Most Mormon Church members quoted last month in news stories about revisions in the church's confidential temple ceremony have been summoned for interviews by church officials, it was learned this week.
News of the revisions was made public after the Los Angeles Times and other news media learned through various sources that three elements in the secret rites had been eliminated -- the woman's vow to obey her husband, a scenario suggesting that non-Mormon clergy succumb to Satan's wiles and oath-taking gestures with violent overtones. It was believed that none of the church members quoted broke vows to keep the contents secret.
One man said he was reprimanded for talking to the news media, and another was asked to surrender his "temple recommend," the annually renewed permission for members in good standing to participate in temple ceremonies.
But Robert Rees, a Mormon bishop in Los Angeles, said he had an "amicable conversation" with a regional church authority about his comments to the Times. "There was nothing heavy or ominous about it," Rees said.
Lavina Fielding Anderson of Salt Lake City, editor-elect of the Journal of Mormon History, said she talked twice last month to her regional authority, the second time as a part of the interview to renew her temple recommend. Both talks were "positive," without qualification, she said in a prepared statement.
"It seems to me that the temple modifications have been received among members with almost universal rejoicing as a manifestation of inspiration," Anderson said. "The press, with a few exceptions, has reported them positively and respectfully."
As a faithful church member, she said, "I appreciated the opportunity of affirming these changes . . . rather than having reporters collect commentary exclusively from known detractors." Former Mormons had alerted the media to the changes.
The public communications office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Thursday, defending questioning of members and reemphasizing the sacred confidentiality of the temples. "When they leave the house of the Lord, they are under obligation to be true to a sacred trust not to speak of that which is holy and sanctified," the statement said.
"Therefore, it is appropriate that church leaders visit with members when comments about the temple or other sacred matters are made public and are attributed to them in the news media."