Wednesday, August 12, 2015

LDS FAQ - "Masonry and the Temple"

I found a brief Church-sanctioned (I believe) explanation of the LDS temple's relationship to Freemasonry. I'm curious what it says. Text found here.

Students of both Mormonism and Freemasonry have pondered possible relationships between Masonic rites and the LDS temple ceremony. Although some argue that Joseph Smith borrowed elements of Freemasonry in developing the temple ceremony, the Endowment is more congruous with LDS scriptures (especially the book of Abraham and the Book of Moses) and ancient ritual than with Freemasonry. Both the book of Abraham and the Book of Moses are texts Joseph made up out of thin air, so I personally don't see why anyone would feel better knowing that they've influenced the creation of the LDS temple ceremonies. Pointing out that the temple has more more in common with those writings than with Freemasonry still doesn't justify the presence of Masonic oaths and handshakes in the temple. Latter-day Saints view the ordinances as a revealed restoration of ancient temple ceremony and only incidentally related to Freemasonry. There's no good reason to think the LDS temple ceremonies are ancient and I'm looking forward to seeing how you continue to downplay the influence of Freemasonry. The two are not antithetical, however, nor do they threaten each other, and neither institution discourages research regarding the ancient origins of their two ceremonies. The origins of Freemasonry are not ancient at all, they are medieval, late medieval. Many sacred ceremonies existed in the ancient world. Modified over centuries, these rituals existed in some form among ancient Egyptians, Coptic Christians, Israelites, and Masons, and in the Catholic and Protestant liturgies. Is this written for 6th graders? I can't believe you dared list the Masons in this group. And Egyptians? WTF? Which Egyptians are you talking about? Common elements include the wearing of special clothing, ritualistic speech, the dramatization of archetypal themes, instruction, and the use of symbolic gestures. Levi Strauss would be so proud to read this, but aren't these elements too broad to be taken seriously in this particular discussion of Freemasonry in the LDS temple? One theme common to many—found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Egyptian pyramid texts, and Coptic prayer circles, for example—is man's journey through life and his quest, following death, to successfully pass the sentinels guarding the entrance to eternal bliss with the gods. Right, Thor and all his buddies in Valhalla. Though these ceremonies vary greatly, significant common points raise the possibility of a common remote source. Human psychology most likely. Mormon wishful thinking knows no ends.

The Egyptian pyramid texts, for example, feature six main themes: (1) emphasis on a primordial written document behind the rites; (2) purification (including anointing, lustration, and clothing); (3) the Creation (resurrection and awakening texts); (4) the garden (including tree and ritual meal motifs); (5) travel (protection, a ferryman, and Osirian texts); and (6) ascension (including victory, coronation, admission to heavenly company, and Horus texts). Oh my god, that's so... DIFFERENT from the Mormon temple! Wow. Like such ancient ceremonies, the LDS temple Endowment presents aspects of these themes in figurative terms. Only if you're working in the most sympathetic of generalizations. It, too, presents, not a picture of immediate reality, but a model setting forth the pattern of human life on earth and the divine plan of which it is part. We're going to need some actual details here. It sounds like you're seeing what you want to see. It's called confirmation bias.

Masonic ceremonies are also allegorical, depicting life's states—youth, manhood, and old age—each with its associated burdens and challenges, followed by death and hoped-for immortality. The difference between your argument for the temple paralleling an Egyptian Book of Breathings and the Freemason ceremonies is that Joseph actually knew Masons and became one himself. On the other hand, he had no understanding of Egyptian despite having purchased a scroll containing a book of breathings. He feigned a translation that is laughable to today's Egyptologists. There is no universal agreement concerning when Freemasonry began. Maybe not, but no one can seriously claim it pre-dates the late Middle Ages. Some historians trace the order's origin to Solomon, Enoch, or even Adam. Only Mormon historians. Others argue that while some Masonic symbolism may be ancient, as an institution it began in the Middle Ages or later. Only everyone who isn't Mormon thinks this.

Though in this dispensation the LDS Endowment dates from Kirtland and Nauvoo, Latter-day Saints believe that temple ordinances are as old as man and that the essentials of the gospel of Jesus Christ, including its necessary ritual and teachings, were first revealed to Adam. Mormons have no basis for believing this other than the fact that Joseph Smith, a notorious conman, taught it to his followers and it has been believed and repeated for generations. These saving principles and ordinances were subsequently revealed to Seth; Noah; Melchizedek; Abraham, and each prophet to whom the priesthood was given, including Peter. There is no historical evidence to convince us most of these men ever existed (Peter is the exception) and much less evidence that they ever practiced the ceremonies of the current LDS temples. Latter-day Saints believe that the ordinances performed in LDS temples today replicate rituals that were part of God's teachings from the beginning. But they have no reason to believe anything similar. Hopefully the author of this article will cite some convincing texts.

The Prophet Joseph Smith suggested that the Endowment and Freemasonry in part emanated from the same ancient spring. Joe Smith? He's not a very trustworthy source. Do you know he tried to trick investors into funding an illegal bank? The man was as phony as a $3 bill. Thus, some Nauvoo Masons thought of the Endowment as a restoration of a ritual only imperfectly preserved in Freemasonry and viewed Joseph Smith as a master of the underlying principles and allegorical symbolism (Heber C. Kimball to Parley P. Pratt, June 17, 1842, Church Archives). I'm sure those few unnamed Freemasons were totally right... The philosophy and major tenets of Freemasonry are not fundamentally incompatible with the teaching, theology, and doctrines of the Latter-day Saints. Obviously not, but that does not mean they derive from ancient biblical patriarchs or that one group did not co-opt them from the other. Both emphasize morality, sacrifice, consecration, and service, and both condemn selfishness, sin, and greed. So what? You're talking about two groups who's morality is founded in Christian European thought. You're also ignoring the fact that essentially every ethnography you'll read will describe cultures who's beliefs include similar concepts and virtues. That says more about human psychology than it does about the LDS temple being ancient. Furthermore, the aim of Masonic ritual is to instruct-to make truth available so that man can follow it.

Resemblances between the two rituals are limited to a small proportion of actions and words; indeed, some find that the LDS Endowment has more similarities with the Pyramid texts and the Coptic documents than with Freemasonry. At this point, dear reader you should compare and contrast the text shared between the temple endowment and the Mason ceremonies. They are in many cases identical! Even if we are to accept the author's claim that they only make up a "limited" portion of the temple, that DOES NOT justify their presence in temple liturgy. I would love to see where the endowment plagiarizes Coptic liturgy in the way. Even where the two rituals share symbolism, the fabric of meanings is different. Because Joseph took the symbols and recast them for his own purposes. In addition to creation and life themes, one similarity is that both call for the participants to make covenants. You keep dancing around the details. I find this approach willfully dishonest. Yet, the Endowment alone ties covenants to eternal blessings and to Jesus Christ. How did you reach this conclusion? Your argument is "OK, we have similarities, but ours is legit, theirs isn't, trust me!"? I'm not impressed. The Masonic ceremony does not emphasize priesthood or the need to be commissioned by God to represent him. So whoever emphasizes that the most wins? What kind of moronic game are you playing? The active participation of God in the world and in men's lives is a distinctly LDS temple motif. As is God's active participation with women, but only through men. It's called divine sexism. While Masons believe in an undefined, impersonal God, everything in the LDS Endowment emanates from, or is directed to, God who is a personage and man's eternal Father. That doesn't mean Joseph Smith didn't steal the Masonic rituals and infuse them into his own thought. The Endowment looks to the eternities and to eternal lives, but Freemasonry is earthbound, pervaded by human legend and hope for something better. Because Joseph had to outdo everyone, including himself.

Freemasonry is a fraternal society, and in its ritual all promises, oaths, and agreements are made between members. In the temple Endowment all covenants are between the individual and God. You finally seem to be admitting they use the same oaths (which they do), even if directed to different entities. In Freemasonry, testing, grading, penalizing, or sentencing accords with the rules of the fraternity or membership votes. In the Endowment, God alone is the judge. You lost me. Do you mean that the Freemasons actually take quality control seriously while Mormons just let anything go in the temple? That's dishonest. In the Mormon temple you have someone checking on you every step of the way making sure you do everything just right. The difference being that Freemasons have to learn everything by heart and then get tested, whereas Mormons get to copy what's shown to them on the spot. Within Freemasonry, rank and promotions are of great importance, while in the LDS temple rites there are no distinctions: all participants stand equal before God. Not really. Men and women have separate seating and gendered clothing, including a veil to cover the faces of women. Husbands are placed over wives in the temple. Men get to become king and priests and women queens and priestesses. Historically kings ruled over their queens and we have no idea what a priestess even does according to Mormon doctrine. This is not equality. The clash between good and evil, including Satan's role, is essential to, and vividly depicted in, the Endowment, but is largely absent from Masonic rites. So Joseph added a maniacal Satan to the stage, so what? This is a red herring. You need to look at the details you so diligently avoid! That's where you'll find the real devil. Temple ceremonies emphasize salvation for the dead through vicarious ordinance work, such as baptism for the dead; nothing in Masonic ritual allows for proxies acting on behalf of the dead. Because it's a ridiculous notion. Why would a fraternity need to induct the deceased? Women participate in all aspects of LDS temple rites; though Freemasonry has women's auxiliaries, Masonic ritual excludes them. Freemasonry is a men's club, just like the LDS endowment was back when it was introduced. Both have changed (Mormonism first, thanks to polygamy) to be more inclusive of women. The Endowment's inclusion of females underscores perhaps the most fundamental difference between the two rites: LDS temple rites unite husbands and wives, and their children, in eternal families (see Eternal Lives; Marriage). Now you've moved away from the endowment, where the Masonic plagiarism is found, to the sealing room. You've just moved the goal posts, moron. Latter-day Saint sealings would be completely out of place in the context of Masonic ceremonies. Incredible. I almost want to give you points for trying, except I feel like you're purposefully being sloppy in your analysis of Freemasonry and the LDS temple. I don't know if you're being dishonest or if you simply don't know what you're doing.

Freemasonry's 5 points of contact as used in the LDS temple endowment until 1990.

Thus, Latter-day Saints see their temple ordinances as fundamentally different from Masonic and other rituals and think of similarities as remnants from an ancient original. This conclusion is only reached by ignoring the verbatim theft of oaths, the co-opting of symbols, the exact copying of handshakes, and many other elements, while simultaneously cherry picking cultures to compare your beliefs to and then staying back in the vaguest of generalities in order to avoid seeing your comparison implode.

KENNETH W. GODFREY should be ashamed of himself.


  1. If you are ever in Alexandria, VA, there is a huge masonic temple there which is dedicated to George Washington. The tour is great. My son and I had no idea freemasonry was sooooo huge all over the country back in the day.

    The idea that church leaders and historians don't see that JS lifted the masonic woo-woo directly into his own church boggles the mind. They have to work really hard to be so blind.

  2. The mental gymnastics required to distance the temple from Masonry is a tragic display of desperation. I still can't get over how Godfrey tries to tie the LDS endowment to some generic Egyptian belief by using the broadest brush he can find but then ignores the minutiae that tie the endowment to Masonry. It's so blatant I have to question whether or not it's actual blindness or simple deception.