the thinker

The Temple

Within the temple the most important and sacred LDS ordinances are performed. Regardless of a person's righteousness, without these ordinances, they cannot attain the highest degree of God's glory in the hereafter. It should be the goal of every member to be worthy of entry into the temple, to receive the ordinances there for themselves, and to return often to do work for the dead. Worthiness for entry includes things such as acknowledging a faith and testimony of the Godhead, the atonement, and the restoration of the gospel; acknowledging sustaining all leaders of the church; living the law of chastity; paying a full tithe; not supporting, affiliating or agreeing with groups whose teachings or practices are contrary to the church's. (See information concerning temple recommend interviews and questions.)

Overview of LDS position

Gospel truths taught in the temple were first revealed in the days of Adam. Anciently, temples, tabernacles and other holy places were used by God to transmit gospel knowledge to His people through His prophets. Such knowledge was lost during the apostasy and restored by Joseph Smith, beginning with the Kirtland temple and culminating in the Nauvoo temple. Within the temple worthy members receive sacred instruction and saving ordinances. During the washing ordinance initiates receive new underclothing, known as garments, which they are to wear for the rest of their lives, both day and night.

Overview of Critics' position

The LDS temple ceremony has many parallels to Masonic rites, and for good reason: Joseph Smith introduced the rites into the LDS temple about two months after becoming a Freemason himself, and fourteen years after his brother Hyrum and (possibly 34 years) after his father both became Freemasons. The rituals taken from Masonry cannot have come from Solomon's time (as many Mormons believe) as Masonry did not originate until no earlier than the 1600s AD. Although claimed to be sacred and not secret, the rites within the temple have cult-like trappings (until 1990 initiates were required to make a blood-oath) and actually used the phrase "guarded by solemn covenants and obligations of secrecy" within the ceremony. Many members feel that requiring an entrance fee (in the form of tithing) to get to God's greatest reward is not in keeping with Christ's atoning sacrifice being a free gift to all.


Early in 2012, some of the MormonThink editors elected to remove the Temple section from our website in an effort to appease some Latter-day Saints who expressed their reluctance to have any sort of public discussion on any aspect of the temple. However, the current editors of MT decided this information was too important to not discuss openly in light of the fact that Mitt Romney was running for president and many people wondered about the significance that the temple oaths may have on the man having such a powerful position in the world. Also, the section was restored in order to be fair to the critics who claim that the problems with the temple ceremony and Masonic rituals are some of the strongest evidences against Mormonism—even if the Church is reluctant to discuss the topic.

We added several topics including:

Contents for this page


Member beliefs

LDS copied the Masons?

Masonry in LDS ceremony

Masonic temple ceremony

Temple and polygamy

Secret or sacred?

Ceremony before 1990

Why the 1990 change?

2005 ceremony changes

Are ceremony changes ok?

Temple clothes


The new name

Temple names recycled?

Temple weddings

Members' temple experiences


Temple trivia

Ordinances for the dead

Is the temple necessary?

Eternal families

The Second Anointing

Temple ceremony video

Responses by the LDS Church

Critics' summary

Editor's comments



Member Beliefs

The temple ceremony is one of the most important ancient ordinances restored by Joseph Smith. The washing, anointing and endowment ceremonies are necessary ordinances for exaltation.

Some Latter-day Saints have heard that the LDS temple ceremony may have some similarities with Masonry and the reason is that the Masons learned of the temple ceremony from building Solomon's temple during Old Testament times but over the millennia the original ceremony became corrupted. President Heber C. Kimball stated "We have the true Masonry" (see complete quote in following section). Many devout Mormons know that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and many other early leaders of the Church were Masons.

Most devout Mormons believe the current temple ceremony is a restoration of the Old Testament temple rites from the days of Solomon and back to Adam, remaining the same since Joseph restored them. Any resemblance to Masonic clothing or rituals is only minor, and this is because they have the same ancient roots from the days of Solomon.


Due to members' belief in the sacred nature of the temple ceremony, we initially tried to be sensitive and not directly reference temple ordinances. However, we found it impossible to thoroughly discuss troubling issues many Latter-day Saints have without being open and specific about the activities in the temple. Complete, accurate scripts as well as video footage is readily available on the Internet, however we give our own opinions regarding these ceremonies.

The websites used primarily for the critics arguments are Similarities Between the Freemasonry of the 1830s and the Mormon Endowment (pre-1940) by Richard Packham, Ephesians 5:11 - Secret Masonic Handshakes, Passwords, Grips and Signs of Blue Lodge Masonry, Mason/Endowment Comparison (archived page) and the Temple Endowments Ceremony. Richard Packham and Sandra Tanner are two of the most knowledgeable people we know about the LDS Temple ceremony. We suggest contacting them if you have questions.

From Richard Packam's site:

Even non-Mormons sometimes object to articles such as the one you are now reading, since such articles reveal Mormons' religious secrets to a curious - and perhaps unworthy and even mocking - world. Many people, not only devout Mormons, feel that it is wrong to do this. Usually two reasons for the objection are given: 1) things that anyone holds sacred should not be profaned, mocked or ridiculed by anyone else, even by one who does not consider them sacred; and 2) the person who is revealing the secrets usually is someone who obtained the secrets only by swearing an oath of secrecy, and thus is breaking an oath.

As to the first objection, this article does not "mock" or "ridicule" the secrets of the Mormon temple; it merely reveals them. Also, it seems rather odd to refuse to discuss objectively and openly any subject just because someone else feels that subject is taboo. I doubt that many Mormons would refuse to discuss the sacred initiation rituals of some primitive African tribe or some Satanist cult on the grounds that the tribe or cult considered those rites sacred.

As to the second objection, the validity and binding nature of an oath or any promise depends, both legally and morally, upon the validity of the mutually accepted facts underlying the demanding and the giving of the oath. The oath of secrecy given by a Mormon in the temple is based on the assurance and sacred promise by the church that the oath is required by God, and that the secrets one will receive are given by God. If those assurances are in fact false, then one cannot be bound either legally or morally by any such oath, since it was obtained by a lie. (For further discussion of this issue, click here.)

"Mormon Temples and Temple Rituals" by Richard Packham.

The temple ceremony appears to be copied from the Masons

The modern Nauvoo Temple

Heber C. Kimball, a Mason himself said,

We have the true Masonry. The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon, and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing.

Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 13 November, 1858, 1085, LDS archives; see also Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer.

To anyone who has knowledge of both the LDS Temple Ceremony (especially the pre-1990 temple ceremony) and Mason Rites it is very apparent that they have many similarities. Many things are exactly the same. Even knowledgeable Mormons admit that the endowment ceremony (especially in its earlier versions) contains many details that are similar to the Masonic initiation rites of Joseph Smith's day. The symbols, oaths, handclasps, and terminology resemble the Masonic ritual in hundreds of ways.

The clearest evidence of Masonic influence on the Nauvoo temple ceremony is a comparison of texts. Three elements of the Nauvoo endowment and its contemporary Masonic ritual resemble each other so closely that they are sometimes identical. These are the tokens, signs, and penalties.

David Buerger, Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, Chapter 3: Joseph Smith's Ritual

First Presidency Comment

Because of their Masonic characters the ceremonies of the temple are sacred and not for the public.

October 15, 1911; Messages of First Presidency, 4: 250

Even today the 'Masonic emblems' such as the compass, square, level, pentagram, all-seeing eye, sun, moon, stars are displayed on the walls of the LDS Temples. The temple ceremonies were actually performed in the local Masonic Halls in the early days of the Church.

Many of the early LDS leaders were Masons.

Joseph Smith and many of the most prominent early members of the Mormon Church were also members of the Masonic Lodge. There is no doubt that Joseph Smith knew the Masonic Rituals before he introduced the Temple Ceremony. Joseph was initiated as an entered apprentice Mason on March 15, 1842, and received the fellow craft and master degrees the following day. He introduced the full endowment ceremony which included the secret signs, tokens, passwords, and penalties, just seven weeks later on May 4, 1842 (see History of the Church, Vol. 5, pp. 1-2).

There was no effort in the early history of the church to conceal any similarities between Masonic rituals and the Mormon Temple Endowment. Indeed, men like Heber C. Kimball said that:

Bro Joseph Ses Masonary was taken from preasthood but has become degen[e]rated. But menny things are perfect.

Letter from Heber C. Kimball to Parley P. Pratt, June 17, 1842.

As Mervin Hogan, a Mormon Mason, explained in 1991:

[L]ittle room for doubt can exist in the mind of an informed, objective analyst that the Mormon Temple Endowment and the rituals of ancient Craft Masonry are seemingly intimately and definitely involved.

Mervin B. Hogan, Freemasonry and Mormon Ritual (Salt Lake City: author, 1991), p. 22.

Fawn Brodie, a biographer of Joseph Smith, wrote:

The Mormon Temple endowment ceremony is without a doubt taken from the Masonic ceremonies Joseph Smith participated in just weeks before he introduced the temple endowment. The grips, tokens, covenants, secret words, keys, etc. were word for word the same when first introduced. Members who were Masons previous to Joseph joining the fraternal order unashamedly referred to the Mormon endowment as "celestial masonry."

Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, pp. 279-283

How do the Masons feel about this?

By the 1840s, many Mormon leaders in Nauvoo, including Smith and apostles Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, became Masons and organized a lodge there under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Illinois. It wasn't long before nearly every male member of the church in the area had joined. At the same time, Smith introduced LDS temple rituals that included secret handshakes, signs and symbols like the all-seeing eye, the compass and square (tools of the mason's trade) and the sun, moon and stars that echoed Masonry.

Soon, though, other Masons felt that the Mormons were dominating the fraternity. In 1842, the Nauvoo Lodge was suspended. Many Mormons believed that Masons contributed to the murder of their prophet.

Antagonisms built up between the two groups. In Utah in 1860, Masonic lodges were established but they prohibited Mormons from joining. At the same time, Young forbade Mormons from joining and refused to allow any Mason to hold priesthood leadership positions in the church, Literski says.

It wasn't until 1984 that LDS President Spencer W. Kimball removed the prohibition against Latter-day Saints becoming Freemasons. Later that year, the Grand Lodge of Utah removed its own ban on Mormon membership so that, in the ensuing years, many Latter-day Saint men have returned to this part of their heritage.

All the aspects of the Masonic ceremony that Joseph needed for his Endowment ceremony were known through exposes that had been published. The most famous was Illustrations of Masonry written in 1826 by William Morgan (more readable version here), who disappeared that same year and presumed murdered for divulging the Masonry rituals. Interestingly his widow, Lucinda, married George Washington Harris in 1830. Both of them joined the Church in Terre Haute, Indiana under the hands of Orson Pratt in 1834. In 1838 they moved to Far West, Missouri. During March 1838 Joseph Smith, Emma and their children moved in with the Harris family for about two months. It is believed during this time that Joseph entered into a polyandrous relationship with Lucinda and was later sealed to him posthumously 22 January 1846.


Masonry details in the LDS temple ceremony

slc temple

Salt Lake City Temple - exterior

A detailed comparison between the endowment and Masonry shows beyond any doubt a strong connection between Masonry and the LDS temple ceremony.

The following comes from this website Link is here.

and offers explicit details of exactly what is common to both Masonry and the LDS Temple Ceremony. (note: some elements of the temple ceremony are taken from versions of the temple ceremony that existed prior to 1990).

Note that the endowment conducted in the Kirtland Temple prior to Joseph's induction into Masonry apparently didn't contain any of these elements. It was only after his induction that the Masonic rituals found their way into the endowment conducted in the Nauvoo Temple. These Masonic signs and tokens are considered critical by the LDS church, as the individual is believed to be required to present them before being allowed into the Celestial Kingdom.

Joseph's introduction of the endowment ceremony came two months after he had been initiated into Freemasonry.

LDS Endowment and Masonic Initiation

This article will quote transcripts from both the LDS endowment ceremony and the Masonic initiation. Also, a very detailed description of the endowment ceremony, including drawings of the temple garments, can be found at the Mormon Temple Endowment Homepage

The description of the Masonic initiation and the figures were taken from "Illustrations of Masonry by One of the Fraternity", by Captain William Morgan, Batavia, New York, 1827. Link is here.. Also, the "Monitor of Free-Masonry", by Jabez Richardson, Chicago;(n.d). illustrates some of the higher degrees not mentioned in Morgan's book Link is here.. The statements for Richardson's book were taken directly from Jerald and Sandra Tanner's book "The Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony: 1842-1990" and will be identified with asterisks "***". Although we present the "higher" degrees along with the degrees described from William Morgan's book, please note that they are from two different Masonic rituals. You can contact the Utah Lighthouse Ministry.


If you do not choose to know about these two ceremonies or think that you may be offended by reading them DO NOT READ ON!If you are a Mormon who has not been through the LDS temple some of the temple rites are disclosed, likewise for Masons. This article was not meant to offend the reader, only to educate them on the similarities between the two ceremonies. In keeping with this purpose, we have purposefully only included areas of where there are similarities between the two rites. The inclusion of some similarities does not exclude others. Also, note that the similarities were reduced after the 1990 Temple Ceremony revisions. Mormons that only participated in post 1990 ceremonies may not recognize the five points of fellowship and penalty signs.

Editor comment: Most of the following is from the earlier versions of the temple ceremony that were used in the early and mid 1800s. The point here is to show that the temple ceremony first established by Joseph was taken from Masonry. So many members may not recognize some of the LDS ceremony, as they experienced later versions of the ceremony which had since been altered somewhat.


"He is ushered into the "preparation room" where he meets the Junior Deacon and Stewards who divest him of all his clothing except his shirt. He is then handed an old pair of drawers which he puts on; …" "The candidate, being directed to these washing and dressing rooms and having divested himself of all his clothing, awaits his time in bath with his special inner garments over his shoulder."
"The candidate then enters, the Senior Deacon at the same time pressing his naked left breast with the point of the compass,…" "… on the garments -- the compass on the left [breast]…"
"As he enters, the angle of the square is pressed hard against his naked right breast,…" "…the square on the right side [of the garment]…"
"Master orders the basin of the perfumed water and a clean napkin to be brought to him, and directs candidate to wash his hands, which he does…Master takes a box of perfumed ointment and anoints candidate on his head, eyes, mouth, heart, the tip of his right ear, hand, foot, and says -- You are now, my dear brother, received a member of our society;…" *** "As the candidate is washed, the official hurries through the lustration ritual …. the candidate is passed on to another attendant and is anointed with oil. The oil is very definitely applied to various organs of his body."
"I also present you with a new name; it is CAUTION" "With these garments I give you a new name which is never to be divulged to anyone…The name I shall give you is ________."
"Thrice Puissant Grand Master, representing Father Adam, is stationed in the east." *** (This occurs in the Knight of the Sun Degree.) "Elohim -- (Turning to the audience) -- 'This man who is now being operated upon is Michael who helped form the world. When he awakes…he will be known as Adam"
"One of the members now personates the Deity, behind the bush, and calls out Moses! Moses!" *** (This occurs in the Royal Arch Degree.) "When all is quiet, a man dressed in white flannels, representing Elohim, comes from behind the curtain…"
"…he gives a rap with the common gavel or mallet, …" "…one of the temple workers,…gives three raps with a mallet…"


First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood: Penalty Sign

"Made from the due-guard by dropping the left hand carelessly; at the same time raise the right arm and draw the hand, still open, across the throat, thumb next [to] the throat, and drop the hand perpendicular by the side." "In executing the sign of the penalty, the right hand, palm downward, is drawn sharply across the throat, then dropped from the square to the side"

First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood: Grip

"The right hands are joined together as in shaking hands and each sticks his thumb nail into the third joint or upper end of the fore finger." "The Grip -- Hands clasped, pressing the knuckle of the index finger with the thumb"
The Master and candidate holding each other by the grip, as before described, the Master says. 'What is this?'
Ans. 'A grip.'
A grip of what?'
Ans. 'The grip of an Entered Apprentice Mason.'
'Has it a name?'
Ans. 'It has.'
Will you give it to me?'
Ans. 'I did not so receive it, neither can I so impart it.'
Peter -- 'What is that?'
Adam -- 'The first token of the Aaronic Priesthood.'
Peter -- 'Has it a name?'
Adam -- 'It has.'
Peter -- 'Will you give it to me?'
Adam -- 'I can not, for it is connected with my new name, but this is the sign.'
"… binding myself under no less penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots …" "We and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any secrets of this… Should we do so, we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by their roots."


Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood: Grip

"Take each other's hands as in ordinary hand-shaking and press the top of your thumb hard against the space between the first and second knuckles of the right hand." "The Grip is given by clasping the hand and pressing the thumb in the hollow between the first and second knuckle of the hand."
"…binding myself under no less penalty than to have my left breast torn open and my heart and vitals taken from thence and thrown over my left shoulder." "We and each of us do covenant and promise that we will not reveal the secrets of this…Should we do so, we agree to have our breasts cut open and our hearts and vitals torn from our bodies "

Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood: Penalty Sign

"The sign is given by drawing your right hand flat, with the palm of it next to your breast from the left to the right side with some quickness, and dropping it down by your side" "The Sign is made by placing the left arm on the square at the level of the shoulder, placing the right hand across the chest with the thumb extended and the drawing it rapidly from the left to right and dropping it"
"Brother, I now present you with my right hand, in token of brotherly love and confidence, and with it the pass-grip and word of a Fellow Craft Mason …. the name of it is Shibboleth." "The Name is the given name of the candidate."


First Token of the Melchizedech Priesthood: Sign

"The sign is given by raising both hands and arms to the elbows, perpendicular, one each side of the head, the elbows forming a square." "The sign is made by bringing both hands to the square, palms to the front

Second Token of the Melchizedech Priesthood: Sign

"The Penal Sign is given by putting the right hand to the left side of the bowels, the hand open, with the thumb next to the belly, and letting it fall; this is done tolerably quick." "As the last words are spoken the hands are dropped till the thumbs are in the center of the stomach and drawn swiftly across the stomach to the hips, and then dropped to the sides."
"binding myself under no less penalty than to have my body severed in two in the midst…" "We and each one of us do covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this… Should we do so, we agree that our bodies be cut asunder in the midst and all our bowels gush out."

Second Token of the Melchizedech Priesthood: Grip

MASONIC GRIP MORMON GRIP (Slightly Different Method of Grip)
"Grasp each other's right hands very firmly, the spaces between the thumb and first finger being in interlocked and the tops of the fingers being pressed hard against each other's wrist where it joins the hand, the fingers of each being somewhat spread." "The Grip is made by grasping the hand, the forefinger on center of the wrist and little fingers locked"

Second Token of the Melchizedech PriesthoodSecond Token of the Melchizedech Priesthood: Sign

"The sign is given by raising both hands and arms to the elbows, perpendicularly, one on each side of the head, the elbows forming a square."
"The due guard is made by holding both hands in front, palms down…"
"The sign is made by elevating both the arms above the head…the arms dropped to the square,… and then to the sides."
"While the Wardens are examining the candidate, the Master returns to the east and gets an apron, and as he returns to the candidate… The Master then says to the candidate, "Brother, I now have the honor to present you with a lamb-skin or white apron…" "Adam-- (Turning to the audience)-- 'In your bundles brethren and sisters, you will each find an apron, you will now put it on."


Five Points of Fellowship

"He (the candidate) is raised on what is called the five points of fellowship, which are foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, hand to back and mouth to ear." "The five points of fellowship are given by putting the inside of the right foot to the inside of the Lord's, the inside of your knee to his, laying your breast close to his, your left hands on each other's backs, and each one putting his mouth to the other's ear…."
"The Master, in raising him, is assisted by some of the brethren, who take hold of the candidate by the arms and shoulders; as soon as he is raised to his feet, they step back, and the Master whispers the word ###### in his ear, and causes the candidate to repeat it, telling him that he must never give it in any manner other than that in which he receives it. He is told that ###### signifies marrow in the bone. They then separate …" At the five points of fellowship "… one putting his mouth to the other's ear, in which position the Lord whispers: Lord--'This is the sign of the token: 'Health to the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and sinews, and power in the priesthood be upon me and my posterity through all generations of time and throughout all eternity."

Editor comment: The similarities are explainable only if the original Masons working at Solomon's temple had learned temple ceremony secrets and kept them long after Solomon's temple was destroyed as many LDS believe.


Did the Masons originally have the temple ceremony?

Faithful LDS that are aware of the undeniable similarities between the LDS Temple Ceremony and the Masonry Rituals usually reconcile that issue by echoing what the early prophets have said. Essentially the stance is that the Masons originally had the true temple ordinances from the original true church that existed in Old Testament times. These rituals are believed to have been practiced by the members of God's true church in Solomon's Temple.

Some Latter-day Saints feel obliged to hold to the view that Masonry derived from King Solomon's Temple, because it is theologically less complicated to do so than accept the historical roots of Masonry. As one Masonic writer recently noted:

With books such as McGavin's Mormonism and Masonry still in circulation, and perpetuation of the tradition of antiquity in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, it is hard to overcome the Latter-day Saint belief that Masonry is derived from King Solomon's Temple. As long as LDS believe in the origination of Masonic ceremonies with Solomon, resentment of this 'apostate' ceremony will continue on the part of many Mormons.

Some change is occurring, as seen in Michael Homer's Dialogue essay, and a February 4, 1995 Salt Lake Tribune article which discussed the relationship between the two groups. However, Dialogue is not as widely read among Latter-day Saints as other publications…. [Furthermore,] the Tribune article did not explain that most Masons no longer claim antiquity for the ritual, a facet of the misunderstanding which this author believes is critical.


Why do members believe that Masonry was used in Solomon's time?

Many members believe this for two primary reasons. The first reason is that prophets such as Heber C. Kimball said as such as quoted in the first section above. The second reason is that in the early 1800s it was commonly believed by many Masons, particularly the less educated members, that the origins of Masonry are thousands of years old and came from Solomon's time.

What do the Masons say?

The knowledgeable current members of Masonry are very convinced that Masonry has its origins much more recently and they are certain that the Mason ceremonies do not date back to Solomon's time (around 1000 B.C.) from the Old Testament. The Mason rituals date at least two thousand years after Solomon. In the last 100 years most Masons now know this but it may have been widely believed in 1800s that they actually descended from Solomon's temple.

Despite claims that Masonry extends back to Solomon's Temple, in fact the rites of Masonry emerged around the thirteenth century. It originated in Britain as a trade guild, though it incorporated symbols dating back to various cults in antiquity. Masonry thus comes from an era that LDS doctrine associates with the great apostasy. For Mormonism to copy its crowning ordinances from rites that emerged during the dark ages presents a problem.

Even more disturbing is that the Masonry rituals that most closely resemble the LDS temple ceremony have their origins much more recently - only the 1700s and nowhere near the thousands of years old that would be from Solomon's time.

LDS historians confirm the Masonry ceremonies do not come from Bible Times

LDS historian David John Buerger

LDS historian David John Buerger conceded that there is no validity to Joseph Smith's claim that Masonic rituals were of ancient origin:

"The traditional origin of Freemasonry (which 'enlightened' Masons view as mythological or legendary) is the construction of Solomon's temple by Master Mason Hiram Abiff. Actually Freemasonry was a development of the craft guilds during the construction of the great European cathedrals during the tenth to seventeenth centuries.

After the Middle Ages, lodges in Scotland and Great Britain began to accept honorary members and worked out rudimentary ceremonies to distinguish members of trade organizations. In 1717 four fraternal lodges, perhaps actual masons' lodges, united as the Grand Lodge of England, considered the beginning of organized Freemasonry or 'speculative Masonry.' The order spread quickly to other countries and included such prominent adherents as Mozart, Voltaire, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. Some historians believe that Masons staged the Boston Tea Party.

Latter-day Saints may feel that Masonry constitutes a biblical-times source of uncorrupted knowledge from which the temple ceremony could be drawn. However, historians of Freemasonry generally agree that the trigradal system of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, as practiced in Nauvoo, cannot be traced further back than the eighteenth century. According to Douglas Knoop and G. P. Jones, two knowledgeable twentieth-century historians, it is 'highly probable' that the system of Masonry practiced at the organization of the Grand Lodge in London 'did not consist of three distinct degrees.' They warn, 'It would probably not be safe to fix a date earlier than 1723 or 1725 for the origin' of the trigradal system. 'Accepted Masonry underwent gradual changes throughout a period of years stretching from well before 1717 to well after that date…. The earliest speculative phase of Freemasonry may be regarded as beginning about 1730…. Though some symbolism had doubtless crept into Masonry by that date, it would not appear to have reached its full development for another forty or fifty years.' "

(The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, pp. 45-46.)

FAIR's Website

The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) is the largest pro-LDS apologetic group. They are some of the most active defenders of the LDS Church. They defend the church from what they consider unfair attacks by critics, the media and 'anti-Mormons'.

We were somewhat startled to find that FAIR admits that Masonry does not date back to Bible Times. They openly state that the Masonry Rituals that resemble the LDS Temple Ceremony date from the 1700s and definitely were not used in Solomon's temple.

If you go to FAIR's official site and search for 'Masonry' you will find many articles and quotes that support the fact that the Masonry rituals clearly do not date from Solomon's time. Here's a few:

"Unfortunately, there is no historical evidence to support a continuous functioning line from Solomon's Temple to the present. We know what went on in Solomon's Temple; it's the ritualistic slaughter of animals."

"The Message and the Messenger: Latter-day Saints and Freemasonry" by Greg Kearney (scroll to the last page)

"Masonry, while claiming a root in antiquity, can only be reliably traced to mediaeval stone tradesmen."

"It is clear that Freemasonry and its traditions played a role in the development of the endowment ritual."

John Lynch, LDS Chairman of FAIR

John Lynch, head of FAIR confirms in a podcast on that the Masons did not have the temple ceremony from Solomon's time. To listen, go to Link is here. - I'm not sure which of the three parts it's on, but Brother Lynch admits to John Dehlin that many commonly-held beliefs of the members are untrue - specifically mentioned are that there were NOT more women than men in the church when they practiced polygamy and that the Masons did not really have the temple ceremony from Solomon's time. He even jokes that 'anti-Mormons' will use what he said against him.

Greg Kearney

Greg Kearney is a lifelong, multi-generational Mormon and Master Mason. Per FAIR's website: 'Greg Kearney is an active temple-attending Latter-day Saint as well as a life member of Franklin Lodge #123 A.F. & A.M. as well as several lodges of research. He gives Masonic education lectures at lodges on the history and relationship of Freemasonry to the development of the Latter-day Saint temples.'

Brother Kearney has written many article for FAIR. He was interviewed by John Dehlin of We found it to be a very interesting podcast. He is a devout Mormon and defends the LDS Church. As a perhaps 10th generation Mason he is very knowledge about Masonry.

In the podcast Brother Kearney is quite candid in stating that the Masonry Rituals do not come from Solomon's time or anywhere even close to that. He completely refutes the commonly-held defense among many Latter-day Saints that believe that the LDS temple Ceremony is similar to Masonry Rituals because the original Masons working at Solomon's temple had learned temple ceremony secrets and kept them long after Solomon's temple was destroyed.

Per 'In this podcast he discusses the history of Masonry, how it became associated with the LDS Church, and why he feels like this association is a positive, and not a negative one. We go into surprising depth not just on the respective temple ceremonies (without being disrespectful, or violating covenants of course), but also on Joseph Smith's involvement during the Nauvoo years. You will be amazed at his knowledge on these topics. The podcast is available here:

Mormon Stories Podcast # 005: Masonry and Mormonism, an Interview with Greg Kearney

Editor comment: We respect Brother Kearney's candor in refuting the idea that the LDS Temple Ceremony similarities with Masonry could be simply explained by the notion that the Masons originally had the knowledge of the Temple Ceremony from Solomon's time - even though many LDS believe it and many prophets have taught it.

In trying to explain that problem, Brother Kearney's approach is that in the development of the ritual of the temple endowment, Joseph Smith used Masonic ritual elements, symbols and wording and infused them with clearly restorationist theology. He separates the presentation of the endowment, the ritual from the endowment proper, what is taught.

Additional support against the Masons origins from Solomon's times.

Solomon's Temple

The Bible does not support anything from the LDS Temple Ceremony being in Solomon's temple. Solomon's temple dealt with things very foreign to the LDS endowment ceremony such as animal sacrifices. None of the ordinances performed in LDS temples, such as endowments, baptism for the dead, and eternal marriage, were performed in the Biblical temple; its function was making atonement for sins as a precondition to worshipping the true and living God.

Leviticus 16:2-34 spells out pretty clearly what happened in the Old Testament temple. Also, here is an article (written from a Christian perspective) that talks about the LDS claim that modern temples are an extension or continuation of Old Testament temples.
Link is here.

New Testament Temple

Try this link for a walk-through of a day in the life of the priests of the Second Temple (the one that Jesus knew): Link is here.

It's based entirely on the detailed Jewish records that have been handed down long after the temple itself was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. There is plenty of ancient contemporary evidence to back up this account. There appear to be very few points of resemblance with LDS practice today, which is far more closely linked to Freemasonry.

The version of the Masonry rituals.

If the Temple ceremony came from Masonry, and the Masons originally had the original temple ceremony back in Solomon's day, and it slowly degenerated over the centuries to its present state, then why doesn't the Mason's ceremony prior to the 1800s more closely resemble the true temple ceremony that the LDS church practices?

Logically the further you go back, the closer the Mason's ceremony should get to The LDS restored temple ceremony. Instead the temple ceremony matches the Mason's ceremony as it existed in the 1830s which is the one Joseph was exposed to.

Elements in the LDS ceremony that didn't exist in Solomon's time.

The LDS Temple Ceremony prominently features items which were unknown in ancient Israel , such as Jesus, Peter, James, and John, the Protestant minister, and other New Testament/Christian era stuff.

The Jerusalem Temple vs The Mormon Temples

See the comparison between the ancient Jewish Temple and modern LDS Temples from Richard Packham's website.


The Temple and Polygamy

The temple ceremony coincided with plural marriage as practiced by the early saints. As Joseph did not want to let the masses know about polygamy, he may have introduced the temple ceremony as a way of keeping polygamy a secret while introducing select members into the practice of plural marriage. As an important element of the temple ceremony is to never reveal what happens in the temple, even under penalty of death (before 1990), this would help keep the polygamous marriages a secret by the people that knew about them.

The following website provides some interesting speculation on this:

Link is here.

The new and everlasting covenant

The "new and everlasting covenant" revealed in the temple ceremony is generally considered by most modern LDS members as pertaining to celestial marriage. However in the early days of the Church, it clearly meant polygamy. LDS apologists do not dispute the original meaning of the term as referring to polygamy.


Secret or Sacred?

Critics often say that the temple ceremony is secret, whereas the faithful LDS members say it isn't secret, it is sacred. In reality it is both. Obviously it is considered sacred by those participating in the ceremony, but it is also very secret. (See MormonThink's coverage of "Sacred or Secret?")

In fact the word 'secrecy' was mentioned five times in the pre-1990 temple ceremony. The first four times were removed in 1990 but the fifth mention of 'secrecy' remains. They are:

"They are most sacred, and are guarded by solemn covenants and obligations of secrecy to the effect that made in the presence of God, Angels and these witnesses to hold them sacred and under no condition, even at the peril of your life, will you ever divulge them, except at a certain place in the temple that will be shown you hereafter."

"I will now explain the covenant and obligation of secrecy which are associated with this token, its name, and sign and penalty, and which you will be required to take upon yourselves."

"I will now explain the covenant and obligation of secrecy which are associated with this token, its name, and sign, and penalty, and which you will be required to take upon yourselves."

"I will now explain the covenant and obligation of secrecy which are associated with this token, its name, and sign and penalty, and which you will be required to take upon yourselves. "

"This token has a name and a sign, you will be under the same sacred obligation of secrecy in connection with this token and sign as you are with the other tokens and signs of the Holy Priesthood which you have received in the temple this day."


"You have had a New Name given unto you, which you were told never to divulge."

The penalties, which were part of the ceremony before being removed in 1990, all relate to revealing parts of the temple ceremony to others. Anyone that reveals what they learned in the temple is subject to the penalties. So how can anyone say that the ceremony is not secretive in nature? It may be sacred, but it is certainly secret as well.

Why the secrecy?

Perhaps in the 1800s the secrecy of the temple was so outsiders (as well as the bulk of the LDS membership) would not find out about the practice of plural marriage. However, why is it secret now? God may have commanded it to be secret of course, or maybe there are more practical, earthly answers.

The temple ceremony can seem very strange to many people. We've heard even many faithful members refer to the experience as not at all what they expected and even bizarre. It definitely is very different than the worship services in the LDS chapels every Sunday.

Simply put, people outside the Church wouldn't understand it. How many people would join the church if the temple ceremony was explained to them in detail by the missionaries?

However, making it a 'sin' to discuss the temple ceremony outside the temple causes people to simply accept the strangeness of the ceremony. If it wasn't for this, members would likely talk amongst themselves about the ceremony and probably not in flattering ways. Perhaps with open discussion, members would come to the conclusion that the ceremony isn't something they are comfortably believing in.

Generally when people or organizations have secrets, it is usually for nefarious reasons. Even the Book of Mormon condemns 'secret combinations'. You would think that God's true church would be the most open and honest of any organization, but this is far from true. If God commanded it to be this way then that's fine, but if it is done by man, then the reasons are suspect.

Even Joseph Smith may have acknowledged the downside of secrecy when he said:

Pure friendship always becomes weakened the very moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy.(The Essential Joseph Smith, page 113)

Is the temple ceremony actually secret now?

In the 1800s it was possible to keep the details of the LDS Temple Ceremony relatively secret from the vast majority of the world. However now with the Internet, there are no secrets anymore. Simply google 'Mormon Temple Ceremony' to see for yourself.

Also if signs and tokens which are needed for entrance into the celestial kingdom are meant to be secret except for loyal, temple-going Latter-day Saints, then it has failed. The Masons, former LDS and anyone that has access to the Internet knows or can easily find out the details of the signs and tokens.

Temple Prep Classes

Although members are constantly encouraged to go to the temple, the endowment ceremony itself is never discussed in any detail whatsoever in church or amongst the members. Children and unendowed adults never learn any of the details through the church itself, and virtually all of the members find out about it only when they actually go through the temple for the first time to take out their endowments (unless of course they look it up on the Internet or some radical LDS member violates the covenants and tells them about it).

Since going through the endowment ceremony for the first time can be a shocking experience for many people, the church has temple prep classes available for people preparing to go to the temple. This is a great idea; however the classes in no way prepare you for what really happens in the temple.

I personally attended all the temple prep classes twice before I took out my endowments and in none of those classes, or temple prep books, was it mentioned that I would be learning secret handshakes and passwords that I'll need in order to get into heaven. I was also not told that I would be making promises to have my throat, chest, and abdomen slit if I revealed the temple ceremony to anyone (the penalties were removed in 1990). I also was never told I would have to symbolically act out slicing my own throat and stomach along with everyone else. Also, I had no knowledge I would be making covenants to essentially give all my time, talents, and everything with which the Lord blesses me to the church. Also, even before my temple wedding, I didn't know I had to promise to obey my husband.

Can you back out before committing?

Although the temple ceremony says you can leave before you make the covenants, in reality it is very, very hard to do so. You are very confused, the peer pressure is enormous with everyone there doing the same thing so you naturally go along with it even though you don't fully understand what you're committing to, or may not really want to commit to it at all, but you feel you have no choice. Also you naturally trust the church and don't think that they would ever do anything wrong. We don't know of anyone that actually backed out in the middle of the ceremony. The curiosity to see how the thing ends is also just too tempting to pass up.

Is it morally right to have everything be such a secret?

It is unfair to ask people to "sign a contract" that they aren't allowed to read in advance. Because the rites are secret, you have to agree to everything blindly, then discover what you've agreed to. Is this how God works?

We believe that members should know the details of the ceremony before going through it. Of course, we believe that investigators should be told about it also. Note: New members aren't even allowed to enter the temple before they've been a member for one year. The reason for this is obvious.

Milk Before Meat

The LDS church justifies withholding the details of the temple ceremony from its members until they actually go though the endowment session themselves by using the philosophy of "Milk Before Meat". The idea seems to be that if investigators were taught the details of the temple ceremony before they joined, it would seem so strange that they wouldn't likely join the church. However, if they were a church member for at least a year, as is required before entrance into the temples, then they could be introduced to it in such a way as to not upset their faith. This is even more evident in children born into the church that constantly are given positive, reinforcing messages about the temple, without ever knowing the details of the ceremonies until they actually receive their endowments which cannot happen until they are at least 18 years old.

Scientology Parallels

Per wikipedia [on April 25, 2011]: The Church of Scientology holds that at the higher levels of initiation (OT levels) mystical teachings are imparted that may be harmful to unprepared readers. These teachings are kept secret from members who have not reached these levels. The Church states that the secrecy is warranted to keep its materials' use in context, and to protect its members from being exposed to materials they are not yet prepared for.

Is it okay for the Scientologist religion to withhold from its members their strange beliefs about aliens blowing themselves up on Earth 75 million years ago with H-bombs and how their essence controls us today until they are firmly indoctrinated into their church? If not, then why is it okay for the LDS church to withhold the strange practices of the temple endowment ceremonies until they are indoctrinated in the LDS church?

Editor comment: A good friend of mine took all the missionary discussions and was thinking about getting baptized. He asked the missionaries about what went on in the temple as he really didn't know anything about it, but always heard it being mentioned in talks in Sacrament Meeting. The missionaries gave him a generic answer. He asked for details. They said that he couldn't be told that until he was a member for a year, and then actually went through the ceremony himself. My friend asked why he couldn't know now before he committed to being baptized? The missionaries could not give him a satisfactory answer, only to say he had to have faith.

He was shocked and said that in the church he currently belonged to, they would not keep secrets from prospective members and could not figure out why God's supposedly true church would do this. He said he would not get baptized if they would not tell him what he wanted to know about the church he was considering joining. The missionaries would not violate their covenants, so my friend never got baptized.

When my friend asked me about it, I had not yet been through the temple either, and I just said that I thought it was reasonable that he had a right to know what he was getting into before he joined. This was before the Internet. In this Age, I'm sure he would just have looked up the ceremony with Google or another search engine to find out for himself.

The secrecy of the temple covenants keeps people from talking about it and perhaps leaving the church over it, but it also prevents some people from joining the church. With the Internet today, there are no secrets from inquiring minds, so it will be interesting to see how this issue gets treated by inquisitive investigators and converts in the future.

Ceremony prior to 1990

My parents are true-believing members, and they told me the changes weren't that big of a deal. Decide for yourself by reading the actual pre and post 1990 versions right here:

Link is here.

Ask a Bishop, or other members. Many of us have asked an Elders QP, a Bishop and other members that have gone through the temple before 1990, and all have said that there were changes, but most claimed that the changes aren't that essential.

1984 Version

Link is here.

1931 Version

Link is here.

The significant changes made in 1990 include:

  1. Elimination of the penalties associated with the signs and tokens. After 1990, patrons were no longer required to pantomime their own deaths by slashing their throats or disemboweling themselves by slicing a knife across their stomachs.
  2. The protestant ministers were no longer referred to as agents of Satan.
  3. Changing of words from the Adamic Language to English.
  4. The elimination of the Five Points of Fellowship.

Some of us have spent much time in the temple prior to 1990 wondering what kind of God would put these things in of slashing throats and disemboweling oneself. Few members back then probably gave it much thought, it was just part of the signs and tokens. That is why some members say they don't even really remember them. Most people who attend temple do not think that deeply about it but rather it's a duty to perform.

The Five Points of Fellowship is one of the strangest things that many ask what has that got to do with getting into heaven? For those that haven't been through the ceremony before 1990, it can be researched on the Internet on Masonry sites:

"LORD: You shall receive it upon the Five Points of Fellowship, through the Veil.

(The officiator demonstrates the Five Points of Fellowship through the Veil with the temple worker who represents the Lord, as each point is mentioned.)

PETER: The Five Points of Fellowship are "inside of right foot by the side of right foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, hand to back, and mouth to ear." The Lord then gives the name of this token, and asks:

LORD: What is that?

PETER: The Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Patriarchal Grip, or Sure sign of the Nail.

LORD: Has it a name?

PETER: It has.

LORD: Will you give it to me?

PETER: I will, upon the Five Points of Fellowship, through the Veil."

Perhaps the answer to why the Five Points of Fellowship was ever in the temple ceremony to begin with is that it is in the Mason's rituals. It is copied virtually word-for-word from the Masons.

Older versions

The original temple ceremony practiced by the saints included an oath of vengeance against the United States government for the death of Joseph Smith. The change was added by Brigham Young after Joseph was killed by the mob. This was removed in early 1927. Imagine if Mitt Romney was running for president after taking an oath against the United States government.

The oath in part was:

You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray, and never cease to pray, Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and your children's children unto the third and fourth generations.

It became the subject of a United States Senate Investigation:

Link is here.

More on that here: Link is here.

Perhaps these kinds of oaths helped explain how the Mountain Meadows Massacre could even ever occur among the good Latter-day Saints men.


Why was the ceremony changed in 1990?

Temple attendance was reportedly declining in the 1980s even though baptisms were increasing and regular church meeting attendance was steady. The Church leadership naturally wanted to know why. A survey was given to some 3,400 Church members in 1988 to find out the reason. Some excerpts of an article on the subject are listed below. (Link is now dead.)

"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 LDS 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 appears: "…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 you complete." This survey was to be returned in the mail "by MARCH 30th," 1988.

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 LDS 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: A Journal of Mormon Thought) 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 ceremony. 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 LDS 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 LDS scholars and prominent people = "Revelation."

Ex-Mormon LDS critic Randy Jordan

Sometimes Mormonism is compared with a corporation. A business, using business type methods in order to maintain it's growth and profits. An interesting telltale sign of this is the use of surveys used to gain information from customers or potential customers in the market place. A survey tries to gain a snapshot of reality in order to make some adjustments in business plans to protect the organization and to enhance it's position in the business world.

Mormonism is no different in this regard. A member writes:

Several years back we were visitors in the Luton ward (part of the St Albans stake) and unusually the congregation was asked to fill in an official questionnaire during sacrament meeting. It took us about 30-40 minutes to fill in. The questionnaire was in a very similar style shown in this following example (used to gain general information about different faiths in the USA - this example is in itself worth studying). Link is here.

Like the survey above, members were told that they could fill the survey in anonymously. It was a while back, but the type of questions included were similar to this vein:

- Do you find the three hour block too long?
- How often do you read the scriptures?
- Do you fast on a monthly basis?

I can't remember exact questions - but they were to find out the dedication level of members, what they liked or disliked about the church, how they perceived local leadership, etc. I was gob smacked that the church leadership was relying on a survey in order to make decisions about leading the church. What happened to inspiration? Or was information and real world data the "new inspiration"?


Many members were uncomfortable with the pre-1990 ceremony.

Although we don't have the results of the survey, just by talking with members, it's apparent that many members were not comfortable with the pre-1990 ceremony. Many people described it as bizarre and didn't want to go back again. Naturally people disliked the death oaths. Having to run their thumb across their throat as if it was a knife in order to show their commitment to not revealing the signs and tokens to nonmembers can be frightening. Just hearing the words used can be quite chilling in what is supposed to be one of the holiest places on earth.

The Penalties

The penalties in the temple endowment ceremony before 1990 are as follows:

First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood Penalty:

The execution of the Penalty is represented by placing the thumb under the left ear, the palm of the hand down, and by drawing the thumb quickly across the throat to the right ear, and dropping the hand to the side.

I, 'John', covenant that I will never reveal the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, and penalty. Rather than do so, I would suffer my life to be taken. (The Officiator demonstrates the execution of the penalty.)

Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood Penalty:

The Execution of the Penalty is represented by placing the right hand on the left breast, drawing the hand quickly across the body, and dropping the hands to the sides

I, 'David', covenant, that I will never reveal the Second Token of the Aaronic priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, and penalty. Rather than do so I would suffer my life to be taken.

First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood Penalty:

Penalty is represented by drawing the thumb quickly across the body and dropping the hands to the sides. (Officiator completes the action.)

I covenant in the name of the Son that I will never reveal the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood or Sign of the Nail, with its accompanying name, sign and penalty. Rather than do so, I would suffer my life to be taken.

Link is here.

In earlier days, the wording of the penalty oaths was even more graphic:

Early Penalty of the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood (this is the oath from before the mid-1930s):

We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by our roots.

Early Penalty of the Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood:

We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree to have our breasts cut open and our hearts and vitals torn out from our bodies and given to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.

Early Penalty of the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood:

We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our bodies be cut asunder in the midst and all our bowels gush out.

(Sources of Information: U.S. Senate Document 486; "Endowment Oaths and Ceremonies" in Salt Lake Tribune, February 8, 1906)

The Masons also removed their penalties.

The penalties in Freemasonry were essentially identical to the penalties in the Mormon ceremonies. It's very interesting to note that the Masons removed their penalties from their ceremony just four years before the LDS Church removed it from the LDS temple ceremony.

Following is the link for the Mason's site which states that: "The much publicized 'traditional penalties ' for failure to observe these undertakings were removed from the promises in 1986. They were always symbolic not literal and refer only to the pain any decent man should feel at the thought of violating his word."

Also: "When Masonic ritual was developing in the late 1600s and 1700s it was quite common for legal and civil oaths to include physical penalties and Freemasonry simply followed the practice of the times. In Freemasonry, however, the physical penalties were always symbolic and were never carried out. After long discussion, they were removed from the promises in 1986."

Link is here.

Protestant Ministers as agents of Satan

Also many temple goers are converts to the Church and still had good feelings about their old churches they attended. People objected to having the protestant minister referred to as an agent of Satan. Many people exclaimed "my pastor was a good man - he certainly was not in league with Satan". The actual text can be found here about halfway down:

Link is here.

Pay Lay Ale.

Temple goers had to repeat the phrase 'Pay Lay Ale' three times while lowering their arms while standing in a circle. This seemed very pagan-like to many members as you were basically chanting a phrase that has no meaning which we were told came from the true Adamic language that Adam spoke. In 1990 they replaced the phrase with the purported English translation 'Oh God hear the words of my mouth' but kept the lowering of the raised arms.

Perhaps another reason for the change was that 'anti-Mormons' were publicly harassing a LDS political leader while he was campaigning asking him what 'Pay Lay Ale' meant in front of a non-Mormon audience. It was embarrassing for him to answer that question.

The Five Points of Fellowship

The five points of fellowship is so strange, we're sure many LDS must have wondered why it was ever in the temple ceremony to begin with (other than the fact that it was in the Mason's ceremony). Many women expressed their discomfort in the touching that went on with a total stranger of the opposite sex. At the veil, the temple attendee had to engage in the following ritual with whoever was the temple officiator at the veil at the time:

inside of right foot by the side of right foot,

knee to knee,

breast to breast,

hand to back, and

mouth to ear.

Not many women were comfortable touching their breasts and legs to other men's chests and legs. Men didn't like doing it with other men either. It's one thing to do that with your spouse and quite different with a stranger or worse, someone from your ward that you didn't particularly care for. Perhaps complaints from members also helped the leadership of the Church decide that this part of the ceremony was no longer required for exaltation. We again must wonder why it was required as part of the ceremony for 150 years but all of a sudden changed with no explanation.

Members that went before 1990 often lie about the ceremony.

We personally have witnessed good LDS members mislead and lie about the ceremony to nonmembers, converts, family members and Church members who did not go through the temple before 1990. We've heard people, who have been through the old temple ceremony, fumble over their words trying to figure out what to say when confronted with someone who has been told about the prior ceremony but is skeptical that good Latter-day Saints actually performed those rituals with the death oaths. They say, "It wasn't like that," "I don't remember," "You're exaggerating," and even, "That was never part of the ceremony," when the simple facts about the pre-1990 ceremony are mentioned to them for verification.

If this suppression of knowledge continues amongst the Latter-day Saints, we have little doubt that in a few years very few members will even know that there were death penalties in the temple ceremony. It will be relegated to the status of 'lies told by anti-Mormons'.

We have to wonder why anyone should feel embarrassed by anything that takes place in Heavenly Father's true church.

Editor Comment: One has to wonder if the LDS Church again copied Masonry by removing these penalties from the temple ritual four years after the Masons removed them? Or did the LDS Church leadership merely receive inspiration in the same way that the Masons did? Or did God command the LDS prophets to change the ceremony via revelation? If so, why the need for the survey? It appears that the ceremony was changed for pragmatic reasons to appeal to the members' concerns rather than direct revelation from God. We're left wondering though, why the most objectionable parts were part of the ceremony for 150 years to begin with, and why exactly they were changed and by what authority. Either way we are glad the changes took place.


Ceremony changes in 2005


The washing and anointing part of the temple ceremony is always done the first time a member goes through the endowment ceremony part of the temple session. Many members (including myself) felt very uncomfortable doing Initiatories and never did them again. Being naked, even though you are covered with a poncho-type of garment that is open on the sides, is very uncomfortable. It gets worse when someone touches you blessing your bowels and such. Although it is not sexual, it is very unnerving having someone administer to you when you are clothed (or unclothed) in this manner.

Perhaps as a result of others feeling this way, this part of the ceremony was changed in 2005 so the participants are able to keep their underwear on and no actual touching takes place.

Interestingly, when members repeat the ordinance, they can do 10 at a time (one right after another) as opposed to making it part of the 2-hour endowment ceremony. This probably is done so that the number of Initiatories keep up with the number of endowment sessions performed as most members seem to prefer to do endowment sessions instead of Initiatories.

Here's a webpage dedicated to this subject:

Link is here.

In summary, the Salt Lake Temple originally had huge bathtubs for the "washing and anointing" ordinance. All temple patrons were bathed naked and anointed with oil during the ordinance. According to the church, this ordinance is as essential as baptism and required before one can receive their garments.

At some point, the ordinance baths were removed and patrons had to bathe before attending the temple. So the ordinance was changed to washing and anointing certain parts of the patron's naked body - including the groin and breast area.

I say temple patrons were naked, but they actually wore a sheet of cloth with a hole in it, much like a poncho. It was completely open on the sides, and wearing it still gave the full sensation of being naked.

This open poncho, conveniently called a "shield" was also a requirement of the ordinance. When going through the temple for the first time, the Salt Lake Temple president told us new initiates that the open poncho had to be the same as the one Christ used to cover the naked man he initiated in the Bible (See Mark 14:51-52).

Then in January 2005 the church changed the ordinance again. The ponchos were sewn up on the sides and temple patrons had to wear their garments underneath them. The touching stopped and the washing and anointing is done with motions close to the body.

The changes to this fundamental saving ordinance are akin to changing baptism from total immersion to a sprinkling on the head. Yet Mormons point out that changing saving ordinances is a wicked sign of a church's apostasy.

So why did my grandmother's salvation require her to be bathed naked in a tub when members today receiving the same ordinance aren't even touched? How could this eternal saving ordinance be coming from a timeless all-knowing God?

Why couldn't God just get it right the first time when He "revealed" the ordinance to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young?

Naked Initiatories in the mid 1900s

From Richard Packham (RFM post 26 November 2012):

I got my endowment in 1952 in the Idaho Falls Temple. I went through endowment sessions in all of the then operating Utah temples (four!) during the next five years.

At that time, when doing a proxy endowment, you did the whole thing, including the initiatory, so I went through it several times in different temples.

For the washing and anointing, I disrobed in the locker room, put a shield over me, and walked to the washing booth, carrying the garment and a white towel. In the washing booth, the shield was removed and hung on a hook while the washing and anointing took place.

Yes, I was completely naked.

After toweling off, the garment was placed on me, the shield was put over me again, and I returned to the locker room.

I have no idea what the procedure was in the women's side.

Editor comment: In addition to the embarrassment felt by many members during the Initiatories prior to 2005, we can't help but wonder if the fear of lawsuits helped inspire the leaders to change the ceremony. With thousands of Initiatories performed each day by many different people, chances are sooner or later some perverted temple worker would accidentally touch someone in an inappropriate way or make some comment when the temple-goer was being initiated naked under the shield. Given the nature of the ceremony in this lawsuit-happy world, the Church could find itself in many lawsuits and unwanted publicity.

We welcome the change, but we still want to know did this change come about from revelation directly from Heavenly Father or was it inspired by lawyers for pragmatic reasons?

The history of Initiatories

Visit the site to learn the history of the initiatory ordinances.

Is it okay to change the ceremonies?

The first thing to keep in mind is that we older Latter-day Saints who first went through the temple before 1990 were told by church leaders that the ceremony was given to Joseph Smith by revelation, that it had never been changed, and that it would never BE changed.

"From August 2001 Ensign (page 22), in big bold print above a large colorful portrait of Joseph Smith:

"The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, 'Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.'"

The Church goes on to declare:

"It is this principle of consistent and unalterable requirements that gives true meaning to the performance of vicarious ordinances in the temple. The Prophet wrote that baptism for the dead and the recording of such baptisms conform to the ordinance and preparation that the Lord ordained and prepared before the foundation of the world, for the salvation of the dead who should die without a knowledge of the gospel."

"Through time and apostasy following Christ's Resurrection and Ascension, however, the divine authority of the priesthood and the sacred ordinances were changed or lost, and the associated covenants were broken. The Lord revealed His displeasure over this situation in these words: 'For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god.' This situation required a restoration of knowledge pertaining to the importance, significance, and appointed administration of sacred gospel ordinances, both live and vicarious, as well as the divine authority of the priesthood and priesthood keys to administer them."

- "Ordinances and Covenants", Ensign, August 2001, page 23

This is from an article specifically on the temple ordinances. The author of the article is a General Authority, so he must know that the temple ordinances have gone through major revisions, including deletions of covenants, teachings and ordinances - over the last 160 years.

If these were divinely restored in their complete form from "the foundation of the world" then why have they kept changing? And if Joseph Smith says they can never be altered or changed, how come the church did it? Who got it wrong, the prophet Joseph or the prophets that followed him?

Such changes seem to contradict the LDS claims that the endowment is in the pure and unchanged form in which Joseph Smith is supposed to have received it by divine revelation. In fact, in the words of LDS leaders, such changes are actually a sign of apostasy:

"The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, 'Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.'" - Ensign Magazine (official church publication), August 2002, p 22

"Now the purpose in Himself in the winding up scene of the last dispensation is that all things pertaining to that dispensation should be conducted precisely in accordance with the preceding dispensations…. He set the temple ordinances to be the same forever and ever and set Adam to watch over them, to reveal them from heaven to man, or to send angels to reveal them." - Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol.4, p. 208

"As temple work progresses, some members wonder if the ordinances can be changed or adjusted. These ordinances have been provided by revelation, and are in the hands of the First Presidency. Thus, the temple is protected from tampering." - W. Grant Bangerter, executive director of the Temple Department and a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, Deseret News, Church Section, January 16, 1982

"We explained briefly the Apostasy and the Restoration: that there is vast evidence and history of an apostasy from the doctrine taught by Jesus and his Apostles, that the organization of the original Church became corrupted, and sacred ordinances were changed to suit the convenience of men…" - Apostle David B. Haight, "Joseph Smith the Prophet," Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 22 (emphasis added)

Click here for an extended discussion of the 2005 changes and how "changing the ordinances" is (by LDS definition) a sign of fundamental apostasy.


Timeline of Changes

The timeline below summarizes the endowment's historical development.

Reference: Link is here.

1842 Two months after his initiation into Freemasonry, Joseph Smith administers the first endowments on the upper floor of his Nauvoo store. The rite consists of washing, anointing, clothing in the garment, and instruction in the signs, tokens, and keywords of the holy priesthood.
1843 Eternal marriage (sealings) and the second anointing are instituted.
Women receive the endowment for the first time.
1845 Under Brigham's Young leadership, the endowment is performed in the Nauvoo Temple as a ritual drama, with a Creation Room, Garden Room, Telestial Room, Terrestrial Room, and Celestial Room.
1877 The first recorded endowments for the dead are performed.
Brigham Young produces the first written text of the endowment, for use in the St. George Temple.
1893 Church leaders order minor alterations to the language and procedures of the endowment, trying to ensure greater consistency in how the endowment is administered in different temples.
1904-1906 The endowment is publicly scrutinized during Congressional hearings to determine if senator-elect Reed Smoot has taken a treasonable oath. Of particular concern is the "oath of vengeance," added to the ceremony after Joseph Smith's death.
1919-1927 A committee appointed by Heber J. Grant produces a revised endowment to be used in all temples. Changes include:
  • Eliminating the oath of vengeance.
  • Omitting graphic descriptions from the penalties.
  • Reducing the number of times the robes of the priesthood are changed from one shoulder to the other.
  • Discontinuing temple choirs (who had formerly performed the hymn chosen by Lucifer's preacher), in favor of congregational singing.
1923 The Church approves a shorter garment for optional use outside the temple (extending to the elbows and knees rather than the wrists and ankles). However, the longer garment remains mandatory for use in the temple.
1936 A codified explanation of the symbolism of the marks on the veil is added to the endowment.
1945 The endowment is administered in Spanish in the Mesa, Arizona temple, the first time the ceremony is administered in a language other than English.
1950s The first filmed versions of the endowment are made, for use in the Swiss and New Zealand temples (with different casts for different languages).
1960s Film becomes the standard medium for presenting the endowment. Filmed endowments take on a theatrical quality (with costumes, scenery, music, etc.) and are dubbed from English into other languages.

As the filmed endowment makes congregational singing awkward, the preacher's hymn is discontinued.
1970s Revisions are made to the portion of the ceremony involving Lucifer's preacher: Lucifer no longer specifies the amount of the preacher's salary, and a reference to Satan's having black skin is omitted.
1975 The long, pre-1923 garment becomes optional in the temple and is eventually discontinued.
1978 The lifting of the priesthood ban on blacks makes the endowment available to all Latter-day Saints, regardless of race.
1990 Following surveys of Church members' feelings about the endowment, major revisions are made:
  • All penalties, the five points of fellowship, and syllables purported to having meaning in the Adamic language are omitted.
  • The part of the preacher is eliminated, as well as a reference to Lucifer's "popes and priests."
  • Women no longer covenant to obey the law of their husbands.
  • Language which faults Eve for initiating the Fall is dropped.
  • Many references to Adam are replaced with references to Adam and Eve.
  • The lecture at the veil is discontinued.
  • Orders from Elohim are repeated fewer times for brevity's sake.

Procedures for the initiatory are revised such that initiates clothes themselves in the garment before entering the washing room, thus eliminating the final vestiges of ritual nudity (which had been curtailed by introduction of the shield, probably during the 1920s). Water and oil are applied to the head only, not to multiple parts of the body.


Possibly out of consideration for the elderly and disabled, initiates are no longer instructed to stand while making covenants.

Much of the information for this timeline was taken from David John Buerger, The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship (San Francisco: Smith Research Associates, 1994).

Temple Clothes

We've often heard that everyone is the same in the temple. Whether you are CEO of a fortune 500 company or a simple farmer, you are treated the same. They encourage people to not wear any jewelry except a simple wedding band. Everyone wears the same simple white outfit. We support the concept. It has its merits by attempting to avoid special treatment or stereotyping people by the way they look or what they wear.

The hats and veils.

The white suit seems appropriate for a holy place. The white dresses also seem consistent with the theme. However we're a little confused by the hats. The hat that is commonly and irreverently referred to as a 'baker's cap' seems perhaps a little out of place. Maybe it's just us, but we don't feel particularly righteous or holy wearing one.

The veils worn by the women seem a bit dated. It reminds us of the Islamic countries where women must shield their faces in public. Of course in the temple it is only during certain parts of the ceremony.

Temple clothes are eternally important as the Church instructs members to be buried in their temple clothes.

The green aprons are seemingly a bit strange, but we do understand their significance and symbolism. The Masons also use aprons in their rituals, however they are lamb-skin or white.

Comment from a typical LDS women:

"And I am offended veiling my face. Why is it done? Submission? The men don't do it. I hate it, it's archaic, and definitely does smack of Islamic devaluation of females."

Certainly the temple clothes neither validate nor invalidate the temple ceremony, but we mention it as several people have told us it makes them feel somewhat silly instead of spiritual when they are in the temple. We suppose the Pope might feel the same way about his pointed hat.



"Once people are endowed, they have the 'blessing' of wearing the temple garment throughout their lives. They are obligated to wear it according to the instructions given in the endowment. Those who have been endowed in the temple must remember that the blessings that are related to this sacred privilege depend on their worthiness and their faithfulness in keeping temple covenants.

The garment provides a constant reminder of the covenants made in the temple. The garment should be treated with respect at all times. It should not be exposed to the view of those who do not understand its significance, and it should not be adjusted to accommodate different styles of clothing. When worn properly, the garment provides protection against temptation and evil. Wearing the garment is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior."

The temple garment is considered so sacred that we should never take it off except for bathing, sports and swimming. Many people that stopped wearing them have said what a relief it is to be 'normal' again and not feel embarrassed to change in a locker room, or to have the freedom to wear summer clothing on hot, summer days or when cutting the grass or other outdoor activities.

Garments as protection

We're told that garments act as a source of protection for ourselves. Of course we've all heard those Mormon urban legends about someone whose body was burned horribly except for where his garments were and the like. Obviously garment-wearing LDS people die all the time in accidents just like everyone else does. Even faithful missionaries have been killed while wearing garments. Perhaps its meant as more of a spiritual protection as the garments must be removed prior to engaging in certain morally-questionable activities.

Perhaps it is from stories like this that many LDS continue to believe that the garments provide actual physical protection:

"Smith removed his own endowment "robe" or garment before he went to Carthage Jail and told those with him to do likewise. His nephew Joseph F. Smith later explained, "When Willard Richards was solicited [by Smith] to do the same, he declined, and it seems little less than marvelous that he was preserved without so much as a bullet piercing his garments.'"

(D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power," p. 146; see Quinn's citation of Heber J. Grant's journal sheets, 7 June 1907, LDS Archives

The extreme example

From a member:

I remember my grandmother telling how she bathed without removing her garments. She only took off part of them as she washed herself. When she was dried off, she'd put the clean ones on with the old pair still partly on her body. Many of the women were proud of saying they had never been totally without garments on their bodies since the day they first wore them in the temple - that included childbirth.

Other women used to only go through this weird bathing routine during times of danger or tribulation when they felt they were most in need of the protection.


Fortunately not many people go to these extremes today.

Why would Joseph Smith want to wear garments?

We don't know anyone that really likes to wear garments. So we have to wonder why Joseph would want to wear garments if the critics are right that Joseph did not really receive the temple ceremony from God, especially since the old garment used to go from neck (it had a collar) to wrist and ankle. It closed in the front with four string-ties. Joseph Fielding Smith, for example, wore this style long after it had been replaced.

One answer of course, is that God commanded Joseph to institute the wearing of garments. Another possibility is that Joseph believed in magical and mystical things such as seer stones; he believed that putting symbols on clothing would protect him from harm. When Joseph was killed, they found a Jupiter Talisman on his body. This supports his belief in magical ornaments and symbols.

Editor comment:: People either view the wearing of garments as a blessing reserved for the 0.2% of the population that knows about them, or they view it as somewhat of a burden, but that they wear them because they believe God wants them to.

To some people garments are not that big of a deal but to others it's a real hardship. If you live in a hot climate it can be grueling wearing them in the summer time. When someone is outside in 100+ degree humid weather of Florida, they must in effect, wear two shirts because of the obligations they made in the temple. Also they must wear really long underwear that gets very uncomfortable when they sweat in the intense heat, unless they are specifically playing sports.

Many married people, that have decided to forsake wearing garments, have said that their level of intimacy has improved immeasurably since they don't feel constrained in their choice of underwear. Let's face it, garments can put a big damper on couples' sex lives. Even a supermodel wouldn't look sexy in garments.

We have to wonder why would God want us to be unnecessarily uncomfortable? It's especially difficult on women as they are generally instructed to wear their garments under their bras. Many women say that is very uncomfortable and unnecessary, but they have to do it anyway. It's one thing to tell people to dress modestly, but that can certainly be done without garments. If you can control people down to their underwear, then you really have them.

When people see Islamic women dressed head to toe in burqas (the black outfits with little slits for eyes) on a very hot day at an amusement park or other public place, people don't admire their dedication, rather they feel sorry for them. Good LDS people feel sorry for these women because we know it is totally unnecessary and not required by God. Similarly, non-Mormons don't believe that the LDS garments are required by God, but rather than feel sorry for garment-wearing members, they just think we're strange. Garments are the Mormon burqas - just worn on the inside.

If garments are indeed something that God commands everyone to wear, then it's a necessary obligation, even if it is a burden at times. However, if it is not specifically commanded by God, then it is a totally unnecessary burden placed on millions of people. How would you like to find out in the afterlife that God didn't really care what kind of underwear you wore and that you wore them for nothing?


The name you receive in the temple

When we go through the temple for the first time, we all receive a new name. Presumably this is the name we'll be known by in the next life although there's no specific doctrine supporting this other than when it's said in the temple ceremony that the husband will call the wife by her new name and bring her though into the celestial kingdom.

Some people liked the idea of getting a special name. I was excited until I found out that my name really wasn't special or divinely inspired. Everyone that goes through the temple on that day gets the exact same name. I got the 'new name of the day' and had I gone through the temple the day before or after I would have received a different special new name. Doesn't sound quite so special.

We're not really sure what the purpose of the new name is. A bishop once told me it was my name in the pre-existence and that's what I'll be known as in the next life. Almost all of the temple names come from the scriptures (a few like Emma have been added), so the number of names is somewhat limited - perhaps a few hundred names or so. If we're all known by these names in the next life, then there will be literally hundreds of millions of Abrahams, Ruths, Nephis, etc.

Critic's comment: If this is true, then in the infinite wisdom of God, all the people who were given a certain name in the pre-existence will magically go to the temple on the SAME day!

From a former temple worker:

I served as a veil worker for a year while at BYU. Every day before our shift started, they would have a short instruction meeting and then hold up a small poster board with the "names of the day" on it; one female name and one male. I believe that there are about 50 names for each sex that are rotated through. The male names are almost all biblical with Hyrum thrown in for good measure. Since there are fewer female names in the scriptures, they have more early Mormon names like Emma. If the patron's first name happened to be the name of the day, their new name defaulted to Adam or Eve; this ensured that everyone's "new name" wasn't the same as their "old name."

The husband has to keep a secret from his wife.

One thing involving the special names that can be very offensive towards women is that the women must tell their husbands what their special name is (at the ceremony at the veil when the husband is "the Lord"); however the men are not allowed to tell their own wives what the husband's special name is.

This sounds kind of chauvinistic. No reason is specifically given for this condition. Many women are bothered by this. It makes women feel less important than men and not equals.

We have to wonder why Heavenly Father forces men to keep secrets from their wives. That certainly is not healthy for any married couple - especially for newlyweds. Right off the bat, the married couple is put on unequal footing with the husband knowing the wife's special name when she can't know his.

Are temple names being recycled?

We've been hearing more and more stories that temple names are being recycled. Many people are reporting that temple patrons are performing endowments for the same deceased people multiple times. Some people report it as clerical errors while others state that sometimes the temples run out of names and just use names over again so the temple goers have someone to perform ordinances for.

Regardless of the reason, it seems that the temple ceremony is not really for the dead, but for the living. If some of the ceremonies are meaningless, since they've already been done for those deceased people, then the ceremony is merely 'busy work' for the members and providing no value for the deceased.

We imagine it would be quite a let-down if someone drove five hours to do a temple session to only be told that they ran out of valid names. So we understand why the temples may sometimes recycle names but it doesn't change the fact that the dead do not benefit at all from having their ordinance work done a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th time.

More info: Former Temple Worker Experience

Temple weddings


Your wedding day is supposed to be the most special day of your life. Why is it then that many LDS, particularly women, feel that their special day isn't really theirs? Many LDS feel that the restrictions put upon them for their actual wedding (when they get married in the temple) make their experience less joyful than it should be and very much controlled by the Church.

The first complaint is the outfits worn during the ceremony. Many brides and grooms have told us how awkward they felt wearing the hats during the marriage ceremony - especially since those attending were not wearing them. Also the choice of wedding dresses by the women is somewhat limited compared to their nonmember friends. The mirrors symbolizing eternity is kind of nice, but hardly compensates for the other concessions that must be made by the couple.

There are no videotapes of the ceremony that can be watched for years later to be enjoyed by the bride and groom and future children. There are no pictures of the ceremony either. All the happy couple has to remember their marriage ceremony with are their fading memories.

By far the biggest complaint is that only LDS members can attend the ceremony. And then only 'worthy' members who have temple recommends can watch the ceremony.

One member writes: "I watched my poor father look at me with tears in his eyes as he watched his son go into the temple with his bride and the rest of the family, while he had to stay outside by himself because he wasn't deemed 'worthy' to enter the temple because he wasn't a member of the LDS Church. It was so sad. This man raised me, was a good, righteous man and wasn't even allowed to watch his own son get married." This has been the source of much heartache for members and nonmembers alike.

Many couples would like to have a regular civil wedding where they can invite their nonmember friends and families and not be subject to all the controls the Church has on their wedding. The couple then wants to get sealed shortly thereafter. That makes sense as it satisfies the nonmember families, and they still get sealed for all eternity so everyone should be happy. HOWEVER, the church refuses to support this and enforces a one-year waiting period penalty on couples should they get married outside of the temple first. Why does the church do this? We assume it's to impress upon the couples obedience and the importance of the temple ceremony over all other things - families included. It works, as very few couples opt for this. Also there's the stigma associated with having a civil ceremony in the chapel. LDS people naturally assume the couple is 'unworthy' and must have had some sort of sexual relations before getting married if they have a civil ceremony before getting married.

This seemingly arbitrary policy drives a further wedge between LDS and nonLDS people. For many converts, it creates more problems for their families and forces people to choose between their families and the church.

We have to wonder if this policy is really commanded of by God or is it the policy of man. We wonder why the church that prides itself on 'the family' can sometimes do so much harm to families by excluding non-member family from something that is so family-oriented as a wedding. Perhaps this will change some day.

The Petition

The exclusionary policy actually prompted some people to start a petition to have it changed. The petition was to allow for the option of having a civil ceremony outside of the temple without penalty to the couple.

Link is here. - the petition is now closed

Jean Bodie and Michelle Spencer discuss their project, The Temple Wedding Petition in a podcast on Mormon Expression: episode 34 temple petition

Editor comment: As other countries (like England) require a civil ceremony prior to any religious ceremony, we don't see why the church can't allow its members to have a civil ceremony first where everyone can be invited. It's been our observation that whenever the church moves a little towards mainstream, that this makes the church look more appealing to non-members as well as members. The petition is done in a respectful way and we hope the church will one day adopt this practice.

Where's the Love?

There seems to be an absence of love in the actual temple marriage ceremony. It seems to be more about obeying God and the Church.

Click here for an extended discussion of the this topic.

Temple experiences by members

Story told to MormonThink:



Jane was a new bride, taking out her endowment at a temple along the Wasatch Front.A soon-to-be sister-in-law would help guide her through the session, showing her which shoulder to put the robe on, how to tie the on the veil that would shroud her face and ensuring the green apron was placed on the outside of her white dress.Jane didn't know any of it before she was sequestered inside an endowment room of the temple. She was, however, both excited and nervous. She had wanted to marry John since she was a junior in high school, waiting for him during his mission, and now the moment was about to arrive.During the Washing & Anointing (a pre-endowment ceremony), a female temple worker helped dressed the completely naked Jane in a “shield” (loose fitting poncho-like robe).As part of the Washing and the Anointing, the temple worker touched Jane lightly on her skin near very personal areas of her body.Jane was quite unnerved by this contact with a stranger, in ways she'd avoided letting even her fiancée touch her to keep her virtue and chastity as taught vigorously to her in church. 

Then in the endowment session, she was hit with promise after covenant she made for the rest of her life, and then told that if she dared disclose the names, the signs and other tidbits told her in the session, she may have to forfeit her life in implied alarming methods.The prayer circle chanting in ancient Hebrew and ritualistic miming of signs and penalties made her wonder if she was joining a satanic cult rather than progressing in a Christian gospel.A sickness formed in the pit of her tummy.She wanted to leave the session and shout out against the “secrecy” of such bizarre rituals and practices. But she couldn't embarrass herself with her groom's family or others who expected her to stay the course.The damage, however, was done.Jane made the decision to slowly remove herself from activity in the LDS church.It didn't seem at all what she was raised to believe.Before the first year of her marriage was done, she and her return-missionary husband were completely inactive and living a life outside of the church, trying to put the bizarreness of the temple into a forgotten moment of their past.

How could her inactivity have been avoided in the Mormon Church?


The above story was told me by Jane (name changed by her own request), and I myself encountered something similar when I first went. I was disgusted that I had to promise my own death if I dared discuss or revealed the ongoing of the temple. I was a month away from entering full-time missionary service to Guatemala. By the end of the endowment, I was determined to call off the mission and get out of the church. My parents felt my shock and cancelled their plans for the next several days to take me on a trip to Bear Lake and isolate me so that they could convince me that all would be well.By the end of that weekend, I was consoled that I would in fact be okay and that the temple may, on the surface, seem ritualistic, but was much deeper than I understood at the time.

After my mission, I served as a veil worker in the Idaho Falls temple and attended weekly sessions for over a year.I was inoculated and had memorized every word of the ceremonies in the temple.Years later, after entering a career in science, I would investigate where the rituals, the oaths, the signs and the penalties had originated through Joseph Smith.That newly discovered information once again threatened to put my testimony and membership in a tail spin.

MT Editor

There are several experiences by LDS recalling their first temple experience here:

Link is here.

A typical experience

I was a nineteen year old boy about to enter the MTC. My twin brother and I were to enter the MTC about two weeks apart, but we went to the temple the day before I reported to the MTC. My parents were very excited about us going to the temple. For my mother, it was, I believe, a way for her to see herself as a successful mother.

We left our home and traveled to Utah. We stayed with my uncle at his home in Orem. The night before I remember going to sleep knowing that in the morning life would be different. I wasn't sure how it would be, but I knew that I would have to wear garments. I had felt a little ripped off when I went to buy them. I had worked hard to save money for my mission and part of it was used to purchase holy clothing. I honestly thought that they were pricey and that the Church should sell them at cost.

The night before I rested in my bed wondering what life would be like. The big moment was going to happen. I was to learn the great secrets of the temple. I had always been taught that the temple was the holiest place on earth, that Jesus walked its halls, that angels frequently appeared there. I had an uncle who swears that his deceased brother appeared to him in the temple and had a conversation with him regarding why he died and what he was doing in the Spirit World. All these things raced through my head. I felt in awe about entering a place where heaven and earth literally co-existed.

Eventually I fell asleep. I was awoken early by my parents. I showered and ate breakfast. I dressed in my suit and we drove north to the Salt Lake Temple. As we approached the entrance, I felt somewhat apprehensive. The man at the booth examined our recommends and an eager guide was there to show us where to go. I believed that those men at the desk had supernatural power to discern every bad and evil thought I ever had. Would they let me in? Mercy was shown and we were permitted entrance.

My twin and I were given lockers next to each other. There we met our "triplet." Coincidently, a third young man was there to receive his temple endowments the same day prior to his mission. He had the same last name and the temple workers had assumed that we were triplets.

We made our way to the washing and anointing area wearing only a shield, which exposed much of my body. I held my garments in my hand as I followed our guide. I felt weird being so exposed. As I entered the booth, I remember that a lot of my body parts were blessed. It seemed pretty strange to me - unlike my previous experience in Mormonism. Lastly, a man dressed me in my garments then told me my new name, "Jonah." I had never cared for that Old Testament prophet. I was a little disappointed by the name and thought that perhaps God was trying to humble me- but for eternity? I didn't want to be a Jonah.

As we headed back to the lockers, a temple worker ran up to us and warned us not to discuss our new names with anyone - not even with each other. I thought that was a little strange as I had already been told that I could never reveal the new name by the temple worker in the booth and my mother had told us many times that we would receive a new name that had to be kept secret.

We dressed in our white clothes and sorted through our temple robes and aprons making sure that we had everything. Once our guide made sure we hadn't left anything we followed him to the front row of the chapel area. We sat down with our dad, next to the other new missionary who was sitting next to his dad. I was very surprised that all the men had to sit on one side and all the women on the other. I didn't quite understand this separation.

My mother beamed with pride. I saw her smiling over at me. I saw uncles and aunts whom I had seen in years wearing white clothing. My sister and her husband were present. Then the endowment presentation began.

At first it was just plain boring. The presentation of the creation was disappointing. This was the endowment? Then we started receiving handshakes, making signs and learning penalties. I was blown away. This seemed like a secret combination to me. I had a sick feeling in my stomach. It seemed that the Book of Mormon had warned against such secret combinations which used handshakes. I was a bit confused. I looked over at my mom and she had a nervous apprehensive look on her face. I understood why. I knew that at the end of the session I would be expect to repeat information. I focused myself on remembering all that I could.

Slowly, the presentation dragged on. The elderly temple workers performed their roles almost robotically. I thought it was strange that an actor played the part of the devil, who seemed to have a significant role in the presentation. I was somewhat fascinated by his apron and the symbols on it. I wondered what they represented.

We moved from room to room. By the time the presentation was nearly complete I was frightened that I hadn't really understood my religion sufficiently. What had I missed that had failed to prepare me for the sacredness which I was not seeing? The temple didn't feel sacred.

During that morning, I had wondered how many in the session were deceased people. I really did believe that there was no separation of living and dead in the temple. I had assumed that angels were there too. At the end of the session, we were told that we would be presented to the Lord at the veil. I had missed the explanation that a temple worker would be performing this part. My name was called and I was escorted up some steps to the veil. I looked for Jesus' hand to reach through the curtain. My heart was beating quickly. Out came the hand of an old man. Within moments I understood that Jesus really wasn't there. I repeated all the information back, making the tokens with the help of a temple worker. I passed through the veil into the beautiful celestial room of the Salt Lake City temple. It was full of people dressed as unusual as I was. My parents were already there. My mom was shining as her two sons came to her. My dad didn't respond much but seemed to want to talk about the room, not my experience.

Everyone was happy. But I was confused. The experience was different than what I had anticipated. My mother explained that I needed to go often to understand it better. After a few minutes, we left and returned to the locker room where I shed my robes for my suit, attired now in my garments.

When we left, I was afraid.

Eventually, the strangeness of the temple wore off. Repeated visits makes it all seem normal. But one thing never changes, the look of people's faces in the session company. As an officiator later in my life, I would often look at the faces of those attending. Nearly all of them had an empty look. No smiles, no interest, no nothing. We all just sat there enduring to the end. I also saw the nervous looks of mothers whose sons attended for the first time. It always reminded me of that day in 1985.

Skeptical April 19, 2007

Now onto the Temple Rituals.

Memories of Washing and Anointing!

I can still see the rows of tiny lockers where we completely undressed and donned the sheet-tunic that came to our knees. This is a tunic and has no closed seams. (Note: this has been changed as of 2005 and the seams are sewed up!) To walk in and out of the washing and anointing room, most people hold the sheets together while carrying our long garments into the little cubical where the old lady awaited me.

It is imperative that one understands that you go into this small cubical with a stranger. There is no talking, only in whispers. Dozens of other women are doing the same thing you are. Note: women and men are separated.

She whispered in my ear reaching under the sheet with those warm, sweaty, damp hands sliding over here and over there, anointing me first with dabs of water from head to toe, then going the same thing with oil. I can still hear the water trickling from the tiny spigot that she put her hands into to begin the anointing.

I can still hear the singsong monotone of her memorized washing and anointing dialogue. There are promises given, with each part of the body that is washed-dabbed with water and anointed-dabbed with oil. These have to do with promising the female that she will be a priestess to her husband.

This is not about a tiny tap on an imaginary dot of the skin. Imagine a woman's hand under the sheet (women for women-man for men) each time they say a body part making a sliding motion of about 2" to 4" in some areas with the four fingers of the right hand over the body part -probably trying to be very careful they do not touch the actual breast-nipple area for women, or the pelvic hair-penis scrotum area for men when they get to the area to be blessed.

Sometimes, I had to stifle a giggle as the old woman inadvertently tickled me and I squirmed. I tried to sit really, really still so she would not slide her wet, warm oily hand anywhere it ought not to be as her face was averted outside the sheet and she could not see where she had her hands. Sometimes she slid her hands within inches of my breasts and pubic hair as she slid her hands around in her predetermined and well practiced path.

I always hated it and I would shudder when she slide those warm, oily hands down my legs onto my feet. When she finished she would help me step into my underwear, while still wearing that sheet tunic, adjusting it properly and sending me out into the dressing area where dozens of other women were coming and going.

The real understanding of the washings and anointings is the following: they are denigrating, humiliating, designed to get control of you at your most vulnerable state by touching your naked body. There can be nothing spiritual in this kind of situation as it is debasing, horrific, and demeaning. To say they are spiritual in any way, shape of form just proves totally and conclusively that the technique to brainwash and program the person worked totally and completely.

These rituals and ceremonies are evidences of a bonafide cult with their secrecy, and threats. There is no absolutely no other definition of them. No way to explain them other than as cult practices. How does the Mormon Church get old Mormon men and women to believe it is a sacred ordinance to touch your naked body under a sheet with little dabs of water then oil while you sit in a small cubicle?

The only way you get people to do this the first time is through consistent programming and no prior information no full disclosure. The part that is so unethical and disrespectful is that no one tells the new initiate anything ahead of time. To say people are "prepared to go to the temple" is one of the biggest and most blatant fabricated lies they tell.

It must be done while a group of other people are doing the same thing so it is seen as acceptable in the eyes of the Mormon God.

No one would volunteer for this unless they were properly programmed to accept it. It is the ever- so-subtle programming that must take place to convince people that it is OK to strip naked and put on a tunic and be touched by strangers.

Somehow, everything we teach our children and ourselves goes out the window when it is done in the name of the Mormon God. Being touched on your naked by strangers is not acceptable in our culture and society. No amount of rationalizing, or explaining will make this shrewd, clever, manipulative misuse of humans into a decent act.

Temple workers are strangers. We have never seen them before. They are not our friends or relatives, and are not medical personal trained to work with the body in a professional manner.

It is unacceptable behavior that is uncomfortable and a huge taboo under these circumstances. and only done to break down the member and get them to do anything their Mormon God would ask.

This is about control of all things in a person's live, starting with the humiliation of stripping then naked. You go and do what dozens of other people are doing. It is very difficult to leave once you get in the temple. It can be done, I know, I have watched people do it, but it is rare. This is group pressure at it's most intense.

The monotonous drone of the speakers, the undeviating order of the meetings from begin to end, the repeating of the Sacrament prayers, the repetitiveness of the temple videos and rituals, the reading and memorization of scriptures, the repeating of the testimony-mantra, all work together to cancel out our natural, innate ability to recognize that which is reasonable, rational and dignified.

Under no other circumstances would anyone even dare to consider that you would strip naked, put on a shield as it is called carrying your underwear and go into a small room alone with someone you do not know while they whisper the memorized dialogue then help dress you.

A Former Member

Another member writes:

Silly me! *I* thought it would be spiritual, at least! I also thought the "new name" thing was an individual thing just for me, not a name every "new" female got that day. I had no idea I had to promise to kill myself horribly rather than reveal the stupid silly handshakes and "covenants" and secret signs. It was like a secret treehouse club for 12 year old boys. With Halloween costumes!


Follow this link to here a very meaningful first temple experience by a young man about to go on his mission: Link is here.

Click here for a few more selected temple experiences.

Editor Comment: Even among faithful members, very few people honestly say that their first temple experience was a complete joy or how they could really feel God's love or how Christ-centered they thought the experience was. At a minimum, people are kind and just say that it wasn't what they expected or that it just seemed strange to them.

As youth we 'bashed' the Catholic Church for their rituals. We proudly said we only have two set prayers (sacrament and baptismal) and we thought the vain repetitions of the Catholic Church were wrong. At the time we were not aware that the temple ceremony is a two-hour repetitious ritual that makes the Catholic Masses look progressive by comparison.

"All endowed members should visit the temple, it's a holy place and you can receive such wonderful spiritual experiences and blessings." We think this has never happened to us genuinely other than when we made a wonderful experience happen on our own accord because that was the expectation.




LDS members who go to the temple for their first time to receive their washing & anointing and their endowment are not told what exactly they promise to give.It's expected that before they get to the temple, they already have incredible devotion and incredible support to the LDS faith. Once a member enters the temple ceremonies, doors are closed, lights are dimmed and the theater like seats are packed with attendees.Somewhere around 40 minutes into the ceremony, you are then told that you are about to take on severe obligations and covenants, and now is your chance to leave.The pressure of family, friends and so many people sitting around you—all donning purest sheep white & uniform temple dress, expected to follow the flock—builds a level of peer pressure not seen in most high-schools.Conformity is all-but mandated.Still, many people express shock when they learn that they covenant and promise the following:

  1. Wearing underwear “garments”:You covenant and are given strict commandment to not defile it, to wear it continuously, and are subsequently asked in interviews by your bishop if you wear your church-authorized garments both day and night.
  2. Women covenant obedience to their husbands. (The words in the temple are:Each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar that you will each observe andkeep the law of the Lord and hearken unto the counsel of your husband as he hearkens unto the counsel of the Father.  Each of you bow your head and say "Yes.")
  3. Men covenant to obey only God.  (The words in the temple are:Each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angles, and these witnesses at this altar that you will obey the law of God, and keep his commandants. Each of you bow your head and say "Yes".)
  4. Law of sacrifice.(The words in the temple are: as Jesus Christ has laid down his life for the redemption of mankind, so we should covenant to sacrifice all that we possess, even our own lives if necessary, in sustaining and defending the Kingdom of God.)
  5. Law of the gospel. (The words in the temple are:We are required to give unto you the Law of the Gospel as contained in the Holy Scriptures; to give unto you also a charge to avoid all light-mindedness, loud laughter, evil speaking of the Lord's anointed, the taking of the name of God in vain, and every other unholy and impure practice, and to cause you to receive these by covenant.)
  6. Law of chastity. (The words of the temple are: We are instructed to give unto you the law of Chastity, which is that you shall have no sexual relations except with your husband or wife to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded.)
  7. Law of consecration. (The words of the temple are: You and each of you covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar, that you do accept the Law of Consecration as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, in that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion.)
  8. Keeping secret tokens, names and signs.  (The words in the temple are: We desire to impress upon your minds the sacred character of the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name and sign, as well as that of all the other tokens of the Holy Priesthood, with their names, and signs, which you will receive in the temple this day. They are most sacred, and are guarded by solemn covenants and obligations made in the presence of God, Angels and these witnesses to hold them sacred and under no condition, even at the peril of your life, will you ever divulge them, except at a certain place in the temple that will be shown you hereafter.)

The LDS Church officially teaches in Lesson 4 of the temple preparation class a version that seems much less intrusive & more benign, with statements like: “We covenant to give of our resources in time and money and talent—all we are and all we possess—to the interest of the kingdom of God upon the earth”  and “The ordinances of the endowment embody certain obligations on the part of the individual, such as covenant and promise to observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be made ready to receive her King,—the Lord Jesus Christ.”No mention of giving everything you own, if called upon, to the LDS church is strictly mentioned.

We encourage new temple goers to prepare not only according to official lessons, but to do the research needed to understand exactly what you are agreeing to do.If you were buying a new car, you would probably spend far more time examining the contract.Why wouldn't you want to do the same when devoting your life, your wealth, your love and obedience to the temple covenants?

Please view the Video of the LDS Temple Endowment in its completion or read about the endowment here: Link is here.

Temple Trivia

Teaching new doctrine in the temple

"The St. George Temple endowment included a revised thirty-minute 'lecture at the veil' which summarized important theological concepts taught in the endowment and also contained references to the Adam-God doctrine. For example, Brigham Young taught in this lecture that Adam 'had begotten all the spirit[s] that was to come to this earth, and Eve our common Mother who is the mother of all living bore those spirits in the celestial world…. [They] consequently came to this earth and commenced the great work of forming tabernacles for those spirits to dwell in.' *(see footnote) This teaching may have been included in the veil lecture as late as the turn of the century. It is uncertain whether the St. George Temple veil ceremony's Adam-God teaching was included in all temples."
-- David John Buerger "The Development of the Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 20, No. 4,(Winter, 1987). Link is here.

Buerger gives the following footnote at the place with the asterisk:

*(footnote) Nuttall Diary, 7 Feb. 1877; see also, Nuttall "Memoranda," 3 June 1892; Nuttall Diary, entries for 5, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 22, 25, 27 Jan., 1, 3, 10, 12, 13, 19, 21, 24, 27 Feb., 16, 17, 18, 20, 22 March, and 3 April 1877; St. George Historical Record minutes, 8 Nov., 13 Dec. 1890, 15, 22 May 1891, 11 June 1892; Walker, 11 June 1892, in 2:740-41; David H. Cannon to Joseph F. Smith and Counselors, 21 Oct. 1916, in CRF; Collier 1981, 113-16, 165-76; Buerger 1982; Kirkland 1984.

Temple teachings that conflict with the Bible.

The Old Testament and the temple ceremony differ on what was created on what days when the earth was formed. Days 3 and 4 seem to be reversed.

Temple Day 3 - Divide the light from the darkness. Calls the light "day", and the darkness "night." Sun, moon, and stars created.

Bible Day 3 - Place seeds of all kinds in the earth that they may spring forth as grass, flowers, shrubbery, trees, and all manner of vegetation.

Temple Day 4 - Place seeds of all kinds in the earth that they may spring forth as grass, flowers, shrubbery, trees, and all manner of vegetation.

Bible Day 4 - God creates the sun, moon, and stars.

So which is correct? Perhaps neither.

Shaking hands with spirits?

How is it possible that Peter, James, and John shook hands with Adam? (more specifically, Peter, when he gave Adam the handshake token). Wasn't Adam the first human on earth? If so, wouldn't Peter, James, and John have been spirits not yet born? And if they were spirits without bodies, how are they shaking hands?

Disney Connection

The old temple endowment video included a scene illustrating the creation of the earth from the Disney classic Fantasia. The church was able to purchase several minutes of the movie because the endowment ceremony wouldn‘t result in copyright violations—the ceremony is not advertised to the public, nor is it open to the public. (The Development of LDS Temple Worship, Devery Anderson, pg 295)

Negative temple experience

David O. McKay, in a 1941 address to departing missionaries, acknowledged that many young people have been hurt by and confused about their temple experiences. He noted elsewhere that parts of the endowment ceremony even elicited repressed laughter from some youth. McKay suggested that these members were fixated on the mechanics of temple worship instead of appreciating their symbolism. (The Development of LDS Temple Worship, Devery Anderson, pg 264-269)


In the 19th century, men and women were prohibited from having any sexual connection for at least a week before entering the temple to receive endowments (p. 35). Somewhat related, in a 1982 letter, the First Presidency identified those who engage in oral sex as unworthy for the temple. (The Development of LDS Temple Worship, Devery Anderson, pg 441)

Performing the ordinances for others

Only the first time you go through the temple endowment ceremony is it for yourself. Every subsequent visit is meant to be done on behalf of someone else now deceased. This seems like a noble cause - doing work for others that they cannot do themselves.

But what about doing temple work for those that specifically asked that it not be done?

The LDS Church seeks no permission from relatives or from other churches to baptize for the dead. The Catholic Church does not even recognize any LDS baptisms as Christian baptisms and certainly would object to having their Popes and Cardinals baptized by another church. All the Popes have had their temple ordinance work performed by Latter-day Saints.

The Jewish people have repeatedly asked the LDS Church to stop performing proxy baptisms in the temple on behalf of the Jewish Holocaust victims. The Church agreed several times but baptisms were still being performed. It finally took intervention by Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Orin Hatch to get the church to abandon the posthumous baptisms of the Jewish Holocaust victims.

The church has not honored any other requests to stop doing baptisms for the dead by other religions or any nonmembers or even former members of the LDS faith.

Commandment or arrogance?

If performing baptisms and temple endowments is commanded by God, then the saints are performing a much needed and heaven-sanctioned service regardless of whether nonmembers approve or not. If however, this practice turns out to be merely something instituted by the church without that direct instruction from Deity, then it's the height of arrogance to assume that every nonmember (or 99.8% of the living population) is unable to enter heaven without the assistance of the LDS Church and its temples.

Legally (so we've been told) it's been ruled that a dead person cannot be harmed by performing such rituals so they will be continued to be practiced (at least in the USA ) regardless of whether nonmembers want them to be performed or not. (Note: we have not been able to confirm that this is indeed the law.)

Whether it's true or not, many people believe that anyone not wishing this service performed for them should have their request honored. If it turns out that it is indeed necessary, then those that requested the service not be performed can take it up with God. Actually since most nonmembers have no idea that this is going on, perhaps the church should obtain permission from the people while they are living or from their closest relatives.

How can other people get the same exemption as the Jewish Holocaust victims?

After much pressure by various Jewish organizations over the past several years, the LDS Church has given special consideration to Jewish Holocaust victims such that it does not perform--or allow to be performed--proxy ordinances in the temple for Holocaust victims.We believe that the LDS Church should seriously consider giving similar special consideration to other religions, too.Muslims would likely be very offended if and when proxy ordinances are performed “en masse” for members of the Islamic faith.

We have not heard of any such “en masse” proxy ordinances being performed for Muslims, and we encourage the LDS Church to avoid such practices.Although current Christian traditions accept missionary practices of attempting to convert living members of one Christian tradition into another, and the LDS Church definitely practices such missionary work, we believe the LDS Church should consider avoidance of “en masse” proxy work from other religions unless the other church gives specific permission and knows what the names are being used for.We are unaware of any current specific permissions given for “en masse” proxy work, and we hope the LDS Church is not deceiving other churches when collecting “names” of deceased persons from other church's various records.We know that gathering records from other church records is occurring, but we do not know if those other church's know that the names are used for proxy work to make the deceased a “member” of the LDS Church.”

A formal protest

Some nonmembers have been really upset about this and actually started a petition to not have their temple work done for them after they die. We suspect the church will probably ignore their requests. See Link is here.

LDS's (Latter-day Saints) Posthumous Baptisms by Daniel N. Leeson*

The piece appeared in the “Journal of Antisemitism,” volume 1, number 2, page 202, even though the page number given in the book is more complicated than that. The link is Link is here. - see page 283 of this link. Note: this link must be cut and pasted into your browser.


Is the temple ceremony really necessary?

As Latter-day Saints, we are constantly told of the importance of going to the temple and taking out our endowments - first for ourselves and then doing the work for others. Everyone that ever lived must go either go through the temple ceremony or have it done for them by proxy.

Maybe it's true and commanded of by God as the church teaches, or maybe the ceremony did not come down from heaven. We really only have Joseph Smith's word on this.

What other motives could Joseph Smith or the modern prophets have for the temple?

Assuming for a minute that the critics of the church are correct and Joseph didn't really receive the temple ceremony from God, then why would Joseph make up the temple ceremony, and why would the modern church emphasize it so much today?

The temple ceremony first used in Kirtland was a simple ceremony that was nothing like the temple ceremony later revealed in Nauvoo. The signs, token, penalties, etc. did not come about until after Joseph became a Mason.

Since so much of the LDS temple ceremony came from Masonry, one of the following things must have happened:

  1. God commanded Joseph to join the Masons and to use many parts of the Mason's rituals for the LDS temple ceremony.
  2. Joseph thought that the Masons did indeed have the original temple ceremony from Solomon's time, and he tried to restore it. He may have only thought God commanded this, or he was prompted by someone else such as Sidney Rigdon, or perhaps even a fellow Mason who also believed as such.
  3. Joseph recognized the Mason's ceremony as a way of keeping truths hidden and for bonding the male leadership of the church. He adopted those practices as a way to keep things like polygamy secret and other things he didn't want revealed to the church membership, but wanted select others to participate.

Why would the church place such emphasis on the temple?

Many critics say that the reasons the current leadership of the church places so much emphasis attending the temple is not because it is an ordinance commanded of by God, but for other reasons less spiritual:


Church members must be full tithe payers to enter the temple. By emphasizing that everyone must go to the temple, it forces people to pay money to the church to comply with the directive. The church never has to preach about tithing or ask for money which is uncomfortable and kind of tacky. However, instead they can just preach about the temple and by default it means to pay tithing as that's a specific requirement to be allowed to enter the temples. Many people wonder why they must pay 10% of their income for the privilege of entering the House of the Lord. It doesn't appear that early church required that in the time of Jesus. We wonder what would be the effect on tithing contributions if the temple recommend eliminated the tithing requirement.


By compelling people to wear special underwear virtually every minute of the day and night, it is an extreme form of control. If you wear undergarments that you never would have picked out otherwise, simply because someone told you to, then what wouldn't you do?

Also the oaths made in the temple are very controlling and binding. Everyone feels compelled to obey what they agreed to, and may even be frightened to disobey.

The temple recommend interview strips away your privacy by asking you personal questions that you must answer if you want a temple recommend. If your answer is anything but yes or no, you are subject to more invasive questioning. Questions are asked regarding chastity, sustaining church leaders, tithing, testimony, believe it's the only true and living church, sympathetic to apostates, etc.

Church Importance

By constantly emphasizing the temple, it creates a feeling that the church is more important than anything else. It's better to have your family, friends and in-laws be offended by not being able to attend your temple wedding, rather than not have the church perform your wedding ceremony in the temple. The church wants to be involved in the most important aspects of your life and have considerable control over some of them like the marriage ceremony.

Peer Pressure

Since few people would likely go to the temple by themselves and act out strange rituals, especially if they had no knowledge about them beforehand, people are encouraged to go with friends and fellow ward members. When you see all your friends and people you trust doing bizarre things, you just go along with it and do things you never would do by yourself.

Is the ceremony really required by God?

Simply put, many people wonder if the temple ceremony is really a requirement to get into heaven. Is God so trivial that He cares between what knuckle a thumb is placed, etc? Would He forbid entry into His presence because of such a thing?

Generally most people believe that good people get into heaven and bad people go to hell more or less. But requiring that a two-hour ceremony be performed on your behalf where you learn the secret handshakes and passwords needed to give to the angels guarding the entrance to heaven seems like a bit of a stretch if you really think about it.

Shouldn't your entrance into God's Kingdom be based on how you lived your life and what's in your heart, and not dependant on your knowledge of the signs and tokens you learned in the temple?

When Jesus walked the earth, he never alluded to anything like this in all his published sermons. So how important could the temple ceremony really be?

Something tells us that if you didn't receive the endowment in the temple by yourself or on your behalf, and that you lived a good life, you would fair just as well in the afterlife as you would have, if you knew the signs and tokens.

The concept of Eternal Families

On the surface, the concept of an eternal marriage and eternal family is appealing and comforting. It all sounds so nice and tidy. If the Jones family is sealed together in a LDS temple, then the Jones family will all be together in the Celestial Kingdom. However, when you actually look at the details and problems involved, it seems fraught with issues.

In the real world in which we live, there are uncounted scenarios in which the "eternal family" concept won't work.

1) Unworthy spouse: It isn't enough for people to get into the Celestial Kingdom to have an eternal family. One must make it into the top 1/3 of the Celestial Kingdom. The odds are pretty low that the average church member would make it to the top 1/3 of the Celestial Kingdom. My stake president estimated that maybe only 1 in 10 church members would (he gave that in a talk chastising the stake members for not being better people). So how many families would have one spouse worthy of the top 1/3 of the CK, but the other spouse only makes it to the middle 1/3 or even to another kingdom? Those people would have to then be separated, regardless of the devotion of the one that made it to the top.

2) Less Worthy children: In a typical LDS family of say 4-5 children, what are the chances that both spouses and all the children (and their spouses) will be of the same worthiness level? We know of very few members that even have all active immediate family members, let alone Celestial Kingdom-bound members.

3) Grandparents and grandchildren: What defines an eternal family? To us, we of course think of our parents on one end and our children on the other so we have grandparents, us and our children. But what about our parents? Since they are children themselves, their version of the eternal family is their parents and us. So what about their parents? Well, our grandparents would want their children for their eternal family, and their parents (our great grandparents). Our great grandparents would want them (our grandparents) for their eternal family, etc. The never-ending chain doesn't really make sense to break it into families because one family is part of another. And of course, many of these people wouldn't make it to the top 1/3 of the CK anyway.

4) Homosexuals: What about gay people? Well of course they can't make it to the top of the CK without a spouse of the opposite sex, so I guess they are out of luck - and their families will just have an empty chair in the CK. Also, is their sexual orientation all of a sudden going to change in the next life - basically a huge part of their identity and personality will just be 100% reversed? It is really so unrealistic to expect a gay person to live the "Celestial Law' all their lives, alone and celibate because of the way they were born.

5) Polygamy: What about the husband that gets sealed to another woman after his first wife dies (such as in the case of apostles Nelson and Oaks)? Now what if the first wife doesn't like this arrangement in the next life? Can she boot the second wife out of her husband's eternal marriage to her? Then what does she do - just get another man assigned to her because they are all interchangeable? We don't really think that everyone will just accept polygamy in the next life, despite some member's claims.

6) Divorce: When marriages dissolve that causes many potential problems in the eternal family concept. What happens to the children of divorced couples? Do they go to the mom or dad? Which one does not get their children in their own eternal family? With the divorce rate so very high, this would affect a huge number of potential eternal families.

7) Sealings of first marriage not cancelled: If Ann & John are married in the temple and they don't have any children and end up getting divorced, but never get their sealing cancelled (which happens for several reasons such as one spouse dies, one spouse refuses to cancel the sealing or the church simply won't allow it, etc). Then Ann marries Paul. They aren't allowed to be sealed unless Ann has her first sealing cancelled, which she can't do. So all of the children that Ann & Paul have are actually sealed to Ann & John, even though they are Paul's children. I know people that this has happened to and her first husband doesn't even know that his ex-wife had children that are now sealed to him. It makes little sense.

8) In-laws: How many people would even want to live with their parents, their children, their in-laws, their children's spouses, etc.? The simple fact is that many "good" people don't really want to be that close with their in-laws and non-blood relatives in this life, let alone the next one.

So it seems that the eternal family only really works for a very limited number of people living in ideal families, which especially these days, is not the norm.

Note: These words from the prophet Joseph Fielding Smith indicate that less than half of all Latter-day Saints will even make it to the Celestial Kingdom:

NOT HALF THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS TO BE SAVED. Those who receive the fulness
will be privileged to view the face of our Father. There will not be such an overwhelming
number of the Latter-day Saints who will get there. President Francis M. Lyman many times
has declared, and he had reason to declare, I believe, that if we save one-half of the
Latter-day Saints, that is, with an exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God, we will be
doing well. Not that the Lord is partial, not that he will draw the line as some will say, to
keep people out. He would have every one of us go in if we would; but there are laws and
ordinances that we must keep; if we do not observe the law we cannot enter.

Many come into the Church, like fish that are gathered into the net, that have to be sorted
and thrown out again or put into piles where they belong. And so it will be with us

Joseph Fielding Smith, from Vol. 2 (page 15) of his collected writings known as “Doctrines of Salvation”.

Polygamy lives on in Mormon temple sealings

Very interesting article on the problems with modern-day sealings causing polygamous eternal marriages:

The Second Anointing


From wikipedia [as of March 9, 2011]:

In the Latter Day Saint movement, the second anointing (or second endowment), also known historically and in Latter Day Saint scripture as the fullness of the priesthood, is an obscure and relatively rare ordinance usually conducted in temples as extension of the Nauvoo Endowment ceremony. Founder Joseph Smith, Jr. cited the "fullness of the priesthood" as one of the reasons for building the Nauvoo Temple (D&C 124:28). In the ordinance, a participant is anointed as a "priest and king" or a "priestess and queen", and is sealed to the highest degree of salvation available in Mormon theology. Those who participate in this ordinance are said to have their "calling and election made sure", and their celestial marriage "sealed by the holy spirit of promise". They are said to have received the "more sure word of prophecy".

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest Latter Day Saint denomination, has performed the ceremony for nominated couples from the 1840s to at least the mid-1900s. Current information about the practice by that denomination, or whether the ordinance is still in use, has not been made public. The ordinance is also performed by many Mormon fundamentalist groups. However, it is not performed by denominations, such as the Community of Christ, who historically never practiced the Nauvoo Endowment ceremony.


Although Joseph Smith, Jr. introduced the Nauvoo Endowment in 1842, he came to understand that his work in establishing the "fullness of the priesthood" was not yet complete. In August 1843, church leader Brigham Young stated that "[i]f any in the Church had the fullness of the priesthood, he did not know it", nevertheless, Young understood that the "fullness of the priesthood" involved an anointing as "king and priest", with the actual kingdom to be given later.

The initial second anointing took place on September 28, 1843, when Joseph and his wife Emma Smith received it. During Smith's lifetime, the second anointing was given to at least 20 men and 17 women (Buerger 1983, pp. 22–23). After Smith died in June 1844, Brigham Young assumed control of the LDS Church, and in January 1846, he began administering the second anointing in the nearly-completed Nauvoo Temple. Young re-administered the ordinance to many of those who had received it under Joseph Smith, and he delegated his authority to others, who performed nearly 600 second anointings (some to polygamous unions) before the temple was closed on February 7, 1846 (Buerger 1983, p. 26).

After the trek to Utah, the LDS Church did not conduct further second anointings until late 1866. Beginning in the 1870s, second anointings were performed vicariously (Buerger 1983, p. 30). In the 1880s, then President of the Church John Taylor was concerned that too many second anointings were being performed, and he instituted a series of procedural safeguards, requiring recommendation by a stake president, and a guideline that the ordinance "belonged particularly to old men" (Buerger 1983, pp. 32–33). In 1901, President Lorenzo Snow further limited accessibility to the ordinance by outlining stringent criteria for worthiness (Buerger 1983, pp. 33–34).

By 1918, over 14,000 second anointings had been performed for the living and the dead. (Buerger 1983, p. 39). During the administration of Heber J. Grant in the 1920s, however, the frequency of second anointings was dramatically reduced. Stake presidents were no longer allowed to recommend candidates for the ordinance, that privilege falling only to members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles (Buerger 1983, pp. 39–40). By 1941, just under 15,000 second anointings had been performed for the living, and just over 6,000 for the dead (Buerger 1983, p. 41). The church has not allowed historians to have access to second anointing records subsequent to 1941; therefore, the current frequency of anointings is obscure. However, it is known that in 1942, 13 of the church's 32 General Authorities had not received the second anointing (Buerger 1983, p. 41). By 1949, the practice had been "practically discontinued" by the LDS Church.


According to 19th-century journal entries, the second anointing ceremony consisted of two parts. The first part consisted of a washing and anointing of the bodies of the participants by an officiator. The second part took place some time later, and was conducted without an officiator in a private ceremony between a married couple, in which the wife symbolically prepared her husband for his death and resurrection (Buerger 1983, pp. 26–27). Because participants are charged not to discuss the ceremony with others, it is not known whether the ceremony as currently practiced is the same as that practiced in the 19th century, or whether the ceremony has changed over time.

Meaning and symbolism

The "first anointing" refers to the washing and anointing part of the Endowment ceremony, in which a person is anointed to become a king and priest or a queen and priestess unto God. In the second anointing, on the other hand, participants are anointed as a king and priest, or queen and priestess. When the anointing is given, according to Brigham Young, the participant "will then have received the fulness of the Priesthood, all that can be given on earth."

Thus, the second anointing differs from the "first anointing" (part of the Endowment ceremony) in that, the first anointing promises blessings in the afterlife contingent on the patron's faithfulness, the Second Anointing actually bestows those blessings. According to prominent 20th-century Latter-day Saint Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, those who have their calling and election made sure "receive the more sure word of prophecy, which means that the Lord seals their exaltation upon them while they are yet in this life.…[T]heir exaltation is assured."

The second anointing may have been intended to symbolize or to literally fulfill scriptural references to the fulness of the priesthood such as in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 124:28, a revelation by Joseph Smith, Jr. commanding the building of a temple in Nauvoo, Illinois, in part, because "there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood." (emphasis added). LDS Church leaders often connect this ordinance with a statement by Peter in his second Epistle. In 2 Peter 1:10, he talks about making one's "calling and election sure," and further remarks, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy" (2 Peter 1:19). Joseph Smith, Jr. referenced this process in saying, "When the Lord has thoroughly proved [a person], and finds that the [person] is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the [person] will find his[/her] calling and election made sure".

The second anointing is given only to married couples. A few writers have argued that because of this women who receive the second anointing, in which they are anointed queens and priestesses, are ordained to the "fulness of the priesthood" the same as their husbands. These scholars feel that Joseph Smith may have considered these women to have, in fact, received the power of the priesthood (though not necessarily a specific priesthood office)

Reference: Link is here.


For much of LDS Church history, the ―second anointing was the ―crowning ordinance of the Restoration. The first anointing is the endowment ceremony that continues today, and it concerns blessings in the afterlife, like becoming kings and queens, priests and priestesses. The second anointing actually bestows those blessings temporally and furthermore secures one‘s exaltation in heaven. By 1949, nearly 33,000 of these anointings had been performed, but as General Authorities eventually deprived local leaders the discretion to recommend the anointings, the practice became increasing rare and is nearly non-existent today. (The Development of LDS Temple Worship, Devery Anderson, ps. xli-xlv)

What about those that apostacized after receiving their Second Anointing?

The Second Anointing seems to guarantee Celestial Salvation for anyone that received it. That seems to imply that if someone transgresses after receiving their Second Anointing that those sins won't count against them. In practice, the majority of people receiving their S.A. are probably solid, upstanding church members and probably won't drastically alter their lifestyles e.g. if they were righteous before their S.A. they will be righteous after their S.A.

However, there have been those that claimed to have received their Second Anointing but have completely withdrawn from the church and now have no testimony whatsoever of the church. We have to wonder why the Lord would choose such people to receive their Second Anointings.

Second Annointings Continue Through Today

Although it has been rumored by many members that the second anointing ordinances are still practiced, it has been mostly speculation and second-hand accounts. But now, a former stake president has come forward with his story and provides a first-hand account of his second anointing.

In 2012, former stake president Thomas Phillips went public and was a guest on the Mormon Stories Podcasts by John Dehlin. He gave an account of the second anointing. performed by the highest leaders of the church for both Thomas and his wife. He also said that afterwards he was asked to recommend other couples for the ordinance but to keep it quiet and not to discuss that he and his wife had received their second anointing. Apparently the practice is more widespread than most members know as the ordinance is not limited to General Authorities as Brother Phillips was a stake president when he received his second anointing.

The Mormon Stories Podcast featuring Thomas Phillips is very interesting and one of the best we've heard. It is over 4 hours but filled with very interesting information and not 'anti-Mormon' at all but reveals the struggle a faithful, high-ranking church leader has had and continues to have after learning about many problematic issues of church history and doctrinal beliefs.

Editor comment: John Dehlin of mormonstories elected to not air the interview due to pressure from the Church, however Tom Phillips decided that he would make it available himself. This is the unedited 4+ hr version provided by Brother Phillips. (note: Tom Phillips is still a member of the church).

For information on Tom Phillips, his second annointing experience, the Mormon Stories Podcast with him, and letter exchanges between Tom and Elder Holland see: Tom Phillips

Editor Comment: Many non-LDS do not understand or agree with the concept of the second anointing. The second anointing essentially judges a persons' worthiness and purportedly guarantees that person entrance into the highest degree of heaven regardless of how they live their lives afterwards. The first issue is How can mortal men (even apostles) judge a man (and his wife) when judgments are believed to be done by God himself at the Judgment Bar? The second issue is what happens if these people commit serious sins after receiving their second anointings? We wonder how Tom Phillips case would be handled by God if indeed the LDS Church is true and Tom received his Second Anointing. then became an unbeliever?

Video of the temple ceremony

Despite the power of discernment that the church alleges the bishops, stake presidents and temple officiators have, someone in 2012 brought a hidden video camera into an endowment session and videotaped the entire ceremony. He posted it to youtube for anyone to look at:

Link is here.

His story:

I made this video and all of the other ones on YouTube channel "NewNameNoah". When I attend the temples to film, I intentionally give all of the temple workers sense of instinct and powers of discernment an advantage.

I will almost always carry a Paul H. Dunn book with me, even into the endowment. I will use names like "Mark Hofmann" and "Noah Buildaboat."

I never get so much as a raises eyebrow.

I have stood in prayer circles and acted as a witness in the Baptistry and have done Washings & Anointings, all while filming with a hidden camera and often while chit chatting with anyone who seemed willing to talk.

I get nothing.

I've even chatted with Church Security guys WHILE manning the recommend desk in the SALT LAKE TEMPLE (and keep in mind, I am listed as the #1 "security risk" in every temple in Utah. They have my photo on page one of their security books.


If Elohim exists, he remains mute when I am in the temples. Either that or those who work in the temples are not worthy to hear the whisperings of the spirit.

Or both.

Another website of the temple ceremony: Don't watch this unless you have a Temple Recommend!

This 7-minute version that went viral on youtube: Behind the Veil


Responses to these issues by the LDS Church

We regret that we could not find these issues discussed comprehensively in any church publication or web site. However we found several responses from LDS apologists and LDS members which we cite below.

1) The temple ceremony was copied from the Masons.

LDS apologists have stated that despite the apparent similarities between the LDS temple and Masonry, the actual content and meaning of the two are very different:

"With all of these things in mind, and recognizing that there are in fact parallels between certain elements of the LDS temple ceremonies and some of the ceremonies in freemasonry, I have come to the conclusion that the parallels largely occur within the form of the ceremony, and not in the content of the ceremony or in the ordinances themselves." (Benjamin McGuire, Mormonism 201: The Temple)

"The answer is that to those who know both [the Masonic and LDS temple ceremonies], the resemblance is not striking at all; it is not nearly so striking as the resemblance between the church Joseph Smith founded and the other churches, and yet even though the Mormon Church and these institutions present one parallel after another, they are really totally different in form and meaning." (Hugh Nibley, No Ma'am, That's Not History)

An LDS Historian (believed to be D. Michael Quinn) acknowledged the connection to Masonry, but said that we should also look at the possibility of ancient parallels going back to Solomon's temple:

"Joseph Smith's initiation as a Master Mason in 1842 may indeed have acted as a catalyst for him to seek further revelation about the ceremonies that Masons claimed came from the Temple of Solomon, and (in view of what I will discuss later about scriptural phraseology) it is possible that Masonic phraseology influenced the development of the wording used to teach the sacred elements of the LDS endowment. Nevertheless, before repudiating Mormon temple ordinances by historical parallel, one should consider the ancient rites and ceremonies in Egyptian documents, Semitic manuscripts, and early Christian sources. This is a more appropriate test, since the LDS claim is that the temple ordinances existed prior to Masonry and prior to Solomon's temple. The existence of parallels in ancient rites and LDS ordinances therefore is of at least equal importance as Masonic-LDS parallels." (Response to the Tanners by a Latter-Day Saint Historian)

BYU Professor Robert Millet explains the connection this way: "It seems to be the case, after the Prophet Joseph had been inducted into Masonry that he sensed elements of truth, pieces of antiquity within the Masonic ceremony and then inquired of God."

The ritual is changed to meet the needs of members and to better communicate the endowment to them. Remember, there is a difference between the endowment ritual and the endowment itself. The ritual is not the endowment, but how the endowment is taught--in much the same way that the Catholic Mass is not Holy Communion but how Holy Communion is given to the congregation.


Critic's response.

Although many naive LDS members believe that the Masons had the original temple ceremony, thus explaining any similarities between the Masonry Rituals and the LDS Temple ceremony, the more knowledgeable LDS apologists and faithful LDS historians currently admit that is not true.

The largest pro-LDS apologetic organization, the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) states very clearly in many articles on their website that the Masons did not have the temple ceremony from Solomon's time. They boldly admit that Masonry, while claiming a root in antiquity, can only be reliably traced to mediaeval stone tradesmen.

Both the Chairman of FAIR, John Lynch, and Greg Kearney who is FAIR's resident expert on Masonry and the LDS Temple ceremony, clearly admit that those that claim that Masonry had the original temple ceremony are 100% in error. FAIR admits this justification for explaining the similarities between Masonry and the Temple is a myth.

If the largest pro-LDS organization admits that Masonry did not have the temple ceremony from Solomon's time, then that's good enough for us. Of course there's also much additional evidence from nonLDS sources that confirm this as well.

See above for more info.

So what do the knowledgeable LDS apologists say is the reason for the similarities between Masonry and the LDS temple ceremony?

For those faithful LDS that know that Masonry did not really have the true temple ceremony from ancient times, how do they explain the obvious plagiarism of the Masonry rituals in the LDS temple ceremony?

Some explanations we found:

After Joseph joined the Masons, going through the Masonry rituals inspired Joseph to inquire of the Lord about the Masons and he then learned of the true temple ordinances and he modified the Masons ceremony to incorporate the eternal truths that were revealed to him.

As Masonry was commonly practiced by many of the LDS men that Joseph associated with, including his father and brother, he thought he would use the Masonry rituals that the Masons were already familiar with and then add the temple ordinances to them to teach the people certain eternal truths. Perhaps he thought it would be easier for the members to understand if a fair number of them were already used to going through Masonry rituals.

The temple endowment is different than the temple ceremony itself so as the ceremony portion may have been copied from Masonry, the endowment portion came as revelation from God to Joseph.

Critic's response.

This makes little sense for several reasons:

What the leaders of the Church have said.

Many of the prophets and early leaders of the Church unmistakably said that Masonry had the true temple ceremony from Solomon's time.

Heber C. Kimball, a Mason himself said, "We have the true Masonry. The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon, and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing." (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 13 November, 1858, 1085, LDS archives; see also Stanley B. Kimball, "Heber C. Kimball and Family, The Nauvoo Years, Brigham Young University Studies 15 (Summer 1975): 458. See also David John Buerger, The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, Smith Research Associates, San Francisco, 1994, 56.)

Certainly Joseph would not have allowed people to believe this if it wasn't true, given just how important the temple is. Modern leaders of the church believe this as well, so if it's not true, then modern-day revelation is surely dead.

Endowment vs Ceremony.

It kind of sounds reasonable that the ceremony portion copied from the Masons is relatively unimportant and just ceremonial in nature, and that the endowment is the truly important part of the temple ceremony which did not come from the Masons.

So what part of the temple ceremony is the endowment? The apologists (and the church) never try to define what exactly is the endowment. Is it the signs and tokens? No, they are the same as in Masonry. Is it the penalties? No, they are the same as in Masonry. Is it the Five Points of Fellowship, the Compass, the Square, the New Name, the apron, the oaths of secrecy? No, they are all present in the Mason's rituals.

There really isn't much left. The movie perhaps? The story told about the Garden of Eden is not new and is known to members without going through the ceremony. So what else could it be? The promises to live a good life and be rewarded in heaven? Well that's nothing new. To become a god and goddess? No, every seminary student knows that already without going through the temple. If no one really knows what the endowment portion of the ceremony is, then the temple ceremony really has no meaning for the members.

Perhaps one reason that apologists won't define exactly what makes up the endowment is because that portion of the temple ceremony may very well be eliminated the next time the church makes another change to the ceremony, and they would then be proven wrong.

Signs and Tokens.

The temple ceremony centers around the signs and tokens, and they are virtually identical as to what's used in Masonry. It's inconceivable that this portion of the ceremony, which makes up the bulk of time in the two-hour temple experience, is just meaningless filler copied from the Masons.

Why would Joseph copy the Masons' ceremony?

During the Nauvoo period, the temple served a dramatically different purpose. After being admitted into the Masonic fraternity, Joseph discovered the advantages that the Masons had in their ceremonies for binding the members of the lodge together in a loyal brotherhood and for protection from antagonistic opponents. He also saw in the ceremony, an opportunity to induct his most trusted followers into the clandestine practice of polygamy.

A critic's analogy

Some LDS defenders of the faith say that Joseph used the Masons' ceremony as many brethren were already familiar with it and then he added God's true message into it.

What if you saw people playing hopscotch and you told them that hopscotch was really a divine worship service practiced in Solomon's temple but has become degenerated over time, and you were going to show people how it really is supposed to be. You told everyone what the squares and other objects you hopped over really meant, and you changed a couple things but swore everyone to secrecy that they could never tell anyone about the newly revealed holy hopscotch game. And perhaps somewhere between hopping from the 4th to 5th square you added something divine that God wanted the people to learn how to do.

Does that make any sense? Why would God want Joseph to use the ridiculousness of a hopscotch game or the Masons' Rites to teach eternal truths to his people? If God was trying to convey something meaningful to Joseph, he made a mockery of it. Modern prophets have tried to figure it out and changed some stuff but no one, not even the prophets, knows what exactly this ceremony is suppose to be.

Did God inspire the Masons?

There are some LDS that acknowledge that the Masons did not get their ceremony from Solomon's time and also admit that much of the LDS temple ceremony comes from Masonry. How do they explain this?

One such individual told us that God inspired the Masons. Since the light of Christ is available to all men, God may have inspired the Masons to incorporate sacred truths into their ceremony.

MT Response: This is a very naive theory. Why on earth would God want to have another organization essentially mocking the sacred temple ceremony? Imagine if you were in charge of a kid's group such as the Boy Scouts of America and they wanted to add a special method of identifying themselves to other members. Would you give them the exact same sacred signs and tokens from the temple ceremony? Would you give them the five points of fellowship? Would you provide them with the same death penalties as was used in the pre-1990 temple ceremony? Of course you wouldn't because you would not want the scouts to be trifling with sacred things. Heavenly Father certainly would not have inspired an organization like the Masons with intimate knowledge of the sacred temple ceremony.

Also, as secrecy is such an important part of the temple ceremony, does it make any sense that God would want other organizations to know those same secrets?


A member of FAIR wrote MT to express the following:

As you know the FAIR group is responsible for their own views and may not reflect those of the Church.My membership in FAIRis one of a volunteer to the "ask the apologist forum". As such I have responded to several question regarding what many call the Mormon Mason connection.Being a active member of the Church who has received the temple ordinances and a active Mason who has served as master of a Masonic lodge in Boise Idaho I feel well qualified to  discuss the parallels many see between these two ceremonies.First of all, the Masons are afraternity.   The ceremonies performed in the lodge are designed to promote moral and social virtues.  It requires those who are initiated as a entered apprentice Mason to take upon themselves obligations that reinforce being true to our trust as brothers. Brotherly love, relief and truth are the principle tents.  Temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice are the primary virtues. Those who are passed to the degree of fellow craft Mason receive information regarding the orders of architecture and the liberal arts and sciences.

These two degrees teach the basics of Masonry while the third degree, that of master mason teaches us to live and when the time comes to die with our honor in place.These teachings are represented by symbols.We are taught to act by the square.To walk uprightly by the plum line of rectitude. We are to meet and work on the level.We are to spread the cement of brotherly love with the trowel.These and other symbols are used by the fraternity  as a  teaching system.These things may seem arcane by today's standards but they honor the days when few if any could read and write. If you wanted to remember valuable concepts this methodrequired those who  received them to memorize the ceremonies.  These ceremonies are portrayed in story fashion similar to a play.  A catechism is also used to allow those who receive the degrees a  methodto identify brothers of the craft and recall important details regarding their obligations to the fraternity and their brother Masons.

The LDS temple endowments purpose is to make covenants with God in very much the same way make a covenant with God when one is baptized.The part where you are placed under the water and brought back up again is the outward symbol of the inward commitment.The outward performance in and of itself is of no value if the  person receiving the ordinance is not sincere in what they have done.In like manner the ordinance of the sacrament does no good if the person receiving it is being duplicitous. In my view it is not the outward symbols that make up the endowment.It is the gospel principles taught and the covenants  received and kept that make up the ordinance.  

On your web site you bring the quotation from  the Journal of Discourses where Brigham Young states that , "to receive your endowment is to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord that are necessary for you once you past out of this life the return to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand a sentinels, being enabled to give the key words, signs and token pertaining to the holy priesthood and gain your eternal exaltation in spite  death and hell."I am reciting this from memory so it may be a paraphrase but the meaning is clear or so it seems.   I would ask a question.Does it make sense that the way you get into heaven is by knowing handshakes and passwords?Not to me.What does make sense to me is the principles and covenants they represent.Perhaps Brigham Young was using poetic language and the  statement was not meant to be taken literally because those  to whom he was addressing understand the symbolism. Perhaps…we don't know for sure because there is no  record of him giving a answer to such a question.Does it make sense that the way to heaven is being dunked under the water?Not to me but the principle taught and the covenant entered into and kept does make sense.

For a more detailed account of the Masonic Fraternity and the early Church please see the following link
Link is here.

2) Changes to the ceremony.

True believing member response.

The Endowment has changed (penalties dropped, removal of oath of vengeance, no touching in Initiatories, etc) because the pioneers had to have something more to bind them to help them be more faithful and the whole blood atonement principle was relevant when they were being driven out West. Today, we don't need that, and so the Lord adapts his ordinances to suit the needs of the members for their time.

The penalties were symbolic anyway, and not really meant to be used. Although there have been many changes to the ceremony at various times, nothing essential to the ceremony has changed.

Critic's response

So what part of the temple ceremony is essential and can never be changed? No faithful member has ever given a response to this question because they fear that what they say may in fact be changed when the next version of the temple ceremony comes out. No one can really say with authority that they totally understand the ceremony to begin with, so who can say what is essential or not?

I'm sure the penalties were just as disturbing to the pioneers as they were to members in 1990. Probably worse in the 1800s with the Danites, Whistlers and Blood Atonement teachings that may have caused members to actually be concerned for their own lives if they violated their temple oaths.

If God commanded that changes were to be made in the ceremony, then that's fine, it's called revelation. However if the changes were made by men to 'not offend' men, then that's another story. Changing due to peer pressure, fear of lawsuits and using surveys is not divine.

3) The Bible supports the LDS temple ceremony

True believing member response

Some LDS contend that the Bible contains evidence that supports the LDS temple ceremony, thus establishing it as a real, ancient, divine ceremony from God. From LDS FAIR apologist John A. Tvedtnes:

A number of early Jewish and Christian documents deal with elements found in modern LDS temples. As such, they are confirmation of the antiquity of our temple rites.

Read the following essay on FAIR to see his point of view:

Early Christian and Jewish Rituals Related to Temple Practices by John A. Tvedtnes

Critic's response

This guy is selectively quote-mining verses here and there from a huge book in order to attempt to 'back-in' to the temple ceremony. I ask you, if you were to give the Bible to the best ancient culture scholar in the world and ask him to recreate the temple ceremony based on just what it says in the Bible, would he come up with anything at all like the LDS temple ceremony? Not likely.

I refer to to another site from FAIR, in which they state :

"Unfortunately, there is no historical evidence to support a continuous functioning line from Solomon's Temple to the present. We know what went on in Solomon's Temple; it's the ritualistic slaughter of animals." (scroll to the last page)

Ritualistic slaughter of animals? Doesn't sound like the Mormon Temple ceremony does it?

A few other points:

1. Tvedtnes is doing the same "parallels" reasoning that Hugh Nibley did. When you can't find real evidence, then just find something that you can say parallels it and that's almost as good in their minds.

2. As mentioned at the end of Tvedtnes article, Adam and Eve play a major part in the ceremony, which proves right there that it is not factual, as Adam and Eve are very likely a myth. See this section on Adam and Eve not being literal as the temple ceremony says: Link is here.

3. If one supposes that it was restored from ancient temple rites, then why the arrogant disrespect to change it now, with elimination of the penalties, the priest, five points of fellowship, the naked initiatory, etc?

4. Tvedtnes is quote mining obscure outside documents. If temples are from antiquity, then why doesn't the Book of Mormon say anything about Baptism for the Dead or Temple Marriages or the Endowment Ceremony, since it contains the fullness of the gospel?
Link is here.

"While Mormon apologists have a hard time explaining the fact that the Bible does not support the doctrine of baptism for the dead or temple marriage, they are faced with an even greater problem when they turn to The Book of Mormon. Since The Book of Mormon is supposed to contain the fullness of the gospel, why doesn't it contain even one passage to support either of these two doctrines? It's interesting to note that the same revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants that contains the information concerning Temple Marriage is also the revelation that contains the teaching of polygamy. Therefore, 'polygamy' and 'temple marriage' must stand or fall together."

It seems obvious that Smith didn't come up with the temple ceremony until after the BOM was published and right after he became a Mason.

5. Where is the Ark of the Covenant in Mormon temples?

6. Solomon's temple was repeatedly plundered for its temple treasuries and looted. Where are the Mormon temple treasuries? Link is here.

7. Where the animal sacrifices now?

8. And where in the Bible is the Five Points of fellowship? (this was removed in 1990). This obviously came from Masonry and not the Bible - even FAIR admits that.

Other sources: Link is here.

Link is here.
Link is here.
Link is here.


See Richard Packham's site for a direct comparison between the Jerusalem Temple and LDS Temples

Link is here.

Ending summary by critics

Joseph Smith started the Nauvoo temple ceremonies two months after becoming a Mason. Mormon temple ceremonies are copied and modified Masonic rites. Joseph Smith assigned new meanings to virtually all of the Masonic elements he used and placed them in Christ-centered contexts far removed from their original setting. It's not inspired by God and certainly not necessary to enter heaven.

Why in 1987 was it necessary to send out a 92 question survey to help make the decision to change the temple ceremony so it would be more palatable to new converts in April of 1990?

If you attend the temple today, you will get a watered-down version of the original as much of what was most offensive was removed in 1990 and 2005. But what is left is strange, irrational and borrowed.

Red flag: Nobody will tell you what you'll be doing in the temple until you get there. That's ridiculous, and deep down inside everyone knows it. There is no way to prepare someone to make blood oaths. Even the Book of Mormon is against secret combinations, but the temple totally embodies secret combinations.

Members aren't allowed to talk about it, because then new temple attendees will find out that there were actual death oaths, and that it isn't evil anti-Mormons making it up. And, if members could actually compare notes, they might actually realize it isn't so special after all, and that the emperor has no clothes. So, lets keep it "sacred," please.

If potential temple goers knew that they would have to wear silly robes at their own weddings, and that they needed to learn secret handshakes and passwords to get into heaven, they wouldn't go. And why is Satan such a big part of the ceremony? The emphasis is not on Christ and Christ's teachings.

Looking back, I wonder, what did you all expect when you went through the temple? Did you have any rough ideas of what might happen? Any hopes of what might happen? Were you bubbling with anticipation, with nervousness?

And did you feel and look as though a piano had fallen on you when you exited the temple? The best way I can describe my friends after they had taken out their endowments was that of shock. Pale faces, dead expressions, staring at the ground. In fact, I can't remember a single, happy, soon-to-be bride in all of my temple married friends. They all looked stone-faced, solemn and deflated.

Whether the temple ceremony is inspirational or not, one thing is clear in that it appears to be made up and controlled by men, not God.

Editor's Comments

Both the critics and defenders of the faith have compelling points to make. The editors of this section give their own opinion:

Temples are beautiful buildings that many Latter-day Saints have pictures of hanging on the walls of their homes. If they were just used for public weddings, sealings and special worship services, then the temple would be viewed by members and nonmembers alike as holy places. Baptisms for the dead might still be looked at as a strange practice, but at least it perhaps may have some Biblical justification.

However, the temple endowment ceremony seems so foreign to the nice, friendly worship services we attend every Sunday in the LDS chapels. The temple ceremony seems almost pagan in nature. It's like a ritual we would expect the Druids to practice. Very few members are really spiritually uplifted when they first go through the temple to take out their endowments. Most feel confused, shocked and not quite sure what to make of their experience in what is supposed to be one of the holiest places on earth. We were always offended when members of other churches referred to our church as a cult. We never really understood why -- until we went through our first temple endowment ceremony.

Masonry and the LDS Temple Ceremony

When we first started analyzing the Masonry connection, we thought it would end up being a fairly unconvincing argument by the critics of the church. The critics would show that the LDS temple ceremony came from Masonry, and the LDS defenders would simply say that the Masons had the original ceremony from Solomon's time (around 1000 BC) and kept it preserved all these years, and that explains the similarities. Although Masonry historians would side with the critics of the church, it could not be proven 100% otherwise, and thus left to which side you wanted to believe. Stalemate.

However, we were shocked to find out that the largest LDS group of defenders of the church, the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) admits right on their website that Masonry does not date back to Bible Times. They openly state that the Masonry Rites that resemble the LDS Temple Ceremony date from the 1700s and definitely were not used in Solomon's temple.

Although there are many other nonLDS historical sources that support FAIR's view that Masonry did not have the original temple ceremony, there is really no sense in arguing the point further as FAIR now freely admits that LDS can no longer make the claim that Masonry descended from Solomon's time. Details here.

Note: Although we often disagree with FAIR, we admire their intellectual honesty in this instance regarding Masonry, and thereby removing a commonly-held LDS explanation for the Temple/Masonry problem.

It's not just FAIR. LDS historian David John Buerger agrees with them. LDS Mason and Masonry expert Greg Kearney, historians in general and the knowledgeable Masons themselves all know that the Masons did not have their rites and ceremonies from anywhere close to Solomon's time. The LDS Church is of course silent on the issue, so most faithful members still believe the Masonry Solomon's temple myth as they are not aware that the LDS apologists and faithful LDS historians no longer support that position.

Adam and Eve in the temple

Adam and Eve play a major part in the temple ceremony and are treated as actual, real, historical people (the first humans on the planet), which indicates that the temple ceremony is not factual, as Adam and Eve are very likely a myth. There is much evidence to show that humans existed many thousands of years before Adam reportedly did about 7,000 years ago. See this section on Adam and Eve not being literal as the temple ceremony says: Link is here.

The purpose of the temple

We've been taught that the purpose of the temple is to learn the key words, signs and tokens to enable us to enter into heaven. In the LDS handbook Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, that the Church still provides to members that attend 'temple prep' classes, the following quote is given by Brigham Young, and often quoted by modern prophets as well including the Oct, 2007 Ensign pp 20-21:

"Let me give you the definition in brief. Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell." (emphasis added)
- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p.31. (see also 2:315; 5:133; 6:63, 154-55; 8:339; 9:25-26, 91; 10:172; 11:27; 12:164 18:132; 19:250)

This is a clear reference to the handshakes and passwords. Most members (but not all) believe that everyone will have to show knowledge of these at a point of entry into heaven, otherwise why bother learning them so perfectly in the first place?

This makes sense as the ceremony revolves around the keywords, signs and tokens and make up the bulk of the ceremony. Also that's the only really new information that isn't openly taught outside of the temple in Sunday School and one of the elements that has not changed with the several temple ceremony revisions.

The Problem with the signs and tokens

The signs and tokens are virtually identical as in the Masonry Rites. There is no mistaking this. The handshakes (tokens) and signs (hand motions) are taken from Masonry. See for yourself here.

So if the main purpose of the temple is to learn the signs and tokens, and the signs and tokens came directly from Masonry, then how can the Mormon temple ceremony really be the most important, divine ceremony from heavenly Father when the Masons made up this ceremony in the Middle Ages?

The learning of the signs and tokens and then demonstrating them perfectly in the temple, isn't just some superficial filler borrowed from the Masons. It is essential for the temple endowment ceremony. So how can this be, since the signs and tokens come directly from Masonry?

For us to really accept the temple ceremony as a necessary and sacred ordinance, this question must be definitely answered by the church.

The absurdness of it all

We were all very surprised when we first took out our endowments in the temple. Everyone told us it would be such a spiritual experience. Many of us expected to learn how to be better people or how to be more like Christ. Some of us were so pumped up that we anticipated seeing spirits thanking us for doing their temple work or hear the whispers of dear departed relatives.

However, we were shocked to find out that in the most holiest of ceremonies, it boiled down to learning the passwords and secret handshakes to get into heaven. We have studied the ceremony, prayed about it, but just can't get over what the ceremony really is.

If it's all symbolic, then it's truly meaningless as no one knows what it really means. If the Temple ceremony is truly inspired by Heavenly Father, then it's a necessary work that we all need to be engaged in. However, if it was just a ceremony that Joseph Smith took from the Masons and altered a bit, then it is truly the biggest waste of time ever created.

Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of a woman that had performed 20,000 endowments over 15 years in the Idaho Falls Temple. If it really is necessary for the departed souls to have temple sessions done for them, then this woman is a true saint. However, if it is a meaningless ceremony, then she really wasted a large part of her life. If she would have done anything else such as working at a soup kitchen, delivering meals-on-wheels, volunteering at a hospital or just spending more time with her family, then the 40,000+ hours she spent in the temple could really have helped some people in a real, tangible way.

Most LDS members, although certainly not all, believe we have to learn and demonstrate the signs and tokens we learn in the temple to gain entrance into heaven. We can't help wondering why a true, omnipotent Supreme Being would demand such a thing. Shouldn't entrance into heaven be based solely on how you lived your life?

Also since former Mormons, Masons and anyone with access to the Internet can know the signs and tokens, and thus would be able to pass the guardian angels at the gates of heaven, then they are not secret or specially reserved for just endowed Latter-day Saints any more.

If the temple ceremony inspires you to live a better life and it really does something for you on a personal level then it may be worthwhile for you to frequently attend the temple. However, we have to wonder if God really requires all this "paperwork" to get into heaven?


Supporting the critics:

Supporting the church: