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Leonard J. Arrington Diaries – “Freemasonry”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Freemasonry.” You can view other subjects here.

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Reed Durham was in the office this morning to see my Mormonism and Masonry file. It turned out that he has seen everything that is in my file. He is giving his presidential address to the Mormon History Association at Nauvoo on the subject of Mormons and Masonry. He says the whole Kingdom of God concept elaborated by Klaus Hansen is a Masonic concept and that the flag of the Kingdom of God about which Mike Quinn wrote his article is a Masonic flag. He thinks the whole political Kingdom of God developed in Nauvoo in 1842 and 1843 and stems from Joseph Smith’s Masonic associations. 

[LJA Diary, 19 Mar., 1974]

[Writing of the MHA meeting in Nauvoo]  After the business and the meal the president’s address was made by Reed Durham of the LDS Institute in Salt Lake City.  He talked on Mormonism and Masonry in Nauvoo.  While what he said was not particularly new to us old hands in Church history, it was new to some of those present at the meeting not familiar with Church history, and was somewhat disturbing.  I will be surprised if one of the persons present doesn’t make some complaint to somebody about it.  I could have saved him some grief if he had allowed me to read a copy of the talk in advance.  We (Davis, Jim and I) offered to do so, but he preferred to make it all a great surprise.  As I mentioned, it was a great surprise to many and this may have been unfortunate.

[LJA to “Dear Susan, James, and Carl,” 22 Apr., 1974; LJA Diary]

Brother Arrington reported the results of a talk recently given by Reed Durham at the annual meeting of the Mormon History Association on the subject of Mormons and Masonry, which talk has aroused some controversy and agitation on the part of some Masons and members of the Church.  Brother Arrington said there is a brother living in Salt Lake City who is a Mason and a fine member of the Church who is anxious to publish a research bulletin within the Masonic community, in which he will make some answer to the talk given by Brother Durham.  Brother Arrington stated that Brother Durham’s talk was not submitted to or approved by us and that we are in no way responsible for it.

[Minutes of the meeting of the Executives of the Historical Department, 24 Sep., 1974; LJA Diary]

In the meeting with Brother [Joseph] Anderson this morning I mentioned the controversy over Mormonism and Masonry.  Brother Anderson said Brother Melvin J. Ballard gave a talk on Mormonism and Masonry which we ought to be familiar with.  We should be aware of this and try to get a copy of the talk for our Mormonism and Masonry file.

[LJA Diary, 24 Sep., 1974]

Merv.Hogan came in this morning and said that Reed Durham’s talk about Mormonism and Masonry had been circulating on the underground since April in tape and it had been transcribed and many copies distributed. He also said that he had been told by a friend of Gerald and Sandra Tanner that they had a copy of the tape. He did not know if they planned to publish it, but assumed that they would at least comment on it.

He said he had gone to Reed Durham approximately a month ago to tell him that the talk contained so many mistakes and was providing much fodder among the anti-Mormons, that he would be compelled to publish it together with criticisms. He asked Reed to furnish him with a copy, which Reed promised to do, but a month has elapsed and he has received nothing from Reed. Merv says he must meet the thing head on because of the underground copies and must let his fellow Masons know that he has answers to some of the problems raised.

I asked him to delay a few days before publication to give Davis, Jim, and myself a chance to look at the talk to see if we had any suggestions to make in regard to it. I thought we might call Reed and suggest he tone down the talk and furnish a copy to Merv,

Merv also said that four anti-Mormons among the Masons in Salt Lake are

Glen Cult, Newell Dayton, somebody Cope, and Blame Symons. I know the latter and knew he was an anti-Mormon, but I am not personally acquainted with the three first named.

Merv says that Reed Durham led him to believe that the paper by Jack Adamson that he had quoted from had been given to him by Jack and that he had Jack’s permission to use it. He said he asked Jack Adamson at a University of Utah faculty meeting about it and Jack said that he had never met Reed Durham and had never given him a copy of the paper and would certain regret it if Reed used material from it. Jack told him that he had prepared the paper for a class at Harvard when he was in the Widner Library. He said that he was then asked some time later by Sterling McMurrin to give the paper in the meeting of the Swearing Elders in Salt Lake City. Some persons present asked him for a copy of the paper and in complete confidence he gave out three or four copies. He knew that the paper had been duplicated to distribute on the underground and he regarded this as a violation of his confidence. He said he had given references to the quotations but that he was unable to provide complete documentation for the facts in the paper because his notes do not give all the information necessary. He said that he would send a copy of the paper to Merv. Merv has not yet received it but expects he will get it today or tomorrow.

Reed told me that he received a copy of Jack Adamson’s paper from Ken Godfrey and Ken had received one from Jack Adamson. Considering what Reed did with the paper it now appears that Reed can be faulted for hasty action and destroying confidences. It now becomes clear to those in our office that many of the papers and documents which are circulating on the underground originating from here have come from Reed. Reed certainly does not do this maliciously. His testimony is as strong as anybody’s. It appears at this point that Reed has been naive in trusting certain people like the Tanners and their associates, like Collier and his associates, and others, and that things get in the underground originating from him because of these people with whom he shares material.

Our personnel and office are going to have to be very careful about providing material to Reed. It is fortunate in a way that Reed has withdrawn from participating in the preparation of our one-volume history. I am very much afraid that publication by the Masons on this piece by Reed may work adversely toward Reed’s interests. It may prove embarrassing to him. He may be eased out of his job as director of the Institute. This would hurt him personally and professionally.

Merv Hogan is in a unique position being a 33rd degree Scottish line Mason, a Mormon, and a member of the Salt Lake Lodge. There are several dozens–perhaps hundreds of Mormons which are high Masons outside of Utah–George Cannon in Hawaii, for example, but the Salt Lake Lodge will not accept any Mormons, but Merv Hogan got into them by joining the Masons elsewhere in New York and was a member in Arizona and he has zealously held onto his Salt Lake Lodge membership in order to attempt to get them to remove the ban on Mormons. He says other American lodges do not like the rule–they disapprove of it heartily. He says that Salt Lake Lodge has tried on several occasions to withdraw his membership, but they have not been successful because of the opposition of other jurisdictions outside of Utah.

Brother Anderson told me the other day that when he was secretary to the First Presidency, he had written a number of letters to persons who had written to the First Presidency about the Masonic membership. He says that he had always written under the direction of the First Presidency that they should not be active Masons “because you cannot be a good member of two churches at the same time.” I told him that I knew personally a number of Mormons who were both active Mormons and active Masons and mentioned several. He seemed to be surprised at this since it had been his understanding that all active Mormons had been instructed to become inactive Masons.

[LJA Diary, 27 Sep., 1974]

This morning Joe Christensen asked to chat with me a few minutes.  He really had three things in mind. First was Reed Durham’s talk on Mormonism and Masonry at the Mormon History Association meeting in Nauvoo. The second was the first issue of the Journal of Mormon History .The third was the general orientation of our Church history achievements. I have the feeling that he was led to conduct this conversation as the result of conversations with Neal Maxwell and possibly Boyd Packer as well.

He has received a good deal of criticism of Reed Durham’s talk during the past or three weeks. He asked me for my appraisal of it. I think he was trying to find out if we had read the talk in advance and approved it–I assured him we had not–and whether I thought it was sound historically. I told him we had serious reservations. He said the manner in which he presented this showed bad judgment on Reed’s part and it would “put a millstone around his neck the rest of his life” because certain of the younger General Authorities will never be able to forget it.

He said he was disappointed that the Journal of Mormon History chose to begin its first issue with Jan Shipps’ article as a lead. He said he did not think it was a very important article and made no great contribution. I told him that I did know it was being printed and I did not object to its being printed but I did not know that it was going to be the lead article. I told him that I hoped the brethren would be patient with us. It will take

us another year or two to work up books and articles on things in our archives which are enriching and inspiring. Until we get this out people will still work over the same subjects like Mormonism and Masonry, polygamy, and so on. I told him that we do have a lot of rich material and we are working on it. But because it has been held on a restricted basis for so long, we haven’t had a chance to come to grips with its significance and it will take awhile for this material to percolate out into professional articles and books.

He said that Reed would be taking a sabbatical leave next year.  I encouraged him to give Reed off fulltime so he could work fulltime on his volume of the sesquicentennial history he is assigned to write.  I told him I regretted that Reed had not chosen to devote time to the one-volume history.  He was surprised to hear that.  He said he did not know that Reed had withdrawn from that project and he was disappointed to learn that Reed had not spent any time on it last year.  They had made arrangements for him to spend the time, but he had not chosen to do so or had not done so.  The whole discussion was in a friendly, earnest spirit, and I am sure was not intended to be a warning to me or a criticism, but he merely wanted to see how we were reacting to some of the same things that he was concerned with.

[LJA Diary, 12 Dec., 1974]

The Church and Masonry

Brother Arrington stated that a number of inquiries are received from people asking regarding the relationship between the Church and Masonry. He stated that Dave Mayfield has asked if someone in the History Division could be given the assignment to prepare an article that might be published to which inquirers can be referred.  Inasmuch as this is a controversial subject and such inquiries are normally answered by the First Presidency’s Office, it was decided to hold the matter in abeyance for the time being.

[Minutes of the Executives of the Historical Department, 9 Mar., 1976]

I learned today some things about Merv Hogan and his work on the Masons. He told me this morning that one reason he had been impelled to make such a thorough study of Masonry and the Mormons is that he had been the recipient of four visits of heavenly beings which had urged him on in doing this assignment. Of course his primary goal has been to get the recession of the Utah Masons rule that no Mormon can be admitted as a Mason. He said that about 1956 when he was getting ready to move his family to Syracuse, New York, to work for GE, he had one evening a visit from an elderly gentleman in his 70s or 80s with black hair with white streaks and graying at the temples and dark eyes, a rather tall personage. This personage knocked on his door, talked with him a few minutes; Merv ushered him in and introduced him to the family, and after chatting for a little while said he needed to go and Merv ushered him out, but before leaving he had told Merv, “You and I know that you have an important job to do, and you must carry on. If you persevere you will be blessed.” Merv said that he was witness to the manifestation but his family were not. Since his family had not witnessed it, he began to wonder if he had dreamed it up, and at that stage he was walking down the street in Salt Lake City and saw this person again, and the person came up to him and said, “I hope you will remember my visit to you at your house. Remember if you persevere in this important work, you will be blessed.” 

Several years later when he was in Phoenix he was visited by a young pleasant person two different times with a very similar message. So Merv believes that he is an instrument in the hands of the Lord and that the Lord is manipulating things to help accomplish a desirable job. So Merv feels very strongly about what he has done and is continuing to do.

His book on the history of Utah Masonry and Mormons was first circulated in Xerox form to Utah Masons, but individual Masons were not able to obtain copies. The lodge was always out. Merv tried to publish it through Sam Weller, and Sam Weller, after months of promises and delays said he wanted very much to publish it but couldn’t because he was afraid it would offend his Gentile customers. He also tried Horizon Publishers and Duane Crowther, and after examining the manuscript and thinking about it for a couple of months, Duane finally said, “I will not publish this unless I have the explicit approval of President Kimball.” Of course that was something Merv would not ask for. Finally one evening Frank Olds of the University of Utah Press–a person

Merv had known for many, many years–came to Merv’s home unsolicited and said he would like to publish it. He wanted to do it with pictures, hard-back, and all. He also wanted to typeset it. Merv said no, it must simply be an offset copy from the Xerox he’d sent to the lodge, and in order for it to be priced reasonably it needed to have a paper cover and no pictures. He agreed to do 1,000 copies. Merv said he turned over to him all the rights, profits, and royalties so that Merv would make nothing out of it, and he could not be accused by fellow Masons of profiting off of the project. Most of the copies have now been sold and Merv thinks that Frank is giving consideration now to doing a copy which is typeset, has illustrations, and so on. Merv says the book sells, for $4.75. Merv says that Clawson of the lodge in San Francisco has urged him on because he feels very strongly about eliminating the requirement of the Utah lodge that only excommunicated Mormons could be admitted to the Utah Masons. Merv said he thinks Frank Olds has been involved in polygamy and is now an excommunicated Mormon. He is not sure what Frank’s motivation might be. After Merv had made the arrangement he was visited by a person whose name he declined to tell me, who asked him in behalf of the Church not to publish the piece. He said, “I cannot refuse to. I have given fifty years of my life to this and this is the culmination of all my research. And I know that I will be blessed if I go ahead and do what I know I must do.” He thinks the person who spoke to him about it came at the instance of President Kimball, who knows all about the project, who has been kept informed by Merv, and who did not want to see conflict within the Quorum of the Twelve exacerbated. Merv says he has been told by some member of the Quorum of the Twelve that they wanted to have him

publish this, and there were two others who were vehement that he must not

publish it. Merv knows that this was discussed formally in the Quorum of the Twelve, with this division of opinion, and he thinks that perhaps President Kimball wished to keep that division down by urging him not to publish. Anyway, he published it. I told him that I would feel sure one of those two members of the Quorum was Elder Peterson, and he reluctantly admitted that was the case. He said another member of the Quorum of Twelve who was against any mention of the Mormons in connection with Masonry was President Joseph Fielding Smith. He said that both Brother Peterson and President Smith would prefer that no Mormon history book contained any mention that Joseph Smith was a Mason, that many of the leaders of the Church were Masons, that they had a lodge in Nauvoo, and so on. He said President Kimball does not personally object to it but had played the role of peacemaker.

[LJA Diary, 23 Mar., 1979]




3. Looking back on the unfortunate experience of Reed Durham after he gave his Mormonism and Masonry presidential address, can you fill in a few blanks: any idea why he chose that particular line of research? Did anyone try to discourage him? Can you give a brief summary of what he said? (The minutes refer to responses but not to the content.) I had heard, although it’s not in the record, that he was encouraged to write a letter of apology to those attending MHA bearing his testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Is this so? What were your feelings about the episode?

3. I think Reed Durham gave that presidential address because we were meeting in Nauvoo and he had done a good deal of research on the topic. We didn’t know what he was going to discuss, when we heard the talk we were disappointed that he did not consult us in advance. For one thing he was incorrect on some key matters that we could have set him straight on, for another thing we could have helped him word certain materials in a way that would have been more discreet and helpful. He showed great courage but also a lack of good judgment. We found it impossible to defend him very strongly because we could not defend what he said. It simply was incomplete and misleading. He was required by his superior to write a letter of apology to those attending MHA bearing his testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He did write such a letter. All of us regarded it as unnecessary and rather silly. In fact, he bore his testimony at the MHA meeting in Nauvoo the very text morning and in my judgment that took care of it. Reed has never been an effective Church history researcher since that date.

[Questions from Lavina and Answers from LJA about 1974; LJA Diary, 7 Dec., 1981]