The addition of an Angel Moroni statue to the 30-year-old Ogden LDS Temple later this year doesn't mean the church will add statues to the tops of all its existing temples.

David J. May, director of temple facilities for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, agrees that a trumpet-blowing Angel Moroni has become an unofficial icon for the church in recent years as well as a literal lightning rod for temples in rural areas.

According to LDS beliefs, Moroni was an ancient prophet who, as a resurrected being, led the Prophet Joseph Smith to gold plates that were translated into the Book of Mormon, one of four books in the church's canon of scripture.

An Angel Moroni statue graces the top of many temples but not all of the church's 113 operating temples.

"It's based on a case-by-case condition," May said. "There's no push to add them to every temple. . . . There's been a lot of speculation on adding angels."

The Provo Temple, a near duplicate of the Ogden Temple, is among those rumored to be crowned with a Moroni statue in the future. But May said that hasn't been decided.

Moroni statues generally come in a 7-foot- and a 13-foot-high variety. Most are covered with gold leaf, though some are only painted gold.

The metal statues do more than draw visitor attention. They also attract lightning.

"We put a metallic object on a high point, and it becomes a lightning target," May said.

He said the Moroni statues on many temples are frequently struck by lighting, though only occasionally damaged.

Such damage is why the church is replacing the Moroni statue on top of the American Fork Temple, May said.

The old statue will be refurbished for future use on another temple.

"We take all the precautions," May said of lightning dangers. "We do have lightning rods. We ground the statues."

He also said no one's faith should be shaken by lightning strikes at temples.

"Absolutely not," he said. "Lightning is a part of nature."

May said lightning is unpredictable and even experts are unclear about many aspects of the phenomenon.

May doesn't know of any specific lightning strikes at the Salt Lake Temple, but he suspects it was more common when the downtown skyline was lower. Lightning tends to strike the tallest objects, and the more rural temples, such as American Fork, may be struck more often than downtown ones.


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