Within this series, we will reproduce the text of Mormonism and Masonry by Samuel H. Goodwin (1862-1951 AD) which was published in 1920 AD and is public domain. It was written to and for Masons/Freemasons.
Portions read like meeting minutes as it covers the inner workings of Masonic administration. Other portions deal with, as the book’s subtitled puts it, the “Origins, Connections and Coincidences Between Mason and Mormon Temple/Templar Rituals.”
The book follows the following course:
Laying foundations; rapid growth; introduction of Masonry; how this step was regarded by Masons elsewhere; forces that unfavorably affected Nauvoo Masonry.
Political activities; appointment of John C. Bennett Master in Chancery; Joseph Smith’s pronouncement with reference to candidates; favors Stephen A. Douglas; extraneous influences.
Beginning of the practice of polygamy; Brigham Young’s statement to Schuyler Colfax; knowledge and practice of the principle extends; denials and explanation of the same; Bennett’s disaffection.
Masonry established act Nauvoo; the Grand Master’s report on conditions there; Bodley Lodge No. 1 requests that investigation be made; dispensation suspended.
The matter of Nauvoo Lodge presented to Grand Lodge; committee appointed to investigate conditions; report of committee to the Grand Master; he authorizes the lodge to resume labor; again in disfavor, and dispensation revoked.
Grand Lodge orders ignored; Masonic Temple at Nauvoo dedicated; final action by Grand Lodge; closing scenes in the life of Joseph Smith; the EXPOSITOR, and its destruction; arrest of the prophet and Hyrum Smith and their death.
A study in resemblances; symbols and inscriptions; sources of information; articles used in temple ceremonies.
Temple ceremonies; characterized by Mormon writer; Nauvoo Masonry, as understood by a present-day Apostle; Temple ordinances the only genuine Masonry.
Certain teachings of Mormonism appear to be in conflict with fundamental principles of the Fraternity; power of priesthood well-nigh absolute.
Other significant facts and teachings; polygamy in Mormon books of instruction, literature, and teaching; “living one’s religion;” influence of leaders.
Place of “belief” in Masonry; illustrated in naturalization laws; the Great Light and “living oracles”; the Deity; many gods, including female deity; attitude of Mormon church toward Masonry.
Conclusion - Summary
PLACE is made here for a brief discussion of several disconnected, though essential particulars, which cannot well be presented in the chapters that follow. The first contact of Mormonism with Masonry ante-dated the Nauvoo period by somewhat more than fifteen years.
In fact, the present writer is convinced that the years which saw the preparation and publication of the “Golden Bible” of this new faith, also witnessed the very material prenatal influence of Masonry upon Mormonism, proof of which lies thickly sprinkled over the pages of the Book of Mormon.
This phase of the subject has been treated elsewhere, and at some length, by the writer of these lines, and only so much of the story will be repeated here as may seem to be necessary to provide needed background for certain facts in the present study.
In September, 1826, one William Morgan disappeared from his home in Batavia, New York, and so far as reliable records show, was never thereafter seen by family or friends. But for two circumstances this incident would have attracted no more than passing notice, for William Morgan was not a man in whose movements or fortunes the public was likely to have any particular interest.
But gossip had it that he was at work upon an expose of Masonry and that Miller, the proprietor of the local newspaper, was to print the book and share in the profits of the venture. Rumor was also responsible for the information that certain Freemasons, members of the lodge in that village, had vowed that Morgan’s book should never see the light of day.
These, in conjunction with subsequent events, closely connected therewith, were the immediate cause of that unparalleled outburst of anti-Masonic excitement (which had been slowly preparing for two decades, or more), that swept the people of western New York far beyond the pale of reason, spread west, and south, and east in its devastating course, and wherever it came, it left no person, or relationship; or institution as it found them.
To one at this distance, that episode in our history appears to have been much more than an ebullition of emotion-it has more the aspect of a deep-seated disease, a peculiar paranoia, in fact, from which none, whatever his rank or attainments, escaped.
At Manchester, not many miles distant from Batavia, Joseph Smith, Sr., had his home. So far as known there was nothing in the character or environment of this family to lead one to suppose that any of its members remained untouched by the tremendous agitation which so visibly affected all others. Indeed, from the characteristics of the several members of this family, as these have been detailed by those who are supposed to have first-hand information, they would appear to be peculiarly susceptible to such influences.
Joseph Smith, Jr., the future prophet, was nearing his twenty-first year at the outbreak of the Morgan furore. He, in common with his neighbors, we must believe, was thoroughly familiar with all the stories afloat, for these tales more and more supplanted every other topic of conversation and filled the columns of the newspapers of the day. He, with others no doubt, attended the anti-Masonic mass meetings which were of frequent occurrence and of increasing and absorbing interest. He must often have listened to the highly colored and vicious attacks on the Fraternity which marked every public gathering of those days, and many times have witnessed the burlesquing of Masonry and the alleged exemplification of various degrees by renouncing Masons. In fact, there is no reason for thinking that his experience would be different, in any material particular, from the experience of those in whose midst he lived.
One year, almost to a day, from the disappearance of Morgan, and while the excitement occasioned by that event was still moving toward its peak, the “golden plates” were committed to the keeping of Joseph Smith. The work of “translation,” however, did not begin for some months. The book was made ready for the press, and copyrights secured by “Joseph Smith, Jr., Author and Proprietor,” in the latter part of June, 1829, and was ready for distribution early in the following year.
A glance at the dates given ---1827-1829--- shows that while the prophet was busy at his task, the fires of anti-Masonic hatred were burning fiercer and fiercer, for they did not reach their maximum until after the Book of Mormon had been given to the world. To the writer, the evidence of the Mormon prophet’s reaction to the anti-Masonic disturbance is as clear and conclusive in the Book of Mormon, as is that which points out, beyond controversy, the region in which that book was produced, and establishes the character of the religious, educational and social conditions which constituted the environment of Joseph Smith.
The reader is asked to bear in mind the facts of the foregoing paragraphs when weighing the claims made of the supernatural origin of the Temple ceremonies. If the writer is not mistaken, those facts suggest a natural and rational explanation of the statement often repeated by church writers, and copied by others, to the effect that when the prophet became a Mason, “he was able to work right ahead of them all.” [Seq. p. 42, Note 6.]
In any consideration of the general subject, “Mormonism and Masonry,” the advocate of the closed door between these organizations will be told, by a few, at least, that in maintaining this position he flies squarely in the face of two of the basic principles of our institution. These are its universality and its non-interference with the religious beliefs or opinions of those who seek to enter its portals.
But, by “universality” we do not mean that every man can be, or should be, a Mason. To take that position is absurd on the face of it. In practice it would mean that every provision relating to qualifications of petitioners must be swept from our codes and by-laws, for they would be meaningless, and that Grand Masters would no longer be harassed for dispensations to permit the application for the degrees of one who is minus the tip of the little finger, or whose left leg is a hair’s breadth shorter than the right one.
Often Masonic orators dwell in glowing terms on the fact that our Fraternity is made up of “selected material,” of “picked men”---and in a very real sense that is true. But that being true, in any sense, what becomes of this doctrine of universality?
So also with reference to the second ground of criticism, namely, that in drawing the line against the admission of members of the Latter Day Saints’ organization we are shattering a time-honored principle of Masonry; we are excluding would-be petitioners on account of their religion. A little reflection, based upon information that has been derived from investigation, will show that such criticism is not well founded. This phase of the subject cannot be argued here: the reader is referred to the succeeding chapters of this book for evidence in support of this statement. But room must be made for certain observations pertinent to the subject.
A matter with reference to which there appears to be not a little of confusion in the minds of Masons, quite generally, pertains to the extent and character of the religious requirements which may properly find place in Masonry. With surprising frequency one hears the statement that Masonry does not concern itself with the beliefs of a petitioner, beyond ascertaining that he accepts the one dogma, of belief in God. Many teachers of things
Masonic, including Grand Masters, do not hesitate to affirm that our institution keeps hand off everything touching a man’s religious beliefs. But is that true, in practice? This writer ventures to assert that it is not true, and further, he is willing to go on record as holding that if the occasion required it, he could make good his contention by testimony drawn from many of the jurisdictions in which this doctrine is proclaimed, and do this to the satisfaction of any impartial jury.
For a suggestive and interesting illustration of the lengths to which Masonic teachers may go, while proclaiming the sole requirement of avowal of belief in the “one dogma,” the interested Craftsman is referred to Mackey’s nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first “Landmarks,” and he is advised to make a careful analysis of those three propositions.
A certain delightfully interesting and inspiring teacher of teachers, has a fascinating chapter under the caption: “On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings.” Due to some vagrant chain of association, that chapter-heading flashed a signal to the writer as he turned in thought toward the unaccountable attitude of some intelligent people with respect to the matters presented in this volume. Reference here is to those Masons who assume that this subject can have only an academic interest for those who do not live in Utah; in other words, that it is of local concern, only!
Let the fact be borne in mind, in passing, that the Latter Day Saints have missions in practically every state in the union; that students from this state are to be found in many of the eastern colleges and universities, and that no year passes in the course of which members of that organization do not apply for, and receive, degrees in one, or all the branches of Masonry in some of these foreign jurisdictions. Space limitations restrict the writer to the briefest possible suggestions by way of indicating the untenableness of the position referred to.
It is local, true enough, if clandestinism, and the application for Masonic degrees by members of a clandestine organization, concern only the Craft of a single jurisdiction.
If the acceptance of a plurality of gods, who are exalted men-including male and female deities-endowed with all the “parts and passions” of men, including procreative powers and functioning in this particular, meets the requirements of all other jurisdictions. If the Bible on the altar is simply a pleasant memory, or a mere vestigial reminder of what once held place in Anglo-Saxon Masonry, long since superceded by the more recent utterances of the “living oracles,” who speak for God, and as God, and whose words are of greater value than “all the bibles put together.”
If the Old Regulation, numbered four, no longer has any significance. That specifies, as a necessary qualification of one who would be ’made a Mason, that he “must be also his own master.” How can that requirement be met by one who admits, must admit, that another is authorized, by any power whatsoever, to direct him in all things, spiritual and temporal?
If these and other considerations of similar import are of no concern to Masonry at large, then it may be true that this is a local matter only-but not otherwise.
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