First let us discuss the lack of necessity of temples at this time. Though I could go either way on this matter, I do lean in this direction, and it is because of something that the Triad showed me several years ago. By what I call a, "Godly Coincidence", I found a two line description in an Iceland travel guide, about the Asatru in Iceland building a temple just outside of Reykjavik. Don' t even ask me why I was reading an Icelandic travel guide because I truly do not know. I had never flown, or traveled outside of the country, and did not even have a passport at the time. Iceland also would not have been in the top 100 places I would have wanted to go to if you had asked me up to then. But the urge to go see the temple became so strong that I got myself a passport, made flight plans, and booked a hotel in Reykjavik, Iceland. I probably would have been terrified going alone, but I knew that the Gods wanted me to go so I felt "protected". The Asatrufelagid allows visitors on Saturdays only, so I had four days to travel around Iceland before going to the temple. In those four days of sightseeing I saw firsthand magnificent mountains, waterfalls, and beautiful landscapes, that I had only previously seen as visions while reading the Eddas and the Sagas. Suddenly it hit me like a flash of lightning, the Gods and Goddesses did not send me to Iceland to see the man - made temple, but to see the temple they had created. We call Her Mother Earth, or Jord. Mother Earth is the most beautiful of temples and nothing that we Midgardians can build can ever match it. I also realized that the Gods and Goddesses like to visit us in this, their holy temple, not some artificially lit room. Needless to say, I did not even go to see the temple that was built there !
Of course there are times of the year when it is not practical to hold rituals outdoors, and an indoor enviroment is necessary. For this I also have a few thoughts. I like the idea of everyone in an Asatru kindred, group, or organization etc..., taking turns holding the various rituals at their homes, and on their altars. I feel that this builds "Tru" friendships, and a wonderful sense of ones community of folk. It also keeps the costs of a religious gatherings down to a minimum ( In my opinion religion and money do not mix well, just look what it has done to the Christian religion ) and gives a different setting, and a fresh new feel to each gathering. The feast afterwards could be done in two ways : 1 . The host of the ritual makes all arrangements and picks up all costs. 2. Everyone is required to bring something with them to each ritual. Overall I feel that this format gives a wonderfully cozy feel to the rituals, and builds a lot of one on one friendships that will bind the folk closer together.
Having a community temple also has advantages. First of all, some in our religion, like myself, honor the Gods and Goddesses on a daily basis, and obviously a kindred or group cannot provide access to a communal altar every day. Having a temple that is open 365 days a year would be very advantageous for not only those who honor the Gods and Goddesses every day, but for those who from time to time feel the need to consult with the Gods and Goddesses in a " holy place". A temple would also give a sense of pride and belonging to a community of like folk. I know that if I drove by an Asatru temple everyday, and saw our monument to our Gods and Goddesses, I would feel immense pride, in myself, my religion and my folk.
The downside to all of this of course is the cost. The building of a temple structure alone would be staggering, but there would also be court costs, ( The Christians would fight it all the way ), and I know that up in N.Y. State where there is a Pagan temple they have been having all kinds of problems with the city getting tax exempt status,( even though they have won numerous court battles), and without that the property taxes alone would be unmanageable. Even if you were granted tax exempt status, there still are utility bills, and the general upkeep of the building and the property. This of course means that either donations, or a compulsory "tax" on the followers would be necessary to maintain the temple and grounds.
Another point to be considered when deciding on a temple is that it may become the target for followers of other religions to attack. In New Jersey last year, not far from where I live, a Hindu temple was defaced, by what was believed to be Right Wing Christians. If not attacked or vandalized, it could also become the focal point of protests and demonstrations by those who oppose us. Depending on how much trouble this becomes, some type of security might be necessary. Yes, another expense !
With temples, or without them, our religion is going to continue to grow worldwide, and at some point we will need to have larger structures once homes can longer support the kindred or organizations members. I hope at that point we are better accepted, and do not have to worry about violence and vandalism. The Gods and Goddesses however, do not care where we honor them. A backyard altar, a home altar, or the most lavish temple in the world, means nothing to them. It is our ancestry,and the relationship of honor and love that we share with them that binds us together, not a structure of wood, plastic and metal !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !