See which national leaders have toured the Washington D.C. Temple, from the Supreme Court to Congress
Justice Neil Gorsuch, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Utah Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee are among those who have toured the renovated temple as the public gets a brief chance to visit before its rededication.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, several other members of the U.S. Supreme Court and 30 members of Congress have toured the Washington D.C. Temple while it is open briefly to the public.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Jeff Flake, are among the major American political figures to visit while the temple is open briefly to the public after a four-year renovation.
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have spent the previous 10 days hosting more than 5,000 specially invited guests from governments, media, businesses, charities and other faiths.
A six-week open house for the general public began today.
So far, a dozen U.S. senators and 18 members of the U.S. House of Representatives (see the entire list below) have visited the unmistakable D.C. landmark, which for the past 48 years has been open only to church members.
Gorsuch visited the temple on April 20 with his wife, Louise, his law clerks and their families. The tour was led by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and included former federal Judge Thomas Griffith, a Latter-day Saint who recently retired from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Elder Cook led the tours last week for Gorsuch and other Supreme Court justices, who also brought their spouses, law clerks and families, according to Church Newsroom.
“These exceptionally capable justices were so kind and receptive — they are that kind of people, they’re good people,” Elder Cook said. “To have them understand the temple and the role of the Savior in our lives and the role of families in our lives and the (role of temple) ordinances and be able to share that with them and answer questions — that’s special.”
Located 10 miles north of the White House, the temple’s gold-leaf spires rise nearly 300 feet atop a towering, forested hill above the Capital Beltway that surrounds the seat of American power and inspired the term “inside the beltway.”
Former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Catholic, stopped in last week to learn more about a landmark he has passed on I-495 for three decades.
“I’ve always wanted to see this temple to understand all that is done inside,” he said in a news release. “To start at the baptistery on the first floor and then go all the way up to the top — to understand the lighting, the sense of Christ, the vision, how the doctrine works, the sealing room to the top floor. It was just a spectacular thing to behold.”
Four members of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have conducted tours — Elders Cook, David A. Bednar, D. Todd Christofferson and Gerrit W. Gong. Several other church officials have conducted tours, including former Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore.
Elder Christofferson was a young law clerk helping the late U.S. district judge John Sirica during the Watergate trials the last time the Washington D.C. Temple opened to the public after its construction in 1974.
On Monday, he led the tour for 16 U.S. senators.
“(I told them it) was a blessing to me to be able to come to this place, to this temple, and to reorient my perspective to things more profound, to things eternal, to the meaning of life,” Elder Christofferson said in a news release. “(I approached) everything that was going on in Washington at the time and in my work and service with the judge and all the rest, in the context of why we’re here and what it’s all about, what we need to emphasize in life, and what we can become despite all the turmoil or exigencies of the moment.”
Church officials expect hundreds of thousands of people to walk through the temple during a six-week open house for the general public. Thousands did so by mid-day on the first day today, according to an open house representative.
Tours are free, but tickets are required. They can be reserved at dctemple.org/open-house.
“Come and see it,” Elder Cook added. “You’ll enjoy it. You’ll get a better understanding about how we feel about the Savior and how we feel about families. The beauty of it, the tranquility of it, the sacred nature of it — you’ll love it. So please come and see.”
Dozens of Ambassadors to the United States and other representatives from more than 50 global embassies in Washington, D.C., visited the temple during the invited guest tours, too.
Romney, who is a Latter-day Saint, tweeted that he was grateful to share a glimpse into his faith with a bipartisan group of senators who toured the temple on Monday night, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
After a four-year renovation, the Washington D.C. Temple is finally re-opening! I was honored to be able to bring a bipartisan group of my Senate colleagues to the Temple for a tour last night and offer them a small glimpse into something that plays an important role in my life. pic.twitter.com/xgHUybxXS3— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) April 26, 2022
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, another church member, tweeted about the opportunity to show the temple to his Senate colleagues, who were joined on the tour by Flake, a former Arizona senator.
I love to see my colleagues visit the #dctemple. It was an honor to share a part of my faith and this wonderful, holy structure with some of my dear friends in the Senate. pic.twitter.com/Gaow3lLly8— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) April 26, 2022
In a tweet of his own, Scott, the Florida senator, thanked Romney and Lee for sharing what he called an important and historic building.
I was honored to join my Senate colleagues to tour the newly re-opened Washington D.C. Temple. Thank you, @SenatorRomney and @SenMikeLee, for sharing this important and historic church with us. #dctemple pic.twitter.com/K0zMa6YWmR— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) April 27, 2022
Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy also said he was honored to join colleagues on the Monday tour.
Other luminaries to take advantage of the temple’s brief opening so far include NAACP President Derrick Johnson and major national journalism executives like Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg and notable journalists like CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash.
More than 150 journalists attended media day on April 18, where Elders Bednar and Gong hosted three press conferences and led media tours. More than 100 articles appeared across the world in multiple languages by the end of the first week of invited-guest tours.
Leaders from the World Food Program, UNICEF and the American Red Cross, all of whom partner with Latter-day Saint Charities, also have come from across the country for an opportunity to see a temple that may not open to the public again for decades.
So did Elder G. Alexander Bryant, president of the North American Division of the Seventh-Day Adventists, and other leaders of from across a broad spectrum of faiths, including Sikhs, Catholics and Muslims.
American professional women’s soccer’s top 2021 goal scorer, Ashley Hatch, hosted teammates at the temple Tuesday from the defending National Women’s Soccer League championship team, the Washington Spirit.
Blitzer and Bash are members of the Jewish faith.
“There are a lot of similarities that go back to the Old Testament with Latter-day Saints and with Jews,” Blitzer told Church Newsroom. “I could really identify with many (Latter-day Saint) traditions because they’re similar to my traditions and my history and Judaism. It was really a wonderful experience for me.”
Bash said the tour increased her understanding of a faith she learned about while covering Romney’s presidential bid.
“It’s so fascinating,” she said. “It’s really a peaceful, spiritual, special place. … The architecture, the decor is set up so that it’s well-appointed but not over the top. You feel the sense of being in a very exquisite place, but not overwhelmed by it. It’s a tough balance, and (the church) nailed it.”
The Atlantic’s Goldberg said America is stronger because of its diversity of thought, which motivated him to come and see the temple.
“These exercises, when temples are open, are a great example of a church that had been misunderstood and excoriated in some cases, making itself part of the American whole,” Goldberg told Newsroom. “Especially in today’s America, it’s so hugely important to try to understand your neighbor and try to understand things that seem superficially foreign or unlike what you’re used to. And if we just make that effort, we’ll bring the country to a better place.”
The 12 sitting senators who toured the Washington D.C. Temple during an open house for invited guests are:
- Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
- Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.
- Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho.
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
- Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.
- Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
- Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
- Sen. Roger “Doc” Marshall, R-Kan.
- Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
- Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
- Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind.
- Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.
Two former senators have also visited:
- Ambassador Jeff Flake (Turkey).
- Former Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
The 18 House members who have toured the temple are:
- Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy,R-Calif.
- Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla.
- Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D.
- Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas.
- Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y.
- Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.
- Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah.
- Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah.
- Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va.
- Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah.
- Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C.
- Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah.
- Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio.
- Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.
- Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md.
- Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va.
- Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa.
- Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.
Curtis and Stewart — both members of the church — tweeted messages of gratitude for the opportunity to share the temple with their congressional colleagues.
It was an honor to be in the newly renovated #dctemple with @GOPLeader and so many of my congressional colleagues. And it was a privilege to share a bit of my faith with them as we toured the Temple.— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) April 27, 2022
It's always a blessing to spend time with dear friends in such a sacred space. pic.twitter.com/7wVuCmNrQB
It was a wonderful opportunity to be joined by my colleagues and tour the newly renovated Washington DC Temple with Elder D. Todd Christofferson.— Rep. John Curtis (@RepJohnCurtis) April 27, 2022
Icing on the cake was the beautiful rainbow that appeared as we left! pic.twitter.com/hMjsnEGOiq