14 Comments

Masonic Ceremony

George Washington wearing a Masonic apron while laying the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol Building

I recently watched an interesting documentary, Secrets of the Freemasons.  Many of the early U.S. revolutionaries were freemasons; many masons helped plan the Boston Tea Party, although the Tea Party had non-masonic members as well.  (Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, John Hancock, in addition to George Washington were masons.)  Masons were influential in the founding of our country, helping write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; however, masons were a minority.  For example, Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, was NOT  a mason.  There is even a painting showing George Washington III wearing a Masonic apron while setting the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol Building.

It was interesting to see how many U.S. Presidents and other famous people have been freemasons over the years.  Some of these include:

Masonic Prayer Circle

Masonic Prayer Circle

  • Harry Truman
  • Bob Dole
  • J Edgar Hoover
  • Charles Lindburgh
  • General John Pershing
  • Both Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt
  • Paul Revere
  • George Washington
  • Ben Franklin
  • John Hancock
  • Benedict Arnold
Differences:  not dressed in white, aprons are not green, they have spears/swords.  What's with the lamp in the foreground?  Also, notice there are no women allowed.

Differences: not dressed in white, aprons are not green, they have spears/swords. What’s with the lamp in the foreground? Also, notice there are no women allowed.

I’ve always wanted to know more about freemasonry.  National Geographic was given permission to videotape a masonic ceremony where a new leader was installed.  It was interesting to watch the ceremony and see some of the similarities, but also stark contrasts to the LDS endowment ceremonies.  Some differences are easily notable, such as the clothing, swords, gloves, and it is an all-male environment.  The aprons are highly varied, unlike LDS aprons which are green.

There was also a prayer circle (no women allowed, unlike the men), and a prayer at the altar.  While there are differences, the similarities for those who have been through LDS temple ceremonies are pretty obvious.  The carpenter’s square and the compass will also be familiar to LDS temple patrons, but the swords and other symbols will be different.

Man praying at altar with 3 books of scripture.  Notice the different aprons of people in the background.

Man praying at altar with 3 books of scripture. Notice the different aprons of people in the background.  It is also striking that men have hands over their hearts, rather than folded arms while praying.

The altar in LDS Temple ceremonies contains LDS scriptures, while Masons allow the Jewish Tanakh (Old Testament), Chistian Bible, and the Koran on the altar, as a nod to three Abrahamic religions.  A requirement of freemasons is to be believers in God, or a Supreme Bring.  One need not necessarily be a member of the Abrahamic religions, per se.

Some people associate masons with the New World Order, thinking they are responsible for many revolutions in the world.  They don’t like the secrecy of the Masons (and some don’t like the secrecy of LDS Temples.)  I found the following quote from Brent Morris sounded quite similar to an LDS explanation regarding this secrecy.  As the credits roll,

I took a promise that I would not discuss it, that I would not tell anyone what the secrets are.  Now I don’t care if you know what the secrets are, I mean good heavens.  If you’re an intelligent person, you can find them in less than an hour’s worth of work, but I’m not going to tell you, because as a matter of honor I told you I wouldn’t.

MasonSquareCompassI really thought it was quite an interesting video.  It was interesting to me to see that there were more similarities than I had imagined, and the differences were also quite interesting.  What are your thoughts?

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14 comments on “Masonic Ceremony

  1. The differences mean nothing. The similarities are sufficiently numerous to show that without Smith’s involvement in Freemasonry, we’d probably have a very different endowment ritual. Or possibly none at all.

  2. There are only superficial similarities. On my Mission one of my ward mission leaders was a high ranking Mason. I had always been interested in it because my Grandfather was a Mason. He was very open about what happened and discussed it at great length with me over the weeks that we went to his house for dinner.
    I could go into great detail about the numerous differences but like Brent Morris said if you really want to find out its not that hard.

  3. It is no accident that, approximately one month after Joseph Smith, Jr. was inducted into Free Masonry, he announced the revelation of the temple ceremonies. Many of the symbols, secret handshake, oaths of secrecy, and the aprons came directly from his exposure to the Masonic rites. Unless you believe that Masonry was also a direct revelation of the word of God, you will easily determine that Smith’s endowment is merely a loosely plagiarized adaptation of Masonry. It is one of the many relevant questions an honest man is forced to ask.

  4. I was just listening to John Dehlin’s podcast on Masonry and Mormonism. As astral LDS said, many of these similarities are superficial. You mentioned aprons. In the temple ceremony, aprons hide our nakedness and part of the creation story. In Masonry, they represent the aprons worn by stone Masons. This is hardly a parallel. Certainly Joseph Smith re-purposed many of the masonic symbols into Mormon symbols.

  5. I guess one could argue that there are many symbols throughout civilization that have a universally accepted meaning. Certainly, many of them have existed for thousands of years, and each culture may use them in a slightly different way. I’m just saying that there are too many coincidences. The secret handshakes, I believe, are identical but have different meanings. While the all-seeing eye, the sign of the square, the compass point, the apron, penalty enactments, and handshake may well have been used by multiple peoples and cultures, it is rather strange that, just after becoming a Mason, JS, Jr. combined them all into the LDS temple endowment. Obviously, truth is stranger than fiction, and anything is possible.

  6. Is it ok to re-purpose a symbol? Do you avoid Christmas trees (as Jehovah’s Witnesses do) because they were originally a Druidic worship symbol? Do you worship on the 7th Day, because Constantine changed worship to Sunday (not Sonday)? Do you avoid Halloween worship because of it’s Satanic influence?

  7. That’s not my point, at all. Here’s the timeline: 1) Joseph Smith is inducted into Masonry and is introduced to its secret handshake, multiple visual symbols, penalty enactments, etc. 2) One month later God reveals the Mormon temple endowment to him. 3) The newly revealed endowment bears remarkable similarity to the Order of Free Masons
    Even the best apologists have trouble explaining where the temple rites came from. It doesn’t require a rocket scientist to connect the dots.

  8. What apologists are you talking to? Every apologist I know is well aware of points 1, 2, and 3.

    I agree, it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to connect the dots. And your point is……what exactly?

  9. I think that God, somehow, was always left out of the loop. JS was a novelist and had lots of creative abilities. In this case he found it easiest to borrow the words, motions, and symbols that were already out there. Just a note about heretics. Luther was one. Calvin was one. JS was certainly one. Everyone is considered a heretic by the group they left, and a saint by their new congregations.

  10. I think that God, somehow, was always left out of the loop.

    I am am not even going to attempt to change your mind, but the ancient Jews said that about Jesus too, the ultimate heretic. I’ve said several times, I’m trying to be a heretic like Jesus.

    I would also avoid saying “Even the best apologists have trouble explaining where the temple rites came from.” The best apologists know exactly where they came from–on that point you and I agree completely.

    We may disagree on whether God was in or out of the loop, and no amount of discussion will prove God’s role one way or the other. That’s what faith is all about, and faith isn’t proof. You can’t prove the resurrection any better than I can. You can’t prove the afterlife. You can’t prove a vision or a revelation. These things require faith. You have no faith in Joseph Smith’s revelations, and that’s fine. Millions of people have no faith in Christ. That doesn’t threaten my faith, despite the best of your intentions.

  11. The “glory of God is intelligence.” I think we were given brains for a reason. And, you’re right. There is no proof either way. At very best, a man can only ascend to agnosticism. There simply is no proof, and religion is the domain of emotions rather than the facts.

  12. […] in masonry.  I got a chuckle because I had a visitor to my blog claim on my previous post, Masonic Ceremony, that “Even the best apologists have trouble explaining where the temple rites came from. It […]

  13. […] in masonry.  I got a chuckle because I had a visitor to my blog claim on my previous post, Masonic Ceremony, that “Even the best apologists have trouble explaining where the temple rites came from. It […]

  14. Many of Joseph Smith’s “revelations” came about because something in his life drew him to “ask God” about things (their Word of Wisdom came about because of smoking and tobacco chewing during lessons and Emma Smith thought it was unbecoming of men of God). So… if he believed that the church was a restoration of all things from past religious history, and freemasons claim their rites come from the temple masons of Solomon’s temple in the old testament, then it is logical that there would/should be similarities. Things over time morph when they are handed down, so why wouldn’t the ceremonies have morphed and contain similarities because of what remained after being handed down? And if that’s the case, Joseph would change it because it brought him to God and he was given instruction on what to change? Believe what you want, but to me it validates not repudiates their temple ceremony as a restoration of past religious principles.

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