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Temples & Freemasonry



Brief Summary

Temples & Freemasonry

As usual, FAIR relies upon ad hominem attacks and logical fallacies in addressing my concerns about Freemasonry practices in the LDS Temples. Despite FAIR’s efforts in attacking my concerns, the following facts remain: (1) Joseph Smith and other early Church leaders believed Freemasonry to be a degenerated form of the Priesthood, (2) that this belief was incorrect; (3) that the endowment itself contains Masonic rituals; (4) that Joseph Smith introduced the endowment ceremony just seven weeks after his own Masonic initiation; and (5) that the rituals originally used in the LDS Temple endowment ceremony were taken from the version of Masonry contemporaneous with Joseph Smith (rather than from an earlier form of Masonry).

FAIR’s claim that Freemasonry was used merely as a teaching tool disregards the facts that the Church leaders believed Masonry to be a degenerated form of the Priesthood and that many of the Masonic rituals are still present to this day in LDS Temple ordinances and covenants themselves.

Donut Chart

Temples & Freemasonry


The above donut chart shows percentages of the Temples & Freemasonry section of Letter to a CES Director that FAIR is in agreement, disagreement, and neutral on.

If one assumes that FAIR's undisputed silence is acceptance of the facts, FAIR agrees with 63.6% of the CES Letter's Temples & Freemasonry section.

Breakdown can be found here.



Detailed Response

Temples & Freemasonry

Just seven weeks after Joseph’s Masonic initiation, Joseph introduced the LDS endowment

CES Letter says...

"Just seven weeks after Joseph’s Masonic initiation, Joseph introduced the LDS endowment ceremony in May 1842."

FAIR Agrees
  • FAIR agrees that Joseph introduced the LDS endowment ceremony 7 weeks after Joseph’s initiation as a Master Mason but creates a strawman fallacy.

FAIR says...
  • While it is true that some of the endowment was devoted and introduced in the weeks following Joseph Smith's initiation as a Master Mason. This oversimplifies the issue considerably. The endowment and other parts of LDS temple worship developed slowly over a period of years. It did not as the author here suggests happen all at once.

FAIR's above response can be found on FAIR's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FAIR

I didn’t suggest that it happened all at once. FAIR is creating a strawman. I simply stated that:

“Just seven weeks after Joseph’s Masonic initiation, Joseph introduced the LDS endowment ceremony in May 1842.” (emphasis added)

FAIR confirms my first point in this section that the LDS endowment ceremony was introduced weeks after Joseph’s initiation as a Master Mason.


We have the true Masonry

CES Letter says...

"President Heber C. Kimball, a Mason himself and a member of the First Presidency for 21 years, made the following statement: “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.” – Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball and Family: The Nauvoo Years, p.458"

FAIR Agrees

FAIR says...
  • This was a common 19th century belief of both Mormons and Masons that Masonry had it origins in the Temple of Solomon. A few Masons cling to this view even today. Heber C. Kimball was simply reflecting what many of his contemporaries thought. An opinion not, it turns out, supported by the historical evidence but it was only an opinion.

FAIR's above response can be found on FAIR's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FAIR

I agree.

As I pointed out in #4 of the Temple section in Letter to a CES Director:

Freemasonry has zero links to the Solomon’s temple. Although more a Church folklore, with origins from comments made by early Mormon Masons such as Heber C. Kimball, than being Church doctrine...

FAIR confirms in this section the point in my letter that the “Masonic ritual practices do not trace to the temple of Solomon or any time close to it.”

Further quotes suggest that even Joseph Smith believed in the connections of Masonry to the Priesthood. In a June 17, 1842 letter to Parley P. Pratt, Heber C. Kimball wrote:

There is a similarity of priesthood in Masonry. Bro[ther] Joseph says Masonry was taken from priesthood but has become degenerated, but many things are perfect. – Temples of the Ancient World, p.577

Benjamin F. Johnson, a friend of Joseph Smith, wrote:

He [Joseph Smith] told me Freemasonry, as at present, was the apostate endowments, as sectarian religion was the apostate religion. – Johnson, My Life’s Review, p.96

Finally, this was not just a 19th century belief. This was being taught to members in the 20th century by prophets, seers, and revelators. Elder Melvin J. Ballard (Apostle M. Russell Ballard’s grandfather) taught in the October 1913 General Conference:

What is masonry? Why, a fragment of the old truth coming down perhaps from Solomon’s temple of ancient days, and but a fragment, as Christianity is but a fragment of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. – Conference Report, October 1913, p.126-127


Why doesn’t the LDS ceremony more closely resemble an earlier form of Masonry?

CES Letter says...

"If Masonry had the original temple ceremony but became distorted over time, why doesn’t the LDS ceremony more closely resemble an earlier form of Masonry, which would be more correct rather than the exact version that Joseph Smith was exposed to in his March 1842 Nauvoo, Illinois initiation?"

FAIR Agrees
  • FAIR and I agree that Freemasonry do not trace to the temple of Solomon or any time close to it. I bring up this point because this was (and still is) a commonly held cultural belief in the Church.
  • FAIR claims that I’m confusing the “endowment with the presentation of the endowment”.

FAIR says...
  • If one accepts the first part of this statement as true then the question in valid. The trouble here is that we know that Masonic ritual practices do not trace to the temple of Solomon or to any time close to it. Rather Joseph Smith used ritual elements known to him and his followers to teach a uniquely restorationist view. The author confuses the endowment (with its focus on covenants and the relationship between God and His children through the mediation of Christ) with the presentation of the endowment (a ritualized pedagogical dramatization which imparts knowledge in a way that can aid memory, encourage contemplation, and lead to additional personal revelation).

FAIR's above response can be found on FAIR's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FAIR

The reason this question is raised is because this is an assumption and belief that I’ve heard often in the Church. I’ve been told this opinion numerously by various members in different times of my life, some even in leadership positions. While FAIR and I agree that the historical evidence does not support that Freemasonry has its origins in the temple of Solomon, many members of the Church believe otherwise. Furthermore, the Church has not done anything to dispel or suspend this false belief, which appears pervasive in Mormon culture.

Joseph Smith didn’t just use “ritual elements known to him and his followers.” Joseph Smith used Masonic rituals known to him and his followers. And he started using these Masonic rituals seven weeks after his initiation as a Master Mason from a Nauvoo Masonic lodge.

FAIR acknowledges that Joseph Smith used Masonic rituals that he was exposed to in his March 1842 Nauvoo, Illinois initiation.

A common theme or answer coming from FAIR in the Temple section is: “The author confuses the endowment with the presentation of the endowment.” I respond to this below in the “What does it say about the Church if it removed something that Joseph Smith said he restored?” section.


Freemasonry has zero links to Solomon’s temple

CES Letter says...

"Freemasonry has zero links to Solomon’s temple. Although more a Church folklore, with origins from comments made by early Mormon Masons such as Heber C. Kimball, than being Church doctrine, it’s a myth that the endowment ceremony has its origins from Solomon’s temple or that Freemasonry passed down parts of the endowment over the centuries from Solomon’s temple. Solomon’s temple was all about animal sacrifice. Freemasonry has its origins to stone tradesmen in medieval Europe – not in 950 BC Jerusalem. If there’s no connection to Solomon’s temple, what’s so divine about a man-made medieval European secret fraternity and its rituals?"

FAIR Agrees
  • FAIR agrees that Freemasonry has zero links to Solomon’s temple.
  • FAIR attempts to diminish the presence of Freemasonry rituals in the endowment ceremony as merely a “useful teaching tool” for illiterate “members who could not read”.

FAIR says...
  • Nothing is divine about Freemasonry and indeed Freemasonry has rejected any and all attempts to portray it as a religion. However, masonic ritual forms are very useful as a teaching tool, particularly in situations such as were found in Nauvoo in the 1840's where many members could not read. Using ritual forms found in masonry as instructive tools to teach a divine message is what we are dealing with here.

FAIR's above response can be found on FAIR's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FAIR

FAIR is acknowledging that Freemasonry was used as a “teaching tool” in the endowment ceremony. While FAIR admits that the Freemasonry was used in the endowment, they attempt to diminish it with an unsubstantiated claim that it was a “teaching tool” for mostly illiterate Saints in the 19th century.

FAIR is giving the impression that the Masonic rituals weren’t in the endowment ceremony for very long or that there’s little or no Masonic influence in the endowment ceremony as we have today. This is false.

Of course there’s nothing divine about Freemasonry. This is the point I’m trying to make. What are these “non-divine” Medieval European originated Freemasonry rituals doing in a “divine” ceremony of eternal consequence?

Stating that Masonic rituals are in there to be a “teaching tool” for mostly illiterate 19th century Saints is absurd and disingenuous. “They’re very useful teaching tools” is absurd in light of the fact that Mormons were imitating the slashing of their throats and bowels for 148 years. It wasn’t until the Church’s surveys in 1988 which showed that Temple attendance was low due to the violent, bizarre, and uncomfortable Masonic rituals, that were making members uncomfortable. The blood oath penalties were 100% Masonic. Ditto for the Masonic Five Points of Fellowship at the Veil, which especially made female patrons very uncomfortable. The Church removed these 100% Masonic rituals in 1990 after about 3,500 members completed the survey.

There are still to this day Masonic rituals present in the endowment ceremony. In short, the Masonic rituals are more than just “teaching tools,” they comprise many of the key Temple ordinances and covenants themselves.


What does it say about the Church if it removed
something that Joseph Smith said he restored?

CES Letter says...

The author questions why the Church has changed the endowment ceremony by removing the penalties and certain other elements that were also present in Freemasonry. The author states, "What does it say about the Church if it removed something that Joseph Smith said he restored and which would never again be taken away from the earth?"

FAIR Agrees
  • FAIR agrees that there were numerous changes made to the endowment ceremony.
  • FAIR claims that I’m confusing the ordinances of the endowment with the presentation of the endowment.

FAIR says...
  • Again the author confuses the ordinance of the endowment with the presentation of the endowment. The presentation has undergone many changes since the time of Joseph Smith as it is adjusted to meet the needs of a modern and ever changing membership.

FAIR's above response can be found on FAIR's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FAIR

FAIR keeps using the term “presentation of the endowment.” This is a modern term that came after LDS correlation.

Let’s have a quick look at what Brigham Young says about the endowment:

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 keywords, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.

The above quote is endorsed by the LDS Church today as it is in the Young Women’s Manual, Elder Packer’s Come to the Temple talk, and the Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple booklet the Church gives to its members preparing to go to the Temple.

As the Prophet Brigham Young stated: the signs, tokens, and keywords (all of which are Masonic in nature) are defined as part of the endowment ceremony itself and not the presentation of the endowment.

Indeed, here is what is said in the Endowment ceremony itself still to this day:

Your Endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, 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 the tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation.

Are we to believe unofficial apologists such as FAIR over a latter-day prophet, seer, and revelator and what is taught in the endowment ceremony itself even still today?

FAIR says...
  • There would be no point in having continuing revelation, a founding idea of our faith, if we are not permitted to advance and meet new needs.

FAIR's above response can be found on FAIR's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FAIR

Oh, look here:

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, August 2001, p.22

What does “ordinance” mean? The Church’s own definition: “Sacred rites and ceremonies.”

The entire endowment ceremony is an ordinance. It states as such in the beginning of the ceremony. Brigham Young is very clear that the tokens, signs, and keywords is the endowment itself and Joseph Smith was explicitly clear that ordinances “are not to be altered or changed.”

FAIR knows that Joseph Smith taught that the endowment is not to be altered or changed, which is why FAIR keeps using carefully crafted terms like “presentation of the endowment” in their attempt to diminish and justify all the changes made to the endowment itself. They want us to believe that the stuff that changed were just for “special effect” or “teaching tools” which needed to be “adjusted to the needs of the audience.” Their speculation and claim is not supported by the evidence. More importantly, their speculative claim is contradicted and refuted by at least two latter-day prophets along with the Church’s current definition of what an ordinance is.


Is God really going to require people to know secret tokens?

CES Letter says...

"Is God really going to require people to know secret tokens, handshakes, and signs to get into the Celestial Kingdom? If so, Masons, former Mormons, anti-Mormons, unworthy Mormons as well as non-Mormons who’ve seen the endowment on YouTube or read about the signs/handshakes/tokens online should pass through the pearly gates with flying colors.”

FAIR Disagrees
  • FAIR disagrees as FAIR claims the purpose of the tokens from the endowment ceremony is to “show our fidelity to covenants”, not as being necessary to get into the Celestial Kingdom.

FAIR says...
  • Speaking for God – The critic, despite not believing in God, presumes to know what God ought to require.

FAIR's above response can be found on FAIR's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FAIR

FAIR is incorrect. I am not an atheist. I’m currently a deist. I believe in a higher power. My no longer believing in the Mormon or Christian or Old Testament god does not make me atheist any more than my lack of belief in Apollo, Zeus, Ra, Min, and Odin does.

FAIR once again resorts to ad hominem attacks. My presumption that the Mormon god requires tokens, keywords, and handshakes to enter the Celestial Kingdom is based on what is taught in the endowment ceremony itself:

Your Endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, 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 the tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation.

It's based on what I was taught as a Temple attending Mormon. It’s based on my acknowledgement of teachings from latter-day prophets such as Brigham Young’s teaching below. “Prophet, seer, and revelator” Brigham Young claimed to speak for God and Brigham rejects FAIR’s obfuscation.

FAIR says...
  • The author has missed the point of the tokens completely. They are to show our fidelity to covenants, a central point of both the endowment and the masonic rituals. God does not need them, we need them, or more precisely, we need the covenants that they represent. They help us learn to be faithful to what we want to be.

FAIR's above response can be found on FAIR's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FAIR

The Church, the endowment ceremony itself, and Brigham Young reject FAIR’s claim. It’s worth bringing up again what Brigham stated and which the Church still endorses today in the endowment ceremony itself, on LDS.org here and here, and in the Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple booklet that the Church gives to its members preparing to go to the Temple.

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 keywords, the signs, and tokens, pertaining to the holy priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.

When we’re at the Veil during the endowment ceremony in the Temple, who do we “meet”? And what do we do?

Brigham Young and the Church reject FAIR’s mischaracterization and re-interpretation of the endowment ceremony as the keywords, signs, and tokens are “necessary…after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels…being enabled to give them the keywords, signs, and tokens...and gain your eternal exaltation.”


Does the eternal salvation, happiness, and sealings of families depend on Masonic rituals?

CES Letter says...

"Does the eternal salvation, eternal happiness, and eternal sealings of families really depend on medieval originated Masonic rituals in multi-million dollar castles? Is God really going to separate good couples and their children who love one other and who want to be together in the next life because they object to uncomfortable and strange Masonic temple rituals and a polygamous heaven?"

FAIR Disagrees

FAIR says...
  • Speaking for God – The critic, despite not believing in God, presumes to know what God ought to require.

FAIR's above response can be found on FAIR's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FAIR

As discussed and addressed here, FAIR’s assumption and ad hominem attack against me is incorrect and irrelevant.

FAIR says...
  • First off the endowment is not a Masonic ritual. No one ever became a Mason in an LDS Temple and no one has ever been endowed in a Masonic Lodge. Further the author seems to dismiss the value of medieval masonic-like rituals, rituals which have proven pedagogical value. Finally the author would seem to want to paint the LDS Church and the faith as some sort of restorationist version of Calvinism where an unflinching and unforgiving God metes out eternal separation of families. This ignores the reality of the universalist nature of LDS theology and its view of a supremely loving Father providing a plan where ALL of His children can continue to advance and make themselves better both as individuals and as wider families through the atoning sacrifice of Christ.

FAIR's above response can be found on FAIR's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FAIR

Without the keywords, signs, and tokens (which are Masonic), what’s left of the endowment ceremony? A Temple movie made 25 years ago (August 2013 update: new Temple movie introduced), costumes, and covenants presented to a blindsided audience left with no time to consider the ramifications of what they’re covenanting? When they bring up covenants, they bring them up as part of the keywords, signs, and tokens. The covenants are entwined with the keywords, signs, and tokens.

Put another way, the Masonic keywords, signs, and tokens are the foundation of the ceremony for without them a person cannot complete the endowment ceremony. Without the Masonic keywords, signs, and tokens, one cannot pass through the Veil and enter into the “Celestial Kingdom” of the Temple.

Of course no one ever became a Mason in an LDS Temple and no one has ever been endowed in a Masonic lodge. FAIR fails to grasp the point that the LDS endowment has its origins and birth out of Freemasonry. This is the reason why the LDS endowment was introduced weeks after Joseph became a Master Mason, this is the reason why the endowment ceremony has had 100% Masonic rituals (blood oaths, 5 Points of Fellowship, etc.) in it, and this is the reason why the endowment ceremony still has Masonic keywords, signs, and tokens to this day. True to its mission statement, FAIR cannot openly consider the possibility that rather than Freemasonry merely being a “very useful teaching tool,” the endowment ceremony is filled with Freemasonry because the ceremony is conceived in Freemasonry to begin with. Masonry is more than a teaching tool; it is a practice which early Church leaders believed to be a degenerated form of the Priesthood, and its rituals comprise key ordinances and covenants of the endowment itself.

Is the Mormon god really that much different than the Calvinist god who is “unflinching and unforgiving and metes out the eternal separation of families”?

Calvinist god: Obey me. Follow my rules. You can only be saved by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. If you don’t obey and agree to my conditions, you won’t live in Heaven in my presence with your family for eternity.

Mormon god: Obey me. Follow my rules. You can only be saved by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. If you don’t obey and agree to my conditions, you won’t live in the Celestial Kingdom in my presence with your family for eternity.

Sure, the Mormon god gives everyone a chance to give their thumbs up or thumbs down but like the Calvinist god, the eternal salvation of individuals and families all lead through one door. The Calvinist god’s condition is acceptance of Calvinism and Jesus Christ. The Mormon god’s door is through the Mormon Temple. No Temple = no eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom as individuals and families.

If you want to be with your family forever, your entire family must all be Mormon, sealed in a Mormon Temple, and endure to the end. Don’t believe in Mormonism or want anything to do with it? Okay, no eternal family for you. Don’t want to go to a Mormon Temple and participate in weird Masonic rituals? No eternal family or eternal life as a god for you.

While the Mormon god is a step up from the Calvinist god in that he has different degrees of glory instead of just one big hell for every non-Heaven bound soul to go to, the Mormon god is still Calvinist in the sense that He withholds happiness and eternal life and eternal families unless individuals and families do XYZ. Want to be with your family forever? Go to the Mormon Temple or no-go. Want to fulfill your full potential and become a god? Go to the Mormon Temple or no-go.

Notice FAIR’s language: “loving Father providing a plan where ALL of His children can continue to advance.” The Mormon god is conditional. The Mormon god is a “Mormon Temple or highway” god. The only “universalist” thing about the Mormon god is that he extends his demands in the spirit world for say, the Muslim Afghan goat herder, to become Mormon or be damned.

LDS member Robert Kirby of the Salt Lake Tribune shared some powerful thoughts on Temples and eternal life with our families when discussing his wedding day in the Salt Lake Temple:

We drove to the Salt Lake LDS Temple for the ceremony. Two dozen close family members and friends came to watch it happen. Another two dozen stayed home because they knew they couldn’t get in. They weren’t worthy enough to be allowed in the temple.

The casualty list included some blood relatives, assorted neighbors, all of my co-workers and every friend I had before going on my Mormon mission. They either stayed home or waited in the parking lot.

I was happy enough to be married for time and all eternity but it was also the first time I had to seriously consider the idea of what that meant.

This was a time when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was really cruising with the catchphrase "Families Are Forever." Just about every station wagon in Utah sported a bumper sticker announcing it.

It’s a nice thought but for the fact that it’s also a veiled threat. The average Mormon family as constituted here on Earth isn’t going to be the same family in heaven. That’s because not everyone will be worthy.

Statistically speaking, families aren’t forever. Somebody in every family is always going to be too apathetic, too unconventional, too stubborn or just too evil to make the celestial kingdom cut.

Won’t you be surprised when you get to heaven and discover that for all that hard work, your forever family consists of you, your mom, two cousins (one of whom you never liked), your least favorite sibling, one of your four grandparents and none of your children.

Of course, this assumes that you made it to heaven yourself. If you didn’t, your spouse will be sealed to some other person, your kids won’t visit and you’ll have to room with a crazy sister-in-law who won’t shut up about what a bum your brother was back on Earth.

It was a beautiful day when we got married but also vaguely troubling. Looking around the sealing room in the temple, I realized just how much the celestial kingdom was going to suck if I had to spend it without the company of some of the people I loved the most.

It seemed an even greater irony that my church ­— with all that emphasis on families being forever— was also patently divisive when it came to excluding families from gathering together on a momentous day.

Since becoming a father myself, I have gained new insights about the role of Heavenly Father. I love my children quite independent of their works, and how much they “serve” or don’t “serve” me. And I would shudder to think of cutting them off from me because of some mistakes they might make. My love for them is completely unconditional. My door for them is and will always be open.

Why can’t our relationship with Heavenly Father be the same? Why is our relationship and access to Heavenly Father so volatile and conditional? Why does He have to be a petty and jealous Tyrant who cuts His children off from Him and from each other in the eternities over something as simple as whether or not we put on costumes and do Masonic-originated rituals and handshakes in multi-million dollar buildings on earth?




"Debunking" Table of Contents




Important Note

Temples & Freemasonry Last Updated: 5.9.14

My above response is based on FAIR's 10.2.2013 Temples & Freemasonry answers.



A native of Southern California, Jeremy was born in the covenant. A 6th generation Mormon of Pioneer heritage, Jeremy reached every Mormon youth milestone. An Eagle Scout, Returned Missionary, and BYU alumnus, Jeremy was married in the San Diego Temple with expectations and plans of living Mormonism for the rest of his life.

In February 2012, Jeremy experienced a crisis of faith, which subsequently led to a faith transition in the summer of 2012. In the spring of 2013, Jeremy was approached and asked by a CES Director to share his concerns and questions about the LDS Church's origins, history, and current practices. In response, Jeremy wrote what later became publicly known as Letter to a CES Director.

Letter to a CES Director very quickly went viral on the internet. The CES Director responded that he read the "very well written" letter and that he would provide Jeremy with a response. No response ever came.

In the fall of 2013, unofficial LDS apologetic group FairMormon publicly released an analysis of Letter to a CES Director. In response, Jeremy wrote Debunking FAIR's Debunking.

"I believe that members and investigators deserve all of the information on the table to be able to make a fully informed and balanced decision as to whether or not they want to commit their hearts, minds, time, talents, income, and lives to Mormonism."

Watch Jeremy's Mormon Stories Interview

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