Mormonism and Freemasonry

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Mormonism and Freemasonry

This page is a summary or index. More detailed information on this topic is available on the sub-pages below.

This summary page contains bibliographic references for various electronic and print items that discuss -- or are related to -- the 'Mormonism and Freemasonry' issue. The materials that are listed here represent a variety of opinions that are held by Latter-day Saints on this topic. They also represent differing levels of review and publication processes and divergent degrees of documentation.

Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered"

Charles W. Penrose,  Improvement Era, (September 1912)
Question 17: Was Joseph Smith, Jr., a Mason?
Answer: Joseph Smith the Prophet was a Mason. [1]

"It has always been commonly reported, and to a great extent believed, that the mysteries of the Endowment House were only a sort of initiation…of the rites of Masonry; but I need hardly say that this statement when examined by the light of facts, is altogether ungrounded and absurd.”
— Fanny Stenhouse, Nineteenth Century Anti-Mormon Author[2]


Relationship between Freemasonry and temple ceremonies

Origins of Freemasonry

Summary: When studying the relationship between Mormonism and the fraternal order known as Freemasonry it is important to acknowledge and understand the perspective expressed by nineteenth century Latter-day Saints. This article includes examples of what some Mormons thought about where the rites and teachings of the Masons came from (some of these people were also Masons).

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Temple endowment and Freemasonry

Summary: Some critics of Mormonism see similarities between the rites of Freemasonry and LDS temple ceremonies and assume that since Joseph Smith was initiated as a Freemason shortly before he introduced the Nauvoo-style endowment he must have plagiarized elements of the Masonic rituals. This viewpoint leads them, in turn, to conclude that the LDS endowment is nothing but a variant form of Masonic initiation and therefore not from a divine source.

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The use of ritual in gospel ordinances

Summary: Why is the endowment considered sacred if Freemasonry is unrelated to Solomon's Temple and has no religious elements?

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The ordinance versus the ritual used to present the ordinance

Summary: Critics of Mormonism often confuse an ordinance with the manner in which the ordinance is administered. They there claim that changes to the presentation of the ordinance are not allowed.

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Freemasonry and the Book of Mormon

Gadianton Robbers as Masons?

Summary: Some claim that the Gadianton robbers are thinly disguised references to the anti-Masonic panic of Joseph Smith's era. Joseph's contemporaries did not embrace the "obvious" link between the Book of Mormon and masonry. Proponents or opponents of Masonry simply tended to blame their opponents for Mormonism. Given Joseph Smith's long family involvement with the institution of Freemasonry and the fact that he would, in 1842, become a Mason himself, it seems unlikely that anti-Masonry was the "environmental source" of the Gadianton robbers found in the Book of Mormon. The members of his day likewise had little enthusiasm for anti-Masonic sentiments.

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Joseph Smith's involvement in Freemasonry

Masonic Cry of Distress

Summary: It is reported that Joseph Smith uttered the words "Oh Lord, my God" as he stood at a second floor window in Carthage Jail -- just before he was shot by members of a mob. The words that accompany the Masonic 'Grand Hailing Sign of Distress' are "Oh Lord, my God, is there no help for the widow's son?"

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Reed C. Durham Regarding His 1974 Talk

Summary: Reed C. Durham responds to criticism of his 1974 speech “Is There No Help for the Widow’s Son?”


Brigham Young's involvement in Freemasonry

Was Brigham a Mason?

Summary: Brigham Young joined the Freemasons in Nauvoo at Joseph Smith's encouragement.

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Was Brigham a "33rd Degree" Mason

Summary: Brigham was not a 33rd Degree Mason; such a designation did not exist until the Saints had moved west to Nauvoo.

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Symbolism in Mormon temples

Symbols on the Nauvoo Temple

Summary: I've heard there are some strange symbols on the Nauvoo and Salt Lake temples. My non-member friend claims these have an "occult" significance. Some people are of the opinion that they are Masonic.

Inverted Stars on LDS Temples

Summary: Some critics of the LDS Church claim that the inverted five-pointed star on some of its temples are a symbol of evil and thereby demonstrate that Mormonism is not really a Christian religion.

All Seeing Eye

Summary: The claim is sometimes made by critics that since the All-Seeing Eye of God is displayed on the exterior and interior of the Salt Lake Temple[1] and the All-Seeing Eye is an emblem utilized by the Freemasons then the Mormon usage must be an indication of a connection between Mormon temples and Freemasonry.


Claims made by critical books, videos and websites related to Mormonism and Freemasonry

Review of "Search for the Truth" DVD section on Joseph Smith's character

Summary: FairMormon responds to claims made in the "Search for the Truth" DVD regarding Joseph Smith's character: "Joseph Smith's Character: The Occult"

Claim by the critical website MormonThink.com that the endowment came from freemasonry

Summary: FairMormon responds to a claim made by the critical website MormonThink that "The temple endowment ceremony would not have come from the Masonry rituals that began in the middle age."

"Chapter 2: Moroni, Magic, and Masonry"

Summary: FairMormon reviews and responds to critical claims made in the book One Nation Under Gods, Chapter 2: "Moroni, Magic, and Masonry."


Notes

  1. Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912).
  2. Mrs. T.B.H. [Fanny] Stenhouse, "Tell It All": The Story of a Life's Experience in Mormonism (Hartford, Conn.: A.D. Worthington & Company, 1875 [1874]), 354.