Mormons must answer personal questions before receiving a "Temple Recommend"

Child support became a more explicit question in 1999

May 16, 2002
By Rick Ross

Mormons are questioned by their leaders before receiving a temple "recommend," which deems them "worthy" to enter a temple. Without such a clearance, they may not enter and participate. There are 14 questions specifically asked of every Mormon before receiving such a recommend.

Mormons must disclose their status regarding the payment of spousal and child support before receiving a recommend. Those who do not pay such support may be excluded. Though a less explicit question regarding such payment had been asked since 1985, as of 1999 the church honed it, seemingly for added emphasis.

In a 1999 prepared statement Mormon officials stated, "Such interviews have always been conducted with the intent of encouraging members to live Christ like lives...[and] church leaders [feel] it is necessary to place additional emphasis on meeting all family responsibilities and obligations."

Question 12 was changed to read, "Do you have financial or other obligations to a former spouse or children? If yes, are you current in meeting those obligations?"

Previously, question 12 read, "Have you been divorced or are you now separated under order of a civil court? If yes, a) are you current in meeting financial and other obligations? b) Were there any circumstances of transgression in connection with your divorce or separation that have not been resolved with your bishop or branch president?"

Now, question 12 focuses exclusively upon spousal and child support. Question 14 already covered the issue of any marital transgression.

According to Kenneth A. Macnab, past chairman of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Therapists AMCAP the Mormon divorce rate has risen. Macnab added, "It is not a whole lot lower with temple marriages."

AMCAP president Lane Fischer explained further that though the church has "no statutory power...if [Mormons] go to the temple, then this is the expectation, just like paying tithing."

At one time all temple recommendations were signed by the Mormon Church president. But in 1891 President Wilford Woodruff, delegated this responsibility to bishops and stake presidents, due to the volume of requests.

The standard questions were later established about 1922. These questions include concerns about doctrinal adherence, loyalty and the payment of tithes, which is essential for any temple recommend. However, failure to uphold other Mormon rules such as prohibitions concerning the consumption of coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco, might be dealt with more flexibility. It actually wasn't until 1976 that "Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?" became a standard question.

In 1979, the church added the issue of domestic abuse as a consideration for a temple recommend. And eventually in 1989, the church's official handbook for bishops stated, "church members who abuse their family members...should not...receive a temple recommend."

Notes: This article is based upon "LDS Church Emphasizing Child Support," The Salt Lake Tribune, June 26, 1999 By Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright © 2002 Rick Ross.

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