Secrets Leak Out
Joseph Smith swore those who took part in the endowments
to secrecy, but because of his practice of plural marriage and other
doctrines he taught, many of his followers became alienated from
the Mormon Church and some of them revealed the contents of the
ritual. An account was published as early as April 15, 1846, in
the Warsaw Signal.
Increase McGee Van Dusen and his wife exposed the
temple ceremony in 1847, and their account was reprinted several
times. Many other exposes were printed in the 19th century. As we
noted earlier, the Reed Smoot investigation took place just after
the turn of the century. At that time many people who had been through
the ritual were questioned regarding its contents. While a number
refused to talk about it, others spoke concerning what went on in
the temples. Their testimony was printed by the United States Government
in four volumes.
In 1889 John Moore and W. J. Edgar were denied citizenship
because it was believed that they had taken "an oath or obligation
incompatible with the oath of citizenship..." As in the Reed Smoot
investigation, Mormons or those who had formerly been Mormons were
called upon to give testimony concerning the temple ceremony. In
the "Temple Lot Case," a dispute over the property on which a temple
was to be built, additional testimony was given concerning the ritual.
Much of this testimony appears in a large volume entitled, The
Temple Lot Case.
On February 12, 1906, the Salt Lake Tribune
printed the temple ritual, and in 1931, W. M. Paden published an
account of the endowment ceremony in Temple Mormonism--Its Evolution,
Ritual and Meaning. In 1964, William J. Whalen printed the ceremony
(see Latter-Day Saints in the Modern Day World), and two
years later John L. Smith, a Baptist minister, published the ritual
in I Visited the Temple.
In 1964, we reprinted Paden's 1931 publication concerning
the temple ceremony. We suspected, however, that there had been
some changes in the ceremony over the years. Since we wanted to
publish the most accurate account possible, we had a couple who
had been through the ritual about fifty times revise Paden's work.
Later, however, a man who had been through the temple approximately
120 times heard that we were preparing to publish the ritual and
felt that it was important that the most accurate account possible
should be given to the world. He, therefore, volunteered to bring
the ceremony right up to date. We published this account in vol.1
of The Mormon Kingdom in 1969, and later we incorporated
this same account into our book Mormonism--Shadow or Reality?
Tens of thousands of copies have been distributed
throughout the world since that time. It was our feeling that Mormons
should have the right to know what they were getting into before
they were sworn to secrecy and had to take part in thedemonstration
of the penalties. Although we felt that we were performing an important
service for the Mormon people, many people were horrified that we
would dare to print the ritual. Nevertheless, a number of Mormon
scholars verified that we had produced an extremely accurate account
of the ceremony. Many Mormons had a difficult time believing that
God would allow anyone to reproduce the ritual and found it hard
to believe that a printed copy actually existed. Writing in the
Los Angeles Times, May 5, 1990, John Dart commented: "Some
candid Mormon officials have acknowledged in interviews that the
whole secret ritual was published years ago by church critics Jerald
and Sandra Tanner of Salt lake City."
The Salt Lake City Public Library obtained a number
of copies of Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? Unfortunately,
however, there was a continual problem with people ripping or cutting
out pages which related to the temple endowment. Some people wondered
if the church would allow us to continue to publish the ritual.
We shared the same concern, but, as it turned out, the Mormons allowed
us to continue exercising our freedom of religion and of the press.
In any case, as far as the Mormon Church was concerned,
the situation turned from bad to worse. About eleven years after
our publication of the ceremony, Bob Whitte and Gordon H. Fraser
printed the ritual in a pamphlet entitled, What's Going on in
Here? Later, Chuck and Dolly Sackett published a pamphlet with
a similar title, What's Going on in There?
The Sackett's pamphlet was unique in that on page
4 of the booklet they claimed that their printing was "transcribed
from a tape recording made inside the temple during the actual Endowment
ceremony." While Mormons questioned the ethics of someone secretly
recording the ceremony, no one seemed to doubt that the tape recording
had actually been made. The Sacketts, who had previously been deeply
involved in genealogy and temple work for the church, went a step
further and began duplicating copies of the tape recording so that
others could actually hear what went on inside the temple. These
tapes were extensively circulated and even played on radio stations.
Another member of the Mormon Church secretly recorded
the temple ritual in the Provo temple and a good number of copies
of this tape have also been circulated. Many others have published
material or made films concerning the endowment ritual. Still others
have given lectures about it. The cumulative effect of all the audio
and video tapes, lectures, radio programs, films and printed copies
of the ceremony being available to the general public has placed
the Mormon leaders in a very awkward predicament. They had previously
maintained that the temple ritual was so holy that God kept the
knowledge of it from the world. Apostle Bruce R. McConkie declared:
"So sacred and holy are the administrations performed
that in every age when they have been revealed, the Lord has withheld
them from the knowledge of the world and disclosed them only to
the faithful saints in houses and places dedicated and selected
for that purpose." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 227)
To an outsider, it would almost appear that the
Mormon leaders and the God they worship have lost all control over
the dissemination of the ceremony. The contents of the ritual have
been scattered to the ends of the world. Many non-Mormons now know
far more about the endowments than the average Mormon. Only adults
are permitted to go through the temple, and, according to the Church
Section of the Mormon newspaper, Deseret News, Jan. 16, 1982,
"two-thirds of the adult members have yet to go through the temple
for the first time, said Elder W. Grant Bangerter, executive director
of the Temple Department..." The same issue of the church's newspaper
also noted that Bangerter said that "Through the history of the
Church... only a fourth of the members have received endowments..."
It is certainly ironic that a person can now easily
obtain a non-Mormon publication such as Mormonism--Shadow or
Reality? or What's Going On In There? and find out more
about the temple ceremony in a few minutes than most of the Mormons
learn in a lifetime! Furthermore, the material available to the
public seems to be proliferating as the Mormon Church grows larger.
Mormon leaders are not only faced with trying to
explain the availability of a ceremony which they previously asserted
was "withheld" from the "knowledge of the world," but they also
will find it very difficult to explain why God did not protect his
sacred temple from those who brought in tape recorders to expose
the ceremony. It has been a common belief among the Mormons that
God's hand protects the temple and its rituals.
Ezra Taft Benson, who is currently the prophet of
the church, stated:
"I think the temple is the most sacred spot on
earth... Temples are places of personal revelation." (The Teachings
of Ezra Taft Benson, pp. 250-51)
One would think that if the spirit of the Lord flows
freely in the temple, deceivers would be detected. In the Old Testament,
II Chronicles 26:17-21, we read the story of a wicked king named
Uzziah who "went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon
the altar of incense." He was warned that only the priests who were
"consecrated to burn incense" were allowed to do so. When he persisted
he was "smitten" by the Lord with "leprosy" and was "a leper unto
the day of his death."
Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie maintained that
"the discerning of spirits is poured out upon presiding officials
in God's kingdom; they have it given to them to discern all gifts
and all spirits, lest any come among the saints and practice deception....
There is no perfect operation of the power of discernment without
revelation. Thereby even 'the thoughts and intents of the heart'
are made known."
Apostle Mathias F. Cowley told how the gift of discernment
protected the temple:
"On one of the three days during which the Dedicatory
Services of the Logan Temple was held, President John Taylor...
sighted a woman in the crowd whom he did not know but indicated
her to President Card and said: 'Don't let that woman come into
the assembly; she is not worthy.'... Brother Card said to President
Taylor: 'She couldn't pass the door keeper without a recommend.'
President Taylor replied, 'That matters not; she is not worthy.'...
Brother Card turned her back and later on he went to see her...
she said there was a man in the ward who was not worthy of a recommend,
but the Bishop gave him one... This woman happened to meet the
man on the street and he asked her how she would like to go to
the dedication... She said she would like to but could not get
a recommend. He said: 'I have a recommend and will give it to
you for one dollar.' And so she got her recommend by paying this
amount." (Temples of the Most High, p. 100)
One would think that if the temples were protected
by God and the current Mormon officials were really led by revelation,
those who used deception to obtain tape recordings to expose the
endowment ceremony would have encountered judgment from God or at
least been thwarted in their nefarious plans to discredit the church.
The Sackett's, however, report the following:
"The tape recording of the Mormon temple Endowment...
was recorded in the Los Angeles Mormon Temple, and was made using
a personal pocket-size tape recorder carried by one of the patrons...
The patron... entered the temple using his own personal temple
He was greeted by several temple worker acquaintances who obviously
did not know of his excommunication from the Mormon Church, which
had been at his own request several months earlier. One of the
objectives of this foray was to test the well-known Mormon claim
of divinely-assisted temple security.... Contrary to popular Mormon
belief, not one person in the temple appeared the slightest bit
spiritually or supernaturally alerted to the presence among them
of one whom they classify as an 'apostate' and a 'son of perdition.'
As he departed, the patron was encouraged by a member of the temple
Presidency to return again soon." (What's Going On In There?
When we think of this incident with the tape recorder,
we cannot help but remember a picture of Mark Hofmann, the man who
forged Mormon documents, standing in the presence of the 12th prophet
of the church, Spencer W. Kimball, and four of the apostles. In
this photograph, which ve have reproduced in our book, Tracking
the White Salamander, p. 73, the prophet and the apostles appear
to be carefully examining what purports to be the prophet Joseph
Smith's copy of characters found on the gold plates of the Book
of Mormon. This document, of course, was a forgery, but the Mormon
leaders were completely oblivious to that act.
Mr. Hofmann continued meeting with church leaders
for about four years for the express purpose of deceiving them so
that they would give him large amounts of money in exchange for
his fraudulent documents. Church leaders, however, could not discern
the wicked plan that Hofmann had in his heart. While the Mormon
leaders claim to have the same powers as the ancient apostles in
the Bible, their performance with regard to Mark Hofmann certainly
does not match up to that of the Apostle Peter when he caught Ananias
and Sapphira red-handed in their attempt to deceive the church with
regard to a financial transaction: "But Peter said, Ananias, why
hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep
back part of the price of the land?" (Acts 5:3)
From the time the endowment ritual was first revealed
in Nauvoo, Mormon leaders have feared that the contents of the ceremony
would become known. It now seems that all of their efforts to stop
the spread of knowledge concerning the endowment ceremony have been
completely in vain.