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.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responds to these questions

Charles W. Penrose,  "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," 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

Brief 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). (Click here for full article)
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Temple endowment and Freemasonry

Brief 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. (Click here for full article)
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Temple ordinances: revealed

Brief Summary: It is claimed that the LDS temple ordinances were either made up by Joseph Smith or borrowed, by him, from an earthly source. This collection of quotes has been divided into two sections. The first section consists of statements from the LDS Church's official website indicating that the temple ordinances were 'revealed' by the Lord and 'restored' from antiquity. The second section consists of statements from scripture and the General Authorities of the LDS Church. (Click here for full article)
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Hugh W. Nibley on Freemasonry

Brief Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith copied Masonic material in order to create the LDS temple rites (Click here for full article)
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Should the temple ceremony be based upon an earlier version of Freemasonry?

Brief Summary: If the temple ceremony is based upon Freemasonry, why doesn’t it more closely resemble an earlier form of Freemasonry than that of Joseph Smith's day? (Click here for full article)
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Freemasonry did not originate with Solomon's Temple

Brief Summary: Why is the endowment considered sacred if Freemasonry is unrelated to Solomon's Temple and has no religious elements? (Click here for full article)
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Alterations to temple ceremonies

Brief Summary: Why was it allowable to alter the temple ceremonies over the years if they were revealed by God? (Click here for full article)
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Brief Summary: Critics point out that a former version of the endowment used to contain mention of various "penalties" associated with the breaking of the temple covenants. They use this fact to claim that the temple encouraged violence or vengeance against those who violated its covenants, or that the Church sought to use fear to motivate members to keep their covenants, however, critics misrepresent this part of the temple ceremony, which is relatively easy to do since members endowed since April 1990 will have had no direct experience with the penalties mentioned. (Click here for full article)
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Freemasonry and the Book of Mormon

Gadianton Robbers as Masons?

Brief 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. (Click here for full article)
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Joseph Smith's involvement in Freemasonry

Masonic Cry of Distress

Brief 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?" (Click here for full article)
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Reed C. Durham Regarding His 1974 Talk

Brief Summary: Reed C. Durham responds to criticism of his 1974 speech “Is There No Help for the Widow’s Son?” (Click here for full article)
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Brigham Young's involvement in Freemasonry

Was Brigham a Mason?

Brief Summary: Brigham Young joined the Freemasons in Nauvoo at Joseph Smith's encouragement. (Click here for full article)
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Was Brigham a "33rd Degree" Mason

Brief Summary: Brigham was not a 33rd Degree Mason; such a designation did not exist until the Saints had moved west to Nauvoo. (Click here for full article)
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Symbolism in Mormon temples

Symbols on the Nauvoo Temple

Brief 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. (Click here for full article)
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Inverted Stars on LDS Temples

Brief 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. (Click here for full article)
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All Seeing Eye

Brief 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. (Click here for full article)
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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

Brief Summary: FairMormon responds to claims made in the "Search for the Truth" DVD regarding Joseph Smith's character: "Joseph Smith's Character: The Occult" (Click here for full article)
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Claim by the critical website that the endowment came from freemasonry

Brief 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." (Click here for full article)
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"Chapter 2: Moroni, Magic, and Masonry"

Brief Summary: FairMormon reviews and responds to critical claims made in the book One Nation Under Gods, Chapter 2: "Moroni, Magic, and Masonry." (Click here for full article)
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  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.
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