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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Temples & Mormonism – 1950

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Temples, 1950.” You can view other years here.

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TEMPLES, 1950.

1950:  6 Jan.:  More 2nd anointings given, for living and dead. 

“I went to the Temple by appointment, and administered Second blessings to three of the general authorities and their wives, Elders Eldred G. Smith, Milton R. Hunter and Bp. Thorp B. Isaacson.  Bro. T. B. Isaacson stood as proxy for Samuel F. Ball who is dead & Betsy Hollings Richards for Adena Christena Anderson Ball.”  (George F. Richards diary, 6 Jan., 1950. Ms/f/600/#4/CHO.  Bergera collection.)

Feb.:  Whence came the Temple Endowment?


It was inevitable that those who have sought to destroy the truth of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s message would misinterpret the temple endowment.  They have set up the theory that Joseph Smith merely adapted the temple conception and ritual from the rituals of fraternal, secret organizations.

The charge that the temple endowment is so derived is not confirmed by the evidence at hand.

First, almost from the organization of the Church, Joseph promised the people a higher endowment, a continuation of that received in baptism.  It was to be a gift bestowed upon those who had attained a greater maturity in gospel life.

To this end the Kirtland Temple was hurried to completion in 1836, though amidst much toil and sacrifice.  Then, at the dedication, some ordinances were given prepartory to the fuller endowment to come.  There was nothing new about temple work when it came in its greater completeness.  It was expected.

Second, on January 19, 1841, when Joseph Smith had not yet belonged to a fraternal organization, he recorded a revelation which explains in general outline the temple ritual.  It says:

For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood. . . .

Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name. . . .

For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.

And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built.  (D&C 124:28, 39, 41-42)

From the pulpit the Prophet announced thenceforth the building of the temple and the work to be done therein for the living and the dead.

On May 4, 1842, he administered the temple endowment in rooms in the upper story of his brick store, improvised for the purpose.  All the while, before and after, he gave instructions concerning the temple to be built and the endowment therein to be given.

Third, many of the men who joined the Church were brethren in fraternal circles, such as Hyrum Smith, the Prophet’s brother, Heber C. Kimball, Newel K. Whitney, George Miller, Austin Cowles, John Smith, Elijah Fordham, and others.  Nowhere can a word be found from these many men indicating that they placed temple work in a class with the ritual of the fraternal orders to which they belonged.  Had there been such, some of these men would have mentioned it, for not all remained true to the Church.

Fourth, that there are similarities in the services of the temple and some secret organizations may be true.  These similarities, however, do not deal with basic matters but rather with the mechanism of the ritual.  Moreover, they are not peculiar to any fraternity.  They are used and have been used by people throughout the centuries.  They belong to the common heritage of mankind.  Joseph Smith had the right to employ such commonly used methods and symbols without being charged with plagiarizing from any particular group.  The Prophet taught baptism by immersion; but none so far has held that he purloined that type of baptism from the Baptists.  Immersion comes down the ages from the days of Jesus Christ and before.  The beginnings of such practices are lost in the mists of antiquity. 

The temple ritual is essentially symbolic.  Its ordinances are not only ancient but also represent profound truths.  They may be widely used by others than Latter-day Saints, but they do not have the same meaning in all organizations.

Fifth, women as well as men receive the temple ritual.  Only a man and a woman together can receive the highest blessings of the temple.  Usually, perhaps always, men only receive the rituals of the many manmade secret societies.  The women form auxiliary organizations.

Sixty, there is a great difference between the objective of temple work and those of the many secret organizations, though they no doubt have high ideals of living.

In the temple endowment the final ideal is that by obedience to God’s law man may be in association with God.  The endowment has the promise of eternal growth, of endless blessings.  This is not the ordinary objective of man-made secret society.

Seventy, finally it may be said that the temple endowment is not secret.  All who meet the requirements for entrance to the temple may enjoy it.  Since it is sacred, it is not bandied about the streets or in gossiping parlors.  It is, in outline: the story of man’s eternal journey; instructions to make the endless journey increasing and progressive; covenants that we will so live as to make the journey an upward one; a warning that sometime we shall be called upon to show whether we have kept our covenants; and, the great reward that comes to the faithful and the righteous.

Every member of another organization will know whether this is like his fraternal ritual.

Many members of secret societies have joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They have been faithful to their covenants.  But as they have come to the temple of the Lord, they have said, in the words of one former member, ‘Secret societies have nothing to teach the Latter-day Saints.’

Carefully and intelligently studied, the proposition that the Mormon endowment was built upon secret fraternal rituals cannot be accepted by any thoughtful person.

Joseph Smith received the temple endowment and its ritual, as all else that he promulgated, by revelation from God.”  (John A. Widtsoe, “Evidences and Reconciliations,” IE 53(2):94-95, Feb., 1950)

24 Mar.:  Discussion of changes in penalties.

“The phrasings established there in the St. George temple remained as the pattern until about 1922, when a special committee was set up to revise them somewhat.  The committee was John A. Widtsoe, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith and George F. Richards.  Certain changes were made in the phrasings, such as toning down the language of certain oaths having to do with ‘tearing the bowels out,’ etc., etc., and substituting phrasings which ‘make the ceremonials symbolize (or portray?) the various ways in which life may be taken.’  He [John A. Widtsoe] used the word ‘symbolize.'”  (A. C. Lambert notes of conversation with John A. Widtsoe on 24 Mar., 1950.  A. C. Lambert papers, University of Utah Library.  Bergera notes.)

6 Apr.:  Rules governing sealings.

“A man and woman came to the temple recommended for marriage, and with them were two children born to the woman by a former husband.  The mother desired the children to be sealed to her and to the man to whom she was about to be sealed.  But how about the father of those children and his rights in the matter?

There is a rule (rule 30) governing in temple work which says: 

Children should not be sealed to other than their own parents, except for important reasons, and then only by special authorization of the temple president.

Hence, the appeal to the temple president: The rights of the father in this case must receive consideration.  The father being dead, the mother was the only witness available.  Her story was as follows:

The father and mother before marriage were members of the Church, and when contemplating marriage, she desired to go to the temple for marriage, but he had not been living his religion so as to be counted worthy of a recommend for that purpose.  She decided to marry him by the civil law with the understanding, and his promise, that he would make himself worthy, and they would later go to the temple and be sealed.  He failed to keep his promise.  Several years after these children were born, he was taken ill and finally passed away.  She said she nursed him through a long spell of sickness before his death and felt that she had done her full duty by him as his wife, but she did not want to be sealed to him for eternity, and she wanted her children to be sealed to her and the man of her choice.

The temple rules (rule 36) provide that where a man and woman are married by the civil law and have children and are afterward separated, so that the children cannot be sealed to both parents, if one has been altogether worthy and the other unworthy, the children may be sealed to the worthy parent and his or her sealed companion.

Under this rule, permission was given for the children to be sealed to the mother and the man to whom she is sealed; thus the father, through his unworthiness and neglect, has lost his wife and his children.  This is but one case in a class which is far too numerous.

There is another class of members who, without the element of unworthiness, but by pure neglect, may lose their wives and children.  A Latter-day Saint girl and boy contemplating marriage decided that they would marry outside of the temple and later go to the temple for sealing.  Time went by until they had three children, and the husband became ill and died.  Sometime later a Latter-day Saint man came along, courted and married the young widow, with the understanding that they would go to the temple later, and he would act as proxy in having her and her children sealed to her dead husband.  This contemplated work was delayed until she had three children by her second husband, who now thinks that he has as much right to her for eternity as has her dead husband.  The woman desires to know to which husband she and her six children should be sealed.  She was told that she wouild have to decide to which husband she would be sealed, and that to him and her all the six children are to be sealed.  She is likely to take the living husband, in which event the first husband loses his wife and his children, through his own neglect.  This represents another class of cases, and they, with slight variations, are numerous in the Church: evidences of the folly of neglect of religious opportunities.

Another unfortunate class consists of those who have been married for time and eternity, and later the husband becomes lukewarm, inactive, and unworthy, resulting in a very unhappy marriage.  The husband dies; the wife obtains a cancellation of their sealing; she later marries a man for time and eternity; the first husband has lost his wife, and possibly his children, through his unworthiness.

For the benefit of these men, their wives, and their children, no stone should be left unturned in an effort to improve these conditions.  For the Lord’s sake and that of his Church, also, we should try to love these people into activity and service.  He needs them in the leadership and organizations of the Church, in quorums, wards, stakes, and missions.  They owe it to the Lord that they put themselves in a position and condition to be used in his service.”  (George F. Richards, 6 Apr., 1950; CR Apr., 1950, pp. 22-24)

20 Apr.:  More 2nd anointings given.

“I obtained permission from President Geo. Albert Smith for my Sons Oliver and Ray and their wives to receive their Second Anointings.”  (George F. Richards diary, 20 Apr., 1950. Ms/f/600/#4/CHO.  Bergera collection.)

23 Aug.:  Garments not to be removed for casual activities.

“It is being observed that some Latter-day Saint men and women, some of whom are presiding officiers [sic] and teachers in both stake and ward positions, are removing their temple garments to wear abbreviated clothing in varying degrees when working around their homes, when traveling by auto, or camping out-of-doors. In some instances, brethren who have been through the temple are removing their shirts while mowing the lawns or performing other out-door responsibilities, thus exposing the upper garment to full view.

Such removal of the temple garment, or exposure to more or less public view, is not in keeping with its significance or sacred purpose.

It is suggested you use your influence in encouraging Latter-day Saints to avoid these practices.”  (Circular letter, Presiding Bishop to Bishops, 23 Aug., 1950, Bergera collection)

Sep.:  Why did Joseph become a Mason?


Nauvoo, the city beautiful, was founded by the Latter-day Saints in 1839, nearly ten years after the Church had been organized.  The decade had been one of unreasoning persecution of the members of the Church.  The forces of evil seemed to be combined against the restoration of the simple gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Prophet, to save his life, was obliged to flee from Kirtland, Ohio, headquarters of the Church were a lovely temple and many progressive enterprises had been built.  The Saints as a body were expelled from Missouri, under an ‘exterminating’ order by the governor of the state, despite several successful settlements by the Church within the state.  In seeking a city of refuge, Nauvoo, then a squalid village called Commerce, was founded.

It seems today a marvel that the Church survived under the terrorism that often accompanied the unspeakable persecutions of the Church.  Perhaps it is better that they be forgotten.  Brigham Young, who, while the Prophet was held in Liberty Jail, led the people out of Missouri, summarized the story in temperate language:

Before the Book (of Mormon) was printed . . . persecution was raised against him (Joseph Smith). . . . Persecution increased. . . . He left the State of New York and went to the State of Ohio.  The gospel was preached there, and many received it.  A settlement was formed, but Joseph had not the privilege of staying there long before they hunted him so determinedly that he was forced to leave Kirtland and the State of Ohio.  He then went to Missouri. . . . (He) had not the privilege of staying there more than a few months before the cry was raised against Joseph Smith that he was guilty of high treason.  This aroused the people and the government of the State; and in October (1838) thirty-five hundred of the militia of the State of Missouri were marched against a few of us in Far West. . . . But the mob continued until they drove the Latter-day Saints out of Missouri.  (JD 19:60)

The settlement in Nauvoo was effected in the hope that the people might now live in peace to worship the God of heaven in their own way.  There they built well, for soon Nauvoo was the most populous and thriving city in Illinois.  But soon after their arrival there, neighbors began to question the doctrines of the Church, notably revelation.  The prosperity of the industrious Saints also incited jealousy on the part of those who would not pay the price of toil for success, or who were speculating in lands and other properties.  Persecution began to rise there as in other places.  Political differences and hopes also entered into the picture.

The Saints knew well enough the sufferings from mob persecution.  Joseph Smith, the leader, looked about for means to quell the rising tide of opposition.

Many of the Saints were Masons, such as Joseph’s brother Hyrum, Heber C. Kimball, Elijah Fordham, Newel K. Whitney, James Adams, and John C. Bennett.  These members called attention to the spirit of brotherhood and brotherly love which are the foundations of Masonic fraternity and which characterize Masonic activities:–as, for example, from this writer, 

On the rolls of Masonry, those lodges will stand highest in which not some few, but each and every member cheerfully gives of his time and labors to make the others happier, not some of the time, but all of the time.

This ideal agreed well with the high ideals of the Prophet.  Moreover, it was conceded that many of the prominent and influential men of the state were Masons who could be friends when needed.  Association with such a fraternity might help to lessen the mob persecutions to which the Church had been subjected in Ohio and Missouri, so reasoned the Prophet’s advisors.

The people of the Church needed friends.  The work in Nauvoo would be hindered if opposition to the Church were allowed to grow.  The Prophet and his brethren and sisters of the Church had suffered much without cause.  They wanted peace.  Perhaps Masonry would help.  So, in light of history, ran the thoughts of the people.

With the acquiescence of the Prophet, members of the Church already Masons petitioned the Grand Master of Illinois for permission to set up a lodge in Nauvoo.  In answer they were granted permission, in October 1841, to hold lodge meetings; but it was March 15, 1842, before authority was given to set up a lodge in Nauvoo and to induct new members.  Joseph Smith became a member.  At the time of the lodge organization, Joseph Smith received some of the degrees in Masonry.  He was never an active Mason.  His other work concerned his time and energy.  His history shows that he was extremely busy at this time with a multitude of Church problems.  Lodge matters would have to be left in other hands.

Meanwhile, large numbers of Nauvoo citizens were inducted into the fraternity.  Soon the Nauvoo lodge had more members than all the other Illinois lodges together.  It became the largest in the state.  In this rapid growth, some lodge errors appear to have been made.  These however could easily have been corrected.

However, Joseph’s Masonic membership did not lessen the persecution.  The religious claims of the Mormons were ridiculed; their political power seemed a threat; and their prosperity nettled the less successful neighbors.

The attempt to win sufficient friends through Masonry to stop persecution failed.  The Masons after all were only a small fraction of the people of the territory surrounding Nauvoo.  And no one knows with certainty whether any of them took part in the ‘Mormon’ persecutions.  The whole terrible affair leading to the assassination of the Prophet and his brother Hyrum was a local affair within the Nauvoo territory, where lived people of many faiths and allegiances.”  (John A. Widtsoe, “Evidences and Reconciliations,” IE 53(9):694-695, Sep., 1950)

2 Oct.:  Garments and the military.

“Where the military regulations are of a character that ‘hinders’, that is, makes impossible the wearing of the regulation garments, either in training on the drill grounds on in combat zones, effort should be made to wear underclothing that will approach as near as may be the normal garment.

Where military regulations require the wearing of two-piece underwear, such underwear should be properly marked, as if the articles were of the normal pattern.  If circumstances are such that different underwear may be turned back to the wearer from that which he sends to the laundry, then the marks should be placed on small pieces of cloth and sewed upon the underwear while being worn, then removed when the underwear is sent to the laundry, and resewed upon the underwear returned [sic].

The wearing of the normal garment should be resumed at the earliest possible moment.

Every effort should be made to protect the garments from the gaze and raillery of scoffers.  This may cause considerable inconvenience at times, but tact, discretion, and wisdom can do much to alleviate this inconvenience.  If the scoffing became unbearable and the wearer should decide that the Lord would consider he was really ‘hindered’ by the scoffers from wearing the garments, and if he should therefore lay them aside, then the wearer should resume the wearing of the normal garment at the earliest possible moment.”  (First Presidency Circular Letter, 2 Oct., 1950)