The Zion of Religious Radicals

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by Tracee Sioux

The new Zion is a home of religious radicals. Their factions make up the oldest and largest American-born religion, with approximately 15 million members. They are a protestant religion that holds to the tenets of tithing, service, church attendance, evangelizing and conversion. They believe in eternal life, eternal marriage, modern-day prophets, and a still, small voice inside every person to inspire and direct him. Though no longer practiced, they have a colorful history of polygamy.

They believe in a female deity; and motherhood is the highest, most holy calling. They require personal responsibility for all choices. They endorse a life of purity in mind, body and spirit nurtured through consistent prayer, meditation, service, clean living, strict moral standards and guarding the mind, body and spirit from temptation.
Commonly known as Mormons, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith, who allegedly discovered The Golden Plates buried in a hill. The plates, now titled the Book of Mormon, tell a story of Jesus’ visitation and teachings in an ancient American culture between 400 and 600 B.C. Mormons believe that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the Word of God.

The new Zion is Utah. Their second prophet, Brigham Young, led the Mormon pioneers across the country after Smith was murdered and they were driven from their homes in Illinois. Mormons set out to create a community far away from those who would not tolerate their radical religious beliefs.

Salt Lake’s Spiritual Tourism

Today Salt Lake City is a bright and shining American city, an ideal destination for a family vacation. I’ve traveled to many cities in the world, but my hometown, Salt Lake City, is one of my all-time favorites. The visitor’s center at Temple Square houses the sacred Salt Lake City Temple. Visitors are not allowed inside. Only members who live a pure life are permitted inside to perform weddings and sacred rites.

There is much to see in Temple Square, including one of the largest pipe organs in the world. And a magnificent sculpture of Jesus. Volunteers greet visitors and spiritual tourists and answer questions about the religion while dispensing free copies of the Book of Mormon. Temple Square is something you won’t forget at Christmas time, with living nativities and a plethora of Christmas lights.

The church’s operations consist of several square blocks of spiritual tourist attractions. Mormon-centric films, plays, pageants, concerts and art are on display for visitors. Additionally, the largest genealogical research library and database is housed across the street from Temple Square. This is open to the public, offering high-tech equipment and software for visitors to research their family history and lineage.

Family-Centric Vacation

Salt Lake City also offers a great deal of secular entertainment. The center of Mormon life is family, which means the area’s recreation is one of the most family-centric destinations in the country.

Salt Lake City offers natural history and art museums on the University of Utah campus, dinosaur museums, the phenomenal interactive Clark Planetarium with laser shows, big name concerts and amphitheaters, restaurants and shopping. Water symphonies dot the city for a fun free way to cool off. Salt Lake is a city of paradox, with a thriving underground culture and happening nightlife as well.

I recommend taking advantage of the Pass of all Passes. This year we bought our annual passes for $10. The Pass gets you into family-oriented entertainment up and down the Wasatch Front and includes entry into two major water parks, a skating rink, several arcades with features such as IMAX theaters, miniature golf, bumper cars, batting cages and laser tag. The pass also includes minor league soccer and baseball games. This pass will keep a family busy and entertained for an entire vacation.

Tourists also enjoy hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, swimming and boating in the Rocky Mountain’s natural playground. Mount Timpanogos is a popular adventure at 11,752 feet, featuring a slide down a steep glacier that ends in a small lake. Timpanogos Cave, only accessible with a 1.5-mile steep hike, is known for its helictites. Park City, a mining town turned world-class ski destination, offers adventures at Olympic Park, shopping and restaurants.

Salt Lake City offers both a fascinating look at a unique spiritual tradition and a great deal of affordable family-entertainment.

Tracee Sioux is an Authentic Power Life Coach, author of Love Distortion: Belle, Battered Codependent and Other Love Stories; she blogs at Contact her at <>.