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Travel Tip: Unexpected Religious Sites

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Every now and then, a public figure takes over the headlines and makes you want to know a little bit more about where they came from—including their religious background.

Mitt Romney’s Mormon roots don’t just come out of Utah or Palmyra, New York, where the religion was founded.

Instead, you want to go to Hawaii, to see the first Mormon temple built outside of Utah. While you’re there, check out the Polynesian Cultural Center which is operated by Brigham Young University. Las Vegas Valley was originally settled by a group of Mormons, and you can still tour the old adobe fort, which is now part of the Nevada State Park system.

Ever wondered about the mysterious world of Scientology? Sure, you can go to a giant complex in Hollywood or Clearwater, but my advice is start from the beginning in Tilden, Nebraska. It was the birthplace of L. Ron Hubbard, and his house is still standing. Or you can travel over to Saint Hill Manor, the English country house once owned by Hubbard.

And there are houses of worship in unexpected places everywhere: think the Baha’i temple in Wilmette, Illinois, or the Great Synagogue of Florence, Italy. And the cool thing is they’re worth visiting for the architecture as well as the education.

For more information, check out the Cultural Travel archives.

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Feature Image Credit Wikimedia User Bobak Ha’Eri