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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Temples & Mormonism – 1924

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Temples, 1924.” You can view other years here.

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TEMPLES, 1924.

1924:  4 Apr.:  Temple and civil marriages contrasted.

“I might give you in detail the average per year for the last five years, and I will say here that it is a deplorable thing that since 1919 the civil marriages have outnumbered the temple marriages in the Church each year.  The average number of temple marriages in the Church per year for the last five years is two thousand nine hundred and forty-six.  The average number of civil marriages is three thousand two hundred and thirty-four.  The divorcements after temple marriages, eighty-four; and the divorcements after civil marriages, one hundred fifty; or, in other words, one divorcement to every twenty-one civil marriages in the Church, and one divorcement to every thirty-six temple marriages.  It is my belief that those very reasons, which might be assigned for members of the Church not going to the temple for marriage, are the causes of many unhappy marriages and the evil of divorce does not tell the whole story of sorrow which follows.  Only those who in sorrow and disappointment have reached the climax and can endure the conditions no longer, receive divorcements.  Many others suffer on and endure it for the sake of their children or others who are concerned.”  (George F. Richards, 4 Apr., 1924; CR Apr., 1924, p. 33)

19 Jun.:  Unwritten parts in St. George Temple.

“President Cannon stated object of meeting.

After making some explanations, he referred to the Presidents Book which he said contained all the ceremonies of the various ordinances except the unwritten parts which he explained.

Prest Cottam then read the (what was called) unwritten parts.  Prest Cannon making comments as they were read.

Prest Cannon stated that President George F. Richards was appointed to see that there was a uniformity of method and system in all the temples.  Said when Prest Richards came and talked to him, he (Prest Richards) critized [sic] him very severely for not adhering to the unwritten part of the ceremonies as he had been instructed to do.  Said he told Prest Richards that President Young had 20 men revise the ceremonies of the ordinances.  Prest Young said ‘we are going to give endowments for the dead the first time and we want to give you the ceremonies as they were given by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Nauvoo Temple.’

These endowments were received from the Lord by the Prophet Jos. Smith in the Nauvoo Temple and the key word of the endowment was revealed to him (here he gave the key word).

Prest Cannon referred to the President’s book which contain all the ceremonies of the Temple ordinances, except the unwritten part, which we have been using since this Temple opened 47 years ago, and when we came to talk to President Richards, he said that was wrong, that the unwritten part should be written and rendered the same as the other parts.

President Cannon stated that President Richards at Hurrican [sic] when they the [sic] St George June quarterly conference critized him again and said ‘you must either conform to our method or we to yours.’  Said Prest Richards told him that the Presidency of the Church and the twelve Apostles were the presiding authorities of in the Church at present, and they must stand at the head and be responsible for the direction of the affairs of the church, and the parts in the ordinances of the Temples must be rendered as they have directed.

Said Prest Richards instructed him to gather up all the old rulings and instructions and burn them up, and if he did not want to do this, to bundle them up and send them to him.

Said Prest Richards suggested that a good capable man be selected to render a part and keep him on this particular part continuously and not change the parts every two weeks, as had been the practice.  In devotional dont ask men to speak in turns, but invite in other men, the president of the Stake and other men.  Bishops of wards etc to speak.  Prest Richards wants us all to cease the practice of saying ‘We want you all to receive it’ in giving the tokens, passing it on from one to the other.  ‘You must have the one giving the ordinances to see to it that every person receives the tokens from them personally.’  In the creation room, where Eve makes covenant with Adam they clasp hands and remain so till Eloheim instructs them what to do.

There is to be a custodian for these books, containing the parts including the unwritten part.  We are to appoint a man to take charge of these books, and every book is to be put into the hands of this man and they will be locked up after being used.

If we want any information, not contained in the ‘Presidents Book’ we will refer to the authorities of the Church for that information, but not refer to any of the old rulings.

President Edward E. Snow of the St George Stake presidency was invited to speak.  Said he was not familiar enough with all the ordinances to say much about them, but thought the changes have been made from the experience they have had.  One change he mentioned is . . . . . . [sic] in no longer praying that the blood of the prophets and righteous men, might be atoned for, because this prayer has been answered and no longer necessary.  Mentioned a book exposing Mormonism that he took our of our library to read.  This book was full of falsehoods, and exagrations [sic] and not fit for our people to read and he had the book taken out of the library entirely.

Thought the changes made in the temple ordinances have all the essentials necessary and are made in order to have a uniformity in all the temples.  Said the grammar is poor and the construction bad in some of the ceremonies.  Spoke of the bad language in the parts as first written, as now written, the same ideas are preserved as formerly expressed.

Approved the idea of one man for one part permanently.  Said the men working at the vail should be neat and shaven with sweet breath etc etc.

Prest Cannon stated that President Anthony W. Ivins at a conference in Enterprise, took exception to the way the Law of Retribution was worded, and said he thought the language was harsh and that the authorities thought of changing that.  If there is anything we wished to be noted for, it was for our uprightness and obedience to authority. . . .

Considered the changes made in the ordinances are an improvement and we are going to conform to them to the very best of our ability.”

(Minutes of meeting held in Circle Room, St. George Temple, 19 Jun., 1924)

12 Jul.:  Details of GFR changes from 1922-24.

“When pouring over the Temple Ceremonies alone and with a committee apointed to consider them with me I usually mention [in his journal] that I have been working at my desk or in the Temple, yet in time great changes have evolved which as a whole may not be mentioned by me in my journal.  Of that character of work I can say that since I became the President of the Salt Lake Temple we have re-written those temple ceremonies and ordinances which have been heretofore written, first at the time of the Dedication of the St. George Temple, and have put them into leather back covers as loose leaves and provided each Temple President with a copy.  Later those ceremonies known as unwritten ceremonies i.e., the covenants and the instructions given in forming the circle and at the veil, were written and copies furnished on loose leaf sheets for the Presidents of Temples Book.  A list of 83 rules and decisions have been written also for the guidance of Temple Presidents supplanting all former rules not in full harmony.  Each of the Temple Presidents has been supplied with copies, or rather, they were included in the Books when they first sent out to the Temple Presidents.

The Temple Committee have gone over the ceremonies of the Endowments with a view to more perfectly put them in proper form and we are still working on them and I am in hope that in due time these will be considered by the Presidency and as far as is right the suggestions will be approved and the ceremonies be re-written having all the written ceremonies appear in their most perfected form and regular order in the Presidents’ Books and in the past books.  I am delighted with what had been done thus far and am hopeful that the future will see the other changes made which are very much needed.  As these things originated on my recommendations and I have had more to do with them than any body else.  I feel that I have had important part in a splendid accomplishment which the saints generally know not of.  I have felt that since I have been called to preside here in the Temple that if I should live and labor here acceptably to the Lord, he would use me as an instrument in advancing the work in these lives and I believe he has thus blessed me, and used me.  The First Presidency could not be expected to be in touch with all the details of Temple work & with the needed changes only as these things are brought to their attention and who should do this is not the Apostle in charge of the Salt Lake & Leading Temple of the church.  The first committee appointed on this work consisted of in order of seniority, Geo. F. Richards, David O. McKay, Jos. Fielding Smith, Stephen L. Richards and John A. Widtsoe.  Since David O. McKay is away, in Europe, Bro. James E. Talmage has been appointed a member of that committee.

Pres. A. W. Ivins has been appointed to go over the work with the Committee before it is presented to the Presidency.  To date we have had two sittings with Pres. Ivins.

A small sheepskin binding book is kept in my desk which shows progress of the work at the Salt Lake Temple since I became President.  This book gives valuable information but is not as complete as I could wish.  (George Franklin Richards diary, 12 Jul., 1924)  

3 Aug.:  Recommends for six months.

“Received another Temple Recommend today from Bishop Woodruff as a regulation requires recommends to be renewed twice in a year.”  (Levi Mathers Savage diary, 3 Aug., 1924; LC Collection)

ca. 1924:  “Instructions Concerning Temple Ordinance Work”

“Individuals, or families, who cannot conveniently attend personally to the performance of Temple work in behalf of their dead kindred, or friends, can make arrangements to have such work done at their instance.  There is no charge made by the Temple authorities for performance of the ordinances, but, when proxies have to be obtained to act in endowments for the dead, which occupies the time of an entire session in Temple work, it is customary to pay such proxies a small sum, to partly remunerate them for personal expenses; usually a man receives 75 cents, and a woman 50 cents for such service. . . .

Four sessions are held each endowment day.  First session record taken, 7 a. m.; second session record taken 8 a. m.; third session record taken 11 a. m., and fourth session record taken 1 p. m.  Sealings can be attended to in all but the last session.  As far as possible, those who go through for own endowments and marriage, should attend the second session. . . .

George F. Richards, President, Salt Lake Temple.”  (M234.5 I59r #1 c.2)   

n.d.(ca. 1924):  Lamoni Call on the Temple.

“When I returned from my mission I was considered good enough to associate with the best Quorum in the ward, the most favored, the most worthy of confidence–the prayer circle.  Here we dressed in the robes of the Holy Priesthood every Sunday afternoon and offered prayer in the most solemn manner.  While disrobing there was an opportunity for questions.  Naturally the temple work was the most prominent subject.  Old men explained that certain things were done this way in the St. George, Logan Temples, or in the old Endoument House, where I was married, the roof of which just peeped above the north west temple wall, and in some other way in other places.  Here a question was suggested to my mind.  I was critical enough to ask, I was brave enough to think.  And here it was that my skepticism was sprouted.  I thought if God revealed this work He should have explained it so clearly that there could have been no mistaking.  But on the contrary I heard it explained that when baptism for the dead was revealed they began baptising in the river, men for women and women for men.  This, it was finally decided, was wrong and it was corrected so that men were baptized for men and women for women.  And it was decided that all this sacred work had to be done in a temple, not in the great out doors under the gaze of the general public.  This shows one place where the church actually performed a most sacred and solemn ordinance all wrong for a time.  Yes, says the objector but it was corrected.  Yes, I admit, in an evolutionary way, when it was observed that the furthur [sic] procedure of the proxy work uncovered the body, it was thought proper to have the sexes operate for each other seperately.

But we are not finished.  The work continued wrong in another and more vital place, and remaind [sic] so until the days of Wilford Woodruff’s administration.  Be it known that the Mormons claim that the marriage cerimony [sic] performed by other than themselves, and that in the temple, is no marriage at all, and children born under such marrage [sic] will not belong to the real parents unless they are sealed to the parents in the temple.  This brought on a lot of sealing for all those converted to the faith, and a thought naturally arose as the system developed.  They reached the point in the family where the parents were not in the church.  Here came another problem.  And the practice of sealing to some of the apostles or some favorite elde was practiced.  When Wilford Woodruff came into power he said this was robbing the dead.  What!  You accuse God of robbing the dead, and allowing the work to go on for all the years of Brigham Young and John Taylor, until thousands of families of the dead had been wrongly broken up and robbed.  Notwithstanding it was wrong, God permitted it to proceed.  He did not get on his ‘high horse’ and kill 50,070 for doing his work in a bungling way.  He just left it to evolve as he has every thing else in the church.

While in the prayer circle I heard old men explain that after receiving the garment it should never be taken from the body, leaving the body unprotected.  We should remove the upper part in taking a bath, and before removing the lower part the upper part of the body should be covered with the clean garments.  This could be done alright when we bathed in old wooden wash tubs.  But when the new and improved porciline [sic] bath tub came into the home of the saints the Lord had to back up a little and not be so exacting.  Then still later came the fashions of Babalon [sic], direct from the great fashion centers of Parris [sic] and New York, and for a time the Lord was able to hold the saints to the old garment much as it was originally designed, with just a change of fabric as the improved spinning and weaving provided.  But when Babalon brought the silk stockings and the low necked dresses of the lightest material God again had to retrench.  The collars came off the top and the lower part of the legs were removed, and now the greater part of the body is without the protecting care of the all important underware.  Pride will take a chance even with the saints.

I had the change inaugurated by Prest. Woodruff brought very forcably [sic] to my mind by rendering sone [sic] little assistance to an old invalid, James Hibbard, who had been in a wheel chair for thirty years.  Mr. Hibbard had been able at some time to go to the temple and get his endouments and be sealed to a very devout old gentleman, Danial Davis, who in turn had been sealed to Apostle Heber C. Kimball.  Mr. Hibbard at this time was too near his end to go again to the temple and attend to this work for himself, and he sent for me, and at his bedside I received his request that I convey to his relatives that it was his desire to be unsealed from Mr. Davis and be sealed to his own father.

This is but one of numerous cases of the ‘robbing of the dead.’  In this case we have an apostle reputed to be the possessor of forty wives and children sufficient to start a city, having his great glory of offspring augmented at the expense of a poor foreign peasant, who, doubtless, eaked out a mere existance [sic], bearly [sic] being able to support one wife and a few children.  But what of such a condition, when the faithful are to have their glory added to in a real plutocratic style, and carry their earthly selfish ideas into heaven?  Col. Ingersol said all people build for themselves a heaven according to their ideas of civil[iz]ation.  Thus we have the Indian with his ‘Happy Hunting Ground’ and the rich Jew with his pearly gate and a great city whose streets are paved with gold, and here we have the Mormon with a great posterity as the measure of pleasure, even robbing the poor man with one wee child, to add to his great flock covering the ‘seven hills.’  When looked at from this point of view, I do not blame poor old honest Wolford [sic] Woodruff for using his first opportunity to introduce one wee speck of honesty in a heaven that had been built of the greedy, agressiveness of this old world.  If our great financers of today were to build a heaven I rather think it would contain great banks and steam ship lines, with lines of servants under them, than a real humble home where the inmates would sit and enjoy the sweet music of loving child.  With this thought is it hard to grasp the idea that Mormonism has evolved instead of being the product of heaven?”  (Lamoni Call Papers, UCLA Special Collections, Manuscript #1158; “Doctrine,” Box 1, Folder 16; n.d.)