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Is The Bible True Word Of God? You Judge For Yourself

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Top 10 Mormon Problems Explained

 1:21:15Watch LaterTop 10 Mormon Problems Explainedby MormonHistoryBuff311,513

Video of the Mormon Temple Endowment

9/24/2012 added:To Mormon Temples and Temple Rituals a link to a video of the entire endowment ceremony, made with a hidden camera during 2012.

MORMON TEMPLES AND TEMPLE RITUALS

by Richard Packham 

The purpose of this article is to give a quick overview of the nature of Mormon temples and their rituals, and to direct the reader who wishes more detail to appropriate sources.

    One of the most visible characteristics of the Mormon church (officially “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”, also called the “LDS Church”) is its temples. These imposing structures, situated on beautifully landscaped sites, attract attention; they are often local landmarks. As late as the 1950’s there was scarcely a handful of such temples in existence, four of them in Utah, and one each in Hawaii, Alberta, Arizona and Idaho. (The first Mormon temple to be built, in the 1830s, is still standing in Kirtland, Ohio, but is no longer owned by the church, and was not designed or used for the same rituals as the later temples.) Since the 1960’s, however, the church has built an imposing temple in most of the major cities of the world, and there are now over one hundred worldwide.    Mormon temples are quite different, both in design and use, from the buildings where Mormon congregations hold their weekly worship services. On Sundays Mormons gather for meetings, sermons and simple worship in the local “chapel” or “meeting house” or “ward house” or “church” (these terms are used interchangeably by most Mormons). Mormons go to the temple only on weekdays, never on Sunday – the temples are closed on Sundays. Some Mormons go to the temple quite regularly; others rarely, since for many Mormons the nearest temple may be hundreds of miles from their home. Temples are closed to the public and also to Mormons who do not qualify as sufficiently “worthy.” The rituals in the temples – especially the “endowment” – are considered so sacred that Mormons are forbidden to discuss them outside the temple itself.

Even non-Mormons sometimes object to articles such as the one you are now reading, since such articles reveal Mormons’ religious secrets to a curious – and perhaps unworthy and even mocking – world. Many people, not only devout Mormons, feel that it is wrong to do this. Usually two reasons for the objection are given: 1) things that anyone holds sacred should not be profaned, mocked or ridiculed by anyone else, even by one who does not consider them sacred; and 2) the person who is revealing the secrets usually is someone who obtained the secrets only by swearing an oath of secrecy, and thus is breaking an oath.

As to the first objection, this article does not “mock” or “ridicule” the secrets of the Mormon temple; it merely reveals them. Also, it seems rather odd to refuse to discuss objectively and openly any subject just because someone else feels that subject is taboo. I doubt that many Mormons would refuse to discuss the sacred initiation rituals of some primitive African tribe or some Satanist cult on the grounds that the tribe or cult considered those rites sacred.

As to the second objection, the validity and binding nature of an oath or any promise depends, both legally and morally, upon the validity of the mutually accepted facts underlying the demanding and the giving of the oath. The oath of secrecy given by a Mormon in the temple is based on the assurance and sacred promise by the church that the oath is required by God, and that the secrets one will receive are given by God. If those assurances are in fact false, then one cannot be bound either legally or morally by any such oath, since it was obtained by a lie. (For further discussion of this issue, click here.)

The rituals (Mormons call them “ordinances”) performed in the temple are:

– Baptism for the dead
– Endowment for the dead and the living
– Sealings for the dead and the living
– Sealing of husband and wife (marriage)
– Sealing of children to parents
– Second Anointing (or Second Endowment)

Ordinances are performed for the dead in the belief that those who have died without going through the rituals necessary for salvation and exaltation must still have the opportunity to have these ordinances performed. Therefore, a living Mormon will go to the temple and go through the rituals as a proxy for a dead person, taking the name of that person temporarily. This “work for the dead” probably consititutes 95% of the ceremonies performed in the temples. This is the reason for the extensive genealogy work done by Mormons, since living Mormons are told that they are the ones primarily responsible for seeing to it that all their own ancestors “have their temple work done.”

Whenever a new Mormon temple is finished, it is always opened to the public for a few weeks for inspection before it is dedicated. This is the only opportunity that a non-Mormon (or an unworthy Mormon) will have to see the inside of a Mormon temple. If there should be a new temple built in your area, you might consider taking the pre-dedication tour. You will not see any of the rituals performed, but you will have a chance to see the building and its furnishings.

Mormons who wish to participate in any of the temple rituals must first request an interview with the bishop of their local ward (that is, the pastor of their local Mormon congregation), who will examine them individually as to their religious beliefs, their loyalty to the church leaders, their abstinence from forbidden things (alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea), their sexual morality, and the extent of their financial contributions to the church. If the bishop determines from this examination that they are sufficiently worthy, he will issue them a “recommend,” that is, a pass to the temple, valid for two years. (Until 2002 the recommend was valid for only one year.) The member must then take the recommend to the stake president (the church officer who oversees several local wards), who will conduct a similar interview before countersigning the recommend. Many Mormons always carry their recommend, which is the size of a credit card, in their purse or wallet.

The official questions asked in these interviews can be read here. To see what an actual recommend looks like, click here.

Upon arrival at the temple, a temple worker at the reception desk examines the recommend and grants admission. Those who do not own their own temple clothing may rent the necessary clothing items for a small fee. Most Mormons who regularly attend the temple own their own set of temple clothing and bring it in a small suitcase or bag.

 

THE TEMPLE ORDINANCES

BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD    Perhaps the most striking feature inside a Mormon temple is the large baptismal font, large enough to accommodate several people standing waist-deep in water. The font rests on the backs of twelve life-size sculpted oxen in a special room. It is here that baptisms for the dead are performed. The proxies are usually a group of teen-age Mormons who have traveled from their homes in a group for a temple excursion. Dressed in white, they line up to enter the waters one by one to be immersed by the officiators with the short baptismal prayer: “Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you for and in behalf of N. N., who is dead, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The name of the dead person is read from a list to the officiator just before the immersion. One proxy may be baptized quickly in succession for ten or fifteen dead people. After the baptisms, two other officiators confirm the newly baptized dead persons as members of the Mormon church and confer upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost, by placing their hands upon the head of each proxy, with a similar short pronouncement. Hundreds of such baptisms and confirmations can be performed in a few hours. It is an efficient, production-line operation.

THE ENDOWMENT

The endowment ceremony, unlike baptisms, takes several hours to complete. Only adult Mormons in very good standing are allowed to participate.

The endowment ceremony is a kind of initiation rite, consisting of dramatization, instruction, passwords, oaths, and examinations. It consists of two parts: a preliminary “washing and anointing” ceremony, and the endowment itself. The first time a Mormon goes through the endowment ceremony, it is for himself (or herself), and he participates in both parts. When being endowed for the dead, it is now customary that one person acts as proxy for the dead person’s washing and anointing, but another person, perhaps even on a different day, for the rest of the ceremony. Otherwise, the only difference in the ceremony for the living and for the dead is the insertion of the phrase “for and in behalf of N. N., who is dead” at appropriate times in the proxy ceremony.

The washing and anointing ceremony is an individual ritual, but the second part is a group ritual; that is, a group of Mormons (a “company”) goes through the ceremony at the same time together. There may be as many as six or eight “endowment sessions” per day at a busy temple, running from early morning to late in the evening, each with a company of twenty to a hundred people.

Brigham Young, on the occasion of the laying of the cornerstone of the Salt Lake temple, described the importance of the endowment as the key to entrance into the highest degree of heaven:

 

“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 key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.”    – Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p.315, April 6, 1853

THE ENDOWMENT: THE WASHING AND ANOINTING    Men and women undergo this part of the endowment in separate but identical areas. Male officiators perform the ritual for the men, and female officiators for the women. The ceremony is the same for members of each sex, with the exception of the ordination to the priesthood, mentioned below. Since women cannot hold the Mormon priesthood, that ordination is not performed for the women. The description here uses a male example.

Each participant (called a “patron”) goes to a locker room and completely disrobes, removing his street clothes and covering the body with a loose white poncho (called a “shield”), which is open on both sides. Taking a towel and a “sacred garment” (which will be discussed later), he proceeds to any one of a number of small booths, where temple workers (“officiators”) are waiting for the individual patrons. Male patrons who are proxies for dead men are first ordained to the Mormon priesthood on behalf of the dead man. The ordination is performed by two temple workers who lay their hands on the patron’s head and pronounce a short ordination formula. The patron enters the booth, and receives the washing, which consists of a token wetting of each part of the body by the officiator, reaching underneath the shield, accompanied by a set blessing to the effect that that body part will function properly. The head, eyes, nose, neck, shoulders, arms, loins, legs, feet, etc. are all washed and blessed. The two officiators then place their hands upon the head of the patron and with a short prayer “seal” the washing upon him, thus “cleansing” him from the “sins of this generation.”

The anointing follows immediately, and is identical with the washing, except that each body part is “anointed,” that is, touched with a small amount of olive oil. The anointing is also sealed upon him.

The officiators then clothe the patron in the “garment of the Holy Priesthood” which the patron has brought. This is a plain white undergarment with four small symbolic marks sewn into it, at the right knee, the navel and each nipple. The patron is instructed that the garment represents the covering which God gave Adam and Eve to clothe their nakedness, and that the patron must wear such a garment at all times from then onward. (Click here for more on the garment). For a photograph of a doll dressed in the garment, with close-ups of the markings, click here. For a photograph of a man and woman wearing only the garments, click here.

At this point the patron is also given a “new name,” which will be used as a password later in the ceremony, and which he is told will also be needed at the entrance to heaven. The name is usually a name of some character from the Bible or the Book of Mormon. (Few Mormons are aware that on any given day, every temple patron of the same sex receives the same new name.

 

UPDATE! (January 2005) In the first major change in the endowment ordinances in fifteen years, church authorities on January 18, 2005, revised the washing and anointing ordinances. Patrons now put on the garment themselves in the locker room, then don a white smock before proceeding to the washing booth. Only the head, hands and feet are exposed. The washing now consists of a single wetting with water of a spot on the forehead, and the anointing is a single dab of oil on the forehead. No other parts of the body are touched by the officiators, as was the case previously. The patron is told that he has been “symbolically” washed and anointed, and that his temple garment is now “authorized.”For a complete text of the ritual in its new version, click here.

 

    The patron then goes back to the locker, removes the poncho, and dresses for the communal part of the endowment in plain white clothing, with the garment underneath. For men: trousers, belt, shirt, necktie, socks, and slippers or moccasins. For women: long-sleeved dress, stockings, and slippers or moccasins.    The patron carries the remaining ritual clothing in a small bag or packet, and proceeds to a waiting area until everyone in the company is ready to move into the large auditorium room where the company will be seated (men on the right side of the room, women on the left) for the start of the session. These clothing articles are: a small green apron, usually embroidered with a leaf motif, the “robe,” which is actually just a long, pleated toga-like piece of white cloth to be draped over one shoulder, and the “sash,” a narrow piece of white cloth long enough to be wrapped around the waist and tied in a bow at the side. Men also have a white cap, resembling a small chef’s hat, and women have a veil which can either hang behind the head or be brought to the front to cover the face.

Since deceased Mormons are buried in their temple clothing, anyone can see the actual clothing at a Mormon funeral or viewing of the deceased. (The cap or veil is usually placed on the deceased’s head immediately before the final closing of the coffin.)

THE ENDOWMENT: THE DRAMA, LAWS, AND COVENANTS

The endowment ritual has undergone a number of major revisions in the 150 years since it was first introduced by Joseph Smith. The most drastic revision was in 1990, when major parts of the earlier forms of the endowment were removed, perhaps because even Mormons found them too offensive. The following description is based on the version as this writer experienced it, before the 1990 revisions, with comments about the 1990 revisions.

This article will merely summarize very briefly the essentials of the endowment ceremony. To read the entire liturgy, either in its present version or in older versions, click here for links.

The ritual is a dramatization of the Mormon interpretation of the creation and history of the world, emphasizing the Creation, the Fall of Adam, the expulsion from the Garden, and God’s sending to humanity the message of salvation by means of the messengers Peter, James and John. The main characters in this ritual drama are God the Father (Elohim), Jehovah, and Michael (who later appears as Adam), Eve, Lucifer, Peter, James and John. Until 1990 a Christian Minister also appeared in a derogatory role, as a paid servant of Lucifer. Jesus does not appear in the drama, except as Jehovah, one of the creators of the world. No principles of doctrine are presented that an attentive Mormon has not already learned from his pre-endowment studies of Mormonism, other than perhaps the doctrine that his ultimate celestial exaltation will depend on his knowing the signs, tokens (handclasps) and passwords which he will learn during the endowment ritual.

Since the 1960s much of the dramatic part of the presentation has been presented by using motion pictures. In other words, temples nowadays are movie theaters, showing the same film, over and over. Prior to the introduction of the use of film, the dramatization was performed by temple workers. The dramatic presentations were not theatrical, but ritual. No attempt was made at verisimilitude or real acting. All characters wore white suits or dresses (except for Lucifer, who wore a black suit and a Masonic ceremonial apron, and the Christian minister, who wore ordinary street clothes).

In the older temples, when the dramatization was “live,” the company moved from room to room, symbolic of their progression in receiving the Mormon gospel. The creation was presented in the Creation Room, the Adam and Eve story in the Garden Room, man’s condition after the fall and his temptations by false doctrine in the Lone and Dreary World Room, and, after mankind receives the True Gospel, in the Telestial Room, from which passage through the Veil of the temple (described below) leads to the Celestial Room. Each room in the older temples was decorated with appropriate murals. Each room (except for the Creation Room) also contained a small altar.

In the modern temples the company remains in the same room, which is merely a motion-picture projection room, with an altar.

All altars in the temple are a simple rectangular box, with a low padded step or ledge, for kneeling. The top of the altar, at elbow height for one kneeling at the altar, is also padded.

At appropriate places in the dramatization, the patrons put on part of the ritual clothing over their other clothing. Immediately after the fall, for example, the patrons put on the green apron, representing Adam’s attempt to cover his nakedness with fig leaves. Later in the ritual, they add the robe, sash and cap or veil, symbolic of the receiving of the priesthood by mankind. (Ironically, although Mormon women don the “robes of the holy priesthood” during the endowment ritual, women are never ordained to the Mormon priesthood. Most Mormon males over the age of twelve are ordained to the priesthood, but no female has ever been ordained.)

At various points during the course of the dramatization, the patrons are required to stand and covenant to obey five all-inclusive laws. These are the Laws of Obedience, Sacrifice, The Gospel, Chastity, and Consecration.

As an example, here is how the Law of Obedience was presented in the version from the 1980s:

 

ELOHIM: We will put the sisters under covenant to obey the law of Obedience to their husbands. Sisters, arise. (Female patrons stand as instructed.)
ELOHIM: Each of you bring your right arm to the square. You and each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar that you will each observe and keep the law of your husbands, and abide by his counsel in righteousness. Each of you bow your head and say “Yes.”
WOMEN: Yes.
ELOHIM: That will do.
(The female patrons now resume their seats.)
ELOHIM: Brethren, Arise.
(Male patrons stand as instructed.)
ELOHIM: Each of you bring your right arm to the square. You and each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar that you will obey the law of God, and keep his commandants. Each of you bow your head and say “yes”.
MEN: Yes.

    In the 1990 revisions this Law was changed so that the woman is not required to “obey” the husband, but to “obey the Law of the Lord, and to hearken unto the counsel of her husband, as her husband hearkens unto the counsel of the Father.”    The Law of Sacrifice is explained as based on the Old and New Testaments. In submitting to this Law, the patrons covenant to “sacrifice all that we possess, even our own lives if necessary, in sustaining and defending the Kingdom of God [i.e., the Mormon church].”

The Law of the Gospel requires the patrons to covenant to obey the Gospel (as taught by the Mormon church) and “to avoid all lightmindedness, loud laughter, evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed (i.e., the leaders of the Mormon church), the taking of the name of God in vain, and every other unholy and impure practice.”

The Law of Chastity is a covenant to restrict one’s sexual relations to the lawful spouse.

The Law of Consecration requires “that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion.”

THE ENDOWMENT: TOKENS, SIGNS AND PENALTIES

At various points in the dramatization, in addition to the making of the covenants to keep the various laws, the patrons don the robe, sash and cap/veil – the “robes of the priesthood.” The patrons move through the steps pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood wearing the robe on the left shoulder, then move the robe to the right shoulder for the rituals for the Melchizedek (higher) Priesthood. Each priesthood has two “tokens, signs and penalties” (only three penalties were actually stated, and in 1990 even those three were eliminated), which the patrons are given in sequence as part of their initiation. Each token also has a name which must be learned.

The tokens are special handclasps, with one person “giving” the token and the other person “receiving” it. The signs are positions in which the arms and hands must be held. These tokens and signs are methods of identifying oneself as endowed. Although no Mormon would use this means of identifying himself outside the temple, the implication is that one will be asked to show these signs and tokens for admission to the Celestial Kingdom.

The penalties, which were completely deleted from the ceremony in 1990, are stylized indications of various ways of being killed. It was understood that anyone revealing these signs or tokens was expressing willingness to suffer the corresponding penalty and lose his life. As each token and sign is presented to the company, each patron receives the token from an officiator and the company makes the sign (and, formerly, enacted the execution of the penalty) in unison.

FIRST TOKEN OF THE AARONIC PRIESTHOOD:

The First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood is given by clasping the right hands and placing the joint of the thumb directly over the first knuckle of the other person’s hand.

The name of this token is the New Name that was received in the washing and anointing ceremony.

The sign is made by bringing the right arm to the square, the palm of the hand to the front, the fingers close together, and the thumb extended.

The execution of the Penalty was represented by placing the right thumb under the left ear, the palm of the hand down, and by drawing the thumb quickly across the throat to the right ear, and dropping the hand to the side.

The officiator in the pre-1990 version, after demonstrating the sign and execution of the penalty, said:

“I will now explain the covenant and obligation of secrecy which are associated with this token, its name, sign and penalty, and which you will be required to take upon yourselves. If I were receiving my own Endowment today, and had been given the name of “John” as my New Name, I would repeat in my mind these words, after making the sign, at the same time representing the execution of the penalty: I, John, covenant that I will never reveal the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, and penalty. Rather than do so, I would suffer my life to be taken.”

The Officiator demonstrated the execution of the penalty while saying the last sentence. The company was then instructed to stand, and while making the sign, recite the oath in unison while executing the penalty. The present-day version is similar, but without stating or demonstrating the penalty.SECOND TOKEN OF THE AARONIC PRIESTHOOD (received with robe on left shoulder):

This Token is given by clasping the right hands and placing the joint of the thumb between the first and second knuckles of the hand.

The name of this token is one’s own first given name if going through the temple for one’s own endowment, or, if going through for the dead, it is the first given name of the dead person.

The sign is made by bringing the right hand in front, with the hand in cupping shape, the right arm forming a square, and the left arm being raised to the square.

The Execution of the Penalty was represented by placing the right hand on the left breast, drawing the hand quickly across the body, and dropping the hands to the sides. The oath was similar to the previous penalty oath.

 

FIRST TOKEN OF THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD, OR SIGN OF THE NAIL (with the robe on the right shoulder):

This token is received by bringing the right hand into this position: the hand vertical, the fingers close together, and the thumb extended; and the person giving the token placing the tip of the forefinger of his right hand in the center of the palm, and the thumb opposite on the back of the hand of the one receiving it. As indicated by its nickname, it represents the nails in Jesus’ palm when he was crucified.

The sign is made by bringing the left hand in front of you with the hand in cupping shape, the left arm forming a square; the right hand is also brought forward, the palm down, the fingers close together, the thumb extended, and the thumb is placed over the left hip. (For a photograph of two Mormon men in their temple robes making the “first sign of the Melchizedek priesthood, click here.)

The penalty was represented by drawing the thumb quickly across the body and dropping the hands to the sides. The oath is similar to the previous oaths.

The name of this token is “the Son”, meaning the Son of God.

 

SECOND TOKEN OF THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD, THE PATRIARCHAL GRIP, OR SURE SIGN OF THE NAIL

This token is given by clasping the right hands, interlocking the little fingers, and placing the tip of the forefinger upon the center of the wrist. The thumbs should be parallel with the fingers.

The sign is made by raising both hands high above the head, and while lowering the hands three times repeating aloud the words: “Pay Lay Ale; Pay Lay Ale; Pay Lay Ale.” The hands are lowered in three distinct movements, one move for each word. [1] Pay–hands above head, [2] Lay–both arms dropped to the square, [3] Ale–both hands lowered to the height of chest.

The words spoken when giving the sign of this token are said to mean “Oh God, hear the words of my mouth!” Since 1990, the original name has been abandoned in favor of the translation. The reason for the change may be that too many people heard the name as “Pale Ale Ale,” and, since alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden in Mormonism, there was confusion.

The name is not given at the time the token is given, but is withheld until the patron is at the veil, at the very end of the endowment (see below).

No specific penalty was given to accompany this sign, but the obligation of secrecy was said to be the same as for the other signs and tokens which had specifically stated penalties.

THE ENDOWMENT: THE TRUE ORDER OF PRAYER

After the company has received all the signs and tokens of the priesthood, they are instructed in the “true order of prayer.” A circle is formed by some members of the company standing around the altar, facing the altar, and alternating by sex if possible. The officiator stands at the altar and leads the circle through all the signs of the priesthood, the last being the sign of the Second Token of the Melchizedek priesthood, the words of which are, “Oh, God! Hear the words of my mouth!”

At this point, the officiator kneels at the altar. The women move their veils so as to cover their faces. The members of the circle join with the Patriarchal Grip, each man with the woman to his left, raising the left arm to the square and resting it on the shoulder or arm of the person to the left. The officiator makes the sign of the Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, and, while holding his arms in that position (a shoulder-high elbow rest is conveniently provided for him at the altar, in case he should be inspired by the Spirit to make the prayer overly long), he offers an impromptu prayer. This is the only part of the temple ceremony which is not rigidly according to a script.

As the officiator says each phrase of the prayer, the members of the circle repeat it in unison. The content of the prayer is usually quite ordinary, but always includes prayers for “those people whose names are lying on this altar.” This is the temple “prayer list,” consisting of the names of the sick, the suffering, the doubting, or others who devout Mormons believe would benefit from the extra strength of a true prayer in the temple. Any Mormon may ask that a particular name be added to the prayer list at any temple. The names, written on individual slips of paper, are enclosed in a white pouch which is placed on the altar before the prayer begins.

THE ENDOWMENT: THE CEREMONY AT THE VEIL OF THE TEMPLE:

The end of the endowment ceremony comes when the veil of the temple is uncovered and each member of the company is presented individually at the veil to be examined and passed through into the Celestial Room, representing the Celestial Kingdom.

The veil is a large white cloth, hanging from the ceiling and reaching to the floor, separating the room where the previous ceremonies have taken place from the Celestial Room. It represents the separation between the mortal state and the heavenly state, and thus “passing through the veil” is meant to be symbolic of leaving this existence and passing into the presence of God, as represented by the Celestial Room. Until the patrons are ready to “be presented at the Veil,” the Veil is covered with a heavy drape, on a drawstring, similar to a large window drape.

The Veil is actually not a single piece of cloth, but consists of numerous duplicate sections a few feet wide. This allows numerous patrons to be presented at the veil simultaneously so that the entire company can pass quickly through the Veil.

Each section of the veil has the same symbols cut into it (only larger) as are in the garment worn by each patron. These marks are the Mark of the Square, the Mark of the Compass (one over each nipple in the garment, at shoulder height in the veil), the Navel Mark and the Knee Mark. The former two are simple right angles; the latter two are simple straight slits. Each section of the veil is separated from the next by a small post, from which hangs a small mallet.

Each patron is presented by a temple worker at one of the segments of the veil. Other workers, representing “the Lord,” stands unseen on the other side of the veil. The worker standing with the patron taps three times with the mallet, and the following dialogue occurs.

 

LORD: What is wanted?
WORKER: Adam [Eve], having been true and faithful in all things, desires further light and knowledge, by conversing with the Lord, through the Veil [for and in behalf of N. N., who is dead].
LORD: Present him [her] at the Veil, and his [her] request shall be granted.
(The Lord reaches his hand through the veil and gives the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood through the opening.)
LORD: What is that?
PATRON: The First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood.
LORD: Has it a name?
PATRON: It has.
LORD: Will you give it to me?
PATRON: I will, through the Veil. (The patron gives the New Name).    The Lord continues similarly, through the other tokens, until the last one, for which the patron has not received the name:

(The Lord gives the Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood.)
LORD: What is that?
PATRON: The Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Patriarchal Grip, or Sure sign of the Nail.
LORD: Has it a name?
PATRON: It has.
LORD: Will you give it to me?
PATRON: I cannot. I have not yet received it. For this purpose I have come to converse with the Lord through the Veil.
LORD: You shall receive it upon the Five Points of Fellowship through the Veil.

The Lord and the patron, still holding the grip, embrace upon the Five points of Fellowship by placing their left arms through the marks of the compass and square, which are cut through the Veil. The patron’s left arm goes through the mark of the compass, and the Lord’s left arm goes through the mark of the square. The Five Points of Fellowship are: 1) inside of right foot by the side of right foot, 2) knee to knee, 3) breast to breast, 4) hand to back, and 5) mouth to ear.

One of the major changes made in 1990 was the elimination of the “Five Points of Fellowship,” probably because many women objected that they felt uncomfortable embracing “The Lord” so intimately.

LORD: This is the name of the Token–“Health in the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and in the sinews, power in the Priesthood be upon me, and upon my posterity through all generations of time, and throughout all eternity.”

(The Lord then asks the patron to give him the name of the token. If the patron has difficulty remembering it correctly, the temple worker will prompt him.)

(The Lord and patron break the ceremonial embrace, and the temple worker gives another three taps with the mallet.)
LORD: What is wanted?
WORKER: Adam, having conversed with the Lord through the Veil, desires now to enter his presence.
LORD: Let him enter.

(The Veil is now parted and the Lord takes the patron by the right hand, and pulls him gently through the Veil into the Celestial Room.)

 

    The endowment ceremony ends for each patron as he or she passes through the veil. If a man and woman are being married that day, the man goes through the veil first, and then assumes the role of the Lord to bring his bride through the veil.    There is no ritual performed in the Celestial room, which is generally a very large and elaborately furnished sitting room, with sofas, chairs, tables, art work, chandeliers and carpeting. Patrons may rest briefly, relax, visit (in subdued voices) with others. Praying is discouraged. Patrons may also go directly to the locker rooms from the Celestial Room and then leave, or they may have scheduled sealings, which are performed in small Sealing Rooms which open off the Celestial Room. If couples are being married, their wedding party gathers in the Celestial Room to wait for a sealing room to become available.

SEALINGS

    Mormons believe that the family relationships – between husband and wife and between parent and child – can be made eternal by the authority of the Mormon priesthood. The ceremonies in which this is done are called “sealings.”

Young Mormons are taught that their goal in choosing a life’s mate should be to select another Mormon who is worthy to be endowed and married in a sealing ceremony in the temple. To marry anyone else, they are taught, would be to sacrifice one’s hopes of exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom of heaven, since only those people whose marriages are sealed “for time and all eternity” will be in that highest glory.

Thus, good Mormon couples first get their endowment, and then have their wedding in the temple, in one of the sealing rooms. Since only worthy Mormons can enter the temple, frequently many friends and family members – even parents of the bride and groom – are excluded from witnessing the ceremony, and must wait outside the temple, or in a waiting room at the entrance foyer which is not part of the sacred precincts.

Weddings are scheduled so that a number of them can be performed at the same time, so that sometimes a bride must share her special day with several other brides. If she has not received her own endowment before her wedding day, she and her bridegroom (and their entire wedding party, if worthy) may go through an endowment session before their sealing ceremony. The bride is allowed to wear her special wedding gown during the endowment session, with the apron and other ritual clothing worn over it. Or she may get her own endowment a few days before her wedding day. If the bride and groom have both been previously endowed, then they and their wedding party can proceed directly from the dressing rooms to the sealing room, dressed in the temple clothing.

The actual sealing (wedding) ceremony is very brief. When the wedding party has assembled in the sealing room, the officiator, dressed like all temple officiators in a white suit, instructs the couple to kneel at the altar, facing each other across the altar, and to join hands in the Patriarchal Grip. Simple vows are exchanged, and the officiator pronounces them husband and wife “for time and all eternity.” The exchange of rings is optional, and is not part of the ceremony. During the ceremony there is no music, no flowers, no reading of poetry, no “giving the bride away,” no photographs. For the wording of the ceremony, click here (offsite).

    A Mormon couple which has already been married in a civil ceremony may, after a certain waiting period (designed to discourage such civil ceremonies), go to the temple and have their marriage sealed. Any children born already to them can be brought to the temple and sealed to them as their children. Such children are not required to go through a worthiness interview, but are simply brought to the parents directly in the sealing room, dressed in white, when the sealing is scheduled. Children born to a couple already sealed do not have to go through the ceremony; they are considered to be already sealed to their parents automatically, since they are “born under the Covenant” (referring to the “New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage” as described in the revelation on plural wives and celestial marriage in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 132.

Sealings for the dead are essentially the same ceremony. They are much more perfunctory, of course. Generally a group of Mormons will gather to “do sealings” in one of the sealing rooms. The officiators have long lists of families of the dead, listing the names of the parents and all children. They will ask the appropriate number of males and females to kneel at the altar, and quickly recite the words which seal the family together, calling out the name of each deceased family member, then mark the family sheet as completed, and call another group to kneel at the altar for another family. Dozens of families of the dead can be sealed in just a few hours.

SECOND ANOINTING or SECOND ENDOWMENT

This ordinance is so rare that many good Mormons do not even know that it exists. It is done only by invitation from the president of the church, to one married couple at a time. It is performed in the Holy of Holies room of the temple by one of the apostles of the church. Those who receive this ordinance are guaranteed of their salvation and exaltation in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. The man is anointed as “priest and king” (the wife is anointed “priestess and queen”) and their “calling and election [to exaltation] is made sure.” Part of the ceremony is performed by the couple in private in their own home, following instructions given during the temple ceremony, and includes the ceremonial washing of feet. One implication of the ceremony is that the recipients will have a personal visitation of Christ. In earlier days many devout Mormons received this ordinance, but since the 1920s it is extremely rare, and probably only given to those in high leadership positions in the church.

 

For a detailed description of this ceremony, click here. (offsite).

MORMON SCRIPTURAL JUSTIFICATION FOR TEMPLES AND THEIR RITUALS

Mormons claim that their temples are merely a continuation of the ancient Jewish temple, overlooking the obvious fact that the Jewish temple was used for animal sacrifices, presided over by an exclusive, inherited priesthood, and had nothing secret about its rituals.

However, Mormons claim to see their temple rituals justified by the following biblical passages:

Baptism for the dead: 1 Cor 15:29 “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?”

New Name: Rev 2:17 “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

Sealing: Matthew 16:19 (also 18:18): “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…”

Second Anointing: 2 Peter 1:10-11: “Wherefore . . . brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

 

PROBLEMS, QUESTIONS, CONSIDERATIONS

Only a few of the most obvious problems can be mentioned here.

Changes in the ordinances. Since first introduced by Joseph Smith in the 1840s, the endowment rituals have undergone numerous changes, many of them being the removal of parts of the ceremony. In the early 20th century the “Oath of Vengeance” was removed. About 1920 the garment was modified. In the late 1930s the wording of the penalties was softened. In the 1960s the endowment was presented using motion pictures. About that time the patrons were allowed to remain partially covered with the shield during the washing and anointing, and patrons were allowed to wear the regular street garment during the ceremony rather than the older temple garment. In 1990 the penalties were completely deleted, the “Five Points of Fellowship” was deleted, the sectarian minister was removed from the drama, the wording of the “Oath of Obedience” was changed for the women. And in 2005 the washing and anointing rituals were made completely “symbolic,” with the patron being touched only on the head.

Such changes seem to belie the Mormon claims that the endowment is in the pure and unchanged form in which Joseph Smith is supposed to have received it by divine revelation. In fact, in the words of Mormon leaders, such changes are actually a sign of apostasy:

 

“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 Magazine (official church publication), August 2002, p 22

“Now the purpose in Himself in the winding up scene of the last dispensation is that all things pertaining to that dispensation should be conducted precisely in accordance with the preceding dispensations…. He set the temple ordinances to be the same forever and ever and set Adam to watch over them, to reveal them from heaven to man, or to send angels to reveal them.” – Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol.4, p. 208

“As temple work progresses, some members wonder if the ordinances can be changed or adjusted. These ordinances have been provided by revelation, and are in the hands of the First Presidency. Thus, the temple is protected from tampering.” – W. Grant Bangerter, executive director of the Temple Department and a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, Deseret News, Church Section, January 16, 1982

“We explained briefly the Apostasy and the Restoration: that there is vast evidence and history of an apostasy from the doctrine taught by Jesus and his Apostles, that the organization of the original Church became corrupted, and sacred ordinances were changed to suit the convenience of men…” – Apostle David B. Haight, “Joseph Smith the Prophet,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 22

Click here (offsite) for an extended discussion of the 2005 changes and how “changing the ordinances” is (by Mormon definition) a sign of fundamental apostasy.    Masonic Influence. Even knowledgeable Mormons admit that the endowment ceremony (especially in its earlier versions) contains many details that are similar to the Masonic initiation rites of Joseph Smith’s day. The symbols, oaths, handclasps, and terminology resemble the Masonic ritual in hundreds of ways. Smith’s introduction of the endowment ceremony came two months after he had been initiated into Freemasonry. (For links to more information on the Masonic influence, click here.)

Baptism for the dead: The Book of Mormon seems to indicate clearly that after one dies, there is no chance of salvation. Alma 34:34 says (see also 2 Nephi 9:38):

“Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis [death], that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.”

Joseph Smith claimed to have had a revelation in 1836 in which he saw his older brother Alvin, who died in 1823, in the Celestial Kingdom, even though the temple work for the dead had not yet begun. Doctrine and Covenants, Section 137. That revelation also says that those who would have accepted the gospel if they had had a chance to hear it will inherit the Celestial Kingdom automatically. This seems to make the work for the dead unnecessary.

Sealing. There is no biblical reference to sealing except by God (Rom. 4:11, 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13, 4:30; Rev. 13:16-18). The Book of Mormon also uses “seal” in this sense Mosiah 5:15 (by God) and Alma 34:35 (by the devil). The word translated as “bind” in Matt 16:19 means to “tie up [like a captive].” The Book of Mormon has the same passage, at Helaman 10:7, but changes “bind” to “seal.”

Marriage for Eternity. Jesus criticized the Sadducees for asking him, referring to a woman who had had several husbands in this life, which husband she would be married to in heaven. He said that the question was irrelevant, since there is no marriage in heaven. (Matt 22:23-30, Mark 12:18-25, Luke 20:27-36).

Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon was claimed by Joseph Smith to be the “fulness of the Gospel” (D&C 20:9, 135:3, and many others) and yet it contains no mention of anything resembling the modern temple ceremonies or work for the dead.

Secrecy.  The Book of Mormon repeatedly condemns “secret combinations,” “secret works” and the taking of “oaths.” (Mormon 8:27, 40, 2 Nephi 26:22, Hel 6:22, and many others.) Most non-Mormons who have studied the origin of the Book of Mormon have concluded that these passages reflect the strong anti-Masonic sentiments common in New York in the 1820s.

The Mormons claim that the secret temple ceremonies have been taught to the faithful in all dispensations, and were known to the first Christians. However, Jesus insisted, “…in secret have I said nothing.” (John 18:20; see also Matt 10:26, Mark 4:22, Luke 8:17, 12:2)

God is not “in the secret chambers” (Matt 24:26). But Mormon temples bear the inscription inside the main door “The Lord is in his holy temple – let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20).

Promise to “see God”   According to Mormon scripture (D&C 97:16), all those who enter the temple “pure in heart” will “see God.” Very few Mormons, if any, claim to have seen God in the temple.

Tithing, Worthiness. One of the requirements for a temple recommend is the payment to the church of a full tithe (that is, ten percent of one’s income). If one has not paid, one is denied admission to the temple. This seems contrary to the Book of Mormon, Mormon 8:32: “Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be [false] churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.”

Duplication. Apparently the posthumous work for some deceased persons has been done again and again. The well-known Protestant apologist and scholar C. S. Lewis, for example, has been baptized into the Mormon church posthumously five times, has been endowed four times, has been sealed to his parents six times, and sealed to his wife four times (twice under two different names – the Mormons seem to think that Lewis was married to two different women). This is apparently not a unique example.

“Pale Ale” Needless to say, some people have not hesitated to make capital of the similarity in sound between the words “Pay Lay Ale” and “pale ale.” For two examples, clickhere.

 


For more information:

For some personal accounts by Mormons of their experiences in the temple, see “Temple Experiences” (offsite) For my account of my own endowment in 1952, click here.

For more detailed information on Mormon temples, their history, and their rituals, see:
Buerger, David John, The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple WorshipSignature Books, Salt Lake City, ISBN 1-56085-042-6

The following links contain the actual text of the ceremony in the various forms it has had since the early days of the church.
1931 Version: http://packham.n4m.org/endow31.htm
1984 Version: http://packham.n4m.org/endow84.htm
1990 Version: http://packham.n4m.org/endow90.htm
2005 Version: http://packham.n4m.org/endow05.htm (the changes in the washing and anointing ceremony)
http://www.lds-mormon.com/veilworker/endowment.shtml
http://utlm.org/topicalindexc.htm#Temple Ceremony
http://www.salamandersociety.com/media/movies/templemovie/ – the development of the endowment movie
To hear the actual audio recording of the ceremonies, in either MP3 or RealAudio format, click here (offsite).
Another version (very high quality): Endowment Audio
A short video showing the pre-1990 “penalties” and the temple robes is here (offsite).
Michael Marquardt’s extensive website on temples, with historical information: http://www.xmission.com/~research/central/temples.htm
“The Mormon Temple as a Lasting Relic of Polygamy” http://www.i4m.com/think/temples/temple_legacy.htm
Archive of photos of interior rooms in many temples: http://www.oocities.com/athens/parthenon/4909.
Photographs of many interior rooms in the Salt Lake Temple, circa 1912: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordinance_room

Wikipedia article on garments: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_garment

A very thorough and sympathetic treatment of all aspects of Mormon temple ritual, by a Mormon, is LDS Endowment (www.ldsendowment.org). The only items not revealed there are the actual names and descriptions of the signs, tokens and penalties.

http://www.mrm.org/multimedia/text/garments.html A description of the sacred undergarment which Mormons are required to wear after receiving the endowment.
Photo of a man and woman in garments
http://www.nowscape.com/mormon/undrwrmo.htm More on “garments”
http://www.i4m.com/think/temples/mormon-garments.htm – a history of the development of the garment
http://www.mrm.org/multimedia/text/temple-ceremony.html
http://www.nowscape.com/mormon/mormcr1.htm
http://www.saintsalive.com/mormonism/templechanges.htm
http://packham.n4m.org/TR2011.pdf The questions that are asked in the “worthiness interview” to determine whether a member is worthy to receive admission to the temple.
A history of the making of the endowment film is at http://www.salamandersociety.com/media/movies/templemovie/ (offsite)

The following links deal with the Masonic influence on the Mormon endowment.
http://www.masonicmoroni.com Paul Graham’s comprehensive site, with many links from all points of view
http://www.irr.org/mit/masonry.html
http://www.mrm.org/multimedia/text/masonic-influence.html
http://www.usd.edu/~theaton/mormon/mason.html – detailed comparison of the Masonic rituals and the endowment, by Tim Heaton (offsite).
http://www.mormonismi.info/jamesdavid/masendow.htm – another detailed comparison, by James David (offsite)
Freemasonry and the Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony   A tabular listing of similarities between the three degrees of 1830s Masonry and the early Mormon Endowment ritual (19K)

 


UPDATE (9/12)!!A VIDEO OF THE ENTIRE ENDOWMENT CEREMONY, MADE WITH A HIDDEN CAMERA, IS NOW AVAILABLE!

WATCH IT HERE!


Spanish translation of this article is at templo.htm (onsite).


A lecture based on this article was videotaped and can be viewed either here (on Google Video) or here (on YouTube).


Comments?   Questions?  (Please, no preaching, testimonies, or hate mail!)   To send a comment or ask a question, click here.

©  1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2012 Richard Packham    Permission granted to reproduce for non-commercial purposes, provided text is not changed and this copyright notice is included

 

TO RICHARD PACKHAM’S HOME PAGE 

 

 


“The actions that were going to guarantee my entrance at the gates [of heaven] would have nothing to do with love or charity or the other teachings of Christ that I’d been raised to believe God valued. In fact, I hadn’t heard a single one of those words spoken today, the most primary day of religious instruction in my entire life. No, I was going to burst into heaven on the basis of mumbo-jumbo. … The mysteries of life were fraternity rituals. … Did all the white-suited glorifiers in the room unquestioningly accept a ritual of nutty gestures from the pseudo-occult as a sacrament? Those were the first moments when I viewed Mormonism with suspicion.”

– Deborah Laake, describing her first temple experience,
from her book Secret Ceremonies, New York, 1993



To search this website or the web:

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The Book of Mormon

THE BOOK OF MORMON

Reviewed by Richard Packham

First published in 1830, the Book of Mormon has been continuously in print since then, for over 170 years. It has been translated into dozens of foreign languages. Millions of people have read it, many receiving free copies from Mormon missionaries (the LDS church – the largest of the Mormon churches – has a full-time missionary corps of over 50,000). Many of those have accepted its claims and joined one of the many Mormon sects which accept it as divinely revealed scripture. Many others – probably the great majority – have read it and recognized it as a fantasy tale written in the early nineteenth century. And now (2004), through arrangements with the LDS church, Doubleday has published a “trade” edition.

The book purports to be a translation – made by Joseph Smith with divine assistance – of gold plates on which the ancient inhabitants of America wrote their own religious and secular history. It describes these inhabitants as Israelites, having been divinely led to America at the time of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem six centuries before Christ. It describes their culture, their prophets, their many wars, a supposed post-resurrection visit by Jesus to America, and the final destruction of the more civilized inhabitants about 400 C.E. by the more savage ones, who are the ancestors of the American Indians.

No non-Mormon historian, anthropologist, archaeologist or other expert in pre-Columbian America accepts the Book of Mormon’s (non-religious) claims. Rather than being an accurate description of ancient American culture, it describes what a relatively uneducated person in the time of Joseph Smith might suppose it to be – similar to his own American, European-based culture, with steel, horses, chariots, glass, compasses, coins, wheat, cattle, flocks, and so on. None of these things were known to the ancient Americans. Nor does it accurately reflect how Jewish immigrants to America might have lived, since it shows a great ignorance of Jewish religion and culture. More than that, the book shows no indication of familiarity with genuine ancient American life or history.

The book is filled with many other anachronisms. Much of its religious material is merely copied almost word-for-word from the King James English Bible translation, even putting many words of the New Testament writers into the mouths of American prophets who lived supposedly hundreds of years before Christ. The supposed historical material is largely a reflection of commonly held ideas in Smith’s time about the origins of the American Indians, and mostly based on a book published by a New England pastor just a few years before Smith wrote the Book of Mormon, called A View of the Hebrews, by Rev. Ethan Smith (no relation), first published in 1823, with a second edition in 1825. (See David Persuitte’s book Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon, McFarland & Company; 2nd edition, October, 2000). That notion – that the Indians are descendants of ancient Israelites – has been so thoroughly disproved by science that even many Mormon scholars now admit that Joseph Smith’s claims on that issue were wrong. (See Simon Southerton’s bookLosing A Lost Tribe, Signature Books, Salt Lake City 2004.)

Hundreds of books have been written by Mormons to support the claims made in the Book of Mormon. Hundreds of others have been written to expose the book as a work of fiction. Interestingly, the defenders of the book’s claims generally urge readers of the book not to read anything about the book – especially anything negative – but rather they urge the reader simply to pray to God and ask whether its claims are true. Unfortunately, it seems that God occasionally tells readers that it is true, but apparently he tells many other readers that it is a hoax. Why else would one find dozens of copies in the ten-cent bin at every thrift store in the country? Or perhaps most people feel that they do not need God’s help in confirming that they are reading a fantasy tale – however religious it may sound – and not a description of real life or real events in a real place.

 Permission granted to reproduce for non-commercial purposes, provided text is not changed and this copyright notice is included

The Book of Mormon

THE BOOK OF MORMON

Reviewed by Richard Packham

First published in 1830, the Book of Mormon has been continuously in print since then, for over 170 years. It has been translated into dozens of foreign languages. Millions of people have read it, many receiving free copies from Mormon missionaries (the LDS church – the largest of the Mormon churches – has a full-time missionary corps of over 50,000). Many of those have accepted its claims and joined one of the many Mormon sects which accept it as divinely revealed scripture. Many others – probably the great majority – have read it and recognized it as a fantasy tale written in the early nineteenth century. And now (2004), through arrangements with the LDS church, Doubleday has published a “trade” edition.

The book purports to be a translation – made by Joseph Smith with divine assistance – of gold plates on which the ancient inhabitants of America wrote their own religious and secular history. It describes these inhabitants as Israelites, having been divinely led to America at the time of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem six centuries before Christ. It describes their culture, their prophets, their many wars, a supposed post-resurrection visit by Jesus to America, and the final destruction of the more civilized inhabitants about 400 C.E. by the more savage ones, who are the ancestors of the American Indians.

No non-Mormon historian, anthropologist, archaeologist or other expert in pre-Columbian America accepts the Book of Mormon’s (non-religious) claims. Rather than being an accurate description of ancient American culture, it describes what a relatively uneducated person in the time of Joseph Smith might suppose it to be – similar to his own American, European-based culture, with steel, horses, chariots, glass, compasses, coins, wheat, cattle, flocks, and so on. None of these things were known to the ancient Americans. Nor does it accurately reflect how Jewish immigrants to America might have lived, since it shows a great ignorance of Jewish religion and culture. More than that, the book shows no indication of familiarity with genuine ancient American life or history.

The book is filled with many other anachronisms. Much of its religious material is merely copied almost word-for-word from the King James English Bible translation, even putting many words of the New Testament writers into the mouths of American prophets who lived supposedly hundreds of years before Christ. The supposed historical material is largely a reflection of commonly held ideas in Smith’s time about the origins of the American Indians, and mostly based on a book published by a New England pastor just a few years before Smith wrote the Book of Mormon, called A View of the Hebrews, by Rev. Ethan Smith (no relation), first published in 1823, with a second edition in 1825. (See David Persuitte’s book Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon, McFarland & Company; 2nd edition, October, 2000). That notion – that the Indians are descendants of ancient Israelites – has been so thoroughly disproved by science that even many Mormon scholars now admit that Joseph Smith’s claims on that issue were wrong. (See Simon Southerton’s bookLosing A Lost Tribe, Signature Books, Salt Lake City 2004.)

Hundreds of books have been written by Mormons to support the claims made in the Book of Mormon. Hundreds of others have been written to expose the book as a work of fiction. Interestingly, the defenders of the book’s claims generally urge readers of the book not to read anything about the book – especially anything negative – but rather they urge the reader simply to pray to God and ask whether its claims are true. Unfortunately, it seems that God occasionally tells readers that it is true, but apparently he tells many other readers that it is a hoax. Why else would one find dozens of copies in the ten-cent bin at every thrift store in the country? Or perhaps most people feel that they do not need God’s help in confirming that they are reading a fantasy tale – however religious it may sound – and not a description of real life or real events in a real place.

 Permission granted to reproduce for non-commercial purposes, provided text is not changed and this copyright notice is included

Mormon Temples

Links About Mormonism

4/16/2013 added:Book review of Book of Mormon Book of Lies by Meredith R. Sheets and Kendal M. Sheets (2012)

9/24/2012 added:To Mormon Temples and Temple Rituals a link to a video of the entire endowment ceremony, made with a hidden camera during 2012.

6/20/2012 added:FAQ: “Is Mormonism a cult?”: Examining Mormonism, using a standard “cult” checklist

6/5/2012 added:Book review of Charles R. Harrell, “This Is My Doctrine”: The Development of Mormon Theology

Book review of No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light On Sensitive Issues Robert L. Millet, ed.     A major collection of Mormon apologetic essays

2/26/2012 – added:“Romney’s Mormon Secrets”:     Why doesn’t Romney want to discuss his faith? Because it is secret!

10/26/2011 – added:“The Everlasting Gospel In The Ever-changing Church”: Text of a talk presented at the annual conference of the Exmormon Foundation, October 15, 2011, in Salt Lake City.

10/13/2011 – added:Questions for Presidential Aspirant Mitt Romney: Most Christians and most non-Mormon journalists don’t know enough about Romney’s religion to ask the most important questions. Here they are.

3/3/2011 – added:“or, in other words”: A collection of Book of Mormon passages which show that it cannot be a translation of engravings on metal plates (a supplement to “Linguistic Problems of Mormonism”)

Translations of German Poetry     My translations of a few of my favorite German poems (and a few of my own German poems, with English translations).

Fruitcake Recipes: several good recipes for this holiday treat (make in October!)

2/4/2011 – added:Critique of an article by Mormon apologist William J. Hamblin, “Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon”   Hamblin’s article suffers from most of the problems he accuses the “anti-Mormons” of – a case of the pot calling the kettle black

7/22/10 – added:Links to audio recordings of the temple endowment ceremony

6/9/10 – added:How To Divide Up Fairly The Personal Property In A Decedent Estate   Suggestions, based on my personal and legal experience, for avoiding the almost inevitable conflicts upon the death of the last parent.

“The Ties That Bind” – a trilogy of original one-act plays by Richard Packham:

“Just Like Old Times” – Two lovers are reunited after many years
“What Goes Around” – A married couple learn about their past
“Your Soul, My Soul” – A wife makes an effort to save her husband’s soul

6/5/10 – added:FAQ: “Help! The Mormons have my child!”   Suggestions in response to many pleas from non-Mormon parents whose children (usually teen or young adult) have gotten involved with the Mormons.

5/20/10 – added:My Testimony   Response to a request for a submission to the website Ex-Mormon Scholars Testify. (23K)

“Is The Book Of Mormon Historical?”   Submission for an online debate at the website Public Square, which wants to conduct a debate on Mormon issues.   (16K)   (As of this writing, the debate is not yet online there.)

10/20/09 – major revision:Linguistic Problems of Mormonism   (now 151K) revised and expanded to include materials used in a presentation at the 2009 annual Exmormon Foundation Conference in Salt Lake City.   A video of that presentation can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_LBzEsTlbk

9/06/09 – added:Problems With The Brass Plates”   An examination of the role of the Brass Plates of Laban in the Book of Mormon, with questions about the believability of the story. (15K)

8/04/09 – added:Freemasonry and the Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony   A tabular listing of similarities between the three degrees of 1830s Masonry and the early Mormon Endowment ritual (19K)

6/28/09 – added:Romans and Nephites   A listing of similarities between the ancient Romans and their contemporaries in America, the Nephites

1/11/09 – added:Review of The Mormon Conspiracy by Charles L. Wood, LLC, San Diego 2001

12/15/08 – added:Review of The William E. McLellin Papers, edited by Stan Larson and Samuel J. Passey, 2007 (review originally appeared in the April 2008 “The New Expositor,” the newsletter of the Exmormon Foundation)

12/8/08 – added:Mormonism Quiz     A series of interactive multiple-choice quizzes to test your knowledge of Mormon history, doctrine and scripture.

11/11/08 – updated“Mormon Prophets After Joseph Smith”     to add the Summum group in Salt Lake City, based on revelations to Amun Ra (nee Corky Nowell)

10/07/08 – added:“The Jerusalem Temple vs the Mormon Temples”     Mormons claim that their temples are in the tradition of the ancient Jewish temple. A brief comparison shows that this claim has no basis.

9/21/08 – added:“Mormon Prophets After Joseph Smith”     Unlike the presidents of the mainstream Mormon church since Joseph Smith, who rarely have visions or revelations, and do not translate ancient documents or produce new scripture, as Smith did, there have arisen many prophets from Mormonism who have claimed to perform those divine functions, just like Smith. A brief listing and description of some of these real prophets. (26K)

8/21/08 – addedResponse to LDS Church’s Explanation of its Opposition to Gay Marriage   The church has launched a massive campaign supporting California’s Proposition 8, which would amend the California Constutition to bar gay marriage (36K)

– expanded: Linguistic Problems of Mormonism to include a discussion of the ungrammatical use of King James English in Mormon scripture (thanks to a suggestion from Dr. Kent Ponder)

7/4/08 – added (offsite)Video of a lecture based on the article Mormon Temples and Temple Rituals, recorded in 2001, on Google Video or on YouTube; both versions are identical, but the YouTube copy allows comments. (75 minutes)

3/30/08 – added:Successful Weight Loss Plan   How I permanently lost 25% of my (overweight) body’s weight.

2/1/08 – added:Home-made Salad Dressings, including several low-calorie versions

7/17/07 – added:How Many Ex-Mormons Are There?   An analysis of membership numbers shows that there are more Ex-Mormons than there are Mormons.

– updated:The temple recommend   A bar code has been added to the recommend.

12/19/06 – addedIs the United States a “Christian” Nation?   Some people contend that America was “founded on Christian principles.” What then are those principles?   (14 K)

12/9/06 – addedFAQ: “Do the Mormon leaders know that their church is false?”     There is so much evidence showing that Mormon claims are false. Don’t the leaders realize it?

11/13/06 – updatedThe temple recommend     The newer recommend form has a space for the member’s “record number,” and validity is for two years rather than one, as it was before. This is the image of a blank recommend.

11/05/06 – addedQuestions for Presidential aspirant Mitt Romney     Romney is trying to convince religious leaders that his religious beliefs are like theirs, and thus he should have their support. Those people do not know what they should be asking the governor – here are some suggestions, not only for religious leaders, but for journalists.

8/02/06 – added:Comments Received, Summer 2006 – E-mail comments on my Mormon materials, received in June and July, 2006 (typical in volume and tone of what I receive year-round)   (25 K)

7/2/06 – added:101 Reasonable Doubts about Mormonism – Mormon claims should be supported by evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Is there a “reasonable doubt”? Yes, not just one, but over a hundred.   (45 K)

4/15/06 – added:Review of the book by Walter J. Veith The Genesis Conflict: Putting the Pieces Together   – Dr. Veith is a former evolutionist, a scientist who became a “young earth” creationist and biblical inerrantist.   (64 K)

3/28/06 – added:Jaredite Shipbuilding Technology by Kent Ponder, Ph. D. – a detailed analysis of the account in the Book of Mormon about the Jaredite ships: Does it really make sense?   (23 K)

Prayer – a critique of this essential element of most religions   (19 K)

Traditional Baby Bootees – The pattern for the baby bootees that have been knitted in my family for several generations for our family’s newborns.

1/16/06 – added:FAQ: Are Mormons Christian?   Many Christians insist that Mormons are not Christian.   Is this an accurate assessment?   (14 K)

1/2/06 – added:Animal Resurrection in the Teachings of Mormon Prophets – compiled by “Deconstructor” with commentary by Richard Packham   (11 K)

12/28/05 – added:The Articles of Faith – with my commentary   (25 K)

FAQ: “Married to a Mormon Spouse – What can I do?”   (23 K)

– updated:
Book List on Mormonism (eleven books added)

10/28/05 – added:Spanish translation of the “investigator’s tract” To Those Who Are Investigating Mormonism, translated by Jarom Smith.   (92 K)

“Reflections of an Old Apostate”:   Text of my address to the conference of the Exmormon Foundation, October 22, 2005, in Salt Lake City, Utah.   (45 K)

10/15/05 – added:“Lehi In The Pacific: Powerful New Evidence for the Historicity of the Book of Mormon” by L. Dwayne Samuelson   (13 K)

10/10/05 – added:To Sourdough Recipes: “Mike’s Quick Blender Sourdough Waffles”, a recipe developed by my brother Michael, who is becoming an enthusiastic sourdough baker.

My own Recipe for home-made dog biscuits, quick, easy, and cheap.

FAQ: “How can I answer questions about my leaving the Mormon church?”:   Questions often asked of new Exmormons by their Mormon friends and relatives, with suggested answers.   (14 K)

10/1/05 – updated:Growth of Mormonism with quotes from a recent Salt Lake Tribune article debunking the Mormon church’s claim to be “the fastest growing religion in the world”   (40 K)

8/03/05 – added:The Book of Mormon vs Mormonism     Many people assume that by reading the Book of Mormon one can learn about the Mormon religion. But Mormon doctrine is not based on this book, which often ignores or even contradicts what Mormons believe today, as this overview shows.

7/31/05 – added:The Mormon Church vs The New Testament Church     Mormons claim that the Mormon church is a restoration of the church established by Jesus and his apostles, and cite their similarities as proof. However there are more differences than similarities.     (11K)

7/30/05 – added:A Visit With A Perfect Mormon Family     A non-Mormon woman reports on her three-week visit with her childhood friend, the mother of a “perfect” Mormon family.    (24K)

7/17/05 – added:Twelve Step Program For Recovery from Mormonism   An adaptation of the famous Alcoholics Anonymous “Twelve Steps” for use by recovering Mormons; by Matthew P. Barnson and Richard Packham

FMA: “Describe the taste of salt!”   Mormons often assert that their testimony cannot be described, like salt.

6/9/05 – added:“How can we know when information is from Satan?”   Devout Mormons often reject any criticism of Mormonism by saying that the criticism comes from Satan, who is trying to defeat God’s work (Mormonism). Is that a valid argument? How can we tell when the source of information is Satan?    (18K)

3/21/05 – added:“Unasked Questions About Mormonism”    A few puzzling questions about Mormonism that nobody seems to have asked.

1/28/05 – added:Text of the January 2005 changes in the secret Mormon temple ceremony
(the article on Mormon Temples and Temple Rituals has also been updated to reflect the changes

1/20/05 – added:FAQ: “What about faith?”    A response to religionists’ arguments that religious faith is no different from our “faith” in science or history     (18K)

12/14/04 – added:Review of Natalie R. Collins novel Wives and Sisters, set in present-day Utah

My review of the Book of Mormon on the occasion of the publication of a “trade edition” by Doubleday

8/07/04 – available off-site:An ITALIAN translation.of the “investigator’s tract” (“To Those Who Are Investigating Mormonism”), translated by Eduardo Calabrese.

6/17/04 – added:The Oliver Granger Prophecy   An article by Mormon apologist Stan Barker and my rebuttal.

 Permission granted to reproduce for non-commercial purposes, provided text is not changed and this copyright notice is included

Richard Packham

Richard Packham

MIRROR SITES and ARCHIVES: This site has occasionally become temporarily unavailable because of heavy traffic.   Therefore, I have created a few mirror sites.   If you bookmark this page, you may wish to bookmark the mirror sites as well: http://packham.110mb.comhttp://packham.n4m.org/ and http://home.teleport.com/~packham.   Since I am the webmaster at these sites, they will always be the latest versions.
This site is also archived at http://web.archive.org.   I apologize for the inconvenience.

To search this site or the web:

Google
 Web  packham.n4m.org

For a short introduction about who I am, click here.

Check “What’s New Here” for changes since your last visit.

Email me at   packham@teleport.com   with your comments. (But, please, no testimonies, preaching or hate mail.)

TOPICS ON THIS PAGE:

PERSONAL  |  MY FICTION & POETRY  |  RECIPESBIBLE & CHRISTIANITY  |  MORMONISM  |  REVIEWS, CRITIQUES, REBUTTALS
OTHER STUFF

PERSONAL:

A Short Personal Introduction.

My Autobiography    Only my dearest friends or most fervent enemies would want to know this much about me.    (109K – It’s so long because I’m so old!)

Stories From My Childhood    Stories that I heard as a child about my parents and grandparents, and stories that happened to me as a child. Some of them are funny.

How I Became an Atheist:   My reasons for not accepting a belief in any kind of god.

Growing Up In The Mortuary:    Thoughts on Death (not at all grim)

Why I Left the Mormon Church:    My story of how I came to realize that the faith of my fathers was false.     *sp*

My First Temple Experience (1952)    My receiving the Mormon “endowment” on my wedding day.

Tribute to Howard Packham:    The eulogy I gave at my father’s funeral.

Tribute to Delmar Packham:    The eulogy I gave at my mother’s funeral.

Traditional Baby Bootees – The pattern for the baby bootees that have been knitted in my family for several generations for our family’s newborns.

MY FICTION & POETRY:

Red Roses, White Roses: A Family Portrait;  An original drama, by Richard Packham. The premiere was in Roseburg, Oregon, November 1997.

Read the preview and the review of Red Roses published in the News-Review (the Roseburg, Oregon, newspaper) by its drama critic Tricia Jones (© 1997 Oregon News Network; reproduced with permission).

“The Ties That Bind” – a trilogy of original one-act plays by Richard Packham:

“Just Like Old Times” – Two lovers are reunited after many years (.PDF version)
“What Goes Around” – A married couple learn about their past (.PDF version)
“Your Soul, My Soul” – A wife makes an effort to save her husband’s soul (.PDF version)

Selected Sonnets    Everyone’s a poet, including me – I like the sonnet form.

A Parable:    The Man Who Bought A House.    Some people would rather not know the truth.    *sp*

Another Parable:    The Great Ship.    How many “explanations” are enough?

My Lucky Rabbit’s Foot:    A gentle parody on superstition, including religious superstition.

“Gus And His Friends, A Parable Drama”:    Gus is such a great guy – he wants everyone to be his friend, and he’ll kill you if you aren’t.

Translations of German Poetry     My translations of a few of my favorite German poems (and a few of my own German poems, with English translations).

RECIPES:

About Sourdough    An introduction to using sourdough starter in baking (includes easy instructions for making a starter).

Sourdough Recipes    A selection of about a dozen recipes for using sourdough: bread, muffins, pizza, French bread, hamburger buns, even flaky croissants.

Homemade Granola    A delicious, easy, and inexpensive dry cereal – the only one we eat at our house.

Pecan Pie    My own recipe for a nuttier, less rich version of this wonderful dessert.

Prune Bar Recipe The family recipe for our favorite “granola bar” type cookie, quick, delicious and easy (made available in response to popular request)

My own Recipe for home-made dog biscuits, quick, easy, and cheap.

Home-made Salad Dressings, including several low-calorie versions

Successful Weight Loss Plan   How I permanently lost 25% of my (overweight) body’s weight.

Fruitcake Recipes: several good recipes for this holiday treat (make in October!)

BIBLE & CHRISTIANITY:

How I Became an Atheist:   My reasons for not accepting a belief in any kind of god.

What Is An Atheist?:   To say that someone is an atheist is not an affirmative statement, because atheists are not a definable class.

Atheist Spirituality:    Can one be an atheist and still be “spiritual”?

Morality and Religion: Can we raise moral children without religion?

“Can Atheists Be Ethical?”     John Quinley’s rebuttal of an article on the Christian Apologetics website, which argued that atheists cannot be ethical.

FAQ: “What is the meaning or purpose of life for an atheist?”    As a Christian minister asked me: “Why not just kill yourself now?”

FAQ: “What about faith?”    A response to religionists’ arguments that religious faith is no different from our “faith” in science or history

“A New Baby – God’s Miracle?”     Brent Allsop argues that the miracle of a new baby shows the real cynicism of believers in God.

Bible Notes:    My research notes about the problems, contradictions, immoralities, and absurdities in the Bible (about 70 pages).

My Favorite Quotations on Religion:    a growing collection     (54K   – frequently updated)

God:  An Abusive Parent:    How the Christian/Bible God is like an abusive parent.

“Some Thoughts On Violence”, by Doug Ward; although written shortly after the Columbine school shootings in Spring 1999, the topic is timeless – published here for the first time with permission of the author.

Who Causes Disasters?:    Disasters are caused by God, according to the Bible.

Probabilities:    Using the favorite Christian device of estimates of probabilities, the chances that the Bible is true are almost zero.

Miracles:    Is it really so difficult to prove a miracle?   “The Man With No Heart: Miracles and Evidence

Prayer:    A critique of this essential element of most religions

The Evidence for Christianity:    Can Christianity’s claims withstand examination using the ordinary rules for evidence?

“The Truth Shall Make You Free: Proof, Evidence, and Lies” Text of the keynote address delivered at the seventh annual Exmormon Conference, Arlington, Virginia, April 2002

FAQ: What about Jesus?    “If Jesus wasn’t what he claimed to be, he must have been a madman, and he certainly wasn’t that!”

Martyrs: What Do They Prove?    FMA: “The martyrdom of Jesus’ apostles proves that Christianity is true.” No, martyrdom proves nothing.

Critique of John Warwick Montgomery’s Legal Evidences For Christianity:    Montgomery asserts that Christianity’s claims survive examination using the legal tests for evidence. He does this only by misstating and twisting the rules of evidence and the facts.

Christmas: a Christian Holiday?:    The pagan origins of “Christmas” – Let’s bring back its true meaning!

Easter – A Pagan Festival: The true meaning of Easter.

Is the United States a “Christian” Nation?   Some people contend that America was “founded on Christian principles.” What then are those principles?

Headline:   GOVERNMENT APPROVES FAITH: Did you miss this news story?

My Lucky Rabbit’s Foot:    A gentle parody on superstition, including religious superstition.

“Gus And His Friends, A Parable Drama”;    Gus is such a great guy – he wants everyone to be his friend, and he’ll kill you if you aren’t.

Critique of Lee Strobel’s book The Case For Christ

Books & Web Links:    Books and links to other web sites dealing with the Bible and Christianity.

MORMONISM:

Brodie Award:“Best Static Website
on LDS Issues in 2009”

Some of the following materials on Mormonism are being translated into Spanish. Spanish versions are indexed here and marked below with *sp*. Click on the *sp* to see the Spanish version. Portuguese translations (all offsite) of some articles are also available, marked with *po*. Click on the *po* for Portuguese.

Collected Comments on my Mormonism materials:    I receive a lot of comments, both favorable and unfavorable. These are comments that I have received during the year 2000.

Comments Received, Summer 2006 – E-mail comments on my Mormon materials, received in June and July, 2006 (typical in volume and tone of what I receive year-round)

Why I Left the Mormon Church:    My story of how I came to realize that the faith of my fathers was false.     *sp*

My Testimony   Response to a request for a submission to the website Ex-Mormon Scholars Testify.

Mormonism in a Nutshell:    A very concise (and blunt) introduction to Mormonism. *sp*

An Introduction to Mormonism:    To Those Who Are Investigating Mormonism: What the Missionaries Won’t Tell You. This is an excellent summary of basic Mormon beliefs, with links to many websites showing the contradictions in Mormon history and doctrine.     *sp*

For a German translation of this tract (offsite), click here.
For a Finnish version (offsite), click here.
For a Portuguese version (offsite), click here.
For a Russian version (offsite), click here.
For an Italian version (offsite), click here.
For a Danish version (offsite), click here.
For a Spanish version, click here.
For a Chinese version (offsite), click here for traditional Chinese, or here for simplified Chinese
A Korean version is available here (offsite)

A Glossary of Mormonism    Many non-Mormons have difficulty in reading about Mormonism because of the many unusual terms used by Mormons. Mormons also use familiar terms in unusual ways. This listing is intended to explain the special Mormon meanings of these terms. *po*

Leaving the Mormon Church: How to Get Out:    For Mormons who have come to realize they cannot continue – options available; detailed suggestions about how to write an effective “exit letter”

Mormonism Quiz     A series of interactive multiple-choice quizzes to test your knowledge of Mormon history, doctrine and scripture.

101 Reasonable Doubts about Mormonism – Mormon claims should be supported by evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Is there a “reasonable doubt”? Yes, not just one, but over a hundred.

“Is The Book Of Mormon Historical?”   Submission for an online debate at the website Public Square, which wants to conduct a debate on Mormon issues.

FAQs and FMAs on Mormonism:    Frequently Asked Questions and Frequently Made Arguments.

“All your anti-Mormon claims are lies!”:    My challenge to Mormons who say that my Mormon materials are misleading. *sp*

Are Mormons Christian?   Many Christians insist that Mormons are not Christian.   Is this an accurate assessment?

“Do the Mormon leaders know that their church is false?”     There is so much evidence showing that Mormon claims are false. Don’t the leaders realize it?

“Why don’t you pray and ask GOD?”    – Mormons claim that you should not reject Mormonism and the Book of Mormon unless you ask God.

“I’m in love with a Mormon!”:    “I’m not Mormon, but I am in love with this wonderful Mormon! What should I do?”

“Help! The Mormons have my child!”   Suggestions in response to many pleas from non-Mormon parents whose children (usually teen or young adult) have gotten involved with the Mormons.

“I am married to a Mormon spouse – What can I do?”

– Examining Mormonism using a standard ‘cult’ checklist.

“Can I Sue The Church?”    When Mormons leave the church, they soon remember all the time and money they spent, and they feel defrauded. Why not sue?

“Why do you attack the Mormons?”    “Why not just leave the Mormons alone? It’s not right to disparage someone else’s religion.” *po*

“Why are you breaking your sacred covenants?”:    Mormons believe that a “covenant-breaker” (apostate) should not be trusted.

“Even if Mormonism isn’t true, it makes me a better person!”    *sp*

“Isn’t Mormonism a good way to raise children, whether it’s true or not?”    *sp*

“Why do you mock sacred things?”    The re-enactment of parts of the Mormon temple ritual at an exmormon conference raises this question.

“How can I answer questions about my leaving the Mormon church?”:   Questions often asked of new Exmormons by their Mormon friends and relatives, with suggested answers.

Mormon Growth:    Does the rapid growth of Mormonism show that Mormonism is God’s church?

How Many Ex-Mormons Are There?   An analysis of membership numbers shows that there are more Ex-Mormons than there are Mormons.

Persecution of Mormonism:    “The True Church has always been persecuted, and your persecution of Mormonism is just evidence of its truth” *sp* (This material appeared previously under FMA: Growth of the Mormon Church

Joseph Smith as Author of the Book of Mormon:    “I can’t explain how Joseph Smith could have written the Book of Mormon; therefore it must be divine!”

The “Three Witnesses” To The Book of Mormon:    Three men solemnly testified that an angel appeared to them and showed them the gold plates. Even though they all later left the church, they never denied that vision. *sp*

Books For Mormons    FAQ: “What can I give my Mormon friends or relatives to read that will start them thinking? They refuse to read anything ‘anti-Mormon'”: A suggested list of books that Mormons might be willing to read: they are not forbidden “anti-Mormon” books.

Critiques of Other Religions    “Why don’t you criticize other religions besides Mormonism?” A response, with links to critiques of other “true” religions.

“How can we know when information is from Satan?”   Devout Mormons often reject any criticism of Mormonism by saying that the criticism comes from Satan, who is trying to defeat God’s work (Mormonism). Is that a valid argument? How can we tell when the source of information is Satan?

FMA: “Describe the taste of salt!”   Mormons often assert that their testimony cannot be described, like salt.

Joseph Smith as a Prophet:    Mormons believe he was a “prophet of God.” Examine the record for yourself.     *po* *sp*

Mormon Prophets After Joseph Smith     Unlike the presidents of the mainstream Mormon church since Joseph Smith, who rarely have visions or revelations, and do not translate ancient documents or produce new scripture, as Smith did, there have arisen many prophets from Mormonism who have claimed to perform those divine functions, just like Smith. A brief listing and description of some of thesereal prophets.

The Articles of Faith – with my commentary

The Book of Mormon vs Mormonism     Many people assume that by reading the Book of Mormon one can learn about the Mormon religion. But Mormon doctrine is not based on this book, which often ignores or even contradicts what Mormons believe today, as this overview shows.

Teachings of Brigham Young:    The LDS church’s official study manual on Brigham Young’s teachings is a gross distortion of his life and his beliefs. This is a supplement to that official manual, with quotations from Brigham Young that the church did not include, for obvious reasons.

Mormon Lying:    Lying by Mormon leaders and official Mormon publications has characterized this church from its beginnings. Some very clear and indisputable examples, comparing the Lie and the Truth (factual, not theological).    *po* *sp*

Major Contradictions in Mormonism:    A sampling of contradictory scriptures and statements by Mormon prophets. Which one is “true”? *po*

A Linguist Looks At Mormonism: Notes on Linguistic Problems in Mormonism.

“or, in other words”: A collection of Book of Mormon passages which show that it cannot be a translation of engravings on metal plates (a supplement to the above article)

The Mormon Church vs The New Testament Church     Mormons claim that the Mormon church is a restoration of the church established by Jesus and his apostles, and cite their similarities as proof. However there are more differences than similarities.

“The Jerusalem Temple vs the Mormon Temples”     Mormons claim that their temples are in the tradition of the ancient Jewish temple. A brief comparison shows that this claim has no basis.

Jaredite Shipbuilding Technology by Kent Ponder, Ph. D. – a detailed analysis of the account in the Book of Mormon about the Jaredite ships: Does it really make sense?

Romans and Nephites   A listing of similarities between the ancient Romans and their contemporaries in America, the Nephites

Problems With “The Brass Plates”   An examination of the role of the Brass Plates of Laban in the Book of Mormon, with questions about the believability of the story.

Unasked Questions About Mormonism    A few puzzling questions about Mormonism that nobody seems to have asked.

Twelve Step Program For Recovery from Mormonism   An adaptation of the famous Alcoholics Anonymous “Twelve Steps” for use by recovering Mormons; by Matthew P. Barnson and Richard Packham

Response to Orson Scott Card’s article on the authenticity of the Book of Mormon (“The Book of Mormon: Artifact or Artifice?”)    Although Card is a devout Mormon (and well-known author), he unwittingly gives us the very tools to recognize the Book of Mormon as a work of fiction.

Critique of an article by Mormon apologist William J. Hamblin, “Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon”   Hamblin’s article suffers from most of the problems he accuses the “anti-Mormons” of – a case of the pot calling the kettle black

The Mormon Church In Prophecy.    Mormons claim that their church was seen in Biblical prophecy. Here are some prophecies of Mormonism that the Mormons won’t mention.

Mormon Temples and Temple Rituals:    An overview of the secret Mormon temple rituals, including all the secret passwords, handclasps and oaths needed for entrance into the presence of God.    *sp*

A lecture based on this article was videotaped and can be viewed either here (on Google Video) or here (on YouTube).

Freemasonry and the Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony   A tabular listing of similarities between the three degrees of 1830s Masonry and the early Mormon Endowment ritual

Mormon Temples: Facts The Mormons Probably Don’t Want You To Know.    The text of a brochure prepared for distribution at the open house for the Medford (Oregon) temple, March 2000. This can be modified and printed for distribution at any temple open house. (A shorter introduction to temples than the previous article)

My First Temple Experience (1952)    My receiving the Mormon “endowment” on my wedding day.

My Temple Experience, by a Former Temple Worker: A first-hand account by a devout Mormon (a guest author) whose disillusionment with Mormonism began when he worked in the Manti temple.    *sp*

Adventure in the Temple: Five people attend an endowment session in a Mormon Temple. All are apostates, and therefore “unworthy.” How? Why?

“Why do you mock sacred things?”    The re-enactment of parts of the Mormon temple ritual at an exmormon conference raises this question.

The 1978 Revelation on Blacks and the Priesthood:    Now published! The 1978 revelation to the Mormon prophet, changing the church policy on blacks, is here published for the first time!    (13K, in three parts)

The Ex-Mormon’s Skeptical Heritage:    Those who leave Mormonism are in a great tradition:  the tradition of the doubters and skeptics, who have given us our intellectual heritage. From a workshop at the annual Recovery From Mormonism convention, February 1999

Gordon B. Hinckley as a Prophet:    Mormons believe that the late president of the LDS church was a prophet, just like Joseph Smith. Hinckley seems to disagree with Smith.

Voices of Former Mormons:    A collection of comments made by former Mormons in e-mail discussions about their experiences; very candid.        More at Voices 2     Voices 3    Voices 4    Voices 5  andVoices 6.

Cause of Death:  Mormonism   a very moving story by a young woman whose husband was literally killed by his devout belief in Mormonism.

A Mormon Scientist Looks At The Solar System:    A review of John Heinerman’s People in Space, with supporting quotations from Mormon prophets and scriptures.

Welcome To The Celestial Kingdom!    Mormons believe that in heaven they will become gods and create their own worlds; this is (perhaps) the welcoming message they will receive when they get there (gently satiric).

Mormon Thinking: An Example of How Mormons Justify their Faith, by Linda Heinsohn

Animal Resurrection in the Teachings of Mormon Prophets – compiled by “Deconstructor” with commentary by Richard Packham

Correspondence With a Mormon Bishop:   A Mormon bishop who found my website takes the opportunity to bait me ‘to show [my] true colors.’ He dares me to post our correspondence. Of course, I do, with my comments. An interesting example of how Mormons react when their religion is challenged.

“The Seventeen Points of the True Church”:    An effective missionary tool of the Mormon church is this list of characteristics of the church established by Jesus.

A Parable:    The Man Who Bought A House.    Some people would rather not know the truth.

Another Parable:    The Great Ship.    Mormons can “explain” many of the critics’ objections to Mormon history and doctrine. Are all the “explanations” enough?

My Lucky Rabbit’s Foot:    A gentle parody on superstition, including religious superstition.

A Mormon Warning: A Story from Early Utah – an authentic piece of oral history, published here for the first time.

A Letter to a Mormon Bishop:   A dear friend of mine who is a Mormon bishop (pastor) asks me for advice on how he can prevent apostasy among his members. And I, the apostate, try to help him!

“Mormon Women, Prozac, and Therapy” by Kent Ponder, Ph.D.    A report based on several years’ research and numerous interviews with Mormon women, social workers and doctors. Dr. Ponder, a life-long Mormon, vividly shows the emotional damage which Mormonism can inflict on women, and why.

Families Held Hostage by Arza Evans: the false pro-family claims of the Mormon church

Response to LDS Church’s Explanation of its Opposition to Gay Marriage   The church launched a massive campaign supporting California’s Proposition 8, which amended the California Constutition to bar gay marriage

A Visit With A Perfect Mormon Family     A non-Mormon woman reports on her three-week visit with her childhood friend, the mother of a “perfect” Mormon family.

Odyssey: The Journey Continues    My keynote address at the fifth annual Exmormon conference, held February 24, 2001, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“The Truth Shall Make You Free: Proof, Evidence, and Lies”    Text of my keynote address delivered at the seventh annual Exmormon Conference, Arlington, Virginia, April 2002.

“Reflections of an Old Apostate”    Text of my address delivered at the annual Conference of the Exmormon Foundation, October 22, 2005, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“The Everlasting Gospel In The Ever-changing Church”: Text of a talk Ipresented at the annual conference of the Exmormon Foundation, October 15, 2011, in Salt Lake City.

Visiting The Sacred Sites of Mormonism:    My visit to Carthage, Nauvoo, Independence and Salt Lake City; including a report about the Ex-Mormon General Conference held in Salt Lake City in October 2001, as well as a message from God.

Suggested Books On Mormonism For Library Donations:    For those who want to help others out of Mormonism, a relatively small donation to a local library can make a large difference.

Review of Sharon Banister’s book For Any Latter-day SaintOne Investigator’s Unanswered Questions –    highly recommended as the best one-volume tool for demonstrating the contradictions of Mormonism.

Review of The William E. McLellin Papers, edited by Stan Larson and Samuel J. Passey, 2007 (review originally appeared in the April 2008 “The New Expositor,” the newsletter of the Exmormon Foundation)

Review of Charles R. Harrell, “This Is My Doctrine”: The Development of Mormon Theology

Review of No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light On Sensitive Issues Robert L. Millet, ed.     A major collection of Mormon apologetic essays

Critique of Craig Foster’s article on ‘Understanding’ Exmormons in the on-line Mormon magazine Meridian Magazine

Book review of Book of Mormon Book of Lies by Meredith R. Sheets and Kendal M. Sheets (2012)

“Lehi In The Pacific: Powerful New Evidence for the Historicity of the Book of Mormon” by L. Dwayne Samuelson, with my commentary

Questions for Presidential aspirant Mitt Romney     Romney is trying to convince Christians that his religious beliefs are like theirs, and thus he should have their support. Those people do not know what they should be asking the Mr. Romney – here are some suggestions, not only for Christians, but for journalists.

“Romney’s Mormon Secrets”:     Why doesn’t Romney want to discuss his faith? Because it is secret!

“Recovery from Mormonism”:    (off-site) Eric Kettunen’s excellent site for Mormons who are beginning to wonder what they are doing in this church, and for former Mormons who are trying to adjust to using their own minds and controlling their own lives.

For a similar site in German, click here.
For a Finnish language site, click here
For a Japanese language site, click here
For a Korean language site, click here.

Books and Links on Mormonism.

For a very complete list of other websites critical of Mormonism, see Google’s ranked listing HERE.

REVIEWS, CRITIQUES, REBUTTALS:

The Five Thousand Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen. Skousen claims that the basic principles of good government (and the American system) are derived from God and the Bible. I show how he fails to make his case.

Critique of John Warwick Montgomery’s Legal Evidences For Christianity:    Montgomery asserts that Christianity’s claims survive examination using the legal tests for evidence. He does this only by misstating and twisting the rules of evidence and the facts.

The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel

People in Space:    by John Heinerman. A Mormon scientist looks at the solar system, with supporting quotations from Mormon prophets and scriptures.

Science Speaks by Peter Stoner.    Stoner makes much of estimates of probabilities to support the miracles of the Bible. Applying the same technique, I show that the chances that the Bible is true are almost zero.

Creationist Videos: My notes on three videos lent to me by a Christian friend to convince me that “creationism,” the “young earth” view, and a literal belief in the biblical Flood are all scientifically valid.

Review of the book by Walter J. Veith The Genesis Conflict: Putting the Pieces Together   – Dr. Veith is a former evolutionist, a scientist who became a “young earth” creationist and biblical inerrantist.

For Any Latter-day Saint: One Investigator’s Unanswered Questions by Sharon Banister –    highly recommended as the best one-volume tool for demonstrating the contradictions of Mormonism.

Review of The William E. McLellin Papers, edited by Stan Larson and Samuel J. Passey, 2007 (review originally appeared in the April 2008 “The New Expositor,” the newsletter of the Exmormon Foundation)

Review of Charles R. Harrell, “This Is My Doctrine”: The Development of Mormon Theology

Review of No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light On Sensitive Issues Robert L. Millet, ed.     A major collection of Mormon apologetic essays

Critique of Craig Foster’s article on ‘Understanding’ Exmormons in the on-line Mormon magazine Meridian Magazine

Review of The Mormon Conspiracy by Charles L. Wood, LLC, San Diego 2001 (not recommended!)

Book review of Book of Mormon Book of Lies by Meredith R. Sheets and Kendal M. Sheets (2012)

Response to Orson Scott Card’s article on the authenticity of the Book of Mormon (“The Book of Mormon: Artifact or Artifice?”)    Although Card is a devout Mormon (and well-known author), he unwittingly gives us the very tools to recognize the Book of Mormon as a work of fiction.

Critique of an article by Mormon apologist William J. Hamblin, “Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon”   Hamblin’s article suffers from most of the problems he accuses the “anti-Mormons” of – a case of the pot calling the kettle black

Response to LDS Church’s Explanation of its Opposition to Gay Marriage   The church launched a massive campaign supporting California’s Proposition 8, which amended the California Constutition to bar gay marriage

Review of Natalie R. Collins’ novel Wives and Sisters, set in present-day Utah

My review of the Book of Mormon on the occasion of the publication of a “trade edition” by Doubleday

My reviews of other books relating to Mormonism (reviews which I wrote for the Association For Mormon Letters) can be found on their website, where I am listed in their “reviewer” index.

OTHER STUFF

Traditional Baby Bootees – The pattern for the baby bootees that have been knitted in my family for several generations for our family’s newborns.

How To Divide Up Fairly The Personal Property In A Decedent Estate   Suggestions, based on my personal and legal experience, for avoiding the almost inevitable conflicts upon the death of the last parent.

 Permission granted to reproduce for non-commercial purposes, provided text is not changed and this copyright notice is included

Exmormon Conference

Exmormon Foundation 2012 Conference

“DISSIDENTS IN DESERET”

“As the healing continued, I found a new person hiding beneath the splintered diamonds of my personality. Integrating the facets of these troubled pieces of myself came as I understood that I no longer had to walk the trail of tears from the past. I could at last be free to choose my path. It was all such a marvelous discovery-this freedom of mind, this tranquility, this peace.” –Carol Rutz

October 19-21, 2012
Double Tree Suites (formerly Embassy Suites)
Salt Lake City, Utah

Please join us for our annual Exmormon Foundation Conference. The Conference will start at 6:30 on Friday evening, and finish at 1:00 PM on Sunday.

Conference Program

Friday

  • 4:30-6:30PM Registration, dinner on your own
  • 6:30-7:30PM Social Hour, Cash Bar
  • 7:30-8:00PM Welcome, Introduction and Greetings: Sue Emmett, Foundation President; Conference Chair
  • 8:00-10:00PM Open Mic for Conference Attendees
  • 10:00-1:00AM Hospitality Room and Socializing Time

Saturday

Sunday