In the version of the temple ceremony which we published
in Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? p. 467, the men "covenant
and promise" that they will "obey the law of God." The women, however,
agree to obey the law of their husbands:
"ELOHIM: We will now put the sisters under covenant
to obey the law of their husbands. Sisters, arise, raise
your right hand to the square. Each of you do covenant and promise
that you will obey the law of your husband and abide by his council
in righteousness. Each of you bow your head and say yes.
We have already shown that since the church leaders
revised the endowment ceremony on April 10, 1990, there has been
some kind of a change in the covenant women are required to make.
It has been stated that they "no longer must vow to obey their husbands."
(Salt Lake Tribune, April 29, 1990)
While we do not know the wording of the new version,
it appears that some of the women are pleased with the changes in
the ritual. In the Los Angeles Times, May 5, 1990, we find
"Lavina Fielding Anderson... said she received
the revisions 'with joy.' 'I anticipate further changes with hope
and faith,' she said... 'Some portions of the temple ceremony
have been painful to some Mormon women and, in some respects,
still are,' she added, without identifying what elements may still
be objectionable. Women, for example, still cover their faces
with veils at certain points in the ritual, sources said."
Another important change seems to have been made
in the sign for the Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
In the ceremony, as printed in Mormonism--Shadow or Reality?
p. 471, we find this:
"The sign is made by raising both hands high above
the head and by lowering your hands to the side, saying:
Pay lay ale
Pay lay ale
Pay lay ale"
As early as 1969 we pointed out a problem with this:
"there seems to have been a change made in this part of the ceremony,
for the Salt Lake Tribune, Feb.12, 1906, gave the words as
'Pale, Ale, Ale,' and Temple Mormonism used the words 'Pale,
Hale, Hale.'" (The Mormon Kingdom, vol.1, p.138)
However this may be, in another portion of the ceremony
(Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? p. 468), it is explained that
"Pay lay ale" means "O God, hear the words of my mouth!"
In the early 1980's some critics of the church began
to proclaim that in Hebrew these words really mean, "Wonderful Lucifer."
If this were true, this would mean that the Mormons were praying
to the Devil in this part of the ceremony. We took very strong exception
to this claim and pointed out that there is no way that these words
can be translated "Wonderful Lucifer." We still stand by this research
which we presented in detail in our book, The Lucifer-God Doctrine,
pp. 11-15, 85-86.
In any case, many Mormons must have been bothered
when they had to raise and lower their hands repeating the strange
words "Pay lay ale" three times during the ritual. According to
what we can learn, the Mormon leaders have now replaced the mysterious
words with the English words which were mentioned earlier in the
ceremony: "O God, hear the words of my mouth!"
The fact that four different versions of the sign
of the Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood have been given
over the years certainly raises a question concerning the claim
that the endowment was revealed by revelation.
We have been informed by two different sources that
the Lecture Before The Veil has been removed. This lecture was previously
given to all those who were going through the ritual for the first
time. It was not deemed necessary, however, for those who were going
through the endowment ceremony for the dead. The words "penalty"
or "penalties" were used six times in this lecture, and it referred
to the "sectarian minister" who preached false doctrine (i.e., the
minister who was employed by Lucifer).
There probably were many other changes made in the
temple ceremony which have not been reported yet. There have been
different reports regarding how much material was actually removed
from the ceremony or changed in some way. The Salt Lake Tribune,
April 29, 1990, referred to the rituals "current length of about
90 minutes." One man noted that just after the changes were made,
temple workers were having a very difficult time with the new wording
and felt that when they become proficient in the use of the new
script, the ceremony might be somewhat shorter than when he went
Revelation Or Accommodation?
Although the Mormon leaders have been extremely
quiet about the changes in the temple ceremony, John Dart reported
that the following appeared in a statement by church leaders:
"'We are a church that believes in modern and
continuous revelation, and the changes that were recently made
in our temple ceremony are reflective of that process...'" (Los
Angeles Times, May 5, 1990)
An increasing number of Mormons are beginning to
believe that what is called "revelation" by church leaders is not
really revelation from God, but rather "accommodation" to the views
of the world. A number of things which have happened since 1890
lead to that conclusion. The changes concerning polygamy, the blacks
and the temple endowment all point in this direction. The process
of "modern and continuous revelation" could probably be summed up
in the following formula: Criticism of a specific doctrine or practice
from without the church + acceptance of that criticism by Mormon
scholars and prominent people = "Revelation."
Take, for example, the practice of polygamy. Joseph
Smith claimed to receive a revelation from God on July 12, 1843,
stating that plural marriage was to be practiced by the Mormon Church.
This revelation is still published in the church's Doctrine and
Covenants as Section 132.
Interestingly, this system of marriage was an extremely
important part of the sealing ceremonies which are still performed
in the temple for "time and all eternity." For many years the Mormon
leaders taught that temple marriage and plural marriage stand or
fall together. Apostle Orson Pratt, for instance, emphasized that:
"...if plurality of marriage is not true, or in
other words, if a man has no divine right to marry two wives or
more in this world, then marriage for eternity is not true, and
your faith is all vain, and all the sealing ordinanc[e]s and powers,
pertaining to marriages for eternity are vain, worthless, good
for nothing; for as sure as one is true the other also must be
true. Amen." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 21, p. 296)
Non-Mormons, of course, vigorously opposed the practice
of polygamy. In addition, the United States Government prosecuted
Mormons who were engaged in the practice. On Jan. 16, 1886, Lorenzo
Snow, who later became the fifth prophet of the Mormon Church, was
sentenced to six months in prison. When the prosecuting attorney
predicted that if Apostle Snow was convicted, "a new revelation
would soon follow, changing the divine law of celestial marriage,"
Lorenzo Snow emphatically replied:
"The severest prosecutions have never been followed
by revelations changing a divine law, obedience to which brought
imprisonment or martyrdom. Though I go to prison, God will not
change his law of celestial marriage." (Historical Record,
1887, vol.6, p. 144)
Things went from bad to worse for the Mormon leaders.
Pressure not only increased from the outside, but members of the
church were swayed by the opposition. John Taylor, who was the third
prophet of the church, strongly denounced those who would give up
"God has given us a revelation in regard to celestial
marriage.... they would like us to tone that principle down and
change it and make it applicable to the views of the day. This
we cannot do... I cannot do it, and will not do it. I find some
men try to twist round the principle in any way and every way
they can. They want to sneak out of it in some way. Now God don't
want any kind of sycophancy like that.... If God has introduced
something for our glory and exaltation, we are not going to have
that kicked over by any improper influence, either inside or outside
of the Church of the living God." (Journal of Discourses,
Apostle Orson Pratt argued:
"God has told us Latter-day Saints that we shall
be condemned if we do not enter into that principle; and yet I
have heard now and then... a brother or a sister say, 'I am a
Latter-day Saint, but I do not believe in polygamy.' Oh, what
an absurd expression!... If the doctrine of polygamy, as revealed
to the Latter-day Saints, is not true, I would not give a fig
for all our other revelations that came through Joseph Smith the
Prophet; I would renounce the whole of them.... The Lord has said,
that those who reject this principle reject their salvation, they
shall be damned, saith the Lord... I want to prophecy that all
men and women who oppose the revelation which God has given in
relation to polygamy will find themselves in darkness... they
will finally go down to hell and be damned if they do not repent."
(Journal of Discourses, vol.17, pp. 224-25)
Notwithstanding all of the strong rhetoric used
by Mormon leaders, in 1890, Wilford Woodruff, the fourth prophet
of the church, suspended the practice of polygamy when he issued
the Manifesto (see Doctrine and Covenants, Official Declaration--1).
President Woodruff proclaimed that the Manifesto was given by revelation
"...the Lord... is giving us revelation... The
Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take
place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped
it... all ordinances would be stopped... and many men would be
made prisoners.... the God of Heaven commanded me to do what I
did do... I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told
me to write...." (Evidences and Reconciliations, 3 volumes
in 1, pp. 105-106)
It is obvious from the evidence we present in Mormonism--Shadow
or Reality? pp. 231-34, that President Woodruff yielded to pressures
from both non-Mormons and members of his own church and issued the
Manifesto which eventually ended the practice of plural marriage
within the church.
Prior to June 9, 1978, the Mormon Church had a doctrine
which was referred to by outsiders as the "anti-black doctrine"
because blacks were forbidden the priesthood. The basis for this
doctrine was Joseph Smith's Book of Abraham (published in the Pearl
of Great Price, one of the four standard works of the church).
Joseph Smith wrote that
"from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the
curse in the land." Blacks were identified as descendants
of Ham and were "cursed... as pertaining to the Priesthood." (Pearl
of Great Price, Book of Abraham, 1:21-26)
It was taught that even "one drop of Negro blood"
would prevent a person from holding the priesthood, marrying for
eternity in the temple, or even going though the endowment ceremony
(see Race Problems--As They Affect The Church, by Mark E.
Petersen, August 27, 1954).
Bruce R. McConkie, who later became an apostle,
"Negroes in this life are denied the priesthood;
under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority
from the Almighty. The gospel message of salvation is not carried
affirmatively to them... Negroes are not equal with other races
where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned..."
(Mormon Doctrine, 1958, p.477)
There was a great deal of discussion regarding civil
rights in the 1950's. In 1959 we printed our first criticism of
the Mormon doctrine concerning blacks. As early as 1963. we believed
that it was likely that the Mormon leaders would have a new "revelation"
regarding blacks and printed a sheet entitled, "Will There Be a
Revelation Regarding the Negro?" At the bottom of this sheet we
predicted: "If the pressure continues to increase on the Negro question,
the leaders of the Mormon Church will probably have another revelation
which will allow the Negro to hold the priesthood."
Over the years we continued to print a great deal
of material on the subject of blacks and the priesthood. Although
there were some Mormons who had doubts about the anti-black doctrine,
at that time very few were willing to publicly criticize the church.
We were ridiculed for the stand which we took, but we persisted
in challenging this doctrine and a number of Mormons began to take
our work seriously.
Pressure for a change in the doctrine concerning
blacks continued to mount both without and within the church. Finally,
on June 9, 1978, the Mormon church's Deseret News carried
a startling announcement by the First Presidency which said that
a new revelation had been given and that blacks would be allowed
to hold the priesthood:
"...we have pleaded long and earnestly... supplicating
the Lord for divine guidance. He has heard our prayers, and by
revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come...
all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood
without regard for race or color."
Shortly after this revelation was received, it became
clear that the church's ban on marriage to blacks had been lifted.
On June 24, 1978, the church's newspaper announced that "the first
black man to gain the priesthood" was allowed to go through the
temple endowment and was sealed to his wife for time and eternity.
Like the polygamy revelation, the revelation by
President Spencer W. Kimball granting blacks the priesthood was
given only after tremendous pressure was exerted by non-Mormon critics
and members of the church itself.
With regard to the recent revision of the temple
ceremony, it is clear that the "revelation" came in the same way
as the changes on polygamy and the black doctrine. In the Introduction
to our 1964 reprint of Temple Mormonism, we pointed out that
"there have been quite a number of changes made since the Temple
ceremony was first introduced." We went on to predict that there
would "probably be other changes made in the Temple ceremony as
time goes on."
As we have already shown, after printing Temple
Mormonism in 1964, we published an updated version of the endowment
ceremony in 1969 in The Mormon Kingdom, vol. 1. This same
version was printed in Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? in 1972
and is still found in that book. In addition, in our book, The
Changing World of Mormonism, published by Moody Press in 1980,
we included portions of the endowment ceremony. We have mentioned
also that Chuck and Dolly Sackett published the ceremony in a pamphlet
and distributed tapes of the actual ceremony. Others also disseminated
the ceremony or portions of it in books, pamphlets, tracts, films
Although the Mormon Church completely lost control
of the situation and had no way to stop the tens of thousands of
copies of the endowment which were being distributed throughout
the world, most members of the church who felt there was something
wrong with the ritual did not dare to openly protest. They feared
that they would be strongly reprimanded or even excommunicated if
they raised their voices on the issue. In 1987, however, a remarkably
frank article by David John Buerger was printed in Dialogue:
A Journal of Mormon Thought, a liberal Mormon publication which
is not controlled by the church. In this article, Buerger acknowledged
that there were "strong indications that Joseph Smith drew on the
Masonic rites in shaping the temple endowment, and specifically
borrowed the tokens, signs, and penalties." (Dialogue, Winter
Mr. Buerger went even further by suggesting that
church leaders needed to seriously consider making changes in the
ceremony to counter declining rates of attendance at endowment ceremonies:
"The number of operating temples has increased
dramatically... An analysis of ordinance data, however, suggests
that rates of temple work have remained relatively constant over
the last fifteen years.... Members of my own stake made 2,671
visits to the Oakland Temple in 1985, versus 3,340 visits in 1984--a
20 percent drop in activity.... Without comparing the policies
of stakes in other temple districts, it is impossible to say how
characteristic my stake might be.
"These declining rates suggest that many Latter-day
Saints apparently do not participate extensively in either vicarious
or living endowments. The need for reevaluation can at least be
discussed. As the history of the endowment shows, specific content
and procedural alterations were made in 1845, 1877, 1883, 1893,
1919-27, the early 1960s, and 1968-72....
"The feelings contemporary Saints have for the
temple certainly merit a careful quantitative analysis by professional
social scientists. I have heard a number of themes from people
who feel discomfort in one degree or another with elements of
the temple ceremony.... Probably in no other settings except college
organizations, with their attendant associations of youthfulness
and possibly immaturity, do most Mormons encounter 'secret' ceremonies
with code handshakes, clothing that has particular significance,
and, perhaps most disturbing to some, the implied violence of
the penalties. Various individuals have commented on their difficulty
in seeing these elements as 'religious' or 'inspirational,' originating
in the desires of a loving Father for his children.... some are
also uncomfortable at the portrayal of a Christian minister as
the hireling of Satan...
"Sixth, the endowment ceremony still depicts women
as subservient to men, not as equals in relating to God. For example,
women covenant to obey their husbands in righteousness, while
he is the one who acts as intermediary to God... Some find the
temple irrelevant to the deeper currents of their Christian service
and worship of God. Some admit to boredom. Others describe their
motivations for continued and regular temple attendance as feelings
of hope and patience--the faith that by continuing to participate
they will develop more positive feelings... Often they feel unworthy
or guilty because of these feelings since the temple is so unanimously
presented as the pinnacle of spiritual experience for sincere
Latter-day Saints.... The endowment has changed a great deal in
response to community needs over time. Obviously it has the capability
of changing still further if the need arises.... From a strictly
functional perspective, the amount of time required to complete
a vicarious endowment seems excessive."
Dialogue, Winter 1987, pp. 63, 66-69
The reader will notice that David John Buerger felt
there should be a "careful quantitative analysis by professional
social scientists" to find out why attendance at temples has been
declining. Although it could have been just a coincidence, it is
interesting to note that within months of the publication of Buerger's
article, the Mormon Church made its own survey of the opinions of
members concerning temple work. In the Instructions for the Survey
of Adult Members in the United States and Canada, the following
"...we have developed this survey to help us understand
your thoughts, feelings, and experiences relating to temple and
genealogy activities.... along with you, approximately 3,400 other
members in the United States and Canada are being asked to participate
in this project.... We hope that you will feel you can be candid
and open in your answers.... what you write will be anonymous.
We will not be able to associate your name with the questionnaire
This survey was to be returned in the mail "by MARCH
Although Question 28 asked the person who had been
through the endowment ritual if he or she "felt spiritually uplifted
by the experience," it also probed to find out if the experience
was unpleasant" or if the person "was confused by what happened.
Q. 29 is worded, "Briefly describe how you felt after receiving
your own endowment."
On the photocopy we have in our possession, the
respondent has written: "Wierd [sic]."
Q. 37-k inquired as to whether the person found
"it hard to go to the temple."
Q. 39-b asked if the individual fell "asleep during sessions."
Questions were also asked concerning whether the person really believed
"The president of the LDS Church is a prophet of God," or if "The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church
on the earth." (Q. 70a-b)
There was also a question with regard to whether there were any
"doubts about specific LDS doctrines and teachings." (Q. 77-g)
A page at the end of the Survey was left blank in case the
person had any additional things to write "about your feelings
or activities in temple or genealogical work..."
Although our photocopy of the page containing the
"Comments" is faded out and difficult to read, it appears that the
woman who filled out the Survey admitted she had lost faith
in the church. This is supported by her answers to Questions 77
and 78. The "main reason for not attending LDS church services"
was listed as: "I have some doubts about specific LDS doctrines
and teachings." From all appearances it appears that the Mormon
Church's Survey was a feeler to find out what changes should
be made in the ceremony and how they would be received by members
of the church.
While many Mormons will undoubtedly stand firm in
their faith that the decision to change the ceremonies came by direct
revelation from God, the evidence seems to indicate that the publication
of the temple ceremony and objections to it by non-Mormons combined
with criticism from within the church (as evidenced by David John
Buerger's article in Dialogue) forced the Mormon leaders
to issue a survey to find out why temple attendance had fallen off
and what members of the church actually felt about the endowment
The results of that survey must have indicated that
a significant number of people were offended by parts of the ceremony.
Consequently, a new "revelation" was given to make the ritual more
appealing to the Mormon people. This tends to verify the formula
that the criticism of a specific doctrine or practice from without
the church + acceptance of that criticism by Mormon scholars and
prominent people = "Revelation."
In the early days of the Mormon Church, the word
"revelation" had a very different meaning than it does today. Joseph
Smith often used the word to refer to some new doctrine or teaching
which he claimed God himself had revealed to him. Some of his "revelations"
were extremely unpopular, but this usually did not bother him very
much. Take, for instance, his "revelation" concerning polygamy.
In spite of the fact that many members of the church were violently
opposed to the doctrine, he continued to secretly advocate the practice
and to take plural wives himself. Unlike the current leaders of
the church, he did not feel that it was necessary to take a survey
and modify the doctrine to fit the opinions of others. While we
do not believe that the "revelation" on polygamy came from God and
are very opposed to the practice, we must admit that Smith was not
easily swayed by public opinion.
While Joseph Smith used the word "revelation" to
refer to controversial new doctrines he brought forth to the church,
later prophets have used the same word in an attempt to destroy
the very teachings which Joseph Smith claimed were divinely inspired.
When President Wilford Woodruff claimed he had a "revelation" to
stop the practice of plural marriage in the church, he was not
adding any new doctrine. Instead, he was throwing overboard
a doctrine Smith taught was essential for salvation. If the information
that polygamy should not be practiced was a "revelation," then Christians
actually received it first. Long before Mormonism began, they were
condemning the practice.
Some people now point to the "revelation" which
Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th prophet of the church, gave concerning
the blacks as evidence that the church is still led by revelation.
Nothing could be further from the truth. President Kimball did not
reveal any new truth to the world. Instead, he destroyed
a doctrine that came from Joseph Smith's own "Book of Abraham"--a
doctrine which the prophets of the church had stubbornly clung to
until pressure from within and without the church was so strong
that he was forced to yield on the issue. Millions of Christians
and even a large number of Mormons had received this "revelation"
many years before President Kimball received his answer.
As far as we know, the recent "revelation" that
the temple ceremony should be altered has not produced any new or
important material. Instead, it is a mutilation of what was supposed
to have been revealed by "revelation" to the prophet Joseph Smith.
Things that were formerly considered to be "most sacred" were stripped
from the ritual. For many years Christians have spoken against the
very things which have now been removed. Why did it take so long
for Mormon leaders to obtain their "revelation" on the subject?
The liberal Mormon David John Buerger seems to have had the "revelation"
some time before church leaders changed the ceremony.
It seems that it is very difficult for most faithful
Mormons to grasp the significance of what is really going on within
the church. The implications are just too devastating for them to
face. The following hypothetical illustration may help the Mormon
reader put the matter into perspective:
If we were to say that God had given us a "revelation"
that baptism should no longer be practiced, members of the church
would protest that this could not be a true revelation. They would
undoubtedly claim that we were merely feigning a "revelation" as
a pretext to remove an important ordinance from the teachings
of Christ and might even suggest that we were embarrassed about
getting wet in front of a crowd.
To those who are paying close attention, it is obvious
that the word "revelation" is really being used as a cover-up for
what is going on. Church leaders are really destroying the original
teachings of Joseph Smith in a very sneaky way. Each time they remove
some part that Smith considered vital, they clothe the action by
saying it is a new "revelation" from God. When will the people wake
up and realize what is going on? We, of course, agree that Joseph
Smith's teachings are filled with errors. We feel, in fact, that
sweeping changes need to be made, but we do not believe it
is being honest to do it under the guise of "revelation." Instead,
the General Authorities of the church should openly admit that they
feel Joseph Smith departed from Christian teachings and then propose
a plan to effect the changes that need to be made.
It seems obvious, however, that they will not do
this because they know they will lose power with the people. It
is much easier to say that the prophet has had a new "revelation"
and that, of course, marks "the end of controversy." O. Kendall
White has pointed out that the Mormon leaders' claim of "continuing
revelation" is really a mechanism which they use to side-step acknowledging
the "errors of the past." This, of course, leads to the impression
that "the church is never wrong."
Although they would never admit it, it would appear
from the changes they made in the temple endowment ritual that the
current leaders of the church realize that portions of the ceremony
were not from God--at least we assume that they never would have
changed these parts if they truly believed they came from God. They
must agree, therefore, that we were correct in our assertion that
the penalties which they themselves removed from the ceremony were
really derived from Masonry. It is certainly sad that with all the
evidence they have in their possession that the endowment ritual
is man-made, they still choose to remain silent.