Its only been a problem once, but we didn’t expect our Temple to be like this.
I don’t think that the building where the Manhattan New York Temple is located drew protests before it was made into a Temple.
When the announcement came that the Temple would be put into the building that then housed the New York Stake Center, most members here, including me, were ecstatic. Not only would the Temple be close, but having it in the city would solve problems that had no other solution.
Like most other areas, before the local Temple we took regular bus trips, first to the Washington DC Temple, and later to the Boston Temple. But the announcement of the Harrison New York Temple site, just north of New York City, only mitigated the transportation problem. Most members in New York City don’t have cars, and the Harrison site is at least a mile from the nearest train station coming from the city. While bus lines from the train station exist, they didn’t pass by the Temple site.
Now, with the Temple in the city, near public transporation, every member can get there.
So, in November and December, Church members here in New York saw protests in front of our Temple, I think we were a little surprised. At least, I know I hadn’t thought about the possibility of protests, even though it now makes perfect sense. In fact, some of the same things that make the Temple’s location attractive to local members are the same things that make it attractive to protesters.
When there were then later protests at the Washington, DC Temple, I was surprised at what seemed like a waste of time to anyone there. There is simply no way to find an audience there. There is relatively little traffic on local streets, unless you count the beltway, where traffic passes too quickly to understand any ideas and local authorities would frown on new distractions to drivers passing through what is already one of the most dangerous sections of road in the region. In contrast, Manhattan Temple will get an audience regardless of time of day. One of the city’s largest tourist attractions, Lincoln Center, is across the street.
The locations where Temples are built make a lot of differences in how easily it can be used, both by members of the Church and by protestors. How central is the location in the city? Can members get to it easily? How easily does it attract attention from the outside? How much parking is needed? How close is it to public transportation? Is it located in a major media market?
While Temples are built to meed the needs of local members, they aren’t built for protest, and when it happens, its because the needs of local members happened to coincide with those of protestors. As far as I can tell, only a few Temples are useful to protestors. Certainly those used by protesters following the November election–Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, New York City–fit the bill. I’d guess that some others might work also–perhaps Phoenix, São Paulo, Hong Kong, and maybe others I don’t know about. Others simply don’t work–Washington DC, Chicago, London, Bern, etc. I can’t claim to have studied which are protest Temples and which are not.
Regardless, I don’t think that using Temples as a site for protests against the Church will go away any time soon.