In late March, the LDS Church completed an ambitious project: a megamall. Built for about $2 billion, the City Creek Center stands across the street from the faith’s iconic Salt Lake Temple.

The mall includes almost 100 stores and restaurants, ranging from Tiffany’s to Forever 21. Walkways link the open-air emporium with the church’s manicured campus. Macy’s is a stone’s throw from the offices of church President Thomas S. Monson, whom Mormons see as a prophet.

On the morning of its grand opening, thousands of shoppers thronged downtown, eager to elbow their way into the stores.

When it came time to cut the mall’s pink ribbon, Monson, flanked by Utah dignitaries, cheered, “One, two, three, let’s go shopping!”

While watching a religious leader celebrate a mall may seem surreal, City Creek reflects the spirit of enterprise that animates modern-day Mormonism. The mall is part of a vast church-owned corporate empire that LDS leadership says will help spread its message, increase economic self-reliance and build God’s kingdom on Earth.

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