One of D.C.’s Well-Known Landmarks is the Mormon Temple in Kensington, MD

Now that it’s pretty much a done deal that Mitt Romney’s the Republican presidential candidate, this is a good time to learn a little more about the guy’s faith. So off I went to pay a visit to the famous gold-turretted, white marbled Mormon Temple on Stoneybrook Drive in Kensington, Md. Upclose, the fortress-like building is rather formidable, but the grounds are well-pruned and pretty on a sunny day.

I’m honestly not that interested in the Mormon philosophy, but it’s been quite a source of controversy for Romney in his quest to be the GOP challenger to Obama. (The idea of having a Mormon president rubs some religious voters the wrong way, as they don’t consider Mormonism a part of mainstream Christianity.) I wandered closer and closer to the temple, looking for someone to talk to.As a non-member, I was aware that I wasn’t allowed into the temple. But there didn’t seem like anything was stopping me from walking into the lobby. From behind the reception desk, three gentlemen in pure white suits looked at me with curious interest. I approached the desk. They smiled.

“Is there any possibility of taking a peek into the temple hall?” I asked one of them, as the other two looked on.

“You could…if you have a recommendation from a Mormon…

OR…you can consider joining us. After you’ve completed a year of study and worship in the secondary hall, then you’ll be allowed to worship in the main hall,” he responded. The other two continued to observe the exchange.

Friendly as they were, it was a little awkward to have three pairs of eyes focused rather intently on me. I thanked them and left to finish roaming the grounds.

There are pathways that take people to the back of the building. Security cameras popped up around the landscape, and so did the occasional man in a bodyguard suit. It’s unusual to see this kind of surveillance in a place of worship. But at least everyone I crossed paths with smiled (except the bodyguards) and were friendly.

I suppose one could argue that Mormons are taking precautions against vandalism by stepping up the security. That’s fair, but why won’t they allow the public or even new believers to enter the main hall? Are we unclean? Unholy? Unworthy? Whatever the reason, I get the message. I’m not readily welcome into their midst unless I can be trusted. But this is the same Mormon faith whose scriptures endorse baptizing the deceased — regardless of the faith they believed in — so that they can be allowed into heaven. Hmm.

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