MORMON CONNECTION TO MASONRY
A very distinct connection between Mormonism and Masonry exists although
many Mormon apologists would disagree. The evidence, to me, is quite
clear that Joseph Smith not only borrowed from the Masonic initiation rites
he even incorporated anti-Masonic sentiment in the Book of Mormon. This
will take some explaining.
The underlying theme of the Book of Mormon is the falling away of the
Nephites, the clean and blessed people of the American continent.
This group of people were supposedly annihilated by the Lamanites. Their
remnant being the indigenous people of the American continent.
Joseph Smith believed that many of the American Indians were decsendants of
these Lamanites. The Lamanites completely destroyed the Nephites,
but a force underwent the Nephites to weaken them before their destruction.
This force was an organization that dealt with secret combinations. The
net result was that the Nephites that dealt in secret combinations
destroyed the government, thus preparing and dividing it for utter
destruction (Book of Mormon; 3 Nephi 6). What were the "secret combinations"
in the Book of Mormon?
Joseph Smith leaves us some distinct hints of what he meant by "secret
combinations". The secret organization had "... their signs, yea, their
secret words; and this that they might distiguish a brother who had entered
into the covenant ..." (Book of Mormon; Helaman 6:22). The purpose of
these secrets were to "...protect and preserve one another in whatsoever
difficult circumstances they should be placed ...", in particular " ...
their murders, and their plundering, and their stealings." (Book of Mormon;
Helaman 6:21). The secret combinations were labeled evil with the devil
as its source (Book of Mormon; 2 Nephi 9:9).
What can explain Joseph Smith's preoccupation with secret combinations? An
answer to this question originates in the history at the time. In 1827,
which just happens to be right before the publishing of the Book of Mormon
in 1830, anti-Masonic sentiment in the area was strong. Within just a
few weeks of
Joseph's return with his new wife to his father's house in Manchester,
conventions denouncing Freemasonry were held in town and nearby Farmington
(Robert N. Hullinger, 1980:105). The conventions were provoked by the
Morgan trials, trials against Masons charged with the murder of Captain
William Morgan of Batvia, New York. Morgan strongly opposed Masonry
and denounced the group publicly. He was paying for the publishing of
a book that exposed the secret signs, grips, and rituals of Freemasonry.
When he disappeared soon after his public opposition against the elite
order, the explanation was clear to many: the Masons silenced him
through death. (Lucinda Pendelton, the widow of William Morgan married
George Washington Harris. Some evidence even indicates that Joseph Smith
married Lucinda in 1838 when he was living
at the Harris home.) The
courts, thought corrupted by the Masons, would not prosecute fellow Masons for the crime of murder.
Who killed Morgan? We still do not know for sure, but we do know that
at the time Freemasonry was getting bad press, and a lot of press at that.
Talk about the Morgan trials permeated the newly enjoyed American printing
press with an air of conspiracy and intrigue. For the first time in American
history an Anti-Masonic party was organized as a third political party in the
United States. John Quincy Adams, who had already served as the sixth
President of the United States, became one of the outspoken leaders
against Masonry. William Wirt was placed as the Anti-Masonic Party
Presidential candidate in 1832, but easily lost with only seven electoral
votes. Wirt's defeat was an indication that anti-Masonic sentiment had
decreased drastically by then.
Although one can pick up on the anti-Masonic sentiment in the Book
of Mormon, Joseph Smith was not directly hostile to the fraternity.
In fact he joined the organization on March 14, 1842 (History of the
Church, vol. 4, pg. 550-551). Six weeks after his initiation into
Masonry he called his most trusted church leaders together to instruct
them on the endowment. I will quote directly from the LDS Church
"Wednesday, 4 - I spent the upper part of the store, that is in
my private office (so called because in that room I keep my sacred
writings, translate ancient records, and receive revelations) and in
my general business office, or lodge room (that is where the Masonic
fraternity meet occasionally, for want of a better place) ...
instructing ... [Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards,
and other important church leaders] in the principles and order of
the Priesthood, attending to washings, anointings, endowments, and
the communication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, setting
forth the order pertaining to the Ancient of Days, and all those plans
and principles by which have been prepared for the Church of the First
Born, and come up and abide in the presence of the Eloheim in the
eternal worlds ... "
Joseph Smith's own temple records indicate that he received his
endowment in Nauvoo on May 4, 1842, weeks after his Masonic initiation.
The Nauvoo endowment had many new elements eventhough an "endowment"
was first introduced in Kirtland, Ohio,
many years previously. The Kirtland endowment
did not contain the many Masonic elements
as did the Nauvoo endowment. The Nauvoo Temple, which began construction
prior to Joseph Smith's initiation into Masonry, was not specifically
designed for the endowment. Brigham Young had canvas walls hang from
the ceiling to divide the upper attic into the different rooms.
Willford Woodruff later admitted that the Nauvoo
Masonic Temple was used for LDS ordinances (Lot Case, pg. 299).
Not surprisingly, in 1844 all of the Nauvoo Masonic lodges were declared
clandestine and their dispensation revoked
by the Grand Lodge in Springfield, Illinois. Up until recently many of
these Masonic elements have remained in the LDS endowment. In 1990,
the LDS Church abondoned the five points of fellowship and the
Masonic penal oaths and signs. However, many Masonic similarities still
exist and the others will not soon be forgotten.
(History of the Church, May 4, 1842, italics and bold added)
- For a discussion on the similarities of Mormonism and Masonry
- The Nauvoo Temple
floor plan did not include the endowment
rooms. Brigham Young hanged canvas from the ceiling to partition
the rooms in the
upper attic of the Nauvoo Temple. (BYE)
- For a discription of the LDS Endowment prior to the Nauvoo
Temple [Click here].
- To visit the Mormon Temple Endowment Homepage
- To link directly to a web site that has three different versions of
the temple rite
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Mormon Connection to Masonry
Last Updated February 14, 1997
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Created by James David, firstname.lastname@example.org