Angel Moroni Temple

As is tradition here at This Week in Mormons, it is time for our twice-yearly exercise in predicting the announcement of new temples. Mormon temples are different from everyday meetinghouses in purpose and scope, and the construction of a temple in an area typically speaks to the strength and size of Latter-day Saint congregations in that area.

In 2011 President Monson stated that 85 percent of Church membership was within 200 miles of a temple. That’s pretty cool. It’s also an imperfect measurement, since traveling 200 miles represents less time and difficulty in developed countries compared to developing ones, but it’s still a great jumping-off point for some data visualization.

As such, we’ve embedded an interactive map below that displays temples currently in operation, those under construction, those under construction with dedication dates announced, and those announced but not yet under construction. Each data point is then represented by a 200-mile-radius circle. Lastly, in keeping with the purpose of this article, we’ve also added radius circles for our predictions. If some circles look bigger than others as you go north, that’s just the result of map projections distorting scale.

Now that you have the map, we’ll provide some analysis. Our very own Joe Peterson and Geoff Openshaw have kindly offered up their services to make this article, and they shall discuss each selection in turn.

Please bear in mind that this is an exercise in demography and prediction. We completely recognize that we lack that vital extra component—revelation for the entire Church—in speculating about these things. All we can do is study it out in our minds and then make educated guesses.

That said, we’ve been correct many times in the past. If this were baseball we’d easily win the batting title. Just sayin’.

So hit that Next Page link and let’s get started in no particular order.

Managua Nicaragua Temple

Managua Nicaragua

Geoff: Enough already. We’ve called for a temple in Nicaragua’s capital in the past for a number of reasons: Nicaragua is the last Hispanophone Central American country without a temple; Nicaragua is the country with the most stakes without a temple; the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple already supports 34 stakes and districts in Honduras alone; and oh yeah, did we mention an apostle recently visited the area? Do we really think he wasn’t scouting out temple stuff, too?

Joe: A temple in Nicaragua is basically human rights at this point.

Plus, you know the tune, as Guy Lombardo sang:

I have been to many tropic ports
I might include even Brooklyn
If you’re ever feelin’ out of sorts
I’d like to recommend a look in…

Managua, Nicaragua, what a wonderful spot
There’s coffee and bananas and a temperature hot
So take a trip and on a ship go sailing away
Across the agua to Managua, Nicaragua, ole!

I rest my case.

Bentonville Arkansas Temple

Bentonville Arkansas

Geoff: Although this may seem like a new prediction, aside from being the home of Wal-Mart, Bentonville is actually the likely location for a temple in the Rogers area, which we’ve called for extensively in the past. Some local insiders have stated they have firsthand knowledge of the Church purchasing land in the city for a special building. So we are basically communicating what we heard from another party that heard it from another party. Or a rumor, if you will.

Either way, this area continues to be the most populated region of the country with a solid LDS presence that is outside of a 200-mile-radius circle.

Joe: Look, I know this guess is the always-a-bridesmaid-never-a-bride perennial pick on everyone’s temple guess lists, but in all honesty, I’m over it and here’s why: You need members where there is a temple. Looking at the temple districts that flank this region, you are faced with 2 of the smallest districts in the U.S. of A. To the east, there are only 6 stakes in the Memphis temple district, half of which are in Arkansas! And to the west, the 4 stakes around the Bentonville/Rogers area would take almost 30% of Oklahoma City’s temple district away.

When you do that, in this part of the country, there’s just not a lot of other members to fill in the gaps. A temple here would ruin attendance in the neighboring temples, and would barely have the ability to be fully staffed. Then again, there’d be sure to be a windfall of attendance from Branson up yonder, with all those Utah retirees going to enjoy the shows. Perhaps we could have the hotels concierges there recommend it to their guests.

Geoff: Meh, we’re surviving in DC even though the Philly Temple pilfered our district last year. Have some faith, brother!

Praia Cape Verde Temple

Praia Cape Verde

Joe: Channeling Moana: Make way, TWiM nation, make way! It’s time you knew that the island nation of Cape Verde needs its own temple. The dancers are practicing, they dance an ancient song. (Other islands get their own; it’s Praia’s turn.) With just as many stakes as other temple zones, it’s home to faithful saints, that’s all we need. Look how their members grow, along the Tropic of Cancer. Spain is just way too far, across the sea.

Geoff: I have no idea what is happening right now. We’re barely into this, Joe, and you’re speaking in some sort of parseltongue. Besides, Cape Verde has three stakes and two districts, but is stuck heading up to Madrid for temple work. The potential downside is that the Madrid Spain Temple will lose one feeder stake from France later this year when the Paris Temple is dedicated, and some others whenever the Lisbon Temple is completed. But I dig having another island nation temple. It seems like it’s been too long.

Joe: I’ll show you a parseltongue. Here’s the real deal: we gave Praia an excellent breakdown in our previous Temple Predictions article, and many of those reasons are still valid, says I. I think the lost feeder stakes are not consequential to the justification that this island nation alone has as many members that other temple districts have, especially other island temples.

Auckland New Zealand Temple

Auckland New Zealand

Geoff: Alright, I admit this seems weird. Auckland is not exactly far from the Hamilton New Zealand Temple, but that Temple is also small, and the northern part of North Island has a good number of stakes. It sounds odd, but I hear buzz about Auckland. And this day and age of two temples in Lima and Provo (with another same-city temple predicted by us later), anything goes.

Joe: While a glance at the clusters of stakes and members in New Zealand make this choice look almost obvious, to me the better place would be in the Capital of Cool, in Wellington. If the 200-mile radius is our loose barometer, then the existing temple in Hamilton could be argued to already be Auckland’s de facto temple. Even if the cluster of stakes in the northwest seems attractive enough to merit its own, what would that do to the existing temple’s district? It would decimate it.

Also, if there’s no love for South Island, let’s at least make it a little closer for them to travel to a temple, by meeting them in the middle with a Wellington House of the Lord. Either way having a temple in Christchurch would be the coolest.

Layton Utah Temple

Layton Utah

Joe: Having spent considerable time in this area over the last few years, most people might not know just how gangbusters the communities between Salt Lake and Ogden are expanding. Perhaps calling upon the westward-bound pioneers of old, in Davis County if there’s land west ho! toward the Great Salt Lake, you can rest assured there will be Craftsman style McMansions as far as the eye can see. In other words, that’s a lot of “Live, Laugh, Love” vinyl lettering and paintings of George Washington at Valley Forge to sell to all those homes. Maybe we should predict a new Deseret Book in this area as well.

Geoff: Uh, Joe, a cursory Google search has told me that there is a Deseret Book right on Main Street, near the Walmart Supercenter, Home Depot, and Deseret Industries. Suburban living at its finest. All you need is a Kneader’s and you’ve got a stew, baby.

Alright, we’ve talked Layton a lot in the past. The basic explanation is that this region has more stakes per temple than Utah county, which boast four temples compared to the presence of two (Bountiful and Ogden) across this stretch of Wasatchia. Quit playing to the Provoites, yo.

Brasilia Brazil Temple

Brasilia Brazil

Geoff: When you’ve been in the country for decades and seem to announce a new temple there at least once per annum, you do the right thing and finally build one in the friggin’ capital city. Brasilia is not lacking for stakes and it is far enough removed from the coastal metropolises that building a temple here seems like a no-brainer. I mean come on, MANAUS got a temple, but not yet Brasilia?

Also, let’s do it to give the love to a kid from my old ward (thanks, Church gerrymandering!) who is serving a mission there.

Joe: Slow clap, Geoff. Slow clap. Frankly it’s surprising with the number of stakes they have in the region (roughly 15 stakes and 3 districts) for Brazil’s architecturally amazing capital city to be without a temple. Sure the one in Rio will serve, well, mostly Rio, and EVEN if they announced one somewhere else like Salvador, I still think there’s a decent case to make for Brasilia. How cool would it be if they designed an edifice that was an homage to Oscar Niemeyer who was the genius behind most of the iconic structures in this federal city!!?

Muntinlupa Philippines Temple

Muntinlupa Philippines

Geoff: You might be asking yourself where on earth this is. It’s in Metro Manila. “But wait!” you ask. “Doesn’t Manila already have a temple”? It does. “Wasn’t a temple planned for Urdaneta, in northern Luzon?” Indeed, and with that knowledge alone you might think that somewhere south in Mindanao, like Cayagan de Oro, might be the best spot for a temple.

Here’s the thing, though. The Manila Temple (actually in Quezon City), is decent in size, but suffers from serious overcrowding, which is a good kind of problem to have! We’ve also heard from members in the area that a site was selected for a temple in Muntinlupa, on the south end of Metro Manila.

Joe: Remember the never-built Harrison New York Temple? It was announced in 1995 and then nothing happened because Boston and Manhattan took all the love while the Church slogged it out over permits and designs in the White Plains area.

Similarly, the Urdaneta Temple was announced in 2010 to relieve the Manila Temple, but not much has happened there. Some reports say that the land set aside for the temple has proved susceptible to flooding and the Church is currently in a holding pattern on the ostensibly bad land.

Not only are there a whopping 62 stakes feeding into the Manila Temple, but there are 46 districts as well. A district is basically a mini stake. So for one temple, that’s a lot. There needs to be another solution elsewhere in the temple area. If the northern route didn’t work, then let’s look to the south. It couldn’t be too far south, though, because it would still need to be able to take some of the load off of the Manila Temple, which has most of its stakes clustered around the capital city itself.

Muntinlupa is a fine location for a new temple without writing Urdaneta out of the picture. Each could get a temple tomorrow, and they’d all three still have among the highest stake-to-temple ratios in the church. Let that sink in. Elder Oaks got ‘er done. Not only is Muntinlupa a good guess for a temple, by all counts it seems like it should be a higher priority to bring more of the temple blessings to the members there.

Budapest Hungary Temple

Budapest Hungary

Joe: Oh Geoff, you love this too much. This one would fall under the banner of prestige more than need. Sure a contingency of saints would be closer to a temple, but it’s not a critical mass, and unless they’re footing the bill, this doesn’t seem to rank highly on the list of likely spots.

Moreover, what is this prediction list? It feels like I’m playing Risk with a color other than black, putting all of my armies in Australia! This is a perilous prediction. I like it as an exercise in making cases for these areas to have a temple, but this one get’s an “unlikely” from me. I know I said it got my vote six months ago, but that’s because my nephew was on his mission there. He’s since returned so I feel no loyalty any longer.

Geoff: I’m glad your loyalty is bought by having someone present in the temple area! Then again, I have a cousin on a mission in Bentonville, Arkansas, so…

I’ve seen buzzing about Vienna, but I stand by Budapest as the logical location. This is all the LDS rumor mill, but there’s also been rumblings of a second stake in Hungary. Romania has also seen growth and could likely have a stake in the next few years, assuming regional authorities have shaken off the Yerevan affair and aren’t gun shy.

Potential downsides: The Freiberg Temple would lose Hungary and Slovakia. Frankurt would lose Austria and everything through the Balkans. The Paris Temple will pick off some of Frankfurt and Bern. Then Rome will pick off some of Bern presumably next year. There’s even been a pesky (and unsubstantiated) rumor that there will be major downsizing of Church units across Europe over the next few years. Also, Austria has more members than Hungary. Full stop.

Hyderabada India Temple

Hyderabad India

Geoff: This is one of the fun ones, but since I was correct about Bangkok, I figure I can roll the dice (in a strictly non-gambling sense) on Hyderabad. The Church isn’t particularly huge in India, with 41 units across the country, or one ward/branch per every 30,536,585 persons.

However, from humble beginnings the work has continued. A second mission was created in New Delhi in 2007 and the country’s three stakes have been organized since 2012, with a fourth slated to be organized in New Delhi later this year. What’s more, those original three stakes are kinda sorta close-ish to each other, and Hyderabad could be a nice meeting point. Plus it is essentially the center of the Church in India.

So I’m calling for a temple here even though Bangkok was only recently announced as sits somewhat close to the area. But this temple could serve members from as far away as the Persian Gulf and the Levant.

Neighboring Pakistan has seen tremendous Church growth, but a difficult political situation between the neighboring states might make a temple even as close as New Delhi unattainable for those across the border. For that reason I almost gave the edge to Abu Dhabi once more, but for now, I’m sitting with India.

Joe: One ward or branch for every 30 million people? Yowza! Still, this is a strong guess, and it’s been completely off my radar. Astutely observed, Geoff, ol’ chap! The subcontinent would benefit for sure with an anchor like this. A temple here would be a rallying cry and a beacon for hope in the way that Rome and Thailand were, but aside from the symbolic gesture, it seems there’s ample need.

Look to Halifax, Memphis and elsewhere—tiny temple districts with tiny temples. But even still, Hyderabad seems more like a Billings. It could support a larger temple to serve a broader region, despite it being an isolated area away from most Church membership clusters and/or expansion hot spots.

Lehi Utah Temple

Lehi Utah

Joe: Lehi is definitely fertile land for a House of the Lord. The problem is, it’s been ever under the shadow of that 80s film which I still can’t believe our parents let us watch; the Lehi Roller Mills and surrounding community never seemed to recover from that dance ban, Silicon Slopes notwithstanding. And let’s face it, one can’t have a temple cultural ceremony without dancing, can one? It just isn’t done. Curse you, John Lithgow!

Other downside: Lehi is something like the new Draper, and do we really need two Drapers and two Draper temples?

Geoff: Last time we chose Eagle Mountain so as to space out the distance from the Draper and Mt. Timpanogos temples, but this time I’m setting my wagons east by a few miles away from the hinterlands of Montaña de Águila and embracing the soon-to-be terminus of the Mountain View Corridor. I’m OK to go, Jodie. I’m OK to go.

Thanks for playing, folks! Leave your comments below.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Lagos, Nigeria
  • Viña del Mar, Chile
  • Salvador, Brazil
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Tirana, Albania
  • Ulaanbaatar, Mongola