of the masses, but that doesn’t mean it’s not educational or interesting to learn about religions, whether you believe or not.


January 13th, 2014
11:14 pm

We sent one of our kids on a mission trip to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. He missed about three days of school. It didn’t count as an excused absence but his teachers were incredibly supportive. He learned so much that he would never have learned by staying home. Sometimes we have to grab opportunities to grow our children’s minds and hearts, whether it fits the school’s policies or not.

Chris Salzmann

January 14th, 2014
12:10 am

Of course. To learn about ALL religions is about opening one’s mind and broadening one’s horizon. I minored in Religious Studies in college so am very supportive of children also learning and comparing religious faiths. The key difference is LEARNING versus being PREACHED to. They can get preached to everyone’s heart content in Sunday School. The key difference is that they don’t HAVE to go there and tax dollars don’t support children being preached to.


January 14th, 2014
2:20 am

Yes absolutely. My parents believed that school attendance was of major importance and only serious illness justified missing, BUT, they let me stay home the day of President John Kennedy’s funeral. I watched it on our black-and-white television. I attended school 180 days a year for 12 years and that experience still stands out in my mind much more clearly than the 2000 days I spent in a classroom.


January 14th, 2014
7:10 am

We will pull our kids from school for educational opportunities. The school is not the only permissible teacher of my children, and most definitely not their parent. It is our job as their parents to determine how we choose to enrich their education and development.


January 14th, 2014
7:26 am

I applaud your willingness to expose your children to educational experiences; an absence for something like this isn’t like an extra day at Disney. I don’t know if I would take my kids to a place where there is a limited-time-only or not. If the Mormons don’t feel the need to let people in – to share in their religion – I’m not sure it’s one that I’d feel like I wanted to experience by looking at a structure, which is not yet “completed” in their minds. But, to each their own.

Mother of 2

January 14th, 2014
7:32 am

Absolutely. Sounds like a wonderful opportunity for the kids to learn about architecture and religion. Enjoy.


January 14th, 2014
7:43 am

I say YES. I have never been the type of teacher who thinks children should never miss school. Occasional ( sp?) outings with parents or relatives to interesting places, are good. The first time I went to Alaska, I took my daughter along. I let the teachers know way ahead of time and they were supportive. It was over a long weekend and she would miss 2 days of school. The front secretary was not thrilled and let me know. I replied, ” Some folks have NEVER been to Alaska and since her teachers tell me it is o.k. she is going!”

I visit different churches when I am traveling. I like to see how they worship. We also toured the Greek Orthodox site in St. Augustine and the beautiful Catholic church.

I have never been to the temple above. TWG your kids look excited in the picture…your Dad not so much…haha!


January 14th, 2014
7:43 am

HAHA and since I am her Mother…she is going!


January 14th, 2014
8:43 am

@ A I appreciate the way you stated your point of view without being overly offensive.

@TWG if the kids LIKE viewing other churches then yes do it. The architecture etc, if it interests them, would be worth the trip. Are the absentee rules crazy in AZ like they are here? Have your Priest write the a note of it being a religious deal and it could be excused. My daughter has an event with our church in February that will be excused because of it being a religion thing.


January 14th, 2014
9:33 am

We’ll be praying for you chris. God bless you!!

K's Mom

January 14th, 2014
9:36 am

Yes, I would take my kids out of school for this rare opportunity. I hope you guys enjoy it!


January 14th, 2014
9:47 am

I simply don’t get it, what is so special about this or any other tax dodging church? Architecture can be enjoyed without the dogma of religion.Personally if I am not acceptable post “dedication” I am not interested in allowing them to fell better about it now.


January 14th, 2014
10:01 am

years and years ago when the temple in washington dc was constructed, before the temple was dedicated i was able to go on a tour. beautiful building. was able to learn so much about the temple and it’s construction. it’s all marble and i so very beautiful.

i’d say go if you have opportunity. what your children will learn in a day on the trip is well worth missing a few hours of school. shame schools can’t do field trips to places like this.


January 14th, 2014
10:30 am

I do find it interesting that they’re so restrictive you can’t visit once it’s dedicated but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since they’re pretty restrictive about everything else as well.

Go for it but ONLY if your kids find it interesting… so maybe your older kids but will your youngest or will she just be antsy the whole time and want to leave? I’m guessing she’d feel more left out from her siblings than she actually cares about seeing the temple.

We pulled our son out of school on a few occasions when I decided what we were doing was more educational than sitting in a classroom. One year when our son was in 4th grade we took a last minute trip in December to D.C. My husband had to use vacation time and he couldn’t take it over the actual holidays so we went the last week of school prior to the holiday break. It was a great time to go since it’s winter and most schools up there weren’t doing field trips that week. We worked on a scrap book over the break and our son took it to school and told his classmates about it.

"Only Mormons are allowed in after a temple is dedicated. "

January 14th, 2014
11:06 am

Are you sure?

I have been inside the Mormon Tabernacle many times to hear their choir practice on many, many ski trips to the Salt Lake City ski areas(and, yes, our kids were with us)….the choir was in the choir loft, the pipe organ was used, and we sat in the regular congregational pews. Or was I just in one of their “substitute auditoriums” that they tout as their “temple auditorium”?


January 14th, 2014
11:13 am

Back when our two were in elementary school we pulled them out at least twice a year to go skiing during the school year. And it was only a day or two over a long, holiday scheduled weekend anyway (mostly Martin Luther King and President’s Day), and they, and their teachers, were none the worse for their absences (both sons graduated on time and under budget from college).


January 14th, 2014
11:59 am

The world is frequently more educational than any single day (or two) in a classroom.


January 14th, 2014
12:01 pm

Sure. You are only touring a building not the religion itself. If the trip were for religious purposes then I would say no because that would not be something to be done during school hours.

"Only Mormons are allowed in after a temple is dedicated. "

January 14th, 2014
12:45 pm

Now that I think about it I guess the “temple” we visited at the “compound” in SLC was NOT the “real Temple” – I now remember that when some Mormon friends of ours son got married to a non-Mormon girl the girl’s parents were not allowed to view the ceremony in the Temple here in Atlanta; they had to have a second ceremony prior to the reception so that her parents could “see” her get married. I have always wondered ever since: how did the bride get into the Temple if she was not Mormon? Maybe she converted to Mormonism prior to the ceremony – can you do that?

Hidden Agenda

January 14th, 2014
1:07 pm

The best learning goes on outside of the classroom.

Get It Right

January 14th, 2014
1:18 pm

Anyone can go in the Mormon TABERNACLE in SLC, where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs, but not the Temple. Same compound, different buildings.

I would be interested in seeing the inside of a temple and would take my kids. There is a learning opportunity there when connected to the tearing of the curtain in the Temple in Jerusalem when Christ was crucified. Very symbolic meaning there in both the Bible and in the Mormon temples.

richard "dick" head

January 14th, 2014
2:05 pm

would be akin to learning about a different easter bunny,santa claus, or tooth fairy,all fairy tales anyway


January 14th, 2014
3:19 pm

Just show up on the day you want to attend, you will not be turned away.


January 14th, 2014
3:32 pm

@ Behind and Hidden…as a teacher, I agree with you! There are so many fascinating things parents can teach their children that teachers will not get to do. I took my daughter to Ellis Island. Her American History teacher had not been. She brought back things for him to share with the class. Amazing learning in that day!


January 14th, 2014
4:05 pm

Definitely, yes. History is defined by religious movements (and with it the cathedrals, temples, synagoges, etc. they produce). You are not trying to indoctrinate your children; you’re trying to open their eyes to the many paths this world offers. Teaching them about other faiths and cultures gives them more confidence and helps them understand the differences that so many people wrongly fear. (Just try explaining the last 2000 years of European history without mentioning Christianity.)


January 14th, 2014
4:16 pm

I would also have no interest in visiting a site where I was not otherwise welcome. I have travelled the world, and while I am possibly the least religious person you will meet outside of an atheist, I do like the architecture and unique cultures/norms of other religions. I have never been turned away other than the time being inappropriate, like during a service.


January 14th, 2014
4:16 pm

I was given the opportunity to tour the temple here in Atlanta (Dunwoody/Sandy Springs) area about 2 years ago. The temple was renovated and was to undergo another dedication so they had an open viewing period. Wow did I learn a lot! And I have friends that are Mormon. It is a beautiful building and you learn little tidbits about their religion that is so enlightening. Its an opportunity that not many get so I say take the chance.

And to those saying dont go because they exclude you. That’s not the way it should be looked at. Their temple is INCREDIBLY sacred to them. Not even all Mormons are allowed to go to the temple. They actually have to request permission from their bishops to go.


January 14th, 2014
4:58 pm

Liberalism is a religion and its high temples are America’s liberal arts colleges—as well as less august places like the AJC newsroom.

Kids should be made to understand they live in a world of promotion.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 14th, 2014
5:12 pm

there is a giant area surrounding the temple building in Salt Lake where regular folks are allowed. They have very impressive learning centers and musical centers where regular people can go. But that temple is locked up tight. Salt Lake City is a beautiful city. We walked all around the city at night and felt very safe. The kids really enjoyed seeing it. (We were passing through on our way to Idaho and Yellowstone but wanted to stop as see the temple and Brigham Young’s first house. It looks very Southern. odd that way.)


January 14th, 2014
7:04 pm

Oh, please take them — what a rare and special opportunity to get a peek behind a very strict screen! I think it’s important to understand the tenets of different faiths, regardless of whether or not I agree with them. It’s so helpful to understand what kind of faith reference people that you meet may have. One of my favorite college classes was comparative religions.

I loved my visit to the Temple in Salt Lake City — what a fascinating complex! It was incredibly beautiful. While I was there (on a Friday afternoon), I kept seeing bride after bride posing by trees, flowers, doors, etc. At first I thought it was a bridal magazine or photographer shoot, there were so many of them, in different dresses, etc. A guide later explained that they were often up to 50 weddings on a Saturday at the temple, in different rooms, etc., and 5-10 during the week. Very different from a Protestant or a Catholic wedding! To answer a question: A bride doesn’t get into a temple if she’s not Mormon. If a non-Mormon marries a Mormon, they cannot be married in a Temple, and their marriage isn’t “sealed” — which is a Very Big Deal to Mormons. They can, however, be married in a civil ceremony outside the church, of course, or even in a service conducted in the Mormon chapel, but not in the Temple — which sorta makes them second-class Mormon citizens. :-)

The Tabernacle is different from the Temple. The temple area is considered sacred, where sacred ordinances, such as weddings/sealings, baptisms, etc. take place. It’s not for your regular “go to church” services – it’s only for certain church rituals, and you can’t enter it until you are 12 years old, and then only if you are deemed worthy. The tabernacle is more of a general purpose area, for meetings, sermons, and other events. There aren’t many tabernacles — the one in Salt Lake City hosts the General Conferences. LDS also has churches/chapels where “ordinary” worship services are held, and non-Mormons are welcome to those. Temples, however, are super-sacred — if you aren’t spiritually prepared (i.e., a non-Mormon or a Mormon who has run afoul of their church), you aren’t permitted in.

I don’t consider it not being “welcomed” to be told that I’m not “allowed” in, given it’s purpose — so understanding the faith and its tenets is essential to not getting your feelings hurt if they don’t respond in a way that you are accustomed to. That’s like getting mad because Roman Catholics don’t permit non-Catholics to participate in communion, or getting angry at being asked to wear a head-covering in a Jewish synagogue. Different faiths have different traditions — this is not news.


January 14th, 2014
7:15 pm

@MamaS: Wasn’t your school closed on that Monday of JFK’s funeral? They were in Virginia, all the state offices and schools were closed.

@Kat: It’s not a question of not wanting to share their religion. Goodness, sharing their religion is a huge aspect of their faith, as evidenced by the large number of missionaries they have — over 80,000 world-wide, most of whom sign up for a two-year hitch (for guys, girls are 18 months) as a missionary and are sent just about anywhere in the world. And they certainly welcome inquiries and people who are sincere in wanting to learn about their church, and most stakes and wards (groupings within a district) have a “Visitors Welcome” sign. But you don’t mess with their sacred spaces. They don’t worship there, anyway, it’s just for sacred ceremonies — so what’s the big deal?


January 14th, 2014
8:15 pm

Yes!!! Don’t miss this opportunity.


January 14th, 2014
9:16 pm

I visited several temples while in Bangkok. While anyone was welcome, you did have to take your shoes off to enter. What was interesting was there were two distinct areas to put your shoes, one for Thais, and one for non-Thais The Thai-only spot was very well maintained, while the non-Thai spot was pretty bad!


January 15th, 2014
1:50 am


January 16th, 2014
1:11 am

I’m a mormon! i can tell you from experience that you can go anytime the tours are open. They won’t turn you away if you just show up. So I say go whenever your schedule permits :-). Like others have said, we believe that temples are the most holy places. After the “open house” is over in a few weeks, there will be a meeting attended by the current Prophet (Thomas Monson) and members of the 12 Apostles of the church where they will dedicate it with a special ceremony and prayer. After it is dedicated we literally consider it the “House of the Lord.” On the tour they will tell you everything that goes on in the temple so you will see that we are not trying to keep anything secret, temples are just very sacred to us. 13 years ago I was married in our temple in San Diego California and was promised in that ceramony that if my wife and I keep our promises to each other and God that we will be united together with our children for our lives on earth and for all eternity after the resurrection. We call these special wedding ceremonies “sealings” as in the family unit is sealed together forever. Here is some more info on our website: http://www.lds.org/church/temples/why-we-build-temples?lang=eng I hope you have a great time!


January 16th, 2014
9:14 am

Yes! Definitely go to the open house with your family members. I have been to several Mormon temple open houses before and can attest that it is absolutely educational and well worth your time. The temples are all very beautiful and symbolic. Your children will find it most interesting and it is very family-centered.

Here is a really good short video (at the end of this link) that explains why Mormons build temples. You might want to explain/show your kids a little before going so they have a better appreciation of what they are looking at: http://www.mormonnewsroom.ca/article/temples


January 16th, 2014
9:24 am

PS. Here is a news clip from ABC today about the open house I believe you are referring to: http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_southeast_valley/gilbert/gilbert-mormon-temple-first-pictures-from-inside-temple

Fred T

January 16th, 2014
1:49 pm

“They have visited the outside of the mother-ship temple in Salt Lake City,”

Mother-ship, really? Says a lot about what you think already.

School is for education. Education is more than sitting in school being indoctrinated. Let them see something new. You keep them home when they are sick don’t you? They make up the work. Same thing here.


January 16th, 2014
6:07 pm

Yes! Do go! To sit in class is one thing, but to “go and do” provides a deeper, richer learning experience. You and your children won’t regret it.

In the LDS church there is a heavy emphasis placed on ‘preparing’ to go to the temple. Understanding this concept may help put to rest (at least in part) the feelings of irritation some have expressed at being denied entry after the temple is dedicated. Growing up in an LDS family generally means that you are taught from very young what you can do to prepare to go to the temple. These things include such things as making and keeping a baptismal covenant, adherence to certain rules and expected behaviors. This general principle is no stranger to all of us. Its found around us all the time. You have to prepare to travel abroad. You have to prepare to get into a good school after high school. You must prepare to plant and harvest a successful garden.

For instance, to get a driver’s license, there are certain preparations that need to happen and certain requirements made. Perhaps there are those who feel that if the automobile-driving populace doesn’t accept them because they have not yet qualified for a license, then they are not interested in the benefits of being able to drive at all. That may be so for some, but that doesn’t seem to be a reasonable way of thinking. If you were to enter the temple post-dedication without having prepared (Mormon or not), you would likely derive no benefit from the experience. God has made temple blessings available to ALL his children. The requirement? Proper preparation.

So, Theresa, yes! Go. While the preparations/requirements for going to the Gilbert temple are different now from what they will be after it is dedicated, they are still preparations. Ones that I hope will bear, for you and your children, the fruits of understanding and appreciation of a different way of thinking.

downtown dave

January 17th, 2014
8:33 am

To visit another religion? No. But I would suggest before doing so, completely investigate the religion. Mormonism, for instance, keeps a lot of what they believe hidden. They have the same phrases associated with born-again Christianity, but their teachings are far from Scripture.



January 18th, 2014
8:53 pm

Definitely go! We’ve taken our kids to visit as many different religious buildings in our area as we can. This isn’t an issue of dogma and whether or not you agree with the teachings of a certain church, it is a chance for your children to see and understand how others view their religion and what is holy to them.

For the atheists who keep putting down religion, remember your slogan: celebrate diversity!!!!