A statue of the angel Moroni gazes triumphantly over Salt Lake City. Covered in gold leaf and clutching a bugle, he glistens amid an identikit cluster of skyscrapers and fast-food outlets of Utah's largest metropolis. His celestial perch is atop the 68-metre-tall spire of a vast temple built to glorify a God who is worshiped by 60 per cent of the state's almost three million residents, about 2 per cent of Americans and a total of more than 14 million devout men and women in about 170 countries.
Salt Lake City is the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose worshippers are better known as Mormons. It is one of the world's wealthiest and fastest-growing religions, baptising new members in scores of countries at a rate of 400,000 a year. Moroni's vantage point, the Salt Lake Temple, is the Church's equivalent of Mecca or the Vatican. At night, bathed in floodlight, the building's pale granite walls become luminescent, turning the 160-year-old landmark into a beacon of unbending faith that can be seen for miles.
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